Category Archives: LMA in the media

Study shows leaders and workers disagree about their skills

When we’re asked to rate ourselves and others, we get glaring differences of opinion, but this isn’t necessarily a bad thing, writes Jim Bright.

One of the most frustrating and exciting aspects of life is that we never have the full story. Life is too complex to be able to reduce it to a single perspective. That is what makes it exciting.

Leaders and managers think they are doing a pretty good job. If only the team members agreed!

There is always something new to discover, there are always new possibilities, there is always hope.

Most problems and disputes in life arise when we fail to appreciate that our knowledge is incomplete, our perspective not all-encompassing.

I was reminded of these truths when reading the results of the recently published Leadership Employment and Direction survey from Leadership Management Australia.

The survey of 1300 people working largely in private companies reveals stark differences in the perspectives of staff at different levels in organisations.

If you want to get an optimistic view of how things are going, talk to the executives or senior leaders.

Subscribe-banner-verticalETD-banner-vertical2>A remarkable feature of the results is the degree of similarity between the executive leaders and the senior managers. For instance, their responses are more or less identical in agreeing that teams are sufficiently empowered.

Try telling that to those who are not managers. They have a significantly more negative view – they don’t feel the empowerment.

A similar pattern emerges for open communication, rewards, ownership and responsibility. The top brass think it is all tickety-boo, further down the hierarchy, there is less enthusiasm.

When it comes to rating those lower down the hierarchy, surprise, surprise, the pattern of results is reversed.

Team members are three times more likely to rate themselves as totally committed to their purpose, compared to senior managers’ and leaders’ ratings of those team members.

Leaders and managers think they are doing a pretty good job, only one or two per cent think they are not very competent. If only the team members agreed!

Sadly, more than one in four think their leaders and supervisors are not very competent.

On the face of it, these statistics point to problems in organisations.

It would be easy to conclude that there are widespread communication problems in Australian organisations.

However, I think it reflects the tendency for ambitious supervisors to endorse and proclaim the views of senior managers — in other words the “yes man” syndrome. It makes sense if you want to be promoted to be seen to share the leaders’ perspective.

That a quarter of staff see the leader as not competent is not necessarily such a bad thing.

It reflects a different perspective afforded in part by the position they hold in the hierarchy. Things look different from there.

The perspective is not necessarily any more valid than the leaders’ optimistic view. The key may be to recognise that there are always multiple perspectives and seeking to understand or at least appreciate these perspectives may be helpful for leaders and team members alike.

We all might benefit by being reminded of the observation by the late Sir Peter Ustinov, that certainty divides us and uncertainty unites us.

Jim Bright is professor of career education and development at ACU and owns Bright and Associates. Article originally published in the The Age online on June 27, 2015


New Zealand leaving Australia behind

New Zealand business leaders’ confidence in their organisation’s growth outlook surged in the last 10 months while the outlook of leaders in Australia was almost static, a business survey has found.

The Leadership Employment and Direction (L.E.A.D.) Survey on workplace trends conducted by Leadership Management Australasia has found that at June 30 last year, 46 percent of New Zealand leaders and senior managers believed their organisations were growing but in the survey closing April 30 this year the figure had jumped to 69 percent.

Over the same period, the Australian figures have moved from a similar base of 48 percent to just 52 percent.

The L.E.A.D. Survey has been running 15 years and is conducted by Chase Research for Leadership Management Australasia (LMA) which has been delivering improvements to performance and productivity to over 130,000 people from thousands of organisations across Australia and New Zealand for more than 40 years, the company says in a media statement.

The latest results from the L.E.A.D. Survey indicate that middle managers and supervisors in New Zealand shared this view (49 percent to 65 percent), whereas in Australia the view is very much the reverse with fewer middle managers/supervisors believing their organisations are growing (44 percent to 37 percent).

Instead, a larger percentage of Australian respondents see a holding pattern or perceive their organisation to be shrinking, compared to their NZ counterparts (18 percent in Australia compared with 3 percent in NZ).

Non-managerial employees in New Zealand share this positive outlook too with an increasing proportion recognising growth (63 percent to 71 percent). In Australia, fewer employees see growing organisations (52 percent to 49 percent) and a few more are seeing shrinking organisations (8 percent to 11 percent).

Again the contrast in outlook is stark with 11 percent of Australian employees believing their organisations are shrinking compared with 0 percent in NZ.

The early 2014 survey involved 3,714 respondents (Australia 3,380 New Zealand 314) and the late 2014/early 2015 wave attracted 2,504 respondents (Australia 2,170 and New Zealand 334).

The L.E.A.D. Survey has been running 15 years and is conducted by Chase Research for Leadership Management Australasia (LMA) which has been delivering improvements to performance and productivity in over 130,000 people from thousands of organisations across Australia and New Zealand for over 40 years.

LMA CEO, Andrew Henderson said there was an emerging aura of optimism in New Zealand workplaces.

“They also have higher levels of confidence about their economy and the prospects for productivity achievements and improvement in their organisations,” he said.

“This positive attitude to the outlook may be a self-fulfilling prophecy – New Zealand organisations may indeed enjoy a better future than Australia organisations simply by talking and acting ‘above the line’.”

“Ramifications of this New Zealand confidence for leaders and managers in Australia include the prospect of their talent shifting attention to opportunities in New Zealand,” he said.

“Australian leaders and managers therefore need to be sending the right signals to their people about what the future holds rather than keeping them either ill-informed or uninformed about their organisations’ and their personal future.”

For New Zealand organisations, Mr Henderson suggested the talent war seen in Australia during the 14 years of economic sunshine might emerge in New Zealand on the back of greater demand and growth.

“Leaders need to ensure their people are engaged and growing roots to prevent departures in search of greener pastures,” he said.

Article originally published on New Zealand Management website –

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The sky is the limit - gender equality in the workplace | LMA

The sky is the limit – gender equality in the workplace

Workplaces have gender equality in their sights

International Women’s Day last week was a bittersweet celebration with the national gender pay gap recently reaching a  record high.

Women working full time now earn almost $300 less each week  than male counterparts, according to the Australian Bureau of  Statistics. The pay gap has increased 1.4 per cent in the past year to 18.8 per cent, largely a result of women being underrepresented in management.

According to the ABS, women represent 53 per cent of professionals, but hold less than a third (29 per cent) of roles as chief executives, general  managers and legislators. Just 3.5 per cent of ASX200 companies have a female CEO and 12 per cent of positions  on boards of directors belong to women.

Yolanda Beattie, public affairs executive manager of the Federal  Government’s Workplace Gender Equality Agency (WGEA), says a major barrier to women is employers’ natural inclination to be  around people like themselves.

“If you have a high opinion of yourself, you’re more likely to recruit people who are like you,” she says. “It’s white, middle aged men that dominate positions of power.”

Beattie says the notion of the ideal worker also favours men. “We’re stuck in a world view  that the ideal worker works Monday to Friday, 8am to 8pm, is on the phone after hours, talking the talk, doing the  golf and tennis and client socialising and that is drawn in the shape of a man,” she says.

“Women who work flexibly are viewed as less committed and are not given the same access to promotion and pay”.

Dr Gemma Munro, CEO of Inkling Women, says the best way colleagues can support gender  equality is by considering their language and avoiding assumptions.

“Boys’ club culture still exists,” she says. “Women are not necessarily seen as ideally suited for cutthroat industries like finance. They are  seen as more ideal for human resources, for instance.”

According to the ABS, the financial and insurance services industry  has the largest gender pay gap, at 29.1 per cent. Public  administration and safety has the smallest, at 7.2 per cent. Munro says other ways to support female colleagues include making  after-work get togethers gender neutral rather than beers and golf,  scheduling meetings within school hours, and giving confidence  boosts.

However, the first step towards workplace equality is acknowledging the issue. A recent Leadership, Employment and  Direction Survey, commissioned by Leadership Management Australasia, finds three quarters of male respondents (72 per cent of leaders, 78 per cent of managers and 75 per cent of employees) believe it is easy for women to reach senior management positions.

Among females, just 36 per cent of leaders, 40 per cent of managers  and 52 per cent of employees believe the same.

“It’s time employers woke up to the massive differences in  perception of gender equality in the workplace and the potentially highly negative impact on performance and productivity in, and  leadership and management of, our organisations,” says LMA CEO
Andrew Henderson.

One sector actively trying to attract more women and lower its  gender pay gap is the male dominated transport, postal and warehousing sector.

“We need to get away from the ‘blokes in blue singlets’ stereotype and highlight the diverse range of job and training opportunities that will help encourage women to enter the industry,” SA Freight Council CEO Neil Murphy says.

To help women join the workforce, upskill or change careers,  CareerOne is hosting an Australia-first dedicated virtual careers fair  this year. The VFAIR Women at Work expo will provide  information about WGEA’s Employers of Choice for Gender  Equality, job and training opportunities, as well as resources and support. It will run from June 22 to July 2 via

Article originally published in The Advertiser (Adelaide) CareerOne section on Saturday 7 March, 2015.

Open discussions about motivation trump surveys | LMA

Open discussions about motivation trump surveys

Leaders should use “good old-fashioned discussions” – not employee surveys – to close the gap between what they think motivates staff and what actually does, says leadership expert Andrew Henderson.

Many organisations run cultural and attitudinal surveys to find out what motivates their workers, but these are only effective to a degree, says Henderson, who is the CEO of training and development provider Leadership Management Australasia.

“The answer is good old-fashioned discussions and communication,” he told HR Daily.

“If managers and indeed leaders are committed to understanding what motivates their employees, and therefore how they can create an environment that serves that motivation, that commitment needs to be reflected into putting aside the time to sit down with individuals and smaller base teams.”

Henderson advises leaders to let employees know they’re looking for an open, honest dialogue straight off the bat.

“Creating a risk-free environment is a very important element to that, because that’s really the only way that you’re going to get the more true answers, rather than the answers they feel you want to hear.”

Leaders should try to draw employees on their motivations by asking questions such as “what can we do to ensure that you’re happy here in your workplace, that you’re getting the satisfaction that you’re after, [and] that we’re creating an environment that serves you in what you’re looking for in your job”, he says.

These kinds of discussions are particularly important in light of new LMA research which reveals a wide gap between what leaders believe motivates workers and what actually does.

The survey of more than 2,600 leaders, managers and employees shows that while employees and managers rank a reasonable salary as the top driver of workplace performance, leaders view this as the fourth most important factor.

Leaders rank good feedback and communication as the top employee motivator, followed by clear objectives, and interesting or challenging work.

The second most motivating workplace factor for employees, however, is being entrusted with responsibility or independence, which both leaders and managers ranked as the fifth driver of workplace performance.

Henderson says part of the problem is that many managers and leaders let their own personal drivers colour their views about what motivates employees.

“Managers and leaders often view their employees’ motivations as being aligned with themselves. So it’s not often that they step out from that way of thinking and recognise that often managers and leaders have different drivers in what they’re trying to achieve within the workplace and professionally in their career,” he says.

How to draw out employees’ motivations

Failure to understand what motivates employees can lead to disengagement, which in turns drives staff turnover, warns Henderson.

“Often we find it’s not the disengagement itself that causes someone to leave, but disengagement creates the opportunity for someone to be headhunted,” he says.

Henderson advises leaders and managers to take action to better understand employee motivation, including by:

  • Connecting with people – Get to know staff members as people, rather than simply as employees, says Henderson.

“It’s the old adage where people don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care. Connecting with your people by taking interest in who they are outside of the office walls suggests to them strongly that you’re interested in them as an individual, not just as a resource to achieve certain KPIs,” he says.
“It’s important we’re not seen as just a tool and resource; we’re seen as an individual. Our workplace cares for us, but they’re also proud of the work we do. That starts to build the foundation of the relationship”;

  • Understanding their motives – Establishing the relationship foundation can then help leaders and managers understand employees’ motivations.

“In a very simple sense, often our job or our workplace is a vehicle by which we aim to achieve, or use to achieve, our professional and personal goals,” Henderson says.
“Understanding someone’s motivation is really [about] number one: understanding it, and number two: trying to work out how we can help you achieve your personal/professional goals; how can we shape the work you do and the KPIs you’re trying to achieve so that you’re getting that gratification on your end as well?”;

  • Developing individual motivation plans – Employers should then create individual motivational plans for each employee, says Henderson.

“The motivational plan is just creating a profile on each of the employees and putting a far higher degree of importance on what will motivate an individual, and then putting a plan behind it for how you can tick some of the boxes so that you are addressing some of those key motivational factors – not dissimilar to creating a professional development plan,” he says.
“It’s just being aware that we are where we are, we’re wanting to go somewhere, and there’s some steps to be taken in between. Let’s put a plan together to address those measures”;

  • Creating team goals – Develop team goals and objectives that can cascade down to individual employees.

“If the individual can understand how the role they play within the workplace connects with the greater organisation’s goals and objectives – or at least how their role connects with the team’s objectives, KPIs and measurements – then within that it gives them a sense of purpose,” Henderson says.
“Disengagement often comes in when someone… [believes] that if they do a good job or a bad job – other than maybe affecting their longevity in the organisation – it doesn’t really make a difference to the team or the business. So their sense of purpose is low, and when our sense of purpose is low, why go that extra mile?”;

  • Agreeing on meaningful performance metrics – Work with both individuals and the team as a whole to create appropriate and meaningful measures of performance, says Henderson.

“Most of us get out of bed in the morning and we go to work with the intent to do well, do a good day’s work, contribute to the team and help the business achieve its goals,” he says.
“Meaningful measures of performance help me as an individual in my role understand, am I developing? Am I getting better? And, at our core, many of us – generally speaking – want to grow, want to do better [and] want to know that we’re improving, so the meaningful measures actually give people a good chance to rate themselves and aim for something”;

  • Providing regular feedback – Employees want to know their efforts are being noticed, so giving regular feedback is also crucial.

“We all like that feedback. We all like it being acknowledged that we are doing a good job but, importantly, providing feedback for… the employees also means providing feedback on where [they] can improve, and it’s this honest feedback that’s important to them,” he says.
“They don’t want a manager or a supervisor just telling them they’re doing fantastically well all the time… That sense of balanced and honest feedback builds trust because they know that their manager or supervisor is willing to give them the total picture, rather than just the good feedback”; and

  • Being flexible – To attract and retain the best workers, give employees flexibility in how they perform their role, and how they’re supported and recognised at work, says Henderson.

“As technology continues to improve the way we can connect into our workplaces, while at the same time our personal lives all seem to be getting busier and busier and busier with kids and commitments, employees are looking for a workplace to be understanding that one size doesn’t necessarily fit all,” he says.
“It’s a case-by-case basis of an organisation weighing up the value of a person to their organisation against the flexibility that individual’s requiring and that often can come up as part of a discussion when they’re recruiting an individual or trying to retain someone”.

Article from HR Daily, 2 December 2014

Employer of Choice | LMA

Employer of Choice – new challenges, new dimensions

New data suggests that the concept of Employer of Choice is taking on new dimensions in the minds of many as employment markets tighten and economic concerns remain front of mind for most organisations and their leaders.

‘Employer of choice’ is a term often used to describe organisations that are the preferred or most desired to work for in an industry or sector. Through the L.E.A.D. Survey,
Leadership Management Australasia has looked at the concept on several occasions over the past five years to identify what organisations can and should do to present as an Employer of Choice in their industry or sector in order to attract and retain talent.

Latest results suggest that Business Leaders and Senior Managers have an expanding list of expectations when it comes to seeking an EoC. Family/life friendly workplace practices has rocketed into the top five factors along with the organisation actively seeking input and feedback from its staff, presumably including its leaders and senior managers.

Middle Managers and Supervisors are also placing increasing focus and attention on family/life friendly workplace practices suggesting that in tough economic times, it is the rest of a persons life outside of work that suffers most in the drive to sustain or survive.

From a Non-Managerial/Supervisory Employee perspective, little has changed in recent times with one key difference in their list of EoC factors showing up – is a place where your can have fun and enjoy working. In difficult times, being able to enjoy work and have fun is a coping strategy and enables the team to ‘soldier on’ even if things look somewhat bleak.

Recognition and reward, investment in learning and development of people and having passionate and engaging management also play a prominent role in employees seeking  organisation for which they would happily work and apply their discretionary effort. Interestingly, when asked whether they feel they have the right balance between work and  other aspects of their lives: 65 percent of Non-managerial employees, 60 percent of Middle managers and 59 percent of Business Leaders felt they had the right work/life balance.

The connection between Employer of Choice and perceptions of the right work/life balance is clear – even in a tough/patchy/soft employment market, people will only continue to work for organisations that are able to provide for their needs. Employers of Choice routinely and consistently deliver on their peoples needs and in return they enjoy a stable, productive, engaged and empowered workforce that is focused on achievement for the organisation as much as for themselves – great payoffs for focusing on becoming an Employer of Choice.

What should leaders and managers do?

  • Understand what makes an Employer of Choice.

– Take the time to understand what the new shopping list looks like when it comes to employees hunting for an employer of choice.
– Identify what is possible for the organisation to provide and what it is prepared to do to attract and retain top talent.

  • Identify your company’s strengths.

– Pinpoint the extent to which the organisation can trade on its offer and performance in the most important employer of choice areas.
– Identify strengths and make these a focus in the presentation of the organisation to prospective employees.

  • Showcase your company’s strengths.

– Don’t be afraid to showcase other employer of choice factors than just individual or personally-focused factors – in a tight contest for talent where all else may be equal,  the more altruistic elements may just make the difference between getting and losing the talent.

Article from Management Magazine (NZ), November edition, 2014

Getting the balance right | LMA

Getting the balance right for your organisation

Getting the balance right for your organisation Leadership Management Australasia (LMA) has released its key findings from its latest Leadership, Employment and Direction (LEAD) Survey.

The report (now in its 14th year) presents leaders and managers with an important opportunity to review the way their organisations are currently operating and to set course for the future, bringing their people with them through effective communication.

The latest findings from LMA’s LEAD Survey remind modern leaders and managers of:

  • The critical impact that sharing the outlook for the organisation and the individual’s future with employees at all levels of the organisation can and does have. When employees know what the future looks like for the organisation and themselves, engagement and productivity levels rise. If reassurance cannot be provided, at the most basic level, look to provide a solid commitment to communicate inform employees about their future once more detail is known.
  • Getting the balance right between other aspects of life is essential to create an environment in which people want to perform and want to stay to develop themselves and their careers. When the balance is right, individuals perform, teams perform and the organisation performs to fulfil potential. Taking an interest in your people and their lives is the first step in providing a high performance environment. Helping them to get the balance right and feel good about the hours they work is an important follow-up step.
  • The growing importance of job satisfaction as a means of attracting and retaining talented personnel. The findings indicate that employees want to work where they can develop, advance, have fun and enjoy their work AND work with managers and leaders who are passionate and engaging. Whilst overall levels of satisfaction are improving for employees, they are declining for middle managers/supervisors suggesting this group is not enjoying the pressure that comes from above and below. Work to skill and support middle managers as they tackle their challenges and be prepared to help them to enjoy their roles to enhance job satisfaction in this key group.
  • What defines an employer of choice and the profound impact of the employer of choice “shopping list’ used by prospective employees to determine where they will work. A prominent ‘look after number one” mentality creates a number of challenges for leaders and managers seeking to attract and retain talent at all levels. Despite growing unemployment and the appearance of a growing talent pool, the reality is that finding and retaining quality personnel remains one of the most demanding tasks for modem managers and leaders.

Creating a committed, focus and engaged workforce in uncertain or difficult conditions has become the battle cry for today’s leaders and managers. Getting the environment right, understanding the individual and providing the conditions under which they will work productively and consistently will enable organisation not just to survive but to flourish.

A genuine and honest approach to outlining the organisation’s future and a sincere commitment to making that outline a reality will provide employees at all levels of organisations with a solid foundation on which they can make decisions about their own future and work passionately towards achieving it.

“A prominent look after number one” mentality creates a number of challenges for leaders and managers seeking to attract and retain talent at all levels.”

Article originally published in Management magazine, October 2014 edition. Download the L.E.A.D. whitepaper.