Tag Archives: employability skills

Chris Judd’s Success Lessons

Gary RyanRetiring Australian Football League (AFL) legend Chris Judd has shared two key lessons for success in his recent speeches and newspaper article. Both lessons are not your run-of the-mill lessons. They are insightful and more importantly useful. Use them to help you stay on track on your journey toward more success and life balance.

Lesson 1 – None of us are Nostradamus

When quizzed about his decision to play again in the 2015 season, Judd was asked if it was the wrong decision. Here is his response:

Playing on this year had proved to be the wrong decision for the right reasons. By that, I meant that I hadn’t persevered for money, or for personal glory, but to help the club build a culture. I have some good memories from the second half of last season, and had hoped to solidify them. They were good reasons to play on. As it turns out, I was wrong. But none of us are Nostradamus. As long as you go about the process correctly, and your intentions are pure, even if you make a wrong decision, you can sleep at night. That’s how I feel now.

None of us are perfect. Occasionally you will make wrong decisions. As Robert Louis Flood stated, “The future is unknowable“. When your intentions are honourable, and it turns out that you made a wrong decision, so be it. Learn and move on.

Lesson 2 – Enjoy the good moments when they happen

When asked for his advice to current players, Judd replied:

I think one of the main things, if I had my time over again, is just to appreciate the good moments a little bit more. I was always so ambitious and focused on what was coming next that I probably didn’t recognise as much when something special had happened.

Jeffrey Hopkins, in his translation of the Dalai Lama’s ‘How to Practise – The way to a meaningful life‘ shares that too many people cause themselves suffering because they are not present in the moment. Rather, they are stuck in the past or already focused on the future.

You share this challenge. Remembering to live in the moment when you are doing something important is a critical trait to develop.

I recall that a good friend of mine shared some excellent advice with my wife and I prior to our wedding. He said, “I encourage you to take some time out during your celebrations. Just sit by yourselves on four or five occasions and take it all in. Commit the experience to memory. The sights, the sounds, the taste of your food and drink. You won’t regret it.”

We followed his advice and 18 years later we can both remember our wedding as if it were yesterday, as I can the birth of each of my five children and many other important events in my life as a result of practising this technique.

Taking the conscious time to be present in the moment is important for success because it provides you with the experience of success that you strive so hard to achieve. It is worth following Judd’s advice – enjoy the good moments when they happen.

Gary Ryan provided leadership development services to the Richmond Tigers in 2007 and 2009, and sat on the AFL Coaches Association Board of Management from 2009 to 2014.

 

Gary Ryan enables talented professionals, their teams and organisations to move Beyond Being Good®

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Quality Workplace Conversations Matter

Here’s a formula.

High quality conversations lead to high quality decisions, which lead to high quality actions and ultimately, high quality results and performance. The reverse is also true. Low quality conversations eventually lead to low quality results.

Achieving high quality results and performance are worth the effort to learn how to conduct high quality conversations.

Gary RyanThe point of leverage in this model is high quality conversations. But what is a high quality conversation?

Unfortunately you have experienced more than your fair share of low quality conversations. These are ones where you walk out of the meeting and think any one of the thoughts below:

  • “Wow, that was a complete waste of time”
  • “When will people finally start to listen around here?”
  • “Why does everyone have to make my life so difficult? Why won’t they listen to me?”
  • “There’s no point saying what you really think around here because no one is going to listen anyway!”

High quality conversations are more natural than you might think. Peter Senge, author of the Fifth Discipline states,

As far as I know, no indigenous culture has yet to be found that does not have the practice of sitting in a circle and talking.

For the ancient Greeks dia logos was the ‘flow of meaning’. It was the cornerstone of civic practice. The polis was the gathering space for conversation. The purpose for the dia logos was about enabling self-government to occur. This system was the birthplace of the western world.

As time has passed the practice of dia logos has diminished. When you converse in a workplace your purpose is no longer to consider what is best for the whole. Rather, your purpose is to win. You are a master of debate. I win. You lose.

Our modern word for dia logos is dialogue. When we dialogue our purpose is not to win. It is to discover what no individual could discover on their own and it is to discover what is the best solution for the whole, not the part.

Think about the conversations that you have at work, especially the ones where everyone in the room is ‘representing‘ a specific department or unit. What is the intent that each of you bring to those conversations? Is it to do what is best for the whole organisation, or is it to defend, protect and/or promote what is best for your department or unit?

The root cause of the lack of dialogue in organisations is the lack of the practice of dialogue itself. Quite simply, well-educated and/or experienced people don’t know how to dialogue. The reverse is true. They know how to debate. It is little wonder that debate rules, but the overuse of debate lowers the overall quality of your conversations.

Debate is not bad. In fact a form of debate (known as ‘opposing’) is encouraged in the practice of dialogue. The issue with debating is that it is overused. Our conversations are out of balance. We require more use of dialogue to improve the quality of our conversations.

The solution is to learn dialogue together. The beauty of the learning process is that you can practice dialogue, while learning it, on real organisational issues.

In the foreword to William Isaacs’s book, ‘Dialogue and the art of thinking together‘, Peter Senge highlights that,

In almost every setting where practices of dialogue have become embedded and part of everyday routines, the ensuing changes have become irreversible, as near as I can tell.

The projects to which Senge was referring involved practical people such as line managers, executives and staff from mostly Fortune 500 companies. The improvements were clear. Improving the quality of work-place conversations improve performance.

The effort is worth it. Higher quality conversations lead to higher quality decisions which lead to higher quality actions and ultimately higher quality results and performance. Results and performance matter and so does improving the quality of conversations in your organisation.

What actions are you taking to improve the quality of conversations at your work-place?

 

Gary Ryan enables talented professionals, their teams and organisations to move Beyond Being Good®

If you would like to learn more about learning how to Dialogue, contact Gary here.

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Gallup Research: How To Increase Employee Engagement

The most recent Gallup research (conducted in the USA) on manager effectiveness has shown that seven out of ten managers are directly reducing rather than increasing employee motivation and engagement. If you are a manager, then this means that you have a 30 percent chance of being an effective manager, and a 70 percent chance that you are an ineffective one. Which one are you?

Gary RyanThe report highlights that effective, engaging managers result in a, “48% increase in profitability, a 22% increase in productivity, a 30% increase in employee engagement scores, a 17% increase in customer engagement scores and a 19% decrease in turnover.” How do your numbers compare with these?

The evidence is overwhelming. Closing the gap between ineffective and effective management matters!

What is it that effective managers do that makes such a big difference?

Firstly, they are talented. Gallup defines talent as, “… the natural capacity for excellence. People can learn skills, develop knowledge and gain experience, but they can’t acquire talent — its innate. When individuals have the right talent for their role, they’re energized by their work, rarely thinking of it as “work” at all.”

The skills required for effective management and leadership are specific. They include being able to listen, to communicate effectively, to have foresight, to be able to find employee strengths, to be able to paint a picture of success and more. Identifying people with the talent to manage is just as important as identifying people with the right talent for any job.

Next, talent is grown and not promoted. Promoting people into roles beyond their competence is one of the greatest flaws that contribute to the generally poor performance of managers. Just because someone is good at their frontline role doesn’t mean they will make a great manager. Yet that is exactly the practice that exists today. How are people promoted into management roles in your organisation?

Gallup recommends that people be paid for their performance, not their job title. This means that an employee could be paid more than their manager. Place the right talent into the right roles and pay them for their value, not their title. For most companies, this will require a structural change to how they manage their pay scales. Are people paid for the value or their title in your organisation?

Manager’s themselves need to continually improve and to further develop their strengths. Too many managers have limited opportunity to improve their management skills once they become managers, which decreases their own engagement, the ripple effect of which is to further decrease the engagement of their direct reports. Lower engagement leads to lower productivity and lower profits. Clearly this is madness, yet this vicious cycle continues to thrive.

How can these issues be resolved? Fortunately, there is a solution.

Servant Leadership is a management and leadership style that addresses these issues. Cheryl Bachelder, CEO of Popeyes, shares in her book Dare To Serve the power of Servant Leadership and how it has driven the company’s turn-around since 2007 (it’s share price has risen from $12 to over $56 – how happy do you think its shareholders are about this improvement!). A clear and deliberate cultural shift to practice Servant Leadership, including changing systems and processes to make sure they are aligned with the principles and practices of Servant Leadership has driven their performance improvements.

The test for effective Servant Leadership focuses on the growth of the people you are serving.  Gallup’s recent research identifies that growing talent is what matters. Servant Leaders take action to help the people they are serving grow. The results; increased engagement, productivity and profits!

Existing management practices are not working. Companies and organisations need to adopt a completely different approach to how management roles are executed. Servant Leadership is the answer. It results in more engaged employees and customers and increases profitability. Who doesn’t want those outcomes! Make the decision today to change your management practices for the better.

Gary Ryan enables talented professionals, their teams and organisations to move Beyond Being Good

If you would like to learn more about Servant Leadership, contact Gary here.

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This is what we should be doing!

My eldest child Liam is a teenager and loves his Australian Rules Football and his cricket. He is on an Australian Football League (AFL) Pathway program and he played representative cricket last summer. While he loves both sports he has said that his personal goals are to be the best that he can be so that he can (at the very least) enjoy his sport at the local level.

Gary RyanEver since he has been exposed to a higher standard of training it has opened his eyes to how low the standard is at his local team. This isn’t a criticism it is just a fact.

He has come to realise that if he hadn’t been exposed to a higher standard he would have continued to think that his effort at his local team was at a high standard. He wants his local team-mates to raise their standard and is frustrated by the fact that he knows that they think that they are already training with a high level of effort. He doesn’t blame them for thinking that way because he used to think that way too. They simply don’t know anything different.

He has a dilemma. How can he help his team-mates to ‘see‘ the gap that he has seen without looking like a know-it-all!

Unbeknown to me he has executed a plan. You see, as part of his own development he has “run water” for the past two seasons with our local Under 19 team who play in the Victorian Amateur Football Association (VAFA). His perspective is that by being involved with the older boys he is continuing to be exposed to a higher standard of effort. His plan has been to continue to invite his team-mates to come and help him run water with the intention being that by doing so they will be exposed to the higher standard of effort and have the opportunity to see first-hand the gap with his underage team.

Last weekend, for the very first time, one of his team-mates took up the offer. At the end of the warm up his team-mate came over to Liam and said, “Wow, did you see the standard of their warm-up? This is what we should be doing too!”

Bam! Liam smiled and agreed.

His plan had worked and it only took exposing his team-mate to the Under 19 team’s warm-up before their game for the gap to be ‘seen’ for the first time.

This example is relevant well beyond junior football. If you have team members who are performing at a low standard, it may be that they have never seen what a high standard actually looks like. Finding ways to expose them to that higher standard is a leadership challenge. It can be a slow journey, but one by one you can change a standard and a culture by exposing people to a higher standard, having them ‘see‘ the gap and then challenging and coaching them to ‘bring‘ that standard to their normal work.

Gary Ryan enables talented professionals, their teams and organisations to move Beyond Being Good

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What every employee needs to know (but most don’t!)

If you wish to be successful in your role there are two critical questions that you need answered:

  1. What is my role?
  2. How do I know that I am doing a good job?

Gary RyanKnowing the answer to the first question is not enough. You also need to know the answer to the second question. The performance of your role may be measured in many ways and if you aren’t addressing the measures that matter to your employer, you will be judged as a non-performer.

The reverse is also true. If you are a manager one of your roles is to make sure that your team members are clear about their role and are clear about how they will be judged for doing a good job. If your team members aren’t clear about the answers to both of these questions, chances are they will be doing unproductive work. And that reflects poorly on you.

How well do you understand your role and are you clear about what you need to do to be sure that you are doing a good job? If you are not clear about the answers to these questions go and find the answers now. Success in your role depends on it.

Gary Ryan helps talented professionals, their teams and organisations to move Beyond Being Good.

 

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Be aware of your employability skills

Recent research by Mark McCrindle and his team has indicated that a current school leaver can expect to have 17 employers throughout their career. This equates to three different employers every decade.

iStock_000009570322SmallWhat some of you may find surprising is that the current data for people 45 years and older is that your job tenure average is six years and eight months. This means that more experienced people find themselves out looking for work more than ever.

In this context, conscious development of your employability skills is not just for young people. It is also critical for more experienced people to continually develop your employability skills, given you will also be looking for work at least 1.5 times every decade (and that number is predicted to climb over the next decade).

The challenge for those of you who are more experienced is that while you have experience, you haven’t consciously developed your employability skills. In fact, you are unlikely to know what they are!

If you would like to learn about what employability skills are and how to capture stories that show how you have developed them (which is vital for successful interviews) you can download the first two chapters of my successful book What Really Matters For Young Professionals! for free here. The first chapter explains what employability skills are, and the second chapter teaches you how to capture examples of how you have developed them so that you can recall these stories in interviews.

Once you understand how you have developed your employability skills it is critical that you keep developing them. Your reality is that as more and more people enter the job market with the same skills that you have, the key differentiator between you and someone else is not your skills but how well you have developed your employability skills. In fact, well-developed employability skills are much like a parachute for your career. So check out the free chapters from my book and get moving on protecting your employability.

Gary Ryan enables organisations, leaders and talented professionals to move Beyond Being Good.

Schools and Universities are NOT Businesses

Simon Sinek clearly articulates the power of purpose in his book Start With Why: How great leaders inspire everyone to take action . He explains that when you understand Why you do what you do, then you have more power to take actions that are consistent with living your purpose.

When you start with why, people follow leaders for themselves. They do not follow leaders for their leaders.

Question Mark SkyWhat is the purpose of our schools and universities? Do they exist to make money? Is that their purpose?

Or do they exist to help children and adults learn how to learn so that they can contribute to creating a better world to live in?

Imagine a school whose purpose was to make money. Business people would be invited on to the school board and no doubt astute business decisions would be made to make sure that the school did indeed make money. Intuitively, what do you think that school would be like to go to? Sure, there would be talented teachers there. But would a talented teacher be 100% engaged with the idea that what they were doing was first about making money? Yes they would receive a nice pay-cheque, but would that make that teacher fully engaged with why the school existed?

What is your intuitive response to this scenario?

Imagine, on the other hand, a school whose purpose was to help children to learn how to learn so that they could contribute to creating a better world. Imagine that same talented teacher working in that school. Intuitively, how engaged with the school do you imagine that teacher would be?

Which of these two teachers would be more likely to go above and beyond the call of duty on a regular basis because of the purpose of their school? The one whose actions will help the school make more money, or the one whose actions will help children learn how to learn so that they can contribute to creating a better world?

If you are reading that I am suggesting that business people should not be on school or university councils then that is not what I am suggesting.

Schools and universities need to be rigorous in their financial practices and learn from the business community about how to make the best use of their money. But the reason for using business principles should always be in the context of serving the purpose of education. Education should not be used as the context for serving the purpose of making money.

Schools and universities require soul and a sense of belonging. The purpose of education must always drive their use of business principles, else they risk serving the wrong purpose and will diminish the education experience of the children and adults they serve.

Based on your experience, what is the purpose of your school or university?

You can view Simon Sinek’s Ted Talk here.

Gary Ryan enables organisations, leaders and talented professionals to move Beyond Being Good.

Two Types of Errors

There are two types of errors that we make. The first type is public and can be easily reviewed.

The second type is not obvious and are not easily reviewed so they are nicely tucked away ‘under the carpet‘.

Gary Ryan, Yes For SuccessThe first type is errors of ‘commission‘. These are errors when we do something that should not have been done. We plan poorly. We execute poorly. We review poorly.

Good operators review these errors and make adjustments so that they do not happen again. They learn.

The second type is errors of ‘omission‘. These are errors when you don’t do something that you should do. You don’t call-out unacceptable behaviour. You don’t speak up at a meeting when you ‘know‘ that the decision that has just been made is going to fail. You see an opportunity to improve yourself but you let it slip by.

Please note that errors of omission are not errors that you judge in hindsight. They are errors caused by not taking action that you knew you could have taken at the time the error occurred.

Errors of omission are just as important as errors of commission to review. If you keep repeating the same errors of omission then you will reduce your capacity to learn and to become the very best that you can be.

Asking yourself, your team or your organisation to identify actions that you knew you had the opportunity to take but you didn’t take provides an opportunity to review the thinking that stopped you from taking the action when the time was ‘right’. Exploring these examples will provide you with real learning that will better position you the next time similar situations arise.

Gary Ryan enables organisations, leaders and talented professionals to move Beyond Being Good.

Control your development

On the surface it may seem a little odd that I am suggesting that you should maintain 100% control over your personal and professional development.

running person on white background. Isolated 3D imageThe reality is that too many people hand over the responsibility for their development to their employer. They have a parent-child view of their relationship. Their employer ‘the parent’, will look after them and make sure they are properly developed.

The problem here is two-fold.

1. What if the employer doesn’t develop you? and

2. What if they don’t develop you properly?

The answer to both of these questions is that you suffer. No doubt the organisation will suffer too, but the organisation can get rid of you and then you really suffer. The risks associated with handing over 100% of the responsibility for your development are far too high. Yet that is exactly what most employees do.

Even if your employer is a ‘good‘ employer and provides lots of opportunities for you to develop, be prepared to go outside your organisation to develop the things that you need to develop. Be prepared to invest in your development. Treat the opportunities that your ‘good’ employer provides as a bonus.

This way you’ll continue to develop your talents and you will continue to be the best that you can be. Your talent won’t be at risk of being reduced over time.

Not developing your talents is guaranteed to cut your employability and long-term security. Not an outcome you want!

What I find interesting is that I spend about 30% of my time working with talented undergraduate, postgraduate and PhD university students. These students give of their time to get access to the various development programs that I facilitate. They don’t have to attend these programs. They are in control of their development.

Yet when they get a job, these very same students then hand 100% of the responsibility for their development over to their employer. It sounds crazy because it is!

My message is simple. Maintain control over your development.  Forever. Period.

Gary Ryan enables organisations, leaders and talented professionals to move Beyond Being Good.

Focus on where you are going

One of my hobbies is motorcycle riding. No doubt it is a dangerous past time. A secret to safe and effective motorcycle riding is to focus on where you are going. Motorcycles ‘go’ wherever the rider is looking.

This doesn’t mean that you should ignore everything else. Quite the contrary. In fact, as much is reasonably possible, when on a motorcycle you must be as aware as possible of everything 360 degrees around you. You have to know that there is a bus coming at you from your left. You have to see the car recklessly changing lanes in your rear vision mirrors. You have to see the parked car that is just about to move away from the kerb.

Photo by David Collopy - Photfit
Photo by David Collopy – Photofit

You must be fully aware of the dangers around you. However, you must not focus on them. If you focus on the dangers your motorcycle will go toward them which is not an outcome you want.

For me riding my motorcycle provides a real and genuine metaphor for life. In my life I must maintain focus on where I am going, while being aware of the dangers around me and taking evasive action as required to steer clear of them so that I can stay on track to where I want to go.

Too often people get focussed on what they don’t want and by doing so they draw it into their lives. Poor relationships. Poor bosses. Never having enough money. Being overweight. This list could go on. By focusing on what you don’t want you bring it to life and actually create it.

Traveling the journey of life requires that you maintain focus on where you want to go, all the while maintaining awareness of what is going on around you. When danger comes, take evasive action and focus on where you need to be to get away from that danger.

This simple principle will help you to create more life balance and personal success. Keep it in mind the next time something negative draws your attention. Maintain the discipline to stay focussed on what you really want.

Gary Ryan enables organisations, leaders and talented professionals to move Beyond Being Good.

Great for leaders, great for followers, great for organisations