By Elisabeth Goodman, 8th October 2016
We are preparing to deliver our 10th Introduction to Management course since we first started running it in 2013. Our 60+ alumni, from 20+ organisations, know that we are committed to continuous improvement, to ensuring that managers receive the very best guidance to help them and their teams excel in their work. We do this by acting on the feedback that we receive, and by monitoring and incorporating what external experts are saying and doing across the 13 modules that we cover in the course.
You can read more about our goals for excellence, how we are doing, and our forward plans, at the end of this newsletter.
For now, for the benefit of our alumni in particular, here are some extracts from two issues of the Harvard Business Review that we feel support the benefits that we focus on: how to help you become more confident and capable in your role as a manager.
Amy Gallo. Get your team to stop fighting and start working. HBR June 09, 2010 – thank you to Tony Jones of One Nucleus for sharing this with members earlier this year.
Linda A. Hill. Becoming the boss. HBR January 2007. Reprint R0701D – selected by RiverRhee Associate Liz Mercer.)
Being the boss does not give you automatic authority
Many of the managers that we work with have been promoted to this role because of their strong performance in their previous scientific or technical role. It can be disorientating to then find yourself in a role with different criteria for success. You may also have to manage people who were previously your peers, have more years’ experience, or who have different areas of expertise from your own. Linda Hill reminds us that a manager does not have automatic authority in these situations, and that, in fact, an autocratic and controlling (or micro-managing) approach is the last one to aim for.
Instead, she suggests that your power as a manager will come from your ability to listen to your direct reports, and then exercise judgement and influence to get them and others to do the right thing. It’s about ensuring that the goals are clear and that individuals take accountability, supported by the high level guidance that you give them.
Your focus should be on the team rather than on the individual
The last point in the previous section also emphasises the balance that you should be aspiring to as a manager: to delegate more of your work so that you can then focus outwards from the team. This will enable you to concentrate on developing relationships within and outside the organisation that will anchor your team and its work more strongly in its wider environment.
Linda Hill argues that you should be focusing on what will make the team successful, rather than focusing exclusively on the individuals within the team. This seems like a balancing act too. We use John Adair’s model with the three overlapping circles of individual, team and task. You do need to understand and build rapport with the individuals within your team, but not to the exclusion of the overall success of the team.
You may need to make hard headed decisions to fulfil your role as a manager
Linda Hill’s previous points about having a whole team and an external orientation mean that you will be better able to make objective decisions about what you need to do to ensure that your team is performing at its best and to make the changes needed to meet your strategic goals.
Amy Gallo has some more tips on how to create a high performance team, a topic also covered by one of the modules in our course. Like us, she acknowledges that conflict is a natural and healthy feature of team dynamics. She also suggest that there are things you can do to minimise the damage, such as making time to agree and reinforce the team purpose and its norms (or ground rules). She stresses that is important not to let conflict fester, to discuss it early and to resolve it as a team, and to then ensure that those involved get re-engaged quickly in some group task, however small.
We will bring all of these ideas, and more, into future iterations of our Introduction to Management course, the next one of which is scheduled for the 15th-17th November. Do get in touch if you, or others you know, might be interested in coming along.
Some closing notes on our targets for excellence for the Introduction to Management course
We use Kirkpatrick’s first and second levels for evaluating our courses: delegates’ ratings of the course against various criteria combined with their comments on how they will apply what they have learned. Our target is to achieve consistent (100%) ratings of 4 or 5, on a scale of 1-5 where 1 is low and 5 is high, across all the criteria that we assess in our end of course feedback. We are currently achieving 98.5% 4 or 5 ratings for the quality of our presentations, the value that delegates gain from the course, and the extent to which they would recommend RiverRhee to others.
(Interestingly, the September 2016 issue of HBR contains a model for assessing customer value that Bain and Co. have evolved from Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. We might explore ways to apply that model to delegates’ evaluations of our courses.)
From November we are going to start including more insights from external experts, enhancing the style of our hand-outs, and exploring the best approach to and balance of individual and group discussion and exercises. We have also, reluctantly, decided that we have outgrown our current training venue at the Melbourn Community Hub for the 3-day course, and so have booked the more spacious Copley Hill facility near the Babraham Research Campus, for 2017. Our 1-day courses tend to attract smaller numbers, so those will continue, for now, in Melbourn.
What will you do next?
Would you like to work with us to develop your managers and your teams? Are you, or someone you know, interested in attending our November 15th-17th Introduction to Management course?
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 and teams. See the RiverRhee Consulting website or e-mail the author at firstname.lastname@example.org.