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How To Build A Winning Culture – The Podcast – Part 1

Business Culture seems to take prime position in conversations with business leaders these days.
So we decided to hit the issue of Business Culture head on at Bridgeworks Leaders In Action Forum in April 2019.

This well-attended forum was themed around “How to Build a Winning Culture”. With four award winning business leaders on the panel and a very vocal audience there wasn’t a lot of time for breakfast! We had a robust discussion around what makes or breaks modern day workplaces.

Podcast Series: How to Build a Winning Culture

In case you missed the breakfast, I am excited to announce that we captured the discussion and we will create a podcast series focused on “How to Build a Winning Culture”.

Here is the first Podcast gem….

Podcast 1: How to Build a Winning Culture – “Ownership and Influence of Culture” (with Christine Khor)

Over the series we’ll hear about

  • What qualities/habits build the best organisation culture
  • What leads to the demise of culture
  • As leaders what should be “front of mind” in building a business culture that generates the best results

You Don’t Build A Healthy Business Culture With Gimmicks

Culture essentially reflects the behaviour, actions and attitudes of a business leadership.

In fact, no amount of posters, mugs, reminders of the values of an organisation will make any difference if there is a lack of congruence in how managers lead their people.

The next 4 questions contain the key to why Bridgeworks emphasises leaders’ quality feedback around “How Others See Me”.

  • As a leader, are you trusted?
  • Do you treat people with the respect they desire?
  • Do you really understand the difference between ‘managing’ and ‘leading’ your people?
  • How well connected to your people are you as their ‘leader’?

10 Key Factors That Build And Sustain A Winning Culture

The panel and the leaders in the audience raised 10 key points. These will feature in the forthcoming Podcast “How to Build a Winning Culture?” series:

  1. Customer care begins with your staff. Your people should be your #1 “customer”
  2. If you are paying a bonus, call it a “profit share”. That is what it is. It comes out of the dividends of the company – they are ‘investing’ in the business. It is part of the profit. Don’t call it a “bonus”.
  3. Find out what makes a staff member special / what rings their bells. Learn what they like to do so you can talk with them about that special interest. In other words, show interest in their world.
  4. People don’t leave their job, they leave their boss.
  5. The standard you walk by (as in what you choose to walk past) is the standard that you accept
  6. Support workplace flexibility – by trusting the employees that they will contribute as much and more when they are working from home
  7. Maintain a collaborative leadership style – leaders make everyone play the game
  8. If you want to know how good your culture is, look at the level of willingness of your staff
  9. Have enjoyment and fun at workplace. Contributing positively to the cause. All valuing each other
  10. Praise the good and recognise it in the moment. So don’t step over the little things.

I’m looking forward to sharing this and more with you over the coming months.
First, watch the taster of what is to come:

Ownership & Influence of Culture

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How to Build Winning Culture – Forum of Leaders

DIVERSITY seems to be the hip word for the moment. Organisations who astutely leverage diversity seem to have “winning cultures”.

Of course, we all like to think that we are inclusive, that we deal fairly with diversity. However, my reality as I work with many organisations is that there is a high level of frustration and angst.

So, how do you get people of wide backgrounds and diversity to work as one collaborative team?

That is what we asked some successful leaders living in winning cultures celebrating positive outcomes of diversity.

Building Winning Cultures is a forum of leaders who have all built highly successful workplaces underpinned by cultures of excellence.

Building Winning Cultures
Forum of Leaders



The Panel Experts

Paul Serong

Paul Serong

Managing Director – CAC

CAC has won both State and National Awards at the Australian Rehabilitation Providers Association (ARPA) annual award program.. Paul is a great believer, and practitioner, in taking his people on the business journey of success. He’s been a client of Bridgeworks for over 20 years.

Tony McGinn

Founder and Chair of MCM Entertainment
Principal,The McGinn Partnership

Over 33 years Tony built independent media production and networking business MCM Entertainment around the world with operations in the U.S., Europe, Asia and Australia, employing at its peak 150 staff. Having sold MCM in 2016 Tony is working with select organisations on how to achieve their growth ambitions.

Trisca Scott-Branagan

Trisca Scott-Branagan

Head of Marketing, Institutional – ANZ

Trisca was named “Marketing Executive of the Year” in 2017 by CEO Magazine, and is ranked one of the top 10 most innovative CMOs (Chief Marketing Officer) in Australia in 2016 + 2017 by CMO Australia.

Peter Sutton

Peter Sutton

CEO of Sutton Tools

A leading Australian manufacturing organisation, Sutton Tools was named ” 2018 Manufacturer of the Year” under Peter’s leadership. Their precision cutting and drilling tools are exported all over the world.

What do the panel experts have in common?

All these leaders have one characteristic in common: They all know how to harness the best in their people!

How do you do that? What is the key(s) in building businesses of excellence?

To find out how they’ve done it, come along to the ‘Building Winning Cultures’ and be part of this highly interactive forum. Bring questions, share your experience. This forum promises to be a good investment in your team’s learning and development and a great way to show clients how much you care about your relationship with them.

In fact why not book a table (8-10 people) so you can bring along your team or your valued clients?

There are limited seats, so book now to avoid disappointment.

Building Winning Cultures
Forum of 


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Mission, Vision, Values…Rubbish Or Reality?

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Mission, Vision, Values… many organisations have a document defining those big words, often after much effort. In many cases it is filed or hung on a wall … and promptly forgotten.

Words are cheap! In our present political climate we see much effort going into the words that politicians use to ‘spin’ their way into parliament. We all know however that actions speak louder than words. And sometimes those actions lead to a very public destruction, instead of the construction of the “Vision”.

Are You Living & Breathing Your Organisation’s Mission, Vision?

Currently I am working with a client in education where the mantra is “We are passionate about our students”, “We want the best education for our students and school”. These are encouraging, positive words and mission, however what they practice as school citizens to each other as peers is a very different story.

The students are watching their teachers’ behaviour not just in the classroom; they also observe how they deal with other teachers in their school “team”.

A message a teacher wishes to convey may be “it is important to work together – in particular with people who are different to you”. However their actions with other teachers, with whom they are in conflict, show the opposite. There is bullying, egos and conflict between people that gets in the way of showing the best example of their mission (and passion) to students.

Many workplaces are no different.

My Challenge To You

Let’s just say someone spends a couple of days working in your business and observing workplace actions, attitudes and behaviours. At the end of their stay, they are to answer the following 3 questions:

  1. What are the values that this organisation holds deeply – the good, the bad, the ugly?
  2. What would they write about your business? Would they feel the team lives the organisation’s mission and vision
  3. What confirming behaviours do you think they articulate?

Many organisations have values around “Teamwork” “Collaboration” “Working Together achieves more”. Sadly for many this mantra is built on sand and quickly washes away through conflict, poor communication or a lack of open, honest conversation.

Is It OK To Have A Difficult Conversation?

Consider these 2 points honestly:

  • What process do you have in your organisation to encourage difficult or open conversations?
  • Do your leaders practice such important habits?

These critical habits are symptomatic of highly productive teams.

Yes, we have different views of the world, but because we choose to understand the others point of view rather than get ‘offended’ – a whole new world can open up. This is why high performing teams decide not to get offended by opposing views but to see to understand.

Handled the right way, conflicting views can be seeds to new opportunities, new gateways. Welcome them and ask yourself:

  1. Do you want to encourage more open, honest conversations?
  2. Are you taking full advantage of diversity in your workplace?
  3. Would you love to see a high level of respect and trust running in your business veins?

Start with “Why?”

I love Simon Sinek’s You Tube ’Start with Why?’. Until we can connect to our deeper questions of why we do what we do, we are only dancing around the edges.

Just like this education team with whom I am working, we may talk about being passionate about students’ welfare, but our actions say that “protecting self” is a greater priority.

It Is Time To Act

At Bridgeworks, we are passionate about helping leaders and teams understand the true impact they are having on their clients and each other. Nothing in team dynamics is stable for ever. Even previously effective teams can stop generating inspired outcomes. So it may be time to review what is really happening.

Should any of the above hit a nerve for you, let’s discuss your challenge and consider some of the many solutions we have delivered for the past 20 years. I would love to take your organisation on the exciting journey towards positively engaged and effective teams.

Give me a call on 0402 30099.

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Aligning Multiple Sites towards One Culture

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For organisations with multiple offices or Branches, aligning them to the one goal and one culture uniting them all can be a battle.

Recently I had feedback from a client in the mining sector with branches up the East Coast of Queensland.

I clearly recall the mess our branches were prior to the course, and how the relationships between the staff improved and remained strong long after the course completion.

The skills learnt drove our business in North Queensland.

I regret the lost opportunities within the product business, largely due to egos and lack of cooperation between business managers. DISC would have contributed to a more successful outcome, sadly some people “know best”.

Creating an emotionally safe learning environment

First of all, it it is important to create a learning environment away from work; a context where people can clear their head, have permission to speak openly – all backed up with quality feedback as to how the world sees them is key.

Accountability is the key to Alignment
We are all good at setting goals, KPI’s and targets. The cards all fall over when there is a lack of accountability, a lack of buy-in to the overall “acceptable” and “unacceptable behaviours”.

As leaders across varied sites, it is critical that there is a clear sense of common purpose.

Taking time to Reflect On “One Culture”

With the world changing so rapidly, lead teams need to take time out to remind themselves of 4 key points around the One Culture they want to foster:

  • Why are we in leadership?
  • What is our purpose as a business (beyond making our shareholders happy) and
  • Are we living and breathing the values we espouse to our business?
  • Do we trust each other enough to fearlessly keep each other accountable to agreed behaviours?

The smart successful companies do refresh and nurture the alignment of their people. Many have been clients of Bridgeworks for nearly 20 years now.

So you are wise to measure what is happening and identify any clear or hidden issue around

  • A lack of common purpose and authentic collaboration
  • Too much “grey” around what are “acceptable” and “non-acceptable” behaviours
  • Diversity leading to conflict between sites
  • A need to engender a culture of “proactive leadership” rather than “reactive management”

Give me a call at Bridgeworks to discuss. An open conversation can make a big difference in moving forward and working towards ONE CULTURE!

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Kokoda – Continuing to inspire a nation

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Leeches, mud, hot & sweaty climbing in a relentless jungle. Care to join me?

Then, why am I doing it (I’m heading off tomorrow there with my son)?

Kokoda is rich with lessons in leadership.

Kokoda was the first time Australia had fought on its own soil (Papua New Guinea was a territory of Australia in WW2 – 1942). Against a far greater number of jungle trained Japanese, the cards were stacked again them.

These Aussie diggers displayed the power of values through their actions:

Sacrifice and

Stan Bisset was one of those diggers. He was a local to Black Rock near where I live. Him and his brother Harold were very close. You could say ‘joined at the hip’.

Through the miserable conditions of the New Guinea jungle with Japanese attacking at any time of the day and night, both showed courage at many times in defending their fellow mates. Their attitude always lifted the troops – often having them laughing at their gags.

Sadly Harold was shot and died in Stan’s arms. War can be horrible in its brutality, but it never ceases to amaze me how character is built through hardship.

Imagine your business where in tough times, staff were so engaged, they constantly were on the lookout for solutions to pull business through tough times.

Values driven leaders and business are a cut above the rest. They become highly productive and engaged workplaces.

The ‘bottom line’ tends to look after itself.

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Measuring the current state of leadership & culture

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To ensure Bridgeworks is up with the most current leadership and issue concerning culture, Bridgeworks recently created a survey of clients using the 6 questions below.

The results so far (measuring over 150 leaders) has been insightful.

Although the survey is not yet completed:

  1. Having a clear vision that is shared with staff?

  2. Regular 360 feedback given to your leaders?

  3. Active engagement of staff?  

  4. Focus on building & developing leaders?  

  5. Building a learning & innovative culture?  

  6. Building a workplace that is enjoyable to work in?

The poorest scoring question (marked /10) was questions 2. There seems to be a lack of regular 360 feedback given to leaders. The highest scoring question to date is “Having a clear vision that is shared with staff” although with some organisations this scored poorly.

Bridgeworks places a heavy influence on the need for leaders to regularly ‘look in the mirror’ and have a clear knowledge that they are connecting effectively within their business.

  • Are you building trust with your people?

  • Are you creating the work environment that is fully engaging your people?

  • Are you a leader, boss or ba@#$%ard?

And as the great Poet, Robbie Burns once said “Oh the gift that God would give us, to see ourselves as others see us”

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Safety Culture & Leadership

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Safety culture and leadership are a matter of life and death.

This was no more clearer when comparing global players Exxon Mobil and BP. Both had major drilling issues on specific sites, Blackbeard West well (Exxon Mobil) and Macondo, Gulf of Mexico (BP).

Workers at both sites had concerns.

Exxon Mobil CEO Rex Tillerson decided to halt drilling (at enormous financial loss $170 million). BP continued driven strongly by the market and sadly ended in disaster (11 lives and countless environmental/brand damage). CEO Tony Hayward admitted he had known nothing about the well and its increasing difficulties leading to the explosion.

Deep down the two companies had different cultures and very different leaders.

Does your culture engage its people? Are ideas and concerns left in the car park or openly discussed without fear into the workplace?

Several years ago Bridgeworks worked with a steel company. Safety audits were appalling for the division we were asked to work with. 12 months later that same division was ranked the best on site. In fact, when the site shop steward ordered a strike for poor communication with management, the site we worked with responded “We don’t have any issue with management. If we have a problem we tell them, they listen and then act”

The solution was in building trust between management and workers. Creating a safe environment where open and fruitful conversations can flow.

It’s not rocket science.

If building a safety culture is your priority, contact us so we can share our latest research and strategies.

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The Best Leaders Look in the Mirror

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Experience has shown me that the best leaders are prepared to look in the mirror.

I recently spoke to a successful CEO who said “I need to preserve the energy I have. Unless I know that I am fully engaging the people around me, I’m making hard work for myself”

The higher up the organizational tree, more emphasis should be on ‘leading’ and less on ‘managing’.

Wouldn’t it be a shock if you discovered that your influence on others turned them to disengage and leave their ideas and innovation in the car park?

In Australia, the figures are staggering with around 60% of employees are disengaged* with their workplaces – they do what is asked of them in getting the job done, pick up their pay and go home.

Around 16% are actively disengaged in their workplaces. These are people who are actively a burden on your workplace.

This leaves around 24% who are actively engaged – proactive in working to improve workplaces, challenge the status quo and always looking at ways to improve productivity.

Such people are gold! Want to know how to lift engagement? Look in the mirror!

The good news is that engagement is dictated by the attitudes, actions and behaviours of workers next up line manager.

Have you provided opportunities for either yourself or your leaders to ‘look in the mirror’ to get high-quality feedback on how others see you or them?

This is an investment that potentially reaps a significant reward for your business.

If you are interested in finding out how effectively you engage others, let’s chat.


* Gallup Employee Engagement 2011-2012

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How’s your Ho’oponopono?

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Ho’oponopono is a simple yet profound forgiveness practice from the Hawaiian culture. It provides immediate benefits in both people’s personal and business life.

I was working with a mining company a few years back and it was clear there was a dysfunctional relationship between 2 key executives in the Leadership team. This was confirmed through our “How Others See me” profiling. This toxic relationship was nearly 10 years old and having a massive impact on the team’s productivity.

“Forgiveness” is a key measure in Bridgeworks’ Team Health check.

The Bridgeworks process created a ‘safe’ place to uncover the issue when debriefing one of the team challenges.

Both managers walked to the front of the group united and said “we would like to acknowledge that the dysfunction in this team, comes from the dysfunction of our relationship. We are sorry and want to fix this” They shook hands as a mark of reconciliation. Getting along depends about 98% on our own behaviour


What does ho’oponopono mean?  Ho’oponopono means, “I’m sorry, please forgive me, thank you, I love you.” Forgiveness in highly ego driven business is a rare quality. My experience is that the best businesses seem to embrace ho’oponopono.

Why is Ho’oponopono powerful?

Throughout human history we have been divided by distance, language, cultural and religious beliefs, class and economic hierarchy. Whenever someone comes up with a perspective there seems to always be someone else there with an opposing opinion.

To me the power of Ho’oponopono comes, in large part, from the fact that it’s a really rare thing for the vast majority of humanity to be in agreement about anything. Overcome this – you and your business will shine.

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How do you improve communication 110.8%?

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No tricks, no fads, just what a robust conversation can do.

We hear it all the time – the need for a ‘Brave’ conversation, tough love or getting the real issues on the table. These days this can be high risk and dangerous. A robust conversation can easily turn into a bullying claim.

But time and time again, creating a safe environment where we need to have the conversations we REALLY want to have is an art we have worked on for many years.

Recently Bridgeworks was referred to a food processing business of around 700 staff.

The task was to work with the CEO and Management team – the whole business was suffering due to the weight of poor communication and collaboration at the leadership end of business. This was made clear using Bridgeworks Team Health check. The one page summary below outlines the dire straights this business was in.

With the help of the highly insightful “How Others See Me” profile, it was clear that most relationships in the Leadership team were poor. This high quality data, prompted with well-tailored experiential challenges was used to generate targeted discussion about barriers in the team.

The results speak for themselves. 2 months following the Bridgeworks program, the Team Health check results were remeasured. (see below)

  • 110% improvement in communication,
  • 79.7% in vision and
  • 52.9% improvement in trust.

This was a massive weight off the shoulders of the CEO who felt the battle was being lost.

Now the coast and the future are much clearer.

The lesson is to make sure that you regularly measure the quality of your team’s health together with the quality of your leadership. Such insights can help bullet proof your business.

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