Interchange Meets: Randell Fuller, Group Organisational Development Manager, Probuild Constructions
For the second episode of our ‘Interchange meets’ series, we had the opportunity to sit down and have a chat with Randell Fuller, Group Organisational Development Manager at Probuild Constructions. Randell talks about the importance of ’employing hard to manage easy’, his professional development influences, the advice he would give his 25-year-old self and more.
Tell us about your professional background
Well, I’m quite lucky because I’ve had a rather diverse career as I’ve been able to work for unions, government and the private sector. I started out working as a union official in South Australia, then I came to Melbourne and worked for a construction union. I had a period of time working for a federal government reform agency, which was all the go in the early 90’s, and for the last 25 years, I have worked within the private sector, including my current role at Probuild Constructions.
Just as importantly, throughout my career I have been able to work alongside many talented people, as well as exceptional leaders, both men and women, from numerous different backgrounds and experiences.
Randell Fuller, Group Organisational Development Manager
How do you define positive workplace culture?
Workplace culture is such a difficult thing to describe. To me, what makes culture, what you can work on, are the behaviours demonstrated within an organisation.
The behaviours I look for, are those that make “the place” work. Ones that display respect, bring energy, and make the workplace feel productive. Everyone should be able to describe “how we do things around here”.
I don’t think that there is only one correct type of workplace culture, but there is a correct culture for each individual business.
Some businesses are best served by people getting on and collaborating, while others are best served by people beavering away and working on their own.
In your opinion, what makes a good leader?
When it comes down to it, a good leader is someone who leads by example. It sounds corny and old fashioned, but It really is the key component. If it doesn’t happen at the top, it won’t happen down the line. Employees have a very good sense of what their leaders are serious about.
A good leader should also create, and clearly demonstrate a purpose for what their business or team is doing. Purpose, purpose, purpose. Why are we doing this, and to what end?
The Marina Tower, by Probuild Constructions
What have been some of the biggest lessons you’ve learned during your career?
To listen. We’ve got two ears and one mouth, we need to use them in that proportion. Many of the failures I see, or when I have made my own mistakes, they’ve been because I or others didn’t listen.
If everyone just stood back for a minute and truly listened, there would be more innovation, more cohesion and less conflict.
Here’s the challenge, the skill is to hear the words and to understand their meaning, their feeling and any back story.
Behind every bit of communication is a set of values, beliefs, self-interest or fears. Two people could see or experience the same event and describe them completely differently, that doesn’t make one of them a liar.
How do you approach cultural issues in your own role?
One aspect is stopping any adverse cultural issues before they begin- so getting the hiring right in the first place. It’s so important to have the right person, with the right behaviours, in the right role.
When you’ve been doing employee selection for long enough, you can often pick up on the red flags straight away, but we do also get personality profiling done. It really is worth every cent. Sometimes the profiling will bring out something about the person that is completely inappropriate and will not align to company values at all.
I don’t know if I can emphasise it enough, ‘employ hard, manage easy’.
The other important thing is to use credible techniques when performing a cultural health-check. Whether it be 360-degree feedback sessions or engagement surveys… any tool that will give you information or can describe what’s happening within a workplace is very useful.
Unfortunately, a group of managers sitting around a table sharing views and experiences just doesn’t cut it today.
If you were to start your career again, what would you do differently?
When starting my career, I wish I was more confident.
The advice I would give my 25-year-old self would be to be self- aware, play to your strengths, get a mentor and take every opportunity to build your networks. By the way, don’t burn bridges, the earth is round. You and others will pass each other again one day.
Predict the future: What does work look like for people in 2050?
2050 is not that far away. Models of population growth, age profile, cultural background will most likely be correct because the fundamentals are all in place. So, there will be many more people working in health, welfare and caring industries. So I would, at first look at what industries and businesses will be dominant and that will answer most of the questions.
My guess is that there will be a huge workforce of brainy, tech-minded people, along with emotionally intelligent people mangers and carers.
I‘m also inclined to think about what the unintended consequences might be. Such as, if more and more people have to stop working due to mental health problems created by a new way of work. How will our society respond?
There is probably going to be some jobs eliminated or greatly changed because of their impact on mental health.
There are other obvious things too though. Women will be far more powerful than they are now, there will be fewer white, middle-aged men at the top, and technology will only continue to advance. You’d imagine that keyboards, smartphones and PCs will all be replaced.
Are there any books, movies or podcasts that have helped you develop professionally over the years?
I am a huge believer in seeking out materials that will have you questioning your views. Yu can find a a lot of value in reading things that challenge your thinking.
There are many resources that have helped me develop professionally, but here are a few that I’ve picked out for different reasons.
The Female Eunuch, Germaine Greer’s classic feminist book. Not an easy read and may even be a bit dated but had a profound effect on the 19-year-old me.
Bridge of Spies. A movie, starring Tom Hanks, about a lawyer, turned Spy, exchange negotiator. Forget negotiating courses, watch this movie.
Harvard Business Review. The leading business journal. The beauty of HBR articles is that they are easy to find just roaming the internet. The classics are relevant still today. Always at the leading edge of contemporary thought.