‘People don’t leave jobs, they leave managers’

by L&D19 Sep 2016
Leadership development is centre stage in the L&D program at the Sydney Opera House.
“Whilst we work in arguably the most beautiful setting in the world, research and experience tells us that people don’t leave organisations or jobs. They leave managers,” said Louise Hope, head of organisation development & learning at the Opera House.
“Our leaders are the custodians of our culture. They drive the performance and development of their teams. If we get it right with them, we will have happy and engaged employees.
“With the support of the executive team, we have been delivering a core leadership program across the organisation for the past four years.”
The program focuses on the basics of effective feedback, coaching, influencing and driving change.
In the past 12 months, the Opera House have stepped the program up by developing a multi-layered approach which factors in further development options for their senior managers and their executive team.
And the results are showing: their last engagement survey showed engagement to be at 75%, an increase of 6% from their 2013 survey.
Hope believes this can be attributed to the quality of their people leaders.
Another important element of the L&D program at the Opera House is “Talent Review”.
“Identifying our key talent and ensuring that we have clear development plans in place helps us to engage and retain the group, as well as helping us to plan effectively,” Hope told L&D Professional.
“Our leadership pipeline is really healthy and that is something I very proud of.”  
One of the main L&D challenges at the Opera House is developing and delivering effective learning programs that meet the needs of all employees. 
As a 24/7 business, the Sydney Opera House have a large proportion of rostered and casual employees working across diverse business streams.
“How a leader delivers effective developmental feedback in the finance or marketing team differs greatly from how a leader might deliver effective developmental feedback to the staging or tour-guiding teams,” said Hope.
The aim is to deliver a consistent key learning message while also making workshops as “meaningful, practical and accessible to all attendees as possible”.
Another key L&D challenge at the Opera House is ensuring that managers are effectively supporting and encouraging learners to apply and embed the new skills once training has been completed.
“Things move at an incredibly fast pace at the Opera House so it can be easy for participants to launch straight back into work and forget the skills they have learnt,” said Hope.
“We are working to find simple ways to better support managers to have follow-up conversations and set goals with their team member once the workshop is over.”
Louise Hope will be featuring at the Learning & Development Masterclass in Sydney. It takes place on 30 November 2016.
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L&D at the Sydney Opera House: Understanding people is the key to success