What motivates us in our work? RiverRhee Consulting Newsletter, March-April 2014

What motivates us in our work?

In our Introduction to Management, and Supervisor Training courses with One Nucleus, we help delegates explore what motivates them and members of their teams in their work.  This is also a theme which Elisabeth Goodman is exploring as she writes the second of her RiverRhee Publishing workbooks – “The Effective Team’s High Performance Workbook”.  (The first, “The Effective Team’s Change Management Workbook” was published in November 2013.) There are many models depicting what motivates us in our work, and yet Abraham Maslow’s (1908-1970) hierarchy of needs is still one of the most popular.  His hierarchy ranges from the basic physiological needs, through social belonging, and on to self-actualisation. We have also been expanding the pool of RiverRhee Consulting Associates, and so we thought it would be fun to find out what motivates us in our work as a way of  introducing all of us to you.  We would be interested to hear if and how what motivates us reflects or resonates with you.  Do you feel the same, or differently?

Bringing ideas and new knowledge into our work and that of others

Knowledge Management is a key area of expertise for John Riddell, so it is fitting that one of the things that motivates him is: “when people learn something that enables them to do their job better, whether this is by using existing knowledge or creating new knowledge”.

John Riddell is a certified practitioner in Lean Six Sigma and is highly experienced in knowledge management.

John Riddell is a certified practitioner in Lean Six Sigma and is highly experienced in knowledge management.

Other things that motivate John: “I get a buzz when I’ve helped people to help each other. I also love it when a plan comes together!” Elisabeth Goodman also enjoys “Translating ideas into something tangible that will help people think about their work differently”, she uses this creativity to shape the range of training, coaching, consultancy services, and publications from RiverRhee Consulting.

Elisabeth Goodman is an experienced and certified practitioner in change management, Lean Six Sigma, MBTI, and an expert in knowledge management

Elisabeth Goodman is an experienced and certified practitioner in change management, Lean Six Sigma, MBTI, and an expert in knowledge management

She particularly likes “Introducing structures and tools to teams and managers to take away any pain or anxiety that have been preventing them from enjoying or feeling fulfilled in their work.”

Helping people generally

Being able to help others is a big motivator for all RiverRhee Associates.  Here is an example from Sue Parkins: “Helping people develop and achieve their full potential.”  Sue has a proven track record in using these skills to deliver business benefits both in the Pharmaceutical Industry and Healthcare.

Sue Parkins Sue is an experienced and certified practitioner in Lean Six Sigma and change management

Sue Parkins Sue is an experienced and certified practitioner in Lean Six Sigma and change management

Sue is also motivated by “Adding real value and enhancing a process or business”

“Working with folk who care about people and quality” is also a key motivator for Paul Hadland, a great attribute for someone who has honed his IT-related skills by working as an information scientist, systems developer, and director of strategic consulting.

Paul Hadland has worked as a management consultant on change projects in pharmaceutical, animal health, consumer goods and consumer electronics companies

Paul Hadland has worked as a management consultant on change projects in pharmaceutical, animal health, consumer goods and consumer electronics companies

Paul is also motivated by “Making a perceptible difference.”

Making a difference to how people work

One of the main ways in which we make a difference to businesses and teams is by helping them to enhance their processes.  As Rose Bolton puts it, it’s about “Working with people to find ways of doing things that make work simpler, easier, more efficient and effective.”

Rose Bolton has a proven track record in managing service improvement initiatives, including the development and implementation of IT projects

Rose Bolton is a Human Resource professional with a proven track record in managing service improvement initiatives, including the development and implementation of IT projects

We also make a difference by helping people to increase their personal effectiveness for their work within formal and informal teams.  This is reflected by Lorraine Warne’s motivation “I get a great deal of work satisfaction by passing on the knowledge of mind tools to delegates, (teaching delegates to dip into their super computer, the unconscious) to increase work excellence.”

Lorraine Warne has a passion for working with individuals and organisations so that they can increase their personal effectiveness.

Lorraine Warne has a passion for working with individuals and organisations so that they can increase their personal effectiveness.

Many of us are running our own businesses as well as working as RiverRhee Associates.  This also enables us to bring a diversity of experience to the RiverRhee team.  So Lorraine also has this motivation “Making a difference to the human race through running NLP Practitioner and NLP Master Practitioner courses and 1 to 1 coaching.” (Incidentally, Elisabeth attended one of Lorraine’s courses during March, so that she is now an accredited NLP Practitioner.)

Getting that positive feedback

One of the ways in which we build continuous improvement and quality into our work is by asking for feedback from our clients during and on completion of each of our engagements.  We take suggestions for improvement seriously, but also enjoy receiving that positive feedback. Here’s how Margie Gardiner puts it “A big motivator for me is when a client ‘gets’ it and can see how the tools and methods can be applied to their business problem and bring improvement – it’s the ‘aha’ moment from the client that brings the training to life in a practical, beneficial way.”

Margie Gardiner has an extensive background in business redesign and change management, Lean Six Sigma, programme management, clinical research, and training

Margie Gardiner has an extensive background in business redesign and change management, Lean Six Sigma, programme management, clinical research, and training

Sometimes that feedback may come a while after the event, as stated by Janet Burton, who incidentally neatly sums up many of the motivators of our team “I really am pleased when weeks or months after a training session, people come up to me and tell me just how much they enjoyed the training, how much they use their new knowledge in their work and how much difference it has made to their output and efficiency.”

Janet Burton uses her experience of training and management to help people develop their skills, enhance their confidence and change for the better

Janet Burton uses her experience of training and management to help people develop their skills, enhance their confidence and change for the better

Other news

In March we delivered a tailored version of our One Nucleus one-day course Smart Working for Business Growth and Innovation for an NHS-related organisation.  Many thanks to Janette Thomas of Accentbio Ltd who stepped in to help us with this course. Also in March, Elisabeth presented and facilitated a discussion at an IMPI (Information Managers in the Pharmaceutical Industry) meeting on “How Information Management roles are evolving”.  Thank you to TFPL for putting this engagement our way. We are also continuing to periodically deliver a tailored one-day version of Smart Working for Business Growth and Innovation to an existing client – with two more sessions running in April. A new contract also kicked off in April for some Operational Excellence consultancy with an academic library. We are starting to review the proofs for our publication with Gower “Knowledge Management in the Pharmaceutical Industry” – which is now scheduled for release in September. Last but not least, we are looking forward to our forthcoming courses with UKeIG  “Getting Better at Everything you do” (May 14th in London), and with Shaida Dorabjee “Marketing and Internal Change” (4th June, also in London).

If you would like to find out more

Do get in touch if you would like to find out more about RiverRhee Consulting, our range of off-site and in-house workshops, and how we can help you to create exceptional managers, enhance team effectiveness and create an exceptional team.  See the RiverRhee Consulting website or e-mail the author at elisabeth@riverrhee.com.

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Notes for the occasional project manager. RiverRhee Consulting Newsletter, January-February 2014

Support for new or occasional project managers

In November last year, Elisabeth Goodman ran an introductory one-day course on Project Management (Effective project planning and management) through TFPL for a group of Library and Information Professionals.  Although Project Management is now a recognised profession, with a range of educational and vocational qualifications available, there are still many people who find themselves needing to manage projects without having had any formal training for how to do so.  There are others who have had the formal training, but would welcome some continued support as they start practising their new knowledge and skills. Our course, and the key themes in this newsletter are for these occasional and new project managers.

Articulate and agree the project goal and scope

Articulating and agreeing the goals and scope for a project are a critical first place to start.  Without these it is impossible to sensibly plan the approach, timescale or the right people to be involved  It may take some iterations, through crucial discussions with the sponsor.  The project goal and scope may also evolve as you start finding out more about the subject of the project.

By the way, there is a strong overlap between managing change and managing projects – some would argue that the two are synonymous! This is something that we are looking forward to exploring further through the newly formed APM Enabling Change Special Interest Group (SIG) that Elisabeth has been helping to set up.

Build your team

Project teams need to go through the different stages of development to reach high performance just as operational teams do.  Unlike line managers though, project managers tend to have limited authority over their team members who are often ‘on loan’ from their day job.  Clarity of people’s roles and responsibilities on the team, and some active team building are therefore doubly important – themes that feature strongly in our various courses for enhancing team effectiveness.

Manage your stakeholders

It is crucial to have the right sponsor, at the right time for your project, giving the right messages and generally supporting you in mobilising the people and budget involved, and in influencing the other stakeholders.  This was a theme that came out strongly in our recent presentation, and the associated discussion at the APM Midlands branch: Facilitating operational excellence in and for business change projects.  Again, as in change management, it is important to understand who your stakeholders are, their attitudes, knowledge and skills in relation to the project, and what you need to do to engage, influence and support them through the project.

Develop your plan

Inexperienced project managers can find this the most daunting of their responsibilities.  It lends itself well to a brown paper and post-it exercise and can be done with the whole team. We used a decision tree in the TFPL course to help participants identify all the key steps and their interdependencies.  We annotated each step with how long we expected it to take, and then mapped the steps onto a timeline running from the anticipated start time to the anticipated delivery time. It also helped those who had been set a fixed deadline to be able to argue what might or might be possible from a more informed stand point.

Project plan

Manage your information and access available knowledge

Library and Information Managers usually have well developed skills in managing information and accessing knowledge that they can apply in their role as project managers.  Whereas we have found that making sure the team learns before, during and after a project has been completed is an ongoing challenge for many other project managers.  The range of information to manage includes the various documents describing the project and its status, anticipated risks and mitigation plans, decisions made (to avoid reinvention), actions and their status, and more!

Put some good working practices in place

As your team evolves you will not only want to consider how to manage your sponsor and other stakeholders, team member remits, project plans and associated information, but also such things as meetings and communications.  There is therefore lots of scope to engage team members in creating some strong working practices for the team. Objective external facilitators such as ourselves can help with carrying out team diagnostics and with supporting the team in shaping these good practices.

Other news

We have a strong portfolio of courses for our clients to choose from in 2014.  We have just announced the dates for our Introduction to Management course with One Nucleus and will be holding it in the lovely new facilities at theMelbourn Hub in South Cambridgeshire on the 26th-28th March.  Janet Burton will be running this course with Elisabeth Goodman.

We also have a new course on Conducting Effective Performance Reviews and Appraisals with One Nucleus, and those interested can read a case study and testimonial of an in-house course that we delivered on this topic.

If you would like to find out more

Do get in touch if you would like to find out more about RiverRhee Consulting, our range of off-site and in-house workshops, and how we can help you to create exceptional managers, enhance team effectiveness and create an exceptional team.  See the RiverRhee Consulting website or e-mail the author at elisabeth@riverrhee.com.

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Creating Exceptional Managers – RiverRhee Consulting Newsletter November – December 2013

EXCEPTIONAL MANAGERS CREATE EXCEPTIONAL TEAMS

Are you supporting your managers’ development to position them well for creating exceptional teams?

RiverRhee Consulting has been privileged to work with several very talented, enthusiastic and relatively new managers in recent months.  These managers have been keen to develop their skills in various aspects of those three magic circles that were originally described by John Adair, and are still the bedrock of effective team management today: developing the individual, building the team, and managing the task.

Manager's responsibilities

Elisabeth Goodman and Janet Burton worked together to deliver our new One Nucleus three-day Introduction to Management course to managers from four Life Sciences organisations.  Delegates commented on the value of “Learning from others and a real understanding of what I should be doing”, and “Reflecting on my experiences and seeing how I could have dealt with previous situations”, “Overall an excellent experience”.

Elisabeth also coached two supervisors in a customised version of our new Supervisor Training course and helped another Life Science organisation to define and implement an enhanced performance appraisal process.

In this newsletter we explore some of the emerging themes from our experiences with these managers and organisations.

EFFECTIVE PERFORMANCE REVIEW PROCESSES BUILD SUCCESS FOR THE ORGANISATION AND FOR THE INDIVIDUAL

Effective performance review processes are an opportunity to engage individuals in the goals and success of the organisation as a whole.  They are also a key vehicle for shaping individual roles and personal development.  Unfortunately negative experiences with such processes can lead to a loss of trust, a disinclination to ‘own’ personal performance reviews, and a disproportionate focus on how they will be used for salary or bonus assessments.

Some of the supervisors and managers that we worked with re-discovered the value of performance reviews and how to plan and manage SMART* objectives in a way that would reinstate positive attitudes within their organisations.

[*Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, Time bound.]

DIFFICULT PEOPLE ARE NOT NECESSARILY BEING DIFFICULT!

We know that we all have our own perspective on the world, and that this can influence how we communicate with each other, and yet it is easy to forget those differences as soon as someone is perceived as being difficult.

Psychometric tools ranging from Honey and Mumford’s Learning Styles, the NLP representational (or communication) styles, Belbin’s team roles and MBTI (Myers Briggs Type Indicator) can all help us to get a better understanding of our different perceptions and approaches to life and work.

If, even with the benefit of those insights, we still think that someone is being ‘difficult’ then there are various strategies at our disposal, such as active listening, coaching and assertiveness that could help a manager effectively address that situation.

THE ABILITY TO FLEX THEIR STYLE IS ONE OF A MANAGER’S GREATEST ASSETS

Different individuals within a team will draw on different aspects of a manager’s skills.  The team as a whole will require different management styles as it goes through the various stages of team development.  The ability of managers to flex their styles to best suit the individual and the situation is a topic that provoked a lot of discussion during our training courses.

The teams that we have been working with recently are all very local, but Elisabeth also facilitated a recent APM (Association for Project Management) East of England event where we explored the challenges and approaches for working with ‘far flung’ teams.  We have a project management related course, Effective project planning and management , which we ran for the first time with TFPL in November.

ENCOURAGING TEAM MEMBERS TO COME UP WITH POSSIBLE SOLUTIONS RATHER THAN PROBLEMS

Our third course with One Nucleus – Smart Working for Business Growth and Innovation - combines aspects of Lean and Six Sigma, Knowledge Management and Change Management, and focuses on good business practices such as identifying, analysing and resolving problems as they arise, rather than rewarding firefighting.

We included some of the problem solving techniques in our training for managers and supervisors, and whilst some people were already using the techniques in their organisations, others were keen to explore how they could use them to encourage their staff to come them with potential solutions, rather than just the problems.

NEWS ON OUR PUBLISHING ACTIVITIES AND ON CHANGE MANAGEMENT

We continue to be busy on the publishing front.  John Riddell and Elisabeth have now submitted their manuscript for “Knowledge Management in the Pharmaceutical Industry” to Gower.  This is approximately one year ahead of schedule so we are waiting to hear what the revised publication date will be.

On the publishing and Change Management themes, Elisabeth’s new book: The Effective Team’s Change Management Workbook is now available under our RiverRhee Publishing label, and is starting to receive some good reviews.

Elisabeth also ran an interactive seminar as part of CILIP’s Prison Libraries Group’s conference at Birmingham’s new library, entitled “Navigating change in an ever-changing world”.  In the face of cuts and changes in funding models, staff cuts and other changes, they agreed that the key was to adopt a navigator rather than a victim or stoical survivor mentality, to be clear about their goals (focusing on quality for their customers), and to seek out and address the root causes for wasted time and effort.

Birmingham Library

IF YOU WOULD LIKE TO FIND OUT MORE

Do get in touch if you would like to find out more about RiverRhee Consulting, our range of off-site and in-house workshops, and how we can help you to create exceptional managers, enhance team effectiveness and create an exceptional team.  See the RiverRhee Consulting website or e-mail the author at elisabeth@riverrhee.com.

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Supporting Growth and Innovation in Local SMEs. RiverRhee Consulting Newsletter, September – October 2013

Bringing a global perspective and experiences to a local community

RiverRhee Consulting’s networking and marketing media reflect our different areas of focus: team effectiveness, the Life Sciences, Library and Information management and also SMEs (Small and Medium Enterprises) in Cambridgeshire and Hertfordshire.

Networking and marketing media

This global perspective of our work and experiences is something that we share in the Social Media workshops that we run periodically in the local area.  Our next such workshop will be on Wednesday 9th October in Royston, in conjunction with The Training Manager.

Business development and innovation coaching

As we have mentioned in a previous newsletter, Elisabeth Goodman is now a registered and approved Growth Coach for the GrowthAccelerator.  This means that she can help SMEs to gain access to support and funding for coaching and training to help them to grow and innovate – something that businesses in the Cambridge area especially are not taking as much advantage of as they could.

Do get in touch via elisabeth@riverrhee.com if you would like to find out more about this.

Leadership & Management training

We are delighted to announce that RiverRhee has been appointed to deliver One Nucleus’s 3-day “Introduction to Management” course for leaders and managers in the Life Sciences, the next one of which will be running at Granta Park in Cambridge on the 23rd-25th October.  We are also very pleased to announce that Janet Burton is joining RiverRhee as a new Associate to help us deliver this and other training of this type.

Increasing personal effectiveness

We are continuing to receive interest in our MBTI (Myers Briggs Type Indicator) and NLP (NeuroLinguisticProgramming) coaching to increase personal effectiveness, and to generally build stronger relationships within teams.  We have been providing this support in one-to-one coaching, small workshops and in team events.

Our latest video, filmed during Elisabeth’s and Lorraine Warne’s “Increasing Personal Effectiveness” summer workshop at the Cambridge Business Lounge, will give you a flavour of what this is about!

Our next workshop on MBTI will be on Tuesday 15th October in Royston, in conjunction with The Training Manager.

RiverRhee Publishing – supporting the local community!

Clients are often curious to know the derivation of our company name.  The river Rhee is one of the lesser-known tributaries of the river Cam.  It runs from the springs at Ashwell and on as far as Harston.  We have a couple of blogs about this on the home page of the RiverRhee Consulting website and have decided to take this local connection further, through our new publishing label, and the release of our first book by local historian Jonathan Spain: The Pilgrimage to our Lady of White hill.

We are also publishing a series of workbooks on themes relating to enhancing team effectiveness, the first of which, on Change Management, will be coming out in November 2013.

The Effective Team's Change Management Workbook

Look out for more details in our next newsletter.

If you would like to find out more

Do get in touch if you would like to find out more about RiverRhee Consulting, our range of off-site and in-house workshops, and how we can help you to enhance team effectiveness and create an exceptional team.  See the RiverRhee Consulting website or e-mail the author at elisabeth@riverrhee.com.

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Summer and the 3 Cs. RiverRhee Consulting Newsletter, July-August 2013

Collecting, connecting, creating

As Elisabeth Goodman mentioned in her recent blog – Umbrella 2013, a view from a CILIP trainer – there are some common themes in Information and Knowledge management in terms of collecting information and knowledge in a form that can be made accessible to others, and then connecting people to these assets, and to each other to really make that information and knowledge flow.

The ultimate goal of these activities is of course to enable us to create ideas and opportunities that will lead to incremental improvements in what we do, or to break-through innovations.

We thought this would be a great theme for our summer newsletter as summer holidays are traditionally a time to collect new experiences or to simply relax and pick up pebbles on the beach; to connect with friends and family or our own inner thoughts; and to create new energy and ideas for the coming months.

Collecting

Collecting

A lot of RiverRhee Consulting’s work also centres around these 3 Cs: we help teams to collect facts, perceptions and insights relating to what they do; to reflect and connect with these insights and with each other; and to then create and implement improvements to their work as a team.

Collecting

Any effective initiative makes use of sound facts and data.  Information and Library professionals have a vital role to play in helping to make the wealth of in-house and external information more accessible to individuals within an organisation.

We are now all ‘knowledge workers’, and so tapping into what we already know should be a prerequisite for anything that we undertake.  It is something that the APM and Project Managers continue to be passionate about in advocating the collection and sharing of ‘lessons learned’ before, during and at the end of any project.

Operational teams can also benefit from collecting facts and data on their work, and this is something that we support through the use of team ‘temperature checks’ or diagnostics, and as part of the Lean Sigma ‘Measure’ phase as input for analysis and discussion in team workshops.

Connecting

Connecting

Connecting

Elisabeth Goodman has been doing one-to-one consultations using the MBTI (Myers Briggs Type Indicator) psychometric tool to help people gain a deeper understanding of their strengths and of how they can use these insights in both their personal development and in their interactions with others.  This makes MBTI a powerful tool for team building activities – and Elisabeth will also be using this in her work with a client in September.

One of the four dichotomies in MBTI describes where we prefer to focus and draw on our energy.  In a sense this is also about how we prefer to connect: outwardly in interaction with others, or inwardly through quiet reflection.  (Of course, as with the other dichotomies, many of us will like a mixture of both.)

Information and Knowledge Management resources and processes also provide the means for connecting with hardcopy or electronic resources, and for connecting with other people either individually or as part of a community.  Elisabeth’s latest article in her and John Riddell’s ‘Knowledge Management Surgery’ explores how understanding the MBTI personality profiles could help with many aspects of Knowledge Management.

NLP is also a powerful tool that we have been using to foster personal understanding and for team building.  Lorraine Warne and Elisabeth are running a workshop in Cambridge on the 24th July Increasing your Personal Effectiveness, which will give delegates an opportunity to explore both of these techniques alongside each other.

Creating

Creating

Creating

This brings us back to the last of our 3 Cs that we mentioned in our introduction.  If we have our facts and data, our experiences, our insights, and reflect on them individually or with others, we can start to identify new ways of doing things.  We can come up with new products, services, improvements to our processes, and ways to achieve a high performing team.  We can be in the flow, enjoy what we do and achieve great things!

Speaking of which, John and Elisabeth have completed the body of our book – Knowledge Management in the Pharmaceutical Industry - and are now reviewing the content with contributors.  We anticipate getting the final product to our publisher, Gower, by then end of the year, 10+ months ahead of our delivery date…

If you’d like to find out more

Do get in touch if you’d like to find out more about RiverRhee Consulting, our range of off-site and in-house workshops, and how we can help you to enhance team effectiveness and create an exceptional team.  See the RiverRhee Consulting website or e-mail the author at elisabeth@riverrhee.com.

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Learning alliances and the coaching continuum. RiverRhee Consulting Newsletter, May-June 2013

Giving teams the time, environment and skills to reflect

As Elisabeth Goodman wrote in her recent blog – Feel the fear and do it anyway – our work at RiverRhee Consulting is all about giving teams the right conditions for thinking about their work and dealing with the challenges that have been getting in the way of their productivity and positive morale.

It is a kind of facilitation that sits at whatever point in the coaching continuum, from the most directive, where we are in instructive mode, to the least directive where those that we work with can simply reflect on what they are doing.  And it relies on forming a strong ‘learning alliance’ with our clients, so that we can listen and respond to exactly what they need.

Lorraine Warne and Elisabeth had the opportunity to provide just this form of blended and responsive approach in a recent 1½-day workshop for an EU organisation. Our combination of presentations, interactive discussions and break-out groups enabled the team members to develop fresh personal insights on their communication styles and values, build a stronger team spirit and collectively identify solutions to improve their efficiency and performance.

The teaching end of the continuum

Although our workshops usually combine teaching new skills with opportunities for practice and reflection, we do occasionally put a little more emphasis on the teaching.  John Riddell did just this in a 1½-hour taster on Lean and Six Sigma for people in Abcam, one of our existing client organisations, who had not yet attended one of our 1-day workshops.  We’re hoping they will be amongst those signing up for a further workshop for the client in the autumn. (A full case study of our work with Abcam was included in the June issue of the One Nucleus TrainingNews.)

Mentoring our existing/returning clients

Four years into our business and our list of returning clients is starting to grow.  John and Elisabeth previously introduced a client to Lean and Six Sigma.  Elisabeth has now begun mentoring them as they work their way through the DMAIC approach to define what constitutes value to their customers, and how they can deliver that more efficiently.

Coaching SMEs for business development and innovation

Elisabeth is now a registered and approved GrowthAccelerator coach, which means she can provide “expert, tailored advice to help ambitious businesses achieve rapid, sustainable growth”.  You can find out more about the programme at http://www.growthaccelerator.com

Other forthcoming and recent activities

We have several workshops and seminars coming up during June and July.

Two of these are new collaborations with The Training Manager when Elisabeth will be delivering introductory evening seminars in Royston on Social Media on June 11th, and also on the Myers Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) on July 4th.

(Elisabeth delivered a presentation on the ROI of Social Media to members of the Cambridge Network during April.)

Also coming up, for the third time, is ‘Getting Better at Everything you do: optimizing the way you work’, with UKeIG, on 19th June in London.

And finally, just to confirm that we are still busy in the Knowledge Management space:

  • John and Elisabeth’s series of KM articles has started to appear in Aslib’s publication (Knowledge Management Surgery – How to get started in Knowledge Management. Managing Information, vol 19 (8), 2012 pp. 54 – 55)
  • And you can view Elisabeth’s presentation Where does information management end, and knowledge management begin? from the APM evening seminar in Birmingham in May.

If you’d like to find out more

Do get in touch if you’d like to find out more about RiverRhee Consulting, our range of off-site and in-house workshops, and how we can help you to enhance team effectiveness and create an exceptional team.  See the RiverRhee Consulting website or e-mail the author at elisabeth@riverrhee.com.

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Life as a small business. RiverRhee Consulting Newsletter, Mar-Apr 2013

Life as a small business

The start of the year has become something of a traditional time for networking and marketing for RiverRhee Consulting.  This year it’s also been a time for soul-searching with other small business owners who are either just starting up after a previous life in the corporate world, or are reflecting about what the new budget will bring in the UK.

So our March – April 2013 bi-monthly newsletter is dedicated to ‘life as a small business’, and some of the insights that we’ve gained about how to make this successful.  Not surprisingly, some of these insights will apply to medium and large organisations too.

Keep focusing on what your customers want

One of the most valuable tips we learnt when we started up RiverRhee was from Andrew Halfacre, of Lighthouse 365 in his ‘Start Your Own Business’ workshops, when he advised us to focus on what your customers ‘are hungry’ for.  (This is how Elisabeth Goodman came about giving one-to-one tutorials and occasional seminars on using LinkedIn and other Social Media for personal and business development.)

Focusing on what your customers want is also the starting point in our operational excellence / process improvement workshops, where we encourage teams to think about what their customers value: it’s the individual deliverables, and it’s also the quality criteria that the customers expect.

Understand your core expertise

For a small business, understanding your core expertise operates at two levels: the area of expertise that you are offering your customers (in our case, enhancing team effectiveness) and, from a business point of view, knowing the competencies that you need to supplement from other sources.

To run a small business requires competencies in marketing and general management, as well as the ‘technical’ capability or expertise that is core to your business (whereas in a large organisation individuals can just focus on what they are best at).  For a business owner to be aware of this is already a start, finding ways to supplement their competencies with those of others is the next step.

Be clear about your values

The importance and nature of our values was brought home to us in a recent practice run for a 1½ day team building workshop that Lorraine Warne and Elisabeth Goodman will be delivering in the spring.  Our values lead us towards the goals that we want to fulfil.

At the heart of RiverRhee’s values lies our passion for helping others: we see many teams struggling with too much to do and/or a lack of clarity about how to best go about their work.  Our greatest reward is seeing and hearing the ‘aha’ moments in our workshops when people realise they now have the capability to improve the way they work, and to do so on an on-going basis.

Build your support network

One of the most dramatic changes for a small business owner coming from the corporate world is the need to rebuild the support network that they might have previously taken for granted.

People that you knew in that previous life, and who have started a business ahead of you are often enthusiastic and extremely helpful mentors.  So finding, and keeping connected with them on LinkedIn can be invaluable.

There is also an abundance of local ‘geographic’ networking groups of other small business owners to learn from and that can act as sources of support (accounting, marketing, technology and more).

These groups can also be a good audience for you to practice your offerings (as Elisabeth did in a recent presentation on MBTI – Myers Briggs Type Indicator – to the Melbourn Business Association) or they may indeed be a source of associates to work with in the future.

Keep visible and active in your area of expertise

A lot of small businesses get their clients as a result of direct interaction with potential clients, past clients, or through current or previous associates.  So it’s important to keep visible and active in the fora where these people are likely to be.

That means for example going to related professional events, giving seminars, writing articles in related publications (John Riddell and Elisabeth have just sent in the 3rd article in our “Knowledge Management” surgery series for Aslib’s Managing Information).

Keeping visible and active in your area of expertise involves doing whatever is relevant for your client group and for your professional skills.

Be flexible

New client requirements, different ways in which you can use and develop your expertise, new support and associate opportunities will emerge on a continuous basis.  Amongst a small business’s greatest assets is its flexibility to adapt to this changing environment.  Being responsive in this way is both our challenge, and our opportunity!

If you’d like to find out more

Do get in touch if you’d like to find out more about RiverRhee Consulting, our range of off-site and in-house courses, and how we can help you to enhance team effectiveness and create an exceptional team.  See the RiverRhee Consulting website or e-mail the author at elisabeth@riverrhee.com.

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