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Turbocharge 2024 with a Team Planning Day

Imagine setting off on a cross-country road trip without a map or GPS. You might eventually reach your destination, but the journey would be filled with detours, setbacks and missed opportunities. That’s the risk your business takes when it doesn’t dedicate time for a team planning day!

In today’s fast-paced business world, it’s easy to get caught up in day-to-day operations and lose sight of the bigger picture. That’s why taking time out for a strategic planning day, where your team can step back, refocus and set a clear course for the year ahead, is just so important. It’s a brilliant opportunity to get everyone on board with the company vision and facilitate some good old team bonding, preparing your business (and your team) for a successful year ahead.

Of course, you can’t just wing a planning day… ironically, you need to plan it. Here are some key elements you need to consider when you’re mapping out the day’s activities.

1. Setting the GPS for Success

Your annual planning day is a time to review the past year’s achievements and challenges, identify what worked and what didn’t and chart a course for the year ahead. It provides a rare chance to get everyone on the same page, and help your team align their efforts with the company’s strategic goals.

It’s your chance to help everyone understand the ‘why’ behind their daily tasks, giving them a real sense of purpose and direction. Studies show that 72% of employees are driven by having purpose and meaning in their work, so this plays a huge part in helping engage, motivate and retain your staff.

2. Encouraging Collaboration and Engagement

Your annual planning day isn’t just about executive decisions and strategic direction; it’s a team-building opportunity too. Bringing your entire team together to brainstorm, share ideas and contribute to planning can unleash some fabulously innovative solutions and give everyone a sense of ownership over the company’s goals.

When employees from different areas of your business come together to plan, they naturally gain a deeper understanding of each other’s challenges and needs too, fostering empathy and cooperation that lasts long after the day’s activities have concluded. This collaborative approach promotes a more cohesive and effective work environment and helps break down those tricky departmental silos.

3. Breaking the Routine

Your annual planning day should be FUN, something everyone looks forward to. After all, this is your chance to step away from the rinse-and-repeat office routine and infuse some excitement into your workplace. Consider holding the planning day offsite or in a unique location to shake things up.

Think about incorporating team-building activities, icebreakers and games into the day to keep the atmosphere light and engaging. The goal is to encourage creativity and open dialogue, so think outside the box!

4. Getting Expert Insight

Ever heard the saying, “Sometimes it’s not the message, it’s the messenger?” It’s true. In fact we wrote a whole blog post about how true it is. Having an expert business or sales strategist share their insights can be a game-changer. It’s not about cheesy motivational speeches or empty buzzwords – it’s about tapping into the knowledge and experience of someone who has walked the walk.

An external speaker can provide a fresh perspective, challenge your team’s assumptions and introduce cutting-edge strategies. Input from the right speaker can really light up your team and be a huge catalyst for innovation and growth. Luckily, we have some of the best business and sales minds in the business ready to share their insights and expertise!

5. Accountability and Follow-through

A successful planning day is just the beginning. To ensure your efforts bear fruit, it’s essential to establish clear goals, assign responsibilities and set deadlines. Regular check-ins throughout the year are also important to help you track progress and course-correct as necessary. Your annual planning day sets the stage, but the real magic happens when you put those plans into action!

We understand that planning days require time out of your usual operations, and that costs money. But investing in a dedicated day to reflect, engage and strategise as a team really does set you up for a successful year ahead. In fact, it might just be the best investment you make all year!

We have some of the world’s best Business Speakers and Sales Speakers ready to help you turbocharge your 2024 Planning Day. If you’d like us to introduce you to any of the speakers above, or talk to us about curating a list of speaker options specific to your needs, simply get in touch with us to get the ball rolling!

Australia’s Top 10 Branding Speakers

Want to know why Branding is the hottest speaker topic for 2023?

In a fiercely competitive marketplace, where standing out is essential for survival, you need to leave a lasting mark in the hearts and minds of your audience. You need to create an emotional connection that captures imaginations and inspires action. It’s the only way you’ll elevate your brand from ordinary to extraordinary, and it’s where our Branding Speakers shine.

For your business

Your company is more than just a logo and a bunch of products. But creating a brand that cuts through and connects with consumers is no easy feat. Done right, branding can turn your business into a living, breathing entity with a distinct voice, values and a compelling story. Whether it’s your commitment to sustainability, your unwavering dedication to quality or your rebellious spirit that challenges the status quo, clever branding helps differentiate you from the pack.

Our Branding speakers can show you how to create an emotional connection that turns your customers into a tribe of passionately loyal fans.

For your people

With the proliferation of social media, online communication and the everlasting digital footprint, everyone has a personal brand. As Jeff Bezos defines it, “Your personal brand is what people say about you when you’re not in the room” – it’s the way you’re presented to the world, and just like any brand, it needs to be crafted and curated to ensure it presents the way you want it to. Think Kim Kardashian, Oprah Winfrey and Richard Branson… their personal brands aren’t what they are by accident!

Our Branding speakers can teach you and your team how to stand out (the right way) in a sea of grey suits and boring sales pitches.

Australia’s Top 10 Branding Speakers

They’ve launched and re-launched some of the most popular brands in the world and have cleverly constructed some of the most famous personal brands on the planet. Passionate, dynamic and inspiring, these 10 master storytellers are the best Branding Speakers in the business, and we’d love to introduce you…

1. Kieran Flanagan

kieran flanagan

When it comes to driving consumer engagement, there are few that understand the secrets behind influencing others to buy and ‘buy in’ better than Kieran Flanagan. With a career spanning two decades and numerous global awards, Kieran is one half of the team behind the most successful new product launch in Australian history, and one of the most successful brand resurrections in the world. She’s captivated audiences as varied as the UN, Coca-Cola and TEDx, sharing her revolutionary message that leveraging our humanity is the key to achieving lasting change and driving influence, engagement and trust. Read more about Kieran here.

2. Janine Allis

janine allis

Janine Allis is the Founder of Boost Juice Bars, the largest and fastest-growing juice and smoothie chain in the Southern Hemisphere, with over 660 outlets in 12 countries. Janine developed Boost Juice and other successful brands, including Salsas Fresh Mex Grill, CIBO Espresso and Betty’s Burgers, based on her ‘love life’ philosophy. She’s received numerous domestic and international awards in digital marketing, retail, franchise and business, is a bestselling author and has starred on ‘Shark Tank’, ‘Australian Celebrity Apprentice’ and ‘Australian Survivor’. Read more about Janine here.

3. Russel Howcroft

russel howcroft

If you’ve ever watched ABC’s ‘Gruen’ program, you’ll recognise Russel Howcroft as a much-loved regular panellist. He’s also a presenter on 3AW’s radio breakfast program, author of three best-selling books and chair of the Australian Film Television and Radio School. Regarded as the face of brand marketing and advertising in Australia, Russel has headed up some of the world’s most recognisable creative agencies, and delivered award-winning global campaigns for a raft of international clients. Read more about Russel here.

4. Amanda Stevens

amanda stevens

Amanda Stevens is an expert in the customer experience, and is widely recognised as Australia’s leading consumer futurist. She’s passionate about what she does, sharing her insights through her blogs and best-selling books, and working with businesses to create strategies that turn customers into brand advocates. Over the last 13 years she’s worked with brands such as Microsoft, Westpac and Foxtel, delivered more than 1200 presentations in 14 countries and shared the stage with the likes of Sir Bob Geldof, Sir Richard Branson and Condoleezza Rice. Read more about Amanda here.

5. Dee Madigan

dee madigan

An experienced creative director, advertising executive and author, Dee Madigan is a trailblazer in the Australian advertising industry. Passionate about developing cleverly integrated and impactful campaigns, previous clients include brands like HSBC, Coca-Cola, Unilever and Nestle. Dee is also a seasoned political campaigner and appears regularly as a panelist on TV shows such as ‘Gruen’, ‘The Drum,’ and ‘The Latest’. Read more about Dee here.

6. Dan Gregory

dan gregory

Dan Gregory is passionate about human behaviour, and for the last 30 years has been helping entrepreneurs and executives understand what drives beliefs, behaviours and belonging so they can increase their influence, impact and income. He’s developed leadership, performance and engagement strategies for brands including Coca-Cola, Unilever and the Royal Australian Navy, and lectured at some of the world’s most prestigious creative schools. You’ll also recognise him from ABC’s ‘Gruen’ program, where his business intelligence, unique insights and sharp wit have made him a popular regular. Read more about Dan here.

7. Adam Ferrier

adam ferrier

Adam Ferrier is a leading innovator in Australian advertising, drawing on his expertise as a consumer psychologist and brand strategist to help clients strengthen their relationships with consumers. He has authored several popular advertising books and serves on the boards of Good Thnx and TRIBE. With a track record of awards and successful clients, Adam regularly shares his insights on programs like ‘The Project’, ‘Celebrity Apprentice’ and ABC Radio. Read more about Adam here.

8. Katrina McCarter

katrina mccarter

Katrina McCarter is a marketing strategist who understands the influential role of mothers in the Australian business economy. Her book, ‘Marketing to Mums: How to sell more to Australia’s most powerful consumer’, went to number 1 on Booktopia’s Business Bestsellers list, while her presentation, “Marketing to Mums: What Australian Mums want from Brands,” was voted number one for Most Valuable Content. Her expertise is frequently sought by media outlets including Channel Seven, ABC Radio, The Age and Mumbrella. Read more about Katrina here.

9. Tim Reid

tim reid

Tim Reid is the founder and host of Australia’s top-ranked business marketing podcast, ‘The Small Business Big Marketing Show’. With over 590 episodes and five million downloads, Tim has built a global audience of motivated business owners. He’s also authored The Boomerang Effect, a popular marketing text, and travels the world showing business owners and marketers how to embrace modern marketing methods – without breaking the bank. Read more about Tim here.

10. Kylie Bartlett

kylie bartlett

Businesswoman, author and serial entrepreneur Kylie Bartlett helps businesses thrive in the era of social media. Known as the ‘Web Celeb’, Kylie has taught thousands of SME’s worldwide how to become ‘Web Famous’ and compete with larger companies. She draws on her challenging life experiences and her qualifications in organisational psychology and corporate training to help others create connections and community online, and shares her knowledge through mentoring and public speaking. Read more about Kylie here.

With some of the world’s best Branding Speakers to choose from, our task of selecting the 10 best was a difficult one! If you have a brief for us we’d be happy to provide you with a curated list of speakers specific to your needs… just get in touch with us for a chat to get the ball rolling!

8 Ways to Boost Hybrid Workplace Wellbeing

workplace wellbeing

“Well-being creates well-doing.” – Benjamin Franklin

The future of work has arrived. With nine out of ten businesses now committed to offering employees a combination of remote and on-site work, the old office rule-book has officially been hurled out the window. But while the move has been hailed far and wide, this hyperconnected, ‘always on’ work environment poses some serious challenges when it comes to worker wellbeing. So how do you create a happy and healthy work environment in a world where the off button is so hard to find?

‘Workplace wellbeing’ is a bit of a fuzzy term, so let’s start by clarifying what it actually means. While there’s no singular definition, it refers to how your job – your duties, expectations, stress level and environment – affects your overall health and happiness. It encompasses mental, physical and emotional health, as well as job satisfaction and work-life balance. In a nutshell, it’s a combination of how you feel and how you function.

While workplace wellbeing has historically been more of a ‘feel-good’ line on the company charter rather than a business-critical priority, tides are changing. Thanks to a raft of global research, business leaders are now recognising that wellbeing isn’t just good for their people, it’s good for their bottom line too.

Research just released by the Wellbeing Research Centre at Oxford University found that “Happier workers are not only more productive, but also less likely to leave their jobs, miss workdays for health reasons, or work while sick. They tend to be more collaborative, creative, committed to their jobs, and motivated at work.”

That same report concluded that “Company wellbeing proves to be a significant predictor of firm performance across a wide variety of indicators… higher firm valuations, higher return on assets, higher gross profits, and better stock market performance.”

PWC research reached a similar conclusion when it came to returns, finding that for every dollar spent creating a mentally healthy workplace, $2.30 in benefits can be generated for the business.

Compelling reasons to jump on board, yes?

Or how about the fact that if employers fail to look after their employee wellbeing, they can now be penalised under Australian law?

With 58% of workers burnt out at work, and more workers absent due to stress and anxiety than flu and other physical illnesses or injuries, Work Health and Safety laws have recently been amended to mandate that organisations manage psychosocial hazards in the workplace. Those hazards include factors that heavily impact wellbeing such as harassment, bullying, remote work, poor support, low job control, lack of role clarity, inadequate reward and recognition and a poor work environment.

In the end, it’s about protecting our greatest asset. As Mindfulness and meditation coach Chelsea Pottenger reminds us, “organisations are built by people. People who need motivation, care and compassion, and whose wellbeing should be as much of a business outcome as profits are.” Bravo.

Here are 8 ways you can create a culture that prioritises people, and puts their wellbeing on top of the workplace agenda.

1. Set Clear Expectations and Boundaries

High-performance coach Stephanie Bown believes that one of the best ways to avoid burnout “is by having boundaries around how and where we choose to spend our time, so that we replenish our energy and enable ourselves to focus when we need to, with our families, in our workplaces, with our friends.”

Elite performance coach Mark Bunn is also a firm believer in boundaries, saying “Life these days is full of requests for our time, energy & expertise. As we like to be needed and feel that we are ‘giving’ to others, we can quickly find ourselves using up all our time…and thus having none left for ourselves.”

Boundaries are critical for wellbeing in our hybrid work world, and establishing clear guidelines and expectations for remote and in-office employees is crucial for maintaining them. Encourage everyone to respect boundaries regarding working hours, availability and response times, and avoid scheduling meetings or sending non-urgent messages outside of agreed work hours.

2. Communicate Openly

Implement regular check-ins between with employees to provide support, monitor their workload and address any concerns or challenges. Encourage two-way feedback and create a safe space for employees to share their experiences, perspectives and suggestions for improvement.

Not only does this open line of communication help foster trust and transparency, it also encourages the free flow of information and ideas – essential for connection, engagement and innovation. And as an added bonus, employees who feel their voice is heard are 4.6 times more likely to do their best work! 

3. Promote Work-Life Balance Initiatives

Implementing and promoting work-life balance initiatives that benefit all employees, whether remote or in-office, is a great way to reinforce your commitment to worker wellbeing. Flexible leave policies, a family-friendly work environment, designated no-meeting days, flexible scheduling and the option to work from alternative locations (home / café / beach!) are popular ways to encourage a more balanced lifestyle.

4. Encourage Self-Care

In a hybrid setting, being able to disconnect and recharge is absolutely essential – as novelist Anne Lamot famously said, “Almost everything will work again if we unplug it for a few minutes, including you.” Encourage employees to step away from their workspace to stretch, go for a walk or engage in other activities that help them relax. Self-care should be scheduled in as a non-negotiable priority for every employee.

As one of Australia’s leading authorities on mental wellbeing, Chelsea Pottenger makes the distinction that “Self-care isn’t selfish, it’s self-preservation.” She suggests encouraging employees to incorporate small self-care rituals into their day, such as 5 minutes of meditation in the morning, believing that even little acts can have a big impact on wellbeing. 

Clinical psychologist, personal trainer and nutrition coach Leanne Hall also advocates for self-care, suggesting that we should all be “doing one thing for ourself each day. It may be a pedicure, bubble bath at the end of the day, movie with a friend, or even an early night!”

5. Offer Wellness Resources and Programs

According to Ben Crowe, mentor and mindset coach to stars including Ash Barty, Stephanie Gilmore and the Australian cricket team, we need to focus more on “the human being, less so on the human doing.”

Think about providing access to wellness resources, such as virtual wellness workshops, stress management techniques or resilience-building programs, or offer subscriptions to wellness apps and platforms that provide guidance on nutrition and mental wellbeing.

While mindfulness and meditation training helps to relieve stress, it’s not only employees that benefit – business does too. According to internationally acclaimed Author and Educator, Dr. Michael Nagel, this type of training “promotes mental health for the individual and can assist in facilitating clear and constructive communication, and enhancing workplace relationships.”

And don’t forget to encourage regular physical activity as well – virtual fitness classes, an on-site gym, lunchtime run club or yoga classes are a fantastic way to encourage physical activity and connection for both remote and in-office employees.

6. Provide Continuous Learning and Development

Professional development is a highly valued asset in the workforce. According to LinkedIn’s 2021 Workplace Learning Report, 76% of Gen Z’s believe learning is the key to a successful career, while another study found that 94% of global employees would stay longer at a company if it invested in their career development.

Prioritising and investing in the development of your workers helps them feel valued and empowered, boosting engagement, job satisfaction and retention rates. Encourage employees to set goals and support their career development by providing opportunities for virtual learning, mentorship, online training programs, relevant motivational speakers and access to industry conferences.

Keep in mind that while embracing a culture of continuous learning helps employees stay at the top of their game, it also enables them to adjust to evolving business circumstances – and that keeps your business agile and competitive too!

7. Celebrate Achievements and Milestones

Everyone likes to feel valued and be recognised for their achievements, milestones and contributions – and celebrating them is an easy way to keep employees happy and improve retention. In fact, not doing so can be pretty harmful – Employment Hero’s 2023 Talent Insights Report found that 24% of employees would actually search for another job if there was a lack of proper recognition. 

Personalised appreciation messages, company-wide announcements, virtual recognition programs, awards nights, rewards schemes, in-person celebrations, additional leave days – all are fantastic ways to foster a positive and supportive work environment.

8. Support Social Connections

Human beings are inherently social creatures, and our connections with other people play a major role in our general wellbeing. So it makes sense that the people we spend most of our waking hours dealing with, our workmates, can have a huge impact on our wellbeing too.

Employers that promote positive social connections in the workplace can expect a more engaged and satisfied workforce, with enhanced collaboration, productivity and creativity also providing a significant boost to business.

There are plenty of opportunities to bring team members together to foster a sense of camaraderie and belonging, both virtually and in-person. Collaborative team projects and brainstorming, mentorship and networking opportunities, team-building activities, lunchtime chats, team meetings, wellbeing workshops, casual social gatherings, breakout spaces… the list is only as long as your imagination!

The research clearly proves that ‘workplace wellbeing’ is now a business imperative. Creating a culture that places wellbeing at the forefront contributes to a happier and more productive workforce and a better bottom line. And although our hybrid world, where the off button is hard to find and the lines between work and home are hazy, makes it more of a challenge – it’s absolutely possible. Because in the end, it’s pretty simple… in the wise words of Richard Branson, “Take care of your employees, and they will take care of your business.”

We have some of Australia’s leading wellbeing and mental health experts, including Chelsea Pottenger, Mark Bunn, Ben Crowe, Stephanie Bown, Emma Murray, Dr. Michael Nagel and Leanne Hall, ready to help you create a culture that prioritises the wellbeing of your people. If you’d like us to introduce you, simply get in touch with us for a chat!

3 Ways to Reconnect Hybrid or Remote Teams

“Individual commitment to a group effort – that is what makes a team work, a company work, a society work, a civilization work.” – Vince Lombardi

While there’s been much talk about ‘returning to the office’, and the various incentives being dangled to lure workers back, there’s absolutely no doubt hybrid and remote work is here to stay. Sweatpants aside, the perks of flexible work are enormous – and thanks to the recent digital communication boom, businesses are easily able to keep everyone connected. But what if the cost of that connection is, ironically, the emergence of more isolated teams? Teams that communicate more amongst themselves, but less between each other? And how do we to get everyone working together again?

According to Harvard Business School research, many companies around the world experienced a similar ‘siloing’ issue during the pandemic days of remote work. The study of 360 billion emails between workers at 4,000 organisations revealed that employees digitally split off into more isolated and well-defined groups – and although communication within those stand-alone groups intensified, communication between them dropped markedly.

Now, even with remote mandates long gone, those communication silos remain. And those silos, according to Author Pearl Zhu, “are not just physical structures, they are also mental constructs that inhibit communication and collaboration.”

Alison Hill, respected Author, business coach and psychologist, believes that without the ad hoc cross-pollination that occurs organically in an office setting, or the pull towards collaborative problem-solving or project coordination across divisions, collaboration between teams is the biggest challenge we face with a dispersed workforce.

And unfortunately, when people focus solely on their own role and team, they can lose sight of how their work impacts the bigger picture. It can also breed a ‘silo mentality’, an ugly ‘us v’s them’ mindset between departments that creates competition, interdepartmental turf wars and a lack of cooperation – not exactly the makings of a thriving company culture.

So how do you create a coordinated business from a collection of stand-alone groups? How can you facilitate cross-functional knowledge sharing, create greater efficiencies, collaboration and cooperation? How can you build stronger relationships between departments? Glad you asked…

3 Ways to Reconnect Your Teams

1) Share the big picture

“If you want to build a ship, don’t drum up the people to gather wood, divide the work, and give orders. Instead, teach them to yearn for the vast and endless sea.” – Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

Lencioni, in his book ‘Silos, Politics and Turf Wars’, declared that businesses should have a “a rallying cry” that brings people together across divisions. A common purpose that stirs people’s passion and binds people together.

There’s a great story about John F. Kennedy that epitomises this shared purpose connection. During his visit to NASA in 1962, JFK noticed a janitor carrying a broom. He walked over to him, introduced himself, and asked “What are you doing?” The janitor proudly responded, “Well Mr. President, I’m helping put a man on the moon.” True or not, it’s pretty powerful stuff.

Research clearly shows that employees want to be part of something larger and more important than themselves. As Simon Sinek says in his famous Ted Talk, “People don’t buy what you do; they buy why you do it.” They want to work for a company with a purpose they can get behind, to feel personally connected to the company’s purpose and to feel like they’re contributing to it.

Phill Nosworthy, renowned futurist, executive advisor and speaker, also advocates for the ‘why’, saying “Your brand wins when you have people addicted to coming to work because that’s the place they know they can make it count.”

Disney’s purpose is to create happiness. Patagonia’s is to save our home planet. Nike wants to bring inspiration and innovation to every athlete in the world. Starbucks wants to inspire and nurture the human spirit – one person, one cup and one neighbourhood at a time.

What’s your company’s purpose? It’s real beating heart? Get it right, and it can be your rallying cry, the unifying ‘why’ that brings everyone together.

2) Create a collaborative culture

Imagine this… you go to a classical concert and find the violinist, the cellist, the pianist and the conductor all facing different directions, doing their own thing. On their own their work may be beautiful… but when they work together? That’s when the real magic happens.

Recent research conducted by the Institute for Corporate Productivity (i4cp) and Rob Cross, Professor of Global Business at Babson College, found that companies that promoted collaborative working were 5 times more likely to be high performing than those that didn’t. And for employees, simply feeling like you’re part of a team working on a task results in higher engagement, lower fatigue and a higher success rate according to one Stanford study.

Collaboration works on so many levels. Contrary to the popular saying, great minds don’t always think alike. In fact, great minds think very differently, and it’s when you put those different minds together – with their unique experiences, skills and perspectives – that really special things happen.

Holly Ransom, globally recognised speaker and disruption strategist, believes that “In an age of intensifying digital echo chambers, breaking from routine thinking and giving ourselves over to unconventional collaborative experiences is paramount to creativity, critical thinking and empathy.”

So how can you build a more collaborative culture, where individuals and teams work together to share ideas, achieve common goals and create magic? Here are some ideas to get you started:

Reward collaborative efforts rather than individual ones. A little gratitude and public acknowledgment goes a long way!

– Slack, Asana, Microsoft Teams, Zoom, Trello… digital tools have made remote collaboration easy. Ask for responses via chat, do a quick poll, have everyone add their input to a shared document, build an information hub everyone can access – regardless of where or how you’re working, the opportunities to collaborate are endless.

– For a fun way to help people get to know each other, create regular cross-functional team-building opportunities.

– Select specific individuals to be conduits between departments / teams – these point people need to be excellent communicators and comfortable across all sections of the business.

Hire people who will be adept at networking and collaborating, and reinforce the importance of those skills through the onboarding process.

– Provide staff training and continuous learning in areas like teamwork, emotional intelligence, conscious communication and networking.

– Create informal shared spaces to encourage organic cross-departmental mingling. Throw in some couches, a ping-pong table, encourage hot-desking – whatever suits your culture. Face-to-face conversation and social interaction increase engagement between individuals and departments, so make the most of the time people are in the office!

3) Foster open communication

Open communication is essential for facilitating a collaborative work environment where people feel comfortable expressing their thoughts and ideas without fear of judgement or repercussion. It’s not only great for employee morale, but for business too – employees who feel their voice is heard are 4.6 times more likely to be empowered to do their best work! 

A safe space where people can share their perspectives also helps foster trust and transparency, encouraging the free flow of information and ideas – essential for engagement, inclusion, connection and innovation.

Here are some ways you can foster open communication in the workplace:

– Keep the doors open. If doors are always closed, people won’t share their views or concerns.

– Encourage employees to speak up and share their ideas and concerns openly and honestly. Empower them to speak up!

– Regularly solicit feedback from employees (and act on it) – it helps build trust and transparency, and ensures people feel heard and valued.

– Encourage managers to actively listen and respond constructively to employee feedback.

– Create an environment where people feel comfortable challenging the status quo – reward out-of-the-box thinking.

– Be invested in employee goals as much as business goals – it’s a two-way street.

– Ensure leaders are approachable, and get to know staff on a personal level too. It’s difficult to be honest with people you don’t know.

– Create open channels ofcommunication. Regular team meetings, internal newsletters, anonymous suggestion boxes, employee surveys – there are plenty of tools you can use to keep the lines open.

Building strong inter-departmental relationships takes time and a co-ordinated effort from all levels of the business. But there’s no doubt that those relationships build higher-functioning, more profitable and innovative organisations. They also build more engaged, connected and happier teams – and as Matthew Woodring Stover said, “If you take out the team in teamwork, it’s just work. Now who wants that?”

We have some of the world’s best leadership and communication experts, including Simon Sinek, Anthony Laye, Phill Nosworthy, Alison Hill and Holly Ransom, ready to help your teams build stronger inter-departmental relationships to harness the power of collaboration. If you’d like us to introduce you, simply get in touch with us for a chat!

Transform Your Thinking with this 3-Step Mindset Makeover

Growth Mindset

“Your attitude, not your aptitude, will determine your altitude.” – Zig Ziglar

Nature versus nurture… it’s an age-old debate. Are we born with innate skills, talents and capabilities, with our potential predetermined by our genetic make-up? Or do we have the power to transform ourselves through learning, effort and dedication? That’s the difference between a ‘fixed’ and a ‘growth’ mindset, between self-imposed limits and a whole world of possibilities.

Back in 2006, Stanford University psychologist Carol Dweck introduced the revolutionary idea of the ‘growth mindset’ – a belief that abilities and intelligence can be developed through hard work, dedication and continuous learning, rather than being predestined. It’s since become a bit of a cult concept, widely accepted around the world as a critical driver of success.  

A growth mindset isn’t simply about being open-minded or having a positive outlook (although they’re wonderful attributes). It’s about grit and resilience, proactively overcoming negative thought patterns, embracing challenges and feedback, seeing failure as an opportunity to learn – truly believing you’re the master of your own future. It’s the ultimate motivator, and it’s the key to realising your potential.

One of the greatest quotes to capture the distinction between mindsets was articulated by Muhammad Ali – “Impossible is just a word thrown around by small men who find it easier to live in the world they’ve been given than to explore the power they have to change it. Impossible is not a fact. It’s an opinion. Impossible is potential. Impossible is temporary. Impossible is nothing.”

If you want to smash through those fixed, self-limiting beliefs and uncover your ‘impossible’ potential, here’s what you need to do…

1. Turn the negatives around

“Whether you believe you can do a thing or not, you are right.” – Henry Ford

Emma Murray, renowned high performance mindset coach with a client list including AFL Premiership clubs and Olympic stars, believes that negative thoughts are one of the biggest roadblocks to fulfilling your potential. She says that “we have between 50,000 and 90,000 thoughts every day and mostly they revolve around the same 7-9 unhelpful themes, and they stop us doing fun stuff, taking risks, stretching ourselves and performing at our best.”

The kicker is, our thoughts aren’t necessarily real. Emma says, “They’re just stories that our over-protective minds tell us as a way of keeping us safe.” She believes that by questioning the stories we tell ourselves and recognising the thoughts that are holding us back, we can begin to achieve our potential.

High-performance coach Stephanie Bown also believes that you need to “catch yourself in the doom loop of your own making.” She suggests asking yourself whether the negative thought is helpful or unhelpful, questioning where it comes from and whether it’s just a habit you’re caught in. According to Stephanie, the way we talk to ourselves, our relationship with ourselves, can be “the difference between living in a prison of self-imposed limitations, or a sanctuary of freedom and purpose.”

Another way to turn around ‘negative’ thoughts is by reframing them. Burns survivor and humanitarian Turia Pitt suggests that next time you’re not looking forward to something, let’s say a training session, try reframing it as something you get to do, not something you have to do. It’s a simple growth mindset switch that completely changes your outlook.

In Carol Dweck’s TEDx talk, she tells a story about a high school in Chicago that, instead of giving kids a ‘fail’ for courses they don’t pass, grades them as ‘not yet’. Those two simple words, so critical to a growth mindset, instil a belief in those kids that with work and perseverance, they will eventually succeed. It’s a beautiful way to turn a ‘negative’ around.

As Carol says, “Mindsets are an important part of your personality, but you can change them. Just by knowing about the two mindsets, you can start thinking and reacting in new ways.”

2. Learn something new

A large part of a growth mindset is realising that there are weaknesses and strengths you haven’t developed yet, opportunities you haven’t explored and so many things to learn. And that means breaking out of your comfort zone and challenging yourself to try new things.

Whether it’s learning a new language, speaking in front of a crowd, mastering a musical instrument or cooking a fancy new dish, trying new things doesn’t just make you a better linguist… or public speaker… or musician… or cook… it actually makes you smarter. True, it’s called neuroplasticity.

According to the brainiacs at CCSU Business & Development, practicing a new skill increases the density of myelin – the white matter in your brain that improves performance. It also stimulates brain neurons, creating fresh pathways and connections that become stronger the more you use them.

Stephanie Bown calls this the ‘potential zone’ – the place where learning and growth happen. Where latent talent hasn’t yet been realised, where those fresh connections in your brain haven’t yet been created. Stephanie says that “Realising potential means putting your natural strengths and capabilities to work in new ways and strengthening brain interconnectivity.”

You brain learns what you teach it. It’s literally wired to adapt to the challenges and conditions you present it with. So, if you want to cultivate a growth mindset, go ahead and put it to the test!

Fun fact: To optimise the brain’s circuits, pathways and connections you rarely use simply fade away (it’s called synaptic pruning) – it’s why you probably can’t remember any of the Latin you learned in Year 7. Use it or lose it!

3. Make friends with failure

Michael Jordan, arguably the best basketball player of all time, once said, “I’ve missed more than 9,000 shots in my career, I’ve lost almost 3,000 games. 26 times I’ve been trusted to take the winning shot and missed. I’ve failed over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.”

Many people fail, some spectacularly, before they achieve great success. J.K. Rowlings manuscript of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone was rejected by 12 publishing houses before it was picked up. Steven Spielberg was rejected twice by the University of Southern California’s School of Cinematic Arts. Jerry Seinfeld was booed off stage during his first stand-up comedy gig. History is littered with famous ‘failures’ who have gone on to achieve enormous success.

But just imagine if failure had stopped them in their tracks.

Ben Crowe, professional mentor and mindset coach to stars including Ash Barty, Stephanie Gilmore and the Australian cricket team, believes wholeheartedly that “the greatest threat to success is avoiding failure.” 

According to Ben, 90% of performances are sabotaged by the fear of failure or focusing on the result. He believes that if we treated failure like a scientist would – a negative result is simply a data point that helps prove or disprove a hypothesis, rather than a reflection of the scientist’s capability – then failure wouldn’t be an issue.

When we choose to reframe failure as learning, failure ceases to exist.

Adventurous entrepreneur Richard Branson is also one that embraces failure as a learning tool, vocal in his opinion that “You don’t learn to walk by following rules. You learn by doing and falling over.” Dusting yourself off and getting up again is the essence of a growth mindset.

In the end, the power to write your own story and realise your full potential lies within the choices you make. As concentration camp survivor Viktor Frankl reminds us, “everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms – to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.” Your mindset is absolutely a choice. So why not choose growth?

We have some of Australia’s leading mindset coaches and high performance experts, including Stephanie Bown, Emma Murray, Ben Crowe and Turia Pitt, ready to provide your team with life-changing practical tools to help them harness the power of a growth mindset. If you’d like us to introduce you, simply get in touch with us for a chat!

How to Create a Thriving Culture in a Remote Workforce

It’s often said that people are the greatest asset in any business. And one of the biggest challenges facing businesses today is creating a thriving culture that attracts, engages and retains the best people. But how do you do that in our new hybrid work world, where connection and connectivity have become so inter-dependent?

Whether by choice or default, flexible work has officially shifted from a perk to an expectation. The Australian Government’s WGEA study found that 92% of employees now want flexibility in where and when they work, while the global EY 2021 Work Reimagined Employee Survey reported that 54% would consider leaving their jobs if they’re not afforded that flexibility. And whether they’ve embraced it or just relented, nine out of ten businesses are now committed to offering a combination of remote and on-site work.

Whether it’s the 60+ minutes per day we save on the work commute, the comfort of our old ugg’s or the domestic chores we can slot into our day, many have found plenty to like about remote working.

But isolation, burnout, a lack of spontaneous interaction and a feeling of disconnect are very real. We have a need for human connection like never before, and without the lunch dates and breakroom chats of the office environment, cultivating a good culture and a sense of belonging in a hybrid working environment is a huge challenge.

According to Andrew May, one of the world’s leading performance strategists, “work is no longer somewhere you go, it is something you do.” He believes that “with the massive change and disruption we’ve experienced, comes growth and opportunities to change working models, beliefs and ‘what we do around here.’”

It’s time to seize the opportunity to ‘remake’ your culture and double-down on the employee experience, putting concepts like purpose and connection at the top of the business agenda.

What’s so important about culture?

As renowned management consultant and author Peter Drucker said, “Culture eats strategy for breakfast.” You can have the greatest strategy in the world, but if culture isn’t a huge part of that strategy, your business is never going to succeed.  

Gold standard workplace culture provides job satisfaction, personal growth and fulfilment. It encompasses the way decisions are made, a sense of belonging and loyalty, reward and recognition, communication, staff behaviour and trust, and – when done right – gives businesses a competitive edge.

According to McKinsey research, companies with healthy cultures deliver three times greater total returns to shareholders. A good culture also helps attract and retain the best talent (companies with healthy cultures are 16 times more likely to retain their Gen Z employees) and, just as importantly, culture is the top predictor of workplace satisfaction. And happy workers are 13% more productive than unhappy ones.

So how do you go about creating a thriving culture in a remote workforce?

1. Provide purpose and clarity

A clearly articulated purpose is a powerful thing. According to Glassdoor’s Mission & Culture Survey, 79% of adults analyse a company’s purpose and mission before applying for a job, with over half of them ranking it as more important than salary when it comes to job satisfaction. Employees are also five times more likely to be excited to work for a company that spends time reflecting on the impact it makes in the world.

The message is resonating with corporates too. According to PwC research, 79% of business leaders agree that their purpose is central to success going forward.

McKinsey research found that people who find purpose at work are healthier, more resilient and more likely to stay at the company. And when that purpose is aligned with their own, they’re more engaged and loyal, reporting work and life outcomes up to five times higher than those of their peers. As Author and social commentator Dan Gregory says, “leaders must align their WHY with the WHY’s of their people”.

But there’s no point having a wonderful purpose if leaders aren’t communicating it, and aren’t clear about how their team can help them achieve it. Stephen Covey created a clever analogy in his book, The 8th Habit. Based on research conducted with over 23,000 employees, he reported that if our organisations were 11-player soccer teams, 4 players knew which goal was theirs, only 2 actually cared which goal was theirs, 2 knew what position they played and 9 were competing against their own team members rather than the opponent. Nightmare.

Clarity helps others understand what they need to do, and why they’re doing what they’re doing.

2. Lead the way

Leadership pioneer Warren G. Bennis once said, “Leadership is the capacity to translate vision into reality”. 

In our hybrid work world, it’s more important than ever for leaders to develop a common vision and goal that enables team members to work together – especially while apart – to help make that vision a reality. They create a thriving culture by providing clarity and direction and then empowering their team members to make it happen.

LinkedIn Learning’s 2021 Workplace Learning Report revealed that communication across remote teams and emotional intelligence ranked as two of the most important skills required for today’s business leaders. Skills essential for creating the right culture with a fragmented workforce and fostering an environment of self-confidence and connection.

Today’s leaders need to be able to cultivate an atmosphere where employees feel that their work matters, that their contribution is valued and that they’re an essential part of the bigger picture. They need to really engage with their team, get to know each individual and what motivates them, create capacity and help them grow and succeed. Dan Gregory relates, saying “leaders must evoke a vivid picture of who you help them to be through the process of executing your strategy.”

Mindfulness and meditation coach Chelsea Pottenger also reminds us that “organisations are built by people. People who need motivation, care and compassion, and whose wellbeing should be as much of a business outcome as profits are.” Thankfully, they’re not mutually exclusive. PWC research shows that every dollar spent on creating a mentally healthy workplace can generate $2.30 in benefits to an organisation. Not a bad return on investment!

Today’s leaders know how to create a happy, healthy culture that’s as good for its people as it is for its bottom line.

3. Make connections count

A sense of belonging, of being part of a team, is one of the biggest benefits of a thriving work culture. But with fewer opportunities for organic social interaction and informal conversation, hybrid arrangements make connecting with co-workers much more of a challenge. Which means you need to make every connection count.

Organisations that prioritise connection reap the rewards when it comes to unifying a hybrid workforce. From building in time for social chats during virtual meetings and scheduling regular check-ins with colleagues, to virtual events, real-time file collaboration (thanks Google) and tech tools like Trello, Slack and Zoom to stay on track, there are plenty of ways to keep teams connected while out of the office.

A McKinsey survey found companies that reported an increase in ‘microtransactions’ – small connections between colleagues, such as opportunities to discuss projects, share ideas, network, mentor and coach – also enjoyed higher productivity. Connection improves engagement levels, and engaged employees are 17% more productive.

To give team culture a real boost, psychologist and best-selling author Dr Amantha Imber recommends building HQCs ‘High-Quality Connections’ (HCQ). HQC’s are shorter-term virtual or face-to-face interactions in which both people feel ‘lit up’ and energised by the connection.

HCQ techniques include: finding uncommon commonalities (you love Kung-Fu movies too? Amazing!), performing a 5-minute favour and asking better questions to get a more meaningful response. Amantha says that while they are extremely powerful, “the beauty of HQC’s is that they don’t require significant time – they can be as simple as a five-minute conversation with someone.”

US management guru Marvin Bower once defined corporate culture as ‘the way we do things around here’ – and, if you’re looking for success in a hybrid work world, it’s never been more important to do it right. While remote work presents some serious challenges, it also provides an incredible opportunity for businesses to remodel their culture into one that people are excited and proud to be a part of. And that’s a recipe for success – as Simon Sinek says, “customers will never love a company until the employees love it first.”

So how do you create a thriving culture in a remote workforce? It’s a challenge being faced by businesses around the world, and we have some of the most knowledgeable minds in the game ready to share their unique insights. If you’d like us to introduce you to our experts, including Andrew May, Dan Gregory, Chelsea Pottenger, Dr Amantha Imber, Kieran Flanagan and Chris Helder, simply get in touch with us for a chat!


3 Biggest Challenges for the Future of Work

It’s fair to say that the pandemic has wreaked havoc on businesses and operating models around the world. Workplace disruption has been colossal – from the whirlwind move to remote work to the rapid rise of new technologies, the 2020’s has been a time of extraordinary change. And it ain’t over yet. The challenges that lie ahead are immense… but so are the opportunities for those brave enough and clever enough to take them.

What will it take to achieve success in our rapidly evolving world? According to Nils Vesk, Australia’s pioneering ‘Innovation Architect’, it will take an adaptive mindset and truly innovative ideas. And to create these ground-breaking ideas, Nils believes we will need to consciously ‘un-think’ how things used to be done, then rethink how things ‘need’ to be done – as he says, only “by doing the unthinkable can we go from ordinary to extraordinary” in the future of work.

Businesses must adapt and innovate to meet these three major challenges if they’re going to thrive in the new world of work.

1) Managing a hybrid workforce

According to a McKinsey survey, while 99% of executives expected employees to spend more than 80% of their time in the office before the pandemic, that perspective is now shared by just 10%. Workers are on the same page, with Accenture’s Future of Work Study finding that 83% now prefer a more flexible hybrid work model.  

Flexibility is good for business too. Gartner’s 2020 ReimagineHR Employee Survey found that when organisations shifted to an environment where employees had a choice over where, when and how much they work, 55% of employees were high performers compared to 36% in the standard office environment.

It seems hybrid work is here to stay, so how best for businesses to manage their workforce?

LinkedIn Learning’s 2021 Workplace Learning Report revealed that communication and emotional intelligence ranked as two of the most important skills required for today’s business leaders.

In a fragmented work world, it’s more important than ever for Managers to set clear roles, goals and milestones, check in regularly with team members, offer support and ensure that workloads are manageable. It’s also critical for Managers to empower their teams to develop a common vision and goal that enables them to work together – especially while apart – to solve problems and find solutions.

2) Getting the company culture right

The pandemic changed the way we viewed the world, and our place in it. Given time to contemplate during lockdowns and restrictions, many have emerged looking for more meaning and a different way of doing things.

In April 2021, a study of more than 30,000 workers worldwide revealed 41% were considering changing professions or quitting in the coming year – this is The Great Reset, and workers are in the box seat.

We have a need for human connection like never before. Without the water cooler check-ins, lunch dates and breakroom chats of the office environment, cultivating a good culture and a sense of belonging in a hybrid working environment is a major challenge.

The younger generations in particular miss the face-to-face connection of the office environment, with research showing that 95% of Generation Z and 93% of Millennial workers struggle with the isolation. It’s that next wave of workers – according to Ashley Fell, social researcher, TEDx speaker and Director of Advisory at McCrindle Research – that value workplace culture above all else.

The 2020 Future of Jobs Report reveals that about one-third of all employers expect to use digital tools to tackle the wellbeing challenges posed by remote work, and to create a sense of community, connection and belonging among employees. Is a digital solution enough though?

The office is where employers really need to define their value in a hybrid arrangement, according to leading media commentator, business analyst and demographer Bernard Salt. He believes that “the office will become the place for learning, ideation, client meetings, socialising, client schmoozing, collaboration and celebration.” Businesses need to make office time count in the culture stakes.

People are also drawn to companies that stand for something greater than profit. Purpose-driven organisations that recognise the importance of aligning their goals with their employees’ purpose will thrive. As Holly Ransom, globally recognised speaker and disruption strategist, says “Knowing your why is one thing, knowing their why is everything.”

Phill Nosworthy, renowned futurist, executive advisor and speaker, also advocates for the importance of meaning and purpose – the ‘why’, not the ‘what’. He believes “Your brand wins when you have people addicted to coming to work because that’s the place they know they can make it count.”

The message is resonating with corporates too. According to PwC research, 79% of business leaders agree that their purpose is central to success going forward.

With businesses competing heavily for talented workers, employee initiatives that place emphasis on personal development, freedom, wellbeing, growth and autonomy will be critical for recruitment and retention success.

While remuneration is also important, innovative non-cash incentives like a shortened work week may need to be considered too. Trends forecaster, business strategist and award-winning speaker Michael McQueen talks about a host of successful worldwide experiments into the 4-day work week, citing improvements in productivity, employee satisfaction and inclusion. He believes “Not only will it give us more time for the things we enjoy, but it will improve worker satisfaction, productivity and environmental sustainability as well.” Something to consider!

3) Reskilling / upskilling the workforce

The 2020 Future of Jobs Report revealed that 84% of employers are set to rapidly digitalise working processes, including the potential to move 44% of their workforce to operate remotely. The same report also inferred that 43% of businesses are planning to reduce their workforce due to technology integration.

This rapid digital transformation poses a great challenge to businesses, with a significant proportion of their workforce requiring additional skills to help them navigate towards the ‘jobs of tomorrow’. The Future of Jobs Report showed that employers expect to offer reskilling and upskilling to just over 70% of their employees by 2025.

Although 85 million jobs are expected to be displaced by machines by 2025, the flip side is the projected emergence of 97 million new roles. Employers believe the most in-demand skills will include critical thinking, analysis and problem-solving, as well as skills in self-management such as active learning, resilience, stress tolerance and flexibility.

The traits that make people human – empathy, connection, imagination, negotiation, storytelling, creativity – can never be replaced by technology. So while there’s no doubt that the digital revolution will require reskilling and upskilling, thankfully it seems it’s human traits that will grow in value as digital integration escalates.

The degree to which businesses are able to meet these challenges will directly impact their ability to flourish in the future of work. Digital transformation, reskilling and upskilling needs to be embraced as an opportunity, and focus placed on building purpose-driven, people-first cultures. Above all, businesses need to be adaptable and open to change – after all, it’s the only thing that’s inevitable. And as Lao Tzu so eloquently put it, “Resisting change is like trying to hold your breath. Even if you’re successful, it won’t end well.”


The future of work poses some of the greatest challenges organisations have ever faced. We have some of the best minds in the business, including Nils Vesk, Michael McQueen, Phill Nosworthy, Mark McCrindle, Clare Madden, Ashley Fell, Holly Ransom, Future Crunch and Bernard Salt, ready to share their incredible knowledge and unique insights to help your team navigate them. If you’d like us to introduce you, simply get in touch with us for a chat!

Finding the New ‘Business as Usual’ in a Post-Pandemic World

For decades, ‘business as usual’ meant reporting to the office, meeting with colleagues and sitting at your prescribed desk until home time. In a matter of weeks, everything changed. Covid-19 arrived, and along with it terms like ‘unprecedented’ and ‘lockdown’ – words that would completely and irrevocably disrupt standard operating procedure for businesses around the world. Now the question beckons – in a post-pandemic world, what exactly is ‘business as usual’? And is remote work here to stay?

WIs remote work the new business as usual?hen the pandemic struck, businesses scrambled to transform the way they operate, thanks to a seismic shift that was never part of their 5-year plan. Workers were given a crash course in modern technology and sent home from the office with a remote log-in and a prayer. Working from home was no longer just an option for the lucky few, it was the only option for everyone.

While most workers were happy to skip the obligatory commute to work and have the freedom to customise their days to suit their personal needs, bosses were forced to re-evaluate their attitudes towards remote work.

Bernard SaltAccording to Bernard Salt, leading media commentator, business analyst, demographer and one of Australia’s most in-demand keynote speakers, the view used to be that “if you were working from home, you were having a bit of a bludge, having a day off. That was the unspoken culture.”

But thanks to a new digitally connected world, tools like Zoom, Slack and Microsoft Teams helped ease long-held negative perceptions around remote work productivity. And rightly so. Recent findings from a two-year study of more than 800,000 employees, conducted by Great Place to Work, found working from home was just as productive as working from the office – possibly more so.

Creating value for a hybrid workforce

The 2021 Accenture Future of Work Study found that 83% of workers now prefer a more flexible hybrid work model.

In Bernard’s view, “for 25 years prior to the pandemic, about 5% of workers were working from home according to census results.  But during the pandemic, we developed a taste for this way of working because it delivered empowerment and contributed to our lifestyle. In a post-Covid world, it could be that 15% of the workforce regularly (say 2 days per week) work from home – that net extra 10% equates to more than a million workers working from home in some kind of hybrid arrangement.”

So how can business leaders create a post-pandemic work world that will keep hybrid employees happy and productive?

According to Bernard, that hybrid arrangement is where employers really need to define their value if they’re to succeed. He believes that “work tasks requiring concentration and creativity will be done from home, while the office will become the place for learning, ideation, collaboration with colleagues as well as client meetings, socialising, schmoozing and celebrating. Out with open plan cubicles; in with agile collaboration spaces.”

“In the post-Covid era there needs to be purpose and value in coming into the office – the workplace needs to be a space for engagement and learning, where inhouse or external experts teach and transfer knowledge. Offering workers high-value experiences, like the chance to learn from and be inspired by corporate and industry leaders, is one way to build a happy hybrid workforce.”

Although we all hope we’ve seen the back of pandemic life, the experience has proven that disruption itself isn’t always a bad thing. In Bernard’s words, “sometimes a shakeup like WFH is precisely what is required to test whether the old way of doing things is the best way forward. The post-pandemic era offers the opportunity to rebuild a better version of the world we left behind.”

So maybe the time was right to re-evaluate the old ‘business as usual’ model, and now we’ll re-emerge a more flexible, digitally-savvy, compassionate and productive society. After all, as Henry Ford said, “If you always do what you always did, you’ll always get what you always got”.

Bernard Salt is one of the best minds in the business when it comes to the future of work. As a leading media commentator and business analyst, as well as author of six best-selling books, Bernard is one of the most popular and captivating
business speakers on the corporate speaking circuit. If you’d like to engage Bernard to talk to your team about the opportunities that lie ahead, get in touch with us for a chat!