Reflections from 2018 Governor’s Leadership Foundation Scholarship recipient

There are many benefits to working and volunteering in the not for profit sector. A feeling of working for a higher purpose, a calling, the satisfaction that comes with an alignment of values. Yet one thing NFPs often struggle with, compared to our more affluent corporate cousins, is finding sufficient funding to train and develop staff. Which is why I felt incredibly privileged and blessed to be a recipient of a half scholarship from CBB when I was accepted into the 2018 Governor’s Leadership Foundation Program.

It was with high hopes and expectations that I attended the opening retreat in February, and, 10 months later, emerged as graduate in November. Was it hard? Yes. Was it everything I had hoped for? Yes, and more. Would I recommend it? Absolutely.

The GLF is an immersive course, which operates on a deeply personal and professional level. We were guided by expert facilitators through an understanding of what adaptive leadership involves and given tools and models to explore and apply through a community action project which ran concurrently throughout the course. We were exposed to sectors and places in our state that most of us never thought we’d have access to – from a women’s prison to a tour of the Australian Submarine Corporation; from the RAAF base in Edinburgh to the Whyalla steelworks. And among the way we heard from leaders of these diverse organisations on their leadership challenges, lessons and opportunities.

This in itself is a mind broadening experience, but it is also attached to an intensive program of self-awareness and feedback which had a major impact on me this year. The GLF provides a comprehensive 360 feedback model, together with professional coaching and peer-to-peer coaching amongst the participants. This provides an opportunity to understand our blind spots, confirm our strengths, come to terms with our developmental areas and provide a fertile ground for growth. It certainly did that for me.

I’ve learned a lot about our state of South Australia this year. I understand that there is much to celebrate, and that there is a lot of good work and innovation which potentially does not get the attention it deserves in the mass media. But more than that, I learned a lot about myself.

The GLF has been permission-giving to shift away from continuously enhancing technical expertise and instead be more inward looking. This hasn’t been easy; I found some of the 360 feedback challenging. But over time, I learned to absorb and understand the lessons, and I found my behaviours changed as a result. I formed new habits; I became more sensitive to the perceptions and interpretations of others.  I read – a lot. I particularly recommend two books which supported my understanding of areas to change and then to be able to form new behaviours. Brene Brown’s “Daring Greatly” and Charles Duhigg “The Power of Habit”. Well worth a holiday read.

As a recipient of a scholarship, I also feel a responsibility to share this gift and opportunity with others. Throughout the year in my workplace, I shared my learning and experiences with the management team. We worked through some of the journal articles and readings provided, which generated a lot of lively debate and discussion. Whenever I have the opportunity, I talk about the experiences, tools, models or readings from the GLF so that there is a cross-pollination of these ideas that ripple into the workplace environment and the wider community.  This would not have been possible without CBB’s support, and for this I am sincerely grateful.

Astrid Kuivasaari – General Manager, Resources at The Uniting Church of SA

Lessons learnt from NDIS Transitions

For the last 18 months we have been assisting nearly 100 disability providers in SA with their NDIS transition journeys.  It has been an interesting ride and a steep learning curve for all involvedLessons learnt NDIS (clients and consultants alike) as we’ve ridden through the white water NDIS landscape.  As the year is coming to a close and our direct involvement with our current clients is coming to an end, it is time to reflect on the strategic impact of the NDIS in a People and Culture context.

While it is tempting to prioritise a ‘top five list’ of things to focus on, it might be more useful to talk about the ‘organisational hygiene factors’ required to succeed in an NDIS environment. These will not be prioritised, but rather seen as a collection of interdependent people and culture success factors that need attention.

Strategy, strategy, strategy

Plans are useless, but planning is indispensable – Dwight Eisenhower

Strategic planning is an oxymoron – Henry Mintzberg

Whichever side of the fence you sit on in regards to strategic planning, there is one basic truth; Have it and it doesn’t guarantee anything, don’t have it and it guarantees aimlessness.

The process of strategic planning has remained much the same over the decades however, I’ve noticed that strategic planning documents are getting thinner!  Glossy, high colour one page documents are becoming the norm (finally!).  So if less is definitely more, we need to accommodate this trend and be punchy and attention-grabbing.

The outcome for People & Culture executives?  This document becomes the centre of everything we do.  Every initiative, practice and policy must be tied back to this document. Our specialist expertise should be a proactive critical engagement with this process. Understand your business, know the external operating environment, contribute, critique and ask informed questions to add value to this process.

People & Culture goes hand in hand with Marketing

If you are lucky enough to have a marketing team, then form a partnership.  These two functions go together like peaches and cream – separately they can tick boxes, but together, you get something unique, unified and much more appetising!

The main synergy to get right is your brand DNA and resultant employee value proposition (EVP).  Never underestimate the effect of your organisation‘s brand value in the marketplace.  It attracts customers, clients and prospective employees to your doorstep.  In a time of ‘shallow talent pools’ and skills shortages in our sector, we need to have this firmly on our strategic agenda.

If you do not have in-house marketing/HR expertise, it is worth engaging external assistance.  After all, you would engage a financial professional with CPA qualifications to go through your books.  You might even find that external investment positively affecting your balance sheet in the long run.

Values and culture is your foundation; Inspiring leadership drives performance

OK, we hear this a lot.  So much so, that it’s starting to sound old hat, part of the background noise and identical to what everyone is saying. ‘Our people are our greatest asset’ no longer cuts the mustard. Having ‘collaborative leadership styles’ is not really inspiring anymore.  Our audience (workforce) is getting more sophisticated and we are stuck using terms that they have grown out of. The intention of the messages are OK, don’t get me wrong here.  What I often fail to see, is the ‘walk’ or the ‘how to’ behind these declarations.

What are the structures and frameworks that support the ‘talk’?  How do we ensure that ‘walk’ is empowering, engages with technology, measures our targets, focuses on results and people?  In short; how can you harness the energies in your workforce and tap into that huge discretionary effort where initiative and potential resides?  This is the area to dabble in, and believe me, there is no step by step process to guide us towards organisational peak performance.  We will make up the steps as we go along, and those steps will be different for each of us.  If it was easy to do, then everyone would be doing it!

Place the people that you serve at the centre of your universe

We are often so focussed on what we have to do in our organisations, that we forget the needs of the people that we serve and the general community.  At worst I’ve seen customers treated inappropriately – like an interruption to someone’s ‘to-do list’!  Our customers provide us with our bread and butter and put food on our table.  Employees who don’t understand and respond to this, need not apply for vacancies in your organisation.

Take the time to check with your stakeholders (customers and workforce) on their level of expectations and the quality of your exchange in services.  Conduct surveys, quick pulse checks on service levels, check for underlying needs, are your products and services still relevant, are they changing, conduct focus groups for in-depth feedback.  There is no shortage of methods to get feedback – we need the fortitude and desire to learn about our stakeholders and to be stronger than the desire to stand still and hear meaningless superficial feedback that results in BAU.

Manage change before it manages you

Full stop. Employees need a reason to change, so give them one. Then work together to make a new future. Listen to your employees who are confirmed resistors – they usually have a different way at looking at things that we cannot afford to ignore.  Communicate with them, ask them lots of questions and overall have an open mind to their point of view. They are resisting for a reason – it’s up to us to find out what that reason is and then engage them early in the planning process. If they are still refusing to come to the party after all your efforts to engage them, then it’s time to discuss their suitability for the organisation and the other possibilities out there for them.

As with all hygiene factors, merely being on top of these things does not guarantee success – it will however form part of the ‘cost of doing business’. It’s the things that we do between the lines that brings these together to help us remain sustainable, competitive and here for the sake of our communities, the people that we serve and the sector that we support through meaningful employment.

Andrea Collett

Blogs are important, improve your ROI

Content marketing is an excellent way of explaining to people why you do what you do. One of the simplest ways to start is with a blog. A website blog has numerous benefits, it:blogging

  • helps you connect your organisation to people;
  • improves your website’s search engine optimisation and search engine ranking;
  • increases traffic to your website and keeps people coming back;
  • positions your organisation as an industry leader;
  • allows people to get to know individuals within your organisation; and
  • informs people that you are keeping up with today’s issues and the information on your website is up to date and regularly refreshed

When we design websites for clients, they often say they don’t want a blog. The usual reason for not blogging is that it takes too much time and effort, so here are a few tips to maximise your blog’s return on investment:

  • Adopt the hub and spoke model: Your blog should be at the centre of your online communications. This is where you should put all your valuable content. Then, killing multiple birds with one stone, share your blog posts via relevant social media pages. Use an enticing description, an appealing image to grab people’s attention, and a link to your blog.
  • Make sure you monitor your blog’s performance. Certain posts will outperform others. Look for trends and then target new content around these trends. Don’t waste time writing something no-one will read.
  • You don’t have to have a written blog, you can easily create podcasts on your smart phone with apps such as Anchor. Inviting external contributors to join you on a Q&A session is a great way to bring expertise to your blog, with the added benefit of increasing your blog’s reach when you get them to share the post.
  • Your blog is an RSS feed – and that is a good thing. It means you can send automated newsletters in a few steps. Yes that’s right – set it up once and then monitor the results.

Send out a weekly or monthly newsletter via an automated campaign, using an email marketing service (MailChimp, Campaign Monitor etc.) to pull the latest blog posts directly from your website and automatically email them to your contacts.

If you categorise your articles (as you should to allow easy navigation) and you have segmented your contacts, you will only send relevant articles to relevant people.

  • Blog posts don’t have to be long. There could be an extra 20 points on this list, but would you get to the end?

Adding links to your other posts helps reduce the length of an individual blog, while still providing valuable information. If you are new to content marketing or need some pointers you can read our content marketing series here.

Having a blog makes your content marketing easier not harder. So add a blog to your website today and reap the rewards. If your website is powered by a content management system like WordPress or Squarespace you can add a blog within a few clicks, or speak to your web developer. If you need help creating a content marketing plan, get in touch with our marketing consulting team via


Tom Rippon
Marketing Consultant
Phone: 1300 763 505

Free tools to make your website accessible for everyone

When thinking about accessibility, we mainly think about people with a disability being able to navigate our website. This is an important focus but providing a better user experience is important not only for users with a disability but for everyone.Accessible website

Thinking more broadly about making your website’s content accessible in multiple ways, to suit a broader audience, can help you to accommodate everyone’s needs.

Changing the page structure, thinking about terminology, improving readability, labelling images correctly, or even something as simple as making it easier for your readers to share one of your blog posts or pages are good improvements.

Your website should also work for older and younger users, non-English speaking users and people with a temporary impairment. It might sound strange, but someone with a fuzzy head from a hangover or the flu who is trying to use a site will also benefit from it being more accessible.

At Community Business Bureau, we use accessibility tools on our own website and on websites we have developed for our clients. They are free and easy to install so you don’t need a web developer in-house. With basic web management knowledge, you can do it all by yourself!  Here they are: Continue reading…

Talent Management Part 4– Measuring success

In this Talent Management series (Part one: Do you have a lack of talent?, Part two: exploring the employee journey and Part three: getting confused with definitions?) we have defined Talent SuccessManagement as a series of interconnected development activities that when executed thoughtfully, add value to the employee journey and the organisation’s brand.

As our sector continues to grapple with the VUCA environment and shrinking risk appetites from Boards and executive leaders, there has never been a more crucial time to invest in our organisations. This puts pressure on workforce leaders to provide evidence based measures of program success. Continue reading…

Thinking for Change part two – finding inspiration

Welcome to the second in our series on different ways to think about marketing. Last time we looked at a simple technique to help you find new opportunities by playing with the rulesfinding inspiration
This month it’s a short blog, with a simple message – one of the best ways to grow your marketing muscle is to develop your understanding of people.

Reading and watching widely across all of the humanities can really help to level up your marketing mind – after all, marketing is really about people and design. Understand more about how people tick and you’ll be better placed to work with marketing’s mechanics to create value for the humans you care about.

Here’s two of my favourite sources: Continue reading…

Talent Management Part 3 – Getting confused with definitions?

Are you getting confused about all the definitions that are thrown into the conversation when we manage and develop our talent?

If you answered yes, you are not alone. It can be a real turn off for operational managers to deal with ‘HR speak’ at the best of times. Being crystal clear about what we mean becomes an important part of our organisation’s underlying approach to Talent Management. Our managers and leaders are the major stakeholders and drivers of our Talent Management efforts, and so it becomes our responsibility as HR professionals to make it as easy as possible to reduce confusion and inspire engagement. It is easy to get into semantics when we are developing our terms of reference and essentially at the end of the day, it doesn’t really matter which words we use to describe what we mean. The most important thing, is that we develop a shared understanding across the whole organisation.

Here are the five key definitions that we regularly use and what I think they mean in the Talent Management context:

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Talent Management part 2: exploring the employee journey – it’s a marathon, not a sprint

Talent management: the employee journey marathon

In my last article of this Talent Management series, we concluded that Talent Management (TM) was not a stand-alone activity that can be ‘done’ to people.  It is the compounding effect of people practices, leadership and thoughtful execution. As a definition TM is having robust people and culture structures, practice and initiatives that when combined add value to the employee journey while enhancing organisational brand. Continue reading…

Takeaways from Better Boards conference 2018

The Better Boards conference 2018 was on the theme of customer-centric governance. Inevitably, as a conference for not for profit boards, there was also broader discussion about boardJane Arnott presenting at Better Boards Conference 2018  performance and behaviours. Here’s our top takeaways from Better Boards conference 2018

Customer centricity

  1. Employee experience determines customer experience: a recurring theme from conference speakers (including our own session) was that employee engagement is the pre-requisite for high quality customer experience. Unhappy, uncommitted, disengaged employees cannot deliver high quality customer interactions. This message was neatly summarised by Charles Weiser of Optus and Campbell Page “Your customer experience can never be higher than your employee experience”.

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Marketing dashboards: know your numbers or you’ll fail

“Know your numbers, or you’ll fail”

These were some words of advice I received during my first week as a marketer.

marketing dashboards on a computer screenWorking in a big business, I had a large budget to access market research and analytical tools to dissect the data. When it came to measuring marketing results, the possibilities were endless.

But what can you measure without those resources? Quite a lot! The most important thing is to choose what to measure. In this article I’ll help you get to know your numbers, by creating a simple marketing dashboard to keep track of whether your marketing strategy is working. It’s all about making your data work smarter, not harder.

Making a marketing dashboard

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