Monthly Archive for March, 2012

Why should your workplace be different?

One of the greatest things about the world that we live in is its diversity.

Diversity in business is important because…

…through different experiences, people gain different perspectives, understanding and knowledge that they can bring to your business. With no one customer being exactly the same, it makes good business sense to ensure your staff can meet the needs of diverse consumers.

The modern workplace is made up of a variety of people from different cultures, religions and backgrounds with varying degrees of abilities and, in some cases, disabilities.

What is a disability?

A disability can be anything from mental illness to a physical disability, and everything in between. Some disabilities are obvious while others are invisible.

According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, one in five Australians are reported as having a disability, with mental illness being the most prevalent. Having a disability doesn’t mean that a person isn’t productive or can’t be employed; it just means that sometimes they have to find alternative ways of going about doing things.

Employment to a person with a disability is essential as it provides them with their own money, enables them to feel valued, enhances social status and increases self-esteem. Being employed enables the person to feel a sense of identity and assists in raising their standard of living. In fact, these are same reasons everyone has a job!

Is training adaptive?

As a Registered Training Organisation (RTO), we train people with disabilities just like we would anyone else. They have a pre-training review where we assess their capacity to learn as well as determine what type of learner they are. An assessment is made as to whether they need extra support such as a translator or specific equipment to assist them in carrying out their job.

Where necessary, the training is modified to allow for differences in learning styles and abilities.

The person before the disability

Some people are uncomfortable around people with a disability. They’re scared they are going to “say the wrong thing” or may feel sorry for the person with the disability and mistakenly assume that the person is resentful about their disability.

It may be that people aren’t sure what terminology to use when referring to the person with a disability. The golden rule is always put the person before the disability and if you are still unsure about what terminology to use, just ask them!

Set a good example

Like any great leader, set a good example for your staff by being open and accepting of all staff (and customers) regardless of their size, shape, gender, similarities or differences. Not only is it the law that you can’t discriminate against people, but if you did discriminate you could potentially be missing out on creating the best possible team for your business.

Employees with disabilities are just as reliable and hardworking as employees without a disability and a person’s value as an employee should be based on their work ethic, their values being aligned with the values of your business and the ability to contribute to your team.

Yes, some people ARE different but that’s what makes our world enriching and interesting. By being open to the diversity our society has to offer means you have the chance to build and maintain a strong and powerful team, and meet some amazing people along the way.

How Takeaway Coffee Can Raise $10,000

It’s only 9 days until the Positive Training team don sneakers and shorts for the annual Run for the Kids. We have all been training hard and the team are rearing to put their toes on the starting line to raise $10,000 for the Royal Children’s Hospital.

Some years ago, when my son Matthew was an in-patient at the Royal Children’s Hospital, children’s entertainment group Hi-5 paid a visit. This visit was a welcome break for Matthew, and his twin brother Nathan, from the boredom and stresses of hospital, and since then Matthew and Nathan have met many other famous people who bring laughter and kind-heartedness into the lives of sick children.

Hi-5 showed us how donating your time can bring joy to sick children

Hi-5 showed us how donating your time can bring joy to sick children

Clowns or puppets, famous sports stars or volunteers; they all contribute to bringing children in hospital amusement and distraction. At times supplying books and toys but often just sitting and playing with the children so the parents can have a much-needed break.

Hospitals are not a pleasant place for children and can be a really stressful time for both them and their families. Some seriously ill children are confined to their beds for long periods of time and being unable to run around, go to school or even sleep in their own beds requires these little troupers to be extra tough!

When celebrities such as Hi-5, high profile sportspeople and TV stars take time out from their hectic lives to visit ill-children, it can bring a lot of fun and happiness into an otherwise scary and stressful environment.

Feeling Positive!

There has long been a proven link between happiness and health. It’s no cliché to say that laughter is the best medicine; it can strengthen the immune system, reduce pain and assist in eliminating stress. In times of intense challenges, laughter is often a saving grace. Humour is an important ingredient for children in emotional health and developing brain function, and studies are showing it could even have positive medical health benefits.

It doesn’t have to be about the money

As celebrities have proven, giving doesn’t always mean giving money. It can mean making a difference in the lives of these children and their families by donating your time. And you don’t need to be David Beckham or the Queen to put a smile on a child’s face. You can be anyone that just wants to give of yourself and your time. Famous or not, you can still bring delight to a sick child as well as respite to the parents.

Even animals get in on the act – check out the RCH Wonder Dog!

I want to help – where do I start?

To be a volunteer at the Royal Children’s Hospital, you first have to attend an information session at the hospital. The last one was held on 22 February, so keep an eye on the website for details of future sessions.

Other ways to help

The Positive Training team are committed to raising $10,000 in the Run for the Kids. These funds go towards providing vital research, equipment and assisting the families of sick children. Even if you just want to donate what you would normally spend on your takeaway coffee for the week, it will all add up and make a difference.

Donate your coffee money here!

Here are some other ways you can help the Royal Children’s Hospital:

  • Provide a link to the donation section of the hospital’s website in your email signature.
  • If you have a celebration (for example a birthday or a wedding) but don’t need any more “stuff”, you can instead have your friends and family donate to the RCH by setting up your own fundraising page.
  • You can have a Cuppa for the Kids or simply hold your own event.

All fundraising events must be registered and authorised by the RCH Foundation, so contact them to let them know what you’re doing, and they will provide you with helpful advice and support.

What’s in it for me?

Very simply – helping others will make you feel GOOD!

The Trouble With Staff

When we ask our clients what their biggest challenge is, they all reply “STAFF”.

From the time-consuming task of hiring a new staff member to the painful “we have to let you go” speech – and everything in between – here are some of the most common problems faced by modern-day businesses.

Finding the right person for the job

Hiring the right person with the right set of skills – and a great attitude to match – can be a daunting and time-consuming task, but the rewards are worth it. The consequences of hiring the wrong person however, can be extremely detrimental to your business.

Be clear about who your company is and what it stands for so you can attract the kind of people that can relate to your company’s philosophy. Clearly define the kind of person that would fit into the culture of your business, be specific about the position on offer and the values required.

With an employee costing you 3 to 5 times their wages for you to replace them when they leave, it makes sense to take your time and be clear about who would be perfect for the job. This could significantly reduce the risk of having problems at a later date.

Keeping them there

After weeks (sometimes months) of searching and interviewing for the perfect candidate, you want to make sure you retain them.

Employees actually want to develop their existing skills as well as learn new skills and expand their experience. Unfortunately, being bored is one of the top 10 reasons for resignation.

According to Dan Pink at RSA, if you don’t pay people enough, they won’t be motivated. But if you pay your staff well and they still aren’t engaging, then consider these 3 things:

  • People like to have the opportunity to work autonomously;
  • People like to be challenged and then gain satisfaction from continuing improvements;
  • People like to feel valued.

Business growth specialist, Catherine Palin-Binkworth says customer service personnel are often under-valued and under-trained so therefore they lose interest easily and move on. This brings up a key point to consider if your staff aren’t performing well: people don’t know what they don’t know.

Ensure that your staff are properly trained, feel confident in their role and then remember to show them they are respected and appreciated.

Bumps in the road

From time to time, even the most respected staff member can disappoint you.

Problems can range from tardiness to poor work performance but whatever the problem, you need to have a discussion with the employee, in private, about the issue as soon as possible.

Perhaps they have personal problems, are unwell, or you could find out that they don’t understand their role properly and as a result aren’t enjoying their job. This can lead to some really productive discussions: they may need more training or guidance, a new challenge or just some understanding while they go through a difficult time.

Remember: people are your greatest asset.

Any last requests? (Facing the firing squad)

Regrettably, sometimes it doesn’t matter how much effort you put into training or supporting a staff member, you may have to let them go. Not only does this undoubtedly cause you great emotional stress, but there are now very stringent laws in place regarding dismissing an employee that can add more pressure to an already stressful situation.

No one ever wants to be in the position where they have to fire one of their staff. So by finding the right person, retaining them via an empowering and supportive environment – as well as instantly addressing any little bumps in the road– you should be able to avoid that awkward last conversation and enjoy a long and happy working relationship.

Could Video Games Become Substitute Teachers?

Whether you’re 5 years old or 50 years old, at some point in your life you’ve probably played a video game. From good old fashioned Solitaire to reigning world champ of Guitar Hero, video games have been associated with fun, sometimes controversy but rarely with learning.

Research is now showing that video games are actually changing the face of education. With everything from Big Brain Academy on the Wii to Tetris 3D on the Nintendo DS, there’s plenty of games to choose from that will increase your brain power.

So who uses video games to educate?

Educational games are being made available for children from as young as kindergarten through to universities and businesses. Both civil and military pilots have been using flight simulators for years – the ultimate video game!

Could playing video games lead to anti-social behaviour?

One of the criticisms about using video games in a learning environment is that they will create anti-social behaviour. Video games are addictive and the more time spent playing a game, the less time is spent socialising and building relationships.

A lot of games glamorise violence and rebellious behaviour. For example, Grand Theft Auto, where the player is a criminal and must work their way up through the underworld ranks, is one of the most controversial games in history.

The good news about video games

There is good news though. Accordingly to Online Colleges, video games can develop skills such as problem solving, strategic thinking and improved cognition.

The way people learn

People learn in a variety of ways. They can be visual, aural, linguistic, kinaesthetic, logic, interpersonal or intrapersonal.

Video games use a variety of these styles to keep people engaged and interested – which is why they are now being seen as a learning tool.

“If a child is not learning the way you are teaching, then you must teach in the way the child learns” – Rita Dunn

According to the multiple intelligence theory, one of the key points to remember about teaching people is that everyone learns differently. The theory is that the traditional methods for testing intelligence, such as reading, writing and arithmetic, are in fact inaccurate because they are limited – they don’t take into account the other styles in which people learn and interpret information.

So why do we care about learning styles?

Because as a leader, you need to be familiar with your staffs’ varied learning styles. There is no “one size fits all”. If a member of your team doesn’t understand the manual you gave them, it doesn’t mean they wouldn’t understand the instructions if you gave them a demonstration instead. Or perhaps they need to perform the required action hands-on under your guidance.

Things video games have taught us about training our staff

  • Make learning fun.
  • Use a variety of teaching methods – such as visual, aural and hands-on.
  • Repetition assists in the retention of information.
  • People like to be “measured” – they like to know they are improving.

Video games are designed to be just tricky enough to be truly challenging, while still allowing the players to achieve small accomplishments which compels them to keep playing. Whilst there is no substitute for a guiding and supportive teacher, video games are a reminder to engage your employees and allow them to not only continue to grow their skills, but to have fun doing it.

The AFL Guide to Superstar Leadership

He’s a sporting phenomenon and there’s very little that Lance “Buddy” Franklin hasn’t achieved on the footy field. A superstar and role model at 25 years of age, Buddy has become one of the AFL’s, and Hawthorn’s, leading men on the field.

With the footy pre-season underway, and Round 1 starting on 24 March, footy fever is again gripping the nation. And Positive Training has jumped on the AFL bandwagon as the proud Platinum Sponsor of Buddy Franklin!

Buddy’s Basics

Buddy’s AFL debut was in 2005 and by the end of the 2011 season, he had played 142 games and kicked 451 goals. Buddy shares the number 23 Guernsey with other legends of Hawthorn (and Hall of Famers): Don Scott, Dermott Brereton and John Peck.

He has won multiple AFL Awards including the All-Australian (2008), Coleman Medal (2008 & 2011), Best and Fairest (2008 & 2009) as well as being Hawthorn’s consistent leading goalkicker AND helping the Hawks win the 2008 premiership. Not only that, but Buddy was the first Aboriginal player to kick 100 goals. With stats like these, Positive Training couldn’t help but sponsor such an inspiring and positive player!

23 reasons to look up to Buddy

A physical anomaly at 196cm and weighing in at 100kg, Buddy strikes an impressive figure while still managing to remain extraordinarily athletic and agile. As an AFL player, Buddy requires extensive training, extreme discipline, attention to detail and solid single-mindedness. Knowing the team’s game plan, and his role in the team, is essential to remaining motivated and focused.

Recognise these qualities? These are all the attributes of a great business leader. To be the best in any business, whether it’s AFL or the retail food industry, you need to remain flexible, adaptable, dedicated and determined.

And while Buddy remains one of the top players in the AFL, he also manages to be a role model to young players. From having a kick with the kids from the Special Olympian junior athletes to supporting the community through football development initiatives, Buddy is an inspirational and positive leader.

Don’t kick the ball to Buddy

As Alastair Clarkson pointed out on FOX FOOTY’S On The Couch, the team has to stop repeatedly kicking the ball to Buddy. While Clarkson’s reasons may not appear, at first glance, to tie in with retail training and customer service, it makes a really great point – there’s no “i” in “team”.

Your business is not unlike a great game of footy: you need to think of it as an entire team effort. You must have a game plan that both you and your staff understand, and all be working towards the same objective. You can’t rely on any one person to get the ball across the line.

Remember - it’s a team effort!

Hawthorn’s guide to customer service

Do your staff share the same vision as you? Do they look after your customers with the same sincerity and enthusiasm as you? Are you all working towards a premiership together, or do your employees just go through the motions without any real conviction?

As their employer, like a coach, your job is to map out the game plan, get everyone motivated and build a competitive spirit.

And, of course, Buddy would never head out to a game without some solid training up his sleeve!

Buddy kicking his 100th goal – remember to celebrate and encourage your staff members’ achievements.

Watch Hawthorn take on Melbourne on Saturday, 10 March at Etihad Stadium (5.40pm).