Archive for the ‘Organisation Renewal’ Category

People: The Key to Sustained Success is Discipline and Rigour

Friday, March 12th, 2010

Management literature constantly tells us that the quality of the people determine an organisation’s success. If this is true then the decline or failure of an organisation is due to a decline in the quality of its people.

This management maxim also means that the life cycle of an organisation is not inevitable ie start up, growth, maturation, decay. Because if an organisation implements effective people processes it can continue to attract, manage performance and retain high quality people and continue to be successful.

If an organisation fails to implement effective people processes, and particularly if it is growing, it will become over reliant on external recruitment. Since talented people are rare, this will result in the organisation having to compromise on talent to fill roles – this is particularly the case in the current environment of significant skill shortages.

The key to an organisation’s sustained success are effective people processes driven by rigorous and disciplined analytics.


Understand roles across the organisation

A rigorous disciplined analytical approach starts with getting a clear and comprehensive picture of what the roles look like across the organisation. This goes far beyond the traditional standard job description approach, particularly the classic one page wish list of duties.

For each role it is critical to understand:

  • What needs to be achieved
  • What achievement looks like
  • How people need to perform to achieve objectives
  • What psychological and knowledge resources people need


The only way that these factors can be clearly understood is by rigorously analysing the complexity embedded in each role.


Understand the interlocking career paths across the organisation

 The interlocking horizontal and vertical career paths must be rigorously analysed to ensure:

  • Critical task commonalities and differences between roles are identified
  • Critical differences in complexity of roles are identified and career path steps properly reflect differences in complexity. This ensure sufficient remuneration incentive for people to want to progress in their career within the organisation


Providing a comprehensive picture of careers across the organisation encourages top performers to stay. Many of the top global CEOs stayed with the one company and eventually became the CEO because they had opportunities to perform in a diverse range of roles across a number of career paths within the company.


A disciplined and rigorous approach to the management of remuneration

 This can only be achieved if there is a clear, comprehensive and valid picture of the roles across the organisation including differences in the complexity of the work across the roles. Without this picture the organisation will match apples with oranges rather than apples with apples when comparing remuneration with published remuneration surveys. Moreover unless there is a clear picture of the roles within the organisation it is impossible to identify roles in the published surveys that are poorly matched and therefore give an incorrect picture of actual pay levels in the market.


Develop disciplined and rigorous performance management and development processes

 Unfortunately too many organisations treat performance management and development as yard work. Human Resources Managers are busy and under pressure from the CEO and senior executives to fix up pay and focus on compliance. In these circumstances performance management and development often gets perfunctory treatment. Forms are quickly developed and distributed, management is given minimal preparation and training and then the performance management/development system is implemented.

Not surprisingly the result is little or no change in performance levels and HR loses credibility.

A disciplined and rigorous approach requires:

  • Position Descriptions to be prepared at the appropriate level of complexity
  • Clear and agreed Key Result Areas and Performance Indicators
  • A simple performance and development cycle which is understood by managers and staff.
  • Performance feedback to be separated from performance appraisal for pay adjustment purposes
  • Learning and development action plans to be developed and there is a direct line of sight from the complexity level of the role to the complexity level of the Learning and Development actions.

Sustained success is the result of the right kind of hard work. The keys outlined above will get you started on the path to an effective disciplined and rigorous analytical approach to people processes in your organisation.

Dallas Burgess

© PeopleAdvantage 2010  All rights reserved

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People: Are Your Team Members Typecast and Stereotyped?

Tuesday, April 14th, 2009

Many team members have been typecast and stereotyped. Usually their personality type has been compressed into four characteristics. This often happens during team building exercises. When people are typecast they are also stereotyped. This can reduce the effectiveness of individuals and teams. Why?

Team Effectiveness

When a person has been stereotyped other team members have a set perception of that person. This can result in misunderstandings and in people no longer listening to what a team member has to say. Often the underlying logic of the viewpoint is missed, and other team members dismiss the team member as simply behaving to type.

Typecasting can actually reduce communication effectiveness between team members. In extreme cases a team member may refrain from expressing a view because of fears of being pigeon holed and misinterpreted.

Individual Effectiveness

At the individual level a person’s career development can be stunted because, not only can other team members stereotype the individual, but the individual can stereotype themselves. Their self-perception and self-efficacy can be severely limited resulting in a failure to fully realise their potential.

Alternative Approach to Team Building

Taking a dynamic systems approach to team building avoids the problems of typecasting and stereotyping. A dynamic systems approach helps team members to understand:

  • How teams develop and change over time
  • How individuals grow as team members
  • How team identity develops and ways of facilitating effective team identity
  • How to understand the music behind the words – this is about meaningful communication and the blockages to meaningful communication

A dynamic systems approach treats people as mature adults rather than a small set of typical characteristics. Telling people they are mature adults is more powerful for enhancing team performance than all the typecasting and stereotyping in the world.

For more information call Dallas Burgess on +61 2 99573511 or visit:

Dallas Burgess

Organisational Psychologist

Copyright PeopleAdvantage Pty Limited 2009. All rights Reserved.

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Over-Estimating the impact on Organization Performance of Individual Leadership Styles.

Thursday, December 11th, 2008

Individual leadership style is a significant factor in organization performance. There is evidence that when the organization has performed well above expectations the CEO’s leadership is often considered to be the major factor accounting for the performance. When the organization has performed significantly below expectations the CEO’s leadership is also considered to be the major factor for the performance outcome. However when organization performance is consistent with median expectations there is a more balanced attribution of causes. In this regard there is less emphasis on the CEO’s leadership and a greater emphasis on factors beyond the direct control of the individual leader.


The total organisation context is very complex.  Some people cope with this by filtering out as much complexity as possible and focus on a single factor – often that factor is the current preferred organisation intervention. Currently leadership coaching is the fastest growing preferred performance intervention.


When considering the impact of leadership, and how to improve the leadership culture, it is important to take a holistic approach and consider all the critical factors that impact on organisation performance – particularly those factors that are beyond the control of individual leaders.


Factors that may be outside the direct control of an individual leader include:


  • Economic environment
  • Organization culture – a leader is both informed by the culture and acts on the culture
  • Industrial environment
  • Employee’s behaviour outside the control of the leader (eg, a key group of old-timers who cannot be dismissed actively undermining the leader)
  • Industry competition
  • Financial health of the organisation (eg, non-profit charity organisations with limited financial resources to attract and retain top performers)


In previous posts I have discussed the problems created by Change Silos (How to Avoid Change Silos – posted on 18th July 2008).  Leadership programs need to be considered and implemented within the total context of the organisation. This means all the factors that inform individual leadership styles need to be evaluated.


Moreover, consistent with organization renewal principals, the leadership program needs to be ongoing and continually adjusted and synchronised with the ongoing adjustments and synchronisations of the other components of the organisation’s internal and external environment.



If you would like more information on how to develop an effective leadership program within an organization renewal framework call Dallas Burgess 61 2 99573511 or visit and send an email to Dallas.




© PeopleAdvantage Pty Limited 2008 All Rights Reserved.

Below I have shared several of the articles listed in the newsletter, along with a few more that I searched out, and i’ve provided a little insight into each view there of them


How to Manage Dysfunctional and Destructive People

Friday, November 28th, 2008

Here are some tips on how to manage some types of dysfunctional and destructive people.


It is important to understand that this article is not concerned with isolated and/or one off behaviour.  Behaviour is considered dysfunctional only when there is a clear pattern of behaviour, which is systematically and well documented over time.


Passive Aggressive Behaviour


Behaviour Includes:


·         Passive resistance, covert, angry

·         Controlling, undermining, manipulation

·         Resistance, Stubborn, inertia 


 Some Tips:


·         Be careful, don’t blame yourself, use self-talk, be rational, be cool

·         Document the behaviour for yourself; including the experience of other people and/or reports

·         Don’t play the game – this means don’t allow the passive aggressive person push your buttons

·         Be assertive – try to avoid getting angry, or at least displaying anger, and make sure you get the facts right

·         If you manage the person; ensure they understand that you will not tolerate their behaviour

·         Don’t lose your cool; passive aggressives get a “kick” out of you losing control and playing into their hands

·         If they are your boss; aim to get contracts, written agreements, protect yourself!


Bullying Behaviour


 Behaviour Includes:


·         Dominance, humiliation

·         Intimidation, exploitation of power imbalance

·         Behaviour will lack empathy 


Some Tips:


·         Don’t let bullies win; report them to management

·         Talk to your peers and other people, bullies like to divide and conquer and isolate people

·         Respond in a calm non-emotional way, avoid eye contact

·         In a group just ignore the person

·         In a group, you and other members walk away; bullies need an audience; they believe an audience confirms their behaviour

·         Bullying is a complex problem; requires effective organisational policies and procedures to deal with it

·         Dismissal is the only answer for repeat offenders


Workplace Psychopathic Behaviour


Behaviour Includes:


·         Amoral, exploitative, unprincipled

·         Deceiving, dishonest, remorseless

·         Anti-social, lack of guilt

·         Narcissism – very self-centred

·         Bullying behaviour (see above)


It is estimated that 3 to 4 percent of males and 1 percent of females are psychopaths


Psychopaths are very destructive to the organisation and very damaging to individuals.


Some Tips:


·         Psychopaths do not change

·         If you identify a pattern; warn others, collect facts – as many as possible

·         Look for unprincipled patterns; but remember, one unprincipled action does not make a psychopath – it may be inexperience, immaturity, lack of knowledge about organisation policies and procedures etc

·         Don’t cover for anyone you believe is behaving in an unprincipled manner; also copy documents and ensure minutes of meetings outline concerns about decisions, advice received etc

·         Talk to a senior member of the organisation about your reservations and concerns

·         Psychopaths are successful because they “divide and conquer” – it is difficult to get the full picture; each person really only gets a “bit of the picture”. There will be many victims across the organisation.


·         Generally, psychopaths can only be effectively dealt with if they are revealed or there is a threat that they will be revealed

·         So the strategy is to take actions that reveal the unprincipled behaviour pattern

·         This needs to be followed by dismissal




The source for much of this material is “Difficult Personalities – A practical Guide to managing the hurtful behaviour of others” Dr H McGrath & H Edwards: 2000, Choice Books


Also, the following books are good for learning about psychopaths:


“Working with Monsters – How to Identify and Protect Yourself from the Workplace Psychopath”: Sydney, Random House Australia


“Snakes in Suites – When Psychopaths Go To Work”: Paul Babiak Ph.d & Robert D. Hare Ph.d; 2006, Harper-Collins


You can purchase these books at our Organization Renewal Online Store. Go to Blogroll and click onto the store.



© PeopleAdvantage Pty Limited 2008  All Rights Reserved

Reality in this 3 part series of articles, a variety of teachers who have used the model do a wonderful job of clearing up misconceptions and sharing lessons learned


Talent Management: A framework to Attract and Retain Talented People

Monday, September 29th, 2008

Many organisations forget the people management fundamentals when struggling to attract and retain talented people.


Here is a framework to help organisations build the fundamentals to attract and retain talented people.


{     Organisation


{     People


{     Role design


1. Organisation:


{     Ensure clear linkages exist between Business/Organisational Strategic  objectives to people strategies (clear line of sight)

{     Ensure competencies are clearly mapped for each organisation level across the organisation

{     Ensure consistency with organisation operational requirements

{     Ensure appropriate organisation structures

{     Identify and eliminate negative cultural factors that adversely impact on the psychological well being of people

{     Ensure leadership and people systems are in place that support your talent and succession management strategy


Eliminate Negative Cultural Factors


Talented people will not tolerate negative cultures. Common negative culture factors include:


{     Blaming

{     Silos

{     Over-control

{     Bullying

{     Lack of recognition

{     Avoidance of responsibility

{     Intra-organisation competitiveness


2. People:


{     Identify the critical factors that clearly characterise high performance

{     Understand how to identify and assess talented people at the organisation and individual competency levels, and at the personality and temperament levels

{     Understand how to determine the readiness of people to progress to the next career level – and how long and what type of development is needed before people can progress

{     Avoid and/or remove dysfunctional and destructive people

{     Ensure reward and recognition strategies, policies and processes support achievement


Leadership and People Systems


Talented people demand effective leadership including:


{     Trust building

{     Acting with integrity

{     Inspiring others

{     Encouraging innovative thinking

{     Coaching


Identify High Performance


Talented people seek opportunities for high achievement:


{     Communicate what and how they need to achieve outcomes

{     Ensure competencies are meaningful – complexity levels of work


How to Identify and Assess Talent


Factors and activities include:


{     Know how the complexity of work changes at each organisation level.

{     Focus on the complexity of the work rather than the specific function to be performed.

{     Understand the key personality and temperament factors that contribute to high performance;

{     Psychological resources required for success change as roles increase in complexity


3. Role Design:


{     Design roles that enable people to focus on critical performance factors that enhance their recognition and development

{     Ensure role description documentation provides for an evaluation of people’s Organisation Citizenship Behaviours (OCBs)


The Need for Competencies


Talented people want to know what is expected of them:


{     Core competencies and performance

{     Functional competencies and performance


Map competencies across the organisation – paint the picture




Management fads come and go. Effective talent management is about establishing tried, tested and proven people frameworks, policies and processes. Forget focusing on yard work. Be strategic.



© PeopleAdvantage Pty Limited 2008  All Rights Reserved

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Organisation Renewal is Better than Organisation Change. Build your organisation on the foundation of rock not sand!

Sunday, August 24th, 2008

Disruptive markets, competition and technology is now the norm rather than the exception. Consumers are more sensitive to bad service and poor quality products. Web 2.0 technology provides consumers with the power to create or destroy a business within hours.


Traditional change practices in organisations are too slow and expensive for organisations to use to adapt to changing business conditions.


And too many organisations continue to build their adaptive processes on sand rather than take a more fundamental approach and build adaptive infrastructure foundations on rock.


Organisation Change


Organisation change typically describes a major, transforming discrete event that impacts across the whole organisation. Transformational change has disadvantages. For example:


{    It is resource expensive and intensive


{    It exhausts managers and staff


{    the change is often just too big and managers give up.


{    Outcomes are often patchy


{    It can take too long to implement and the organisation continues to experience an alignment gap


These problems lead to managers and staff resisting new transformational change initiatives. The result is that organisational change can have the paradoxical effect of freezing the organisation preventing future critical alignment programs.


Organisation Renewal


Organisation Renewal is the process of achieving growth, agility and sustainability through the continual adjustment and synchronisation of strategy, culture, organisation, management, roles, skills, people, processes and technology.


This means developing manageable organic alignment processes and infrastructure so that organisations can continually adjust and synchonise performance factors to adapt to continually changing market conditions.


This framework can help organisations avoid the big bang, cage rattling change programs. A greater awareness of organisational renewal processes can help avoid organisation freezing and keep people open, positive and innovative all the time. This means change is sustainable!


Key Organisational Renewal Factors


Organisation renewal is a scientific, evidenced based approach to understanding the factors that enable organisations to continually adapt to their environment. The key factors are, have always been, and will continue to be;


{    Socio-Technical systems

{    Information Management

{    Culture

{    Organisation structure

{    People Capabilities

{    People engagement

{    Business processes

{    Technology

{    Knowledge Value Management – creating value from knowledge held by people in organisations


It is not necessary to be expert in these fields. However it is necessary to understand how these factors intersect and how they interrelate with each other across the organisation.  Avoiding Change Silos (see article posted in Organisation Renewal on 24 July 2008) is also critical.




Ironically, organisation renewal is not new. However in recent years it has been lost to the mumbo jumbo of change agents, fads and myths. Organisation Renewal means addressing the critical fundamentals in the organisation. Not to address these fundamentals is like trying to put icing on a cake that has not yet been baked!


Dallas Burgess



© PeopleAdvantage Pty Limited 2008.

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How to Improve Competitiveness

Tuesday, August 5th, 2008


To achieve significant improvements in competitiveness it is essential that:


·        Sufficient in-house expertise in role design and remuneration exists


·        Effective collaborative mechanisms exist to ensure staff agree to, and adhere to key change outcomes


Job Design and Remuneration


Conduct an audit to determine the effectiveness of current job design and remuneration practices. Key indicators of poor job design and remuneration practices include:


·      People are unclear about their roles and do not understand what is expected


·      Pay is perceived to be inequitable; and it cannot be demonstrated that there are no such inequities


·      High performing people are not sufficiently rewarded


·      People cannot see the possibility of a career path and do not understand what they have to do to progress within the organisation


·      Focused, structured learning and development systems do not exist


·      Effective internal selection systems and procedures do not exist and the organisation cannot ensure that the right person is selected for the job


The existence of any of the above will result in staff resisting significant improvements in their work. 


Case Study


An organisation was experiencing lack of trust between management and professional staff due to the existence of the above problems. To improve trust the client needed to design new roles, career paths and a remuneration framework for the professional staff.


We helped the client to develop clear, transparent, objective role requirements, realistic career paths and a fair market based remuneration framework. As a result the professional staff enthusiastically embraced the new organisation direction.


Effective Collaborative Processes


Effective collaborative processes are not the same as consultative processes. Too many organisations confuse these concepts. The strength of the consultative committee can also be its weakness. Yes, it is essential that the people who do the work are involved in changing their work (strength), but change is threatening and this can deter many from pursuing major changes to their own jobs (weakness). Consultative committees can also be the platform to continue long standing conflicts rather than the basis for developing and implementing change. 


The alternative is to conduct collaborative based workshops. These are structured so that jobs and work practices are redesigned at the same time. Redesigning jobs and changing work practices simultaneously is complex and usually requires the assistance of an expert facilitator – it is the most cost effective method for identifying and implementing significant change.


Management can evaluate the proposals generated during the workshops and determine the impact on the business. Healthy facilitated workshops result in trust between management and staff to quickly reach agreement on what, how and when to implement the new jobs and work practices.


Organisations often forget, or ignore, that staff are knowledgeable about how to save costs and increase productivity. Structured collaborative processes are an effective means of tapping into the intellectual assets of the organisation. 


Alignment of Staff Performance to New Business Objectives


Collaborative based workshops cause staff to directly focus on critical business objectives. These objectives become the benchmarks or standards against which all proposed changes are matched. A proposal that does not meet the criteria is quickly eliminated.


Healthily structured collaborative workshops facilitate staff commitment to change.  Why is this so?  Because the more anxious staff feel about a change the greater is the resistance to change. However, healthy workshops provide a bridge between the old ways of working and the new. They provide the psychological security that staff need during the transition. This can have the effect of reducing staff anxiety resulting in greater openness, innovation and commitment to change. This is critical when the business is marginal and/or facing dangerous competitive threats.



Case Study


A client needed help to lead a consultative committee through the process of role redesign, development of performance criteria and modernise remuneration practices.  The consultative committee had been meeting for eighteen months with very little progress. By applying tested and proven role design principles and facilitating collaboratively based workshops the company was able to redesign roles and career paths, define performance criteria and develop a modern remuneration framework in less than three months.




To achieve significant improvements in competitiveness ensure the business has access to expertise to collaboratively redesign roles.


Dallas Burgess


ã Organisation Renewal Pty Limited 2008 All Rights Reserved.






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Risk Management Starts with People

Saturday, July 26th, 2008

Organisations are always concerned about risk management. However when developing and implementing risk management the role of people is often either taken for granted or simply forgotten.


People are critical for risk management. How does risk management happen? Answer: The awareness and actions of people. Where is the greatest risk in organisations? Answer: People.


The steps in developing a risk management system need to include:


1. Role definition; Build risk management into every role across the organisation.  Be sure to capture the complexity of each role at each organisation level.


2. Assess how well your people can manage risk within the context of their individual roles


3. Develop an organisation wide Risk Management Profile.


4. Plan and organise learning and development for people.


5. Monitor people’s behaviour.


6. Take action to improve the capability of the organisation and individual people to manage risk.



Dallas Burgess


© Organisation Renewal Pty Limited 2008


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How to Avoid Change Silos

Friday, July 18th, 2008

What is a Change Silo?


A change silo is created when there is a functional change across an organisation. For example, Finance changes the responsibility for budget preparation. The change involves moving from a centralised corporate responsibility to a regional decentralised responsibility. The change silo exists because finance only considers the technical financial requirements and fails to consider the complexity of the total organisation context.


The following possible unintended effects are:


{    Management resistance because of fears that the organisation’s positive culture, mission and values will be compromised


{    Budget outcomes are second-rate due to a failure to adjust delegations, organisation reporting lines, roles and people capabilities


{    Conflicts between new information technology requirements and how people traditionally obtain information and create knowledge to achieve results


How to avoid Change Silos


  1. Design small change steps with clear milestones.


  1. Include in each change step considerations for all the major organisation context factors:


{    Strategy

{    Culture, values, mission

{    Organisation structure

{    Roles, skills, people

{    Processes

{    Technology


  1. At each milestone evaluate how the change is progressing within the total organisation context


  1. Continually adjust and synchronise the major organisation context factors that determine success


Dallas Burgess



© Organisation Renewal Pty Limited 2008

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