It is amazing the number of people who want to hand over a job to someone else so they have more time to do other work yet expect the job to be done EXACTLY as they would do it … And then blame the other person when they don’t live up to expectations.

Letting go of your ‘baby’ can be hard because someone else just won’t do it as well as you!

And you are exactly right … because they will not do it exactly as you do: it is an impossible ask because they are not you, not even close to a clone of you!

So what is going on here when a person is so protective of their work and their position that they hold back or even stop other people and themselves from developing more potential.

Some would say it is being power hungry or a control freak or just being self-centred. Whatever is it, it holds back the growth of a business and the people in it. And the result is people not making decisions because they are too scared in case they get it wrong or it’s never good enough so why bother if someone is going to come along and redo it anyway.

Then they are accused of not taking initiative, when the reality is that they have been punished or observed others being punished rather than rewarded for making decisions and taking action.

And for the person holding the control of the work others do…well they have all the reasons under the sun for why they need to keep their employees under a close watch.

And these reasons lead to one thing…a lack of trust.

It is expressed as a lack of trust for others when in fact it is a lack of trust in themselves to let go and trust others.

Again there could be numerous reasons why there is a lack of trust and there is no judgement here. What is here, is a recognition that there is more to the situation than meets the eye. Most people in this situation don’t even realise that is it happening, they are doing the best they can do yet inadvertently not allowing others to do the best they can do.

If this is sounding familiar to your workplace and you are finding yourself being overly critical of the work other people do and you struggle to let go of the work you used to do or you know you are over controlling and you don’t know how to start turning this around then here is one suggestion.

What you can do is share your thoughts and your processes, to combine this with how you do the task you now want others to do. The purpose is to help others learn the standards at which you want the work done.

But this will not happen if it all stays in your head and you are the controller of all information.

People are not mind readers, they are thought guessers, and if you want to leave your business in the hands of guessers then be the keeper of all knowledge and watch your business have struggle after struggle.

Remember this is a process particularly when someone is learning something new or there is a significant change to the way they used to do it.

The other side to teaching people how you what things done, is being open to the suggestions others can bring. Who knows, it just might make a huge difference to the effectiveness of your business and it certainly creates an environment for building trust.

To help you start sharing knowledge, here are some ways you can capture the standards you work at so others can learn from you. And remember the list below can be used by others so you can learn too.

  1. Write the procedure – a bit traditional, but necessary depending on the environment and accessibility to other mediums.
  2. Develop a simple flow chart.
  3. Create a picture board with instructions.
  4. Create an audio – have someone interview you or record yourself talking through the steps.
  5. Have someone record you doing the task or your training of a person.

One late thought: No matter what the medium is, if it is not easy to use and relevant, then it won’t be used by others so keep it simple as much as possible.

Diane Gray

Culture, Systems, People





Have you heard yourself or someone else saying things like;

• How did this happen?
• We need a solution and fast.
• There has to be an easier way.
• I don’t have time to fit XYZ.
• We need help!

For each of these, it is obvious that there is a problem which needs to be solved.

Some problems may seem big and others small but size is irrelevant. It is the consequence of the problem that matters.

Sometimes what is perceived as a big problem can be solved simply therefore not a bad as first thought. Other times the problems are perceived as minimal but neglect of these can lead to a cancerous result through an organisation.

Where ever there is a problem there is a gap.

And gaps are always going to appear because change will always happen.

There is a problem with gaps; how they are filled!

Now there are numerous options from which to choose from to fill a gap but the most common ones in today’s way of doing things, is the ‘band-aid’ fix…the short-term solution that is not sustainable for the healthy, wealth and sustainability of an organisation.
Take hunger for example: When you’re hungry, you eat, but the quality of the food will determine the sustainability of your health. If you eat chocolate to fill the hunger rather than taking time to make and eat a sustainable meal, then expect to be hungry again soon. The chocolate may have been great in the moment but it won’t do your health any good if it is all you eat.

The same goes for your business.

What is needed here is systems thinking which determines the sustainability of any organisation or business because if the gap (hunger) is covered with a band-aid fix (chocolate), then the gap is going to reappear, and usually it will be worse than the first time and therefore the sustainability of your business (health) is at risk.

So, the solution requires some restraint to NOT jump at the most convenient option without due consideration.

In fact, it needs a thinking that can see the whole picture and the parts which includes how the gaps can be filled for the best overall results.

The trap that many decision makers fall into is that they focus totally on the outcome and the quickest result. This is when the gap becomes the problem.

How do you find the sustainable gap filler so it doesn’t become the problem?

  1. The most important first step is to recognise where the gap is in the whole of the organisation…what is its impact? How do you know this?
  2. Then you need to ask…where specifically is the gap showing up? How do you know this?
  3. Look again at where the gap is showing up and ask…why it is there?
  4. With your response to Q4, it’s time to ask…why again and repeat at least three more times to make sure you are getting to the root cause of the gap, and not stopping at the first assumption.
  5. Now that you have reached the root cause in the specific part of the organisation, it is time to investigate solutions and that starts with asking…what is the INTENTION here?
  6. Then ask, with the intention in mind…what is the OUTCOME? Do not rush to the outcome without connecting with the intention.
  7. Now design the PROCESS to fill the gap and take the action required to fill it.

You will know you have a sustainable solution when filling the gap benefits the WHOLE organisation – it’s culture, systems and people.

NOTE: The bigger the organisation, the less likely the solution to filling the gap sustainably can be done by only one person.

Sustainable gap filling needs a team; an advisor; a mentor; someone who can be a sounding board, who can help challenge quick response of outcome first and remind those involved to start with intention.

Diane Gray
Culture, Systems People


?? Office Politics Kills Functional Workplace Culture ??


Wherever people congregate for any length of time there will be interactions, behaviours, feelings and opinions that create differences and agreements between individuals and groups.

In the workplace, these differences and agreements are also known as office politics and office politics determine the quality of the company’s culture.

Company culture is inevitable. In fact, this is one part of business that is a certainty. Every company will have a workplace culture. The choice here is in the quality of the culture, from highly dysfunctional to highly functional, that is required to build cohesiveness, productivity and reputation to consistently deliver on the outcomes of the company that in turn deliver an exceptional experience for clients.

Now if this choice is ignored, and the workplace culture is dysfunctional, then most people know the repercussions…divisive behaviours of ingroups and outgroups; gossip and back stabbing of people and their ideas; hogging of information; lack of trust between frontline employees and management; reliance on union protection activity; people working to the rule of the position description; managers undermining the efforts of others; and undermining management decisions.

So how do companies reduce the risk of a dysfunctional culture and create a highly functional culture that leads to a productive, innovative and healthy workplace without the downside of office politics?

Here are five considerations:

  1. Ego drivers are out:

These are the people who are self-serving and want to build their own power circles for their own gain. Identify these people at the recruitment stage but if they manage to get through, as soon as there is a hint of the self-serving attitudes or behaviours, then address them immediately.

  1. Others’ builders are in:

These are the people who advocate for the success of others they work with as well as the potential of the company. They we be ‘on board’ with the direction of the company while also willing to step up and provide their opinion about opportunities and risks the company may face. People who are others builders are needed at every level of the company.

  1. Build trust with transparency:

You’ve probable hear the saying that ‘Knowledge is power’ but in dysfunctional workplace cultures knowledge is used as leverage for self-gain and self-promotion which leads to high levels of distrust. Transparency rips the band-aid off ‘knowledge hogging’ and shares the power among other people in the workplace. To create the transparency, information is shared though open communication channels that provide opportunity for opinions and ideas to be heard without retribution. Transparency is the gateway to building trust between people.

  1. Keep the communication channels open

Often the breakdown of a functional culture begins when people are fearful of sharing information or a problem whether it is with a team member or a manager. This is when leaders can step up and make it a must to escalate problems and provide constructive feedback to encourage direct conversations before problems become significant. It also encourages cross-team collaboration and engagement as well as building continuous improvement.

  1. Expect accountability. 

Everyone within the workplace needs to be held accountable for their part in the culture. This means they are accountable for their contribution to the standards of communication and the quality of skills to do their part within the whole of the company. If one person is not living up to this expectation and it is left to fester, the risk of developing a dysfunctional culture is high. Accountability is more than just personal accountability, it includes being prepared to have what can be uncomfortable, difficult conversations so team members are supporting the accountability of others.

When all is said and done, office politics still seem to filter into the workplace, many people struggle with conflict and there will be clashes of personality.

But if a company’s leaders are prepared to show the way with open communication and build he potential in others then the way forward includes constructive feedback with accountability.

A useful place to start is offering culture development sessions to leadership teams so they can build on the skills needed to have the uncomfortable and difficult conversations without alienating the other person. This helps reduce resentment that can result from self-serving behaviours or poorly delivered feedback which can lead to unhealthy politics.

Yet a workplace is more than just its leaders. Culture development training is most beneficial when it is provided to everyone in the workplace.

After all, leaders can direct the culture like the captain guides a ship across the seas but it relies on the whole crew working together to take the ship where it needs to go.

Diane Gray

Culture, Systems, People




Have you ever been in the situation where you a started a project but then didn’t finish it?

At the start, there is lots of excitement and motivation to do it. There are lots of great conversations, lots of action … all is good in the world … it’s contagious … yay, get out the balloons!

Then a couple of weeks later reality hits … ‘stuff’ comes up: someone doesn’t do what they said they would do; there are problems sourcing the product; a supplier doesn’t deliver on time; there is a workplace conflict that needs to be resolved; there aren’t enough hands to do the work!

And that’s just at work!

What about family time? There are kids to be fed (and don’t forget the dog either); kids get sick; partner wants quality time; the in-laws come to visit …

And what about you?

You are so busy you stop going to the gym; start eating takeaway; stay up way late, get up way early … which is all cool … until you get sick or you can’t sleep because of all the ‘other’ crap going on!

Where has the excitement gone? Where is the motivation?


So what’s the answer here?

***It is time to PLAN …and plan smart***

If you have a great idea DO NOT sabotage it before you even start it by not putting some sort of plan together. And it can be very simple by making sure it covers all bases (why, what, how, when and who) – not every tiny detail.

The detail comes when you review progress and modify the plan.

It can be done on a whiteboard, notebook or project plan software; really, whatever …

What’s important here is that creating a plan is not a one-off document, never to be reviewed …

You have to treat it like your best friend who likes to go for a beer or glass of bubbles every Friday after work. And when something is troubling them, you take time to find out what’s wrong. And then do what you can to support them.

Your PROJECT and your PLAN are best friends!

Diane Gray

Specialist Consultant





Creativity is the number-one attribute being sort in business today.

It would be fair to say that every business wants the lion share of the market they are in and SMEs, small and large corporate companies need to play on the creativity field if they are to gain the results they want.

Yet finding the time to be creative is a tough ask with the busyness of today’s world…who has the time to take time out these days!

It’s all hustle, hustle, hustle!

Creativity needs space to think and explore but so often the quick fix is sort instead – the quick fix that doesn’t require thinking or the time to explore options and ideas. Instead it provides easy to follow, spoon fed strategies that might, just might give a short term result and before long it is back to the drawing board…oops, apologies…the drawing board doesn’t exist in this thinking because that would require creativity and exploration so it is back to the internet to find the next quick fix.

It’s like the ‘diet’ trap so many fall into where a person needs to lose weight quickly for a holiday or special event so they follow a fast-results ‘diet’ and within a short period of time they have regained the weight and unfortunately for some have put more on. They are in a worse position than when they started.

So what’s the answer to investing in creativity in your business?

Its starts with Culture

To start with, creativity and exploration need to be encouraged throughout the whole of your business and to do that they need to be ingrained in the culture which is led from the top leaders and decision makers.

For the culture of creativity to go viral in your business, as a leader you must actively promote and encourage it and not leave it up to someone else to do it for you. If you leave it up to others, no one really believes you, so therefore, they will not fully trust you, which means your credibility and respect from others is put at risk. The last thing you want is a ‘do as I say, not as I do’ mentality.

So your team must actively promote, encourage the creativity culture WITH you, not for you.

Allow opportunity

Creativity does not happen when we are in our comfort zones, it needs nourishment in the unfamiliar. Spending time away from the familiar such as a few days hiking or camping, exploring, unplugging from mobile phones, social media and the internet – something that is different and unusual from the norm can led to a 50% increase in creativity, according to a study done by University of Utah

This means that time away even if it is to go for a walk in the middle of your day, needs to be scheduled, so your work is still completed. Creativity does not mean neglecting responsibilities. It means the opposite. Be creative in finding ways to balance creativity and the logistics of the must do’s.

Ironically, time seems to be the biggest obstacle, yet for companies where creativity is embedded in the culture time doesn’t seem such a big problem. They make it happen because it is important, so therefore they plan for creativity and are creative in their planning.

Ask lots of questions, be curious

Asking questions on what we are seeing, hearing, experiencing and challenging what is right in front of us is a curiosity that gets lost as we move into adulthood, yet is essential to creativity.

The saying, curiosity killed the cat comes to mind…but creativity gave it nine lives!

So often people who ask questions are labelled as trouble makers or antagonists. Maybe, just maybe they are the ones who would have stopped products from having to be recalled.

Seek out multiple perspectives

When ideas are stuck in a small space with limited perspectives, they don’t get very far if they get traction at all.

Take time to seek other people’s opinions, asking what they see, hear, feel, what is their experience. Seek out people who you know won’t tell you what you want to hear, people from different background or different industries.

An idea in its infancy needs many supports to bring it to maturity so create the creative, nurturing community.

Use your systems to your advantage

At some point creativity, exploration and ideas need to be made real. That means they need to be deliverable and have a return on investment because let’s face it, no one is in business to make a loss and waste resources.

This is where your systems come in, whether they are physical, process, people or thinking driven. Your systems will either support or restrict the creative process.

Where a system is restrictive, then it’s time to be creative in how the system or the idea can be modified to gain the return on investment. Then the decision on feasibility needs to be made.

Recognising and addressing the limitations can be challenging but it is essential. It certainly beats being strangled by the status quo of inertia or ground hog day.

So if you want more creativity for your business, your team and yourself, then take action to make it happen. Commit to changing the ‘way it’s always been done’ and stay thinking differently. Give your brain a rest from the same old, same old. Instead, nurture and fertilise ideas that move you out of your comfort zone.

Diane Gray, Specialist Consultant




Have you noticed how taking action leads to results? And yet no action also leads to a result!

Have you noticed that to start something – a business, a project for example, and to keep it going there are specific steps that need to be taken?

Have you noticed how many step by step formulas there are to choose from and how confusing it is to pick one when they all guarantee success?

All the above can leave the hardiest business minds confused, stuck in no man’s land and not knowing which way to turn. It can feel like there is a war between the right way to do things and the emotional RIP that can pull you out into a sea of nothingness.

And when this happens your competitive edge, your energy to fight for your point of difference gets drowned out with all the ‘noise’ around you.

Using linear thinking is a common starting point to reduce the noise.  You will recognise this thinking by the step by step formulas where there is a start and a finish with sequenced steps in between just like a ladder. Very useful, this is why there are so many quick fix formulas out there.

Yes, very useful…to a degree!

In fact, overuse of this linear approach stops the thinking, it builds ‘sheep’ mentality instead. It spoon-feeds the expectation of how ‘things’ are done, without deviation…no thinking required. And success is guaranteed…hmmm!

The overuse of linear thinking is driven by fear of failure, fear of losing face and the fear of getting it wrong. It is also driven by those wanting a quick fix to problems…no need to think, just do and do quickly. The current over reliance on step by step formulas that are flooding advertising, blogs and social media are killing business ingenuity and innovation.

It is killing off the very thing people want…to stand out in a crowded market place.

As you may imagine, this will not build your competitive advantage, let alone build a sustainable business model.

The answer?

Start by limiting the linear processes to essentials only. A great example here is an evacuation procedure where in the case of an emergency you want everyone to know and follow the evacuation plan as per the drills practiced…it will save lives!

What else?

Use system-focus thinking. This means you engage or take on a model or a methodology that builds and encourages creativity beyond the straight up and down of the ladder. A model that stops you being sucked into the RIP that leads to nothingness.

It means you can use a universal model, like the System-Focus Model and add your own flavour, modify how you use it to fit your market demands, choose who you share the model with and who you build the model for. In other words, YOU MAKE IT YOUR OWN.

The universal nature of the model provides you with the competitive advantage you are after. And this is exactly what the System-Focus Model does for business.

Diane Gray, Specialist Consultant (Service Industry), GrayHeart,

Creator of System-Focus Model for Business


Who Is On Your Side?

No matter whether you are running a business or leading a team, you need people around you who will support you, your goals and your dreams.

There are enough naysayers out there who will trash what you are about as soon as there is the slightest whiff of success. Let’s face it, running a business or leading a team is hard enough work with the ups and downs that inevitably come our way without having criticism, back stabbing or the ‘told you so’.

Sometimes these people may be close to you, such as family members, and others will be ‘friends’ or acquaintances, but one thing they all have in common is that you do not TRUST them.

So who do you need on your side?

Well, let’s start with the obvious: people you can trust!

These people play roles that bring balance to your way of thinking and doing.

The Networker: This role is a very social one. They know who is who in the jungle and what they do, so as soon as a need arises, whether it is a graphic designer or a plumber, they are onto it. They get a buzz out of connecting people.

The Inspirer: This role brings creativity and inspiration to you and your ideas. They help keep the flow of ideas coming and allow you the space to be your most outrageous. They will help you reach for the stars.

The Devil’s Advocate: This role plays an important part in ensuring the rose coloured glasses come off and that you stay grounded. They want to see you achieve, so will make sure you are aware of the challenges up ahead so you can be prepared.

The Questioner: This role makes sure your ideas turn into action and the work gets completed. They will ask detailed questions on how, when, what, why and who. They will make sure you have a plan of action.

The Advocate: This role champions for you. They believe in you and what you are about. They ‘get’ you and will advocate for you to the end. They are your top supporter. They will also be the ‘kick-up-the-backside’ motivator when you need it.

The Philosopher: This role helps to broaden your perspective of the impact you and what you do, as well as others, has on the world. They can bring a lot of wisdom and will generally have a philanthropic mindset where giving and adding value is paramount.

Now these roles can be played by one or two or ten people, the number isn’t important. What is important is that you have these roles in your support circle.

And you will know they are right for you because the trust between you will be very high. It has to be.


Fair Dinkum – The Deal Breaker


The very Aussie expression ‘Fair Dinkum’ can be expressed in so many ways and in so many situations depending on the context.

The one consistent thing when using this expression is that the user is seeking confirmation about the truth of something. Can ‘this’ be trusted?

Trust is a MUST HAVE component of every long term, successful relationship business owners have with clients as well as with staff, contractors, suppliers and many more stakeholders.

It provides you with repeat business, word of mouth referrals and leads to people wanting to work with you. After all, there are not many people out there who people trust!

How often have you heard that before?

And if you don’t operate in the space of being ‘Fair Dinkum’, then others notice the untruths or a lack of consistency, which then leads them to think you are hiding something or not being open with them.

So …

What does it mean to you if a client refers to you as ‘fair dinkum’ when talking to others? For example, ‘Jane is fair dinkum with the work she does, she’s the real deal.’

What is being said here?

Jane can be TRUSTED!

Yes … It’s a great testament to the trust you build with the people you work with.

So, go out and be FAIR DINKUM.


Recruiting Smarter


Have you ever employed a person thinking they are exactly what you want, they are so right for this position, and you’re ecstatic? You can’t believe how lucky you’ve been to find such a star performer!

Then, the more you work with them, the more you realise the star’s shine starts to become dull. And it’s all downhill from there. They are not a right fit after all, they are not who they said they were in the interview, or they are just not on the same page with the direction of the business!! And now you’re stuck!

More than stuck … it is costing you time and energy to take on performance management or you have to go through the expense of recruiting someone else in the hope you find the right person this time round!

This is a very common problem, particularly when businesses grow very quickly and you have not had a lot a time to take the recruitment slowly, so here are some considerations for you.

  1. Be very aware of the biases that come into play when you are desperate for help. You want to be proactive here, not reactive to the pressure to get someone on board. Here are some examples of the biases (aka your own BS):
    1. Anyone will do
    2. They have one or two of the skills needed so we can make do
    3. They look ok (physically) so they must be good at their job – also known as the halo effect!
  2. Plan the position – this can be an arduous task if you are not clear on the role and tasks that need to be done, so take a little time to be specific and identify the requirements (i.e. skills, training, personality, part-time, full-time, contractor etc.).
  3. The smaller your business, the more likely you will need a person who has multiple general skills. The larger your business becomes, the more you will need specialists. So be prepared to engage a Jack (or Jill) of all trades who is likely to be a master of none. If you go for a master, their skills are less likely to be flexible across multiple business areas.

In addition to the points above, here is a bonus consideration.

Profiling tools are now a normal part of recruiting the right person. They give employers insight into the personality or behavioural traits of the prospective employee.

The benefits far outweigh the costs when considering the following:

  1. You gain more information about the candidate, such as what they are good at.
  2. You learn how they are likely to respond in pressure situations.
  3. You get a better sense of whether they are more likely or not to be a fit for your business culture.
  4. You find out if they are good with working with people or better working on their own.

At the end of the day, you want to find the best person for the job and to do that, then the more information you have the better you are placed to make that decision. And ensuring you have the best person for the job stands you in good stead for being an employer people are itching to work with, which can only help you gain a competitive advantage over your competition.

If you would like to find out more about behaviour profiling for current and future employees, then feel free to contact me … I’m only a conversation away.


Are You Living The Dream?


The Olympics in Rio have shown us some of the most extraordinary achievements, regardless of whether people have won a medal.

Just to reach this level of competition is a true testament to commitment, hard work, dedication, getting up over and over again after a fall, living with the highs and the lows, living with pain and ecstasy, risking injury, healing injury, being frustrated, winning (and more often losing but never giving up), never stopping believing in the dream … and having a support team: the coach(es), family and friends who believe in your dream right there with you.

And this is what it takes to be in business and be successful.

If not, what is there instead?

Showing up when the mood feels right, reacting childishly to criticism, bills piling up, disgruntled employees, fearful of taking risks, sulking when losing a contract, giving in to the pain of the down times, aimlessly drifting, lost in the hustle and bustle … and doing it on your own. Does that really work?

Yet as business people we are told to do what we need to do to make our business work: get up early, go to bed late, do all-nighters, hustle, don’t be negative, be positive – all the time – and so much more.

I’m sorry, but this list really pees me off.

Why? Well, let’s take the expression ‘hustle’. Now, it can mean a variety of things including being active and taking the rough and tumble of business – all good so far. But it can also bring up connotations of being defrauded – that means doing or saying anything to make a sale, doing anything to make money. And to do this, it may include burning the candle at both ends, doing the all-nighter.

Now I’m not saying never burn the candle at both ends or don’t do the all-nighter, because there are times when this is needed. But there is a difference between ‘on occasion’ and it being so regular that there is nothing else.

To go to these extremes and do anything for the money or the dream, to hustle your way there is like being a drug cheat in sport. It goes way below the line of trust and respect, not only for yourself, but for others. It may gain short term success, but it does not deliver on long term sustainable business results or a healthy reputation.

So what’s the answer?

Any high performing athlete will tell you, without hesitation, how important it is not only to do the hard work consistently, but also to include recovery time, eat well, sleep well, have time out AND have it planned.

They know all too well that they cannot go flat out 24/7.

They understand the importance of pacing their training, using all of the energy systems – just not all at once! – and the importance of working on their weaknesses while also building on their strengths. They practice working their body and their mind so they work together, not separately.

They also know when it’s time to take a break without guilt.

And it needs to be the same in business!

Make sure there is consistent hard work, have time out with friends and family, make time to exercise and eat well, be grateful, have a great support team – your coach, your team – and believe in your dream.

You can be a high performing competitor in your industry.

All it takes is the dream, the commitment, the plan, the next plan and the next to help build the systems in your business so you are taking action, purposely on purpose, every day, going for gold.

It’s called living the dream.

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