Category Archives: Newsletter

Setting your company up for success. RiverRhee Newsletter May-June, 2018

By Elisabeth Goodman, 28th May 2018

Our new partnership with The Innovation Practice to facilitate workshops on team strategy, behaviours and working practices

RiverRhee has been facilitating team building and development workshops on and off for several years now.  We recently facilitated one of these for a team at Red Balloon. The result, as Karen Schmiady (Head of Fundraising and Communications) says, can be “a highly motivating and inspiring day [with] many useful actions that will really make a difference.”

RiverRhee has struck up a new partnership with The Innovation Practice, which is proving very exciting!  Ludo Chapman of the Innovation Practice and I have been talking to CEOs, COOS and HR Directors in SMEs about how we can help them set up their companies for success.

Together, we are offering an enhanced package for senior management teams and members of their organisations.  Ludo Chapman and I have been talking to CEOs, COOS and HR Directors in SMEs about how we can help them set up their companies for success.  The result is that we are developing workshops that are tailored to the organisation and to its requirements.  They typically include one or more of the following elements:

  1. Shaping and articulation of your strategy (purpose, values, key performance indicators etc.)
  2. Agreement on your core behaviours  – how you will communicate and work with each other and with others outside your team. (This is supported by analysis of your individual and team strengths.)
  3. Diagnosis and enhancement of your current working practices – through observation, team questionnaires, and discussion.

Successful organisations combine well-articulated organisational strategies with good people practices

The Harvard Business Review (HBR) continues to provide valuable insights on the latest thinking for successful organisations.  Ranjay Gulati combines a number of roles with that of Chair of the Advanced Management Programme at Harvard Business School.  His article “Structure that’s not stifling” in the May-June issue of HBR (pages 69-79), reinforces what we are aiming to do in our new partnership with The Innovation Practice:

Ensure clarity of purpose and direction

combined with

practices that enable people to be at their best

Ranjay Gulati refers to the established phrase “Freedom within a framework” as one way to describe this approach.  Essentially, if people understand their organisation’s vision, mission, purpose, goals, values, rules of working – whatever the relevant mix of these is for their organisation – then it provides them with a framework within which to operate.

The “freedom” component is about giving people the ability to make their own decisions about how they will operate within that framework.  The decisions can be to do with customer service (as the author describes for Alaska Airlines), with employee terms and conditions or with product innovation (as he describes for Netflix).

Although Ranjay Gulati does not say too much about the actual practices that would enable people to be at their best, he does make a few passing references to the importance of education / training (aka learning and development), as well as role modelling by senior managers, and making time for “after action” discussions and reflection.

 

Learning and Development can have a very real impact on an organisation’s bottom line

Two weeks ago, I had the privilege to participate as a judge for the category of Learning and Development in the finals of the UK Employee Excellence Awards.  Entries came from a variety of sectors and from large corporate organisations as well as smaller ones.

UK Employee Excellence Awards

What struck me was the passion of those presenting the entries for their awards – and these were CEOs and other C-suite managers, as well as HR professionals and individual team leaders.

The best entries were able to relate how their Learning and Development programmes were having a positive impact on their company’s bottom line and to the quality of the service they provided to their customers.  This positive outcome was in addition to enhancing individual’s personal and professional development, and their perception of being valued by the company.

The programmes described included ones for management and leadership skills and for professional and ‘soft’ skills for the whole organisation.  The participants also described varying approaches for performance management and review.

Employees were involved to a varying extent in the actual development of the programmes.  Some award participants also used external support to develop and initiate their programmes before taking them over in-house.

Could we help you with shaping and implementing your learning and development strategies?

Many of the organisations that we work with have had a slow start to 2018 as senior managers’ and HR practitioners’ attention has been on securing the latest round of funding, or dealing with relocations, major organisational changes and/or recruitment challenges.

We have seen knock-on effects for learning and development, which frequently takes a lower priority.  However, if you have a performance management / review process in place, your employees will be identifying requirements which may be going unmet.  Addressing these requirements will have a positive impact on motivation and retention, on helping your employees be at their best and, ultimately, on your organisation’s success.

We have experience in designing and implementing performance management processes, in carrying out training needs analysis, and in helping organisations to identify appropriate learning and development programmes.  These programmes could include any of our own in-house courses and workshops, but we would be equally happy to guide you towards alternative suppliers of face-to-face or online programmes.

Could we help you with this?

Do get in touch if you would like to find out more about RiverRhee, and how we can help you to create exceptional managers and teams.

See the RiverRhee Consulting website or e-mail the author at elisabeth@riverrhee.com or contact Elisabeth on 07876 130 817.

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Changing management practices? RiverRhee Newsletter March-April 2018

By Elisabeth Goodman, 3rd April 2018

Change

Changing images of the Cesse near Minerve in the Languedoc, March 2018

From long-term planning and rule-based approaches to “servant leadership”

Peter Cappelli and Anna Tavis tell us, in their article “HR goes agile”, in the March-April 2018 issue of Harvard Business Review (HBR) (p.46), that managers need to get used to “servant leadership” as their approach to leadership.

They argue that HR and management are changing from the long-term planning and rule-based approach that typified manufacturing industries in the post World War II era.  And are now adopting the more flexible, adaptable, customer and employee-based approaches derived from Agile IT and project management.

As we enter the second quarter of 2018, and RiverRhee’s next wave of public access courses for managers, teams and individual contributors, it seems appropriate to review what some of these “servant leadership” changes might entail.

Coaching versus telling

The concept of “servant leadership” is at the heart of Peter Cappelli and Anna Tavis’s article.  This is where supervisors and managers act as coaches rather than monitors for their direct reports.

Intro to Mgmt March 2018

Delegates at RiverRhee’s March 2018 Introduction to Management course

As coaches, managers give their direct reports the space and the time to reflect on what they are learning.  They create forums for people to learn together (we call these Action Learning groups).  And they focus on building people’s capabilities, and approach that typically leads to greater engagement as people feel more valued.

[Coaching is a skill we introduce to delegates on our Introduction to Management course, and is the focus of our Coaching Skills for Managers course that will be running next on the 24th April.]

Providing frequent and wide-ranging feedback, rather than single annual events

We know that many organisations have already been making the shift from the once yearly performance review, to more frequent and flexible approaches.  This makes sense at so many levels.

For those working in scientific environments, the nature of their work is too uncertain, and changing too rapidly to tie objectives down for a whole year.  The same is true for any environment that thrives on innovation.

Cappelli and Tavis stress the importance of frequent feedback to facilitate learning, for teams as well as for individuals.  They also remind us of the importance of collecting feedback more widely than from an individual’s line manager.  With people working in teams, and changing teams throughout the year, some organisations are using Apps to collect feedback from all those who will have input on an individual’s and team’s performance.

[RiverRhee can help you to review your Performance Management and Development processes, as well as deliver in-house training for managers and their direct reports.  Performance Management and Development is also one of the modules in our Introduction to Management course.]

Promoting reflection and continuous improvement

Agile management has some analogies with Knowledge Management and with process improvement techniques such as Lean and Six Sigma (both of which are areas that RiverRhee provides training in).

Agile teams carry out frequent “retrospectives”, a version of the “After Action Reviews” that we promote in Knowledge Management, Lean Sigma and also in our Project Management courses to ensure that teams take time to learn and reflect on what they have learnt.

The HBR authors also advocate that teams monitor and continuously improve the dynamics within their teams.  This is again something that we advocate in the Good Practices for Team Working module of our management courses and also support in our team building / team development workshops.

Moving to single project team membership, rather than a multi-team approach?

We know that there are many benefits as well as challenges to the wide-spread practice of multi-team project management. (See Addressing the challenges of multi-teaming in project management.)  This is a topic that we also explore in RiverRhee’s Project Management course, coming up on the 24th May.

Lisa Burrell, in the HBR March-April 2018 (p.54) write-up of her conversation with IBM’s Head of HR, Diane Gherson, describes how IBM has moved to a model of small dedicated teams.  People are allocated to a single team, rather than moving between mutiple teams, and this enables them to focus on the requirements of their clients in a way that also enables faster turn-around.

Is this a transition in management practice that more organisations should be considering?

Taking a more collaborative approach to recruitment

Recruitment continues to be a challenge for many of the organisations that we work with.  (See Tips for hiring the best people in rapidly growing Biotech and Life Science companies.)

Cappelli and Tavis describe a collaborative approach to recruitment where recruiting managers form a cross-functional team, rather than relying more exclusively on the HR function to do this.  The managers prioritise the recruitment effort based on urgency and readiness.  They share information on the candidates in case they fit more than one position.  They monitor and improve on the cycle time for recruitment and so reduce the risk of losing candidates to competitors due to poor follow-through.

[RiverRhee offers in-house courses on Recruitment, Interview Skills, and Employee Relations.]

Providing individually tailored Learning and Development programmes

I wrote previously about the importance of company learning and development strategies.

MOOC research on learning

Illustration from “Can MOOCs solve your training problems” by Monika Hamori, Harvard Business Review, January-February 2018, pp. 71-76

Such strategies demonstrate that companies value their staff, as well as equipping them with the capabilities to provide value to the organisation.  Companies are increasingly sourcing online programmes to provide more flexible and affordable training for their staff.

Cappelli and Tavis describe the use of Artificial Intelligence (AI) tools to help match Learning and Development modules to individuals and their roles.

The predominantly SME-size Life Science and Biotech organisations, and the Library & Information Management clients that RiverRhee works with may not yet be using AI to design L&D programmes for their staff.  However, we do like to think that they are providing their staff with opportunities to tailor their training to their needs.

Here are a few of the areas that we have planned to help managers and individual team contributors polish their “soft skills” in our open courses in May and through our in-house courses:

 

  • Develop your assertiveness, influencing or communication skills
  • Be more confident with your presentations
  • Learn how to build more effective customer relations
  • Be more efficient with your time, processes or projects
  • Deal more effectively with all the changes going on in your business or team
  • Increase your success rate when recruiting and interviewing candidates
  • Manage your employee relations, performance and development with conviction…

Concluding thoughts..

How do these changes in management practice reflect what is going on in your organisation?

What about the whole field of emotional intelligence, which Cappelli and Tavis do not mention, but which could help managers be more effective in a coaching-style role?

[This last is an area we include in many of our courses, and especially in our Transition to Leadership course which runs next on the 26th April.]

Do get in touch if you would like to find out more about RiverRhee Consulting, our range of off-site and in-house courses and workshops and one-to-one coaching, and how we can help you to create exceptional managers and teams.

See the RiverRhee Consulting website or e-mail the author at elisabeth@riverrhee.com or contact Elisabeth on 07876 130 817.

 

 

 

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As you prepare for 2018…RiverRhee Newsletter, Jan-Feb 2018

By Elisabeth Goodman, 8th February 2018

Snow drops in the winter garden

Snow drops in the winter display of the Botanical Garden, Cambridge

Many of our clients are in the midst of planning their objectives, and their learning and development goals for 2018.

So this newsletter is a reflection on some of the ways that RiverRhee’s learning and development resources have been evolving in the past year – in case this resonates with your needs.

Exploring mindsets as well as ‘how to’ processes

How we think about ourselves and what’s possible can have as great an influence on our capability for doing something, as having the right tools, skills and knowledge for doing it.

RiverRhee’s courses have evolved since our early days in 2009 to include more and more of the softer or people aspects of our work, as opposed to just the ‘how to’ process.

So for instance, our Lean Sigma training emphasises the mind-set of continuous improvement, and of seeking out problems so as to prevent them recurring, rather than rewarding fire-fighting.

Effective Project Management relies on creating and sustaining a high performing team, and of understanding the soft skills that people bring to it. These are just some of the challenges and opportunities of working in a matrix environment and on multiple simultaneous projects.

Managing Change is of course all about understanding how people are perceiving and experiencing change and how to respond to that to get the desired outcome.

And, Sharing Knowledge and Collaboration will be easier to do in a climate of good relationships and trust.

Our ability to:

are all as much a factor of understanding and working with the strengths of different personality types, as adopting smart personal and team practices.

(*Assertiveness is our newest course and is currently in development.)

Accessing the rich resources of Neurodiversity

In November 2017, we delivered a seminar on Neurodiversity with Carol Fowler, co-sponsored by Abzena and Babraham Bioscience Technologies.

We are now offering in-house seminars on this topic, with a view to building managers’ and HR professionals’ awareness of the rich resources that could be available to their teams.

How we recruit, interview, and support people with Autism, Dyslexia, ADHD and other cognitive differences will determine how well we can access the unique skills that they bring and ensure their well-being at work.

Going beyond introductory management skills

Delegates at RiverRhee's June 2017 Introduction to Management course

Delegates at RiverRhee’s June 2017 Introduction to Management course

Our 3-day Introduction to Management course (running next on the 13th-15th March) continues to be our most popular course.

With over 100 managers having now taken part, some of them are now looking for options to develop their skills beyond the introductory level.

We now offer a 30-minute follow-up call as an integral part of the course, as well as the one-to-one coaching that each delegate received during the course.

Our Associates are also available for further one-to-one personal coaching – to which we bring various specialisms such as dealing with Dyslexia, coaching in French, and transitioning to leadership roles.

In 2017 we added Transition to Leadership and Coaching Skills for Managers to complete our portfolio of resources available to managers beyond the introductory level.

Tailored in-house programmes

All of our courses can be tailored for in-house delivery.  In 2017 we worked with 4 clients to customise and deliver variations of our management and individual contributor courses for their staff.

These programmes included tailored versions of:

(*We were delighted to have Alison Proffitt join the RiverRhee team of Associates in January to support us with this and our other offerings.)

Concluding thoughts..

Hopefully there is food for thought there for you as you prepare for your learning and development in 2018.

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 one-to-one coaching, and how we can help you to create exceptional managers and teams.

See the RiverRhee Consulting website or e-mail the author at elisabeth@riverrhee.com.

 

 

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13 good practices for effective management. RiverRhee Newsletter, November-December 2017

By Elisabeth Goodman, 12th December 2017

We have had over one hundred managers complete our RiverRhee Introduction to Management course since we started running it in 2013.

We have thirteen modules in our course and there are some key learnings that our delegates have helped us to identify from each.

We are planning to use these key learnings in some free taster sessions for managers in 2018, and thought our readers would also be interested in a free preview of the headlines now!

Key learning 1: John Adair’s 3-part focus on individuals, teams and tasks helps our managers identify and balance their different responsibilities.

Courses workshops and coaching for managers and teams

John Adair’s model is at the heart of RiverRhee’s training for managers and teams

Key learning 2: Job descriptions, project charters, SMART objectives – are 3 invaluable tools to clarify and communicate expectations.

Key learning 3: Managers can learn a lot about what motivates their staff by listening to how they talk about their work and observing what they do.

Key learning 4: A manager should adapt the style of her communication so as to be better understood.

Key learning 5: The style and content of performance reviews is evolving.  A focus on developmental opportunities and goals vs. retrospective reflections could be more productive.

Key learning 6: Developing your coaching skills as a manager will support both your own and your direct reports’ performance.

Key learning 7: When in difficult situations, it’s useful to first consider your own mindset and assumptions.

Key learning 8: Managers of high performance teams make it natural to discuss ‘the elephant in the room’.

Key learning 9: Skilful managers understand and develop the diverse personality strengths within their teams.

Key learning 10: High performing managers and their teams excel with a clear purpose and roles, strong relationships and good working practices.

Key learning 11: There will never be enough time.  Effective managers focus their attention and manage their productivity rather than endeavouring to “manage time”.

Illustration of the Productivity Ninja

Illustration based on Graham Allcot’s Productivity Ninja

Key learning 12: Delegation, for a productive manager and their direct reports, is both a necessity and an opportunity.

Key learning 13: A structured approach to projects and processes makes it possible to identify and share good practices and to continuously improve.

Other news from RiverRhee

RiverRhee schedules its courses on topics, at times, and in locations to meet anticipated need.  Dates for upcoming courses can be viewed on the RiverRhee website.

If the course you want is not available when or where you need it, then do get in touch. We may be able to schedule an extra course, arrange a workshop for you in-house, or deliver it in the form of one-to-one coaching.

We’ve been enjoying a particularly high demand for our in-house courses during 2017.  Here is some of the feedback we have been receiving from delegates:

  • Onsite course for CILIP “Making the most of your time and resources”: “very good introduction from an excellent trainer”, “lots of information but not overload.  Good that we were able to use specific examples relevant to what we do.”
  • Onsite course with CILIP “Good practices in knowledge sharing and collaboration” “A knowledgeable trainer and a focus on practical tasks very much helped to embed the learning”

We also had this feedback from a client who received one-to-one personal coaching on what they valued most about it: “Having time to think about my personal development which I wouldn’t have had normally”.

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 one-to-one coaching, and how we can help you to create exceptional managers and teams.

See the RiverRhee Consulting website or e-mail the author at elisabeth@riverrhee.com.

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Managing complex change. RiverRhee Newsletter, September – October 2017

By Elisabeth Goodman, 11th October 2017

Why choose the topic of complex change for this newsletter?

In August, the APM Enabling Change SIG proudly released its first publication “Introduction to Managing Change”.  It was the culmination of the SIG’s first 2 years of work, and a publication I am pleased to be a co-author of.

APM Introduction to Managing Change

APM Introduction to Managing Change

As described in the opening chapter, the purpose of this book is to “introduce the importance of managing change effectively”.  It describes key principles and practices and provides guidance on applying different methodologies and on the resources available.

Autumn’s issue of the APM’s Project magazine appropriately features an interview with Dr John Kotter, one of the gurus on managing change, whose eight-step methodology was outlined in his 1996 publication “Leading Change”.

Kotter’s methodology is one of those referenced in “Introduction to Managing Change”, and is expanded upon in the Project interview, in the context of complex change.

Last but not least, the concept of “complex change” is one that many of our clients will be familiar with, as exemplified by a couple of other recent publications:

  1. An article in Labiotech, with the CEO of the Babraham Bioscience Technologies, the organisation responsible for the Babraham Research Campus in Cambridge, UK.  This describes some of the complexities that small Life Science organisations experience as they seek the resources and opportunities to translate new ideas into tangible revenue and growth.
  2. A House of Lords Library briefing on Globalisation, Technology and Demographic Change and the Future of Work reflects some of the underlying complexities affecting all sectors of work.

So how can complex change be managed for a successful outcome?

As Kotter explains in his interview for Project magazine, his eight-step process still applies, even to complex change programmes.

The challenges brought by scale and complexity are two-fold.

Firstly, leadership teams need to maintain operational excellence whilst steering strategic change – something that they are not always best-equipped to do. My recent blog outlines why and how senior management could pay more attention to operational excellence (The blog is based on a Sept-Oct 2017 Harvard Business Review article by Sadun et al on this topic, describing insights from 15 years’ of research with more than 12,000 organisations in 34 countries.)

Top of the list for maintaining operational excellence is commitment from the top: ensuring that there is a clear vision, visibility and role modelling by senior leaders – themes that also feature at the top of the APM Enabling Change SIG’s, and RiverRhee’s key factors for successful change.

The second challenge of more complex change is how to ensure that all those affected by the change are optimally engaged in helping to make the change a success.

We know that what people find most difficult about change is the associated uncertainty, and the lack of control, as referenced in a previous RiverRhee newsletter on dealing with change  Providing information as early as possible, and finding ways to involve people are key ways to counteract these difficulties.

enabling-navigators-of-change

Kotter’ three strategies for ensuring success, referenced in the Project article are to:

  1. Involve lots of people
  2. Win over their hearts as well as their minds
  3. Give them freedom to act

This type of involvement will need some careful and coordinated steering and management!

So, as Kotter also says, complex change will require involvement from experienced change management specialists, above and beyond skilful steering by a programme or project management team.

If you would like to know more

RiverRhee’s training courses, workshops for teams and one-to-one coaching are designed to create exceptional managers and teams.  How you manage any type of change will contribute to that excellence.

Managing Change is one of RiverRhee’s training courses for managers and teams coming up in November and December.  Other courses in the next few weeks include: Introduction to Lean and Six Sigma, Introduction to Project Management, First Steps in Selling, Coaching Skills for Managers, and Transition to Leadership.

All of these topics and more are also available as in-house workshops and can be covered in our one-to-one coaching.

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 one-to-one coaching, and how we can help you to create exceptional managers and teams.

See the RiverRhee Consulting website or e-mail the author at elisabeth@riverrhee.com.

Other notes

John Kotter’s eight-step process, as summarised  on page 21 of the APM’s “Introduction to Change” are: 1. Create a sense of urgency; 2. Build a guiding coalition; 3. Form a strategic vision and initiatives; 4. Enlist a volunteer army; 5. Enable action by removing barriers; 6. Generate short-term wins; 7. Sustain acceleration; 8. Institutionalise change.

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From vulnerability to mastery in five steps! RiverRhee Newsletter, July-August 2017

By Elisabeth Goodman, 18th August 2017

Why write about vulnerability and mastery?

We pick a different theme for each of our bi-monthly newsletters, to reflect on a topic that relates to our work with managers and teams, as well as providing a medium to update you on some of our activities and events.

Our choice of the theme of vulnerability and mastery was prompted by a couple of videos that we came across in Marcel Schwantes’ 9 Best TED Talks to Help You Become a Better Leader.  These included Brené Brown’s The Power of Vulnerability and Dan Pink’s The Puzzle of Motivation.

Brené Brown’s advocacy of vulnerability as a leadership quality gave me a lot of food for thought.  Whilst “mastery” is one of three key motivators endorsed by Dan Pink.  I believe that vulnerability and mastery are inextricably linked, and of great significance to managers and teams.  Hence the choice of this theme for this newsletter.

Vulnerability is the first step towards eventual mastery!

When was the last time you learnt something new? How did you feel at the start?  What was your inner voice saying?

In the early stages of learning something new, we can feel very vulnerable.  We can feel awkward or embarrassed.  Our inner voice may be telling us “I’ll never be able to do it”.  Alternatively, we might be filled with enthusiasm, eagerness and energy..

We are in that state of “conscious incompetence” as illustrated in this variation on the competence / consciousness model.

Variation on competency consciousness model

Variation on the competence / consciousness model

Although we might not all remember what it felt like when we started to walk, many of us can remember our early driving lessons.  The whole thing might have looked very straightforward as a passenger or observer, and yet almost impossible when we actually started to learn.  Yet through determined perseverance, trial and error, lots of practice, many of us are at the stage now where our driving skills are almost automatic: it’s not unusual for example to barely remember everything that was involved in getting from point A to B on a regular journey.

The same pathway from vulnerability to mastery, from conscious incompetence to unconscious competence, is likely to be true with any of our undertakings, whether in our personal or professional lives.

Accepting and acknowledging our vulnerability will enhance our authenticity! (Step 2)

Although the focus of Brené Brown’s TED talk is on vulnerability in the context of connecting with, or relating to other people, her message translates to the context of this newsletter too.

Brené recounts her own experience, and the results of her research with others, which highlights the difficulties people have in accepting and acknowledging their vulnerability.  Vulnerability is the opposite of feeling in control, or of having certainty, perfection even – this applies to emotions, personal and professional capability.  And so there may be a temptation to pretend that we know more or are more capable than is the case.  That route will lead to misunderstanding and potential disaster!

Accepting and acknowledging our vulnerability, enables us to be authentic and open to others, open to real connection (as Brené argues) and also open to the learning that will eventually lead to mastery.

To what extent does mastery of a field of knowledge or skill motivate you? (Step 3)

I referenced Dan Pink’s The Puzzle of Motivation in a recent blog: Motivation a refresher…eight years on.” Mastery” is one of three key motivators that he endorses, along with autonomy (the ability to work on something under our own direction) and purpose (feeling that we are doing something towards a greater good).

People coming on our courses often cite the ability to learn something new, or to improve on something they already do or know as a motivator in their work.  As trainers, facilitators and coaches, we are very aware that we work best with delegates and clients who are motivated to learn about the subject that we are addressing.

To achieve mastery in a field of knowledge or skill requires a lot of determination and perseverance.  If we are not motivated, we will not get there!

Achieving mastery requires concerted practice (Step 4)

Although there is some controversy about exactly how many hours are required to master an area of knowledge or skill, there is no doubt that some amount of concerted practice does help!

Concerted practice reinforces the neuronal pathways involved, and so trains memory, muscles and coordination.  The sooner we apply and re-apply what we have learnt, and the more often we repeat it, the closer we will get towards mastery.

We will also be most successful if we choose the format and medium for learning that is most effective for us.

Choose the approach for learning that is most effective for you (Step 5)

Some of us learn better through discussion and interaction with others, either in a group, or with an individual mentor or coach.

Others like to learn on their own, with written or auditory access to printed or electronic resources.

Or we might like a combination of both, and it might also vary with the subject matter.

The important thing is to find the approach that works best for you.

If you would like to know more

RiverRhee’s training courses, workshops for teams and one-to-one coaching are designed to help you on your vulnerability to mastery journey!

People attending our  management courses for example appreciate the opportunity to meet other people who are experiencing similar challenges to themselves.  They are often transitioning from being an expert in their scientific or technical field, to the novelty of managing others – and can feel quite vulnerable about it. We have recently added two new courses “Transition to Management”, and “Coaching Skills for Managers” for those who are ready to take the next steps in their management development journey.

We also have a new course – Presentation Skills – for those who are wanting to gain more confidence and competence in how they present.

And we have consolidated the information available on our website for those seeking one-to-one coaching.

We also have a range of workbooks available for purchase for those who prefer to study on their own.

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 one-to-one coaching, and how we can help you to create exceptional managers and teams.

See the RiverRhee Consulting website or e-mail the author at elisabeth@riverrhee.com.

 

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Gaining value from investing in learning. RiverRhee Newsletter, May-June 2017

By Elisabeth Goodman, 7th June 2017

CIPD In-Focus Report - May 2017

Continuous learning opportunities not only at the individual but also at the organisational level are key factors for success

This is one of the conclusions from a recent CIPD report authored by Jane Daly and Laura Overton. Ways cited in which an organisation can benefit include increased growth, profitability, transformation and productivity.

This is one of several references that I have come across in recent weeks exploring the value that organisations can gain from investing in learning.

Not surprisingly, as a provider of training courses, workshops and one-to-one coaching, it’s a topic close to our heart!

The report makes several references to Senge, who was an early advocate of the learning organisation.  The first edition of his book, “The Fifth Discipline” came out in 1990.

The Fifth Discipline

The Fifth Discipline. The Art & Practice of the Learning Organisation. By Peter M. Senge.

His tenets have been adopted by Knowledge Management practitioners who advocate a range of approaches for connecting employees so that they can share knowledge between them.  These include for example:

  • Creating Communities of Interest or Practice to share expertise within and between organisations, irrespective of any hierarchical structure.
  • Ensuring that people share knowledge with peers before, during and after completing any significant piece of work, including projects.
  • Capturing knowledge from experts in a particular field to ensure that it is not lost when they leave an organisation.

These are approaches that we teach in our Knowledge Management and Project Management courses.

We also promote continuous learning and improvement in our Lean and Six Sigma courses, something that the CIPD report advocates as part of creating a “thriving ecosystem”.

Learning and development initiatives must be supported at an organisational level

The CIPD report emphasises that learning and development cannot occur in a vacuum, but instead must be set within the context of the organisation’s purpose.  As the authors say: employees are asking for clarity of purpose (the ‘why’) and top organisations are those that are sharing this – it’s the ‘golden thread’ for unlocking potential.

Delegates on our management courses and new leadership course tell us repeatedly that they struggle to set effective objectives for their direct reports when they don’t know what the organisation’s strategic objectives are.  Learning and development related objectives rely on that clarity of purpose.

Michael Beer, in the October 2016 Harvard Business Review (HBR) article “Why leadership training fails” also tells us that clarity of direction is one of the six basic steps for ensuring an effective outcome from investment in training.

Investment in training must itself demonstrate value

Training is an overhead, and opinion is divided as to whether or not to invest in it when times are lean.

So it is important to have some measures of the impact of training, as advocated in Kirkpatrick’s four levels i.e. it’s not enough to have a ‘happy sheet’ at the end of a training course (level 1).  Instead, we should measure the level of learning gained (level 2), how it has been applied (level 3) and what impact it has had (level 4).

We have been getting some excellent feedback from a current in-house management and leadership development programme that speaks to levels 1, 2 and intentions for level 3:

Delegates at a team building event on a RiverRhee management course

Delegates at a team building event on a RiverRhee in-house management course

“Another great training day. Having clear labels for appraising / coaching has been extremely beneficial and I am looking forward to implementing what I have learned”

 

We occasionally get an opportunity to carry out follow-up surveys to get a proper assessment of levels 3 and 4, as with one in-house client last year for whom we delivered courses in management skills, project management, communication and influencing skills, and time and meeting management:

 

Example of Kirkpatrick level 2 to 4 feedback

Example of Kirkpatrick level 2 to 4 feedback

There are many routes available for learning and development

The CIPD report mentions the value of coaching for all levels of an organisation.  Coaching is something that we embed in our management courses, offer as a stand-alone, and we have just launched a new Coaching Skills for Managers course. 

We also advocate the importance of a range of on-the-job learning approaches that organisations can implement for themselves, such as shadowing, buddying, cross-training, mentoring, and sharing insights gained from external courses through internal seminars. 

What we are more skeptical about is the degree of emphasis that the CIPD report puts on online learning as a major platform for learning.  Yes it is convenient and widely accessible, but, as the report says, people struggle to find the right information online, and to make the time to use it (“35% of employees say that uninspiring content is a barrier to learning online”).

Our experience is that face-to-face events still seem to suit a lot of people better in terms of their learning style, tailored content, and helping them to make the time.  The ability to interact and explore their challenges with and learn from colleagues is an aspect that they continuously rate highly.

Do get in touch if you would like to access some of our portfolio for learning and development

Courses workshops and coaching for managers and teams

Courses, workshops and coaching from RiverRhee for managers and teams

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 one-to-one coaching, and how we can help you to create exceptional managers and teams.

See the RiverRhee Consulting website or e-mail the author at elisabeth@riverrhee.com.

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