Tag Archives: high performing teams

Lessons about mateship from a 7yo

This Sunday it is Father’s Day. When collecting my two youngest sons from school yesterday, my seven-year-old son, affectionately known as ‘D-Man’, was covering a paper bag with a drawing he had just completed in class.

“Dad, you can’t see what’s inside the bag because it has the presents I bought for you from the Father’s Day Stall.”

 “Okay, don’t worry I promise I won’t look.” I said.

He then went on to say, “Dad, when we get home, can you give me ten dollars?

Continue reading Lessons about mateship from a 7yo

Workplace safety starts at home

My eldest son is 17 and is eagerly searching for his first car. We have two parameters for his search. The first is his car must have a 5 Star ANCAP Rating, and the second is our budget.

Prior to facilitating a Safety Conference for Programmed with my good friend Jock Macneish in 2011, I would have shared different criteria with you regarding a first car for my son. He was only 11yo at the time so my criteria were somewhat premature, but a story shared by Programmed’s Managing Director Chris Sutherland changed my mindset.

Continue reading Workplace safety starts at home

Do you have any Gloria’s working with you?

When working for Commercial Services at Monash University which had 750 staff over 28 sites providing a wide range of services for the students and staff of Monash University’s nine campuses, the CEO asked me to lead a recognition and reward project called Project Grateful.

He was a fan of Disney and had previously attended the Disney Institute’s leadership programs.

He handed me a ‘Star Card’, a card the size of a business card that read, “You’re a Star!” on one side, and had room for an employee to identify a colleague and create a short hand written note to either thank them or congratulate them for doing something useful, on the other side of the card.

Continue reading Do you have any Gloria’s working with you?

Five questions for your team

Gary RyanWhen working with my clients I am constantly asked, “How do I make sure that my team is focused and doing the right things?

If you want your team to be fully engaged and successful, below are five questions that you ought to consider. It is best if your team are included in the conversation to answer the questions.
Continue reading Five questions for your team

Walk Tall

On a good day I am 170 centimetres tall (five foot seven). It’s fair to say that I’m not a tall man.

Confused, young businessman looking at chalk drawn arrows on a cGrowing up in suburban Melbourne, Australia I dreamed of being an Australian Rules footballer. Unfortunately I forgot to get in the queue for skills and talent when I was being made! So I didn’t have much natural talent when it came to sport. That said I loved sport and coupled with being a determined little fellow I made the best of what I did have and played and coached Australian Rules football until I was 30 years old.

Dreams, however, have a funny way of coming true. As a result of my professional career in November 2006 I was invited by Ray Mclean, a founding director of Leading Teams Australia to be interviewed by Kane Johnson, then the captain of the Richmond Tigers and some of his fellow Leadership Team members about taking on the role of mentoring Kane and facilitating a program for the leadership group at Richmond.

Despite having many years of public speaking and leadership facilitation behind me I remember feeling extremely nervous as I drove to Swan Street in Richmond for our meeting that day. Who was I, this guy who was a ‘battler’ at best to tell these elite athletes about leadership? What had I gotten myself in to! I kept thinking to myself.

My negative self-talk was making me more and more nervous. You know the feeling. I started to feel sick in the stomach. Maybe I should cancel the meeting, after all I clearly don’t feel well. My mind was racing.

But then the skills that I had developed over time, which was one of the reasons why I had been asked to take on this job, kicked in.

I can do this. I am good enough. I do know a lot about leadership. Just be yourself. If they don’t like you, that’s okay. Not everybody has to like you. Just be yourself, listen to them and be honest in your answers.

As I got out of my car I was still nervous but I felt more in control of the situation and more in control of my mind.

Walking toward the cafe where we were to meet I kept saying to myself, Walk tall Gazza, walk tall!

No doubt that may seem strange coming from a man only 170 centimetres tall. But it summed up all of my positive self-talk. I felt a sense of calm in terms of preparing to meet these champions of the game. Ray Mclean had confidence in me so why shouldn’t I! If it turns out that I’m not the right person for the job, then that’s okay. It doesn’t make me less of a human being.

Needless to say the meeting went well and I ended up mentoring Kane and working with the Richmond Leadership group, the coaches and the playing list. In fact, I sat in the coach’s box in the 2007 Round 1 game versus Carlton and had the opportunity to stand in the middle of ground before the game, at the quarter-time and at three-quarter time. There was a crowd of nearly 80,000 in the Melbourne Cricket Ground and here I was standing in the middle of it. While I wasn’t a player, I was there as a professional! In fact, I was being paid to be there.

I teach people that it is important to let your dreams come true via a thousand pathways. Life is too complex to limit yourself to a single route toward success. Constructive self-talk, as demonstrated by my story is critical along this journey. I don’t believe that it is possible to 100% eliminate negative self-talk. I do believe that when negative self-talk occurs then you have the power and control to change it to something more constructive so you can take whatever action you need to create the success you desire. This may be relevant when you are going for a job interview, a promotion, delivering a presentation, speaking with senior executives or starting an exercise program. Learning to master your self-talk is a strategy that enhances success and will enable you to bring your dreams into reality.

Gary Ryan enables leaders and their teams to move Beyond Being Good™.

Failure and Success

One of the biggest challenges associated with creating life balance and personal success relates to how you manage failure.

Yes For Success, Life balance, plan for personal success, Gary Ryan, Organisations That MatterFailure can manifest in many ways:

  • You don’t get offered the job after you attend an interview
  • The project you are working on doesn’t achieve budget
  • You lose three kilograms instead of four kilograms
  • You have a ‘rest’ day when you were supposed to go for a five kilometre jog
  • You yell at your child when they climb the fence
  • You only read three literature articles when you had intended to read five

Creating success invariably includes many small failures. None of us are perfect so you will let yourself down from time to time. However, if you focus too much on when you have let yourself down and failed, you risk letting the negative energy from failure grow even more and cause more failure.

Equally we can’t disregard failure and pretend that it doesn’t matter. Clearly it does matter when we fail because it delays us from achieving the success we desire.

What then, can we do about failure?

In simple terms you can learn from it. Not a unique concept I know. Your learning will be on multiple levels. For example, what did you learn about your expectations? Were they realistic? On this point it is my experience that one of the only ways to discover what is realistic is to create an expectation, ideally a high one, and then go and do everything you can to achieve it. In doing so you may then have a ‘reality check’ in which a lot of valuable learning can occur.

What did you learn about your planning? Was the planning process itself ‘solid’? Did it help you to consider unintended consequences?

What did you learn about how you put your plan into action? Did you follow your plan or did you just make up each step of your journey as you went along in complete disregard of your plan?

When you did whatever you did, how could it have been done better? This last question can also lead to too much focus on failure if it isn’t done correctly. In retrospect it is always very easy to say that you should have known better. No doubt sometimes you should. There will be other times when your plan was the best that it could have been at the time. How you executed your plan could have also been better. Retrospect highlights the gap between what we did and what we could have done based on what we have just learned. In other words it will be rare for you to take action and then decide that there wasn’t anything that you could have done to have done it better. Retrospect, by nature highlights learning gaps.

Despite your failures, when traveling the journey of creating more success and life balance it is important to notice your progress. Become acutely aware of your small successes and despite all your failures, focus on learning from them to help you continue your journey toward more and more success.

Find out more about the Yes For Success Program here.

Gary Ryan enables leaders and their teams to move Beyond Being Good™.

Harvard Research Aligns With Life Balance and Personal Success Program

Harvard University researchers Boris Groysberg and Robin Abrahams have recently released the findings of their research that involved almost 4,000 executives worldwide. Their article Manage Your Work, Manage Your Life (Harvard Business Review March 2014 p.p. 58-66) identifies key factors that are addressed by the Yes For Success 10 Module Program (keep in mind that the Yes For Success program has evolved since March 2007). Here are some of their key findings with the corresponding Yes For Success Module(s) that address that finding:

  1. Yes For Success Program For Life Balance and Personal SuccessDefine Success For YourselfThis is what the Yes For Success Program is about and specifically it is in Module 5 you get to put your definition down on paper
  2. Managing Technology – One of the Bonus programs inside the Yes For Success Platform is the 21 Module Yes For Career Success program where several modules are dedicated to helping you better use technology in the context of managing your time and achieving high performance
  3. Building Support NetworksModule 2 of the Yes For Success program includes a section on identifying your Personal Success Team, which is 100% about creating a support network
  4. Traveling or Relocating Selectively Module 5 includes a section that helps you to find the role that travel will play in your life, including the possibility of having multiple ‘homes’
  5. Collaborating With Your PartnerModules 2 and 5 address this issue, as does the specific actions that you identify in Module 8. If you don’t have a current partner, but want one, Yes For Success can help with that issue too (we have had weddings happen as a result of people executing their plans – including actions to find love!)
  6. There Are Multiple Routes To Successonce again all 10 Modules re-enforce this concept, while enabling you to follow a simple step by step process to identify your own answer and route to success. In addition, while everyone’s route to success is unique, it doesn’t mean that you can’t learn from the success of other people – Yes For Success is a community where members share their strategies that are enabling them to create success
  7. Life happensModule 9 includes a section on what to do when ‘life happens’ and things get in the way of you executing your plan

My own experience of facilitating the Yes For Success Program is that it works. The seven key points identified in the Harvard research are all addressed through the program. Find out more about the Yes For Success Program here.

Gary Ryan enables leaders and their teams to move Beyond Being Good™.

Jason Barrie’s Perspective On Health & Fitness

On May 1st 1999 Jason Barrie’s life changed forever. Playing local Australian Rules Football he was involved in a tragic accident, the result of which left him as an Incomplete Quadriplegic. Jason often describes himself as, “The luckiest, unlucky man alive“. Despite being an Incomplete Quadriplegic, Jason is able to walk. While his spinal cord was damaged in his accident, it wasn’t completely severed. This means that he has about 80% use of the right side of his body, but considerably less on the left side of his body.

The Yes For Success Platform is an online service that steps members through a process for identifying and creating a plan for life balance and personal success. Every month members have access to a Question and Answer Webinar where they can ask questions that relate to their personal success. The above video is a recording of the February 2014 member-only webinar. Usually these videos are kept for the exclusive use of members of the Yes For Success Platform.

However Jason’s story where he shares his perspective on health and fitness is so inspiring I just had to share it. Enjoy it and please feel free to share it with others.

Gary Ryan enables leaders and their teams to move Beyond Being Good™.

Chaos and order ARE the natural order of things

Dee Hock, Founder and CEO Emeritus of VISA International, arguably the most profitable organisation in the world, explains in his book One From Many, that chaos and order are the natural order of things.

Consider this. VISA exists to exchange value, represented by digital money. How can chaos be part of such a world? Surely everything must be ordered for VISA to function.

senior couple of old man and woman sitting on the beach watchingYet its founder argues that while it is human to desire everything to be in order, the natural order of life is that it isn’t.

To demonstrate please come for a walk with me. You are standing on the edge of the ocean facing inland. Slowly you walk up the beach. At first you encounter some small sand-dunes with no sand grass on them. Then you notice some larger sand-dunes with scattered sand grass. The sand grass gets thicker as you venture inland from the waterline. Gradually the sand grass begins to give way to small shrubs, then bigger shrubs. You start to notice less sand and more dirt under your feet. Soon you are entering a forest with tall trees and shelter from the sun and the beach seems a long way behind you.

This walk seems orderly. There is an obvious progression and change from sand to sand grass, to small shrubs and eventually to fully grown trees. Yet there is a large degree of chaos that exists within the order presented above.

Sand-dunes shift. Which seed of sand grass survives and which one doesn’t is seemingly random. The same issue exists for the seeds for the small shrubs and finally the larger trees. Chaos exists side by side with order.

Dee Hock created the word ‘Chaordic‘ to describe this reality.

People who do not understand that chaos and order co-exist are constantly frustrated. As much as we may try to make the world orderly, it isn’t. One of the primary reasons is that humans are chaordic by nature. We have the power of choice and will exercise that choice in both rational and irrational ways.

Leaders need to understand that ‘chaos happens‘ from time to time. A highly valued staff member resigns and tells you they are leaving the industry. The government changes a law which directly impacts your revenue. Your computer system crashes due to a virus.

I’m not advocating that you shouldn’t do whatever you can to increase order. Look at traffic on our roads as an example. What would happen to the road toll if we eliminated speed limits and traffic lights? It is hard to imagine that increasing chaos on our roads wouldn’t increase accidents and therefore deaths. Clearly more orderly roads are safer for us all. But accidents still happen and some humans choose to break the rules.

My point is that no matter how hard we try to control everything, chaos will find a way to penetrate our order. Why? Because, it is the natural order of things.

As a leader, your challenge is to develop the capacity to live with and manage chaos when it comes. Because it will come.

Gary Ryan enables leaders and their teams to move Beyond Being Good™.

How to receive feedback from your peers

One of the most critical features of a High Performing Team is the ability of the members of the team to be able to give and receive feedback.

If you think giving feedback is hard, how would you go when it is your turn to receive it?

Would you take it personally? Would you get upset? Would you want to get back at the person who gave you the feedback?

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAIn order for peer-to-peer feedback to be effective it must have a context. The only reason for providing feedback to each other is so that the person who is receiving feedback has an opportunity to help them be the best that they can be for the team. All team members need to share in their understanding of this reason for giving feedback to each other. Secondly, feedback is only ever based on opinion and should be supported by evidence. But evidence is subject to interpretation which is why the folk providing the feedback must understand that there may be other valid ways at looking at the evidence that they are using as the basis for their opinion.

Next, feedback is a two-way conversation. Too many people believe that because they have provided a peer with some feedback then that peer should immediately respond and change their behaviour. Treating feedback as a two-way conversation helps to keep the purpose of feedback in focus (to help the person be the best that they can be for the team) and allows a shared understanding to occur. Once my direct reports told me that they believed that I wasn’t a very good example of life balance, one of our agreed behaviours. Specifically they felt that eating my lunch while continuing to work put pressure on them to do the same. After I thanked them for their feedback and made sure that I fully understood what they had told me, I explained that the very reason why I ate my lunch at my desk was because of life balance. At the time I had three young children and as often as possible I wanted to be home by 6:30pm to have dinner with my family and then bath my children. There were certain tasks of my role that required that I was on site and I couldn’t take the work home to do after my children had gone to bed. So I had made a conscious choice to eat my lunch while I was working so that I could get home by 6:30pm.

The two-way conversation resulted in my direct reports having an increased understanding of my behaviour. It also raised another issue. My team wanted more social contact with me instead of everything being work oriented. At the end of the conversation we agreed that I would continue to eat my lunch as I had done, but that I would make more effort to have some social interaction with them.

A challenge when receiving feedback is not to be defensive. This is why it is important to make sure that you fully understand what you have been told, and the evidence used to support what you have been told, before you explain why you have done what you have done. Which, by the way, won’t always be possible. Sometimes you will receive feedback that is a surprise and while you may understand what you have been told, you may need some time to process it.

Your mindset when you are receiving feedback is to consider the feedback as a gift. When you have this mindset then you will be open to discovering what your gift is. Some gifts are great and expected, others are wonderful and unexpected and some gifts are for the giver of the gift, not the receiver of the gift (like the PlayStation I gave my wife for her 30th birthday many years ago…). No matter what sort of gift you receive, the first thing to say is, “Thank you.”

Many people are worried about receiving feedback because they are concerned about what they might say if they receive some feedback they don’t like. This is why having a mindset that feedback is a gift is so powerful. You always know what you are going to say after hearing the feedback. Once again what you are going to say is, “Thank you”.

Finally, I am a fan of the process of group feedback than too much one on one feedback. In a group feedback process the group should only report what behaviours they unanimously agree that you should cease, commence or continue. One on one feedback can result in personal issues being over emphasised and the status of your peers being under or over emphasised. Weight of numbers is what matters. That is why when my entire team of direct reports told me that they didn’t think I was a good example of life balance it was critical that I understood what they were telling me and why they were telling me. The two-way conversation enabled me to re-enforce that I didn’t mind that they had lunch breaks – what I cared about was results.

In summary:

  • Feedback must only be provided to help peers be the best that they can be for the team;
  • Have the mindset that feedback is a ‘gift’;
  • Always say “Thank you” after receiving your feedback;
  • Unanimous group feedback is more powerful than too much one on one feedback; and
  • Feedback is a two-way conversation.

Gary Ryan enables leaders and their teams to move Beyond Being Good™.