Category Archives: Newsletter

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.

Advertisements

Leave a comment

Filed under Newsletter

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.

 

Leave a comment

Filed under Newsletter

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.

Leave a comment

Filed under Newsletter

Inspirational leadership. RiverRhee Newsletter, March-April 2017

By Elisabeth Goodman, 11th April 2017

An effective leader is inspirational

We’ve been doing some background reading preparatory to launching RiverRhee’s new course on leadership, as the next step on from our Introduction to Management.  Claudio Feser’s new book has been giving us a lot of food for thought.  When execution isn't enough - Claudio Feser

The book is based on McKinsey’s practical experience and study of academic literature, and lays a strong emphasis on the qualities and skills of inspirational leadership.

Claudio Feser reassures us by saying that these skills can be learnt: they are a set of behaviours that address people’s “true inner motivators, values and emotions”.  The basis of this type of leadership is to have a strong focus on the goal to be achieved, to influence people in such as way that they are committed towards a course of action, and to encourage and support them to take ownership for their actions.

These behaviours are also symptomatic of having a strong emotional intelligence, and the ability to clearly articulate the vision or goals for an organisation.

Although Feser does not mention Robert Dilts’ neurological levels of change, there is a strong connection to this NLP (NeuroLinguisticProgramming) model.

We can learn a lot from neuroscience and from personality tools

Readers of my blogs will have picked up my digest of the Harvard Business Review (HBR) article about Oxytocin, trust and employee engagement.  The March – April issue of HBR continues the exploration of neuroscience in the context of personality tools, and Feser has a chapter on this topic too.

The Neuroscience of Trust_HBR_JanFeb2017

The neuroscience of trust, HBR Jan-Feb 2017

Leaders would do well to familiarise themselves with the current thinking on this topic, and also consider which personality (or psychometric) tools to use to aid their understanding of the strengths and diversity within their team.

We use tools such as MBTI (Myers Briggs Type Indicator) Belbin Team Roles to support our training for managers and teams, and will explore personality tools further in our leadership training.

An inspirational leader adapts their influencing style based on the circumstances

We know that effective managers and leaders adapt their approach based on the context and the people that they are dealing with.

I ‘grew up’ in the business world on Robert Cialdini’s “Influence: Science and Practice”, and am also a strong advocate of the strategies described in “Influencer – The new science of leading change”.  We use aspects of these in RiverRhee’s Managing Change, and Communication and Influence courses.

Kipnis Schmidt and Wilkinson influencing

Based on Claudio Feser’s description of D. Kipnis et al’s, “Intraorganizational Influence Tactics: Explorations in getting one’s own way”, Journal of Applied Psychology 65, no.4 (1980): 440-452

Feser introduces a set of nine hard and soft approaches for influencing, based on the work of Kipnis, Schmidt and Wilkinson.

He describes how an inspirational leader will adapt which approach she or he uses with individuals based on the context, the knowledge, skills and mind-sets of the people involved.

So for instance, hard tactics will be most effective in simple, clear situations with some sense of urgency, whilst softer ones will be best for dynamic, complex and ambiguous situations.

Another example, according to Feser, is that inspirational appeals will be most effective where people have strong values, and with those who are more energetically outspoken.  Whilst socialising strategies, those that start with something like “I see the problem exactly the same way…”, work well with knowledgeable people and those who are very conscientious about their work.

Inspirational leaders also operate at an organisational level

My work with the APM Enabling Change SIG has been a great opportunity to consolidate my thinking about the key factors for successful organisational change.  So it was reassuring to see Feser’s suggestions echoing some of these:

  1. Create a change story, or vision: at its most powerful it will reflect the organisation’s values and emotions and be cascaded through the organisation
  2. Leaders role model the values and arouse the emotions in their particular change story
  3. Build skills and capabilities
  4. Ensure structure, processes and systems reinforce the change that is expected

Again, these are all activities that are within the control and sphere of influence of inspirational leaders.

We look forward to bringing these concepts, and more, into our new course on leadership in the not-too-distant future.

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.

2 Comments

Filed under Newsletter

Still thriving in times of uncertainty. RiverRhee Newsletter, January – February 2017

By Elisabeth Goodman, 25th January 2017

We are in the midst of change

Our readers will not need us to spell out the nature of the changes that they are currently facing!  Change brings uncertainty. Some of us will be quite relaxed and happy to wait for developments. Others will yearn for greater certainty, involvement and control.

enabling-navigators-of-change

Here are a few things that you might already be doing for yourself, and also some others that you could consider…

(RiverRhee works with managers and teams, so those are who we are targeting in this newsletter – but many of our tips can of course apply to anyone at work or in their home life.)

Look after your physical and mental health

We all have things that help us to feel better.  Some, like food, drink or going for a walk have short-term benefits.  Longer-term benefits could be gained from spending social time with colleagues, friends and family, focusing on doing your work to the best of your ability, or developing a new area of expertise.

taking-time-to-connect-with-nature

Connecting with nature on a bright winter’s day.

Volunteering to organise a team building activity, finding ways to help colleagues, joining a workplace representation group – these are all things that could help you to feel more involved and so better able to cope with the uncertainty around you.

(I myself do a range of volunteer work, and recently donated, through RiverRhee via the Work for Good platform to Red Balloon – Cambridge, a charity that helps young people who have been bullied or suffered other trauma which means they are no longer in full time education.)

Whatever the approach, it has to be the one that is best for you.  You will know what that is.

Remember what’s important to you – and focus on your strengths

I have recently written a blog on how to help people discover what they enjoy doing the most at work, and how they can do more of that.  Sometimes just concentrating on what you do well, your strengths, can provide a much needed oasis until the desert sands have

stopped blowing around you.  This kind of coaching is something that RiverRhee Associates can support.

The same can be true for a team: focusing on its current purpose, and on how to do that well, will help to channel people’s energy and develop good practices to work from, whatever the future might bring.  This kind of team building, with team diagnostics and workshops is something that we support, and indeed did so with a local team during December.

Connect with your internal and external networks

This is a really important role for managers, and one that they will be best able to focus on when their team has achieved ‘high performance’: when team members have attained a certain level of autonomy.  The team’s stakeholders (customers, suppliers, senior managers, professional peers etc.) will be an important source of information during periods of uncertainty.  They will also be key people to influence and negotiate with in terms of the team’s future.

Dan Ciampa, in a December 2016 article in Harvard Business Review (“After the handshake.  Succession doesn’t end when a new CEO is hired”, p.60) emphasises the importance of building effective relationships with key stakeholders for CEOs who want to effect change.  The same is true for any level of manager who wants to have some level of influence over the fate of their team, at any time.  As Ciampa points out, understanding the “political dynamics” at work is a key factor for success.  Another factor is understanding the values and working practices that might influence any decision making (the culture).  A manager’s awareness of these will grow the more she keeps in touch with her internal and external networks.

Take advantage of free external events and networking opportunities

Free events or networking meetings could provide a welcome distraction from brooding about uncertainty! They could also provide some very helpful information about the change, or other resources to help you cope with it.

We hope that our upcoming event at Babraham’s new conference centre, The Cambridge Building, on Thursday 2nd February – What is your relationship with time? – will provide you with all of these benefits, and look forward to seeing you there.  If you cannot make it, but would like to explore this topic and associated ‘personality productivity’ resources, do get in touch with me at elisabeth@riverrhee.com.

Spend time on personal development and on developing the team

Periods of uncertainty can also be a good time to focus on developing personal and team skills that will be valuable to make use of in the future – whatever that might be.

We have a wide range of coaching and training opportunities for managers and teams, several of which will be running in February and March, and for which we still have spaces available.  These include:

  • Introduction to Management – 14th-16th March
  • Introduction to Lean and Six Sigma – 21st February
  • The First Steps in Selling – 22nd February
  • Introduction to Project Management – 23rd February
  • Managing Change – 28th February

 

 

 

 

We also had a very positive response to our “Good Practices in Knowledge Sharing and Collaboration” on-site course with CILIP which we ran three times last November, and look forward to opportunities to run it again during 2017.

figure-4-5-mountain-rescue

Illustration for a team collaboration exercise from “The Effective Team’s Knowledge Management Workbook”, RiverRhee Publishing, 2016

“The foundational principles of Knowledge Management were clearly explained.”

“The interactive nature was welcome.”

“Delivery was excellent”

“Good, well structured.”

“Real life examples”

 

 

We look forward to exploring how we can help you thrive during these times of uncertainty

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.

.

 

 

 

1 Comment

Filed under Newsletter

Insights and highlights on management and team development from 2016. RiverRhee Consulting Newsletter, November – December 2016

By Elisabeth Goodman, 2nd December 2016

Celebrating the community of managers and teams that we have been working with in 2016

delegate-exercise-during-riverrhee-nov-2016-introduction-to-management-course

Delegates at our November 2016 Introduction to Management course

We’ve had a very fulfilling and enjoyable year working with managers and teams in 2016.  The organisations that we’ve worked with have ranged from start-ups to large corporates in the life sciences / biotech, management consulting, government organisations, the legal profession, the automotive industry and others.  We have worked with line and project managers, library / information management and IT professionals, scientists, sales staff, HR and finance directors and more.

We thought it would be fun to celebrate our work with this community by putting together a mixed platter of  insights and highlights that our readers might find interesting and helpful to sample!

Here is what this newsletter will touch upon:

  1. Listening, communicating, building rapport
  2. Using the GROW coaching model – and variations
  3. One-to-one coaching
  4. Motivation and delegation
  5. Using Belbin and MBTI to build personal and inter-personal understanding
  6. Dealing with difficult situations and managing conflict
  7. Appraisal training
  8. Understanding our relationship with time
  9. Team diagnostics and innovation
  10. Going beyond line manager and team development skills
    1. Lean Sigma – including Green Belt training
    2. Project Management – basic skills
    3. The First Steps in Selling
    4. Managing Change
    5. Good Practices in Knowledge Sharing and Collaboration

Listening, communicating, building rapport

We are social beings!  How we communicate is fundamental to achieving anything in work as in life in general.  Building rapport provides an invaluable starting point for effective communication.  We can also be so much more effective if we use our ears and our eyes to ‘tune in’ to the people we are interacting with.

What would you like to know about

Illustration by Nathaniel Spain from “The Effective Team’s Knowledge Management Workbook“, 2016

We introduced a stand-alone course on “Effective Communication and Influencing” this year, evolved our module on this topic in our “Introduction to Management” course, and explored communication skills in a team building exercise.  We also touched on the subject in a tailored version of our “Good Practices in Knowledge Sharing and Collaboration” course.  There are powerful insights to be gained on communication styles from NLP’s representational styles, and from the MBTI sensing / intuition, and extrovert / introvert preferences.  We also gained some new insights from Appreciative Inquiry to hone our skills in listening and in asking effective questions.

Using the GROW coaching model – and variations

We discovered that coaching skills are not only a powerful asset for managers, but can be a useful one for peers working within a team.  They help the ‘coachee’ to develop their own resources for problem solving and decision making, and of course develop those listening skills for the coach.  We enjoyed experimenting with the T-GROW variation where the coachee gives an initial definition of the topic (T) to be explored, before firming up on the goal (G).  Appreciative Inquiry introduced some additional variations with the 5-step approach that emphasises the goal to be moved towards rather than away from (Define), and powerfully engages the emotions in the goal to be achieved (Dream).

One-to-one coaching

John Hicks, our newest Associate for coaching and training addressing delegates on a recent course

John Hicks, our newest Associate for coaching and training addressing delegates on a recent course

We’ve had some very positive feedback from our increased one-to-one coaching activities this year, for example:

“Excellent 1:1 coaching, management ideas and tools very relevant and tailored, helped me to improve as a manager.” 

We’ve addressed topics such as transitioning to management, and developing management skills, career development and carrying out appraisals.

Several members of our team are able to deliver this coaching, and it’s been a pleasure to add John Hicks to our team to help us with this as well as with our courses.

Motivation and delegation

These two topics are the ones around which the most light bulbs seem to go off with the managers on our Introduction to Management course.  They realise that simple questions like “What do you enjoy most about your work?” and “What do you enjoy least?” can give them tremendous insights on what motivates their direct reports, and so manage, influence and develop them accordingly.  And they realise that effective delegation can make a big difference to their own productivity, as well as the motivation and development of their team.  The RSA video of Dan Pink on motivation continues to be a winner!

Using Belbin and MBTI to build personal and inter-personal understanding

MBTI summary slide

MBTI summary slide

We use whichever personality tools are most appropriate to the client and the situation that we are supporting.  These two are amongst the most popular.  We are now using the full Belbin questionnaire in our Introduction to Management course, and the insights our delegates gain from the feedback from observers are very powerful.  They illustrate how we can adapt our behaviours to the people we are interacting with, and the range of skills that we can draw on to enhance the performance of our teams.

Dealing with difficult situations and managing conflict

This is another module within our Introduction to Management course, and Elisabeth also delivered it as a stand-alone topic for TFPL.  We like how this light-hearted video illustrates the Thomas-Kilmann model for conflict management.

Appraisal training

We’ve had a tremendous demand for training on performance review processes and conducting appraisals, not only for managers delivering the appraisals, but also for those receiving it.  “Appraisees” can benefit from assertiveness skills to help them take ownership for their task-related objectives and development goals. “Appraisers” can help them to achieve that.

Some of our reflections on the approach for performance reviews, combined with insights from a recent Harvard Business Review article, can be found in Elisabeth and Liz’s recent blog: Performance Reviews – kill them or keep them?

Understanding our relationship with time

Illustration based on Graham Allcot's Productivity Ninja

Illustration based on Graham Allcot’s Productivity Ninja

Time management as a term is being replaced by such phrases as “focusing our attention” and “productivity management”.  Both Janet Burton and Liz Mercer have helped to develop our module on this in our “Introduction to Management” course, and this is also reflected in another new stand-alone course that we delivered on “Time and Meeting management”.  Organisations based on the Babraham Research Campus will have an opportunity to get a taster of our new approach if they visit our RiverRhee stand in the new conference centre there on 2nd February 2017.

Team diagnostics and innovation

We had a very enjoyable time working with a Life Science start-up where we combined our team diagnostic approach for team building, with a session on innovation. The ability to innovate is one of the attributes of high performance teams, but one that is not often explored as a stand-alone topic.

Going beyond line manager and team development skills

RiverRhee’s Associates have expertise in a range of disciplines, and it’s been exciting to be able to develop and deliver on a number of these this year.

We continue to get demand for our one-day course on “Lean and Six Sigma“, and also delivered our Green Belt training, consisting of 6-7 modules to ten delegates in an in-house course.

One-slide summary of some of the key aspects of project management - as used in RiverRhee's training courses

One-slide summary of some of the key aspects of project management

Our one-day course on “Project Management” proved very popular as an in-house course.  We’ve found that many project managers can benefit from having the time to learn about the basics of such things as: how to put together a project plan; tools to help them manage risks and issues, decisions and actions; the team dynamics they will encounter.

We ran our new course, with John Hicks, on The First Steps in Selling.

Elisabeth also had some great opportunities to facilitate events on the topic of “Managing Change” in her capacity as committee member for the APM Enabling Change SIG, such as the recent one on AstraZeneca’s relocation to Cambridge.

The Effective Team's Knowledge Management Workbook, RiverRhee Publishing, 2016

Last but not least, we had a big demand for our course with CILIP on “Good Practices in Knowledge Sharing and Collaboration“.  It ran three times in November, a timely complement to our new publication: The “The Effective Team’s Knowledge Management Workbook“, RiverRhee Publishing, 2016.

Wishing you an enjoyable and restful holiday – and all the best for 2017

We are aware that these final two to three months of the year are particularly busy for many of our customers.  Like us you’ll be ready for a good holiday with friends and families.  We wish you all the best, and look forward to working with you again in 2017.

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.

Leave a comment

Filed under Newsletter

Moving closer towards creating exceptional managers and teams. RiverRhee Consulting Newsletter, September-October 2016

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.

Delegate ratings for RiverRhee's Introduction to Management course since it started in 2013

Delegate ratings for RiverRhee’s Introduction to Management course since it started in 2013

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.

(References:

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 elisabeth@riverrhee.com.

Leave a comment

Filed under Newsletter