All posts by LMA1

Improve Productivity by Controlling Interruptions

Everyday interruptions at work can be a key barrier to managing your time effectively and, ultimately, can be a barrier to your success.  The working day can be hectic enough without regular interruptions from your co-workers, your email inbox, and the smartphone in your pocket.

If you have your own office, close your door to discourage interruptions when you have important work to do.  An “Open door policy” means only that people should be able to get your help (to open your door) when necessary.  An office door standing open invites people to stop and chat for a moment.  If it is closed, they assume that you are busy and think no more about it.

For those people who work in open plan environments, a closed door is not possible.  Arranging your work area or work station so your back is turned to people passing by lets them know you are concentrating on work but available if they have a pressing reason for interrupting you.  Find a system that works for your situation to set communicated and realistic boundaries, yet provides reasonable accessibility.  The development of a signal amongst your co-workers lets them know you don’t wish to be disturbed.  This could be the placement of an item on your desk or hanging a scarf over the end of your workstation.  A simple technique is to just tell people the times you prefer to be available to them or to return calls.  Remember, if you are not working on your priorities, you are probably working on someone else’s priorities.

If you answer your own telephone, don’t let it control you.  Put it on Do Not Disturb and allow your voicemail to pick up messages if you are in the middle of focused work.  You can return the calls when you have completed your imperative and important activities.

If you have a receptionist or assistant who answers your telephone, ask them to hold your calls and give your messages to you all at one time.  Reserve a particular time during the morning and again during the afternoon to return all telephone calls.  Train this person how to recognise important calls that should be put through immediately and how to handle other callers politely whilst still protecting your time.

If you found these tips helpful, please check out our FREE LMA resources available here to download.  These resources cover a range of procedures from team work analysis to communication, leadership and productivity.

Motivating People Through Change

Change is an essential part of any healthy business. If a business is to progress and evolve you have to be willing to embrace change. However, a period of transition inevitably brings with it numerous challenges, not least of these are the “people issues.”

As a leader, one of the most difficult aspects of working through change is managing the human side of the business. Let’s face it, most people are resistant to change. Change can bring about doubt, fear and indecision – any of which is enough paralyse your team.

One of the keys to successfully navigating any period of change is ensuring that the human side of the business is properly prepared and managed and there are several ways you can do this.

Make clear the reasons for the change

Not understanding the reasons for the change is one of the quickest ways to ruin motivation. If your business is going through a transformation, make sure that everyone understands why it’s happening and what to expect in terms of outcomes, benefits and challenges. If your people have to work through a period of disruption, they are less like to become frustrated or disillusioned if they have a clear understanding of the reasons behind the changes.

Make sure people know how they will be affected

When faced with changes at work, most people will immediately think “How will this affect me?” However, few people will actually come straight out and ask that question. Take the time to explain to the people how it will affect them, rather than focusing solely on how it will affect the business.

Two-way communication

As with any aspect of people management, communication will be the make-or-break factor in keeping your team motivated. However, clearly explaining the reasons for the change and how your people will be affected is just the beginning. Provide regular updates on how the project is progressing and check in with your people to find out how they are coping. Remember that new questions and concerns will continually emerge as the project progresses. Make sure that these are regularly and promptly addressed.

Be honest

Never try to sell a negative change as a positive one. Chances are your employees will immediately see through the spin, resent you for it and be less inclined to buy in to the change. If the change is negative, be honest about the reasons for it and the necessity of it. If the change will have short-term negative effects that will ultimately lead to a positive end result, be up front about that too. If the changes will negatively affect a particular department more than others, you should acknowledge this. Hearing the truth up front and from leadership is better than finding out that something has been concealed.

Make room for individuals

Remember that people are all different. If you’re making significant organisational changes there is no single timeline for getting people on board. Some will understand the reasons and start working towards those ends almost immediately, while others may take some time to come around to the merits of the project. Give people the time, the freedom and the resources they need to come to terms with the changes. Make note of the people who are struggling and help them where you can.

Be aware that it’s likely that you will not bring everyone around. There will always be those resistant to change and wedded to the old processes who will – consciously or unconsciously – work to undermine the changes. Make sure that these destructive attitudes are not allowed to take root. Discuss the issues with these people and don’t be afraid to be direct

Five Steps to Drive Cultural Change

As companies grow, adapt and evolve your workplace culture will have to change with it.

While culture will, to a degree, always evolve organically, it’s a mistake to believe that it is too complex to be managed. Culture itself cannot be penned in or subjected to rigorous regulation; it can, however, be directed and encouraged, trained to grow in a desired direction.

If you are directing cultural change or trying to guide organic change there are five steps you can take to ensure the culture you end up with is best for your employees and most closely aligned with your organisational vision and structure.

Evaluate your current culture

The first step to managing cultural change should always be evaluating your existing culture. Quantitatively evaluate your current culture – find out what your employees believe your organisational values are and how successfully the organisation is conveying those values. This will help you to determine how much change is required and in what areas.

Align culture and business strategy

Clarify your business strategy and ensure that the cultural change is aligned with the business direction, vision and principles. Understand how the change will be reflected across the business including in formal structures, reporting, training, recruiting etc.

Understand why the cultural change is necessary. This will help to focus the process, understand the desired outcomes and create a workable path to achieve those outcomes.

Engage your employees

Change cannot happen without the involved and informed participation of people from across the organisation. It’s crucial that those involved understand the reasons for the change and the desired outcomes. Trying to change company behaviour or values without explaining why it’s important or what you hope to achieve by it will be a losing battle.

Encourage participation and input from as many people in the organisation as possible. Different viewpoints from across departments and business levels will ensure that everyone has a voice and that people across the organisation understand and are prepared for the changes.

However, while multiple diverse viewpoints are great, make sure that you maintain a specific team responsible for managing the change who are able to make timely and clear decisions to prevent an ambiguous vision or delay key actions.

Communicate and demonstrate changes

Continuous communication at all levels is necessary during the change process. Repeat your message much more often than you think is necessary. Most leaders greatly underestimate how many repetitions it takes for a message to sink in. Ensure that leaders across the business are champions for the change and that they are engaging in role model appropriate behaviour. Live the change through your words and actions so that employees can see the change in action.

Manage responses and evaluate progress

Employee responses during periods of change will often be driven by emotion. Being aware of and managing these responses can help to ease the transition process and eventually help to settle the change into the cultural DNA. Manage the anxiety, points of frustration, and need for emotional regulation that can naturally arise at critical points in a culture change.

Take time to evaluate how the change is progressing. Get feedback from your employees, assess the painpoints and refine the strategy as necessary. Pay particular attention to business performance, critical behaviours, milestones, feelings and mind-sets.

How Important is Culture for Employee Retention?

Maintaining a healthy workplace culture can be a major factor in staff development and retention. A negative or toxic culture can lead to unhappy or unengaged staff members, substandard work, unhappy clients and high staff turnover. A bad workplace culture will likely push away the best people in your organisation.

Culture and values act as decision-making rules for employees. If clear and understood, employees know how they can be successful, how they can contribute and how they can move forward in their jobs. If employees know how they can be successful and are empowered to do so then they are more likely to be engaged and happy in their work.

Articulate company culture

Firstly an organisation needs to be able to clearly and succinctly articulate their company culture. What are the aligned values, beliefs, behaviours and experiences that make up the organisation’s environment?

Clearly communicating your company culture and ensuring its visibility makes it easier for employees to understand and embrace the values.

Communication is crucial

A workplace culture that prizes honest communication and the giving and receiving of feedback will do wonders for employee retention. Regular meetings, surveys and a leadership level that welcomes and acts on employee feedback are all key to creating an open two-way communication channel. Having this level of communication can shed light on why employees consider leaving. Taking the time to understand disaffected employees means that organisations can work to improve areas of dissatisfaction. By taking time to listen, companies build a culture of loyalty that reduces the risk of turnover.

Management style

The management style of your leadership team should be a reflection of your company culture. Through words and actions, the leadership team should embody the values and vision of the organisation. If management isn’t aligned with company values then you run the risk of creating a “double standard” culture. This will undermine trust in management and devalue the company culture.

Poor managers rule by fear and manipulation, creating a “yes man” culture that stifles good ideas. Good leadership creates a culture where employees believe their voices will be heard, even if management does not agree.

Understand the work-life balance

Balancing life and work is increasingly important for employees in deciding whether to stick with an employer. In a healthy organisational culture, managers provide ways to maintain that balance, including flexible schedules, on-site amenities and work-from-home options. Unfortunately, many companies pay little more than lip-service to this, offering these options as performance incentives or building rigid rules into the apparent flexibility. This can end up having the opposite effect, with employees feeling like the promised work-life balance is nothing more than a dangling carrot. 

To really retain and grow your employees organisational culture must be more than just a list of values in the employee handbook. It must be lived and breathed from the highest levels of the business. People must understand it and believe in it. They must see it acted out each day. And most importantly, they actually need to experience the tangible benefits of the company values – whether that’s financial benefits, work from home days or simply honest two-way communication with management.

Break the Routine and Improve Productivity

Assigning tasks to the staff members best suited makes sense – you’re playing to an employee’s strengths and you can reliably expect quality results. However, having people perform the same duties can get tedious and boredom and repetition are productivity killers.

Where possible, look to break the routine. Share job responsibilities between team members and look to introduce new roles where possible. Giving your team the chance to take on new challenges, learn new skills and fill gaps in their knowledge will help to keep them engaged and productive.

Give employees the chance to share their skills and experiences or to mentor less experienced staff. Not only is this a great way to upskill your team but it can also help to foster relationships between team members and boost morale – all of which are great for productivity.

Upskilling your team has the added benefits of driving employee retention as well as adding depth to your team’s skill set.

Office life can all too quickly fall into a tedious routine, especially for those desk-bound team members. Make an effort to break up the routine across the office. Change up when and where regular meetings take place. Where possible offer flexible work hours or work from home incentives. Make breaking the routine a focus of company culture and discuss with your team to find out what they would like to do to change things up.

Breaking the routine can help to keep people engaged and interested and that will flow through to productivity.

Productivity 101: Communication

Effective communication can be a powerful tool for improving productivity. Good communication practices cut down on wasted time, empower employees and improve workplace culture. Let’s have a quick look at how improving communication can have a positive effect on workplace productivity.

Give your staff what they need to succeed

When laying out a project, ensure your people have all the information they need right from the beginning by providing a detailed project brief or plan. It will help to avoid misunderstandings, ensure everyone knows who is responsible for what and set your team up for success.

Remember that information that may seem obvious or extraneous to you, may not be available to your team and could be invaluable. Don’t assume that everyone has the same view of the project that you do.

Provide a clear view of the business

Employees feel more empowered and are more likely to take ownership of their work when they feel involved in the entire business process. Regular executive level updates, communication across departments and involvement with and understanding of the overall business direction will all help your employees to feel more involved in the business. Regularly providing a clear view of the overall business direction and the employees’ place in it means that your people will be more likely to understand the value of their work in the larger context of the business.

Listen to your team

Communication isn’t just talking; it’s also listening. Communicating with your team means listening to them, which will help you identify what issues they have that might be affecting their productivity.

Don’t forget that your employees are people. Good communication will foster better relationships between management and employees and will bolster team morale and develop company culture.

Finalising Productivity for the E.O.F.Y – Grant Sexton

Being only a couple of months out from the end of financial year (EOFY), now is the time to be prepared. During this time we know your business is already under the pump, but it is important to be on top of everything so that, when the time does come to get your affairs in order, you’ll be prepared. Over the next 3 months LMA will be exploring the different aspects to productivity and preparing for the end of the financial year.  We hope these newsletters will help you get prepared for EOFY, and run you through a few things to keep in mind in the lead-up to EOFY.

It’s a key step for a business to remain on top of this critical time of year. It’s time for renewal, a fresh start and revisiting old goals to set or adjust new ones. Making small steps now can bring up potential problems, allowing your business to be on top of these issues before they arise.

Grant Sexton – Founder and Director

Planning for New Financial Year – Grant Sexton

With the new financial year approaching, many businesses are inundated with tasks to bring the year to a close, ranging from complying with tax obligations to meeting sales targets. However, it can also be an ideal time for businesses to take stock and strategically prepare for a successful year ahead.

There is always pressure on businesses to reduce costs and be more efficient. By taking a strategic approach to planning for the new financial year, these businesses can make sure they are in the best position to do this in the right way.

Grant Sexton – Founder and Director


Lead the way with Productivity


As Leaders we have the opportunity to set the standard for improved personal productivity by leading by example in our attitudes, actions and communications.  However the challenge is to remain focused amidst all the distractions of the day to day workplace.  When you are focused on the organisation’s direction and the performance goals of your overall team, you are able to identify priorities across your department.  You can then determine the High Payoff Activities (HPA’s) that will help you and the others achieve their priorities and goals.


The quickest and most effective way to increase productivity is to spend time and effort on the activities that create the highest payoff and advance you towards the important goals – your HPA’s.  Pareto’s principle states that 80 percent of our results are achieved through 20 percent of our activities.  The remaining 80 percent of our activities produce 20 percent of our results.  Ensure that you have identified your HPA’s and focus your time on the work that really matters.  Otherwise you may be consumed by trivial activities and details.  As a leader you may be spending time completing tasks or solving problems that can be completed or solved by others.


Empower, delegate and train others to complete tasks that are not your priority and to solve their own problems rather than constantly bringing them to you.  This approach saves you valuable time and gives others the opportunity to develop their own skills.  In the process you will increase their confidence, engagement and sense of ownership when it comes to new tasks, problem solving and the results that they achieve.  Also, as the leader, help others in your team to identify and spend their time on their own HPA’s to improve their productivity.


There are 2 reasons that account for failure to achieve goals, or to accomplish important jobs or tasks.   People either never START or they never FINISH.

Begin on the important work and continue without relying on the emotion of “Feeling like doing it”.    Getting started is often the most difficult part of the project.  Some people put off getting started as they are waiting to have all of the information and resources available or waiting for the right time to start.  In some cases you may never have all the information and some jobs may never be easy, now or at a later date.  Develop a step by step plan of action by breaking the project down into more manageable logical smaller action steps to achieve at each stage.  As you start achieving each of these steps in a systematic method, you will be able to tick them off and enjoy the sense of accomplishment that enables you to complete the project.


Self-discipline enables leaders to stay focused on the task and work through until it’s completed.  Once you establish your priorities, avoid all distractions or interruptions that sway your focus and concentration from the completion of the task.

Discipline yourself to give the tasks only the amount of time and effort they really deserve from you.  Otherwise delegate them to other appropriate team members.  As a leader, either of these actions will require thoughtful evaluation and consideration as well as the application of strong leadership self-discipline.


As leaders, careful planning and goal setting, combined with our determination to succeed, are vital to ensuring that we maintain and improve our own personal productivity.  This combination of factors enables us to be persistent.

Persistence is always a major characteristic of successful individuals and leaders.   Many people eagerly take on new jobs, new responsibilities or new assignments starting with a great splash of enthusiasm, excitement and progress.  However, they soon lose momentum and focus, never completely finishing the job.  In contrast, productive people set definite goals and priorities, plan carefully and then focus and concentrate their attention on what is required to complete the goal.  Persistent leaders keep their goals in mind and work tenaciously towards achieving them.  Your persistence will also become an important characteristic to model for your team. 


For many leaders an over emphasis on perfection can lead to negative outcomes.  Productive people decide what’s important and what’s not.  They set aside a reasonable amount of time to accomplish a specific task and stick to their deadlines.  They are also conscious of the standards and quality factors required.

Even on genuinely significant projects, truly productive individuals strive for results, not 100 percent perfection.  Effective leaders recognise that some tasks are simply not important enough to require their time or effort.  When you focus on improving your own productivity through focusing on priorities, delegating, getting started, exercising self-discipline and demonstrating persistence, you role model the behaviours that you want your team members to emulate and copy.

Leading by example and improving your own personal product performance and productivity is one of the most effective ways of ensuring that your individual team members and the team as a whole becomes more focused and more productive.

The majority of our readers enjoy either an informal or formal leadership role.  However, every single leadership role is unique.  Titles given to leaders vary substantially and the responsibilities vary from department to department and organisation to organisation.   But, no matter how different the title, the job description or the nature of the product or service of the organisation, all leaders have one important common responsibility.  They are all responsible for achieving certain results, performance and productivity with and through other people.  It’s the leader’s role to harness the unique potential of those they lead to bring about exceptional results and achieve the team and organisational goals.

Leadership goes beyond management.  Genuine leadership involves gaining engagement and commitment from those you lead so they, like you, understand and willingly play their part in the overall purpose and success of the organisation.  Leadership involves the ability to communicate, to enable and to empower people to take meaningful and productive actions.  Leadership is the ability to take others to new heights.

Successful leaders recognise that the outcomes they achieve are determined by the quality of their leadership, the clarity of their communication and the strength of their relationships.  Leaders who develop their skills in these areas the most, achieve the highest productivity and produce the most outstanding results.  However, most leaders are focused on and concerned about improving two different kinds of productivity and results.  Their own personal performance, productivity and results as well as the performance, productivity and results of their team.

Although these two areas of focus may at first seem unrelated, in a practical sense, personal and team productivity are intertwined, synergistic and cannot be separated.  A leader must demonstrate and model the attitudes and behaviours that he or she expects others in the team to follow.  These team members’ attitudes, behaviours and activities determine the success of the team.  By developing the correct attitudes and behaviours in each person, the overall team productivity and results will grow.

Over the next 12 months, our communications will be focused on providing insights and valuable suggestions for developing leadership skills, improving results and achieving greater success.

In each calendar quarter we will focus on one particular aspect of developing personal and team success. 

July – Productivity

August to October – Communications and Relationships

November to January – Continuous Improvement

February to April – Culture

May to July – Leadership

At LMA we are totally committed to providing you with valuable information and insights that you can translate into actions and activities in the workplace to achieve greater results and success.

Spotlight on an LMA Graduate – Sue O’Rourke, Flourish Australia

Building her ‘slight edge’ was clearly not enough for Sue O’Rourke as she returns to fine tune her sales skills in 2018 with LMA.

Sue complete her first course with LMA last year – The Performance Edge – and instantly saw the improvements to her productivity and planning.  Sue says, “So many of the LMA tools have helped me on a day-to-day basis improve my use of time –  I use discussion planners for key people I need to share info with, I use my diary so much more effectively now dividing tasks into important/imperative. So many other things!”

“Continuous reflection about whether I am working on a High Payoff Activity, whether tasks could be delegated and implementing strategies to reduce interruptions,” she adds.

Flourish Australia, a charity that supports people with the lived experience of mental health issue, saw the improvement in Sue’s management of one of Flourish Australia’s social enterprises, Figtree Conference Centre, and signed her up for The Sales Edge program in 2018.

Sue’s experience as a mental health worker plus her experience managing her own business assisted her managing the tension between the two goals of the business; financial sustainability given high wages due to lower productivity and supporting our employees with their wellness and transitioning them to open employment. However, the Sales Edge program is helping her build on the sales and growth of the enterprise.

“As a result of what I learned during The Performance Edge in regards to productivity and the sales skills I have fine-tuned in The Sales Edge, I have achieved so many Win / Win goals – purchasing new venue management software to more efficiently handle quoting and venue enquiries and better CRM input. Improved financial reporting was a Win/Win goal I have achieved, as was sending out quarterly newsletters to customers.”

And where to from here for Sue? “My manager had previously done TPE with LMA, hence his suggestion I do it. I have since enrolled the supervisor in our venue in the Success Strategies for Team Leaders and Supervisors (SSTLS) course. So LMA language and tools are becoming part of Flourish Australia.

And…LMA have become my customer. They now run many courses out of Figtree Conference Centre in Sydney Olympic Park. Definitely a Win/Win!”