Tag-Archive for ◊ Engagement ◊

• Friday, February 17th, 2017

focusProcrastinating? 30 Minutes Can Change Your Day.

We all have more to do and yet ironically we seem to be spinning our wheels now more than ever. Have you noticed that people are procrastinating more and more despite ever-increasing workloads?

When we are overloaded, we actually tend to procrastinate more. This is called the Paradox of Choice: with too many decisions to make, we tend to do nothing, or at the very least, we do the easiest thing. The Easiest Thing is rarely the best decision. We all know it will just put us under pressure down the track, when that deadline is finally looming. But we keep doing those easy things anyway.

That is, until there’s some urgency.


Urgency forces us to switch into the performance zone. It makes us switch out of auto-pilot mode and switch on the part of the brain that controls our behaviours. It also gives us a little shot of adrenalin, which narrows our focus.

But usually people wait for something or someone else to make this happen:

Someone else gives us a deadline

Or I am all of a sudden so far behind my budget or project timeline that I need to switch on.

This is a hallmark of being overwhelmed in the 21st Century. I will do easy things until someone else forces me to do something more productive. We wait to that external impetus to really get us moving.

The minute we create our own urgency, we start being more productive. We take control of our own performances and we are not held to the whims of deadlines and controlling managers.


Here’s a tip:

Build Blocks Of Focus into your day

Plan 30min blocks where all you do is work on the things that are most important. No email, no distractions, no daydreaming about the things that aren’t getting done. Be deliberate and set specific tasks to complete during this time. And if you can control your environment by closing your door or finding a meeting room to work in – even better.

I know 30 minutes doesn’t seem like much, but it is sometimes all we need to get us going. That 30 minutes quickly turns into an hour, but the original 30min block is long enough to get us started and short enough to create some urgency.

Now this takes some practice, so don’t give up if it doesn’t work the first time. We can actually train ourselves to work in these blocks of focus. Again, 30min may not seem like much, but you’ll find it amazing how much you get done in this small space of time, with better focus.



** Tony Wilson is a Workplace Performance Expert focussed on helping leaders build the environment for high performance. His insights into performance science and it’s application in the workplace will make you re-think the way that you approach leadership, culture change, high performance and productivity. Tony has an MBA and a BSc majoring in physiology and combines the two for a different perspective. He is also the author of Jack and the Team that Couldn’t See and delivers workshops and keynote presentations around the globe.

• Thursday, November 24th, 2016


How are those 2016 goals working out for you? I’ve got some news for you, but most people don’t want to hear it.

There are only three reasons that you fail to make progress towards your goals. Yes – it’s that simple. But people are going to deny it.

The first two reasons are the most important – and the ones that people don’t want to face. The third reason is really just a caveat. So let’s scrap the third reason.

There are only two reasons you fail to progress towards your goals.
In. Anything.

a) You’re not doing the work, or
b) You’re doing the wrong work

That’s it. Nothing else is stopping you. Whether you want to get a promotion, make more sales, qualify for your bonus or lose ten kilos. If it’s not happening for you, it’s because of one of those things.

So here’s what you need to do. And I KNOW this sounds really simple, but I am really frustrated with a bunch of people I’ve been working with, so I’m going to spell it out.

First – find out what the ‘right work’ is. Because if you want to make more sales, but you’re only making three sales calls a week, then getting buried in admin – it’s probably not going to happen. Or if you want a brilliant team, but you aren’t doing one-on-ones with your staff at least once a month – it’s probably not going to happen.

So, find out what the BEST people in your world are doing. Whether that’s sales, or losing weight, or leadership, or whatever. And then do it even better than them.

Secondly. Commit and work relentlessly on making it happen. You can’t make those 10 sales calls every other week – it has to be every week. Don’t make excuses why you can’t get out the door and exercise, because you’re too busy – just make it happen. Don’t cancel those one-on-ones with your staff because you have too many emails to answer. Prioritise it and Get. It. Done.

And don’t lie to yourself and other people that you’re doing it, when you’re actually NOT.

What’s the third reason? The third reason is that your goals are out of your control. But this rant assumes that you set controllable, smart goals anyway. So forget it.

• Friday, September 25th, 2015


Forget first to market, customer service, value-adding features or perfect strategy. The only real competitive advantage you need to know is none of these, yet all of these. You can have all of the above factors yet fail dramatically. You can have none of the above factors, yet succeed beyond reason. But if you manage a team, you better have one thing nailed down, because without it, nothing’s going to work as well as you have hoped.

In the 21st century businesses are focussed on efficiency. It’s a cliche that we’re all trying to do more with less. To make this happen, we are re-engineering job descriptions, processes and org structures. Or we’re just trying to get our people to take on more responsibilities. But in all organisations, efficiency comes down to a really simple concept:


Get people to do more of the things that make a big impact.

And less of the things that distract them from the things that make a big impact.

I’m going to call this ‘Focus’ and it represents our employees’ ability to focus their efforts on the things that matter.


Imagine if you could do this:

It’s Friday afternoon and you have an automatic download of all the activities that one of your team members did throughout the working week. Every minute of every day. How many of those activities would you look at and ask yourself “why did they choose to do that?”

You see every second of every day our staff make choices about what to do and what not to do. Because we’re so busy, we always do something at the expense of doing something else. So the question is simple: do they always choose the right thing?

For most people the answer is no. But even if it’s 90% yes, then we can constantly strive for better Focus. And here are three reasons it’s not as good as it could be.


1)    Lack of clear priorities

To be really focussed, teams need to know what’s most important. Not just what’s important – but most important. In other words, they also need to know what’s not important. Too many teams get caught up trying to deliver too many projects and doing none of them well, if at all.

Teams members need to be really clear about the things that are going to make a big difference and make these a priority. This also goes for team behaviours, standards and culture.


2) Under-communication of priorities

The next mistake managers make is that, once they establish the priorities, they fail to embed them in their team’s thinking. To do this we need to be talking about them all the time. People need constant reminders. In team meetings, during one-on-ones, within feedback, visually – you name it, it needs to happen.

When they get sick of hearing you talk about it, then it becomes a part of their working mantra.


3) Lack of accountability

Most managers leave far too long between progress reviews. The annual performance review is a poor tool for managing people’s capability, behaviours, and Focus. Instead, we pay attention to the things that people are going to hold us accountable for either today, tomorrow or by the end of the week. Kotter’s old adage of ‘what gets measured gets changed’ only applies if it’s going to be measured in the near future.

Without all of these, people don’t tend to do what’s most important. At best, they do what they think is most important. And at worst, they just do what’s comfortable.


** Tony Wilson is a Workplace Performance Expert. He helps organisations build high performance culture and helps people manage their own performance and productivity. He combines the science of high performance with contemporary management theory to change the way people work and lead in the 21st Century. For more, visit www.teamcorp.com.au





• Tuesday, March 18th, 2014


I often ask the question “if one of your employees won the lottery tonight, what is the thing that would make them

want to turn up to work tomorrow anyway?”

While most executives have the best intentions of inspiring and engaging their people, rarely do they hit the mark when it comes to culture.

We say that people are our greatest asset, but to make sure of this you need to establish a culture in which they can thrive.  Otherwise they might just be your greatest expense.


Doing More With Less

The last couple of years have been tough.  We have all been trying to do more work, often with less people and resources and we keep pushing our people to do their best in trying times.  But increasingly research shows that the key factor in the individual success of our people is not intelligence or money or even motivation, but the environment in which they work and develop.

However, most people don’t even know what their culture is.  One question that I regularly ask during my keynote speeches is if people can clearly articulate their organisational culture.  Invariably less than five percent of people answer in the affirmative.

When I ask people to explain the elements of culture in their organisation (their vision, values, mission statements and the like) the result is the same again.  This is independent of position – the new recruit has as much chance as a senior manager of being clear about culture and its elements.

Whether they can explain it or not and whether you like it or not, your organisation will have a culture.  Here are some tips for trying to make sure it is the right one.


Your Culture should look like this…

People always ask me what the key elements of high performance culture are.  They expect me to rattle off some inspiring generalisations about what gets us to the top – things like hard work, integrity, discipline, honesty.  But the truth is that there is no particular trait that is necessary for high performance culture.


When you look at all the strongest cultures in the world and throughout history, you will find that the things that are imperative in one culture are not necessarily prevalent in another.  Different businesses focus on different things, different sporting teams have different priorities.  If you look outside these two regularly examined fields and look at cultures in the military, in street gangs and religious sects, you find that they have extremely high levels of engagement, commitment and clarity, without the expected cultural traits.

So what should your culture encompass?  I suggest you start by scrapping any pre-conceived idea you have of what makes a great culture.  Start from scratch and ask yourself a few key questions:

  • What is our competitive advantage and what does this mean for the behaviours that we want people to engage in?
  • What do your people need to do to be most effective?  Then identify the things about your organisation that enable people to do these things, and the things that stop your people from doing these things
  • What will inspire people? You don’t ‘discover’ this element; you merely ‘uncover’ it.  Ask your most engaged people why they come to work every day and do their best and you will begin to understand the things that will really engage your people


Making Culture Work

Despite our best efforts to make our desired culture really work, as you can see from the statistics, it rarely does.  Where does it get stuck?  Here are the key things to keep in mind to make your culture really work.

1) Make it Important and Relevant

There was some astonishing research done in the field of neuroscience recently and, in particular, the way the human brain reacts to information.  The findings?  We don’t pay attention to boring things.  Wow – is that groundbreaking, or what?

As obvious as this seems, the problem with a lot of culture projects that managers roll out is that they are just plain boring.  They might be interesting to the management team, but hardly anyone else in the organisation ‘gets it’. I often ask the question “if one of your employees won the lottery tonight, what is the thing that would make them want to turn up to work tomorrow anyway?”

While most executives have the best intentions of inspiring and engaging their people, rarely do they hit the mark when it comes to culture.  Understanding what is important to people seems like common sense and it is……it’s just that it’s their common sense, not yours.


2) Make Culture Clear

Take the time to really define the culture.  If I ask a ten-person executive team to explain the culture of the organisation I usually get ten different answers.   Now ask every manager in the organisation to give their view and you will see why culture is unclear.  When our brains have to filter this much opposing information, we tend to give it limited attention.

Each person in the organisation that is responsible for driving culture in any way should have a clear understanding and explanation of what the culture is, what it means for all stakeholders and how it is defined in terms of key behaviours.

3) Over-communicate Cultural Elements

We also pay more attention to things that we see regularly.

Research tells us that the average employee gets about 9,200,000 bits of information a year.  The culture is usually rolled out with some fanfare and series of workshops to let people know what they’re in for.  When these efforts are put into the context of 9,200,000 bits of information, it equates to about 0.0005% of the total communication budget for the year.  With this perspective, it is easy to see why most culture efforts fail.

The answer is to over-communicate and you need to enlist the help of each and every manager in the organisation to achieve it.  This is where real traction takes place – when we mention the culture or values or behaviours at every possible opportunity.  People should be hearing it hourly, meaning every interaction needs to be delivered with reference to one of these cultural influences.  When you feel like a broken record and when people start to finish your sentences for you, then you know you are getting there.


4) Reinforce through Leadership and Systems

Here’s where it gets critical.  The other parts of this framework may have been on your radar.  You may have done them already or have been part of an organisation that has in the past.  But you are far from finished.

The next piece of this leadership puzzle is the hardest.  It is relentless and can be tiring, but is a necessity to make sure the good work you’ve done so far actually makes sense and gains traction.

Culture needs to be reinforced with everything you do and say.  Recruitment, rewards, promotions, leadership behaviours, operating systems and processes – these are just some of the many things that need to be aligned with the culture that you are trying to establish.  They need to support your people and make it easy for them to execute the desired behaviours.

I guarantee that there are things you do or don’t do, or say or don’t say, as a leader that completely undermines the things that you set out to achieve.  Some of those things are glaringly obvious, some need more investigating to uncover.  But they will be there.  Ask your people and I guarantee that you will be surprised at their response.

Establishing the right culture is an ongoing, relentless pursuit for each and every leader in your organisation.  It involves an enormous amount of time, effort and personal resources, but the payoff is staff that are more productive, more motivated, more successful and, ultimately, your greatest asset.




• Tuesday, August 06th, 2013

95% of teams don’t really care about their goals. Generally, team goals


are boring and not motivating at all. Thechallenge for leaders is to go out on a limb and try to do something most leaders cannot – make your goals inspiring.

What are goals for? They are supposed to guide our actions so that we can make progress toward them. They are supposed to give us a measuring stick against which we know whether we can celebrate or look for ways to improve. Above all, they are there to motivate us and help us to make the hard decisions every day to do the things that might not be most comfortable, but will give us most return.

So here’s the question: when you look at your team’s goals, how many of those boxes are actually ticked? Do people know what they are and look for ways to work toward them every day? Do you celebrate when you achieve them? If I ask your team members, would they say that they are motivated by those team goals?

The unfortunate truth is that most team members can’t even tell you waht their team goals are… let alone be inspired by them. My observation is that only about 5% of teams truly have what I’d like to call Common Goals. Common Goals (common being the operative word here) satisfy these key things:

  1. Everyone can tell you what they are
  2. Everyone wants to work toward them every day
  3. Everyone is inspired by them
  4. They shape peoples behaviours (positively)
  5. Everyone feels a sense of pride and achievement when they are accomplished

So if you think your team goals could use a bit of a re-vamp, here are three key things that’ll help:

1. Use Everyday Language

Don’t complicate your team goals, vision or mission statement with lengthy business-speak and analytical words. Use everyday language that people can connect to.

Don’t say “Our goal is to uphold the standards, systems and processes as outlined in our company values and to deliver quality outcomes to our stakeholders”

Say: “We get things done. And we make people’s lives better”

2. Understand what they care about

Different people are obviously motivated by different things. Chances are what your team is motivated by is lost in the company goals and your focus on achieving targets. Ask them what they care about. What do they want to achieve? What problems do they want to fix and how will it also make their own work-lives better? You’ll hear the passion in their voices when you stumble on the right things

3. Cast aside the Corporate Goals

Ok.. you can’t completely cast aside the corporate goals, but forget about them while you try to work out what people care about. Measure them against a different set of targets that inspire them, but find the right things that fulfil the corporate goals as well. You can keep aiming for the corporate objectives, but let your people be guided by what’s best for them. If you can tie these things together, then all the better.

The reality is that most people are uninspired at work. As a leader, it’s up to you to break the mould and devise some targets that people care about, keep them inspired, and keep producing the right behaviours.

• Wednesday, March 20th, 2013

To reinforce the behaviours you want to see, you need to be consistent. And this might sometimes mean recognising people when you don’t really want to.


Managing behaviours is simple in theory: to create patterns of behaviour, we need to reward the behaviours that we want to see, and ignore (or sometimes provide consequences for) the behaviours that we don’t want to see.

In practice, this becomes difficult, because we tend to let our expectations and egos get in the way of making this happen effectively.

We have the expectation that people know what the right behaviours are and that rewarding simple behaviours sends the wrong message. We want to reward those people who go above and beyond, but we hate to reward people for merely ‘doing their job’.

This is a big mistake. Especially if you are trying to establish the right culture within your team.

What do you want to see?

Think about the behaviours that you want to see and write them down in a list.


There will generally be two categories of behaviour that will make your team successful.  Firstly there will be ‘Strategic Behaviours’. These are the things that simply help achieve  your operational goals and execute your strategy. They might be things like:

  • Follow up all phone enquiries within 24 hours,
  • Try to upsell every order, or
  • Make three appointments a day with new prospects.

The second category will be ‘Cultural Behaviours’. And these are the things that will help to reinforce your culture or your team brand. They will reflect the way that you engage each other as a team, or the way you deal with clients. They are things such as:

  • Open
    and honest communication
  • Engage in team meetings
  • Go the extra mile, or
  • Always show a positive, can-do attitude.

Reinforcing the Right Behaviours

Here’s where things get tricky. We assume that people should know all of these things. We assume that this is ‘business as usual’, that it’s common sense and our staff should just be doing these things as a matter of course.

But we couldn’t be more wrong. Yes, sure, people should be doing them. But the reality is that every culture is unique and is represented by a unique set of behaviours – both strategic and cultural. To create your unique culture, you need to reinforce that unique set of behaviours. Constantly.

If you want to build a culture where those behaviours are automatic, where the culture is completely ingrained, then you need to reward all of those behaviours consistently and often. That’s really the only way to make sure that those behaviours form into habits and your culture becomes truly embedded in your every day routines.

So stop waiting for those miraculous moments, and get over your assumptions that you shouldn’t recognise people for merely ‘doing their job’. And start rewarding the behaviours that you want to see. All of them, all the time.