Generation X

Leading a Multi-Generational Workforce – Generation X

If you were born from the mid 1960’s to approximately 1980 then you are part of Generation X. If you lead Gen X’ers, then there are several characteristics of this cohort that repeat across workplaces.

Gen X thinks differently and acts differently to Baby Boomers. As with each of the generations, the patterns were formed by their early experiences. Gen X were children and teenagers during the 1970’s and 1980’s, a time marked by major social change, but unlike the Baby Boomers, the Gen X experience was often far less positive. In fact, what defines Gen X in the workplace today is an underlying mistrust and cynicism of hierarchy and authority figures, based on the troubling realities they faced in their childhood and teenage years.

Gen X are often described as the ‘Latch-Key Kids’. They were the first generation who regularly experienced both parents working and can describe coming home from school each day to an empty house. Many Gen X describe this as a time when they learnt to be self-reliant, as the traditional family dynamic was changing. Many Gen X experienced parental separation and divorce. Until the mid-70’s this was relatively uncommon and certainly not socially acceptable. This was also the first generation since the 1930’s who, as children, saw their parents lose their jobs for reasons that were difficult to understand. This was the start of the age of mass retrenchments as over stretched companies slashed costs to save their skins. Parental unemployment in the 1980’s co-incided with rapidly rising interest rates, so financial pressures were a constant theme.

Corporations were being taken over or going broke at rates previously unseen. All the while, there were lavish signs of excess. Then, just as the older Gen X were hitting the workforce, the world stock market crash of 1987 proved a body blow, that had disastrous effects on families in the suburbs for years to come. It is nearly impossible to reconcile a home mortgage interest rate of 20% these days. Consequently, many Gen X are socially progressive, but risk averse economic conservatives.

At work, Gen X has packaged up these early experiences and built a protective barrier around themselves. Your average Gen X, while not actively planning to leave their current job, is fatalistic about their longer term prospects, in ways that Baby Boomers could never understand. Gen Y’s understand, but are far more optimistic.

At work, Gen X are the great integrators. They want to change workplaces and are constantly trying to simultaneously optimise business success, shareholder value and employee wellbeing. Their work and life experience has taught them that it can be done, so long as everybody gets on board and pulls in the same direction. Too often they emerge disappointed because of their struggle with compromise.

So too Gen X Managers often struggle reporting to Baby Boomer CEO’s, General Managers or Baby Boomer Boards. Boomers are tougher than Gen X in business and will make compromises to ensure the business results are achieved.

Don’t try and impress Gen X with status or hierarchy. They know these things are temporary. Notice how a Gen X manager doesn’t fit out their office with the personal trinkets like a Baby Boomer does?

The greatest downside of Gen X workplace disillusionment, is that Gen X women are increasingly opting out of corporate life. Too many choose to walk away, or take part time roles that are far below their capabilities because they cannot be bothered with the politics, the sexism or the petty feudalism that still exists in many businesses. Their priority is their family and they will not compromise on that aspect of life. Longer term, Gen Y and Gen Z women are going to have far too few workplace mentors and role models. Business will suffer unless it gets its head around workplace flexibility and diversity and convinces this generation to re-engage.

Generation X should be the intellectual powerhouse of today’s business. They are at the peak of their powers, with the youngest Gen X in their 30’s and the oldest in their late 40’s. This is the first generation at work where most have been to university. They place a high value on continuing education and updating of skills to stay relevant. They have a deep respect for knowledge and will work tirelessly to produce an outcome of true value. They also understand risk, which is an underestimated skill.

Harnessing Gen X capability requires ‘all in’ commitment from the organisation. Don’t patronise them with slogans, but convince them through action and surprise them with loyalty.

Next, if you can convince them to stay in the one place for long enough, we will assess Gen Y.


Leading a Multi-Generational Workforce – The Baby Boomers

Do you lead employees who are aged in their 50’s or 60’s? Are you a leader in this age group? This is the golden age of the Baby Boomer. As a cohort, this is the most powerful generation we have known. They changed the rules of the game and continue to do so. But what drives them and what do you need to consider as their leader?

Born in the post-war era, this group has certain characteristics that were seared into their consciousness from a young age. Baby Boomers early life experience was defined by the fact that there were a lot of them. They were part of the post war population explosion. Big families, new housing estates, schools bursting at the seams, kids to play with everywhere. Boomers typically describe idealistic childhoods, great freedom and exciting times.

There was a subtext to this. The early years of the Boomer kids was extremely competitive. Status was everything. Which family had the latest car, who got a TV first, a washing machine or a motorised lawn mower? The list of must haves for the expanding population in the suburbs seemed never ending.

At school, the competition was even tougher. As the population exploded, there were never enough desks and chairs. Often, not enough classrooms. It was tough to make the sports teams or to get a place in the school band. You had to be good at what you did. Classes were large, often with more than 30 kids. The education system drove competitiveness from the earliest age. At the top of every school report, were two numbers: Number in Class and Position in Class. Each child was ranked by the teacher. Try going home with a report card with Number in Class 31, Position in Class: 27!

Socially, the Boomers were conditioned that if you worked hard, anything was possible. This is when the great Australian dream of the quarter acre block was formed. We’d won the war, stared down Communism, put a man on the moon and invented the Beatles. We could do anything!

There was also a job for everybody. The concept of unemployment didn’t exist. It was accepted that if you didn’t have a job, you were just bone lazy. The only question was how high could you rise in the ranks? Boomers were already fiercely competitive when they hit the workforce. Their competitive instincts were rewarded in the corporate world. Over time, they gained control of remuneration and reward systems and re-invented them. They implemented service related pay advancement, introduced big rewards and bonuses and ensured the status symbols associated with rank and hierarchy were constantly on display.

So what does this mean for the Baby Boomer leader and employees today?

Boomers love ceremony and symbols. They get a kick out of singling out a hard working employee for public praise. Boomers also love being singled out for praise. Their reaction is often the complete opposite to that of their Gen X colleague. Don’t get me wrong, everybody likes public praise, but it gives a Baby Boomer a special buzz.

Boomers relate particularly well to Gen Y’s. This is not surprising, as the Gen Y’s are their kids. Gen Y’s respond fondly to Boomers for the same reasons. Getting a 55 year old and a 25 year old to collaborate on a project can often release positive energy with remarkable results.

Boomer women leaders are some of the toughest people I have had to work with when it comes to encouraging workplace flexibility. Many are disinclined to support opportunities for other women to access part time, flexible or job share work that they wished they had accessed, but could not. Many times I’ve negotiated conversations that have started with “I did it tough, she needs to….”

Boomers were taught that work was work and home was home. Consequently, working from home just doesn’t compute for many. Leaving home in the morning and returning at night carries its own form of status and legitimises the work experience for Boomers. Workplace flexibility programs therefore cannot be introduced as ‘experiments’ and must have objective KPI’s to convince Boomer leaders of their merit.

The challenge in the next decade for leaders is twofold:

Most Boomers will retire. Unless you put plans in place to undertake an orderly handover of the intellectual property they’ve built up and typically carry in their heads, they will not hand it over. It’s not in their nature. More worryingly, they may also retire at a moment’s notice. Many are just one trip to the doctor away from a Road to Damascus experience.

Conversely, many Boomers have seen their retirement plans slip away as the economic cycle of the last 10 years has bitten hard. Some will be in the workforce for far longer than they had planned. Use their skills and wisdom for the benefit of the company. Do not leave them sitting in jobs that they believe they should have moved on from. Create new roles that tie together the benefit of their experience with business needs. Engage them as generational links, teachers, mentors and subject matter experts.

Mostly, ask Boomers how they believe their contribution can best be made. The question may make them uncomfortable, but they will value the discussion.

Next – those cynical, brooding Gen X’ers.

Marathon Training

What are you doing to train your brain for constructive leadership?

Several years ago I had a health scare. As a result, I dusted off the bucket list and thought long and hard about stuff I really wanted to do. Amongst other things, I had always wanted to run a marathon. Trouble was, the furthest I had run in my life was 10 kilometres and that was more than 15 years prior. I was now in my early 40’s and let’s just say, not in marathon shape.

Fast forward five years and I’ve now completed six marathons and more than 50 half marathons. It is reasonable to say I am obsessed. Marathon runners will understand.

The learning from that experience was profound. First of all, undertaking all that training, gives you a lot of time to think. Very quickly, I realised that unless my thoughts were positively focussed, I stood no chance of succeeding. The second learning was the challenge of overcoming setbacks. There were plenty, but developing the self-discipline to keep going when I least wanted to, changed my self-image. When things got really tough, I knew I was resilient and could succeed.

Throughout the hundreds of kilometres and countless hours of training, the constant positive messaging, creating vision of success and setting mini goals and slowly ticking them off one by one changed the way my brain worked. I didn’t know the science back then, but what I was experiencing was neuroplasticity in action. Session by session, I was changing the way the neurons in my brain fired together and created new neural pathways that sent me strong and very positive messages.

The benefits in the workplace were significant. My ability to cope with stressful situations increased, mostly through being able to re-frame and re-label many of the day to day matters that previously caused me anxiety. Was this incident really that important? Will it matter next week or next year? Sometimes the answer is yes and you need to spring into action to problem solve. Mostly however, the mini crisis can be averted by simply stepping back, re-framing and re-labelling what is actually going on here and how I feel about it. Better solutions are typically found in these moments.

For leaders, developing the ability to mentally take a step back, see a situation for what it really is and not get overwhelmed in the moment is a skill that can be developed. It is extremely difficult however, to develop this skill if it is being practised in the work setting alone.

When it comes to re-training our brains to interpret situations and send thoughtful and constructive messages instead of impulsive responses, leaders who set themselves major challenges outside of work, not only develop greater balance, but train their brains for success that can be adapted to the workplace. Skills learned from our non-work activities can be readily applied at work.

I am not suggesting marathon training is the answer. It could be learning a language or an instrument. Volunteering somewhere that takes you way outside your comfort zone. Whatever you choose, seek out something that requires long term goal setting, real commitment to accomplish and something that is quite removed from your leadership role.

Leaders who are obsessed with nothing else but their workplace and without balance and outside challenges in their lives are tough to work with and for. What are you doing to train your brain for constructive leadership?

Uncertainty in workplaces

Providing certainty in uncertain times

Although having fallen out of fashion in recent years, we used to see lists published periodically of those jobs with the highest satisfaction ratings. Job or employee satisfaction as a concept isn’t very sexy anymore. About ten years ago we moved on to employee engagement as the ‘must have’ indicator. More recently we moved again and are now seeing ‘employee advocacy’ as the coolest HR performance indicator in town. It seems that employees need to actively promote their companies now to be considered truly connected/engaged/satisfied. I don’t agree with this measure, but that is for another day.

About 15 years ago, results of an Australian survey were released listing those jobs with the highest satisfaction rating. To the amazement of most, taxi driving came out on top. Why? It was argued that driving a cab provided high levels of control and autonomy, as well as a great opportunity to meet new people. At the end of every shift, the driver knew exactly what they had earned and as a cash business, didn’t need to chase debtors. I asked two full time drivers their thoughts and they wholeheartedly agreed. I suspect things may have changed these days.

A 2014 US survey ranked the top roles using a subjective assessment of factors including Work Environment, Stress and Hiring Prospects.

What hasn’t changed across time is that personal satisfaction and general wellbeing increases when several critical conditions are met. Professor David Rock described the SCARF Model and its application is changing the way leadership is playing out in contemporary workplaces. As foundations for wellbeing we all desire Status, Certainty, Autonomy, Relatedness and Fairness. If you don’t believe me, try taking any of these away and see how you feel.

What seems to be spiking in importance in modern workplaces is the need for certainty. This is perhaps driven by the increasing lack of certainty in many jobs. It ranges from the big things like lack of job security and poor role clarity to small things like not having a set agenda or finish time for a meeting or not knowing what time I will be able to go home tonight and therefore which train I will catch. Our brains seek pattern recognition and we form habits based on the certainty of repetition. If a routine or job becomes habitual, it requires less energy to perform. When things are constantly changing, we activate a different part of our brain, which uses far more energy. So when certainty is taken from us, our brains send threat signals. Stress and anxiety follow and can become endemic across work groups.

Leaders cannot predict the future, but must strive to provide their followers with as much certainty as possible. For example, if a role becomes vacant and the team needs to carry an additional load until a new person is hired, leaders generally have a very good idea of how long that will take. They should let the team know how long this will be and do everything in their power to deliver inside that estimate. These small things, including showing gratitude along the way, make major differences.

In the end, leaders who show genuine regard for the need for certainty will see better performance than those who sweat over employee advocacy scores.

Are You Preparing For The New World of Work?

Are You Preparing For The New World of Work?

With the arrival of a new year, political debate in Australia has turned to industrial relations and the unsustainable impediments to productivity, such as penalty rates, minimum wages and the like. The Productivity Commission has signalled a wide ranging review, designed to ‘bust myths’ about Australia’s workplace laws. We can expect the usual tiresome debate, with both sides of the political argument taking their usual positions and each demonising the other for their respective views.

It would be a breakthrough to hear some new views on topics such as the future of work and how we could start to re-imagine 21st century workplace before we get too bogged down on the rights and wrongs of double time on Sundays and minimum four hours pay per casual shift.

If you are under forty years of age and have completed at least secondary school education, then, overall, the future looks extremely positive for you. If you have gone on to complete tertiary education, even better. The reason is that the numbers are in your favour. We know that the baby boomers are reaching retirement age. Within 10 years the Australian workforce will look very different. Unemployment rates will plummet and the biggest headache for employers will not be penalty rates, but finding and retaining a reliable workforce that will enable them to keep their doors open.

With that backdrop, we can start to imagine a very different type of employment contract negotiation taking place.

“Olivia, congratulations on your pregnancy. Yes, it’s all registered in your on-line career management file. We agreed with your request in advance that when you had a baby, you would take a Maternity Leave of 6 months and then work from home 3 days per week for the next six months before returning to work full time, but with 2 days from home. If that still works for you, then we will make sure the data and comms links are securely connected to your house, so that we can make that work.”

“Hi Matthew, we’d like to offer you the role. You’ve indicated that you have elder care responsibilities and your partner regularly travels overseas for work, so you need flexibility at those times with the kids’ school arrangements. Let’s work that into a career management agreement, so that we both get the certainty we need to make this work.”

If you think that sounds far-fetched, then think again. Smart, contemporary leaders know that they will have to create new workforce paradigms to stay relevant. If you look across your office today and are concerned about the capability or commitment of your employees, then you really should be reviewing the investment you make into understanding and developing positive workplace culture. And unless leaders act now, things will only get much, much tougher.

The only answer is to invest in your people; provide a compelling environment that matches their 21st century lifestyles and ambitions. Oh, and try being more honest and transparent in how you lead. Your employees will only be as transparent with you about their wants and needs, as you are with them. The next generation of ‘employees with choice’ will be demanding and have a much lower tolerance to nonsense from bosses who don’t get it.

In ten years, we will shake our heads in disbelief that, in 2015, we were so bogged down with minimum wage and penalty rate debates.

Constructive Self Talk

Learning to avoid the destructive spiral of negative self-talk

Rebecca is thirty and has a good job working for a global logistics company. She is in a stable relationship with a loving partner. Together they could be described as aspirational. They don’t want children yet and maybe not at all. But they do want a great house in a desirable location and all of the social benefits that accompany such a great lifestyle, so are saving hard to move out of their apartment.

But when she leaves the house and heads to work each day, her thoughts turn dark. The same old negative, self-defeating dialogue is repeated in her head. By the time she arrives at work she is miserable. The same vivacious young woman who was relaxing with friends, enjoying champagne in the sunshine on the Sunday is almost unrecognisable by Monday morning.

Unfortunately, what is happening inside Rebecca’s head is also happening to so many others. What is actually going on here?

Rebecca has fallen victim to the negative self-talk, or misleading brain messages that she receives. She has lost the capacity to interpret and self-regulate the negative messages that her brain sends. We all get these negative thoughts, but a healthy functioning individual has the ability to see these thoughts for what they are – just deceptive nonsense, and quickly dismiss them and move on.

Let’s look at an example. You are driving in traffic and somebody changes lanes unexpectedly, cutting you off and forcing you to hit the brakes. We’ve all had this happen. Our fight/flight auto response system kicks in and helps us to instantly take evasive action and avoid a crash. That’s a good thing. It wasn’t something we even thought about, we just did it. Then maybe, we get mad. Negative thoughts of handing out retribution may flash through our minds. Importantly, most people then take a breath, collect their thoughts and get on with their day. A few however, allow the misleading brain messages to take over. This is how most road rage incidents begin.

So what is it about Rebecca’s situation that has trapped her in this constant negative state?

Rebecca values status very highly. She was previously close to her Manager, who recognised her achievements and gave her regular feedback and positive re-inforcement. But that Manager left and she feels no connection with the new Manager. Worse still, he seems to play favourites, particularly with those in her team who are a little older than her. He goes out of his way to accommodate requests from the mothers in the group, who ask for adjusted start and finish times or part time work because of their children. Every other day, somebody can’t make it in and she has to carry an extra load, unrecognised and unappreciated.

Worse still, one of her colleagues who was due to return from Maternity Leave, was given a pay rise and better hours to ensure the company retained her services. That same week Rebecca asked her Manager for some financial support or time off to support her tertiary studies. He blankly rejected the request, saying that he didn’t see the benefit for the company.

Rebecca has developed a strong negative dialogue, when she thinks about her job. She plays out in her mind a range of potential scenarios that might occur out in the day ahead and catastrophises each one.

In my work on leadership and culture, whether it be with individuals, leaders or teams, there are always elements of this occurring. In our typical corporate culture, the behaviours of avoidance and conformance dominate, so many CEO’s, executives through to front line staff, silently play these negative dialogues in their heads, building resentment towards those around them, until something triggers an explosion or an implosion.

You can take control of the negative self-talk. Re-framing your thoughts is critical. Separating the thought from the considered response is critical. It requires practise. Coaching does help. If practiced for long enough, re-framing and working toward more positive self-dialogue becomes a habit, just like any other habit. Once the new habit is formed, it becomes part of your auto-response mechanism, which is re-assuring. It often requires behavioural or lifestyle change on several fronts to assist in forming positive, disciplined habits, which co-contribute to positive brain messaging.

Rebecca is now practising re-framing and positive self-talk. She is working on ways of having conversations with her Manager that do not trigger threat signals from her brain each time she sees or hears something that she does not like or agree with. It remains a work in progress, but accepting that things had to change and committing to do something about it was half the battle.

Gail Kelly

A salute to Gail Kelly

Gail Kelly, CEO of Westpac Bank is retiring in February 2015. Including her time at St George Bank, she has been one of Australia’s highest profile female CEO’s for the last 13 years.

In an interview on the day Ms Kelly publicly announced her retirement, she was asked earnestly by senior business journalists “how she balanced her work and family responsibilities?” She dealt with the questions with grace and style, but the fact that the questions were even asked remains a damming indictment on how we continue to perceive work and the roles that men and women play in the contemporary workplaces.

When NAB CEO Cameron Cline resigned in April 2014, nobody asked him how he balanced his work and family commitments. Although there were several interesting assessments at the time of his exit, which suggested that at 46, and having been in the job for 6 years that it was proof again that such ‘young’ CEO’s can’t really be relied upon. A classic baby boomer backhander if ever there was one, but that is a blog for another day!

I’ve followed the rise and rise of Gail Kelly for many years and felt an affinity with her. Along her career journey, Kelly trained as a high school teacher and for a time pursued a career as a senior HR Executive, as did I. That’s about where the similarities end, but her genuine respect for top quality human resources strategy has seen her present many times over the years at HR forums. I’ve been fortunate enough to listen to her speak several times and her message has remained essentially the same ~ treat your people with respect and trust, invest in their development and your faith will be repaid.

By the time of her exit, this will reduce the number of female CEO’s in the top 100 Australian listed companies down from 3 to 2. They’re not great numbers!

When I speak with professional women about this issue, I get no shortage of passionate engagement. An emerging theme, particularly for my Gen X peer group is that they are simply not prepared to put up with the baggage that comes with playing the corporate game. It’s not just the hours, or the obvious pay inequities or the frustration of being forced to make career or baby decisions, although all of these things continue to be major disincentives. What is hard to fathom in late 2014 is that virtually every senior woman I know has a story of having experienced institutionalised sexism to overt and direct sexual harassment from men whom they have to spend far too much time sitting next to at the Executive table.

Too many women in their 30’s and 40’s are quietly disappearing from corporate life because they make the choice that life is short and too precious to waste in these environments. From a workforce planning perspective, this is a disaster because the talent pool is robbed of some of its very best assets. The fact that these women have a strong enough sense of identity and self-worth to walk away is also the reason why we need them to stay.

I continue to confidently assert that our workplaces are on the threshold of the greatest social change in more than 30 years, as the baby boomers retire in huge numbers. As that happens, business leaders will bend over backwards to accommodate the type of flexibility arrangements, transparency and inclusiveness that for so long has seen to be impossible to achieve. The war for talent, particularly senior and experienced women, will see many old behaviours disappear. There is nothing like an existential threat to focus the mind.

When this happens we should all give thanks to Gail Kelly and women like her, who have paved the way and given hope to many to hang in there.

Women In Business

Your workplace is about to change like never before

I recently read the autobiography of Fay Marles. You may not know her name but she was an extraordinarily important leader in changing how Australian workplaces operate. She was the first Equal Opportunity Commissioner in Victoria, appointed in 1979 after the legislation was enacted.

Ms Marles’ landmark achievement was to successfully facilitate a sex discrimination case, which went all the way to the High Court, for a young woman by the name of Deborah Lawrie. Ms Lawrie was refused admission to an intake of trainee commercial airline pilots for Ansett Airlines in 1979 on the basis of her sex.

You see, Ms Lawrie suffered from a number of conditions that made it impossible for her to be an airline pilot, because it would have put the safety of the flying public at risk.

These included:

  • Her lack of physical strength (girls are weak you know) even though there were no physical strength requirements involved in piloting an aircraft,
  • She was likely to become pregnant at some point, which would have made her unstable (another risk to the public), and
  • She menstruated. Yes, true. And that of course ensured that she would also be prone to periods (pardon the pun) of mental instability.

I’m not making this up!

Today, Ansett’s arguments sound so whacky that it is hard to believe that it could have even happened. But it did and as recently as 1979.

This story is noteworthy because I am sure there are many workplace practices that are entrenched today which we will look back on in 30 years and shake our heads at.

In 2014, women still do not receive equal pay for equal work. The law may say that isn’t the case, but as a senior HR Executive, I can guarantee the practice is alive and well. Workplace flexibility is still mostly a myth and genuine workplace diversity in the corporate sector is rare. Many workplaces still struggle to cope with mothers returning from Maternity Leave and treat them upon return, like some vintage relic, that we keep around but don’t really have a use for anymore.

It takes committed and courageous leaders to change longstanding cultural practices. It also requires investment of real money in education and training for existing and emerging leaders. Usually, that is the point at which commitment gives way to rhetoric.

Perhaps surprisingly, I am extremely confident that we are on the cusp of major workplace reform in these areas. It is likely to be a pragmatic shift, rather than a new enlightenment.

By 2020 much will have changed. The Baby Boomers are about to start leaving the workforce in unprecedented numbers and a new war for talent will force the hand of even the most cynical workplaces. Smart leaders make the necessary changes because they understand the benefits of constructive and inclusive workplace cultures. The rest just copy.

Do you need to do a workplace culture stocktake and start actively planning for 2020?

By the way, at last reports Deborah was a Captain of an Airbus A320 over Australian skies and notwithstanding her various womanly frailties, none of her passengers appear to be at risk.

The Power of Trust

The Power of Trust

There are times in your career when things just seem to fall into place. The team you work with gets along well, the work may be challenging but rewarding and results are good. Getting up each day and going to work is fun. You look forward to it and most days are energising.

Does this sound familiar? Maybe that time is right now, or maybe it was some time back and you feel like it may never return. For me, there have been three times across a 25 year career that stand out.

In my work with clients, I make a point of discussing this with them. I ask them to reconstruct their best workplace experiences (I’m talking about experiences across extended timeframes: months or even years…not just a few days or weeks). Over time, clear themes have emerged. Just as importantly, there are potential reasons which are almost always absent.

First the things that aren’t important:

  • The company you work for. That’s right, who you actually work for plays a very small, almost irrelevant role in determining workplace happiness.
  • The pay and conditions, although there is a caveat on that statement. There are minimum standards to everything. Pay and conditions are hygiene issues and must be respected by the employer, lest they act like submerged icebergs and disaster awaits. And,
  • The work itself. This may be more difficult to believe, but in constructive and high performing work teams, that actual job performed plays only a small part in long term workplace happiness and engagement. The mission may be incredibly important and can be a critical driver of both extrinsic and intrinsic motivation, but long term there are few (if any) differences across groups in the things that they describe as important, regardless of the work performed.

So what is important, and what makes a work experience truly memorable?

Competence – feeling competent to do your job and knowing those around you are competent and capable of doing theirs.

Control – Having the autonomy to get the work done and enough certainty that conditions are not going to change in the short term to negatively impact on getting things done.

But the biggest factor of all:

Trust – In each other and in those who lead. When trust is high, extraordinary things happen. Trust is empowering and enables smart risk taking. In high trust environments, status is respected but does not overwhelm and decisions are made in a spirit of fairness. In high trust environments, people are not placed into a “threat state”. Powerfully, there is a sense that we are watching each other’s backs and we close ranks and jointly problem solve when challenges emerge.

With careful investment in culture and leadership development, these conditions can be created in any organisation, but they never just happen by accident.

How does your team shape up?