Skill and attitude a winning combination

16/09/2013 - 06:18


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Business leaders need to refine their strategy and get their teams performing at full capacity.

Business leaders need to refine their strategy and get their teams performing at full capacity.

Imagine you’re the coach of a football team. It’s just a few weeks until the finals and you’ve got problems.

To start with, it has been a tough season and 20 per cent of your team is on the injury list.

Worse still, a further 50 per cent of your team isn’t playing to its potential, particularly some of your most promising off-season recruits.

Fortunately the remaining 30 per cent of your team are stars. They read the play brilliantly and seem to anticipate the opposition’s next move. They run till they drop from exhaustion and are always shouting encouragement to the rest of the team.

How do you rate your chances of making the grand final?

You might manage a top four finish if your starring 30 per cent keeps holding up the side, but if one of them gets reported and suspended, or injured … you’re history.

All good coaches go to great lengths to ensure they get the best out of their team, working tirelessly to get the right people doing the right tasks in concert with all the other team members.

It’s a bit like being a good business manager.

Or at least, it should be.

Reports suggest that, in Australia, only 30 per cent of the workforce is highly engaged (they’re your star performers). A further 50 per cent of the workforce is not engaged; more often than not there in body but not in mind, and the remaining 20 per cent of the workforce is actively disengaged (these are your infectious viruses – on the injury list and staying there).

With a workforce like that, where do you think you’d rank in terms of the top performers in your industry? And how would you rate your chances of beating your competitor to the shrinking number of contracts up for grabs?


The lack of employee engagement is estimated to cost Australian companies $34 billion a year. It affects productivity, profitability, staff turnover, absenteeism, safety, repeat custom and quality of production.

A culture of engagement starts right at the top of any organisation. It’s about how leaders engage with the people who report to them, so that they are producing their best work; it’s about how colleagues engage with each other to produce results that are greater than the sum of the individual parts; and it’s about how everyone engages with the customer, from making the sale to delivering a memorable and extraordinary customer experience.

And while it might be tempting to blame the lack of engagement on fickle gen Y employees, or tiring baby boomers, or gen Xers who want a better work-life balance, the truth is that every part of the engagement chain has to be connected if you want a culture of high engagement.

And in a wobbly economy, to whom do you think the customer is most attracted – the organisation with high energy, high confidence and high engagement or the organisation where people seem to be just going through the motions?

Employee engagement is the key to driving productivity and managing costs. Most of us have already cut costs as far as we can. What we’re not putting enough attention on is the money being drained out of our pockets by the people who are showing up without their minds, hearts and spirits. They’re doing their time, for sure, but are you paying them for time, or results?


• Dawn Russell is the founder and managing director of The Heartware Group, which works with businesses to boost customer retention, productivity, and safety.



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