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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.

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Knowledge sharing is power. RiverRhee Consulting Newsletter, July – August 2016

By Elisabeth Goodman, 26th August 2016

I was reminded in a recent conversation of how people and organisations thrive most where there is a culture of valuing and sharing the expertise of individuals within a team.  Conversely everyone loses out where there is a culture of keeping that knowledge to oneself.  Knowledge sharing and collaboration is power – knowledge (full stop) is not!

Illustration by Nathaniel Spain from "The Effective Team's Knowledge Management Workbook", 2016 - in progress

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

There has been a flurry of demand for our Good Practices for Knowledge Sharing and Collaboration course with CILIP and this is coincidentally excellent timing as I am writing the next of the workbooks on the subjects that we teach.  “The Effective Team’s Knowledge Management Workbook” will be coming out in November.  (Details will be available on the RiverRhee publishing page.)

So I will use this newsletter to highlight some of the ways to get good practices for sharing knowledge and collaboration in place and also to give a bit of a preview of what will be appearing in the workbook.

Choose your own language for knowledge management

There is nothing new about sharing what we know, and yet a whole discipline and specialised roles have grown up around it.  Some organisations ‘did it’ in the 1990s and now see it as something that has become part of their way of working.  Many others are still exploring how to do it well today.  One of the most important criteria for its success it to be able to talk about it in a language that makes sense to the individuals and teams concerned.

So for instance, some organisations will talk about “knowledge sharing” rather than “knowledge management”.  They might also refer to “good practices” for sharing knowledge on the grounds that “best practices” should always be evolving.

Teams might also choose to emphasise how knowledge is shared between people, or how what we know is recorded as content to facilitate retrieval and ‘mining’ (to extract new patterns and generate new knowledge) at a later date.

There is a wealth of tools and approaches for managing or sharing knowledge, and again, a team or organisation will want to identify and describe those they wish to use in a way that will work for them.  Our courses and my new workbook will take people through these tools and approaches to help them choose how they will refer to them.

Click here for information on RiverRhee's training courses for knowledge management

Click here for information on RiverRhee’s training on knowledge management

Define your strategy for knowledge management

Knowledge management is not something separate from everything else that goes on in an organisation.  It should be an integral part of your goals and objectives.  And so a manager or team planning to introduce knowledge management would do well to map out the organisation’s aims, and then explore how they could enhance, reinforce or otherwise support those aims.

We take people through sample scenarios set in Life Science organisations, and in business services such as Library and Information Management to help them define the best strategy for their organisation.

Select your tactics

This is about understanding your current environment, and what tools and approaches for knowledge management will fit in best.  What will build on good practices that are already in place, what will address any gaps, and what less helpful practices should be discontinued.  It’s about planning the tactics that will enable you to deliver your strategy and enable the individuals and teams within your organisation to excel at what they do.

Again, we take delegates through just how to do this so that, by the end of our training (and of the workbook) they have the beginnings of a tactical plan in place.

Take some time to practise

It’s always useful to have an opportunity to practise new ways of working, rather than throwing people into the deep end.  It’s possible to practise how to capture and share knowledge between people before starting new initiatives, at key milestones, and at the end of large pieces of work in as little as 15-20 minute exercises.

It is similarly possible to get an idea of how to ‘codify’ or record areas of knowledge in a relatively short exercise.

These kinds of exercises will give you an idea of how the new ways of working could be applied in your organisation, and what guidance you would like to provide.

Evaluate and build engagement

The first and last steps in introducing any new way of working are to do with assessing how well it will be and is being received and how to build and sustain engagement.

What are the opportunities and threats for your knowledge management strategy? Who are the opinion leaders or champions?  What are the influences at play and how will you tap into or negotiate them?

What will you do next?

Are you tempted to have a go at developing your own knowledge management strategy?  Do you already have something in place that you might want to adapt based on some of the ideas above?

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.

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Focus on collaboration. RiverRhee Consulting Newsletter, September – October 2015

By Elisabeth Goodman, 13th October 2015

Why focus on collaboration?

I like to pick a topical theme for these bi-monthly newsletters, and, although the projects that RiverRhee has been engaged in since the summer have been quite a mix, collaboration seems to be a tidy theme to blend them all together.

Collaboration is also the topic I chose for my latest blog (Is it psychobabble? How better understanding can lead to better collaboration).

Finally, the autumn issue for APM’s Project magazine includes a highlighted blog on collaboration, and also an article featuring collaboration as one of three magic words for project management [1]– so they confirmed my choice of theme!

As defined in the APM highlighted blog “Don’t be seduced by the drive to collaborate” (Jim Dale, 6th June 2015) collaboration is: ‘the action of working with someone to produce something’. Whilst Dale’s blog focuses on collaboration (or alliances) between organisations, RiverRhee’s focus is more on how to promote effective collaboration within organisations.

Delegates collaborating during an Introduction to Management course

Delegates collaborating during an Introduction to Management course

The three aspects of collaboration addressed in this newsletter are inspired by:

  • The enthusiasm with which delegates in our Introduction to Management and Supervisor Training courses and Team Effectiveness workshops gain new insights about themselves and the people that they work with
  • The richness of opportunities identified when operational and project teams take the time to carry out team diagnostics or learning reviews to explore how they could work together more effectively
  • The tremendous benefits that teams can gain for example in idea generation, problem resolution, decision making and innovation from the support of a knowledge facilitator

Strength in diversity

When managers recruit new team members, there is a risk that they will recruit very similar people on the premise that this will result in greater team harmony. However, as our delegates learn, a team is enriched by the diversity that their members can bring.

A high performing team is where that diversity is nurtured. It is where the manager, as well as each team member has learnt to understand their own and each other’s strengths, and how they can use these strengths and support each other to collaborate more effectively.

In the past few weeks Janet Burton and I have used role-play based on the Belbin team roles in our Introduction to Management course to help people appreciate how this approach to diversity can enrich the work of their teams. We have also used resources such as OPP’s ‘Flip-a-type-tips’ with delegates in a Team Effectiveness workshop to understand people’s MBTI profiles and how to enrich communication and support colleagues in times of stress.

OPP's MBTI Flip-a-type tip

OPP’s MBTI Flip-a-type tip

I am pleased to say that we have enriched the diversity of our own team by adding Liz Mercer as a RiverRhee Associate. You can find out more about Liz and our other Associates on the “Who we are” page of our website.

Continuous improvement for teams

There are some powerful knowledge management techniques to help teams learn from their experiences and so improve the quality of their collaborations. John Riddell and I helped to design a Learning Retrospect, or Learning Review for one team, which I then facilitated.

A Learning Retrospect is usually carried out at the end of a project, and can last a half-day or longer in a workshop-style environment. It can review the whole history of a project, and is usually more formally structured and facilitated than the more widely known and adopted After Action Review (AAR).

Because of the depth of information to be covered, the questions are typically explored through written as well as verbal dialogue, for instance through the use of a pre-workshop survey, followed by the workshop itself.

Radar diagramme showing the use of a rating scale for a team diagnostic

Radar diagramme showing the use of a rating scale for a team diagnostic

We have found that the use of a rating scale, and portrayal of the results on a radar diagramme, supported by summarized textual comments, to be powerful enablers of in-depth conversations, and productive triggers for recommendations for improving the team’s collaboration.

Knowledge facilitation

Another aspect of knowledge management that John and I have been engaged in is developing “A short module designed to introduce Library and Information Professionals to their potential to foster effective knowledge sharing and collaboration in their organisation.”

This free online course, now available on CILIP’s (Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals) Virtual Learning Environment (VLE), shows how these “Knowledge Facilitators” can add their subject knowledge and professional skills to those of the team that they are supporting and so enhance the quality of decision making, innovation and other activities arising out of effective collaboration.

Screenshot of our video as part of the CILIP VLE course on 'Adding value as knowledge facilitators'

Screenshot of our video in CILIP’s new VLE course on ‘Adding value as a knowledge facilitator’

The course can be accessed on the CILIP VLE website.

Conclusion

I’ve shared a few ideas about how you might enhance the collaboration within your team. Which of these might you explore? Are there other approaches that you have found can really make a difference to how well you and/or your colleagues collaborate?

About RiverRhee Consulting

RiverRhee Consulting has been delivering training, mainly in the form of workshops, and coaching since 2009.

Subject areas include:

  • Supervisor and management skills.
  • Team building & effectiveness.
  • Operational excellence (Lean and Six Sigma).
  • Change management.
  • Project management.
  • Knowledge management.

We are training providers for several library and information groups such as CILIP, Aslib, TFPL, and for One Nucleus and Cogent Skills.

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 in 2015 and beyond.

Further notes

[1] Clare Belsey. Three magic words. What is the difference between collaboration, interfacing and integration on a construction project? Project, Autumn 2015, pp.64-65

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The curious learner. RiverRhee Consulting Newsletter, May-June 2015

By Elisabeth Goodman, 13th June, 2015

Why be a “curious learner”?

I have just come back from an invigorating visit to Belgium and the annual awards ceremony for the students of the British School of Brussels (BSB), my ex-school and one that my father, Mike Goodman, was a co-founder of.  The school’s motto is “Learning together, inspiring success” and both the Principal of the school Sue Woodroofe, and the attending BSB Trustee, Belgian Minister of State Mark Eyskens, helped to drive this message home.

Leuven University Library

Leuven University Library – BSB students are presented with their annual awards in the nearby University hall.

The second influence for this newsletter’s theme actually came a few days earlier in the form of an article in The Observer of 7th June by Ian Leslie, author of “Curious: The Desire to Know and Why your Future Depends on it”. This is where I came across the phrase “curious learner”. Leslie’s observations on the importance of enquiring minds and continuous learning to create the intellectual capital that is crucial to today’s innovative world really struck a chord.

So what is the connection with RiverRhee Consulting?

We at RiverRhee are continuously developing our own knowledge

Sue Woodroofe suggested that the purpose of learning should not just be one of imparting knowledge, but of giving students the means to develop their wisdom! Ian Leslie suggested that we should be helping students to become not only specialists (suited for specific jobs) but also generalists, with a curiosity that enables them to span many disciplines; echoes perhaps of the likes of Leonardo de Vinci and the Renaissance man, but also of successful modern day managers and entrepreneurs such as Steve Jobs and Richard Branson.

We are striving for something like this in developing our own knowledge at RiverRhee, continuously learning about new areas that will bring novelty and added depth to all of our offerings for enhancing team effectiveness and for creating exceptional managers and teams.

So for instance I attended the first of what I hope will be many more workshops with David Hall from The Ideas Centre to enrich how we facilitate workshops (see Facilitation – some new ideas) in general, and also approaches to continuous improvement in our Introduction to Lean Sigma training.

Using lego with The Ideas Centre for solution development

Using lego with The Ideas Centre for solution development

I have been exploring Motivational Maps with Joy Bemrose of Winning Workplace (this is also something that our Associate Lorraine Warne can also support) as something additional to share in our Supervisor Training and Introduction to Management courses. How to motivate their direct reports is something that our delegates often flag as a particular challenge.

Janet Burton and I are always looking for ways to deliver greater value to the delegates in our Introduction to Management course. The feedback that we receive is invaluable for this, but we are also going to pilot a new approach in next week’s course: inviting a guest speaker to lead a 30 minute slot on a new topic that we believe will be of interest. Next week’s guest is Jacqui Watson of SymplyChange Ltd, speaking on Transactional Analysis as an additional resource for dealing with difficult situations. We are open to suggestions as to what will appear in September’s course.

I have been working with another of our Associates, Margie Gardiner to develop some further content, in response to a customer’s request, for our Introduction to Lean Sigma course. Like many approaches to Lean and Six Sigma, ‘5S’ (Sort, Store, Shine, Standardise, Sustain) provides a relatively simple but structured approach for better organising and streamlining our work, and thereby make better use of our time and resources. This added content will also appear in my latest workbook “The Effective Team’s Operational Excellence Workbook” that will be coming out shortly.

Other ways in which we help our clients to be curious learners

Our ideal clients are those who come to us because they have a desire to learn some new principles and tools that will enable them to address their challenges at work. So we take an “action learning” approach to our workshops, and in our coaching and consulting. Our clients bring their challenges. We teach them some approaches. They apply the approaches and gain new knowledge and skills, as well as real solutions to their challenges.

People come to us as curious learners, and hopefully they continue as such beyond their interactions with us.

So our management workshops are very interactive, as shown in our latest RiverRhee Consulting: Management Workshops video.

An interactive exercise in our Introduction to Management course

An interactive exercise in our Introduction to Management course

As delegates to our November Introduction to Lean Sigma course will discover this topic is all about stimulating continuous learning for continuous improvement.

John Riddell’s and my upcoming conference ‘master class’ at CILIP’s 2015 conference will be promoting “learning before, during and after” to enable library and information professionals to act as ‘knowledge facilitators’ in their organisations.

Last but not least, October’s Managing Change course will continue to encourages those working in Life Science based organisations to learn to understand those affected by the change in order to more effectively deliver change programmes. In fact I was interested to hear Belgian Minister of State Mark Eyskens’ assertion that our general understanding of cognitive behaviour i.e. how we all think and operate, lags far behind many other branches of our knowledge. No wonder that their own and other’s behavioural reactions to change is the aspect that so many leaders of change find the most challenging!

Time to have some more conversations with Lorraine Warne on how NLP is an “instruction manual for the mind”.  We can learn a lot from personality tools such as MBTI and Belbin Team Roles too as per this recent testimonial from one of our clients: “I’m sure I speak for all of the team when I say how informative and valuable yesterday’s [Belbin Team Roles] session was.  I know that we will be able to use this new-found knowledge to grow stronger individually, as a team and as a business – thank you.”

Closing thoughts

I continue to do voluntary work as a Trustee with The Red Balloon Learner Centre in Cambridge, and have also recently become involved as a volunteer assisting the Cambridge Area 14-19 Partnership.  It is extremely rewarding to contribute to young people’s learning in this way and to gain a window into their world which is so insightful for our own approach to work and life in general.

I’d like to finish by quoting another article, this time in the Observer Magazine of 7th June, with Stephen Mangan who said: “I’d like my kids to know that everyone’s making it up as they go along. You want to find that balance between self-confidence and arrogance, and an ability to enjoy the moment versus an ambition to improve.” I might suggest replacing the word “arrogance” with “humility” and insert ‘by being a curious learner” before the final full stop. I certainly agree that we should have fun and enjoy our continuous improvement journey!

About RiverRhee Consulting

RiverRhee Consulting has been delivering training, mainly in the form of workshops, and coaching since 2009.

Subject areas include:

  • Supervisor and management skills.
  • Team building & effectiveness.
  • Operational excellence (Lean and Six Sigma).
  • Change management.
  • Project management.
  • Knowledge management.

We are training providers for several library and information groups such as CILIP, Aslib, TFPL.  Discounts are available for One Nucleus members, and through the Cogent Skills, Skills for Growth programme.

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 in 2015 and beyond.

Elisabeth Goodman receiving the Cogent Skills Assured Training Provider certificate on behalf of RiverRhee Consulting

Elisabeth Goodman receiving the Cogent Skills Assured Training Provider certificate in May, on behalf of RiverRhee Consulting

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Taking time to think differently. RiverRhee Consulting Newsletter, March – April 2015

By Elisabeth Goodman, 16th April 2015

“I would just like to reiterate that these last three days have been great, and gave me a lot of ideas and things to explore further. You make a great team, and have been amazingly welcoming to all of us!”  Quote from a delegate at our March Introduction to Management course.

An important aspect of our training courses and workshops, and one that our customers repeatedly cite in their feedback, is the time that we give them to think about their work, and the strategies and tools to explore how they could go about it differently.

Delegates reflecting during an Introduction to Management course

Delegates reflecting during an Introduction to Management course

As you are kindly taking the time to read this newsletter, we thought we would share with you five ways in which you too might like to think differently.

Treat problems (as well as opportunities) as treasures

One of our mantras in our Introduction to Lean and Six Sigma course, is to recognise that everything that we do is potentially very complex: a web of interaction between the people, the processes and the environment involved.

This complexity requires continuous study and improvement, so that we could regard every problem and opportunity that we find as a “treasure” that will help us to reduce the future need for fire fighting and associated stress. Delegates in our courses search for all the ways in which they might be wasting time, money and the talent of their staff, and what they could do to address this.

So, if you are not doing so already, you too could adopt a mind-set to look out for and welcome these treasures.

People who seem difficult may just be being different

We have mentioned this in one of our previous newsletters on creating exceptional managers, but make no apology for mentioning it again as it is a popular topic for discussion in our Supervisor Training and Introduction to Management courses. I have also written a full blog on how difficult people are not necessarily being difficult. The key aspects to bear in mind seem to be:

  • Recognise that people with different personality types will approach their work and communicate differently
  • Have conversations to understand each other’s perspective rather than making assumptions about why people are behaving in a certain way
  • Be assertive rather than aggressive or passive in your interactions with others

Welcome resistance rather than treating it as something to be dealt with or dreaded

Resistance still seems to be one of the major aspects that those leading change programmes worry about.  So it was good to hear Rod Willis during the recent APM Enabling Change SIG’s “Great Change Debate” echo our perspective that leaders should listen to resistance and consider what they might have missed in their planning.

We encourage delegates in our Managing Change course to engage their stakeholders in conversation so that they can discover what people might be worrying about in relation to a change and take action accordingly.

Adopting this mind-set will help you to improve your change strategies and to communicate with people more effectively. This approach is also one that I document in “The Effective Team’s Change Management Workbook”.

Work with your stakeholders to develop risk management plans

We include a brief overview on Project Management in our Supervisor Training and Introduction to Management courses. We also cover it more fully in our 1-day course on Project Management, which we have been delivering for Library and Information Managers through TFPL but can also customise for other clients. An aspect that practising project managers don’t always apply to the full is that of risk management.

Yet, as delegates discussed at a recent PIPMG (Pharmaceutical Industry Project Management Group) meeting on the work of CROs (Contract Research Organisations), taking time at the start of a project to consider all the potential risks and opportunities is a powerful way to build on the participants’ experiences from previous projects.

For CROs, and indeed for anyone delivering a product or service, it is a great way to engage in constructive up-front conversations with stakeholders about what might impact the timing, cost or quality of what you are delivering, and what actions you might take as a consequence.

Remember to think about what is working well!

Throughout this newsletter, we have encouraged you to think about opportunities as well as problems! If you have not yet come across Appreciative Inquiry, you might want to explore this further. It is a discipline that focuses on exploring successes and what is working well, how these have come about, and how they can be built upon.

For those of us who have a tendency to dwell on problems, focusing on what is going well instead can be an uplifting as well as a productive alternative way of thinking.

Upcoming courses and events

We hope you have enjoyed this newsletter.  If you would like more opportunities to take time to think differently, do consider joining us for one of our courses or events.

Details about all of these can be found on the RiverRhee Consulting website.

Here is what is coming up in the next few months:

If you would like to find out more

Do get in touch if you would like to find out more about RiverRhee Consulting, our range of off-site and in-house workshops, and how we can help you to create exceptional managers and teams in 2015.  See the RiverRhee Consulting website or e-mail the author at elisabeth@riverrhee.com.

 

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Looking back on 2014 and forward to 2015. RiverRhee Consulting Newsletter, November – December 2014

RiverRhee Consulting, 11th December 2014

Introduction

December is traditionally a time when many of us reflect on our achievements, what we have learned and what we can look forward to in the coming year.

2014 has been our most active and varied year so far, in the just over five years of RiverRhee’s existence. We thought we would share a little about our achievements and our learning, and several things that might be of interest to you in 2015 under the headings:

  • Developing management and interpersonal skills
  • Managing and dealing with change
  • Continuous improvement
  • Knowledge management
  • Strategy facilitation
  • Upcoming courses

Developing management and interpersonal skills is an important area for growing SMEs as well as larger organisations

Interest in Elisabeth Goodman’s and Janet Burton’s off-site courses and customised in-house training and coaching for new managers and supervisors has really taken off in 2014. Our client base for management related skills is continuing to expand with bookings for January through to March 2015.

Delegates at our Introduction to Management course, September 2014

Delegates at our Introduction to Management course, September 2014

We have learnt that some SMEs can spare the time for people to attend our off-site 3-day Introduction to Management course and really appreciate the opportunity to network with and learn from colleagues from other companies.

Equally important though, is our ability to customise our Supervisor Training course so that the content and duration match what other clients would prefer to have delivered in-house. Elisabeth and Janet ran one such course for Red Balloon, Cambridge and subsequently shared the experience in the blog “There will never be enough time

Sometimes our support takes the form of short coaching sessions with individual managers – we did some of this in 2014, and are due to do more in 2015.

How to enhance team effectiveness is one of the topics included in supervisor and management training, and Elisabeth recently published “The Effective Team’s High Performance Workbook”, now available through Amazon as well as through the RiverRhee publishing page.

We’ve also found that SMEs appreciate the help we can give them in reviewing and rolling out improved performance review and appraisal processes . And we have used Elisabeth’s and Lorraine Warne’s skills in MBTI (Myers Briggs Type Indicator) and NLP (NeuroLinguisticProgramming) to help individuals understand their strengths and enhance their interpersonal skills.

Managing and dealing with change is a big topic of interest

We have run workshops and delivered seminars on the subject of change for Library and Information organisations (CILIP, UKeIG, Health Libraries Group), and at Project Management (APM) events in 2014 (see for example “Common factors for managing successful change“).

Changing the way we change - APM event at GSK June 2014

Changing the way we change – APM event at GSK June 2014

This subject continues to be something that people would like more help with, so that they can make change happen in a more positive and effective way.

We have introduced a new off-site course on Managing Change for Life Science organisations in 2015 and look forward to finding out how popular this will be.

Elisabeth Goodman became the ‘pillar lead’ for Capabilities and Methods in the APM Enabling Change SIG, and this is already giving her access to new knowledge to bring into our work with clients. We also recently heard that Elisabeth’s jointly authored article with Lucy Loh’s “Organizational Change: A Critical Challenge for Team Effectiveness” is to be included in a collection of such articles in an academic work entitled “Change Leadership” edited by Colette Dumas and Richard H. Beinecke which will be published by SAGE Publications in May 2015.

There continues to be an appetite for continuous improvement

We have continued to run in-house courses on Lean and Six Sigma, and are now offering this also as an off-site course in 2015. In fact, this is one of three courses (the other two being Introduction to Management, and Managing Change) that we are now accredited to deliver through Cogent as another source of potential subsidised funding for SMEs. (Elisabeth also continues to be a registered coach and trainer with the GrowthAccelerator programme and organised a fairly well attended free event with them at Babraham Science Park in the summer.)

We delivered a half-day version of the Lean and Six Sigma course as one of two seminars with Janet Burton for the Herts Chamber of Commerce, and there are prospects of delivering more of these in 2015.

We facilitated some in-house continuous improvement with an academic organisation during 2014, and a few of the delegates who visited our stand at One Nucleus’ recent Genesis event also expressed interest to Sue Parkins and John Riddell in potential support from us in this area in 2015.

(By the way, Sue joined our team of associates during 2014, along with Paul Hadland, Rose Bolton and Margie Gardiner.  We shared a little more about the team under the theme of “What motivates us in our work“.)

Look out for Elisabeth’s next book on the topic of continuous improvement in 2015: “The Effective Team’s Operational Excellence Workbook”.

Our work in knowledge management has picked up some new momentum

The big news was the publication of Elisabeth and John’s book with Gower “Knowledge Management in the Pharmaceutical Industry” at the end of August. An immediate outcome was that we were invited to give an “inspiring” talk to help a Pharmaceutical company develop its knowledge management strategy.

Knowledge Management in the Pharmaceutical Industry, by Elisabeth Goodman and John Riddell

Knowledge Management in the Pharmaceutical Industry, by Elisabeth Goodman and John Riddell

Elisabeth also delivered a session on Knowledge Management to IMPI earlier in the year on behalf of TFPL, and worked with the Open University Library Services to carry out an audit and facilitate a stakeholder workshop for their metadata project.

Our strategy facilitation skills have been in demand

We returned to the EU organisation that Elisabeth and Lorraine Warne had worked with in 2013 to help them shape their forward strategy.

We called in another independent consultant, Janette Thomas, at the start of the year to help us with a strategic workshop with a health research organisation.

And Elisabeth has been working with a government organisation to facilitate a workshop and a focus group to help shape one of their strategies.

Upcoming courses

Details of our upcoming courses and events are kept up-to-date on our website. Here is what the list is looking like at the moment:

If you would like to find out more

Do get in touch if you would like to find out more about RiverRhee Consulting, our range of off-site and in-house workshops, and how we can help you to create exceptional managers and teams in 2015.  See the RiverRhee Consulting website or e-mail the author at elisabeth@riverrhee.com.

Meanwhile, we wish you a healthy and happy end of year and start to 2015…

 

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Creating Exceptional Managers – RiverRhee Consulting Newsletter November – December 2013

EXCEPTIONAL MANAGERS CREATE EXCEPTIONAL TEAMS

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

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

Manager's responsibilities

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

DIFFICULT PEOPLE ARE NOT NECESSARILY BEING DIFFICULT!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

NEWS ON OUR PUBLISHING ACTIVITIES AND ON CHANGE MANAGEMENT

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

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

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

Birmingham Library

IF YOU WOULD LIKE TO FIND OUT MORE

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

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