Adopt a global mindset, align and motivate others, and deliver results in a culturally diverse organisation.  Strategic Global LeadershipGlobal TeamsCross Cultural Business Relationship Management

Future-proofing your Workforce: What it takes

Future Proofing Workforce Last week I attended the NEEOPA ‘Future of Work’ Masterclass, led by Katrina North from EY and Carmel Court at EML. The session addressed critical questions we are seeing many of our clients being challenged by:

“What leadership skills do we expect our leaders will need to deal with the anticipated ‘future of work’ challenges?

What populations do we need to think of in the future?

What challenges will face our existing employees if they are displaced due to automation and increased contingent working?

Two areas we focus on at Beasley Intercultural – developing resilience through change, and inclusive leadership – are critical capabilities.

The future workplace is:

  • Different: It won’t look, feel or operate like workplaces today
  • Everywhere: It will include offshore, contingent (project based) and flexible or home based workers
  • Everything: We won’t simply rely on humans, Artificial Intelligence (AI), digital capability and smart machines will augment our daily work
  • Now: Change is already underway, and there is urgency around supporting this transition, for leaders, and for the workforces they lead.

This transition will not be easy for all, and job security will be an issue for many people. Without due focus and planning, there is the potential to leave many people behind. Research from Oxford University, has identified a number of occupations which will be fully automated in the not too distant future. All of these jobs are based on a predictable pattern of repetitive activities which machine learning algorithms and AI can perform with greater speed, accuracy and at a lower cost.

The World Economic Forum recently defined the top 10 skills needed to navigate this monumental shift in the economy and explored how humans will create value in an increasingly automated world. The emphasis is strongly on ‘the human touch’, what has been traditionally deemed ‘soft’ skills. High level thinking and interpersonal skills are what’s required.

Leaders not only need to role model the behaviours needed for the future workforce, they need to have the capacity to develop and drive strategic organisational change while bringing people with them. Inclusive leadership will be critical. The ability to bring people together, think long term and negotiate solutions to complex and important future questions will define not only the future of our businesses, our economy, but also our planet.

Some of the key skills required by leaders of the future include:

Digital literacy – Leaders don’t need to be programmers or IT specialists but do need to know what questions to ask, and of whom. There’s a risk that important business and operational strategy will be driven by the Chief Information Officer and IT department, rather than the entire leadership team if leaders don’t have digital literacy.

Humility – Leaders won’t know everything. They will need to have the capacity to access and synthesise diverse perspectives rather than depending on ‘gut instinct’ based on their lived experience of the way the world was in the environment they grew up in. Global mindset, and the capacity to engage with and address the needs of diverse communities will be business critical.

Inclusion – Leaders will need to ensure their managers have the capabilities required to fully access and leverage the talents of everyone in a diverse and distributed workforce. It’s not enough to have a strategic or intellectual understanding of diversity at the top of the organisations. Managers and leaders need to practice inclusion in their behaviour: the capacity to understand diverse perspectives, maximise participation in meetings and information sharing in global and virtual teams, and deliver results.

Resilience – Change can be hard. Resilience is required to cope with constant change and ambiguity. Keeping staff motivated and engaged through complex change and work reallocation is rarely easy. Strong communication skills will be required from leaders to guide a workforce through change.

It is essential to prepare and support our current and next generation of leaders. A growth mindset and lifelong learning will ensure we can support the inclusive leadership skills required to succeed. The good news is, this is possible! We have a responsibility to not only ‘tell’ leaders the behaviours and capabilities they need, we need to support their development. Leadership coaching, training and advisory services can make a difference to daily team performance. As a recent participant on our Inclusive Leadership program said in their program feedback:

Applying my new learning on inclusive leadership – It worked! There was greater team participation and contribution. People were noticeably more open and more willing to share. I saw improved morale and greater diversity of thinking within the team.

Resilience through Change’ is also available in the suite of training programs from Beasley Intercultural. This course can empower your workforce to navigate the change process and be more resilient – for greater wellbeing and productivity.

Contact us now to future proof your workforce.

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Modern Slavery and Cultural Capability – what matters

Modern Slavery Supply Chain The Australian Modern Slavery Bill was introduced into the Australian Parliament in August of this year. The draft Australian Modern Slavery Act is similar in its purpose and requirements to the UK Modern Slavery Act Once enacted it will establish a Modern Slavery Reporting Requirement requiring large organisations in Australia to make annual public reports (Modern Slavery Statements) on their actions to address modern slavery risks in their operations and supply chains. What do Australian businesses need to do and how will they be effective?

Many Australian businesses may be unaware of the risk that they may have slavery in their business or supply chains. Modern Slavery can include forced labour, servitude and child labour. As at July 2018, the Walk Free Foundation’s Global Slavery Index estimates there are in excess of 40 million people globally subject to some form of modern slavery and collectively approximately US$150 billion per year is generated in the global private economy from forced labour alone; 30,435,300 people in Asia-Pacific Region are ‘enslaved’ (66.4 per cent of all people enslaved); and 4,300 people in Australia are enslaved.

There are a growing number of companies and start-ups providing advice and tech solutions to help business address Modern Slavery (MS). These include supplier management, mapping software programs and analytics, worker phone apps, geofencing, and Blockchain technology, as well as more traditional approaches such as audit and inspection. Society, our community and shareholders are looking to companies to take responsibility for their supply chains and ensure that modern slavery does not exist or has been identified and effective mechanisms have been put in place.

Positive interventions may be needed. Approaches are at risk of not being effective if they lack consideration or understanding of cultural differences and context between Australia and many Asian cultures. In particular, a naivety around supplier attitudes to compliance is a common major shortcoming with current approaches to addressing modern slavery in supply chains.. Recognising and understanding the local context in which many suppliers operate is fundamental to the design or implementation of a successful approach.

Where modern slavery exists, many suppliers operate in a different cultural, political, legal, economic and business context to that of Australia.   There are different local and regional power relationships, economic realities and development contexts in the countries of the Asia Pacific region.

It’s rarely effective to merely criticise from afar. For countries which are only now emerging economically, and, in with recent memories of Western colonisation or the threat thereof, such criticism can easily be perceived as ‘interfering’ in local affairs, taking a colonial approach, or not respecting local labour realities and labour migration.

It can be equally ineffective to take a purely compliance based approach. In countries where governance and capacity is poor, compliance is very difficult to monitor, and fraud can be commonplace. Unless significant economic and culturally relevant incentives exist to change, endemic fraud, corruption, and disregard for regulatory and compliance requirements will remain commonplace.

This cross-cultural divide needs to be understood when working with suppliers. Business must develop a set of skills for professionals with human resources, import/export, finance and procurement backgrounds to determine a tailored and effective approach. It is only when stakeholders (from business executives to suppliers) have an understanding of each others’ cultural drivers in relation to Modern Slavery and worker welfare, will any strategy have a meaningful chance of success.

What is critical to effect change, is also a focus on the cultural capability and nuancing needed to develop trusted company-supplier relationships. Without these, there can be no common sense of purpose or commitment and therefore no lasting change.

Change takes engagement and participation from all – Australian businesses must first understand the realities of Modern Slavery in the cultural context in which it takes place in order to be able to effect any positive change.   At Beasley Intercultural, we want to ensure efforts to address modern slavery are as effective and high impact as possible.  We know that effective communication, collaboration, and cultural awareness will be the key to making this change happen.  Our programs and advisory services can support your organisation to build this capability and develop an effective strategy to combat modern slavery in your supply chains.

Our related services include:

Cultural Capability Training – online, blended or face to face solutions, delivered by cross cultural specialists with deep regional experience and insights into the realities of Modern Slavery.

Cultural Advisory Services – to support MS consultants and tech providers ensure their programs and interventions work in complex supply chains in Asia.

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Australian future engagement with China

How Australian organisations and individuals understand and engage with China will continue to be critical for our future prosperity. China is home to the world’s largest population and will be home to the world’s largest economy before 2030. Look at the @LowyInstitute Power Index, check out the ‘Future Trends/economic size 2030’ and see what happens.

With more than 160 cities greater than one million people (and 6 with over 10 million), the Chinese government, understandably, has a strong focus on food security, infrastructure development and maintaining stability. The extraordinary growth of the Chinese economy has lifted 800 million out of poverty since 1978. The biggest impact on development outcomes has been such rapid economic expansion.  Source: World Bank

China is engaging in the world in new ways. For example, the massive Chinese ‘One Belt, One Road’ infrastructure initiative began with the aim of linking China with Europe both overland and by sea. This has now become a broader approach called the ‘Belt & Road Initiative’ to Chinese economic development and foreign investment, spanning over 65 countries and covering 62 percent of the world population, 31 percent of its GDP, and 40 percent of global land area (The Diplomat). The initiative will contribute to China’s economic position in the world, ensure deep interconnectivity with the countries surrounding China, and increase the availability of food and resources to a rapidly growing middle class.

In recent months, the debate about Australia’s China engagement has reached new prominence, and is having implications in the Australia China relationship. Views vary wildly from those of Clive Hamilton, the author of ‘Silent Invasion’, to Geoff Raby, Australia’s former Ambassador and now Business consultant who is a strong advocate of business engagement and recently highly critical of Australia’s approach. Australia is now highly dependent on China in many ways – our 3rd largest export is international education and our largest international student intake is from China. China describes itself as a ‘capitalist economy with socialist characteristics’. In China, freedom of speech is curtailed, and google, gmail, facebook and other Western social media platforms are blocked at the border.

Australia cannot rely on legacy ways of thinking or engaging with the world to guide us into this new era. We must understand these new realities. This doesn’t mean we need to agree with, or modify all of our ways of doing or being in the world. What it does mean, is that for the security and stability of our future, we need to rigorously engage with the questions this poses, be clear on who we are, and define our future direction in a way which leverages our unique strengths and capacities as a nation. Linda Jacobsen and her team China Matters have made a solid case to argue for a more coherent narrative. Australians know that China is important to Australia, but many do not have a nuanced understanding of the reasons why nor do they fully appreciate the risks and opportunities involved in relations with China.

One of Australia’s strengths is its soft power. Soft power is defined as “Having the ability to influence the behaviour or thinking of others through the power of attraction and ideas” in the Government’s 2017 Foreign Policy White Paper. Australia’s democracy, rule of law, strong economy, quality education, cutting-edge science, multiculturalism and environmental protections are all sources of influence.

China is investing enormously in developing national capability and soft power in engaging across cultures. It’s extraordinary the scale of commitment to the development of global capability being demonstrated in China. Look at Arabic for example – check out China Global TV in Arabic, and listen to why Chinese students think it’s worth studying the language.  In Australia meanwhile, our global capability could do with some more focus. Although we do have a large multicultural population and one in five Australians speak a language other than English at home, only 8 percent of Year 12 students in NSW study a language at all, and more study Latin than Mandarin!

As understanding of China’s importance to Australia grows, this important area of our foreign policy, business and soft power engagement will gain far more prominence. How we negotiate these issues will define our future.

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China, digital transformation, Inclusive Leadership and Global Teams

Earlier this month I worked with clients in Shanghai and Beijing, delivering ‘Inclusive Leadership: Global Teams’ programs. Every time I return to China, something is new; construction, digital apps, and ways of doing things. The appetite for development and progress, coupled with the speed of change, never ceases to be surprising.  What struck me most on this visit was the extraordinary level of digital integration of the economy and how people from all walks of life, and in all elements of their personal and professional lives have so fully engaged in this process. China is rapidly moving to a cashless economy. WeChat is the ‘hub’ for daily life, not only for personal and business communications but also for payments – whether it is paying for noodles at a roadside stall, transport, or buying groceries.

While I was in China, I met with my clients in Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou, and through a series of workshops we explored the differences and similarities between offices, remote teams and regions. We discussed channels and methods of communication, and how being an inclusive leader enables their teams to be more effective, build trust and relationships and minimise misunderstandings. We worked though how to communicate across multiple teams and locations to ensure information was shared and, most importantly, universally understood. At the conclusion of the workshops, we built a team communication charter. This charter will enable leaders to apply the models, skills, and knowledge they have learned to build capability, inclusiveness and, most importantly, trusting relationships across the room and across the country.

All of our clients around the world are going through some level of digital transformation, and there is a greater focus on global and virtual team collaboration. At Beasley Intercultural we are using new technologies to deliver learning programs, coaching and advisory services globally, and we too have adjusted the way we communicate and deliver our services. For example, this week I co-facilitated with Matilda, one of our lead consultants in Canberra, to a group in Rome, in an interactive group coaching session. With another client, I facilitated a masterclass, from Sydney with participants in six different countries as part of their six week global mobility preparation program. Each participant will be relocating to a new country and workplace in a few weeks, and we’ll continue the learning journey with them once they arrive.

Such engagement is now a normal part of how we work. In adjusting to this ‘new normal’ – there are some skills required. Even with these huge technological advances and new ways of interacting, issues and challenges effectively communicating across diverse teams and locations still exist. How do you work with people you never see face to face? How can you ensure others ‘get’ the urgency of your requests? How do you ensure ‘buy in’ and commitment?

The most rewarding part of our work in the past couple of weeks has been seeing the relief among participants when they realise that the struggles and challenges they are facing are normal. Once patterns can been recognised, it’s then possible to apply key models, tips and techniques to minimise misunderstandings, build trust, and enable better collaboration. A lot of people will now benefit from working with less frustration in a more productive workplace!

Beasley Intercultural regularly delivers Inclusive Leadership workshops, master-classes and executive briefings to clients in Australia, Asia and around the world.  If you would like to know more please contact us.

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Beasley Intercultural

Build capability, raise cultural awareness and develop a global mindset

For over 20 years, we’ve delivered transformational cross-cultural training to more than 15,000 people around the world.

Whether you’re in business, government or an international agency, our programs, advisory services  and executive coaching can support you and your team to build capability, raise cultural awareness and develop a global mindset.

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Beasley Intercultural Autumn 2018 Update

Welcome to our Autumn update on the exciting challenges, opportunities and events at Beasley Intercultural.

We are seeing a constant state of change in many workplaces with globalisation, digital transformation, M&A’s and shifting demographics just some of the causes.  To survive and thrive, resilience needs to be developed and nurtured. Our ‘Resilience through Change’ program has been very popular lately, delivering terrific results to empower employees to navigate the change process.

Beasley Intercultural hosted a table at the International Women’s day breakfast in Sydney in March.  We are currently doing a large body of work on developing a suite of high-quality gender training programs. It’s so important we understand how to take a nuanced approach to gender issues.  The UN breakfast highlighted how women are disproportionately impacted by disaster, crisis and conflict. For example, Women are 14 times more likely to die in a natural disaster. It was so inspiring to hear from Iba Qasas, Chief Crisis Prevention, Preparedness and Response at UN Women, and learn about the efforts of the UN to ensure ‘No Woman is Left Behind’. A great event, however, on the gender front, as many members of our team are working women with families and doing the morning ‘drop off’ juggle, we are hoping for a lunch instead next year!

I was recently interviewed for a new podcast by James Judge, Associate Publisher at The Mandarin. The  discussion focused on how to ensure inclusion for performance – an essential element of diverse, global workplaces.   We also talked about blind recruiting, cross-cultural management, glass and bamboo ceilings, and what it takes to address unconscious bias. Listen

The state of New South Wales has one of the most culturally diverse communities in the world with 27.6% of the population born overseas. In March, we were delighted to attend the huge Harmony Day celebration hosted by the NSW Premier. The dinner celebrates and recognises people who support multicultural community organisations. Congratulations to those people recognised for making a positive difference to the lives of so many others.  More

ASEAN-Australia Special Summit 2018: Australia was host to the ASEAN Summit in April and I had the honour of MC’ing one of the key business events. There was a high profile line up of experts from diverse industry, government and business backgrounds including Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and Singaporean Prime Minister, H.E. Lee Hsien Loong.  The event offered a unique opportunity for Australian  enterprises to network and share their knowledge and insights on engaging in our region.

In February, Beasley Intercultural Consultants attended a briefing on the progress of the Australian Modern Slavery Act at Parliament House, Canberra.  An Australian Modern Slavery Act (similar to legislation in the UK) will require the business community to review the existence of slavery within their supply chains. This is an important development, and will require an understanding of the connectedness of supply chains throughout the world, and a commitment to doing the right thing. We’re watching with interest, and hoping the new legislation will be supported by a strong push for capability development. What Australian business needs to know

We have had a very busy kick off to 2018 with our facilitator led training courses. The most popular programs continue to be Cultural Capability, Addressing Unconscious Bias and Inclusive Leadership.

As always, our team are travelling a lot, and also delivering our blended programs to clients around the world using our online delivery and eLearning.  We currently have participants in more than fifteen countries in our Inclusive Leadership Program.

It’s great to connect remotely, but we always enjoy it when we have the opportunity to share a meal and catch up in person. It was wonderful to travel and work with clients in China and Thailand last week, who had travelled from around the world to be there.

We hope all’s well in your world.

Best regards

Tamerlaine and the Beasley Intercultural Team

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Building Cultural Capability – What works?

Do you know how to build cultural capability in your organisation?

Cultural capability is an increasingly important skill to enable high performance workplaces. It ensures people at all levels of the organisation communicate effectively, engage respectfully, and collaborate for results.

Culture is not limited to a ‘country’ culture defined by lines on a map. Culture is ‘the way we do things around here’ and consists of learned behaviours and norms shared in a group.

So, what works?

After more than twenty years and supporting thousands of people to develop their skills, we know the pitfalls to avoid. We understand the challenges of negotiating difference, ensuring alignment and driving performance.  Most importantly, we know does work and why.

In order to successfully develop cultural capability across your workforce, training programs and advisory services must be relevant for the context – the type of organisation, the level of seniority and the experience of participants.  Cultural capability development needs to be embedded and supported across the entire organisation.

Where to focus your efforts?

Inclusive recruitment, HR & Onboarding practices:

  • Company PR & marketing teams trained in cross-cultural communication, ensure advertising and company online presence represents a diversity of faces,
  • HR staff trained in cultural capability & mitigating unconscious use inclusive and fair selection processes to ensure hiring based on talent
  • Induction programs develop a ‘shared language’ and baseline foundation understanding of the cultural capability
  • Employee networks and diversity and inclusion strategy built into business strategy

Management and Leadership Development

  • Inclusive Leadership programs ensure leaders know how to access and leverage the breadth of talent in their teams
  • Country-focused programs prepare staff to ‘hit the ground running’ when working with colleagues or clients in new geographies
  • Leadership Masterclasses ensure critical cultural know-how for global M&A, negotiations, global project and JV management, leading diverse teams
  • Resilience and change management when transitioning teams, relocating and leading in complex environments

Strategic support

  • Access expert coaching for leaders stepping into an Asia-Pac role
  • Seek specialist advice for new initiatives – globalising business models, balancing the need for localisation with consistent business practice across borders
  • Use professional facilitation for global or regional strategy meetings, conferences and events

To celebrate 20 years of Beasley Intercultural we’ll be holding events in Sydney and Canberra, sharing lessons learned and strategies to build cultural capability in your organisation.

To book your Canberra tickets on 20 September 2017 click here.

To book your Sydney tickets on 17 October 2017 click here.

Beasley Intercultural

Build capability, raise cultural awareness and develop a global mindset

For over 20 years, we’ve delivered transformational cross-cultural training to more than 15,000 people around the world.

Whether you’re in business, government or an international agency, our programs, advisory services  and executive coaching can support you and your team to build capability, raise cultural awareness and develop a global mindset.

Clients & Results

See our clients and results

International Relocation: Playing the ‘long game’

Global Mobility

Have you ever been on holiday or a short business trip to a new country and thought ‘I could live here’? The two weeks you spend are joyous, the food is interestingly different, and the culture fascinating… However, relocating to a new country is a radically different experience to a short-term visit. You’ll still be there once the ‘honeymoon’ is over.

Having worked with thousands of individuals and families on both our pre and post-deployment programs, we’d like to share a few tips to make the adjustment as smooth as possible:

Prepare. Seek information and advice about the local people, history and culture. Access local news websites and become familiar with local issues and popular culture. Absorb as much information as possible from a wide variety of sources about your new home.

Pace yourself. To successfully relocate and live for more than six months in a new location you need to play a ‘long game’. It will take time to find your place in your new community, establish relationships and know where you fit in.   

Create a sense of ‘home’. Remember, home is a sense of belonging and unique to you. What rituals can you maintain? Is it the smell of coffee in the morning? Is it the sound of your favourite music? Do you like to cook? Do you always run on the weekends? If you are relocating with others, remind them of the things they love about home. Try to keep some continuity in your life. Small things can be nurtured anywhere in the world.

Look for people who can support you. It might not be the same people you lean on at home. Their lack of understanding of what you are going through may sometimes make things harder. Expat communities are a great support – they have already ‘been there, done that’. 

Be gentle on yourself and those around you. You can’t force adaptation. Not everyone will adapt at the same time. Everyone is under pressure and copes in the best way they know how. To preserve relationships, remember, this is a challenging time, be patient.

Take time out. A mini break from your new location to a third destination can help. While it may be tempting to want to ‘work through’ and get everything under control at the office, a brief break can help gain perspective. When you return, somehow your new place feels more like home than when you left.

You got this…Hang in there. It’s normal to be overwhelmed at points. Don’t underestimate the amount you have already learned, and the skills and life experience you bring. Think back, what worked for you in a previous period of change in your life? Many of those strategies will also work now.


Beasley Intercultural has supported thousands of employees and their families to make a successful transition when relocating internationally. Our programs facilitate better adjustment and productivity on arrival, minimise foreseeable risk, and ensure duty of care is addressed. Contact us now to find out about how our pre and post-deployment programs can help you or your team. 

“Why are Australians so hard to understand?”

I’ll never forget the moment.  I was facilitating a Global Teams program in Shanghai for Country leaders of the IT department of a multinational client.  It was a well-earned coffee break and Eric, a participant from Hong Kong approached me with a question which has stayed with me ever since.

“Why is it?’ he asked gazing  around the room, “that he’s from Delhi, she’s from Tokyo, he’s from KL, he’s from Bangkok…we’re all speaking English as our second language, and we all understand each other perfectly well.” He then paused and subtly turned to direct his gaze at Ben from Melbourne.  “And yet, we can barely understand a word Ben is saying.”

I asked myself, “Why are Australians so hard to understand?!” Australians often don’t realise how confusing their communication style can be. Australians use the English language in a particular way, have a unique approach to hierarchy and use banter and teasing to build rapport. Colleagues and clients who aren’t Australian can find this style difficult to understand.

After years of research and working closely with Australian businesses to improve communication in their global teams, Beasley Intercultural is excited to release our Working with Australians eLearning Program. This Program is designed to demystify Australian cultural and business practices.

The Working with Australians eLearning:

  • Provides practical strategies to develop rapport with Australians
  • Enables participants to understand how Australians communicate at work
  • Outlines how respect and hierarchy are demonstrated in business

As you observe the Australia Day Public Holiday think about your newly arrived team members or colleagues working offshore. Could they use some help understanding Australians and the unique Australian communication style?

Click here for more information about Working with Australians eLearning.


Accessing the $190bn Multicultural Market – what works?

The expert panel chaired by Hakan Harman, CEO Multicultural NSW

Did you know one in five Australians speak a language other than English at home? And yet so much of our advertising and marketing is not reaching this $190 billion market. Inclusion is core business, and getting it right makes a difference to employee engagement, performance and the bottom line.

Last night I attended the Australian Multicultural Awards at the Sydney Opera House. It’s been wonderful, as an adviser to Multicultural NSW, to see the evolution of this event, and great to see the business case so clearly articulated. I think Geraldine Chin Moody from Virgin Australia summed it up so succinctly:

“Success is when we don’t talk about diversity any more and we talk about inclusion. It shouldn’t matter who you are – it’s what you have to contribute”

As Geraldine emphasised, inclusion is so important for effectively accessing, managing and leveraging diversity. Virgin took an

With Huss Mustafa and Malini Raj, Multicultural Community Banking at Commonwealth Bank

internal employee-driven approach to their diversity campaign. The good news is, Virgin are reflecting this principle in their advertising. What a great campaign ‘Together we fly’.

As we highlight in our successful, global, Inclusive Leadership program, inclusion takes effort, focus and a commitment from leaders. Get in touch if you’d like to enable a more inclusive culture in your organisation.

The Perfect Team? What Google Learnt

Wouldn’t you love to have the resources of Google? At Google, they decided they wanted to understand what defines the perfect team, so brought together their best statisticians, organisational psychologists, sociologists, engineers and researchers to form ‘Project Aristotle’. After three years of research, of reviewing a half-century of academic studies looking at how teams worked, scrutinising the behaviour and performance of 180 teams, their first discovery was that patterns were hard to find.

Buisnesswoman_1_Shutterstock copyThe research team found that some high performing teams socialised with each other, others didn’t. Some diverse teams were high performing, others weren’t. As a manager in Google’s People Analytics division said ‘‘At Google, we’re good at finding patterns… there weren’t strong patterns here.’’ After almost giving up, they finally found what makes the difference.

What differentiates high performing teams is the existence of trust.

When looking at how to best explore and understand trust, the most effective contextual framework was ‘psychological safety’, a concept Harvard Business School Professor Amy Edmondson defines as ‘‘a shared belief held by members of a team that the team is safe for interpersonal risk-taking’’ and ‘‘a sense of confidence that the team will not embarrass, reject or punish someone for speaking up.’’ There’s no point in having great talent within your team if people don’t contribute fully.  Good decisions are made when people share their perspectives, challenge one another and develop a more well-rounded solution.

Think about your experience of diversity at work and diverse teams. To what extent do people feel safe and trust one another? Common barriers to full participation include a fear of causing offence, of not understanding another person, or of making sense when speaking a second language. Key behaviours that create psychological safety are those of engaging with each other at a human level. To get to know your team members as people, rather than only through their title or functional role can make a difference. Other key communication skills such as active listening and demonstrating empathy are also critical. Sounds simple, right? As with so many of the skills of effectiveness in global contexts, it’s not what you do, it’s how that makes the difference.

For more details of the project and it’s findings click here.


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