The Subtle Power of a RASCI Chart

The Subtle Power of a RASCI Chart

Guest writer Sara Hanks offers constructive wisdom for project success in, “The Subtle Power of a RASCI Chart.”

During several recent project reviews, an unmistakable pattern emerged: projects consistently stumbled at the same exact step. The project leaders were quick to lay blame on the purchasing team, citing a lack of support. But a deeper dive revealed the issue wasn’t about finger-pointing or blame.


After several meetings with several people, my team completed mapping out the process, uncovering a glaring gap. A significant process step, vital to the project’s progress, lacked ownership. To engage the purchasing team, the planner needed to put demand in the system. In services, however, there is no planner function, so the process stopped until it was escalated. Several projects were delayed due to this issue.


This is where the transformative power of the RASCI chart came to our rescue. For those unfamiliar, RASCI stands for:


Responsible (R): The person who performs an activity. It’s vital to have a single ‘R’ for every step, ensuring there’s clear ownership and no overlap in duties.

Accountable (A): The person ultimately accountable for the correct and thorough completion of the task. This usually falls on a senior person who has the authority to sign off on the step. Some sources consider the (A) as Approver.

Supportive (S): Those who assist the ‘R’ in completing the task. They provide the resources or knowledge needed but don’t take on the main responsibility.

Consulted (C): The people who must give input before the task is completed, providing necessary expertise or information.

Informed (I): Those who need to be kept in the loop regarding the outcome of the task, but don’t necessarily have input on its execution.


For each step of the process, identify who is responsible for completing the task. With the clarity provided by the RASCI chart, we meticulously documented each process step and assigned who was responsible. The planner step of the process was assigned to the warehouse manager. We also discovered that by informing the purchasing team sooner, they would have more awareness of the project and could respond more efficiently.


But the benefits of the RASCI chart extend beyond merely assigning roles. With a clearer understanding of responsibilities:


Streamlining Approval Steps: Organizations often have multiple approval layers, some of which may be redundant. With clarity on who is truly responsible and accountable, teams can challenge and eliminate unnecessary approval steps, making processes leaner and faster.

Enhanced Communication: Knowing exactly who needs to be consulted or informed means that communication is more targeted. This can reduce the back-and-forth and make decision-making swifter.


Conflict Resolution: When roles overlap or are unclear, conflicts can arise. Clearly defining who is responsible for what can prevent such overlaps and the ensuing misunderstandings.


Efficient Resource Allocation: With a better grasp on who supports each step, managers can allocate resources more efficiently, ensuring that each phase of a project gets the support it truly needs.


Training & Onboarding: When introducing new team members to a process, a RASCI chart acts as a guide, detailing what each team member’s role is, ensuring faster integration into projects.


The RASCI chart’s benefits, as we discovered, are multifaceted. Not only does it bring clarity to roles, but it also optimizes processes, enhances communication, and leads to better resource allocation. It’s not just about finding out who does what; it’s about understanding how everyone can do what they do, better.


In the end, our experience with the RASCI chart was enlightening. It taught us the significance of clearly defined roles and responsibilities. As organizations evolve and processes become more intricate, tools like the RASCI chart will be essential in navigating the complexity, ensuring efficiency, and fostering a culture of clarity and collaboration.

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New Leadership

New Leadership

Guest writer Sonya Law returns this week with the Human Resources perspective in “New Leadership.”

New Leadership: It’s time to expand our definition of what makes a great leader!

According to Harvard Business Review: “Leadership is a conversation” It is less about issuing and taking orders than about asking and answering questions” which leads us to the first quality… 

Leader as Coach

Whether it is formal or informal both styles of coaching have value. We know in sport that coaching tends to be very structured although this is changing too, as coaching is as much about coachable moments on field as off the field.

As a leader within an organisation the value is in the coachable moments, in real-time its powerful.  

A good leader is self-aware and recognises what is needed to be said at the opportune moment. It is timely advice and the right guidance at the right moment and is well received by the employee and builds a positive feedback loop for the individuals growth.

These moments build trust, as they feel that the leader is going to be with them every step of the way, which creates shared commitment and purpose.  Its these strong emotional bonds that leaders need to maintain a positive feedback loop for learning and growth of their team.  When you have the people, both their hearts and mind you can extract unrealised potential and discretionary effort from each member of the team.


Why is this important?

Gallup Poll 2023, measure’s global engagement levels in organisations, currently at 15% engaged workforce.  Reporting that employees are not emotionally connected to their work and do the bare minimum.  

When you have a strategy to win and be the best, bare minimum, with 85% of the workforce disengaged and only 15% engagement it’s not enough, in a competitive environment to achieve high performance.


Why wouldn’t you want extra effort?

When people are emotionally invested you can extract discretionary effort and unrealised potential of employees, when there is an improvement in Leadership Effectiveness.  There is a positive impact to the overall human effort towards achieving the organisations goals.  

We need to turn our focus towards Leadership Effectiveness and adopting a more humanistic approach, to drive a high-performance culture.

What is key in driving a high-performance culture?  

Creating a work environment that builds emotional connection will elicit high performance because there will be high levels of trust.  Leadership is both an art and science, there is not a perfect formula, it is often knowing our style and being able to adapt, that is the best predictor of success.

When I think about building trust in teams, the gurus are John and Julie Gottman, they are well known for their relationship work with couples in building trust, but before now probably not thought of in terms of business relationships. The science or in this case psychology still stands, building trust and connection has the same elements. 

When an employee makes a bid for connection towards their manager, this is an opportunity for the manager to acknowledge them and transmit a feeling of being valued to the employee.  For example, you walk into the office each morning and say a quick good morning to your team, they try to engage with you, but you race to your first meeting, not allowing anytime for conversation.  This will affect the trajectory of their day and over time unmet bids for meaningful connection at work, will result in poor behaviours, disloyalty, and disengagement. 

However, in a thriving and positive workplace where space is created for meaningful connection between managers and their teams, behaviours you are more likely to see are: –

  • Helping Customers
  • Coming to you with solutions not problems 
  • Being more open to Change 
  • Raising issues before they become bigger.

Leaders energise teams.

They own it, by taking responsibility for their own energy levels. The best leaders I know have a morning routine, the alarm goes between 5am and 6am and they exercise because they know, when they do, they will have more energy to complete the tasks of the day. They report feeling more energised and increase in productivity and receptivity to those around them. Leading them to be able to not only boost their energy levels but that of their team.

They respond to emails with energy, they communicate with the appropriate level of energy and passion it takes to enliven a team.  Being aware about your own state and being intentional in the tone and energy of your emails and verbal communication and body language can motivate or demotivate your team, be aware and conscious of your energy levels.

Leaders who prioritise their self-care and that of their team by role modelling and having regular conversations about the importance of wellbeing.  Will have a more energised team to keep up with the pace and demands of today’s workplace.

Leaders foster inclusivity.

They do not have all the answers, but are prepared to lean in, listen and learn. They engage with experts in the field and want to understand how they themselves can be more inclusive in their language and behaviours. 

Leaders are Emotionally Intelligent (EQ)

They are aware that to be a great leader you need to be self-aware and be able to self-regulate your own emotions to provide a safe working environment. If we are divisive and reactive most of the time this will lead to an unpredictable and unstable environment.  

The most powerful tool in EQ is awareness, when you are aware of bids for connection from your team, these are the micro-moments that enable you to build emotional connection which creates a sense of belonging for your people.


Leaders have empathy.

Leaders who have empathy and build connection with their people, will get the best from them.

Some leaders, already know they wear their heart on their sleeve, and they understand it is a balance and to not demonstrate empathy, is a bigger risk, particularly in navigating the sensitivities of their younger team members (generational). 

When there is emotional connection in the team it elicits discretionary effort and a willingness to go into the trenches and even endure some stress. 

Empathy simply is not prioritising your comfort over someone else.  

Leaders find it hard to step into empathy because it is uncomfortable and makes them feel vulnerable. 

By paying attention to how you are showing up in this space, you could ask for feedback on how well you listen, your language (both verbal and body language) and experience for the other person. 

Empathy is a skill set and can be learned, you can develop your own style, and build it in 3 ways: 

  1. The first step in empathy, is making the other person a priority and showing genuine interest.
  2. Tune into them, it is a human skill like a muscle that can be strengthened with practice.  
  3. Empathy is a sense, of sensing someone else’s emotion. (If you have completed your MBTI, check your results for ‘Sensing’). Or any EQ, emotional intelligence test.

Your own personal and lived experience affects your level of empathy.  

Leaders who embrace diversity of human experience.  Can listen more effectively, expanding their “emotional range” having a “full life” helps with empathy and seeking out a wide range of experiences, making them more relatable. 

Leaders tell me most of their problems are people related and spend most of their time, effort, and energy on them.  When we build our empathy muscle and develop a more humanistic approach.

The benefits of a humanistic approach are: 

  • Improved people outcomes 
  • Focus on critical projects which impact the business.
  • Leading and implementing change 
  • Maintaining an engaged and energised workforce. 

Some leaders are good technically and they rise into leadership roles, and they lack the soft skills, particularly empathy which is a key skill in leading people.  Volvo have recognised this and trained 20% of their People Managers in MHFA (Mental Health First Aid) as they recognise the importance of a safe workplace both physically and mentally.  

Leaders who demonstrate empathy and have a sense of where people are at emotionally, allows them to resolve issues early before it becomes a conflict and litigious.


Leaders are prepared and value a Growth Mindset

Leaders who are focused, intentional and limit distractions get what they want. Why? 

They prepare for conversations, they prepare for meetings they know what they want to say, what they want from the team. They are always aware of the bigger picture and how they can collaborate and involve the necessary stakeholders and decision makers in important decisions and direction of the team and business. 

They do not leave things to chance.  

They have a process of reflection and analysis to ensure they themselves are growing and developing as a leader and engage in their own learning.  They value a growth mindset and know it’s important to being innovative and adaptive. 


Leader’s nurture young talent and innovation

Leader’s nurture young talent and recognise that good ideas can come from anywhere whether it is your first day on the job or you have been there for 20 years.  Providing systems where you develop your youth and innovation will deliver value to any organisation and is worth the upfront investment of time and effort. It’s important to provide opportunities for young people to connect and learn from leaders.


Leaders promote wellbeing. 

They promote wellbeing for themselves and the team, they seek to understand what is important to the people by asking them and make it a weekly focus to check in on their level of burnout.  Leaders prioritise safety and know their most asset is their People, understanding that wellbeing includes both mental and physical safety, they take a wholistic approach.  


Leaders connect people with Purpose.

They look for ways to connect people with their talents and drive purpose and passion where possible to ensure the people feel energised and not burnt out. Much of burnout and overwhelm is not being aligned at work and not having impact. Author Liz Wiseman wrote a book called Impact Players which explores this concept further. 


Leaders get uncomfortable and show up in an authentic way.

They are prepared to have difficult conversations that need to be had.  They do not put their comfort ahead of others and make space for these conversations in their day. 

Leaders create a sense of safety when difficult issues arise, to allow difficult issues to be raised and worked through in a respectful, open, and transparent way.  They look for ways to lead by example which gives those around them permission also, to be authentic at work. 


Leaders humanise the workforce.

They humanise the workforce and understand whilst financial sustainability and good administration is the foundation of any business there is a human aspect to what we do.  Even in the most competitive and brutal environment of Tour De France, Netflix series featuring cyclist Mark Cavendish shares the human side and pressures of competitive cycling. 


Leaders celebrate. 

Leaders celebrate with the team to create a sense of belonging and shared purpose.  The team that celebrates together stays together.  Having fun and being away from the stresses of the workplace and celebrating creates lots of moments of connection and may serve to improve cross functional relationships.  

Creating a high performance and winning culture, that establishes traditions and rituals to celebrate milestones, recognise the team and the wins along the way, will support the group in overcoming obstacles and building resilience.


Leaders are positive.

Finally, leaders who are positive, generous, charismatic, yet realistic, provide the most valuable thing to their people, they give hope.  When you are not winning, the work can feel like a grind and people who lift each other are vital to the group not losing hope.  A leader who is focusing on the positives, and moving forward will encourage the group to do the same. Positivity is contagious. We invest a lot in our people to build them up, be careful not to slip into low energy moods and negativity. Always be thinking as a leader, what can I do today to make it better tomorrow!


The bottom-line benefits are: 

  • Engaged workforce – improving productivity and reducing staff turnover.
  • Openness to change – digital transformation and critical business projects actioned.
  • Reduction in burnout – less absenteeism, increase presenteeism, reduced work cover claims and legal disputes. 


Raising questions?

Why wouldn’t you invest in Leadership Training?

Why wouldn’t you invest in Leadership Coaching?

Why wouldn’t you want to protect your leaders from Burnout? 

‘If you take care of your leaders they will take care of your people, who take care of your business’. 

Contact Sonya Law founder of SL Human Resources Consulting if you are interested in leadership training, coaching and strategies to avoid burnout in your leaders.

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Belonging is good for business and benefits the bottom line!

 Belonging is good for business and benefits the bottom line!

Guest writer Sonya Law brings back our human resources perspective with “Belonging is good for business and benefits the bottom line!”

According to Harvard Business Review: “If workers feel like they belong, companies reap substantial bottom-line benefits.”

The bottom-line benefits are:

  • High Sense of Belonging was linked to a whopping 56% increase in job performance.
  • A 50% drop in turnover risk
  • A 75% reduction in sick days

Raising questions?

  • How has living through a Pandemic affected the way we connect? 
  • How do we create employee engagement in a modern workplace?
  • How important is it to create a sense of belonging in the workplace?

Creating a Sense of belonging has been given more attention, post pandemic, because People are:

  •  Wanting more from their jobs, getting paid is no longer enough. They what to align on Purpose and have meaningful impact.
  • Experiencing Burnout are also opting for the eject button, without even having a job to go to as a lag effect to working through the Pandemic that presented new stresses and strains. Relating to extra compliance and reporting and lack of staff.
  • Impacted more by Mental health and Psychosocial impacts of a disconnected workforce. Due to hybrid workplaces is having an impact on connection and healthy workplace relationships post pandemic and to collaboration and problem solving.
  • More aware, that there is another job just around the corner in this buoyant tight-talent market. 


How do you create a sense of belonging:

  1. Rituals – that it practices, traditions that define how you come together to celebrate wins and connection in the team, and this creates a sense of belonging.
  2. Authenticity – that is it needs to be genuine in its efforts to connect and demonstrate inclusivity.
  3. Culture – it needs to be regular, consistent, and embedded. 

Creating a sense of belonging helps you to hold on to your Brightest & Best TALENT!

  • It is vital to ‘attracting and retaining talent’ in a tight candidate market.
  • Gives people a sense of belonging and understands the ‘relational aspects of teams and connection’ creates opportunities to develop talent and unleash People Potential.
  • Provides insights into the ‘employee experience’ and developing our Employee Value Proposition.

Develops cultural awareness – focusing on what employees are telling you in your employee survey, will guide your next steps! 

  1. Create a dedicated group – focused on creating a sense of belonging and employee engagement.
  2.  Culture Champions – this does not always have to be HR People. Consider a cross section and those passionate about culture and creating a sense of belonging. 
  3. Review your Culture Results – this is your best tool for putting you in touch with what employees want to see more of in the workplace.
  4. Take risks – a lot of us think, that will not work, we did it before, it was a flop!
  5. BE BRAVE try something new! 
  6. Stay the course, and be positive, be enthusiastic!

A sense of belonging creates unintended benefits:

  1. Relational Benefits: Stronger relationships are benefits of creating a sense of belonging. Teamwork and high innovation and also increased discretionary effort in times of high stress. It also creates clarity in the role, clear purpose and sense of empowerment and achievement when we draw out these relational connections. Better and faster than any re-org!
  2. Accountability, responsibility, and ownership: It creates an elevated level of accountability, responsibility, ownership, and reliability which are all fundamental in building trust and present in high performing teams. A strong relational culture does not support toxicity, it supports high levels of engagement.
  3. Tolerance and people stickiness of your high potentials! Builds tolerance; in 2023 there needs to be a focus on building tolerance for organisations to thrive. High work demands and burnout, leads to feelings of overwhelm and can be a key factor for people leaving their jobs and not taking up leadership positions.

“A sense of belonging helps create resilience and ‘people stickiness’ to the organisation of your high potentials!!”

‘Take care of your people and they will take care of your business.’

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What is a Job Architect? And how is it relevant to modern HR practices?

What is a Job Architect? And how is it relevant to modern HR practices?

Guest writer Sonya Law walks readers through organizational structures in “What is a Job Architect? And how is it relevant to modern HR practices?”

“Be an organisation who is leading from the front …find out what a Job Architect is and why it is vital to high performance teams” … 

  • It plays a key role in ‘attracting, retaining and nurturing talent’
  • Gives people a sense of belonging and understands the ‘relational aspects of teams and connection’
  • Provides insights into the ‘employee experience’ and cultural awareness.

Job Architecture has been given more attention, post pandemic.  For the reason that, people are wanting more from their jobs, getting paid is no longer enough.  If a job does not meet their need for purpose and meaningful impact there is another job, just around the corner in this buoyant tight-talent market.

Those experiencing burnout are also opting for the eject button, to return to a role that suits their skill set and need for making a difference.

Job Architecture, acts as strategic backbone 

“Connecting the entire Human Resources ecosystem for a consistent Employee Experience that, ultimately, impacts the customer experience. Job Architecture helps you: Develop and align talent segments, job families, capabilities, and accountabilities across the organisation.” 

Job Architecture is work design

Post pandemic, we want to create workplaces as magnets for people to attract them to return to the office.  We need to re-think and look at new ways that work can be done and job architecture enables us to do this.  As well as think of the relational aspects, of how we collaborate and solve problems as a team.

Job Architecture is an underutilised part of our HR toolkit

Job Design is a HR fundamental but what is different about Job Architecture is that it is smart design that takes in design thinking principles.  Which brings focus to the employee experience and the way work gets done in context of the whole eco-system.

Recently in Melbourne, Australia a Job Summit was held with business leaders such as CEO of Qantas Alan Joyce and Andrew Forest as well as many more, one of the key outcomes was the need to increase productivity.  Job Architecture and work design affects every outcome that matters in a workplace, including performance and productivity.  Full utilisation of our most expensive resource, being human beings is essential to achieving high rates of productivity and a way to do this is through Job Architecture.  

The next points are based on an article written by Chris Sheedy for HRM Magasine and provides key insights into Job Architecture, by Professor Sharon Parker.  

Job Architecture involves creating work for employees that is:


As human beings, we like to do things that are interesting, feel meaningful and have some variety.


Allows for mastery, most people want to do their job well.  So how can we encourage a sense of mastery? What are the things that help people to do their job? Role clarity, regular feedback, tap into their ‘native genius’ a term coined by Liz Wiseman, author of Multipliers, how the best leaders make everyone smart. 


Agency, or autonomy, is based on the fundamental human need to have control over one’s own world. In a work context, this is the degree to which an employee feels they have control or influence over the work that they do and how they do it. Low agency also usually equates to low innovation.  Agency is not anarchy. Its purposeful and goal directed.  It requires a high level of trust throughout the organisation.


Impactful and relational aspects are considerations in Job Architecture.  Clarity of what our job is and the impact on other jobs is fundamental.  What is vital to high performance teams is the relationships and the connections with each other.  The level of support we receive from within and from each other will give us our sense of belonging, make us feel safe and valued. 

It creates a high level of accountability, responsibility, ownership and also reliability which are all fundamental in building trust and present in high performing teams. A strong relational culture, does not support toxicity and bullying and harassment, it supports high levels of engagement. 


Builds tolerance; in 2022 there needs to be a focus on building tolerance for organisations to thrive.  High work demands and burnout, leads to feelings of overwhelm and can be a key factor for people leaving their jobs and not taking up leadership positions.  Thoughtful consideration needs to be given to how we build tolerance to increased work demands and recognise the early signs of burnout and support people’s mental health in their job i.e., coaching. 

Strategic workforce planning is key:

The starting point, is understanding where your organisation is at, what it values and needs to execute the strategy in terms of the: 

  1. Skills and capability
  2. Digital transformation
  3. Cadence of change 

And assess the levels of fatigue in the organisation which will determine the receptivity to and success of change.

Having a workforce planning strategy in place that is considerate of your current workforce and job design and constraints will improve outcomes.  A tool used to evaluate constraints in achieving the strategy is the PESTLE, which gives consideration to political, economic, social, technological, legal and environmental factors.  This will be the best predictor of the future workforce required to execute your strategy.  Then for Human Resources, the detailed work is in drilling down on job design/job architecture alongside, budgetary and growth expectations, and headcount.

As a senior leadership team, its good practise to complete quarterly: 

  1. Talent Matrix (performance and potential) 
  2. PESTLE is political, economic, social, technological, legal and environmental factors.
  3. Align people strategy (work force planning/Job Architecture) with business strategy. 

How well we do in these areas will define the success in attracting and retaining talent in a tight market now and in the future and achieving our business goals. 

‘Take care of your people and they will take care of business’

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Global skills shortage and how to solve the problem of a tight market?

Global skills shortage and how to solve the problem of a tight market?

Guest writer Sonya Law tackles a topic that is plaguing every industry write now: the global skills shortage, and how to solve the problem of a tight market. 

“Be an organisation who truly understands what candidates want and values will put you ahead of the pack.  Before you try to fix the talent shortage problem, be clear about your EVP (Employee Value Proposition)and how the conversation will go with prospective candidates.  Work strategically and in partnership with your Talent Acquisition (TA) teams and vendors to solve this problem together.  Organisations who do this well, will secure top talent now and in the future”

The problems we are facing globally are not new in staffing organisations what is new is what candidates prioritise as important.  Candidates know their value in the market and are now going after what they want, we need to be both tactical and strategic on how we do this.

This shift is largely because of the pandemic and is also stress driven, those experiencing burnout are opting for roles where they can work remotely and less hours.  Other considerations are there needs to be investment into management training on how we engage our remote workforce.  

  1. Competitive Salary – Candidates know their worth in the market. Employees who are not being valued and remunerated to that level are also weighing up their options of whether to stay or go.  These conversations need to be taken seriously and acted on and be part of the system of work.
  2. EVP – Benefits are important to candidates in their evaluation of prospective employers.  What is important to the effectiveness of these programs is that they are communicated to candidates. Use of social media and particularly videos and organizational story telling are powerful tools in communicating the benefits of working with an organization.
  3. Flexibility – Post Pandemic candidates expect flexible, hybrid work options and opportunity to negotiate where, when and how work gets done. It is different for everyone and is not a one size fits all approach.
  4. Psychologically safe workplaces – Candidates want to work for organization’s who support mental health and wellbeing is important, who create space and awareness for those conversations is important. Fostering ability to have mental health conversations. Progressive organizations are investing in MHFA (Mental Health First Aid) training and removing the stigma by educating and supporting leaders on how to have supportive mental health conversations.
  5. Purpose, Vision, Values lead organization – Important to candidates is alignment between personal and organizational ‘purpose’ driven statements.  When recruiters can have a conversation with candidates about ‘purpose’ attraction and retention of that candidate throughout the life cycle of the hire improves exponentially.  It also serves to mitigate risks of offers from other prospective employers, when you have built that trust with the candidate.  It is very time consuming and exhausting for a candidate to engage with multiple job offers, if you have built a good relationship, they will happily deal with you to the exclusion of others when this is achieved.
  6. Diversity is not just a token – Lean in, listen and learn.  Organisations who do this well will differentiate themselves from other job opportunities.  Be ready and prepared to have conversations about social impact and CSR (corporate social responsibility) in the interview process, give examples of where this is happening in your organization.
  7. Innovation – Organizations who are focused on Innovation and who have adopted innovative approach like design thinking will be ahead of the game. 
  8. Giving and receiving feedback – radical candor does not work its brutal, we still are not doing this well.  Feedback needs to be timely, specific, constructive and respectful and is more likely to be taken onboard from someone we trust.  Candidates appreciate feedback and not being ghosted by HR and recruiters; we need to improve in this area.  This sets a tone for how feedback is handled within your organization. There is a direct link between proactive and constructive feedback, for increased opportunities for learning, internal promotions and remuneration conversations.  Feedback is important.
  9. Fear of failure – Optimistic organizations thrive when it comes to innovation, recognise that failure is part of learning.  It’s an iterative process, what’s important is implementing a learning culture and growth mindset approach. We need to create an environment where employees can practice new skills without the fear of failure.
  10. Developing leaders – to build their emotional intelligence and to see themselves as a coach and to set them up for success to manage a remote workforce.  Also, the democratization of learning where learning is valued and encouraged at every level.  A culture that promotes that everyone is a leader in their ability to influence at every level.  To foster collaboration and involve the team in what they focus on, and their goals will lead to better outcomes. Employees are more likely to take ownership of a goal when they’re involved and take responsibility for their success. 

How well we do in these areas will define the success in attracting and retaining talent in a tight market now and in the future.  

‘Take care of your people and they will take care of business’ Sonya Law.

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The Blurry Lines of Blame: Psychological Safety in the Workplace…

The Blurry Lines of Blame: Psychological Safety in the Workplace…

Guest writer Sonya Law is here to enlighten us again from the world of Human Resources with her latest blog post, “The Blurry Lines of Blame: Psychological Safety in the Workplace…”

“Be the leader that you wish you had, when we become a leader, it is important to remember the IMPACT that we have on others with our words and actions…” Sonya Law

Psychologically Safe workplaces take Ownership

We know that sinking feeling as a leader when something goes wrong in a team, or a mistake is made, especially when the impact on the business is significant.  In that moment it’s easy to assign the blame to someone, in order to direct the spotlight away from ourselves.  

However, this does not provide a psychologically safe environment for employees.  When we immediately pull the blame lever, it makes the employee feel small and powerless, its disempowering. 

Good leaders know about the blurry lines of blame. The better approach is to:

  1. Focus on the problem not the person
  2. Root cause the problem 
  3. Implement process improvements
  4. To stop the problem from reoccurring
  5. Involve the team who are responsible 
  6. EMPOWER the team to be part of the solution
  7. Transfer ownership to the team in a positive way.

The reason that blame is such a slippery slope is that it’s a toxic emotion.  We all have at some stage in our careers been on the receiving end of someone’s negativity.  The risk to the business is the employee feeling disempowered, disengaged and leaves the business adding to the staff turnover.  

It’s not about minimizing accountability it’s about taking a more considered, thoughtful and collaborative approach that produces better outcomes for the business.  When we tackle problems together, we ALL grow.

Positive, Innovative Cultures thrive

It also serves to provide a psychologically safe environment for employees and positive culture in which to thrive.  At a time when there is a talent shortage, it’s important part of the retention strategy that we are supporting employees to feel safe at work.

More importantly when you empower employees to be part of the solution it promotes innovation in the business.  

When we take this role as leader as coach and to role model positive behaviors around making mistakes it leads to improvement in critical thinking and problem solving.  Which are key business skills as we face an uncertain world and business environments. 

Happy employees are productive, open to learning and change

Happy employees are also more productive and likely to take on more complex work or stretch projects and set more challenging goals, when it feels safe to make mistakes.  They tend to be more open to learning new skills.  Leaders and businesses who role model a growth mindset and a curious mind, will have the competitive advantage when it comes to people, product, service and technology and respond better to change.  

Agile businesses position themselves well for Growth 

It’s important that businesses are agile, the ability to adapt and change leads to Growth in any business.  A leader who understands this will be able to attract top talent and have a collaborative work environment where the work gets done but they can also have fun and celebrate the wins along the way.

It leads to better outcomes for the business when you take care of people and take them along on the journey and GROW together.

“View every problem as an opportunity to GROW” Bill Marriott.

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You Only Have One Flashlight

You Only Have One Flashlight

Guest writer Sonya Law shares the importance of honing your focus and discovering your purpose. You only have one flashlight, and you need to be particular about where you shine that light!

What you FOCUS on grows.

When we focus on PURPOSEFUL work that we feel connected to it’s POWERFUL.

“Find clarity on what is your passion, focus on what gives you joy, it will bring you closer to your purpose, then align your life and work with it…” Sonya Law

Driven employees take ownership!

We know that feeling when we can’t wait to get out of bed and get working, we are energized by our work-day not the other way around. Commonly though most employees are out of step with what they enjoy.  

We have all been asked to do things in our job that we don’t agree with but because of our position and responsibility we carry out the task.  In Human Resources this is very common particularly in restructuring and redundancy situations.  Tasks that leave us questioning why we do the work we do? Creates a feeling of emotional dissonance and we feel burnt out, broken and overwhelmed instead.

This isn’t always the case, when we carry out these tasks with humility, care and professionalism we create trust, respect and genuine connection with employees.

Why is this important? Because as leaders we spend a lot of time and money directing, delegating and managing the performance of others and what we need is driven employees to take ownership.

This is a journey of focusing on work that gives us joy and aligning ourselves with it! 

Happy employees are fulfilled employees!

When we align our life with work that we enjoy we experience fulfillment. Our purpose is a cross section of work that we are good at and that we enjoy.  As an activity we can reflect on our career to gain clarity on what work we enjoy.  

This inquiry asks 3 questions:

  1. What do you want for self, family and the world (greater good)?
  2. What is the problem you are trying to solve in society?
  3. What do you CARE about?

Over the last 30 years I have talked with thousands of people about their career and they talk a lot about not feeling connected to their work and wanting something that makes them feel fulfilled and part of something bigger than themselves.

Because as we know from Maslow’s Hierarchy of needs, once we have satisfied our desire for food, shelter and love, we want to experience self-actualization, to live our best lives and work is a big part of our life!
Leader as Coach – what is their role!

As leaders, we lean into the role of leader as coach and engage with our people in new ways.

When, we are given the privilege of a position in leadership it is a great responsibility, our IMPACT has a ripple effect.  

As leaders we need to:

  1. BE clear on our PURPOSE
  2. ENABLE others to find theirs
  3. CONNECT people with work that is engaging and empowering.

What are the attributes of a leader as coach?

  1. Lean in, listen and learn – BE curious
  2. Understand – BE empathetic
  3. Connect and build relationships with their people – BE RELATIONAL.

Purpose is number one in the TALENT game!

Best Practice in Employee Value Proposition (EVP) in human resources and staffing is connecting people with their purpose.  Organizations who focus on the following will retain and attract and develop top talent.

  •  Purpose – to engage employees in work that is purposeful that they enjoy.
  • Autonomy – trust employees to decide when, where and how work gets done.
  • Cultural alignment – provide a sense of belonging, they feel they have found their tribe.
  • Psychological safety – understand people want to maintain emotional well-being and positive mental health.
  • Connection and Community – want time with family, partners, pet’s and be connected to the community in which they live. 

Purpose focuses us on what we are good at and what we enjoy! 

Purpose is a cross section of both what we are good at and what we enjoy.  So how do we know when we are connected with our purpose at work?

  1. Our values are ALIGNED
  2. Our work makes a DIFFERENCE
  3. It doesn’t feel like work, more like FLOW or PLAY
  4. We SHOW up as ourselves
  5. We have increased ENERGY and vibrancy
  6. We deliver VALUE to our stakeholders, employees and customers
  7. We DO life, it does not DO us!

“We only have one flashlight and when we focus on PUPOSEFUL work that we feel connected to its POWERFUL”.

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The Great Reshuffle: How to Retain Top Talent

The Great Reshuffle: How to Retain Top Talent

Guest writer Sonya Law tackles on of the challenges facing businesses today: how to retain your top talent in the face of what is being called the great reshuffle.

The great resignation: could it best be described as the great reshuffle?

It’s true that there has always been staff turnover, so the great resignation is not new, however the reasons for leaving and staying are!

So how do we retain our talent?

  1. Career discussions: We need to be proactive in talking with employees, to discuss their career aspirations or a recruiter will have this conversation for you!
  2. Training: Employees want to learn and grow.  Be prepared to invest in their personal and professional development and ask them an open question: What do you CARE about?
  3. Purpose & EVP: They want clarity on the purpose of the company and align themselves with it. We need to know what our company’s Employee Value Proposition is in order to attract and retain staff, furthermore, we need to believe it and articulate it with authenticity. Ask yourself the question: What do you CARE about?
  4. Empathy: Employees want a manager that CARES for their wellbeing. We need to have a holistic approach to the wellness of employees, both physically and mentally. This will require a budget for the investment into structured wellness programs that detects, monitor and support the wellbeing of staff. What is your financial investment into employee wellbeing?
  5. Leadership: Hiring and educating our mid-level (branch) managers – we know the top reason that employees leave is because of their manager. We need to hire managers who have good leadership skills and educate our existing managers on how to evolve and become better leaders. When was the last time you engaged in leadership training or coaching?
  6. Value: Visibility of leadership and valuing its people is critical in retaining talent, it is also having the conversation with a resigning employee, to ask the reasons why they are leaving and to ask them to stay. Try to keep them!

We are only as good as our people and our team without our employees we do not have a business.  It’s important we understand as HR and Leaders, what are the roadblocks in our businesses and where do our employees need support.  Its having a difficult conversation about an employment contract that needs to be sorted, so that we can get on with business.  All too often we get sidetracked on what it is we think we should do, what leaders DO is focus on the right things.

When, we are put in a position of leadership it is to serve, it is to understand what is needed to get business done and achieve our goals together as a team.  Gone are the days where apathy is a defense or I don’t like conflict is used as an excuse for not having uncomfortable but necessary conversations.

As leaders we need to be addressing issues and people who don’t fit or risk losing talent.

Post Pandemic, employees are looking for:

  • Autonomy about when and where they work.
  • Flexibility to do LIFE, to spend time with their partners, family, pet’s and be connected to the community in which they live.
  • Clarity on what is their passion, what gives them joy, fulfillment and align their life with it. This is the new work life, do LIFE balance!

The entrepreneurial life:

The most interesting reason, that employees are leaving is to pursue their own start up’s, creating businesses that align with their passion and are becoming entrepreneurs.

  • Forbes reported statistics that in the US, new business applications are up 95% according to the Census Bureau.
  • France is up 20% according to McKinsey.
  • Japan is up 14%, in the UK are up 30% according to National Statistical Office.

Jobs in most demand are seeing increases in salaries of up to 30-40%:

The great reshuffle has also pushed up wages because of the lack of supply of seasonal labour and good candidates, due to a candidate short market.

The industries most affected and experiencing this great re-shuffle and increase in salaries are:

  • Human Resources
  • Information technology
  • Accountancy, Legal and Finance.

Compliance is a constraint on time:

The biggest roadblock HR and leaders are facing in retaining its talent is the constraints on time to invest in these initiatives, so much of the role is about compliance due to Pandemic and Vaccinations.

We know though that if we take proactive and positive steps to engage with our employees our businesses will thrive!

“Take the time to look after your people and they will take time to look after your business.”

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How Do You Build Trust with Your Employees?

How do you build trust with your employees?

This week, guest writer Sonya Law walks us through the critical importance of the employee performance review in part two of her series. In “How do you build trust with your employees,” Sonya shares the methods of trust building we can all use in our businesses.

The irregularity of the sometimes twice a year Performance Review at mid-year and End of Year (EOY) does not lend itself to building trusted relationships.

What is going to build trust is:

  • Approachability – for some this is an open-door policy that physical signal that they are open for business. Others they like to walk the floor and talk with people and be seen.  Either way both methods work and encourage people, employees to come and talk with you.
  • Congruency – for some managers they may have an open-door policy and walk the floor but may give off a signal that they are not approachable. This is where emotional intelligence is important in leaders to have a self-awareness of their body language and tone when talking with employees to ensure that they are also presenting themselves as open and approachable.
  • Regularity – the consistency and regularity of these exchanges with employees encourages people to open up and builds trust.

As human beings we are wired to detect if people or situations are threatening and are constantly picking up on cues in our environment and behaviors of others.  To assess whether a person or situation is psychologically safe, the workplace is no different.  When we build an organisation that is built on trust and it’s not just a token value but a lived experience, we experience greater levels of:

  • Innovation – feeling safe to share ideas without them getting shut down without a fear of making mistakes, which enables learning.
  • Collaboration – when ideas flow freely amongst the team, in a collegiate way this balance of power ensures that everyone is heard and the focus is on a better solution.
  • Problem Solving – this collegiate environment encourages the team to solve problems together rather than a focus on individuals.

Some organisations value technical skills the hard skills; over leaders who are more approachable and collaborative as these are seen as soft skills.

48% of employees in workforce in USA are looking to change jobs, for more flexibility, to align with cultures and leaders who display these soft skills and clarity of purpose.  Cultures who truly engage with their people in an authentic way. Leaders who are self-aware, open, transparent in their communication and vulnerable, win the hearts and minds of employees and extract the discretionary effort that hits the bottom-line time and time again.

Most organisations know what they do, how they do it but not why, these workplaces are stuck in fire fighter mode, directionless and leaking talent, innovation and in most cases money.

So where do we go from here?

Make feedback and performance reviews a habit, stack it with best practice:

  1. People being aligned with the STRATEGY
  2. Remind employees of your WHY
  3. Connect people with your PURPOSE

The business landscape is rapidly changing and the nature of work and skills required are different.

Businesses need to reflect back to inform their strategy of what is needed to achieve business growth in the following areas:

  1. Continuous improvement
  2. Remove road blocks
  3. Market intelligence – competitor activity
  4. Customer intelligence – customer buying behavior
  5. Pandemic fatigue – shift towards holistic view of employee wellbeing
  6. AGILE – how can we become more agile
  7. Scalable Technology – how are we using technology to solve societies problem of social connectedness and remote work.

In effect how are we building a culture of feedback, performance and innovation, that is engaged and with a common purpose and a spirit of connection, belonging and community.

Humans are the greatest adapters:

In an article titled, Humans May Be the Most Adaptive Species, Scientific American:

“Constant climate change may have given Homo sapiens their flexibility.  Man had two key advantages: our brains and our capacity for culture.  Our brains are essentially social brains. We share information, we create and pass on knowledge. That’s the means by which humans are able to adjust to new situations, and it’s what differentiates humans from our earlier ancestors, and our earlier ancestors from primates”.

If we take care of the people we work with they will share knowledge, pass down knowledge and innovate and be agile, our role as leaders is to provide an environment that fosters trust for them to thrive.

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How Critical is it to Review Employee Performance? Part One

How critical is it to review employee performance? Part One

This week, guest writer Sonya Law walks us through the critical importance of the employee performance review in part one of a series.

It is very critical: you need alignment between the people and the work that needs to be done to achieve the strategy.  Your people are your number one strategic competitive advantage. When businesses can unlock potential of all people it has a multiplier affect to the bottom line.

Its very important to have a business whose people are performing and heading in the same direction.  It’s an obvious thing you can’t get anything done without the engagement of your people.

There are a number of factors for that too, which exist in today’s organisations:

  1. No clear direction: Often what happens is there is not clear direction from leaders.
  2. Feedback loop: There’s not always a feedback loop between the manager and employee on a regular and consistent basis.
  3. Celebrate achievements: Also, one of the things organisations don’t do very well is celebrate their achievements.
  4. Value your people: And the valuable work that employees do over the last 6 to 12 months is not recognised and highlighted in their mid-year or end of year review (EOY) or at all.
  5. Re-engage: Recommitting your people to the purpose and the strategy and their role in it is not something that is commonly practiced and should be.

As leaders, we get caught up in operations, in our own role, blinkers on, it’s very easy to fall into that trap especially during the pandemic, where for a lot of leaders it’s about keeping your head above water.  It is the role of management to let people know what their contribution is and what their value is to the team and the organisation.  Most people join organisations because they want to be part of something bigger than themselves.

So, it’s a really good opportunity to acknowledge those things as well as ASK your employees at the End Of Year (EOY) review:

  1. What are the roadblocks you are experiencing in your job?
  2. What are their ideas in terms of efficiencies and continuous improvement?
  3. Ideas on how they could do their job better? Innovation?
  4. Ask them if they would like to do more training, learn something new, that is going to help them to do a better job?
  5. Open up a feedback loop: Say to the person how can I as a manager, help you to perform in your job?
  6. Ask them are they open to opportunities for challenge and stretch goals?

It’s good to, in that conversation talk about challenges and stretch goals.  What I am hearing from a lot of people lately that they are in a job, where they are somewhat happy, well paid, and it’s kind of easy and they are not really being challenged or stretched.  So, they actually want to leave their organisation for an organisation that challenges and stretches them.

This is the responsibility of the manager to unleash that unrealized potential or capacity within the organisation and when we don’t capture potential it really hits the bottom line.  In terms of productivity and efficiency, and revenue per headcount, so it is the role of the manager to always be thinking about how can I unlock the potential of my people. It starts and ends with potential.

Bias is a block to unleashing the Potential of employees?

As leaders, we experience bias in our decision making all the time, we put people in boxes because it enables us to make sense of the world and provides certainty something that still plagues us during the pandemic.  Or we are too lazy to think about what that person’s potential is within the organisation.  Managers who are disengaged have a detrimental impact on the overall performance and wellbeing of their team and organisation.

What can we do as leaders to overcome this bias?

To be aware of how limiting it is when we put people in a box, when we sit down at EOY review we need to appreciate that they are not the same person as they were when they started in the role and with the company.

Important preparation tips for Managers:

  1. Awareness of our own biases
  2. Look at your employees with fresh eyes
  3. Go in with the mindset like you are interviewing them for the first time
  4. Don’t assume, that their past performance is a reliable indicator of future performance.

We need to go into the EOY discussion with the employee as if we don’t know them because, our biases, and our assumptions, and experiences overpower where that person is.

This practice will ensure a successful EOY review on both sides.  With the knowledge that people grow and change as people within an organisation.  Consciously or not, we are putting people into boxes that underutilizes our Human Resources.  By holding a space for employees, it enables you to assess their performance.

Exert from a Candid Conversation with Ron Slee:

( Podcast button)

Ron: The EOY and mid-year review is all about the employee, its not about the manager, and many times, most times, I don’t believe the manager knows how to do it?

Sonya: This is true.  Some managers don’t want to do it, they find it intimidating.

Ron: Have you seen that?

Sonya: Yes, they just want it over and done with and tick the box, and send to HR. Often it comes back with limited feedback or comments. Yes, they talk with the employee and tick it off and go back to their job.  They are often uncomfortable with having conversations about barriers they might be experiencing, professional and personal development questions, conflict in workplace and delivering feedback.  Those skills are important but a lot of managers don’t like to do it, or want to do it.

Ron: Why?

Sonya: It opens them up, they won’t always have the answers.

Ron: We have to be vulnerable to each other.  If I asked what I could do to improve my relationship with you as a worker of mine, that employee has to trust me explicitly, implicitly if they are going to tell me the truth.  I don’t know that, that kind of trust exists? I get a paycheck, I don’t want to do anything that is going to jeopardize that paycheck, I need the paycheck.  The employee is coming to the discussion nervously and anxiously, and the boss thinking what a pain in the neck.  I am busy don’t they know that. We’re on the wrong foot from the start?

Sonya: True, there is also a power disparity which makes it difficult, in the workplace, often if face to face in the bosses’ office, manager title on the door, its intimidating.  The employee just wants to get home, take a paycheck and goes into survival mode, which is quite common.   Fear kicks in and fight or flight depending on the degree of trust.

In my next article we will explore this more on how to have a successful End Of Year (EOY) review in

Part Two: How to build trust and get the most out of the End Of Year (EOY) review. 

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