Making policies real makes them work

Making policies real makes them work

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Making policies real makes them work

There has been a lot said in the media of late about the state of cultures in Parliament House, in the media and in the corporate world.

We know that issues of gender equality, equal opportunity and gender-based harassment and violence have been present and commonplace in society and workplaces for decades.

In organisations, we have our discrimination and harassment policies and our gender equity quotas and annual reporting requirements and our EAPs and more……..yet what has really changed?

When you look at how organisations and people talk and behave today, has much progress been made for women in real terms and in everyday behaviours that they experience?

Sadly not much…. as is evident from the wave of protests and outcries that we are seeing and hearing from women across Australia today.

Why is it so?

The answer is that all of those policies and quotas and reporting requirements have (in the main) just been dealt with as compliance requirements. That is to say that they have been seen to be about minimising risk of exposure for not having done the due diligence of getting a tick in that box because our lawyers or government or our customers said that we had to.

This is a common failing of policy settings and organisational mindset in all sorts of areas.

For example:

  • When we do SWOT analyses, what are the first things we focus on – weaknesses (where can we be hurt) and threats (how can we be hurt) ie we focus on risk not strengths.
  • In implementing quality assurance processes in business, the motivation most often is getting the tick for accreditation on your brand because you want to be able to qualify for that next tender or to satisfy a key customer requirement for certification.
  • With WHS policies and procedures, the focus first and foremost is to get documented systems in place, instruct people to use them and have evidence of that instruction so as to nominally be able to demonstrate satisfaction of the primary obligation to have safe systems of work. 

This means, in reality, they are only real to the extent that they generate a risk management strategy and process. Does that have real impact on organisational cultures and behaviours? Probably not.

Too often policies set out commitments or principles that are simply not supported by processes or leadership mindsets and actions. Or we decide that for operational reasons we will create an exception eg “we can’t afford to lose Harry even if he did that.” Or we don’t seem to be able to find the time to do what is required.

These scenarios just create contradictions with the end result being that people just don’t believe … how could they when “the rhetoric” and “the reality” are miles apart?

What should we do about it? 

The first thing we need to do is to acknowledge that the traditional risk management approach to implementing change doesn’t change behaviour all by itself.

The second is that the risk management process has to be real. That means that we need to genuinely explore and address the policies, processes and people who present risk in reality to women in our workplace ie in the policy settings, processes, attitudes and behaviours that define our culture.

When you introduce a new policy, do you do a real risk assessment on people ie do we identify who will be challenged to comply with this and what will we do about that?

It is also essential that leaders open their minds and hearts to the experiences and perspectives of women – not through a risk management lens that is about protecting management or fixing a problem but through an engagement lens which is about obtaining the best outcome by really giving women a voice, listening to it and acting positively on what they say. Ask the question: “How can I help?”

Be clear about what we are wanting to achieve (our purpose in this) eg: that might be “We want a workplace where equality and safety are real for everyone every day.”

Articulate some clear principles or strategies that underpin that purpose and provide the foundation for effective action, eg:

  1. Women genuinely have a voice that is heard and listened to and acted on.
  2. There is an organisation-wide process of risk assessment – a deep reflection on the people, the language, the policies and procedures and the behaviours within the organisation that present risks or disadvantages for women (directly or indirectly).
  3. There is an organisation-wide commitment to change and to not be bystanders who allow gender-based discrimination and harassment to happen.
  4. There is an ever evolving, effective and inclusive plan to deliver our “workplace where equality and safety are real for everyone every day”.
  5. Every person is held accountable for their language and behaviours and management of their relationships through regular conversations, education and coaching and, where they are not enough, discipline.
  6. Our leaders “walk the talk” in practise without exception and take proactive steps to support equality and safety for women throughout our organisation.

If you really want to change the dynamic of the conversation, the process and the outcomes, consider using Appreciative Inquiry as your change management framework. It uses a positive psychology approach centred on strengths that is much more engaging and positive to work through than traditional change processes.

It is a big challenge

This is a massive challenge for organisations and for society as a whole – for women and for men.

We have generations of institutionalised gender inequality that have defined people’s beliefs, attitudes and behaviours and we have to challenge them if we are to make progress towards true gender equality.

And it isn’t going to happen overnight – it requires commitment, perseverance, resilience and passion to keep the momentum.

It also requires respect, understanding and patience to generate and sustain lasting change.

How can we help? 

We have recently launched a new suite of services centred in positive psychology which are essentially about “making better workplaces” where organisations and their people flourish – see www.poswork.com.au 

Equality, diversity and psychological safety are all key components of Better Workplaces.

If you are interested in exploring this further, call Peter Maguire on 0438 533 311 to arrange a free initial consultation.

CONTACT US

Ridgeline Human Resources Pty Ltd
Abn : 24 091 644 094

enquiries@ridgelinehr.com.au

6 Ellesmere Ave, Croydon Victoria 3136

Peter Maguire : 0438 533 311

PARTNER LINKS

TELL US WHAT YOU NEED HELP WITH

So what now in 2021?

So what now in 2021?

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So what now in 2021?

Did you stay up on New Year’s Eve just to make sure that 2020 left?

It was a hell of a year, wasn’t it?

So what does 2021 hold for us?

Compliance is the first priority

If you haven’t made sure that you are compliant with Fair Work and all of those employment laws and regulations, get compliant!

The Fair Work Ombudsman’s 2019/20 Annual Report tells us that they: 

  • Recovered $123,461,548 in underpaid wages and entitlements for 25,583 workers
  • Resolved 22,000 workplace disputes between workers and businesses
  • Had 21.8 million visits to its website
  • Answered 422,455 calls

So the odds are that, if you aren’t doing the right thing or you are not able to show your people that you are (even if you think you are), you might get that call.

There are big fines and the Fair Work Ombudsman does publicly report stuff and you don’t want that. Check it out at https://www.fairwork.gov.au/about-us/news-and-media-releases/default.

Sorry…. but that compliance stuff is ramping up

Last year, the Victorian Government passed legislation making wage theft a criminal offence (that takes effect from no later than 1 July this year) and the federal government has also introduced a bill that would make wage theft a criminal offence. 

Businesses and organisations are now being held to account to make sure that their contractors and supply chains are compliant with workplace laws….and that contractors are really bona fide independent contractors.

If you happen to be in the construction industry and work on major civil projects or otherwise supply to government, a finding of non-compliance could result in disqualification and really hurt your business.  

Added to all of that, if you are in Victoria and you use labour hire, you must ensure that the firm you are using is a registered labour hire provider or run the risk of prosecution for using an unregistered provider. Find out more at https://labourhireauthority.vic.gov.au/host/.

COVID has changed the rules and the expectations

We all have to have COVID safe workplace plans and to ensure that everyone understands and complies with the rules for your workplace.

Then there are the people who have been working from home. Some will have enjoyed that and want to do more of it even as the restrictions relax. Then again, some are delighted to be getting back to the old workplace.

The important things here are to work out what can work in balance for your business and your people and respect the fact that one size does not fit all. So sit down and have a chat with each of them individually and work out what works best for both of you. 

Positive leadership is more important than ever

In ordinary times, the way that you lead your people is a major factor in their wellbeing and performance and, guess what……really critical for your wellbeing and performance too.

So when we have been through what we have over the past year and with what we have ahead of us, this quality of leadership is even more important.

Science tells us that having a positive leadership mindset and a positive workplace culture centred on gratitude can make remarkable differences to organisational performance and the happiness and wellbeing of your people.

We use a platform called ShareTree to support that culture and encourage other businesses to have a look at this. See www.sharetree.org.

About us

Ridgeline HR is a boutique People and Culture consulting practice based in Croydon.

We have been Helping PEOPLE in BUSINESS with PEOPLE BUSINESS like all of this stuff since 2000.

We offer a free first consultation if you have a HR issue that you need some advice on.

We are happy to come to you or shout you a cuppa over a chat at a local café.

If you would like to take up that offer, call us on 0438 533 311 or email enquiries@ridgelinehr.com.au

CONTACT US

Ridgeline Human Resources Pty Ltd
Abn : 24 091 644 094

enquiries@ridgelinehr.com.au

6 Ellesmere Ave, Croydon Victoria 3136

Peter Maguire : 0438 533 311

PARTNER LINKS

TELL US WHAT YOU NEED HELP WITH

Using strengths for positive change

Using strengths for positive change

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Using strengths for positive change

 

Do you ever ask the question “Why is that person so good at that when I really struggle with it?” Or maybe it is “Why does that person struggle with something that I find to be easy and fun?”

Every day in our jobs or otherwise in our lives, there are things that each of us enjoys doing and things that we don’t ….. and they are different for each of us. Or maybe it is that, while we might do the same tasks, we might go about them in different ways and some of us get more fulfilment from completing those tasks than others.

Why is that?

It isn’t just about the education, training and experience or the natural physical, social or intellectual capabilities that each of us has, albeit that they are important for each of us.

In the early 2000s, scientists started exploring what it is that helps people to be at their best. 50 scientists led by luminaries Christopher Peterson and Martin Seligman looked across countries and cultures and thousands of people for those qualities that are universally considered to be the strongest parts of being human (Refer: “The Power of Character Strengths: Appreciate and Ignite Your Positive Personality” by Ryan M. Niemiec & Robert E. McGrath). From that research, the VIA Classification of Character Strengths and Virtues was created.

Character strengths are basic elements of our identity and each of us is stronger in some strengths than others. It is when we are able to use the signature strengths that we are likely to be at our best in performance, in relationships and in personal wellbeing and happiness. Similarly, when we have to deploy our lesser strengths to perform a particular task, we can find that a struggle because it doesn’t come naturally to us and we have to work harder at it.

The VIA Classification comprises 24 character strengths grouped under 6 virtues as depicted in the graphic below.

You can undertake a free survey to identify your character strengths profile at https://www.viacharacter.org/survey/account/register.

Why might you want to do that?

I’ll tell you what doing this survey and understanding my character strengths profile has done for me:

  • I have a much clearer sense of my own personal identity and how I can be at my best
  • I now know why it is that I struggle with some tasks and I can manage that better
  • I have improved my wellbeing by doing stuff that fits with my signature strengths every day
  • I have also been more mindful of and compassionate to myself when I have had to exercise my lesser strengths (and rewarded myself for getting through the struggle)
  • I better understand how I can make my best contributions for others – essentially by being who I am and leveraging my signature strengths for their benefit
  • I am happier and more resilient

Additionally, understanding the character strengths of others (clients, friends, colleagues, family) has helped me to better understand how I can best support them with my character strengths and draw on their character strengths in a positive way for themselves and others including me.

That is why the practice of character strengths is such an essential element of positive psychology and a key ingredient in the consulting work that we do today.

If you haven’t done the VIA Character Strengths Survey, give it a go – there is only upside. Here is the link again https://www.viacharacter.org/survey/account/register

 

Author: Peter Maguire

 

CONTACT US

Ridgeline Human Resources Pty Ltd
Abn : 24 091 644 094

enquiries@ridgelinehr.com.au

6 Ellesmere Ave, Croydon Victoria 3136

Peter Maguire : 0438 533 311

PARTNER LINKS

TELL US WHAT YOU NEED HELP WITH

You can’t outsource TRUST!

You can’t outsource TRUST!

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You can’t outsource TRUST!

The recent report on the National Workplace Wellbeing Survey 2020 by The Wellbeing Lab in conjunction with the Australian Human Resources Institute asked a couple of questions that we want to explore. The first was : “Do your workers feel psychologically safe enough to talk honestly with each other about their wellbeing?” So what does “psychologically safe” mean? According to Wikipedia: “Psychological safety is being able to show and employ one’s self without fear of negative consequences of self-image, status or career (Kahn 1990, p. 708).[1] It is “a condition in which you feel (1) included, (2) safe to learn, (3) safe to contribute, and (4) safe to challenge the status quo- all without fear of being embarrassed, marginalized or punished in some way.”(Timothy R Clark, 2019)[2] It can also be defined as a shared belief that the team is safe for interpersonal risk taking.[3] In psychologically safe teams, team members feel accepted and respected. It is also the most studied enabling condition in group dynamics and team learning research.” Given that definition, it should come as no surprise that, according to the survey results:

  • People who are prepared to talk about their wellbeing challenges first go to someone they trust who is most commonly a friend or family member outside work (ie the people they have the closest relationships with).
  • For those who would raise it with someone at work, it is most commonly a team member or their manager (ie the people they have the closest relationships with at work).
  • Conversely, outsourced support (EAP Programs) and institutional support (HR Departments) are the least likely places that people will go for wellbeing support (each of those was reported as the place people would go to in less than 3.5%  of respondents).

This just reinforces the fact that a key ingredient of psychological safety is trust and you can’t outsource that. When you think of it in those terms, it is easy to understand why the results are what they are. People are most likely to speak with people whom they know and trust. Perhaps that is also why so few people would go to HR or EAP – because they don’t know them well enough to trust them? That leads us to their second question: Do your workers feel psychologically safe enough to talk honestly with each other about their wellbeing?” The challenge for any organisation is to do two things:

  1. Enable a psychologically safe work culture and environment where people will open up about any challenges that they are having with confidence and feeling supported and
  2. Equip and empower line managers and people generally to provide caring and practical wellbeing support to individuals, with teams and across the organisation as a whole.

For larger organisations, the repositioning of HR Departments to be focused on building strong, trusted and valued relationships with people across the organisation should be a priority. For smaller businesses, look for an external HR consultant who brings that wellbeing capability and the trust factor along with the rest of the HR toolkit that you might need for process and compliance. All of this is consistent with another piece of advice from the report: “Caring for workers’ wellbeing requires diverse and sustained support at the levels of ‘me’ (workers), ‘we’ (teams) and ‘us’ (whole workplace) to create a thriving workplace environment.” Of course, all organisations need external specialist supports and networks that can assist in helping employees with their support needs in relation to wellbeing. Having access to professional and community supports with medical and allied services, counselling and psychological support services at a practical level for the organisation and its people is important. Our Better Workplace Projects and our EngageMentality Coaching Programs both have employee voice and trust/integrity as central pillars of the employment relationship. If you would like to explore how we can assist in building a psychologically safe culture based on trust and wellbeing, please do not hesitate to contact us.

 

CONTACT US

Ridgeline Human Resources Pty Ltd
Abn : 24 091 644 094

enquiries@ridgelinehr.com.au

6 Ellesmere Ave, Croydon Victoria 3136

Peter Maguire : 0438 533 311

PARTNER LINKS

TELL US WHAT YOU NEED HELP WITH

Positive People Practices #1 – Positive PDs

Positive People Practices  This is the first in a series of blogs on various tools that you can use to assist in leading and managing people and practical ways in which you can use them. First cab off the rank is the Position Description. https://youtu.be/qWJdKzF6usg #1: Positive PDs with 6 purposes The Position Description (PD) has been around for decades and can be found in lots of different forms if you have a look around. Have you ever asked yourself: “Why do we have PDs? What is the point of them?” That is a very good question and it can elicit a lot of different answers. The reality (something that very few businesses understand, let alone appreciate) is that the PD is arguably the most powerful multi-functional tool in your people management toolkit if it is properly structured and used. So what can you do with PDs? Here are the 6 powerful purposes:

  1. Compliance satisfaction: every employer has statutory obligations under workplace health and safety legislation to provide employees with proper instruction, supervision and training in their duties. A properly constructed PD (supported by functional communication processes) provides documentary evidence of compliance.
  2. Recruitment effectiveness: when you are looking for a new employee, you want to get the optimal return on the investment in the recruitment and selection process. This starts with giving candidates a clear understanding of the role. Added to that, you want to have a clear understanding of the attributes that you are looking for so as to gear the campaign accordingly. A well-rounded PD does this and provides the foundation for designing the selection process to thoroughly explore the required and desired attributes for the role and make an informed and evidence-based selection decision.
  3. Targeted development: understanding the skills and attributes required to be successful in a role is key to targeting training and development activity starting with onboarding and progressing right through the employment lifecycle. This is an important component of a PD that helps in the making of effective learning and development plans and activities as well as in succession planning.
  4. Structured performance management: the starting point for any performance plan should be a review of the employee’s performance against the functions performed and the outcomes expected in a role. This is central to having a proper evidence-based performance management process that is both substantively and procedurally fair (legally and in practice). It also enables balanced feedback for positive conversations about strengths and achievements as well as improvement opportunities. The detail on functions and outcomes in PDs is an essential ingredient for achieving these outcomes.
  5. Relationship optimisation: in any role, there are relationships that are important to the success of the incumbent – people who this person relies on for certain things and others who rely on this person for specific things. These can be managers or peers or subordinates or others in process chains. The better that those relationships work, the more effective (and happier) people individually and collectively will be. PDs that identify key relationships and performance outcomes provide a great basis for managing those relationships through shared understanding of and commitment to the partnerships and interdependencies involved.
  6. Better employee engagement: study after study tells us that some of the key factors in employee engagement are that people have meaning and purpose in their work and that they have clarity about their role and performance expectations. PDs structured in the right way and actively used as the multi-functional tool that they can be (as per 1-5 above) clearly support those critical engagement factors

So there is the business case – now what? What should the PD include? Before we get to the contents, let’s talk about language. If you want to have positive conversations with people, use positive language that supports emotional connection of the employee with the organisation and its goals and engagement of the employee with the role that they are employed in. Next let’s consider strategic alignment and there is a very simple and proven formula for enabling this and that is Simon Sinek’s Golden Circle Approach.

  • Why?     State the purpose and the performance outcomes required of the role
  • How?     What are the enablers of good performance – qualifications required, skills and attributes needed, key relationships, etc
  • What?   A list of the duties that the incumbent performs

Tips for developing the PD  Step 1: Draw up a table or spreadsheet with 4 columns headed:

  1. Functions
  2. Attributes
  3. Relationships
  4. Outcomes

Step 2: Make a list of all of the functions that the role performs Step 3: For each function, consider what attributes (skiils/knowledge or other qualities) are required to perform the function well and list these attributes in the second column Step 4: For each function, consider what relationships are involved in performance of the tasks involved – list the interdependencies (what the incumbent relies on someone else for and what others rely on the incumbent for) Step 5: Again for each function and taking into account all of the information in the first 3 columns, identify what the required performance outcomes are and list these in the fourth column You now have a comprehensive PD which, used properly, gives you that multi-faceted tool with which all 6 of the purposes set out above can be satisfied. Need a hand? Give Peter Maguire a hoy on 0438 533 311 or at peter@ridgelinehr.com.au [/av_textblock]

National wellbeing survey delivers a wake up call for employers

National wellbeing survey delivers a wake up call for employers

 

The Wellbeing Lab 2020 Workplace Report, the third of its kind produced by the Wellbeing Lab in conjunction with The Australian Human Resources Institute, is out, this year with a follow up piece on the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. Most of the key findings were not all that surprising for example:

  • That people who experience struggle and stress can be more resilient and better able to look after their own wellbeing
  • That struggle is a part of life and normalising struggle in workplace conversations is important for supporting people’s wellbeing
  • That one size does not fit all and workplaces need a diverse approach with different ways of supporting wellbeing and not just an EAP

On the other hand, some findings were a real wakeup call:

  • Over a third of workplaces are providing no support for people’s wellbeing.
  • The most popular form of support offered by workplaces is EAPs (Employee Assistance Programs) but, wait for it…….EAPS were also seen as the least effective. In fact, just 3.3% of people said that the EAP is who they would ask for help when struggling.
  • Workers are most likely to ask someone outside work for help. Within the workplace, it would likely be a team member or their boss but, wait for it again…….they were least likely to go to HR for help (just 3.2%) just marginally behind the EAP (3.3%). Notably both of these numbers halved from the previous year’s survey.

So, based on these findings, it wouldn’t be unreasonable to say that the primary investments that most organisations are making in wellbeing (HR & EAP) are delivering the least return in wellbeing impact, would it? Interestingly and, from our perspective, not surprisingly, the survey found that wellbeing coaching (offered in less than 10% of workplaces) was seen as the most effective form of wellbeing support. There is a shift happening with organisations rebranding HR as “People and Culture” to provide at least an appearance of being more human-centred. However, the change from the corporate norm of a culture based on shareholder return, risk management, data analysis and process control to one which is truly centred on people is massive. At the core of that is enlightened and vulnerable leadership from the very top of the organisation, building quality relationships based on trust at all levels and across the whole of the organisation (business/teams/people) all underpinned by a common purpose and value set that is a lived experience every day. That includes how organisations, managers, teams and people manage wellbeing as a key element of managing the performance and development of the organisation and its people. So, the challenges are for the whole of the organisation and not just HR. They require a fundamentally different way of thinking and behaving and different skillsets and mindsets across the board, starting from the Board and including those working in the field of HR. How can we help? The report talks about there being 3 levels at which wellbeing needs to be worked on:

  • “Me” – our EngageMentality Performance Development process deals specifically with wellbeing
  • “We” – our EngageMentality Team Coaching process fosters team support for each other with an emphasis on positive relationships
  • “Us” – our Better Workplace Projects use a positive psychology approach to transform workplace culture and worker experience

So, the report is in – what are you going to do about it? You can access the Wellbeing Lab 2020 Workplace Report here