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Mission-Driven Engagement, Collaboration at Achieve Australia

Mission-Driven Engagement, Collaboration at Achieve Australia

Webcast Details

  • How does Gallup's advice on employee engagement make its science easy to apply?
  • How can a manager build employee engagement through listening and asking questions?
  • How does having intentional partnerships improve a team's collaboration?

Keeping employees engaged and fostering a collaborative work environment has been, and continues to be, a challenge for organizations during the pandemic. But engagement and collaboration are key factors in an organization's success, affecting its employees as well as its clients. Find out how an Australian not-for-profit has applied Gallup's science, including CliftonStrengths and Q12, to improve employee engagement and collaboration and to enthusiastically serve its clients, who are people with disabilities. Join Alison Schiena of Achieve Australia for an informative and inspiring Called to Coach webcast.

Gallup Called to Coach Webcast Series -- Season 9, Episode 33.

As a leader, it's your people that get the job done for you. So yes, you need systems. Yes, you need processes. Yes, you need time for strategy and innovation. But you actually need to intentionally make time for people.

Alison Schiena, 16:23

We should be spending 80% of our time as a manager listening and 20% giving advice.

Alison Schiena, 34:03

A lot of people when they write surveys, they can just look at one target group. With the Q12, it was across all different industries, all different nationalities, all different cultures. So to me, that meant the science worked.

Alison Schiena, 22:31

Jim Collison 0:00

I am Jim Collison, and live from our virtual studios around the world, this is Gallup's Called to Coach, recorded on June 29, 2021.

Jim Collison 0:21
Called to Coach is a resource for those who want to help others discover and use their strengths. We have Gallup experts and independent strengths coaches share tactics, insights and strategies to help coaches maximize the talent of individuals, teams and organizations around the world. If you're listening live, love to have you join us in our chat room. There's just a link right above me there that'll take you there. Sign in with your Google account. Let us know where you're listening from in chat. Ask your questions during the program. We'd love to have all those things. If you're listening to the recorded version, and many of you will, you can still send us your questions. Send those to Don't forget, you can subscribe to us on your favorite podcast app. Just search "Gallup Webcasts." And of course you can also subscribe to us on YouTube. Just search "Gallup Webcasts." Bruno Zadeh is our host today. He works as a Coaching Community Leader in APAC with Gallup. And Bruno, we had you on before, but welcome back to Called to Coach!

Bruno Zadeh 1:12
Thank you, Jim.

Jim Collison 1:14
Good to have you today. And we're excited for our interview that we have. And so, Bruno, why don't you to take a second and introduce our guest.

Bruno Zadeh 1:22
Yes, absolutely. So Alison, welcome! And thank you, Jim, for organizing the Called to Coach. Alison Schiena is a Certified Strengths Coach. Her Top 5 are Strategic, Communication, Positivity, Connectedness and Relator. I know Alison since 4 years and we are work together collaboratively over this number of years. Alison has 27 years in not-for-profit and public service learning and development, organizational development and leadership development. In parallel, Alison has run her own coaching business called See Clearly Consulting for the past 4 years. Alison has a husband and a beautiful teenage daughter. She is doing strengths-based balancing as well. She's a passionate supporter of animal adoption and has two rescued greyhounds.

Bruno Zadeh 2:14
Alison has a talent for seeing the good in people and enabling them to be who they could be by seeing their strengths and opportunity from that. Her passion and current focus are on helping people who may be marginalized and underprivileged to have more opportunity to improve themselves, their family and build communities. Currently, Alison works with Achieve Australia, which enables people with disability to have a better quality of life. Alison, welcome. And today in Sydney, we are under COVID, and Alison makes a good effect to try to come to our office by Uber because her car broke down. So she's very motivated. Thank you so much, Alison. Alison, could you share with us how you discovered your CliftonStrengths and what originally brought you to the course?

Alison Schiena 3:07
So, and can I just say, Thanks so much for inviting me to speak. I really appreciate the opportunity. And it's wonderful to be part of this and to meet with Jim for the first time remotely. When I joined, when I started doing the Gallup, I was literally about to press "Pay" another coaching course that I'd signed up for qualifications. And a friend rang me. So he's in people development in construction. And he just rang out of the blue and said, "Alison, what are you doing?" And I said, "I'm just paying for my coaching accreditation." And he said, "Is it with Gallup?" And I went, "Who's Gallup?" And he goes, "You can't pay; you've got to do Gallup. You've got to do Gallup." And he just went on and on. I said, "All right, Robert, I will go and I will do Gallup. And I won't pay now." So I had a look at the films on the site. Then I did the survey, got the results to my Top 5. And -- "Oh, my goodness, I'm doing Gallup." And I've never looked back. I was amazed at the result. It was like, "How can this computer know me so well?" So --

Bruno Zadeh 4:05
Excellent. During our previous conversation, you have shared with me an anecdote and you say to me something that was very pertinent. You say, "With strengths, I got permission where I'm not." Can you please explain a little bit what it means and how it is important as an individual?

Alison Schiena 4:22
So, So one thing I love about strengths -- it's not just bringing out the genius of people around their specific profile and all the science that makes that so accurate. But it also lets people give themselves permission not to be who they're not. So I know that when I did my coaching program, they talked about Usain Bolt -- he can't be a marathon runner if he's a great sprinter. The thinking is different; the body shape is different. So I know that when he took up soccer, there was a lot of hype about being invited to play soccer, but I didn't ever see any tease when he didn't really succeed at soccer. And that's because if you can celebrate who you are, and your strengths, then you don't need to be worried about trying to be who you're not.

Alison Schiena 5:06
And there's one short story I'll tell you, if that's OK. My husband's half Italian, half Greek, born in Egypt. So we often go to a lot of very big, celebrative, noisy weddings. And I will know one per -- one or two people there; usually my husband and sometimes the groom -- not many others. And I always found it really difficult to join the conversations. You'd be at a round table. And I'd be next to him. And ... I used to get really cranky with Relator as No. 5. So when I did my strengths coaching, I went to a really big, noisy Italian wedding. And there I was again. I couldn't join the conversation; it was too loud, too noisy. I've got Relator. I could feel myself going, Why aren't I included -- all these thinking, and then suddenly I went, I feel like this because I've got Relator. And I'm really good at relationships. So I'm going to give myself permission to feel really uncomfortable and not expect him to include me, because I can't get into that conversation. It's too loud, and I don't know them. And I'm just gonna look out the window. And I did. And within a few minutes, so people on the other side of me realized they had no one to talk to. And I made new friends. So that's what I love about it: being able to give yourself permission to either -- to not be who you're not, and be OK with that. It's really empowering.

Bruno Zadeh 6:21
I love it. And I can -- it's OK. I can see your Connectedness as well and your Communication applying here. To set up the stage, we would love to understand the world in which you are operating. Could you share with us what Achieve Australia is currently focused on?

Alison Schiena 6:41
So, so Achieve Australia, it's been going since 1952. And they're a disability service. So they provide a whole range of disability packages for people on the NDIS. And one of their main focuses is to give people an extraordinary life. And I love that because it reminds me so much of this strength. So we work with people to give them extraordinary lives through understanding who they are, who they're not, and building on that. So we've currently done a quite a robust leadership-development rollout for all the exec and the senior leaders. So take it back a little bit to the start. So what they did was, they decided that they wanted to do some culture work and to build a culture. So we started with the exec and the senior leaders down, because the conversations and the meaning and the behaviors obviously always start with the leaders. So we coached the whole executive, like, sorry, I coached the whole executive team in their strengths and a discovery session, and then went down to the senior leadership team.

Alison Schiena 7:47
The next thing I did was I did an analysis of the exec's profile. We were looking for any gaps. So say, for example, and also any overuse of strengths. So if you have a leadership team or any team, let's say, for example, very high in Activator, they will think so quickly. They'll have robust discussions. They'll want to move things on. But then you bring someone along who may have Deliberative, Intellection, Analytical or Context. And that person will come in afterwards, and everyone thinks it's a done deal, and then start asking other questions that the team really needs. But it doesn't mean the team necessarily appreciates that. So all the Activators and the Commands and the Significance and the Focuses have already thinking, "Here we are: we've done this." And then the lonely guy comes along and says, "What about this? Have you thought about that?" And everyone's kind of like, "Oh."

Alison Schiena 8:40
So we look at it from that point of view and then also looking where there could be overuse. So if there's too many Activators, decisions might be made too quickly without that analyzing. If there's too many people with Learner and Connectedness, they'll be asking lots of questions. Because they want to find the purpose around everything, which may not be appreciated by the Activators, who want to get on with it. So it was that analysis. Another example could be Competition. So we didn't have anyone with Competition at that time. And that was important. So we could then intentionally go, OK, so how can we look at what everyone else is doing, and then set some things in place so that we can run that race as well? So it's bringing in some intentional joining of people that we have, to fill up gaps that we may not have. So that was one, the next step. And the third is we're looking at our strategic plan, and looking at different strengths profiles to work on all different areas and priorities, so that we don't just have a range of knowledge experts doing those projects, but we have a range of strengths. So they're very, very innovative -- Achieve -- in their approach.

Bruno Zadeh 9:55
Yes, it's fantastic. I'm curious to know, so you talk about Achieve is a champion of social inclusion for those with disability. Can you share a little bit about that?

Alison Schiena 10:08
Sure. So they want to build extraordinary lives, so it's creating the opportunity for people, and opportunities where they may not have other opportunities. And interestingly enough, a lot of people that I've coached in the organization have had Includer and also Individualization, which I thought sat perfectly with the, with the roles, where you're looking at who someone could be, how you could help them be that and also bringing people in who might be left out, so they have an opportunity. So the passion around that I love; it just sits with me to be the same as the strengths coaching, where you're looking at who someone really is and what their opportunities are out of that. And then helping them build that into both their workplace, their leadership, it goes into their home life, everything that they do.

Bruno Zadeh 10:55
Excellent. It's great. And how has Achieve changed people's lives, with, for people with disability? Do you have some examples?

Alison Schiena 11:08
I can't really talk about specific clients. But I can just say that, I think it's the attitude and the treating people as individuals, wanting to support people, having staff that are passionate about people and people with disability. So when I've done some of the future leader programs here, what I've found across the board is that people are really connected to our purpose, and the purpose around giving the opportunity for an extraordinary life to people. And it amazed me, working with people in head office and IT and all different areas, people were aware of that and committed to that. A lot of companies in Australia can have what we call is "the ivory tower." So the ivory tower might be the head office area, but they're not connected to the clients and what goes on, and the purpose of the organization for the clients. And I found with that, throughout our organization, it's very much, that connection is very strong.

Bruno Zadeh 12:03
Thank you for that. It's good sharing. And also recently, Achieve received a number of awards. One was nominated for Best Place to Work. And emotion that it's very important for you to build a strengths-based organization and future for an employer of choice. Can you please explain and share with us what do you mean by that, in terms of future perspective?

Alison Schiena 12:26
With the Q12? So what I've been doing with the next round of coaching there was we've done our Gallup employee engagement survey. And I'm joining the Q12 results with this strengths-based leadership coaching. So say, for example, and I'll make this one up. But if I was working with someone who was high in Deliberative in their profile, Deliberative people don't give praise often because they think praise can be overdone, and they like to assess the risk. So they want to know that praise is really deserved. So if you're looking at one of the, the Q4, which is about praise and recognition, I will look at the leader or the executive or the senior leader's results. And then I'll look at their strengths profile and start to build those in. So if I'm working with someone with Deliberative, I might say, "Well, this is in the Q4; this is really important. How can we do that?" And what people are doing, they've had some fantastic ideas, things around, you know, we start a staff meeting with, "Tell me the thing that you're most proud of since the last staff meeting," and letting people share. And that gives them recognition.

Alison Schiena 13:33
But it also leads into the self-managed teams concept, where those people who are so excited in talking about what they've achieved, then other people, that lifts the standard for them as well it lifts their engagement. But it also gives recognition to the person who's sharing. And then there's other things, where we look at, often leaders when they come to a role, they have so much to do. And particularly if they're high in Achiever, that can, those to-do lists can come first. But getting people to go out onto the floor and touch base with their staff, touch base with their clients, move around, which is, again the reward and recognition. And also, the question around "In my organization, there's someone who cares about me as a person." So building little things into the day that make a difference for the engagement and for the staff and clients.

Alison Schiena 14:20
And again, always, sorry, my computer's doing something. I know Richard Branson said it, but he said, "Don't love your clients first; love your staff, and let them love your clients for you." And that's so what I believe. And I think the Gallup engagement survey and the results and the coaching let us build that across an organization or any organization.

Jim Collison 14:42
Alison, when we think about the, the work that you guys are doing with both strengths and engagement, what was, what were you hoping for from a "mark of success" standpoint? Like how would you know you're getting somewhere with some of those? You get scores and some of those kinds of things, but at a high level, what were you hoping to get out of that?

Alison Schiena 15:02
You have different measurements, so obviously the awards that we've won recently for the, you know, Financial Review, HR Boss, in the Top 10 for Best Places to Work for Not-for-Profit and for Public Sector is quite a big thing. And we had another award for being an employer of choice. You can measure other things like our sick leave, absenteeism, unplanned sick leave. You can look at your retention of staff, where the staff are being turned over. You can look at complaints and what's being made either by managers or by staff, their themes. For me, when working directly with the managers in the training, when I was rolling out the understanding employee engagement and driving employee engagement, so the managers could do their action plans, it was what had changed between the first session and the next. And when the managers came back in, I asked them, I said, "Tell me one thing you've done differently as a result of the last training that we did." And that's when almost all of them said when they walked into the center, they went straight onto the floor. Other people running team days, so running different lunches like once a month; they were celebrating birthdays, taking time away from the busy role to build those.

Alison Schiena 16:15
And so I could see then that things were really moving along. And I think learning to be intentional around understanding as a leader, it's your people that get the job done for you. So yes, you need systems. Yes, you need processes. Yes, you need time for strategy and innovation. But you actually need to intentionally make time for people. And I could really see that building in the feedback during the training. And our next survey coming out in August will help with that as well.

Jim Collison 16:43
Are you guys doing it every year or twice a year?

Alison Schiena 16:45
Yeah, we've, so we signed up for 3 years. We just did it once last year; we've had some restructures and things. So I imagine this year we'll probably do some pulse surveys in between. But we didn't, because we got the premium package, we had a lot of support that was invaluable from the Gallup team. And particularly Hatice was in that; she was amazing. And she was very strong. She goes, "Alison, don't oversurvey; don't do survey fatigue." And I go, "But they want these questions to go" -- "survey fatigue." And so she really, really, you know, supported us in that. So I'd imagine we'll do some pulse in between this next one we're rolling out before the next year. But last year, with the restructures and changes, they had, the staff had enough on.

Jim Collison 16:45
Have you noticed the strengths language taking over in some circumstances where people start to quote things about themes in certain circumstances? Have you seen that kind of happen? How does that, how do you think that changes the culture? You know, as far as, when people start quoting it, what does that, what does that mean to you?

Alison Schiena 17:50
Well, it makes me really excited, because it means that I've done a good job in the coaching. So No. 1, so from a selfish point of view. But what it does is, the idea is people celebrating their differences, and then you can take advantage of what everyone contributes. So I was telling Bruno about a story, if I can just tell you briefly, Jim. Twenty years ago, I was working for attorney generals, and they put us in some training, and it was NASA training. And we had to do this exercise about being lost in a desert; our plane had crashed. And so we had 20 things; we could only choose 8 to survive on. Now I had watched this terrible movie at the age of 5, at the drive-in in ... with my parents. And I was absolutely terrified about this boy that was sole survivor of a plane crash in the desert. So I knew what I needed to survive. And so we all did it separately. And we went, told the results, and they put us together with the group. And there was so much like back and forth and arguing between the group. We didn't really know each other what we should have. And then we eventually agreed on some things. And they gave us the results.

Alison Schiena 18:54
And as an individual, I had a 62% chance of survival. And everyone else came up around 10%. But they hadn't seen that movie. It was terrifying! But as a team, when they put the results together, we had an 82% chance of survival. And I was going, "How does that work?" Because individually mine was higher, but it was that robust conversation and people coming together that gave a better result. So it's building that in between teams. And it's when people start to think -- when someone asks more questions or when someone wants to know the purpose or someone wants to get more information. Rather than go, "Oh, my goodness, this is slowing us down," going, "This is really important. How can we actually draw that person out and get more of that? How can we celebrate that?" And the other thing I find working with leaders in an organization is people often come and ask me about things. And I'll be able to say, "Well, this is because of that. And this is how you build that in that person." So I'm trying not to name things that might -- people might identify, but does that answer your question?

Jim Collison 20:00
Yeah, I think it does. You know, we're always, I'm always interested as cultures take on a new framework. And then they begin to, and you'll know it's really working when they start joking about, like, themes among each other. And that's working. Because it's sophisticated, you know, in the, in the, in the area of humor, it takes the most sophistication at times to make fun of things, because you have to know all the nuances about it as well. And so you know an organization when they start poking fun at each other. You know you've kind of got them from that start. Bruno, I'll turn it back over to you.

Bruno Zadeh 20:37
Yes, that was a nice example of complementary partnership. If everyone having your lens and working together, the more you have different lens, the more you are inclusive and create this performance to survive. So that's a great example. Now, regarding the culture, you have mentioned a little bit about your process of induction. And they have changed to 2 to 6 days in a shift from previously in our conversation. Could you please share with us what you're doing now in terms of learning and development?

Alison Schiena 21:08
So what they did was, as a result of this survey, is put a whole lot of changes to build engagement. And understanding the "learn and grow" was important, but it's also around people who come to the organization may be experienced in clinical practice. But they need to understand how we do it, and how the communication and things work when you, when you're supporting people with a disability. So the induction was increased from 2 days to 6 days for anyone who has -- we call them direct service staff -- to anyone working direct with our clients. We ran a manager's induction last year that went for a month. That wasn't a month full time, but it was every morning for a month. And that was a huge investment for us. And what it did was it's getting the new managers and also the current managers to buy into our culture. The engagement training was part of that. It was getting things done the same way. It was very, very much a success.

Bruno Zadeh 22:05
Excellent. Can you tell us why you originally chose to incorporate the Gallup Q12 survey at Achieve Australia? I imagine before you were using a different survey, perhaps. But why the Q12?

Alison Schiena 22:19
What I love about the Q12, if you delve into First, Break All the Rules, is the science behind it. So it just amazed me there was 100 million interviews over 25 years. And the other thing was that a lot of people when they write surveys, they can just look at one target group. Whereas with the Q12, it was across all different industries, all different nationalities, all different cultures. So to me, that meant the science worked. When I looked at the questions, I loved them, because they were so simple, anyone could answer them and understand them.

Alison Schiena 22:51
But the other thing was that they're so easy to implement. So if a manager gets their results, and let's say reward and recognition, they're low in that area, there's simple things that they can build into their day and actually make a difference. And that can be like, someone provides the work you've asked for on time, and you might reply in the email, "Thanks so much. I know you're really busy. I appreciate this getting back on time." And that's reward and recognition. So you don't need to take the results and roll out a huge big program; you can do little things every day. And this simplicity means they're little things that everyone can do. And so that was important. You don't need to have a Ph.D. to work out, How can I change the life of my staff and my clients by doing this? You can actually take the simplicity and do it. And the simplicity amazed me, because I'm like, their level of science behind, and you bring it down to these 12 simple questions that are so effective and cover everything, like, and treating people as humans, as relational humans; we're not robots in the workplace.

Bruno Zadeh 23:55
Excellent. I love it! And also regarding a challenging question, I have one for you: the Q10, "Best friend at work." And I can see the smile of everyone behind me. So how did you answer this question? Because I imagine some people in your organization have challenged you about that. How did you talk about that? Explain the value of the Q10 "Best friend at work."

Alison Schiena 24:19
So I love "I have a best friend at work." And one of the ways to explain this, and I think Dawn was the one who gave some explanation to me around this as well, was that if you think about when you're going to school, and you've got a best friend, you're excited to get to school. And this is what I asked people. "Did you have a best friend at school? And did that mean on Monday morning that you wanted to get to school to see your best friend?" And they're like, "Yeah, yeah, yeah, I was, I was! Yeah, yeah, that's important." And I go, "What if your best friend went on holidays during school term? Did you feel like going to school on that day?" "Oh no, not really, because I had no one to hang out with." And so it's about that connection. And human beings, regardless of their strengths profile, need connection. And they will actually go the extra mile for the connection. So a lot of people will have been far more motivated, far more engaged, will stretch in the workplace, will come in on a day when they may not want to, because they have a best friend or best friends that they're committed to. And so I just think that's the most relevant question for me.

Bruno Zadeh 25:23
Thank you so much for sharing. Also, during our previous conversation, you mentioned that it was very important that our Q12 got many translations. And you asked me, and I say, I've been translated 56 times. I have high Input, so I know it. Can you tell me why it was so important to get the Q12 accessible in so many language for you?

Alison Schiena 25:45
So I think we have around 45 different cultures working in our organization. And when English is a second language, people can misread things or it's harder for them to do. The other thing is that if people can choose for the Q12 what language they want to reply in, it's actually more inclusive, isn't it? Because we're recognizing that they're important. And when you work for an organization, it's all around inclusion. That was important for me and also important that they could easily access an answer and understand. So it impacted the results. We know they were getting the answer that was interpreted in the right way. So our result's more accurate. But it also was inclusive and respected our staff as well. And it made it easier for them to complete the survey.

Bruno Zadeh 26:29
Excellent. In regard to the practicality of the questions for managers, can you please share an example how managers use the Q12, what they are doing from the survey?

Alison Schiena 26:42
So what I've delivered are the Understanding Employee Engagement training, and then Driving Employee Engagement, and then Leading With Employee Engagement Through Change. And so the managers have an understanding of the value of it, why it's important, we gave a lot of the stats about how it actually changes people's lives outside of work, and how it really impacts wellbeing -- that was really exciting with the, with the science of Gallup and the statistics. Then what we're doing now is the action planning. So I found that the has been so amazing for that. And it's such a good add-in that we got with the premium package, taking managers through that. So they can actually do their action plans on that.

Alison Schiena 27:24
Some of the things I loved when you go in is you can look at one question. And you can go, OK, this is a question; these are my results. And then you can go into the platform and get training on it. And the questions that the platform got you to think of, I mean, there were some like, you know, "As a manager, have you thought about this"? So the manager can read that and consider, "Oh, OK, well, yeah." And then they go, "What are the questions you can ask your staff?" "What are the, what are the things that your staff might be able to do?" It makes the action plan so easy. And linking the resources like the thousands of resources to specific questions or specific workplace needs, like absenteeism. I've got a mental blank to them all. But there's so many subjects you can select, and then also link your questions, means that they've got all that learning resources there to help build engagement and do their action plan with.

Jim Collison 28:16
Alison, you know, we here in the United States are thinking about the end of COVID. As we mentioned, right now, it's, it's, it's kind of happening again for you guys. As you think about the state of the manager and the organization, and they're under, I mean, they're just under the gun at this point, when it comes to what they've got to do and all the things they have to manage. What kind of, what kind of tools and resources, as you're thinking about helping your managers -- certainly Q12 results are good from that kind of standpoint. But how else are you helping your managers kind of get through, get through this crazy, this crazy time?

Alison Schiena 28:55
There's a lot of regular meetings. So the operational managers meet once a week and with the, their executive and the general managers, so there's support that way. As a coach, I've encouraged people to create intentional partnerships. So that can be between people who might be high in the Strategic Thinking -- for example, Ideation and Futuristic and also Significance -- to team with others who are similar, so they can actually nut out ideas together. But then also to create intentional partnerships with people who are different. So people who are high in Execution to then partner with someone who is very high in Strategy and the people ones. That has made it easier for them because they're not sitting alone. So I'm quite aware that, you know, because I do it, sitting alone at home in Teams meetings, you miss that regular contact. But those intentional partnerships really help, and being intentional around them.

Jim Collison 29:55
Do you find that the plans from a year ago are a little bit, as we're thinking about making plans for right now and maybe for the next year, are those fairly different from what you guys were anticipating last year? Or have you been able to kind of just kind of stay on track?

Alison Schiena 30:15
Most people have stayed on track, and what the exec did there was they just pulled out so much support. It's like so much support and so much connection. And the, the, our Chief Executive Officer for People, Culture and Performance has been incredible in just putting initiatives in to support people. So they've actually just kept everything going; we just do it differently. The client-facing staff, they've changed the rosters to protect for COVID. They, I mean, I was amazed -- it happened so fast, and yet so much was done.

Jim Collison 30:50
Do you think there'll be things that you'll keep that, like COVID has taught you as an organization? You pair that with now, knowing strengths, you've got some measurements on engagement; you've got sensitivity from an organizational standpoint of what people are thinking. Have there been things that will come out of this that you might, that you learned through this time that you might keep?

Alison Schiena 31:13
I don't think we'll ever go back to full time in an office. So what they've just recently done is they've refurbished the office, and people are split into two teams. Now, of course, at the moment, no one's going in. But they have teams, and you have different days when you go in. And so that work-from-home thing, I think people have realized that sometimes you can just get so much more done. But you still need the social connection. So splitting those up has been very good for people. And it lets them have the connection. And then sometimes just grind through what you need to do without the distraction.

Jim Collison 31:47
Yeah, I think for some -- I've been very productive during this time, and I've really liked it. It's not for everybody; I didn't have screaming kids at home either, right? I didn't have dogs or cats to deal with; it was, it was pretty easy for me. Bruno, for you, more productive? How do you measure your productivity time? And then maybe what do you keep, coming out of this time?

Bruno Zadeh 32:09
Well, I think it's depend -- that's a great question. Firstly, on my Top 5 I have Achiever-Discipline. So you can imagine that working from home, I'm like a machine. I'm in heaven. But my question would be more for people like you guys, high Communication, Woo, etc. If you have hybrid work, where you can work one or two days at the office and the rest of the time at home, it's my greatest balance in this wellbeing at work. But for us currently, and I talk about the last 3 days in New South Wales, we are going on, under lockdown, so we have less and less access to, to being out of the home. My question, Alison, managers play a huge role in terms of engagement. We know they need to connect minimum once a week with their staff. How do you develop them in terms of coaching approach to make sure they have some quality relationships? We took about the 5 Conversations, a Quick Connect. Can you talk about that a little bit?

Alison Schiena 33:15
So our managers are often doing the Quick Connect. Some people do it, remembering that when you, when you have a site that's giving care to people, then the manager is often on site. So you need to have someone there. But they will do that Quick Connect. A lot of them are saying it's the first thing they do when they start their day is Quick Connect with the staff and with their clients and they go around, which is amazing. We've got performance reviews coming. So performance development, that will be happening quarterly, and that has started rolling out. So that's where you have the Growth conversations. When we're doing the employee engagement training, we looked at a lot of the Gallup resources of moving from manager to coach and did quite a bit of training on having quality conversations. And one of the things they loved -- Gallup had some content in there that we should be spending 80% of our time as a manager listening and 20% giving advice.

Alison Schiena 34:11
So part of the 80% might be asking questions and clarification; 20%, giving advice. And everyone's like, "Oh, 80 and 20! 80 and 20!" But when they all came back for the second session, it was amazing. I said, when I said, "What's working?" And so many said, "80-20." So they took that on board. So that was -- those tips and content I got from some of the Gallup books are really good, and they've really helped. And then moving to developing staff rather than giving solutions, which empowers the staff that it then goes back to, you know, "If you give a man a meal, he eats for a day; if you teach him how to fish, he eats for a lifetime." So it's all about that building into the developing and empowering, which also builds engagement, which I think is Question 11 about Learning and growing.

Bruno Zadeh 34:58
Excellent! As you know, Alison, the workforce has changed; people are more looking for less boss but more coach, and for more purpose and some ongoing development. What's the plan to develop managers in terms of having this kind of quality conversation to help people, which also contributes to retain them in the organization? This -- is it something you have already started, we've achieved, or not yet? Can you share a little bit if you have?

Alison Schiena 35:31
So we've covered a lot of that with the understanding and driving employee engagement. And so we had a lot in there about the quality conversations. There was some training included in the manager's induction as well. But we're just in the process at the moment of rolling out our culture work. So the culture work is obviously linked to engagement and the leadership. But we're starting with the leadership down. So I think people would know that if you want to change the conversations, you start with the top and you work through. So that's what we're doing at the moment.

Bruno Zadeh 36:07
Excellent. Thank you for sharing. So my next question is, You have done a survey for 1,240, which is a large number of people to manage. And first project, you have teamed up with Gallup to implement the first-ever Gallup Access workplace advisory package. It was a pilot; it was brand new for you. How has this collaboration helped to deliver a better experience? Could you please share with us?

Alison Schiena 36:35
Look, when you think about it, it seems so simple, right? So when they say, everyone thinks they can be a trainer, but they can't. Like, the golden rule is that if you're good at your trade, people should look at you and go, "I can do what they do. That's so easy!" So what we found was that the collaborating with Gallup was just incredible. So it was organizing our data. So we needed to have the right data in the right format to put into the Gallup system, so that our results will be accurate, and then we could work with the managers in building those results. And then there were things like, again, I mentioned before with Hatice would say to me, "Don't, you know, don't give survey fatigue! Don't do this," and helping with identifying their questions, the additional questions from the Gallup database that we could add to the Q12 were fantastic. And we can also use those on the pulse. And then we had the advice around getting the uptake.

Alison Schiena 37:29
So as I said before, a lot of our staff are for NESB backgrounds. So what they could do was do the different languages and select those when they did the survey. But we also find that with the direct care stuff, they don't have a designated computer at work. So we sent out SMS's to people's phones, to get them to do the survey on their phone. And that made it really easy. And again, Gallup was all part of that and helping us put that together and make that happen. And that, that made a big difference. Another thing we did, which I thought was really, really unique of people on the exec is they did very short films. So they did 30-second films, talking about why it was important. And we sent links to those out, asking people to do the survey on SMS's. And then they could see, you know, people in the organization that were important to them actually saying, "This is important," you know, "Can we do this? This is why we're doing it." So they were very innovative.

Bruno Zadeh 38:26
Excellent. And I imagine with 1,200 survey, we talk about people didn't have access to laptop, computer or smartphone. So it was followed by SMS on different way to communicate. What kind of challenge did you encounter? And how did you overcome this challenge? Because it's a lot of surveys. I'm curious to hear about.

Alison Schiena 38:49
Yeah, it's a lot. And when you get the email reminders, so the platform sends them out to people who haven't yet completed the survey; other people won't get it. So we'll be sending out reminders, and people are saying, "Well, I didn't get a reminder," and I said, "Well, if you've done it, you won't get a reminder." But we've still sent it out with Gallup. So that was there. With the SMS's, we couldn't do that. So people were getting the reminders, and we just let them know, Look, you're getting a reminder on your personal phone to do this survey. But that doesn't mean you haven't done it, because it's confidential. They, and that just supported the whole thing when we said, "People can't track individual results. So we can't tell whether you've done it or not, because it's all confidential and kept private, and no one will ever know exactly what you, your results were or what ranking you gave." So that was actually really good as well. It just supported the whole theme of confidentiality.

Bruno Zadeh 39:39
So you, you have backed up previous strong communication with all employees to make sure they understand the process. How many communications have you done? How many, how many times, how many reminders, to have an idea of what it looks like?

Alison Schiena 39:57
Ah no, we did quite a few. I put together a communication pack for managers, which included a short PowerPoint that they could present at their monthly team meetings, to actually get their staff to, to understand it and to know what they needed to do. We made sure we put some messages through so people all have the same messaging. And Gallup had a really good Frequently Asked Question handout that we used, so that the same messaging was going right across. Hatice advised us on a lot of the -- how often we should send them. So we were doing the Gallup reminder every few days, every 3 or 4 days, and then an SMS in between.

Alison Schiena 40:35
And what we did, too, was we would check how many people had done it in which areas. So we couldn't see individuals, but we could see operational streams. And they were discussed at the managers' meeting. So those managers that didn't have uptake could then talk to their staff. But we did let people at the managers know that it was actually voluntary, so it'd be disengaging to try to force someone to do it. But we wanted them to get that messaging out that this is about us, you know, creating a more engaged workplace; staff will be happier coming to work. Our client outcomes will improve. We're actually going to do things to make your work life better as a result of the results.

Bruno Zadeh 41:14
That's impressive. It's a mini-campaign, basically. It's not just, I send the survey and that's it. Yes. It's preparing people to make sure you get the best participation here.

Jim Collison 41:25
Alison, we should hire you to be just a global implementation manager, like, you, you've done, you've done such a great job just as I hear you walk through the tools that are available to you, the resources we have, working with us to get it done, the understanding to, to make sure you remind but don't overremind or oversurvey in this. So, so kudos to you, I'm, I'm super, and as I hear you say this, I'm like, Wow! We just have you do everybody in the globe. Even at Gallup, sometimes we, we struggle to get everybody to, to answer, for whatever reason. And you think, "It's Gallup!" But, but it's, they're humans, right.

Jim Collison 42:05
And so it's still, you know, there's still times they need reminders -- we need to do these kinds of things. We need to get things, you know, we need to get their answers from them. And I'll be honest, I've gotten a survey or two where I've been like, "I'm busy!" Right? So, so I appreciate that you guys were really working hard to try to kind of think through and say, OK, no, we get a right interval. We do need to, we do need your help answering -- not everybody's going to; it's just -- right. I'm sure you didn't have 100% participation in it. But probably, were you, were you happy with your, your first go-round of it?

Alison Schiena 42:39
Yeah, we were and, and Lorraine Salloum was a big part of that. So she was driving a lot of it and actually getting this, the messaging out, which was really good. And working with this, the executive team as well. But we were happy. And we did extend it by a few days, I think, to try to get it up. But all of the People, Performance and Culture team, a lot of people are working, sort of getting out to the managers, business partners, were talking to the managers: "Have you done this? Can you do this? This is really important." So it was, it was a global effort; it wasn't just me, just so you know.

Jim Collison 43:17
Yeah, well, no, I understand. And you're the representative of that. But, but certainly the work that you did, very, very important in that. I've even tried serving our Certified Coaches. And that's sometimes difficult to get them to answer back. So it is, it is, it is a chore at times, and appreciate hearing your perseverance in that, and your team's -- we'll put it that way -- and your team's perseverance in the rollout of this, to make sure happens. Because it is important that they get heard, and that you get those results back. So, so great job on that, Bruno.

Alison Schiena 43:50
Can I just add something to that? Because I so believe in what it does, and I so believe in how it can change a workplace, and then looking at those stats for people outside of work. And I've had roles -- before, I worked for myself, and I can tell you now, I was not engaged. And you take that home with you. So when you understand the opportunity that comes from it, you can't help but drive it. Like I have to remind people. I have to try to push it through because I know it's going to change lives -- not just in the office, but the lives of the clients and people's lives when they go home as well.

Bruno Zadeh 44:25
Yeah. I think here, it's, what really impressed me in the dynamic of the implementation it's our team were really a mix of strengths. And Lorraine got Activator, same as me, so we were texting each other at something, sometimes 10 o'clock in the evening. Some others were more Analytical, Deliberative. And all this team combined together, it's exactly like what you explained with the plane: We were really set up to success because we play with the strengths of everyone to make sure the communication rolled out very well. And by the way, I would like to thank two quiet ones behind the scenes in Gallup, which is Dawnie and Hatice, who have done an amazing work here. So thank you for that. My next question is, Can you share with us an outline of the leadership program you are working on at the moment, and what your biggest challenge is? What role does training play in this situation?

Alison Schiena 45:22
So I've talked about how we're doing this second round now of coaching with the exec. And we're looking at the blind spots. And one of the things I love, and that then goes back to giving yourself permission not to try to be who you're not but also understanding, How do you have those intentional partnerships? Or if things are difficult for you, it's not part of who you are, How can you make that happen? Who can work with you? Who can help you with that? How can you build a team that has a good, like a well-balanced team with a mix of strengths? I'm using, the balcony and basements, the Gallup handout for that, because that's just a great -- I think you mentioned before, Jim, and people can laugh about strengths and poke fun, but the balcony and basements is just so funny. So I come on that as a Communication as being a blabbermouth in a raw state -- and many other things. Like it says that, you know, there's stories are golden, but a story for every conversation is annoying; ask my husband!

Jim Collison 46:21
Maybe you should become a podcaster. Just saying. It's, it's a great, it's a great career move, for those of us who want to talk a lot. So keep going, keep going.

Alison Schiena 46:30
And so we're using that and looking at stretching people from a leadership lens through that. And that will go over probably a couple of months, I think. There's around 20 people to put through. And then we'll be looking at the next steps after that.

Bruno Zadeh 46:46
Excellent. To wrap up a little bit, my last question would be, as a strengths movement, how do you plan to maintain the momentum, because you have done one year and now the journey starts. People have discovered the balconies, the basements; there are so many things to do. But strengths movement is very important to have some champions to be -- I know you're the superchampion of the process, and all of that. If you could share with us, what's the next step and how you sustain that in the long term.

Alison Schiena 47:19
So in the, there's been a leadership mindset put out that Lorraine has developed. And so that actually has complementary strengths in it. And then when we brought the exec team together separately and looked at the profiles as a group, and also the "lonely guy," which is a person that has strengths that no one else has that may be misunderstood. And then looking at the exec and the senior leadership team together, and the lonely guys there or any overuse as well, people are really starting to understand the value of each other. So calling those out.

Alison Schiena 47:56
I tend to call out things a lot. I always teach, when I'm training leaders, you know, reward the behaviors you want repeated. So if you see someone using their strengths and doing something well, reward it by giving them praise. People will stretch and repeat that behavior. And don't reward the behavior you don't want repeated. So keeping that in the front of everyone's mind and also keeping in, with the Q12, like the reward and recognition, it's very empowering for people to be rewarded, to call things out, to name things, to keep things going. And I think people at the moment are really excited about it because they've all experienced the coaching and the profiles and what it's actually done for them. And it will be really good to see the results of the next engagement survey. That'll be really exciting, because people will be able to see that it works and that the input and the time that they've dedicated this made a difference.

Bruno Zadeh 48:51
Hmm, OK. Do you use some specific material or model when you roll out strengths?

Alison Schiena 49:02
When we did the, so the managers, the next level of managers don't, haven't done strength coaching yet. But when we did the employee engagement training, I did the Manager as Coach material from Gallup, which they really bought into, and they could see the value of that. And around calling out, again, rewarding behaviors that you want repeated, but also having those short, sharp conversations around people and what they're doing well as they happen. So that was really important. And they've done a lot of -- we did the 80/20, which is 80% listening and understanding someone, and then 20% before you give advice, and also looking at developing people.

Jim Collison 49:49
Alison, when you when you say 80/20, like, how are you actually, what's your advice on measuring that for somebody? Like, I'm not sitting in a conversation, like, keeping track of the time, right, in doing that. Any advice you'd give us on helping managers? I mean, we kind of know what it means. But how have you implemented it in that way?

Alison Schiena 50:12
So I have Activator, and I have, in my bottom -- so I'm between 6 and 10, and I've got Strategic and Communication. So if someone told me something's not working, I can very quickly think of how we can fix it. So what I've had to teach myself to do is people don't want me to fix it, because then I have to fix it every time. So I try to say to myself, "No ideas; just ask questions." Ask them to clarify. What options do they think of? What would they do? What ideas do they have? What could work? Has anything worked before? What is your point of pain? So I like to talk about points of pain, because they're the areas that we actually want to deal with. And then not give them a solution; wait. And if they might come up with a solution in their process -- it's my hoping that they will -- and then offer a solution or confirmation on a solution at the end. But if a manager's coming up with the solutions before they have actually drawn it out of the person, then you're not following the 80/20.

Alison Schiena 51:13
But the other thing, too, is that people will engage -- if it's an adult ed thing -- they'll engage with something that's their idea. So I like to think about front-thinking, which is listening; back-thinking, which is that deep thinking. So if I'm asking questions, and people have to really, like, think about it, that's an activity for them. And when they come up with the idea that's going to work, they'll be engaged with it, they'll remember it and they're more likely to implement it.

Jim Collison 51:40
It's a good reminder. I always start conversations with that in mind. And then about halfway through the conversation I forget, and I'm talking and giving advice and some of those kinds of things. And, and, and so it's a good reminder to kind of settle in, think through the whole conversation. I'm gonna have to spend some time working on my own 80/20 at this point, so thank, thanks for that reminder as well. Bruno, we are out of time. Why don't we take a second -- would you do me a favor? Would you thank Alison for coming and, and just would just thank her for being here? I'm super-impressed, by the way. Nice job, Alison; super-impressed.

Bruno Zadeh 52:12
Well, I have many thanks to say to Alison. Firstly, for your partnership. You have been amazing. Secondly, because you bring so much in this organization. I'm so impressed by what you have achieved as a -- to help these people as a human being. It's fantastic. Your journey is admirable. So thank you so much for that. And I cannot wait to hear about the next step. Because now you're going on Year 2 and Year 3. So I cannot wait to see how it's progressed and how we changed lives of people via this lens. Thank you so much, Alison.

Alison Schiena 52:44
Thank you. And thank you so much for having me; I've really enjoyed it. And obviously sharing about things that I'm passionate about is always rewarding. So I really appreciate the opportunity and the chance to share.

Jim Collison 52:53
You are very welcome. We could probably go 2 or 3 hours with all the things that you are doing. I just want to thank you for putting up with Bruno. I don't know how you, I get about every second word. So I just appreciate you and working with Bru -- just kidding, Bruno! And, and we appreciate both of you doing this. With that, we'll remind everyone listening to take full advantage of all the resources. And Alison mentioned this a couple times: We have tons of resources available for you now inside Gallup Access. So go to That's an easy way to remember; get you there as well. Sign in, and we've got resources available for you there. So don't forget about that. For coaching, master coaching, or you want to become a Gallup-Certified Strengths Coach or you want to know more about what Alison talked about today, you can contact as well. Easiest way is just send us an email: We'll get that routed to the right person, based on region. If you want to follow up on our webcasts and hear more stories like this, and we'll continue to do those, you can, you can follow us on Eventbrite. So just go to and follow us there, and you'll get notification whenever anything is new. You can follow us on all the fancy social platforms by searching for "CliftonStrengths." And we want to thank you for doing that. And we want to thank you for joining us today. Thanks for coming out. If you're listening live, appreciate you doing that. And if you're listening to the recorded version, make sure you get subscribed. With that, we'll say, Goodbye, everybody.

Bruno Zadeh's Top 5 CliftonStrengths are Learner, Achiever, Discipline, Command and Activator.
Alison Schiena's Top 5 CliftonStrengths are Strategic, Communication, Positivity, Connectedness and Relator.

Learn more about using CliftonStrengths to help yourself and others succeed:

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