Category Archives: Events

Lessons from Mike Shove- CEO CSC Australia

On Wednesday of this week, I was fortunate enough to go along to the 11th Australian Conference on Culture and Leadership presented by Human Synergistics, in Sydney. Having recently used the LSI at my workplace, I was keen for a refresher and also hoped to get some inspiration on how to change behaviour in my workplace when it seems like an impossible task.

Once again, the best way for me to learn is from experience, and that was why it was fantastic listening to Mike Shove (former Managing Director and CEO of CSC Australia).

Mike was a highly engaging speaker and began by explaining his somewhat typical CEO response to a bad start in his role as MD and CEO at CSC. He said that things weren’t going well with his leadership group and business results were poor. He said he responded with some executive coaching and a ‘retreat’ where they you know “hugged some trees”, did some orienteering and had fun.

Not surprisingly, this didn’t work and things continued to worsen. CSC obviously had standards around behaviour, but they were essentially a number based organisation that also needed to achieve its targets.

Mike credits his HR Manager at the time for suggesting that he try the Human Synergistics circumplex; and more specifically the Leadership Impact tool. Mike was happy to give it a go because he thought he was relatively well liked and that he was an effective leader.

Now I’ve seen some bad results but this-hands down- is the worst I have ever seen and by Mike’s own admissions, he holds the world record for worst circumplex. This just makes his success even more incredible.

Mike LI

Where do you even go from there?

Well one of the most important learnings from this process is that it doesn’t happen overnight. Like any personal change, it does take time and like Miley says, it’s all about the climb.

Mike stuck at it, engaged his leadership team and then looked to the organisational culture. It was a long journey but one that derived huge amounts of learning. The results are nothing short of amazing in terms of the impact that it had on the leadership team, organisational culture and also the bottom line.

If this is something that interests you, I would recommend you check out Mike’s presentation on the Human Synergistics site. I know I’ll be sending it around to my staff that have recently completed the process.

One more thing that was truly impressive was a story Mike shared with us about a senior member of staff. Now this guy was a sales type who was achieving amazing results. However, as Mike described there was a trail of blood left by these results, and this was fitting as the circumplex indicated loads of red in terms of competitive, power and oppositional traits. Now many leaders would argue that these traits are what it takes to be that successful sales guy or that as long as he was achieving the targets- it was worth it.

In being committed to what they set out to achieve in terms of culture, Mike spoke with this sales guy and they ended up parting ways. This move is of huge significance to the organisation in terms of behavioural expectations. It sends the message- “it doesn’t matter how good you are at your job, you still need to contribute to a positive organisational culture”. This is an action I’m not sure many CEO’s would be willing to take, but sales results kept increasing and CSC never skipped a beat.

What a great example and so many learnings. I hope I’m able to facilitate this kind of change in my workplace because I know the results would be amazing.

Do you have any other stories like this you’d be willing to share?


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Filed under Change Management, Employee Engagement, Events

Smarter Workforce; Government Leadership Forum

This week I was fortunate enough to be asked to attend the Smarter Workforce Government Leadership Forum hosted by IBM in Canberra. I was invited by my Executive Director for HR because he needed to take along a Gen Y’er, and seeing as I was familiar with the technology being discussed it was a good opportunity for me to talk about this stuff and its application specifically to the public sector.

The idea of the forum was to talk about how social networking technologies and Web 2.0 can help the public sector work in more efficient ways.

Public sector and efficiency? I can hear some sniggers already but I’ll persist. Although there are those jokes floating around like:

Q. Why don’t public servants look out the window first thing in the morning?
A. Because they’d have nothing to do in the afternoon

I would like to say that there are loads of public sector employees that are really passionate about what they do and work really hard.

IBM Forum

Time to get off the soap box now and tell you about the forum. Stephen Collins of Acidlabs (@trib) was opening speaker and you can catch his speech here.

One of the best things about this opening speech is the definition of Government 2.0.

Government 2.0 is not specifically about social networking or technology based approaches to anything. It represents a fundamental shift in the implementation of government — toward an open, collaborative, cooperative arrangement where there is (wherever possible) open consultation, open data, shared knowledge, mutual acknowledgment of expertise, mutual respect for shared values and an understanding of how to agree to disagree. Technology and social tools are an important part of this change but are essentially an enabler in this process.

It’s not just talking about using things like twitter or facebook, but it’s about being more collaborative and knocking downs the barriers to creativity and efficiency that often plagues government workplaces.

This kinda set the scene for the day with some attendees at the forum arguing that the government needs to be more transparent with the public (but that first they would need to be transparent internally with employees) and that fear is actually stopping governments from embracing these changes which could improve efficiency.

Others were maintaining that communication needed to be properly checked before it was released and this takes time. Consequences include being answerable to the minister etc. It isn’t a risk many are willing to take.

Essentially, in using some of these technologies we are asking the government agencies to let go of the control of their brand which is not something Comms staff are ready to do at this point. What if someone says something offensive? What if staff say bad things about our agency? Can we trust our staff with this technology?

For starters, if people are saying bad things about your workplace they are already saying it. To their friends, in meetings, in the corridors, via email etc. These new technologies just gives the agency an opportunity to respond to the comments. Acknowledge mistakes where necessary or offer to take the issue offline to be discussed in greater detail if required.

Secondly, there are still laws in place. People can’t just go around and say whatever they want online and not suffer the consequences.

For instance in Western Australia, an academic was charged for defamatory statements which were published in an online science bulletin board (Rindos v Hardwick). Harwick made a statement which imputed that Rindos had engaged in sexual activity with a minor and that his entire career has been built not on field research at all, but on his ability to berate and bully. Whilst gossiping is rife within most workplaces, these statements were published online where approximately 23,000 academics and students have access internationally and subsequently Hardwick was ordered to pay $40,000 in damages to Rindos as he couldn’t justify the comments. People will need to be accountable for the things they say online, and having the right guidelines and policies in place will help you with this.

Finally, I actually reminded the group that people first thought the internet was scary and that we couldn’t trust people with having an email account. Sounds silly now, but at the time people were concerned. These days almost everyone has a work email address and often personal accounts as well.

I wonder if we will look back on web 2.0 technologies and think the same thing?

*More posts and information to come about this forum

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Filed under Events, Social Media/Technology, Uncategorized

Chairing the Australian Employment and Workplace Relations Summit: A huge learning experience

A few weeks ago I was asked by Jo Knox of HR Daily if I would be interested in chairing the summit. My first instinct was, ‘wow that would be a great development opportunity’ and I said ‘sure put my name forward’.

I got an email from the organisers and asked my boss what he thought. Just like he always does, he reminds me of all the things I’ve not thought of.

• Given I have a background in Learning and Development/OD would I have enough knowledge about all of the areas covered in the summit?
• How confident am I speaking in front of a group of my peers (and possibly very experienced peers?)
• Have I ever done anything like this before?
• Have I ever facilitated a panel of experts before?
• Had I gotten from the higher powers at my workplace?


Although I was a bit disappointed by the reaction, he was right. I hadn’t really thought it through. That week I got shingles, I had my first HR Club Sydney event coming up, I was busy as hell at work, and working long hours.

I left it a few days, because work took over, I was sick and I really didn’t want to make a decision. I wanted to take the opportunity, but was it a risk I was willing to take?

A good friend of mine always says to me “the only way to get over scary things is to do them”.

Yep, I'd rather jump out of a plane than speak in public

Yep, I'd rather jump out of a plane than speak in public

In not really thinking about it too much and not wanting to pass up the opportunity, I spoke to my boss about it and in promising to study up on the topics he allowed me to do it.

So the week went on, I buried myself in work and found myself on my way to Melbourne for the summit. I kept thinking positive and reminded myself that I had done the research.

I woke up in the morning had some breakfast, and although I was feeling a bit nervous I was also excited about doing the job. The crowd took a little while to warm up but after the first speakers, and a few lame jokes on my part, I was happy every time I got up there, even when my boss came to watch!

I had a great time, I met some wonderful people from the audience, the speakers were engaging and I learned a lot.

I was however feeling a little ill all day. My stomach was cramping and I felt nauseous. My boss bought me some buscopan and I thought I’d be ok. I keep pushing through but with about ten minutes to go, I just couldn’t keep going and I rushed off to the bathroom just making it to be sick.

Ah well. These things happen and as another friend said ‘everyone gets sick’.

Anyway the moral of the story? Try your gut instinct and go for it. The only way to get over scary things is indeed, just to do them.


Filed under Events, Learning and Development

Thanks to Desired Hair, and Michael Specht for sponsoring HR Club Sydney

In the whirlwind that was last week, I didn’t get a chance to thank my sponsors for the first HR Club Sydney Event and I wanted to give them the recognition they deserved and get the details right.

First and foremost, I would like to thank Alex and Laura of Desired Hair (the hair extension specialists) for generously sponsoring the three lucky door prizes for the night.

Desired Hair provides high quality 100% human hair extensions at wholesale prices direct to the public. They also sell accessories (such as the hair straightener we gave the lovely Peta on the night) and you can even book a Hair Extension Party. Please visit for all the details.

Desired Hair

Secondly I would like to thank Michael Specht for his donation of the “Australian Corporate Careers Website Report” and the “21st Century Guide to Recruiting” as an exclusive free offer to HR Club Sydney members.

Michael is currently running his own consulting business, Inspecht, specialising in HR technology and the application of Web 2.0 tools and techniques for companies of all sizes, called “Enterprise 2.0“. Michael has a unique views on how social media can be used by organisations to enhance the employer brand and attract the best people to work for your organisation.

He is a regular speaker on HR technology for the Australian Human Resource Institute and has been involved in their HRIS Special Interest Group. In addition to writing this blog he actively participates in the conversation around Web 2.0, social software and the impact on organisations and management practices.

If you are interested in hearing Michael speak, you can catch him at the ATC (Australasian Talent Conference) Conference on Social Media in Melbourne, December 3rd this year.

ATC Social Media

Here is a blurb about the conference:

In 2009, you are invited to join some of Australia’s most forward-thinking leaders and experts in the social media and recruitment at the ATC’s new sister event to be held in Melbourne.
The day will include first-hand insights from internationally recognised speakers, as well as hearing from real company case studies and participating in interactive workshops designed to encourage participation. The series of interactive sessions are designed to leverage the combined wisdom of the Australian recruitment industry, allowing you to learn from the experiences of industry peers.
The speakers will address issues such as, how to measure the ROI of social media; how to integrate social media into your recruitment strategy, digital branding, talent pooling and the impact of social media on graduate recruitment.
But this is no ordinary conference. What’s different about this event is that it is a hybrid between a traditional conference and an ‘Unconference’, meaning part of the agenda will be developed by the attendees. The Unconference sessions will allow you, the attendees, to influence the event program, ensuring the issues you want to hear about are discussed and the event can provide solutions for a range of workplace challenges.

Find out more about ATC on Social Media or email me for your free copy of the “Australian Corporate Careers Website Report” and the “21st Century Guide to Recruiting” by Michael Specht.

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Filed under Events, Recruitment, Social Media/Technology

Thanks to everyone who attended last night!

Last night was the first HR Club Sydney Event and we received a great turnout of HR Professionals based in the Sydney area. Thanks again to our three presenters; Sue Jennings, David Hales and Ben Palmer. I thought the presentation was an interesting insight into how we can ensure our recruitment and retention strategies achieve the goal of having the right people, in the right jobs at the right time.


If you would like to follow up on this, please visit


So overall, how did the event go? Feedback was generally pretty positive and the attendees seemed excited about the concept of catching up with other HR professionals in Sydney. However I would like to share some learnings with you so the next event can be even better.


Here is my commitment to you for future:
Better organised space for networking with others prior to a presentation
Take-away handout of presentation
Organise meet ups that aren’t focussed around a presentation but purely to meet other people
Set-up space for break-out activities


Finally thanks to everyone for coming along, and also to Joel for assisting me on the night with the preparation. If you have any suggestions, feel free to comment here or via linkedin.


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Nothing will get in the way of a good time!

Jeepers creepers- I think a few things have been thrown at me to derail tonight. Last week I had a mild case of shingles and today my laptop has died (yes I felt sick when I saw the blue screen of death), but nevertheless the show must go on and a good time will be had by all.

Here are the final details:

Improving Customer Service & Performance with ‘Motivational Fit’

Date: Monday, August 24, 2009 from 6:00 PM – 8:00 PM (TONIGHT)

Forrester’s Hotel
Cnr Riley and Foveaux Street
Surry Hills, New South Wales 2010

Bring your business cards along as we have a few small lucky door prizes. Plus Forrester’s Hotel has $7 steak, chips and salad available tonight so if you want to grab a meal here, it does look good.


See you there tonight!


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Jann Gray- Winner of Best HR Strategic Plan speaks at 2Discover event

Yesterday morning I attended a breakfast seminar which was hosted by 2Discover in at Martin Place. They had organised for Jann Gray, HR director for Ecolab and winner of ‘best HR strategic plan’ to speak, and it gave everyone present an opportunity to follow the amazing 4 year journey of a company that needed to implement major change or perish to the competitors.

Ecolab is a leading provider of cleaning, food safety and health protection products and services. They employ over 400 staff in Australia and service over 8000 customers nationally.

Jann explained that Ecolab were in a bad situation. They were turning over more than 1/3 of their staff each year, revenue was decreasing and a Hewitt survey revealed a very low employee engagement score.

Quoting Jim Parker- CEO South West Airlines- Jann explains that

“The outcome of a successful strategy is having the right people in the right jobs focused on the right things that lead to the business outcomes required.”

Essentially, it’s the way I see talent management but coming from a CEO it really ties the HR strategy to the impact it has on the bottom line.

I’ll briefly take you through a few of the different pieces of the Ecolab puzzle.

Ecolab puzzle

Revamped recruitment and selection policies

After a review of the types of staff they currently had, and assessing what sort of staff they needed in the future, Ecolab realised they needed to revamp their recruitment and selection processes to ensure they were hiring the right people in the right jobs. Previously they were hiring applicants purely on the basis of the technical ability, industry experience and knowledge of the industry. They then realised that they needed people in the future with leadership potential, not just technical strengths. As a result, psychometric testing was introduced in addition to second interviews with senior management. They then looked to training these hires internally to get their technical ability up to the level required.

Talent management/succession planning

At Ecolab, they conducted a succession planning process using the nine box matrix below to identify leadership potential and leverage this potential to drive performance. While there is nothing ground breaking about this matrix, it was an important part of the strategy that was done well.

9 box grid


Another key part of this HR strategy was setting targets and holding people accountable to these targets. Part of this was utilising a scorecard for each business unit and publishing these results to hold people accountable to these newly defined metrics. For most business units, names weren’t published with scores; however for the Sales team publishing names and results was a motivating factor in achieving performance. This scorecard ensured that people were working on the right things.

Rewards and recognition

Additionally, Ecolab reviewed their compensation to ensure that they were rewarding the right behaviours.

I really liked the ‘Making a difference” program that Jann mentioned. Ecolab has six cultural values (and yes Jann was able to name all six!) and they wanted to recognise people that were living the values. In order to celebrate their successes, staff are able to nominate people have demonstrated the values through sharing the story. As a reward, the individual received a wine glass with the particular value printed on it. Funnily enough, this inspired staff to obtain a set of six wine glasses because after that you were given a bottle of wine to go with it!

What an effective and low cost initiative that celebrates the success of your people. In conjunction with an EVP like “the solution is you”, it is a winning strategy.

Finally Jann stated that communication was the key to the whole thing and with out communicating the key messages to people at the time they were happening, the strategy would not have been embedded in the way that it was.

So how do we tie this HR strategy to the impact it has on the bottom line? The results speak for themselves.


Congratulations Jann and the team at Ecolab, and thanks to the team at 2discover for presenting a fantastic seminar.

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Filed under Employee Engagement, Events, Talent Management, Values