‘Leadership at scale’ – How managers can be central to a great employee experience

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‘Leadership at scale’ is a concept that many organisations aspire to. But for REA Group, the ASX top-20, Great Place to Work-Certified™ digital property giant, it has become a core part of the organisation’s success. 

The theory is simple enough – in today’s fast-moving, decentralised world, organisations need effective decision makers at all levels rather than just at the top. 

But implementation is difficult as it requires a broad pool of aligned, effective leaders in sync with top management. 

REA Group spends a great deal of effort ensuring leaders understand that they are expected to create a connection between their teams and the company’s purpose, strategy and key objectives. 

“You cannot take your eye off the ball on leaders,” says Mary Lemonis, REA Group’s chief people officer. “Leadership at scale will make or break great workplaces. 

“It’s about fully integrating strategy, objectives and individual commitments and giving managers, who are a big conduit of employee experience, the skills to be able to do that effectively.” 

Lemonis has very clear ideas of what is expected from leaders across her business. REA Group owns leading property websites in Australia including realestate.com.au and realcommercial.com.au, alongside property related websites throughout Asia. The Group’s operations extend to all parts of the property marketplace including finance, mortgage broking and property data.  

“Our leaders need to create shared clarity and set direction, they need to foster team safety and inclusion, they need to drive a courageous culture, they need to empower teams to deliver and they need to grow themselves and their people.” 

This vision drives both hiring, development and promotions and is one of the core reasons why 92 per cent of REA Group’s employees say it is a great place to work compared to 55 per cent of employees at a typical Australia-based company. 

These strong results are evident in a range of REA Group’s Trust Index™ results. More than nine in ten employees say that they are proud to work for REA Group and that they can really understand how their work contributes to the goals of the business.  

The focus on leadership shines through in the finding that 89 per cent of leaders through the organisation – mid-level managers, frontline managers and supervisors – say that their management’s expectations are clear. 

Another key driver of these strong results is the sense of purpose employees feel. 

“We help millions of people find their next home every day,” says Lemonis. 

“Our purpose is to change the way the world experiences property and everything we do is anchored to this.” 

Purpose can be an important driver of performance. When employees experience a sense of purpose at their company and they believe their leaders set a clear direction and expectations,  companies outperform the stock market, achieving returns 6.9 per cent higher than the market. 

REA Group reinforces purpose through each employee’s objectives and key results, linking the expectations of every individual to the company’s purpose and long term strategic ambitions. 

“We clearly communicate to the entire business critical objectives and key results that then cascade down to different tribes and squads and those connection points are then made at an individual level. 

“So if I’m in a particular squad, working on a particular product or solution, we absolutely create that line of sight back to one of the enterprise objectives and key results. 

“That’s a key way we go about creating that connection.” 

Importantly, REA Group is also at pains to provide career paths for people that want to excel in a technical discipline and not make the move across to leadership. 

“We’ve made it okay at REA to say ‘I just want to be on a technical path’. 

“There’s nothing worse than having a leader who doesn’t enjoy or excel at leading others and is in the role because it’s the only way to get promoted.”

Great Place to Work® is the global authority on workplace culture. We have spent decades studying what makes a workplace great. Our Trust Model© shows how managers are central to the employee experience of workplaces around the globe. Please feel free to contact me to learn more about how you can apply these insights to create a great workplace today.

Samantha Huddle

Samantha Huddle is the General Manager of Great Place to Work® in Australia and NZ. Sam has more than two decades of experience from the grassroots to the C-suite and helps businesses build high-trust, inclusive cultures that deliver tangible results. With experience across the government, philanthropic and corporate sectors, Sam brings a collaborative, values-driven approach and a passion for achieving social impact through business. Sam publishes a well-read monthly newsletter which can be read **here.**

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To be eligible for the World’s Best Workplaces list, a company must apply and be named to a minimum of 5 national Best Workplaces lists within our current 58 countries, have 5,000 employees or more worldwide, and at least 40% of the company’s workforce (or 5,000 employees) must be based outside of the home country. Extra points are given based on the number of countries where a company surveys employees with the Great Place to Work Trust Index©, and the percentage of a company’s workforce represented by all Great Place to Work surveys globally. Candidates for the 2017 Worlds Best Workplaces list will have appeared on national workplaces lists published in September 2016 through August 2017.