Sam Walsh, CEO, Wants More Women At Rio Tinto

By Maree Harris, Ph.D. | Jul 9, 2015 |

Rio Tinto is a leading global mining group with a 60,000 strong workforce across 40 countries. 82% of its workforce is male. Sam Walsh, the CEO, wants to change that. In an article in The Australian Financial Review (3/7/15) he says he wants to boost women’s ranks in his organisation. The reason this hasn’t happened to date he places firmly in the court of women themselves.

I want to come back to Sam Walsh with a question. How female friendly is his organisation where 82% of its workforce is male? Has he and Rio Tinto looked internally at what might be stopping women from taking on bigger roles within the organisation? What kind of support would there be for women in such an organisation? Would they have to be women acting like men? Is the culture of Rio Tinto very masculine? Does it enhance the pathways and opportunities for men with gold and those for women with great rocks over which they have to scramble, bruising and bleeding on the way?

Read More

Developing Internal Consultants in Our Organisations.

By Maree Harris, Ph.D. | May 18, 2015 |

We all know what consultants are. They come into organisations to provide advice and information on a wide range of issues affecting the growth and development of the organisation. Sometimes they are then engaged to also act on that information and affect the change that the consultation has recommended.

But what are “internal consultants” you may well be asking?

These are the people who work in your organisation who have either accumulated or are currently developing experience and/or expertise in areas that impact the growth and development of the organisation.

Often this experience and expertise is not recognised at the top and its value to the organisation is not obvious. It often becomes obvious when particular people resign or retire, taking that invisible expertise with them. What was taken for granted is then sorely missed.

There may not be a forum in the organisation for the expertise of your “internal consultants” to be shared or be made known. CEOs are far more ready to put out large sums of money to bring in “external consultants” to advise on issues and make recommendations when there is often a wealth of expertise within the organisation that has not been drawn upon.

One of the best ways of engaging people in the organisation is to use them as “internal consultants”. It’s a way to value their opinions and ideas and to let them know that you want to meet their needs and aspirations, and to let them know they can make a difference to the organisation.

Read More

Your VIPs, Your Middle Managers

By Maree Harris, Ph.D. | May 17, 2015 |

We don’t often hear middle managers called VIPs. If you stop and think about it, however, that’s just what they are. They are the people who can make or break an organisation.

They are the people who implement the vision of the organisation and who motivate and inspire their teams to work with them to make it happen. They build culture. They determine how engaged employees are in the organisation, how much discretionary effort they are willing to put in.

If we know this, then why is so little attention paid to their professional development.

You would have heard that comment by one senior executive discussing the value of investing in them:
But, what if we train them and they leave? Then the reply by another: Yes, but what if we don’t and they stay?

Too many organisations take the risk of not training them. The managers stay, because they are where they want to be, but the talented people under them leave.

Read More

Motivate Employees For High Performance

By Maree Harris, Ph.D. | May 4, 2015 |

44% of managers do not know what motivates their employees,


70% of employee engagement is determined by employees’ managers.

So what does this all mean? It means that managers do not know their employees very well and therefore cannot bring out the best in them.

The performance of your people either makes or breaks an organisation and having those skills to motivate employees for high performance, to get them to work WITH you not just FOR you and to give you 150% will position you as a highly sought after manager. The skills you need to be able to do this are the soft leadership skills. Many managers do not feel comfortable with this soft side of management and they certainly haven’t been “trained” in them.. Yet these are the skills that are now being recognised as an essential complement to your technical and industry specific skills.

If this is you, if this is happening in your organisation, you need to come to my workshop in Melbourne on Tuesday, 23rd June, 2015.

Read More

Make Soft Leadership Skills Workshops Work For You.

By Maree Harris, Ph.D. | May 3, 2015 |

Why would people register for a Time Management workshop and then arrive late for it? You may say the answer is obvious – they need some time management skills. But then, you wouldn’t think they would want to make it so blatantly obvious to their participating professional peer group that they are so lacking.

Or what about the up and coming leader who phones me telling me he wants to enhance his networking skills and is coming to my workshop on Growing Your Career Through Networking. He enters the room where everyone is having pre-workshop coffee and stands by himself against the far wall. I go and get him and bring him across and introduce him to people. He shakes their hands but doesn’t contribute to the conversation. At morning tea, he gets his coffee and slice and goes and sits back at his table by himself.

So What Is Happening Here?

There is certainly a big disconnect.

There is a Zen saying: To know and not to do is not yet to know.

Read More

Kaileigh Fryer – A Gen Y Story To Inspire and Motivate Us.

By Maree Harris, Ph.D. | Apr 23, 2015 |

How often do we critique Gen Y for not being more like we are – we being the Baby Boomers? How often do we hold the critique inside us, but fear the direction they are taking their lives? How often do we have those deep and meaningful, all well-intended, conversations with our friends about their decision-making?

Lots of times. And in my professional development workshops, concerns about the attitudes, behaviour and mindsets of Gen Y are a constant source of discussion and comment with leaders and managers – again usually Baby Boomers.

How little faith we have in these young people we have created? How little ability we have to get out of our own way and see them through their eyes, see what motivates and inspires them? How easily we have forgotten what it was like to be their age? And why do we find it so difficult to understand that the world that we grew up in is not the world they are living in?

Out there are hundreds of Gen Ys doing amazing and inspiring things. Kaileigh Fryer was one of those.

Read More

Manage Your Energy, Your Time Will Take Care of Itself

By Maree Harris, Ph.D. | Apr 16, 2015 |

Your are living in a 24/7 hyper-connected, high pressure and stressful world. It’s going faster every year. You produce more information now in a week than you once did in a year. You have tens of thousands of thoughts bombarding your mind every day.

You carry in your pocket what you call your phone, but it’s really your 24/7 office that sees you accessible every moment of the day and night. This tiny office has more computing power than the spaceship that put a man on the moon.

The noise of this hyper-linked reality of technological connection, interaction and availability bombards you with ideas and choices and has the potential to lead to overload and loss of productivity and efficiency when, in fact, it was supposed to do the opposite.

How do you live and work productively and creatively in that reality? How do you manage the chaos?

You manage your energy and that super-charges you to manage everything else.

Read More

The "Who To" of the Hand-written Note.

By Maree Harris, Ph.D. | Mar 20, 2015 |

Hand-written notes need to be written immediately after the experience or event about which you are writing – within hours, or the next day or as soon as you hear or become aware.

Write a thank you note to the person who interviewed you for the position you just applied for.
Thank the business that provided excellent customer service to you; especially mention any staff member in person who was very helpful.
Thank the journalist who wrote a story about you.
Follow up with the new contact you made at the networking event, saying how valuable, or important or relevant or stimulating the discussion you had was.
Send them something that was relevant to the discussion – something further about your business, or an article or report, a book, CD or DVD.
Offer to make an introduction for them to a contact that may be able to help them.
Invite them to accompany you to an event which could be valuable for them to attend.
Congratulate a colleague who won an award, got a promotion or a new job, is elected to a key position in a community organisation or achieved any other success at something.
Congratulate an organisation that won a big contract.
Always thank the people who do business with you for giving you that opportunity.

Read More

The Power of the Hand-written Note

By Maree Harris, Ph.D. | Mar 18, 2015 |

It is because so few people write hand-written notes today that they have such impact. In fact, very few people send anything today in hard copy – letter, note or card. Many people don’t even have a postal address on their business card anymore. Can you even remember when you last received a hand-written note?

If you do, however, collect mail from your letterbox, what letter do you open first? Do you open the one with the window, or the obvious advertising mail, or the formally typed addressed one, or the one with the hand-writing on the envelope? Yes, you open the one with the hand-written address. Why? Because you just assume it will be a personal message to you. It will be from someone who cares about you enough to sit down and personally write to you rather than send an impersonal digital message by email or a text message. It will probably say something to you that will add some value and meaning to your day.

That’s why had-written messages make a difference. They have impact value. As the writer of the note, you will be remembered.

It takes time to find some note paper or a card, sit down and write and then go and post it. It costs more to write and send a hand-written note. This is what makes it so important to the person to whom you write – that you took time out of your busy day and placed this much importance on them.

Read More

7 Ways To Become the Resilient Professional

By Maree Harris, Ph.D. | Feb 18, 2015 |

We are living in turbulent times, characterised by uncertainty, complexity, ambiguity, paradox and unpredictability. These are the norms. We all need a way to move with it and through it. That way is called “Resilience”.

It is needed by all of us who live and work in this world where disruption is a frequent interloper. But, how do we become the resilient professional able to develop that inner psychological strength that will see us able to ride any wave and bounce back from any adversity.

Highly motivated professionals know they need to keep themselves physically fit if they are to stay on top of their game and work at the cutting edge. Many go to the gym to do this. Developing resilience is mind or brain gym, keeping ourselves mentally fit by exercising, strengthening and stretching it until it can withstand almost anything.

Resilience does not begin with Strategies. It begins with YOU. To be resilient you need to make changes in yourself.

Read More