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Subscribe to this list via RSS Blog posts tagged in Continuous Improvement

In Part 1 of my article on workforce planning, I discussed the importance of clearly identifying where your organisation is heading and what internal and external drivers are shaping your business direction.

In Part 2, I’d like to give you some tips for getting the balance of skills and experience right in your organisation. 

Once you have determined the optimum organisational structure and identified the skill sets you require for the future, focus on these two key questions:

  • What strategies are available to you to ensure your staffing mix meets your organisation’s requirements? 
  • How can you ensure you have the right capacity in terms of staff numbers, structure and skill set?

If it helps, take a snapshot of where you are currently. A comprehensive audit is often the best way to establish a baseline. However, I understand this can be time-consuming. If you work for a large organisation or government agency, explore the option that others in the organisation may be collection people management data as part of other reporting requirements to assist you.

Information that can be used to objectively review the current position of your organisation includes:

  • Staff demographics and staff turnover trends
  • Current roles, grades or classifications in the organisation
  • Staff numbers and employment mode (eg. full time, part time)
  • Employment status (eg. permanent, casual, contract)
  • Short term or temporary staff
  • Qualifications held
  • Skills and competencies currently held
  • Number of employees in training positions
  • Locations of staff
  • Salary rates and HR budget figures
  • Awards and agreements.

Analysing this information will help you identify those areas which need attention and action.

Once you have this data at your fingertips, consider some of the HR options available to align your staffing mix with your overall business goals.

HR options will typically include one or more of the following:

  • Development or improvement of retention strategies
  • Training and education
  • Restructuring
  • Succession planning
  • Targeted recruitment
  • Redeployment
  • Redundancy program
  • Retrenchment program.

Finally, it’s always important to review how effective the HR strategies you have used in the past have been in facilitating your overall business objectives. Monitoring, evaluating, and if necessary, modifying these strategies regularly will ensure you have a flexible, living plan and that you are using all the resources available to you to meet your organisation’s needs and goals.

If you would like to know more about human resource planning for your organisation, please contact us.

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This blog continues the discussion on how to create a resilient team culture that is able to respond positively to the inevitable changes in the internal and external environments that characterise modern workplaces.

In the previous blog we discussed the key elements for leaders to:

1. Demonstrate their leadership by building self awareness and role modelling positive behaviours

2. The importance of communication as a tool to create resilient teams.

Following on from this, the below details the importance of delivering on your promises, ensuring continual development and nurturing of relationships.


10. Navigate the path forward for your team. Work together to identify the key challenges, risks and milestonesahead. 

Break major goals down into manageable steps and manage the risks through analysis, scenario-planning, tracking and other sensible responses. Having a plan, particularly in periods of uncertainty, reduces anxiety that undermines team resilience.  Even where you are part of a larger organisation, as a team leader develop a plan with your team that they can focus on.

11. Help people get back to work, doing what they do best. 

Business continuity is important not just for the organisation and its customers. Routine and familiar tasks can be comforting in times of stress or adversity and help to restore a sense of ‘normality’ and self-confidence within your team.

12. Celebrate the wins when you do deliver.

Even small wins can be beneficial – remind yourself and everyone else in the team to reflect on what has been achieved.  Celebrating successes can increase motivation and remind everyone of their contributions and abilities to perform – even under pressure!


13. Be creative in identifying opportunities to develop your own skills and that of your team. 

Encourage mentoring within the team and/or offer ‘stretch’ assignments to team members.  The most resilient teams often have overlapping skills sets which creates capacity and flexibility.  Flexibility in role leads to flexibility in thoughts and approaches which will strengthen your team.

14. Provide opportunities for team members to undertake additional learning and encourage them share it with everyone else. 

It doesn’t have to be costly or time-consuming. Look for a return on the investment for the whole group, particularly where they bring new ideas to the team. You might ask some members to do some internet research on a pertinent topic. Other development options can include project work, relieving and formal training.

15. Encourage diversity of thought – it is the key to innovation. 

Cultivate a team culture of sharing new ideas and providing respectful feedback. Encourage members to challenge assumptions that aren’t evidence-based to foster different and creative ways of thinking and doing things.


16. Actively nurture internal and external networks, including support networks for the team.

People need time out to feel socially connected in tough times. Celebrate team and individual achievements and other happy occasions through informal get-togethers.

17. Identify opportunity to collaborate with other teams and stakeholders and deliberately construct ‘buy in’opportunities

Cultivate as many positive relationships as you can to build support for your team.  Being able to connect with others is critical and strong and constructive relationships need to be a priority investment.   Building relationships and maintaining the ability to connect with others, particularly during difficult periods will role model positive workplace behaviours that will sustain your teams through both good times and challenging periods!

For more great ideas about how to team build team resilience, please contact us.

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As I’ve travelled around Australia this year, one of the most common questions I’ve been asked by   middle and senior managers (with varying degrees of desperation) is: ‘How can we build more resilient teams?’

It’s a good question and in response here is the first of a 2-part blog specifically focusing on how to build and maintain resilient teams. 

This year I have worked with organisations that have undergone significant organisational change processes, economic downturns, leadership changes, major IT implementations and even rapid expansion. 

Each factor has had a significant impact on the workplace and has put teams under pressure.

Undoubtedly, teams with low resilience can cost organisations many thousands of dollars in lost revenue through missed opportunities, more frequent and serious errors, increased sick leave and greater staff turnover.  

Sometimes poor team resilience causes internal divisions and personal resentments that go on for weeks, months or even years. Not surprisingly, the quality, creativity and timeliness of the team’s output suffers and the negative cycle continues in a downward spiral.

So what can you do to create or strengthen team resilience?

Here’s some practical ideas that can help:


1. Start with your own resilience.  

Be self-aware of your own level of resilience. Understand your triggers and proactively monitor how well your own strategies are working. Identify and develop positive habits that will support you during challenging periods.

2. Role-model the positive behaviours you want to see in others.  

You set the standard of behaviour for your team, so demonstrate your ability to keep your own emotional responses to challenges under control at work. Use positive communication and demonstrate problem solving techniques that are optimistic and constructive. Role model flexibility and agility in decision making and show pride and accountability in your work. Don’t just talk about it. Do it. Show you team that you don’t just bounce back – you bounce forward!

3. Encourage flexibility and autonomy wherever possibleso your team members feel moreempowered.  

Times of change can make people feel like they have lost control over their future,so devolve decision-making wherever you can*. Show your team that you trust them, have faith in their abilities and want them to be resourceful so they can grow and succeed. Encourage team and individual problem-solving to enhance their self-confidence, accountability and job satisfaction.

4. Recognise and reward people who experiment and show initiative.  

If a team member tries something new and fails, be supportive. Ask them what they learned from the experience and what they’d do differently next time. Don’t underestimate the power of these opportunities to build trust.


5. Help your team members adapt to change, by actively listening.

Engage in honest and open discussion with team members, individually and as a group. Invest time really listening to your team during tough times. Focus on your verbal and non verbal communication.

6. Use positive language and humour (where appropriate) to build team cohesion. Discourage negative language, snap judgements and black-and-whitethinking patterns.  

Challenge undermining behaviours such as defensiveness, gossip, eye-rolling or finger-pointing.  Develop the confidence to have those difficult conversations with team members who undermine individual or team resilience.  Ignoring or turning a blind eye to destructive communication habits is very dangerous!  

7. Meet with your team often.  

Be visible and present! Team members need and want to hear from their leader when they are facing uncertainty or adversity. Clarify roles, priorities and goals of the team. In times of significant organisational change or upheaval, calmly share whatever new and relevant information you can, as soon as you can. Ditch the management-speak. There’s no need to  ‘drill down’, ‘climb the strategic staircase’ or ‘cascade relevant information’ – just talk in plain English.  

8. Deal with issues as they arise.

Resilient teams work collaboratively and are characterised by mutual trust and support. They are not afraid to admit weaknesses and mistakes and ask for help when they need it. Encourage team members to talk through any current or emerging issues before they start to catastrophise and snowball matters to impossible levels.

9. Acknowledge even the small achievements of team members and look for opportunities to acknowledge progress. 

Remember to say ‘thank you’ and ‘well done’. Everyone needs to feel valued and that their work has meaning and purpose, no matter how junior their role or seemingly mundane their task. Remind all team members, individually and together, how their work helps the organisation, community and/or customers.

* Research undertaken by Blessing and White and published in A Study of Voluntary Effort in the Work Force (1996) found that old-fashioned ‘command and control’ work environments don’t encourage people to think for themselves and create ‘learned helplessness’ in staff.  Ten years later, another study of 320 small businesses conducted by researchers at Cornell University found that businesses that gave their staff autonomy grew four times faster than those that didn’t. Source: http://www.workingatmcmaster.ca/med/document/facilitating-resilience-in-the-workplace-1-37.pdf

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Posted by on in Performance Management

How productive are your workplace meetings? 

Are the outcomes worth the significant investment?  

Is attending unproductive meetings just adding to your already hectic work schedule? 

Recent research has found that the average officer worker spends 62 hours a month in meetings and that 31 of those hours – or exactly half! – are considered unproductive or a waste of time. The estimated salary cost to businesses from this lost productivity is a whopping US$37 billion dollars each year.

The ability to hold a successful and productive meeting is a dying art. Even with the wealth of technological aids for modern organisations, many meetings still lack focus, fail to deliver outcomes, fail to engage staff and often become a source of great frustration.  

The ability to chair a successful meeting, even at an informal level, is a direct reflection on our professionalism. If our meetings are not achieving anything, this perception can become an extension of how others perceive us. The reality is many people are not confident in setting agendas, navigating procedural motions, understanding meeting rules and etiquette, recording action items and taking minutes to make the most of the forum.

In order to get the most from resource-intensive meetings, organisations should regularly review the way they organise, conduct and follow-up on them. 

Here are the top ten tips from PSW HR Solutions on how to have more successful meetings:

1. Define

Define your purpose – why do you need to have a meeting?  Is there another communication channel possible that will achieve the same or an even better result in a shorter time-frame?

2. Plan

If you must have a meeting, plan it carefully. Who needs to be there? Do you need the entire team or just the key decision-makers?  Invite everyone who needs to be there and no-one else.

3. Agenda  

Develop your agenda collaboratively to ensure relevance of discussion topics and ‘buy in’ from intended participants. Set time limits for each item. Rank agenda items in order of priority and allow more time for complex or controversial items.

4. Roles & Responsibilities  

Assign clear meeting roles and responsibilities. For formal or structured meetings, make sure the role of minute taker is assigned to someone appropriately skilled for that task. The same goes for the chairperson and/or facilitator. These two roles are crucial, particularly for large meetings.

5. Venue  

Is the meeting venue fit-for-purpose? Room size, accessibility, ventilation, lighting, equipment and technology all matter, especially for long and/or important meetings.

6. Preparation

Send out any background reading materials well in advance of the meeting. This is not only a courteous and professional practice but it will help to foster more thoughtful and considered discussion at the meeting itself.

7. Procedures & Protocols

Follow agreed meeting procedures and protocols. Anticipate any contentious or controversial issues that may be raised and/or potentially difficult personalities who may be attending. Make sure you have strategies up your sleeve to deal with them. For example, seat potentially difficult participants close to the chairperson or facilitator, on their right hand side, if possible. Brief the chairperson or facilitator thoroughly in advance about the meeting’s purpose and any issues or invitees that may be of concern.

8. Participation

Encourage active participation and questions for more meaningful and honest discussions.

9. Evaluation

Don’t wait till the end of the meeting to evaluate it!  Then it’s too late to do anything about it. Ask participants during the meeting for their feedback on how the objectives are being met and take their feedback on board without taking it personally.

10. Actions & Outcomes

Follow-up on any agreed action items and outcomes from the meeting as soon as possible. Be sure to send out the minutes promptly, otherwise the momentum for change/progress may be lost, and key participants will be less likely to attend your next meeting.


It makes good business sense to take meeting management seriously. Improvements can be simple and inexpensive to implement and the potential for positive results can be enormous.

For more information and help on how to develop better meeting skills, including useful strategies for engaging and energising participants, troubleshooting tips and essential competencies for your  21st century meetings toolbox, please get in touch.

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Posted by on in Workforce Planning

Moving into new or expanded leadership roles can be both exciting and daunting. Many frontline or first time leaders often have strong technical or operational skills but, as any leader will tell you, it is the people management skills involved in successfully leading teams that are often described as the most critical!

For those experienced leaders, adapting and growing your leadership skills as your responsibilities or the size of your team expands can also challenge our confidence. The weight of expectation can be overwhelming so it becomes important to make the best possible start on the new leadership journey.

Here are some strategies to help you make the best possible start to fulfilling your leadership role.

1. Do your homework on the business unit as much as possible. Understand their role,  previous performance successes and disappointments, any external challenges they have faced recently or changes that may be imminent.

2.   Confirm the scope of your responsibilities, available resources, levels of decision making authority and ways in which your performance will be measured.  

3.   Spend some time on determining how your role and your team can add the best value to the organisation. Start to build your strategic thinking capability. Reflect on what the functions are of the team. Are there opportunities to improve the contribution to the organisation in the way the team delivers their services?

4.   Develop and confirm your ‘must do’ priorities for your first 3,6,9,12 months. This planning includes the preparation of your ‘100 day plan’ usually at the commencement of a new position which assists you to focus your energies and avoid becoming overwhelmed. Once developed the plan should be discussed with your senior managers and also your teams so that the focus of your efforts is clear and expectations can be clarified.

5.   Clearly communicate your vision or plan to the team. Where do we want to be in 12 months? What do we want to have achieved? What are our goals? How will we get there? How will we measure our performance?

6.   Discuss and confirm the communication methods that will work most effectively for your teams, senior managers and peers.  

7.   Define the culture you believe is necessary for the team. What behaviours are appropriate? What positive behaviours and attitudes need to be fostered? Once these have been defined you can communicate those expectations clearly to the team. What key organisational documents will support you in driving positive cultures?

8.   Make a concerted effort to personally connect with your team and one to one partnerships.

9.   Make a conscious and determined effort to make positive impressions at every opportunity in your new role. Convey your leadership through your communication and your actions by delivering on expectations with conviction and enthusiasm.

10. Invest in your network. Create a deliberate strategy to invest in building strong internal and external stakeholder partnerships. 

11. Manage the change process. Where you have a number of change projects identified, reflect on the priority, the expected outcome, the current engagement level of the team and implement the change program accordingly. It will be counterproductive to tackle too many fires at once. Focus on small wins initially to build your confidence and the confidence of those around you.

12. Deliver.  Deliver.  Deliver. New managers must deliver successful outcomes within reasonable time frames. Identify the priorities and focus your efforts on ensuring that projects of tasks are completed to a high standard. Resist the temptation to take on too many things at once for exactly this purpose. It will undermine your efforts to complete and this will affect your confidence.

For more information on options to develop confident and competent leaders in your  organisation, please contact us.

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Our RTO, ACIM Solutions is pleased to announce that we will be conducting the Certificate IV Government (Investigations) PSP 41512 course in Newcastle. 

This course is often only available in the face to face format for people in organisational groups, however due to interest from of individuals seeking to undertake the qualification in a face to face format we are now offering it open to the public.

Career opportunities:


Tuesday, 22 September 2015 – Thursday, 24 September 2015 (3 days) Block 1

Tuesday, 29 September 2015 – Wednesday. 30 September 2015(2 days) Block 2


$2800 per person (GST free)

This course is part of our suite of development programs that we tailor for organisational groups. All are offered in blended formats that include face to face workshops, RPL, credit transfer and assessment only options.

Please contact us for more information or enquire online at ACIM Solutions.

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The transition into a leadership role can often be a challenging time for both the individual and the organisation.  It is in everyone’s best interest that this process be managed to create the smoothest possible move to the new role.

Below are just a few strategies for those leaders in the organisation supporting people making the transition, and also those newly appointed leaders.

Positive strategies for organisations

  • Recruit wisely for your leadership roles. 

Many organisations will promote the next in line and this can sometimes be problematic.  Some people are very technically strong, but do not necessarily have the people management skills, or desire, to assume responsibilities inherent in leadership roles.  Consider the leadership skill set the business needs carefully.  What are your priorities as a business unit? Based on the current business goals, has your candidate demonstrated enough capability to validate the decision to move into staff management responsibilities? Being technically strong does not equate to skills in people management.  The skill sets are very different!

  • Clearly outline what the new role will involve.

Clear communication of expectations from the outset avoids problems down the track.  Be specific for example on issues such as, additional hours, increased responsibility, management of budgets, travel requirements. 

  • Clearly outline how their performance will be evaluated.

Specify in what ways will their performance be measured, how regularly and any bonus or incentive scheme provisions.

  • Provide (meaningful) coaching and mentoring support. 

Particularly in the early stages,  provide regular access to the right people to ensure the new leader has an opportunity to discuss any concerns, outline their progress, ask questions or seek advice. Coaching and mentoring is a very powerful form of staff development and will give the new leader confidence to respond to their new challenges positively.   

  • Provide leadership training

Quality training and development, particularly in relation to people management skills, is a crucial part of building confidence in newly appointed leaders.  Training programs help leaders to build and develop positive leadership behaviours which directly value add to the organisation. 

Positive strategies for the new leader

  • Ensure you are clear on the commitments involved with your new role.  This can be critical if you are already within the organisation.  Issues such as maintaining confidentiality,  performance management and disciplinary responsibilities are part of a leadership role.  There is often a big difference between being one of the team and leading the team.
  • Understand the organizational expectations of your performance and how that performance will be evaluated. 
  • Assess your own strengths and focus on areas where you can grow skills.  Building self awareness is an important skill for a leader and it is a positive habit to develop. Be as objective as possible; consider specific examples that validate your self appraisal. For example, how do I know that I am communicating to my teams positively? Is my communication style engaging the team to perform at their best, or could I develop my skills to achieve even better outcomes?
  • Invest your time in creating networks and relationships with people who can give you constructive guidance and feedback.
  • Commit to ongoing professional development to keep enhancing your skill set.  Continued learning in leadership will build your confidence, broaden your network and allow you to add value and maximise your contribution to your team and the organisation. 

For more information on how to support your organisational leaders to achieve better outcomes, contact us.

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Posted by on in Archive

Feedback from customers, as well as internal and external organisational stakeholders, provides us with a valuable opportunity to identify ways to continuously improve human resource management across the business. 

The opportunities are available only if the private and public sector organisations are brave enough to capture the feedback, analyse the trends and proactively drive improvements!

Organisations can use a number of methods to source and channel customer feedback, for example;

  • internal and external surveys,
  • feedback cards,
  • complaint processes,
  • blogs or service comments and testimonials. 

Much of that feedback inevitably relates to staff performance, both good and poor.

On the upside, positive feedback can provide a valuable opportunity to reward and acknowledge teams in a timely manner.

Just as significantly, negative feedback should be seen by organisations as a thermometer of the business unit. Effective complaint management can be a powerful early warning system of deeper people management issues that need to be addressed.

The key then becomes how to efficiently capture the data, and use that information to identify and implement sustainable improvements in people management processes and systems.

Stakeholder complaints

Complaints from internal and external stakeholders often indicate one or more of the following people management processes needs review;

  • Recruitment processes
  • Induction processes
  • Training and development
  • Workforce planning affecting service delivery (staffing or deployment models)
  • Performance management
  • Conduct management
  • Work, Health and Safety
  • HR policy design and/or implementation
  • Welfare management

What do you need to do?

The first thing to do is to ensure you have a structured process around regularly sourcing and capturing complaints and feedback.

The next step is to analyse that data objectively and really consider the various issues that may sit behind the negative comments.

Build the discussion on feedback into your regular team meetings and communication processes. This depersonalises feedback in many situations and helps to focus on the issues, rather than the person. Issue-based resolution will often result in more long term and positive outcomes. Actively involve your teams in the process as they will offer a valuable and different perspective in problem solving.

If you would like assistance in developing a complaint management system and training and development in this important area for your from a team that has experience managing this issue, please contact us.

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