Category Archives: Culture

Australia’s employee engagement is 23% – this is a leadership problem

Given Gallup’s recent report that employee engagement in Australia is only at 23% (matching the global average), increasing it is vital not only for your organisation’s success but for the staff and their success and, therefore, the success of our society.

What is happening in organisations has a MASSIVE impact on the world we live in.

Continue reading Australia’s employee engagement is 23% – this is a leadership problem

‘Team First’ means ‘Team First’!

The reaction by the Australian public and ex-players to the sacking of four players for the Third Test in India is fascinating. Many have claimed that the request by Coach Mickey Arthur and Captain Michael Clarke for all players to submit a review of the Second Test was a trivial requirement.

By 9:30am a poll by Radio 1116 SEN produced a 92% ‘No’ response to the question, ‘Do you support the actions of Mickey Arthur and Michael Clarke?’.

People clearly don’t ‘get’ what a high performance culture requires. In the modern age I suspect you wouldn’t find players at the Sydney Swans not completing such a task requested by their coach and captain.

I totally support David Parkin’s comments on this issue that he wholeheartedly supported the sacking of the players for the Third Test. I suspect Hawthorn great and legendary coach John Kennedy would share Parkin’s view.

Standards are standards and must be met in a high performance culture. The moment that you drop your standards you might as well forget whatever ‘vision’ you are chasing. It really is that simple. 

Personal accountability is also paramount. At least James Pattinson has come out to accept responsibility for his behaviour. But people must be challenged to take personal responsibility by being held to account for their behaviour. That is where real leadership kicks in – and where real leadership requires courage. No doubt Mickey Arthur and Michael Clarke were 100% aware of the ‘fall out’ of their decision. I applaud them both for having the courage of their convictions – an attribute that is never lost on leaders. Let’s hope that the Australian Cricket Board has as much courage and stands with them during this challenging time.

Gary Ryan enables individuals, teams and organisations to matter.
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The Challenge of “Truth to Power” for Leaders – Audio Version

Gary Ryan from Organisations That Matter reflects on conversations with participants in his leadership development programs about the challenge of ‘Truth to Power’.

This recording is an episode from the What Really Matters For Professional Development Podcast by Gary Ryan.

Gary Ryan enables individuals, teams and organisations to matter.
Visit Gary at

Managing High Performing Culture Breakers

A recent article When to Fire a Top Performer on the HBR Blog Network by Eric Sinoway caught my eye. In the article Eric classifies employees into four categories based on their performance and their alignment with the organisation’s values and culture.

Sinoway’s four categories include:

  • Stars are the employees we all love — the ones who “do the right thing” the “right way” .
  • High potentials are those whose behavior we value — who do things the right way but whose skills need further maturation or enhancement. With training, time, and support, these people are your future stars.
  • Zombies fail on both counts. Their behavior doesn’t align with the cultural aspirations of the organization and their performance is mediocre.
  • Vampires are the real threat. These employees perform well but in a manner that is at cross-purposes with desired organizational culture. 

The ‘Vampires’ as Sinoway calls them can cause untold damage to your organisation, despite the appearance that they ‘get results’.

Reading the article reminded me of a framework I had learned from Jack Welch while he was CEO of GE.

In this matrix, the vertical axis refers to ‘on the job performance and the horizontal axis refers to alignment with company values. Welch argued that so called high performers who didn’t align with company values hurt the company in the long term, despite their short term ‘performance’ results. 
Welch’s view was that these people damaged both internal and external relationships and as such would damage the company in the long term, which is why he fired them.
Folk who were aligned with the company’s values but fell short on ‘performance’ were worth a second chance. Of course those who scored well in both areas were the company’s stars and should therefore be promoted and their opposites, those who neither ‘performed’ nor shared the company’s values were asked to leave.
The beauty of these models and approaches is that they provide us with a framework for conversations and decision making.
How does your organisation manage the dilemma of a high performer who doesn’t align with the company’s values?

Gary Ryan enables individuals, teams and organisations to matter.
Visit Gary at

Government grants enhance the affordability of culture change programs

A combination of state and federal government schemes designed to enhance the formal qualifications of Australians have the added bonus of providing the resources for corporate culture change programs.

The challenge is that many leaders aren’t aware of the opportunity they have available to them and therefore don’t fully leverage the culture change opportunity.

As a facilitator of such programs I help senior leaders recognise that the real benefit of the programs is the conversations about their business that the course material catalyses. In simple terms, the course material and the courses themselves create the space for staff to talk about their organisation in a safe way. In other words, they have the opportunity to have Conversations That Matter®.

In every session that I have facilitated staff have learned something about their business that they did not previously know. Often this knowledge was considered by others in the room to be “known by everyone”. Yet it quickly becomes obvious that not everyone did know.

For example one organisation with whom I have been working has a bonus system in place that rewards staff for submitting ideas via their intranet that, if adopted and they produce measurable business improvements a bonus is paid to the employee. A lot of the mid-level managers in the program didn’t know that the system existed.

If it wasn’t for the program and the opportunity to talk about organisational systems designed to enhance idea generation, the conversation that resulted in the knowledge sharing would not have occurred. This type of conversation occurs in every session.

The opportunity to overlay the program with a specific culture change focus is both available and logical. Why not use government funding to pay for a program that enables real conversations about the organisation to be conducted that are influenced by theory! In addition, the program provides employees with a nationally recognised qualification.

In fact, it is my experience that corporate programs offer the greatest opportunity for theory to be understood and applied because the program creates the space for colleagues to apply theory to the practical operation of their business. In many cases the theory can then be applied in real time.  When properly understood and facilitated such opportunities can provide enormous benefits for everyone.

Please feel free to contact me if you are interested in how such a program can benefit your organisation and employees.

Gary Ryan enables individuals, teams and organisations to matter.
Visit Gary at

Recognise, Reward and Celebrate Great Service

All organisations need to be able to recognise how they are performing with regard to their Service Strategy.

They also need to have the capacity to recognise and reward their staff for their great service.

Celebrating milestones and achievements is a critical aspect of a service culture and sends positive messages to staff about the value that great service holds within the company.

Establishing programs that recognise and reward staff for great service are essential tools for re-enforcing what really matters in your organisation.

I have been fortunate enough to both lead and be part of teams who have been nationally recognised for their achievements in providing great service. To watch those team members shout with joy when their organisation’s name was called out has been a delight. Think about it – these people were shouting for joy as if they were at a football match and their team had just scored a goal. Well their work team had just scored a goal – a goal in providing great service!

The energy that the recognition created was tangible – you literally could ‘feel it’ and the benefit for staff engagement and continuing on the continuous improvement journey was well worth the effort to enter the awards competitions.

How do you recognise, reward and celebrate great service?

Whether you are big or small, you cannot give good customer service if your employees don’t feel good about coming to work. (Martin Oliver)

Please feel free to use this article as a catalyst for Conversations That Matter® inside your organisation.

Gary Ryan enables individuals, teams and organisations to matter.
Visit Gary at

Expert Tip – Motivation Factor 4

In the fifth of the short videos in the 11 part series on how to create motivated employees, I share the fourth of 10 key factors that when present will collectively enhance the motivation of your team members/employees.

How do you rate for this factor?

Gary Ryan enables individuals, teams and organisations to matter.
Visit Gary at

How to motivate your team members when times are tough

I concur that organisations need to create the conditions that enhance individual motivation and that, most likely, the conditions that have caused people to appear ‘de-motivated’ now were present well before the economic downturn.

My research and experience has clearly indicated that there are a number of factors that leaders/manager can control that can enhance the conditions where individual motivation has a chance to be raised.

  1. Let people know what is going on – be honest
  2. Remind people of where you are going and how what you are doing now is going to get you there (Vision and strategy)
  3. Recognise people for their efforts – be genuine when doing this else it will backfire
  4. To the best of your ability ensure that people are doing work that engages their talents – this assumes, of course, that you have spent the time working out what their talents are in the first place (if you haven’t done this yet, then this too is an opportunity)
  5. Create opportunities for your people to contribute to finding and implementing ways to help the company ‘turn things around’ – Low Risk Projects are a great way to do this (a Low Risk Project is one that has minimal financial or brand risk associated with it, but a big upside if it comes off)
  6. This builds on number 5 above – continue to create developmental opportunities for your people – how smart can you be with you existing budget line items so that you can stay within budget yet still create developmental opportunities for your people to develop themselves? E.g. you probably can’t pay people more, yet you might be able to send some on a conference (that would be relevant to them and their role of course)
  7. Listen to what they have to say and implement (where possible) their suggestions – then let everyone know that you have implemented a suggestion from whoever suggested it – this proves that you have listened
  8. Trust people to do their job – there is not much more de-motivating that someone unnecessarily looking over your shoulder
  9. Give people honest feedback on their performance – what are they doing well, what could they improve on and what could they start doing that they are not currently doing
  10. Re-enforce the value of what they are doing and how it is helping the company get back on track.

These 10 suggestions are all within the control of each manager/leader and in my view are absolutely doable.

What have you been doing to motivate your team members?

How could you use this article to catalyse Conversations That Matter® within your organisation?

Gary Ryan enables individuals, teams and organisations to matter.
Visit Gary at