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Tuesday, June 25, 2019

A Vision for Change: One Organization's Strengths and Q12 Journey -- Gallup Called to Coach: Marianne Hogan (S7E21)



On a recent Called to Coach, we spoke with Marianne Hogan, Senior Manager, People and Culture at Macquarie Telecom Group in Sydney, Australia, about her personal journey to discovering her strengths and the insights strengths have given her, as well as Macquarie's corporate journey to embed strengths and Q12 within its corporate culture.
Our host was Claire DeCarteret, Gallup Regional Director of Learning Solutions in Gallup's Sydney, Australia office.


Below is a summary of the conversation. Full audio and video are posted above.

[5:04] Claire DeCarteret: I know you've had some experience working in different fields and internationally, and rather than read the rest of this, I'm actually going to throw it over to you, to tell us about your journey and maybe starting with your Top 10 (Clifton)Strengths. 

Marianne Hogan: All right. Thank you. What a journey! But let's start with those Top 10 strengths. Individualization, Positivity, Activator, Self-Assurance, Arranger, Achiever, Maximizer, Learner, Command and Responsibility

I think probably if I look at how did I really get to learn what those meant and claiming it for myself, I decided to use the lens of watching of my career history. And it's, as you say, been a little bit varied. But what I really notice is Self-Assurance, in particular, has come to life, and I can see how that plays out when I've chosen to travel abroad to start a new career abroad, to move into sales in a country where I had no network, and no previous experience in that field. 

And so I can see that playing out. I also see it happen when I chose 10 years later to move back to Australia, and threw my hat over the fence, and thought, before I do, I'm going to qualify as a Yachtmaster -- a sailing instructor. I'd done very little sailing, but the Self-Assurance kicks in and goes, "Give it a go. You can do it. If you don't know how to, you'll find a way." And I can really see that come to life there.

Activator really comes to live when I look at the breadth of all the different things that I've chosen to do to stretch myself, there's certainly a theme around people development, engagement that way. But the breadth is seen as the activation and starting pieces.

And I think when I reflect on the toughest times in my career and personally, the Positivity strength really plays out in building my resilience. And so in some really tough times, I've been able to stand up and continue, and I think that's the Positivity strength that kicks in.

When I look at maybe some of the things that get in the way, and I know when under extreme pressure, with Command at #9, that can play out probably a little more Commandment or Commander, than when a strength is really helping you perform. And so I've got to be conscious of that.

So it's a great way to learn how to understand what your strengths are, where your talents are at, and how to grow them -- is have a look at, particularly if your career history is longer, then that's a great way to understand them. 

[8:10] CD: I'd love to hear about how you found strengths -- what your strengths journey looks like, and I know you've recently been certified as a Gallup-Certified Strengths Coach.

MH: I first started reading or hearing about strengths probably mid-last year, mid-2018. And as the journey to understand a little more about them came about, then my executive team, and particularly the CEO, started talking about "What is this?" 

And so about 7 months ago, in fairly deep detail, I dove into how do I create the development activities we needed in the business and the engagement measures there, and that's when I and David Tudehope, the CEO, really started to explore what these are and sought external counsel as to who's worked with strengths, with Gallup, with the Q12

And for the last 7 months, most of my life has been really understanding more, building a program to roll that out and personally being accredited. And it's certainly given lens of common language for me to understand myself that much better, which has just been brilliant. 

CD: In terms of your own strengths and when you first saw your strengths report, did that make sense for your career journey?

MH: So there are always little nuances, where I go, "Oh, maybe I don't want Command, and how does that play out?" But when you read the report, particularly the new format, it is just so right -- even the parts where I go, "I am really, really strong there, or I really have possibly a blind spot there." It's just right. 

And so I tested my thinking about that and shared it with my husband and my team, and everyone who would read about it, and they just look and go, "Uh-huh. That's you, Marianne!" 

[10:23] CD: So I'm really excited to be able to ask you some questions about how you've embedded this -- I know you've really championed this as a change program, and you've got the unwavering support of the CEO and the board and the executive team, which is incredible. And I know there's probably a lot of people who are listening that are wondering, "How did you get that executive buy-in? How did you get started?" 

So those are some of the things we're all really excited to uncover. But as we delve into that, if you could share with us, what is the Macquarie Telecom Group story around strengths? What was the compelling "why"? And how did you get started with the vision to become a strengths-based performing culture? 

MH: Great question. And it's not a short journey. So I think that's part for everyone to be conscious of is to get great buy-in and to have sponsorship at the most senior level. It's not a quick decision and done. 

So if I reflect on what's happened, four or five years ago, parts of our organization had different members of the team go through the StrengthsFinder survey and have their results. And that was interesting and it was insightful, and that's where it stopped.

In conversations in the last 12 months with our board and with the executive team, there's been a real focus around ensuring we understand how engaged our employees are. But also we need to do something which is really developmental but sits within our technically literate, enthusiastically human lens, and isn't competing with the big end of town who have significant funds to throw at MBAs and different pieces there. 

So when we're looking for those two answers -- how engaged are our employees and what do we need to do differently, and how do we develop them and our managers to be the very best they can be -- that's when the world of Gallup, the Q12 and strengths, really became apparent.

So after working with the CEO -- he'd had multiple conversations with our board, as had I -- we explored what were they used to, where were they familiar or not familiar with these tools? We took the executive team to meet with peer organizations and competitor organizations in the Sydney workplace who have adopted strengths program, looked at their results, looked at how they approach that. And then we built a solution. 

And that solution is using both of the tools of strengths and Q12. 

The journey is we're 6 months into it. We have touched over 400 people in training them as to what their strengths are, their talents are and how to grow that. And we've also taken our 60+ managers through "What does it mean? How do I invest in my people to grow their talents into strengths?"

So we're doing that piece. We have the lens of the individual, the manager teams and also the organization, and we're taking tact at all of those levels. But there's a ways to go, and that touches on that to start with. 


You can start using your CliftonStrengths today:

Marianne Hogan is Senior Manager, People and Culture at Macquarie Telecom Group.
Macquarie Telecom Group is Australia’s leading data centre, cloud, cybersecurity and telecom company for mid- to large businesses and government customers. 

Marianne joined the company in August 2016, and considers herself a "practitioner, not a theorist." She constantly challenges herself and this is reflected both in her successful career and initiatives to date, as well as her completion of two Sydney to Hobart yacht races, achieving third place (on handicap), in both.

Marianne began her career as a Management Cadet with Grace Bros department stores, which embedded her customer service ethos. Once graduated from the cadet program, she set off on yearlong travels around the world, which eventually led her to the UK and into a sales and leadership role in UK multinational bank and financial services company Barclays, where she worked for 10 years. 

Before returning to Australia, Marianne set herself a new challenge -- she qualified as a Royal Yachting Association Yachtmaster and sailing instructor. She spent 18 months teaching people to sail across the UK, France and Mediterranean.

When she came home, Marianne invested her breadth of experience in leadership development and sales training, building her own practice of exceptional learning experiences within industries such as IT, logistics, and banking and finance in Australia, Asia, and the USA. Marianne moved back into the corporate world in the late 2000s and has been able to bring her passion for developing organisational culture and supportive people solutions to Macquarie Telecom Group.

Marianne Hogan's Top 5 CliftonStrengths are Individualization, Positivity, Activator, Self-Assurance and Arranger. 


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