Engaged teams drive profit and fun: AltusQ

IF YOU suspect most of your business and team meetings are a waste of time and ‘those same conversations’ do not drive better performance – you are right. This is conclusive in long-term research by business coaching and leadership group AltusQ’s EngagementCapability survey.

“Over the past three years, over 3000 businesses have responded to our Engagement Capability survey and told us exactly that,” AltusQ director and coach, Chris Pezzimenti said. 

“Think about it. Businesses amass their most experienced, talented, expensive people and sit them around to talk about what? The P&L? Sales reports? Cutting costs?

“Throw in gossip, healthy doses of deflection, delaying tactics and blame, and there’s your typical management meeting.”

Mr Pezzimenti said a series of questions he often asked business leaders highlighted how rarely management teams considered fundamental issues:

“What is it we’re really trying to achieve beyond making money?”

“What do we need to measure to know we’re achieving ‘it’?”

“What behaviours are non-negotiable in our quest?”

“What’s blocking us from getting ‘there’?”

Mr Pezzimenti said most business leaders recognise that a good deal of management meeting time is taken up with anything but such core questions.

“Which is not to say there aren’t other important topics, just not as important as these,” he said.

“Every bit of research on the topic of Employee Engagement, including our own, points to the fact that Australians are largely disengaged at work with very few ‘true believers’. That means that the search for better business performance will not be found in the same conversations you’ve always had.

“Businesses with high levels of engagement outperform all others on every commercial metric. The most common traits of these businesses were having a clear sense of purpose, meaningful KPIs (key performance indicators) and a culture that is alive and well-managed.”

Mr Pezzimenti said finding meaning beyond the profit motive “is called Purpose”.

“It’s not Vision or Mission. It’s Purpose,” he said. “It is the singularly most important foundation your business can be built upon. That is, ‘Why are we here doing what we’re doing?’ ‘What do we believe in?’ It’s what drives you. It’s what attracts like-minded people. It’s the story you tell.”

Mr Pezzimenti said developing such a set of meaningful KPIs “is really not as shocking as you might think”.

“The biggest sleeper issue in this regard is what often drives disengagement,” Mr Pezzimenti said. “That is, too many employees are unclear of how they will be measured and rewarded.

“Tip: employees are much less scared of the KPI conversation than what their managers are.”

Mr Pezzimenti  said the last of the three winning strategies AltusQ emphasises is developing a culture that defines behaviour and is easy to manage.

“First things first; your culture cannot be expressed as one-word values that run to a list of typically five,” he said.

“They mean different things to different people. Spend the time and effort to truly explore what values and behaviours need to be alive in your business and what rituals and practices will bring them alive.

“Storytelling, the language you instil and your visual identity all contribute to the ‘way things get done around here’.”

Mr Pezzimenti advised business leaders to regularly ask those five questions and change not only the focus of meetings, but also their real value.

* AltusQ is an Industry Expert member of Victorian Leaders, the organisation helping to mentor and develop the next generation of leading businesses based in Victoria.


Future Leaders series launched by Victorian Leaders

FOLLOWING the successful launch of the Victorian Leaders program in late 2014, the organisation is accelerating its series to assist company founders of early-stage businesses: Future Leaders.

The Future Leaders Series is an eagerly anticipated adjunct to Victorian Leaders. 

“Companies selected for Future Leaders are earlier stage, have existing revenues, and are building a market leading brand, technology or skill base,” Victorian Leaders chief executive Robert Ford said.

“Each selected member participates in the Future Leaders Series, which provides the insights and skills to ensure the foundations of their businesses are sound, while developing the strategies and resources required to progress their opportunity.”

He said Victorian Leaders plans to select up to 16 leading company founders each year to become Future Leaders members. The program has been credited with accelerating the successful development of companies like RTO Management Group, Next Consulting and The Thinking Corporation when launched in Queensland.

 “The focus of the Future Leaders Series will include topics and themes surrounding leadership, management, corporate structure, culture and a variety of technical aspects that future leaders need to plan and build for future success.”

The Future Leaders initiative is operated in conjunction with Victorian Leaders’ Industry Experts and Industry Partners to provide a broad range of skills, knowledge and networks.

The Future Leaders Series operates a rolling 12 month program, with companies able to commence at quarterly intervals. This is followed by further access for two years to the Leaders Resource Centre.

“I encourage business leaders who are looking for that special additional guidance, links, and strategic financial planning to consider a Future Leaders membership with Victorian Leaders,” Mr Ford said.

Future Leaders Series eligibility requirements and nomination form is available online.



Victorian Leaders: creating the next generation of business champions

SOME of Victoria’s brightest business minds gathered to launch a unique business development organisation – Victorian Leaders – at Kooyong Lawn Tennis Club on September 18.

Kooyong, the scene of many a titanic on-court battle among the world’s best, was an iconic and inspirational venue for this gathering of talented Victorian business people, many of whom are anticipated to also challenge the world’s best in their particular fields.

Victorian Leaders is a unique collaborative business mentoring and capability-building group, based on a highly-successful Queensland program, but with its own character and priorities. 

According to Victorian Leaders CEO, Robert Ford, the program has all resources and networks of the Queensland Leaders group, available to members and supporters, but it is being developed organically to suit the unique characteristics, structures and “personality” of Victorian business.

“Victorian Leaders focuses on developing the next generation of Victoria’s leading companies,” Mr Ford said. “It achieves this through the provision of knowledge, networks and capital to 25 of Melbourne’s leading private companies.”

Mr Ford became a Queensland Leaders Expert Member for banking and finance while in the role of state manager of a leading bank. He immediately saw the value of being involved in this unique mentoring environment and found it also positively impacted his own career and business outlook.

“The question I found myself asking these up-and-coming business leaders all the time was, ‘How can I help’?” Mr Ford said. “I saw that it was not about being there as a bank, it was about being there as part of a support team – I saw some great outcomes and realised the power of this business building environment.

“That is why I pressed International Leaders to help me to bring it to Victoria – my home state – and where I really feel we can make a positive difference, particularly in these very challenging times for business.”

Victorian Leaders is developing its own mix of mentoring and advice sessions, instructional workshops, networking events and social events that help to create a unique collaborative business environment. The inaugural knowledge sessions at Kooyong focused on human resource engagement, creating business value and sales effectiveness.  

“It is about very successful businesses – and the very people who made them successful -- helping up-and-coming Victorian businesses to reach their potential,” Mr Ford said. “I saw some amazing outcomes as this developed in Queensland, where certain very bright people, running businesses that may have traditionally been seen as competing in some ways, collaborated to develop better outcomes for everybody concerned.

“I guess it’s an example of all boats being lifted up on a rising tide,” he said. “Many great friendships – not just business relationships – are sure to emerge from Victorian Leaders, just as I saw happen in Queensland.”

Mr Ford said the Victorian Leaders network provides members with access to key industry, government and business leaders, increases management skills and connectivity – including life skills – and harnesses the strength and resources of Victoria’s business leaders.

“Private business owners, founders and CEOs are often too busy to take time away from their business and seek guidance and advice from those outside their traditional trusted sources,” Mr Ford said.

“Business leaders today owe it to themselves and their stakeholders to get off the dance floor and get up on the balcony. Too many of our leaders don’t know what they don’t know, and are unaware that there are options, alternatives and innovation which they can access to help their business grow and improve.”


The key to success in Queensland has been the unique collaborative environment of larger companies and more experienced business leaders mentoring and encouraging the member companies’ leaders. One of that program’s first members was Jamie Pherous, CEO of Corporate Travel Management (CTM), which was guided and encouraged to IPO by Queensland Leaders.

CTM is now the most technically-advanced and awarded corporate travel company in Australia and has also been expanding internationally through acquisition for several years. CTM has stayed with Queensland Leaders as an Industry Partner and last year Mr Pherous joined the Advisory Board. The International Leaders organisation has recently been developed, incorporating the Queensland Leaders, Victorian Leaders and the soon-to-be-launched NSW Leaders and New Zealand Leaders groups.

Mr Ford said Victorian Leaders was developing its own personality, using the foundations of International Leaders. Melbourne’s strong team sports heritage was already playing a role.

“Melbourne has such a great sporting feel about it and I cannot help but think that this element is already adding a unique aspect to Victorian Leaders,” he said. “It could also partly be the influence of our advisory board chairman, John Buchanan, who is probably best known as the most successful coach of the Australian Cricket Team in recent memory.

“He is passionate about business and studies how the same drive that great sportspeople exhibit is similar to that of great business leaders. John is an inspirational business leader in his own right these days and his energy is already helping to make the Victorian Leaders program something very special.”

Mr Ford said Victorian Leaders was essentially a structured professional development and networking series. A once-off membership fee covers the 12 month Executive Series and then a further two year involvement through the Alumni Series.

“The preferred member profile includes companies which have, or are building, a market leading brand, technology or skill base; are seeking growth opportunities for national or international expansion; are in wealth creation mode or seeking growth opportunities; or for companies whose executives are seeking networks to evolve their business and are open to new ideas, information and thinking,” Mr Ford said.

“As we have said from day one as we formed Victorian Leaders, great business is a team sport. I guess you could use the analogy that we are helping to develop business champions here … who will lead and develop champion teams.”


Bank of Melbourne first to launch biometric technology in mobile banking

BANK of Melbourne – an innovative full-service bank that has joined the Victorian Leaders business development organisation as an Industry Partner – has taken a lead in secure mobile banking in Australia that will assist business.

It has launched new technology that allows customers to securely logon to mobile banking on their iPhone 5S, iPhone 6, or iPhone 6 Plus, by using the fingerprint sensor, known as Touch ID. 

The new technology will add further security and convenience for the increasing number of customers banking on their smartphones, according to Bank of Melbourne, and follows St George Banking Group’s announcement last month that it would be the first bank in the world to utilise the Touch ID technology for mobile banking.

Bank of Melbourne chief executive Scott Tanner said existing technology from fingerprint enabled-phones was used to build enhanced capability that allows customers to securely log on to mobile banking.

“An increasing number of our customers are doing their banking on mobile devices – that’s why the launch of Touch ID for mobile banking is such an important innovation for the industry,” Mr Tanner said.

“As far as we know, we’re the first bank to offer fingerprint logon to mobile banking.

“We’re excited to be at the forefront of innovation, providing quicker and easier ways for our customers to check their balance, transfer funds, and complete other transactions. We are building the bank of the future, today.”

The finger-sensor technology will be one option for customers to log on to mobile banking. The home screen of the Bank of Melbourne mobile banking app will have an option to securely use Touch ID or enter other security credentials, such as a security code or access number and password. 

The availability of Touch ID technology for mobile banking coincides with the release of Apple’s iOS8 operating platform last week, with customers now able to download the updated version of the Bank of Melbourne mobile banking app.

The fingerprint logon for mobile banking capability will also be extended to the Android-based Samsung Galaxy S5 in the coming months.


Maddocks is a Vic. Leaders Industry Expert

NATIONAL law firm Maddocks partner David Newman said the firm was proud to announce its role as a key Industry Expert in the Victorian Leaders initiative.

Victorian Leaders, which represents and fosters Victoria’s top business professionals from a broad range of professional disciplines, launched with its first event at Kooyong Tennis Centre on to commence on September 18.

Mr Newman said Victorian Leaders would assist the state’s leading private companies achieve sustainable growth, manage succession planning and evaluate entry and exit strategies for their businesses. They do this through the co-sharing of experience and leadership from Victorian Leaders Industry Partners, in conjunction with the knowledge and expertise of its Industry Experts.

“We have aligned ourselves with the Victorian Leaders Industry Experts initiative because of our mutual commitment to help growing companies and the Victorian economy by providing valuable ideas and tools that support its members,” Mr Newman said.

“By participating as an Industry Expert in the legal field, we have the opportunity to coach, mentor and network with its members, and hopefully along the way help them realise their potential to achieve their business goals,” Mr Newman said.

Maddocks was attracted to Victorian Leaders because of the way it operates a range of initiatives designed to benefit companies at different stages of growth including an Executive, Alumni, Founders, Future Leaders and Regional series.

“The individual initiatives are also tailored based on the specific outcome required,” Mr Newman said.

Other industry experts include the Victorian Government, RSM Bird Cameron, Altus Q, Australian Institute of Management, Traffica, Scottish Pacific and brand strategists DAIS. Industry Partners include the Bank of Melbourne, Business Acumen magazine, Corporate Travel Management and Levantine Hill.

Mr Newman said he felt Maddocks could assist the companies and business leaders involved with Victorian Leaders on their journeys, utilising the experience its legal teams have gained from providing premium legal services to corporations, businesses and governments throughout Australia and internationally.

“We advise across a diverse range of industry sectors, delivering advice from our Sydney, Melbourne and Canberra offices,” Mr Newman said.

“Our customised service is based on a deep understanding of our clients' legal requirements in the context of their business objectives.”



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