Blog RSS
Border Background
  1. Better team building starts with deep understanding of yourself and your team

    August 25, 2015 by Alison Hill

    by Alison Hill

    We’ve all had them – team building sessions that were fun and gave us a day out of the office, but ultimately didn’t accomplish anything. Back in the office, the same two team members refuse to cooperate, everybody seems fuzzy on goals and communication still seems to go wrong.

    Although well-intentioned, team building activities without a clear purpose and strategy are unlikely to address the team’s challenges. But when planned with solid knowledge about the team members and the issues you want to address, team building exercises are a powerful way to unite people, develop their strengths and work their weaknesses.

    Start by considering the challenges your team faces. Is it communication? Or perhaps your team is new and people don’t know each other, leading to lack of trust. When there is significant change, such as when teams merge as a result of downsizing or outsourcing, there can be resistance to change, holding the team back.

    Set objectives for the team building session. This will help you to choose activities that will effectively help you to address the issues and create lasting results. Clear objectives will help you to create measurable outcomes.

    Most importantly, UNDERSTAND before you seek to change. This means getting to know your team members individually as well as understanding the dynamics between you.

    A team-based assessment before you begin planning your team building strategy allows you to build on a solid base of knowledge. There are many tools that help teams to do this. The Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) is a powerful way to understand both individuals and groups. A survey of the team before any events are planned will show:

    • The personality types in the group
    • How each person prefers to work in a variety of situations
    • Issues in the team

    Challenge Consulting can create tailored team building sessions to suit your team. The MBTI survey is completed confidentially online by each team member. Our facilitator then develops reports for each team member as well as one for the whole team. Team leaders participate in a debrief session, where we discuss the results and the challenges in the team.

    Challenge Consulting then runs a workshop tailored to your team, exploring individual and team results. This can be run on your own premises as a half day or full day event, and is interactive and practical. You will leave the workshop with:

    • New insight into yourself and your team
    • Ideas about how to solve issues
    • Clear objectives for improving teamwork

    There is then the option for one-on-one coaching and a focus group session, and a future program tailored to your team.

    AND it will be fun!

    Teams need to learn to depend on one another to succeed. Effective team building needs to happen continuously if you want your team to be successful. Why not take the first step by looking at our team building page and contacting our facilitators to see how we can make your team amazing.


  2. Workplace Conflict: How do you take responsibility?

    August 30, 2011 by Jenna

    Challenge Consulting has a Facebook page. “Like” us now to stay in touch re our new blog posts, weekly poll, links and more …

    ______________________________

    The Challenge Consulting office is on edge. As we always are at this time of year. The level of competitiveness will soon reach fever pitch. The coveted title of ‘Tipster of the Year’ is up for grabs! It is true that some members of the Challenge Team are more excited than others about the end of the NRL Season approaching. We won’t name the tipster who elatedly declared “It is nearly over!” when made aware that this weekend is the final round of the season. Naturally they were over moon to hear that the tipping continues for four more rounds of finals action – when each correct tip will earn double points!

    So as I sat down to write this week’s Challenge Blog – of course I had to use a sporting analogy. I had planned to use the recent Phil Gould spray on the Sunday Roast about head high tackles being an accepted “part of the game” as the basis of my sporting metaphor. But then Friday night happened. Two of this year’s most successful NRL Teams were involved in a brawl that has since resulted in both clubs being fined $50,000 by the NRL and 11 players facing charges, just a week out from the finals.

    This week the Challenge Poll asked: “Who do you think is most responsible for managing workplace conflict?”

    In the case of the Storm versus Sea Eagles, there have been varying views as to responsibility: Wayne Bennett (Coach for St George Illawarra Dragons) – declared “The players have got to be accountable. We just can’t keep blaming someone else”, whilst Monday morning NRL Chief Executive David Gallop weighed in to say: “This isn’t a time for anyone to be looking for excuses or deflecting blame to others … both clubs need to face up to their responsibility for the overall behaviour of their players.” Whilst pointing out “As much as we are keen to take any lessons that can be taken I stress that anyone who blames the referee for what happened on Friday night is wrong and that they are looking to escape the real issue at hand.” Perhaps the real issue at hand is the question of how did the culture of the NRL get to the point that this year’s two most successful teams participated in such an ugly brawl?

    Our recent Challenge Consulting Poll suggested that mostly the buck needs to stop with Line Managers, with 52% of respondents suggesting that Line Managers were mostly responsible for managing workplace conflict. The remainder of the votes were split pretty evenly amongst: HR, Senior Management, and Co-Workers, with a handful of voters selecting: ‘other’ and confirmed that managing Workplace Conflict is the responsibility of everyone. But what role should everyone play or how can we help Line Managers to ensure that conflict doesn’t become counterproductive?

    ►      “Each and every one of us is responsible. As much as line/senior managers should step in where necessary -it is up to all of us.”

    ►      “While Senior Management should ultimately be held accountable, HR should provide the strategic guidance and tools for management to be effective in the management of conflict.”

    ►      “Everybody should share this responsibility. Effective policies and procedures will empower all staff to recognise conflict appropriately, deal with it in a professional way, and limit the negative effects on the rest of the business.”

    During the recent Challenge Consulting discussion forum we discussed that conflict based on tasks and ideas is not always negative if managed effectively. In fact, a lack of conflict in some teams can be a sign of dysfunction. But we do know that conflict not managed proactively or effectively can have a range of negative consequences*, and can escalate out of control, much like what we saw on Friday night. During the Discussion Forum we explored the different conflict management styles people adopt, and confirmed that some organisations through their procedures, environment, and culture may escalate counter-productive workplace conflict**. Some could say that the examples of players pushing the boundaries of acceptable behaviour over the last few weeks may have influenced the conflict we saw on Friday night. But does this deny responsibility? No.

    Each one of us, regardless of level in the organisation, has responsibility for creating an environment where we can be our most productive. Senior Management needs to lead the way through their behaviour and actions. HR needs to help in developing the framework so that there are clear boundaries as to what is acceptable, what is not acceptable, and what to do when things have moved beyond what is productive. Line Managers need to develop the skills to build trust in their people through open dialogue and proactive feedback that encourages collaboration and proactive sharing of ideas. Whilst each one of us has responsibility to take the time to understand our peers and work within the frameworks that have been set out for us to manage conflict effectively. When counterproductive conflict does occur, we each have responsibility to manage it immediately, respectively and consistently.

    And for those playing along at home – Carmen Mackrill, Della Einfeld and Patricia Hegarty are currently leading the Challenge Tipping Competition – who will take the coveted prize? No doubt the competitive spirit will heat up over the coming weeks, but with Senior Management leading the way, a clear framework for managing disputes, and open and transparent dialogue, our conflicts should be based on the task at hand, rather than counterproductive behaviours, because at the end of the day we have a Tipping Competition to win!

    Want to know how Challenge Consulting helps Line Managers build their Conflict Management Skills – Effective Supervision Workshop or how Challenge Consulting help teams proactively manage conflict – Team Building Workshops.

    How do you help manage counterproductive conflict in your team and organisation?

    Disclaimer: During the discussion forum we discussed that sometimes Workplace Conflict reaches a point that may need external mediation. For more information, please refer to our article on Workplace Bullying and the references listed.


    * When it’s not always black and white, Human Capital Magazine

    ** Hershcovis, Turner, Barling, Arnold, Dupre, Inness, LeBlanc, & Sivanathan (2007). Predicting Workplace Aggression: A Meta-Analysis, Journal of Applied Psychology 92, 228–238.


  3. Performance Reviews: How Do You Make Them Work for You?

    June 21, 2011 by Jenna

    Our Guest Blogger this week is Challenge Consulting’s Organisational Psychologist Narelle Hess

    Challenge Consulting recently facilitated a discussion forum to explore the purpose, value, and practice of performance reviews with a group of Division Managers, Human Resources Managers, Executive Managers, and Business Owners. Our participants began with a view of performance reviews that was decidedly beige, consistent with our recent poll result (68% of respondents rated their performance appraisal as a waste of time), and Samuel Cuthbert’s famous slamming of the performance appraisal.

    So why are organisations implementing performance reviews? Our participants described many strategic aims of their annual process, including:

    • motivating employees and to help them grow professionally

    • developing individual goals to support organisational strategy

    • creating an organisational culture of high performance

    • helping employees understand their role

    • calculating bonuses

    • developing training and development plans

    • informing succession planning, and

    • predicting salary growth. 

    With such strategic aims of performance reviews, why are they still seen as a waste of time? Or as Fetzer (2008) put it so nicely – “a review is looked upon as onerous and bureaucratic procedure that wastes time because little, if any, productiveness is achieved during one. It is performed solely as a requirement of the organisation to have a box checked as ‘completed’ and then forgotten for another year.” *

    Can the performance review be resurrected to produce the strategic organisational aims it aspires to OR will it remain to be seen as a bureaucratic procedure that wastes time and causes demotivation and low productivity? The consensus across our group was that there was a place for a performance review, but it had to have a clear, measurable purpose, part of a larger performance management process (and not just a once a year check box), and add value at all levels. (Challenge Consulting can help with the implementation of strategic performance review process through our in-house professional development Performance Management Workshops.)

    But what about you? As you are about to enter performance review season and sit down with your manager – how can you ensure this process is not a waste of your time? Tiffany Whitby, Challenge Consulting Consultant, recently attended a seminar with Lois Frankel (author of “Nice Girls Don’t Get the Corner Office” and associated publications) – where she recommended 6 weeks before your performance review to write a summary of your key achievements since your last review and email your manager saying something along the lines of “I know how busy you are and, since I have a performance review coming up, I have put together a list of my achievements since our last review”. (Tiffany will be sharing more of her insights from this seminar in next week’s blog post …)

    Last year, I had the opportunity to present at the “Reinvent Your Career Expo” on how to use your performance review to help your career. The performance review can be used as an opportunity to help you manage your career, when you actively participate in the performance review process:

    • there is higher consistency between your manager’s and your appraisal of your performance.**

    • you are more likely to feel like you have had an active voice and more satisfied with the outcome of your performance appraisal.***

    To be an active participant in the appraisal process, prepare for your meeting by considering:

    • your key achievements (i.e. feedback you received, KPIs you achieved, new processes that you developed / implemented, or awards you received etc.)

    • aspects of your role that you have performed best (i.e. tasks people always ask you for help with, tasks you finish fastest, or that you do without thinking about) – what projects would you like to be involved in the next period of time?

    • aspects of your role that you would like to do better (i.e. tasks you need help completing or tasks you tend to put off) – what could help you perform these aspects of your task better – tools / training / change in role?

    • What feedback do you want to give your manager to help you to be able to better perform your role?

    • Be involved in the goal setting / developmental plan process – what skills do you want to develop in your career?

    • Between reviews, bring out your record of your review to review your success towards the plan you made for yourself.

    _____________________ 

    * Fetzer, J. (2008). Building a professional career: Improving the performance review. Biological and Environmental Reference Materials (BERM 11).

    ** Williams, J. R. & Johnson, M. A. (2000), Self-Supervisor Agreement: The Influence of Feedback Seeking on the Relationship Between Self and Supervisor Ratings of Performance. Journal of Applied Social Psychology, 30: 275–292. 

    *** Cawley, B.D., Keeping, L. M. & Levy, P. E. (1998). Participation in the performance appraisal process and employee reactions: A meta-analytic review of field investigations. Journal of Applied Psychology, Vol 83(4), Aug 1998, 615-633.


  4. Staff Retention: How will YOU keep your top talent in 2011?

    April 19, 2011 by Jenna

    During a lively discussion forum last Wednesday morning, Challenge Consulting explored trends in employee retention with a group of clients.  

    Mirriam-Webster dictionary defines retention as “1. the act of keeping someone or something, 2. the ability to keep something”. In the context of business when we talk about retention, we talk about ‘keeping’ employees as the direct opposite to ‘losing’ employees or employee turnover.

    Employee turnover is one of the most largely measured and reported statistics in business. But given that we know that on average 20% of the Australian Labour Market will change jobs each year[i], how significant are these turnover statistics, really?

    During our discussion forum we explored this question and more, including:

    • What is retention?
    • What are the motivational drivers that keep our participants with their employer?
    • How do we or how should we measure retention drivers?
    • What retention strategies are smart organisations implementing in an attempt to keep their top talent?

    Consistent with organisational research and theory on retention[ii], we identified common themes in what ‘retained’ our participants with their employers, including: job satisfaction (i.e. interesting and challenging work), job embededness (i.e. a feeling of belonging to a team or social network in the organisation), employee voice (i.e. feeling that their opinions are heard), and role clarity (i.e. understanding role and responsibilities and how it directly relates to the organisational purpose). What we also found were a range of individual motivators that were influencing retention of the ‘top talent’ in the room, including: flexible work arrangements, career development, training and mentoring, and a range of company values.

    It was clear that a one-size-fits-all strategy for retention would be impossible to retain each of our discussion forum participants, so how can retention drivers be measured at the larger organisational level? According to industry research[iii], 95% of Australian companies conduct Exit Interviews, an emerging trend is that 45% of Australian companies are now conducting Stay Interviews (periodic in-depth interviews with existing employees to measure key retention drivers, starting right from the first 3 months), not to forget the common practice of Organisational Surveying.

    During the discussion forum we debated how well organisations were utilising these and other sources of retention data, i.e. was the right information being captured to measure retention drivers and then once the data was collected was the data being used strategically to manage retention initiatives? Google’s Project Oxygen[iv] provided us with an example of an organisation analysing all available employee data to identify common retention drivers and more specifically develop their Google Rules for managers.

    By the end of our discussion forum, there was agreement from participants that not all turnover is negative and not all retention is positive. In fact, some turnover can be a positive and some retention can be a negative! But as Australia already shows the signs of another deepening skills shortage, there is no doubt that when their key motivators are not met, talented employees can find other employers that will meet these drivers. Does your organisation need help identifying the key retention drivers for your most talented people? Challenge Consulting can help you measure retention drivers through our Organisational Effectiveness Profiling and Exit Interview Consulting services, help you develop managers with a focus on retention with our Effective Supervision Workshop and help you build a strategic approach to managing retention in your organisation.

    What do you think smart organisations should be doing to keep their most talented people and what motivates you to stay with your current employer?


    [i] Sweet, R. (2011). The mobile worker: concepts, issues, implications. NCVER Occasional Paper, Adelaide.

    [ii] Mardanov, I., Heischmidt., & Henson, A. (2008). Leader-member exchange and job satisfaction bond and predicted employee turnover. Journal of Leaderhship and Organizational Studies, 15, 159-175.

    Ramesh, A., Gelfand, M. J. (2010). Will they stay or will they go? The role of job embeddedness in predicting turnover in individualistic and collectivistic cultures. Journal of Applied Psychology, 95, 807-823.

    Siebert, S. & Zubanov, N. (2009). Searching for the optimal level of employee turnover: A study of a large UK retail organisation. Academy of Management Journal, 52, 294-313.

    Swider, B.W., Boswell, W.R., & Zimmerman, R.D. (2011). Examining the job search-turnover relationship: The role of embeddedness, job satisfaction, and available alternatives, Journal of Applied Psychology. 96, 432-441.

    [iii] Lambert, L. (2010). All aboard: Identifying flight risks in probationary staff can help retain promising talent. Recruitment Extra, Nov 2010, 26-27.

    [iv] Bryant, A. (2011). Google’s quest to build a better boss, New York Times. 


  5. About Us

    March 14, 2011 by Jenna

    Established in November 1992, Challenge Consulting is an ever-evolving, always-adapting organisation. It has at its foundation a strong, talented, people-focused team working daily on the front line of candidate and client management.

    We are a recruitment agency. Our close-knit team of Consultants and Account Managers is focused on providing clients and candidates with a job placement experience that is both professional and personal.

    We are also more than a recruitment agency. Our suite of People Services encompasses Team Building, Organisational Diagnostics, MBTI and Professional Development Workshops, Outplacement Programs, Psychometric Assessments, Online Skills Testing, and Career Guidance Programs.

    We work with clients and candidates nationally and internationally from diverse backgrounds and industries. Our goal is to provide a superior, innovative and dynamic service with every project.




SUBSCRIBE Join Our Mail List
Border Background