How does consulting work?
Consultants deliver on this mission through analysing organisational problem, developing plans for improvement, and sometimes supporting the implementation of those plans. The benefits of using consultants including gaining external, objective advice and access to the consultants’ specialised expertise. Consultants work across a range of industries and organisations, and can bring ‘best practices’ and experience from other organisations with them, along with their qualifications and business capabilities.
There is an old joke that a consultant ‘borrows your watch to tell you the time’. The humour points to the fact that organisations often have the seeds of an answer to their problems within them. A good consultant, should be expert at extracting this information. But it doesn’t end there. With the right information and great analysis, transformation is possible, and this is the vital change of a consultancy assignment – making a difference.
Consulting and Organisational Change
One of the classic models of organisational change comes from Lewin - the 'Unfreeze, Change, Refreeze' model. While sometimes criticised as being simplistic (yes … it has to be, it's only three words!), it captures the essence of change, and consulting is often focussed on change of one sort or another. No organisation is every entirely static in nature, so the 'refreeze' phase realistically is a matter of setting up the new with enough inbuilt mechanisms to ensure that the solution has the best possible likelihood of meeting the brief. This includes monitoring, adjusting and supporting as needed.
The consultant can also bridge that gap between external and internal. External capability and knowledge applied to internal issues, an external party working inside the organisation, helping it optimise its structures and systems, and ultimately better achieve its goals.
Consultancy 'gigs' often have a sense of 'mission accomplished' about them. At the end, we know we've achieved what we set out to do. Your organisation, business, leaders and teams are the better for it. Thanks for inviting us in!
Do you think your business is too small for HR, or don't know what you can or should do to be legally compliant and operationally effective? Outsourcing some or all of your HR makes business sense.
Essential HR Services
Outsourcing your HR can be a very affordable alternative to having HR specialists as full-time staff.
Atwork can provide independent, expert services at a fraction of the cost of a full time senior HR staff member. We can help you assess your 'current state' and 'future needs', (or even current needs that aren't being met), and design a strategy to move forward, combining your own resources with our expertise. We’ll work on immediate HR needs and/or help create a HR Plan for rollout by your team with our support as needed.
If you’re a larger organisation that needs help with structure, strategy, team performance or leadership coaching and development, we can assist with specialist expertise.
‘Your HR Manager’
If your business is in the range of 20-60 staff, you almost certainly need a HR manager, but it's possible you can’t justify the expense of employing one. Atwork has years of experience in providing this service on an outsourced basis, and we have the team to deliver at senior HR levels and right across the range of HR services. Peace of mind, knowing you've got the issues covered, and knowing you're doing all you can to build the best performance across your team is what comes with using this service. And it is cost-effective.
Recruiting a new staff member is just the start. The next step is not just to show them where the facilities are and plonk them down at a desk. To ensure new team members are enabled to contribute as quickly as possible, a great onboarding system is essential, starting with, but not finishing with, and induction program. We’ll help you build a system that you deliver yourself in your own workplace.
Policy and procedures, and more.
We have the experience to know what essential policies any organisation should have in place to ensure that it is compliant with legislation, and that it's doing everything right to enable and encourage great performance and prevent problems.
HR Auditing & Systems
To succeed today, organisations need good, legally compliant HR systems in place. These help you attract and retain the right staff, and get them performing at their best. HR systems should be regularly reviewed and optimised.
We can provide a comprehensive audit of all your HR Systems, looking at legal compliance and best practice. We can advise on whether essential Policies and Procedures are in place to meet legislative requirements and best practice. Atwork can also develop and implement new HR systems, including:
- Compliance and training in areas such as Equal Opportunity, Bullying & Harassment prevention, and OH&S.
- Workforce Planning & Job Design.
- Recruitment Systems – are you getting it right or do you have costly terminations and rehires?
- Performance Management & Appraisal Systems including online systems.
- HR policies and procedures review/development
- Training & Development.
- Employment Relations, IR - contract documentation, awards and agreements.
Producing High Performance
Aside from our regular HR services, which by nature are more operational, we're here to help you with excellent consultancy services designed to get your organisation and your people performing to their potential.
Strategy is about a vision for your business and how it will succeed, and then about aligning all of your people and systems to your vision.
Check out our information on a Strategic Planning Process.
Check out our reference to High Performance Organisations.
Work with us to get it all in place.
Internal Surveys – Satisfaction and Performance
Organisational Climate – a typical climate survey ranges across areas such as Planning & Decision-Making, Job Satisfaction, Teamwork/Sharing, Recognition, Skills & Training, Trust, Management. Check out the Atwork Climate Survey.
Assessing Leadership Performance
Performance evaluation is tricky enough at any level of your organisation, but how to assess the performance of the person or teams at the top?
Boards can find it difficult to objectively and comprehensively assess the performance of a CEO, and the same can apply to CEOs or senior executives assessing their key managers. Key performance measures are important, but the board is not in touch with day to day operations, and is often distanced even from the people the CEO interacts with every day.
Sometimes more is needed – in the case of a Chief Executive or GM, a full view of that leader’s performance as seen by not only board members or CEO, but also staff reporting to the individual, and external peers or stakeholders. The same can apply for leaders at the next levels and further down in larger organisations. One solution to this is to use a 360 degree approach.
We are increasingly sought after to provide 360° review processes for senior leaders, executives and managers.
A 360° process incorporates response information from “all around” the individual manager involved. In doing so, they bring a fantastic level of objectivity, which is often otherwise hard to guarantee. We bring a range of tools and options to this process, including:
- A 360 tool based on assessing Emotional Intelligence - the EQi 2.0
- A 360 tool based on assessing Transformational Leadership - the MLQ.
- Designing a fully customised 360 based on existing measures such as organisational values, KPIs and objectives
Measuring and improving Climate - The Atwork Climate Survey
A structured survey conducted by a skilled external consultant is the most accurate and cost-effective way of analysing the “climate” of your workplace. Using an external provider gives confidentiality for staff, and that's often essential to ensure you get real information rather than what staff might think their leaders want to hear.
- The behaviour, attitudes and feelings that characterise life in your organisation
- Prevailing, average and long term patterns - hence the 'weather' metaphor.
A structured survey conducted by a skilled external consultant is the most accurate and cost-effective way of analysing the “climate” of your workplace. Using an external provider gives confidentiality for staff, critical to ensure you get real information rather than what staff might think their leaders want to hear.
The Atwork Climate Survey was originally developed for a key client in 2007, and others have since taken it on to gain insights from staff through a structured online survey that produces a useful report capturing the key indicators of climate.
Information is collected from a sample or right across the organisation. Participation rate is typically 80 to 90% of invitees.
The Atwork Climate Survey enables us to:
- benchmark your organisational climate
- assess across key categories, and on individual items
- gather qualitative feedback for more detailed information
- assess particular aspects such as service, branding and related issues in the customisable section of the survey
The Atwork survey measures climate across:
- Team Leadership & Performance
- Departmental/Divisional Performance
- Organisational Leadership, Management and Change
- Fair and Reasonable Treatment
- Learning & Development
- Performance Management
- Remuneration & Benefits
- Engagement & Retention measures
What you do after the survey is critical. We would usually include in our agreement with you, helping you develop a strategy and implementation plan. We can also assist with implementation – your improvement process – and retesting.
You WILL have positive outcomes through this process.
How awesome is your workplace? Many of us have experienced the bad, the good, and occasionally the great. But what makes a truly awesome workplace? For a high-performance workplace, expected to find:
- A positive work environment
- Great teamwork
- Satisfaction with managers by team members and executive
- Career and development opportunities
- Empowerment and delegation
- Good communication
- Inspiring top management
- Reliable HR practices and processes
- Rewarding remuneration and benefits all producing that elusive engagement
If the results of an assessment demonstrate things are not where you want them to be, we will help you turn it around. Contact us for an assessment first to get everything moving in the right direction.
We can also provide you with our surveys for identifying:
- Employee commitment – to identify the issues that will cause your employees to stay or leave, since the factors that determine commitment vary from one organisation to another.
- Topic-specific surveys - we design it for you and implement through a robust online platform. Anyone can design 'a survey' but not everyone has the training, qualifications and experience to ensure that it's testing what was meant to be tested, and that the results are valid and reliable. We do.
Developing High-Performing Teams
Teams potentially bring huge benefits to organisations, but it doesn’t always happen that way. Sometimes a team needs a review and reset, sometimes a major rebuild, and sometimes just an opportunity to get together in a facilitated framework and rebuild themselves.
The use of teams from the senior executive level to production and service operations is now standard practice in most workplaces.
Teams potentially bring huge benefits to organisations, but it doesn’t always happen that way. We’ve all seen how allowing under-performance in team behaviour and outputs can impact badly on the bottom line.
Review and optimise
We can review your teams for performance and satisfaction. We can optimise team performance and team leadership, including effective teamwork between teams.
This can be through a targeted team development program or other approaches. One of our recent programs, Built to Last, for a client’s Technology managers, had additional benefits in the area of team development. Through working together on enhancing the strategic value of their products and services, the team 'just happened to' improve their teamwork, demonstrating that there are many ways to enhance team performance while meeting other key goals.
TMS (Team Management Systems)
Our director and principal consultant Paul Murphy is accredited in several instruments specifically related to leading teams. These include - from Australia's Team Management Systems:
- Team Management Profile® (TMP)
- Linking Skills Profile® (LSP)
The Team Management Profile (TMP)
We’ve now worked with over 350 people using the TMP system, and we’ve only done so because it’s so effective and impactful, and because our clients agree.
While we work with many profiles including DiSC and others, we’re yet to find a person who has not found their TMP accurate and revealing.
The TMP is a workplace-based personality profile assessment that characterises a person’s management and teamwork style, based on their personality preferences. It outlines how this plays out at work for the individual and the team, bringing together personality preferences and work preferences.
The TMP was developed in Australia and is now used successfully worldwide. We think it’s pretty much an essential resource for any team leader or manager, as it gives people amazing insights into improving their own style and maximising their effectiveness in working with others.
It's especially relevant for teams and leaders involved in project work, and we'd be happy to outline how for you.
The Linking Skills Profile (LSP)
For team managers and leaders shows how well a person uses ‘linking skills’ to enhance team performance. Linking skills are relevant for all team members, but vital for team leaders, managers, and organisational leaders. The LSP is a 360° review tool that provides the basis for a structured development program that can be particularly helpful for new team leaders and managers, as well as any manager without any prior structured management training.
Whether you want to trial these or any of our other great tools for individuals or teams at work, or just know you need to get a team functioning at a higher level, get in touch for details.
Issues at Work - investigations, bullying & harassment complaints, mediations
While we're all about high performance and satisfaction, it’s only realistic to know that things are not always perfect in the world of work. When issues, complaints and disputes occur, or if an incident requires investigation, do not hold off on acting. Problems avoided hardly ever just go away! On the contrary, they fester, and get more costly to address the longer they sit there. Addressing “people issues” within today’s legislative minefield is full of challenges, and requires careful attention to IR issues as well as people systems. Atwork provides solutions including management advice, mediation support, IR support, and strategies/training in the prevention of bullying and harassment.
Issues Negotiation & Management
We have experience in working effectively with discussions involving employers, unions and employee groups, and this can be of great value in developing good outcomes that have support from a range of levels.
This sort of "buy-in" can be the difference between a positive and negative outcome in issues management.
Mediation and Issues Management
Conflicts can occur in any area of life, and the workplace is no exception.
Conflict can be a productive or creative force, though when conflict becomes personalised it is more often negative and/or destructive.
Whilst inhouse preventative actions and early intervention are the best solution, sometimes external support is helpful, particularly if matters have reached a point where the parties cannot see a way forward or a dispute has become personalised to high levels.
Resolutions often need to include some structure along with guidelines for what the parties will jointly and individually recognise as acceptable boundaries, communication standards, and behaviours.
We can assist in this challenging but vital area, in facilitating workable solutions that are actively supported by all parties.
Bullying & Harassment Prevention & Management Support
Particularly in the context of the Occupational Health and Safety Act, it is vital to know that you are doing everything you can to minimise and prevent Bullying & Harassment, and to effectively deal with these issues when they arise.
We help you address conflict, bullying and harassment issues with training, support and advice on policy development.
Investigations and Reporting
We provide professional confidential investigation services where these are needed.
Handled with care, a well-conducted investigation process can be the first step in resolution if issues have escalated to this level.
They can be also essential components of your legislative or policy requirements. Highly important to use a professional and get it right.
Under the Act, employers now are compelled to consult with employees on matters of health and safety, including this area.
Getting a consultation program in place can be important in minimising risks, and again we can assist with advice and support.
Governance support – for Boards & Councils
Boards, Councils and Committees of Management have substantial responsibilities in running the organisation, both collectively and individually, and with that responsibility goes the need to get it right. Tapping into external support on matters such as governance, strategy, and working effectively with the management team is sometimes essential.
CEO Evaluation / 360º reviews for Leaders
Performance evaluation is tricky enough at any level of your organisation, but how can you assess the performance of the person or teams at the top? Boards are often not close to daily operations and can find it difficult to objectively and comprehensively assess the performance of a CEO.
Sometimes more is needed than just anecdotal evidence and particular views. In the case of a CEO (or GM), this means gaining a full view of that leader’s performance as seen by not only board members, but also by direct reports, peers or stakeholders. The same can apply for leaders at the next levels and further down in larger organisations.
An effective solution to this can be to use a 360º approach – either ‘off the shelf’, customised, or ideally a combination. In any case you need to be confident that you are using services that are objective, reliable and totally professional.
We are known for this level of service, and bring a range of tools and options to this process, including:
Other support to Boards
Board Evaluation and profiling
A key success factor for boards is evaluation at the Board and individual Director levels. Boards that have regular, external evaluations demonstrate consistent improvement in Board effectiveness. With evaluation, boards can improve decision-making, strategic alignment and focus, confidence by shareholders / members and markets or communities. Other improvements can be identified and implemented in areas such as board cohesiveness and confidence between Board and management.
A powerful board assessment will include analysing the board’s contribution to corporate strategy and evaluating board dynamics. Through profiling, we can help define the ideal board structure and composition, identify future needs and clarify board, committee and director roles.
Boards and committees responsible for NFPs now have responsibilities much akin to boards running major corporate entities. Especially with the requirements of the ACNC, some NFP boards now need to focus on identifying key roles and responsibilities, being more effective in areas such as risk, compliance and governance, and having a more effective professional relationship with management. For others, financial management and reporting systems may be a key area of need.
Some boards have under-developed or unclear systems in areas such as authority, decision-making and compliance. Governance performance should now be benchmarked against current standards and expectations of boards.
We have extensive experience in advising boards and/or CEOs on improvements to organisational structure, workforce planning, and performance or retention systems. It might include an assessment of organisational climate or culture. This can include reviews and recommendations regarding key personnel, stakeholder relationships and revisions to internal or external strategy.
…other services to boards are also available, contact us for information or to discuss your needs
When seeking and appointing new Directors, your board will want to consider how to align new member skills as well as ensure a cultural fit with the current board profile and your strategic direction. Likewise, there is value in reviewing how your board goes about ‘onboarding’ new members to help them quickly become knowledgeable and effective contributors.
You're welcome to review our information on Recruiting.