Tag Archives: Employee engagement

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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How to create exceptional managers and teams – a snapshot. RiverRhee Consulting newsletter, January – February 2016.

By Elisabeth Goodman, 12th February, 2016

The seminars and workshops that we have been delivering during January and February have been typical of our work in enhancing team effectiveness.  So we thought we would share four aspects, and eight tools representing some of the most popular approaches.

  1. Building an understanding of the strengths within your team
    • OPP’s MBTI ‘flip-a-type tips’, and Belbin’s Team Roles
  2. Fostering individual development
    • The GROW model of coaching, and ‘clean questions’
  3. Enabling change
    • Common factors for successful change, and creating navigators rather than victims of change
  4. Simple tools to enhance your effectiveness
    • Lean Sigma’s 5S, and the Mind Gym’s ‘5Ds’

Building an understanding of the strengths within your team

We started the year with a team workshop using OPP‘s MBTI ‘flip-a-type tips’.

OPP's MBTI Flip-a-type tips

OPP’s MBTI Flip-a-type tips

It’s an insightful tool for understanding the dynamics between people. Through it you can explore your respective strengths and how to work more effectively together and build stronger relationships within the team.

The Belbin Team Roles also continue to provide valuable insights on how to make good use of the diversity within a team and also the gaps that the team might want to address.  We delivered two in-house courses where we used scenarios to bring this diversity to light.

Fostering individual development

The GROW model of coaching continues to be a favourite in our team workshops and management training courses. This simple tools enables managers to switch from a directive to a supportive approach, and to cultivate individuals’ ownership and initiative in solving their problems.

GROW - a coaching model

GROW – a coaching model

Active listening and open questions are key to a manager’s effectiveness as a coach. I’m exploring ‘clean questions‘ with my peers in my NLP learning group as an additional tool to support this.  More on this in due course.

Enabling change

Managers and teams are subject to continuous change – whether they are leading it or dealing with its implications.  I’ve spoken in two recent seminars in my capacity as committee member of the APM Enabling Change SIG and as a practitioner / trainer in managing change. Delegates at one of the seminars had a good discussion that have helped us to identify more common factors for managing successful change.

I also continue to be passionate about the things we can do to create navigators rather than victims of change.

Creating navigators rather than victims of change

Creating navigators rather than victims of change

Simple tools to enhance your effectiveness

We’ve delivered two Lean Sigma courses this month during which I introduced our new 5S video developed for us by John Stinson.

5S video by RiverRhee

5S video by RiverRhee

Like many Lean Sigma tools it gives you a structured approach to a relatively simple concept that can make a big impact on an individual’s or team’s work. Several of our delegates indicated that they would be applying it to their desk, in their labs or in their storage areas.

How to make better use of their time continues to be one of the challenges faced by the managers attending our courses. The Mind Gym’s mantra that “there will never be enough time” to do all the things we want to do, but the main thing is to be happy about how we are using it, continues to strike a chord.  The “5 D”s combined with Stephen R. Covey’s urgent/important matrix are simple tools that are popular with our delegates.

The 5 Ds for managing time

The 5 Ds for managing time

What’s next?

Our portfolio of courses can be adapted and expanded to match your own portfolio of requirements so that your managers and teams get just the training and development that they need.  For instance we have recently carried out a training needs analysis for an SME and designed a one-day Management Training workshop for their managers.  And we have created a couple of new half-day courses at the request of another organisation one of which “Effective Influencing and Communication” has now been added to our portfolio.

We can carry out a training needs analysis for your organisation and design the right content just for you.  Or you could take a look at the full list of RiverRhee’s training courses and contact us with your choices.

Do get in touch to help us deliver the right portfolio and approach for you.

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Building your team in 2015. RiverRhee Consulting Newsletter, January – February 2015

By RiverRhee Consulting, 2nd February 2015

We’ve had a busy start to the year delivering in-house training on management skills and performance reviews, and Janet Burton and Elisabeth Goodman are looking forward to delivering our popular “Introduction to Management” open access course in Melbourn (UK) in March. Details of this and other upcoming courses can be found at the end of this newsletter, or on the RiverRhee Consulting website.

We also like to add new skills to our portfolio each year, and thanks to Elisabeth’s recent accreditation, can now add the Belbin Team Roles alongside MBTI (Myers Briggs Type Indicator), and NLP (NeuroLinguisticProgramming). These tools can be very powerful not only to help us understand our individual strengths and make better use of them, but also to foster stronger relationships and communication both within and outside the team.

Whilst white water rafting may be one approach to building your team, it’s not the one that everyone would choose.  We thought we’d devote this newsletter to exploring how you could use personality tools and other approaches to engage your team members in building your team in 2015.

Using personality tools to develop the team

There is a whole host of tools available to help us better understand our own and other’s strengths, and so plan how we can make better use of these strengths to build stronger relationships and improved communication within a team.

Some people are concerned about the risk of being ‘put in boxes’, but it is the individual’s choice to share their profile or not. At any rate, we can all choose to and do behave differently from our profiles, and we can and do learn skills in areas that are not our natural strengths.

As accredited practitioners, RiverRhee Associates can help your team explore the ethical and constructive use of such tools as Belbin Team Roles, MBTI (Myers Briggs Type Indicator), and NLP (NeuroLinguisticProgramming) for developing your team.

MBTI summary slide

MBTI summary slide

 

Defining a common team purpose and goals

Strong teams don’t just rely on good working relationships. They are also aligned around a clear team purpose and goals: the ‘why’ and the ‘what’ of their day-to-day existence. Having common values will also enable team members to work together more effectively and so become a high performance team.

As Elisabeth describes in Chapter 3 of her recently published “The Effective Team’s High Performance Workbook”, “a team’s vision sets out what it aspires to do. It is a futuristic statement .. [that] is meant to inspire the team and attract its stakeholders to do business with it.” So a team might have a vision something like this: “we are recognised as a centre of excellence in what we do. Our peers consult us as a role model for how they too can excel in their work.”

The Effective Team's High Performance Workbook, RiverRhee Publishing, 2014

The Effective Team’s High Performance Workbook, RiverRhee Publishing, 2014

As for goals, the ideal is to have a cascade from the organisation’s objectives, through to those of each department and team and hence to the individual: a joined up approach that not all organisations that we work with find easy to achieve.

Finally, as also described in the book, “values represent how we go about our work: how we see ourselves, what we would like others to hear about us, what we feel is important.” These values might include expertise in the team’s area of work, being attentive and responsive to customers, or always behaving with integrity. Team building events are a good opportunity for people to share what values they care about, and which ones they could align themselves around as a team.

Identifying and agreeing opportunities to enhance working practices

Team building events are also a golden opportunity to review working practices, and to engage everyone in how these could be improved. As external facilitators, we help people to articulate what could be improved, and how, if needs be anonymously. We collate all of the suggestions for improvement, as well as confirmation of what is working well, and so facilitate constructive discussions during the team building event.

Areas covered in past events have included internal communication, clarity of roles, managing workloads, meeting management and more. Again, a full list of potential working practices to explore, along with suggestions for the pre-workshop diagnostic, can be found in “The Effective Team’s High Performance Workbook”.

Upcoming courses and events

We are delighted that John Riddell and Elisabeth Goodman’s application to present a masterclass on “How to add value to your organisation as a ‘knowledge facilitator’” at CILIP’s 2015 conference has just been accepted. This interactive session will give us an opportunity to share and explore insights from our book: “Knowledge Management in the Pharmaceutical Industry”, Gower, 2014 and more!

Details of all our upcoming courses and events are kept up-to-date on the RiverRhee Consulting website. Here is what is coming up in the next few months:

  • Managing Change (with One Nucleus and Cogent) – 23rd February, Melbourn (UK)
  • Elisabeth Goodman will be co-presenting at the APM Midlands branch event – How to keep programmes on track and teams inspired during periods of change, 24th February, Nottingham
  • Introduction to Management (with One Nucleus and Cogent ) – 17th-19th March, Melbourn (UK)
  • Effective Project Planning and Management(with TFPL) – 23rd April, London
  • Introduction to Lean and Six Sigma (with One Nucleus and Cogent), 27th April, Melbourn (UK)

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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Five golden rules for performance reviews. RiverRhee Consulting Newsletter September – October 2014

Why focus on performance reviews and appraisals?

It’s that time of year again when managers and their staff are preparing for performance reviews and appraisals. It’s a topic that can be very emotive. If done well it’s a tremendous opportunity to build engagement, generate fresh energy, and position the organisation for growth and innovation. If done poorly or not at all, performance reviews can be serious demotivators and lead to organisational stagnation and attrition.

Performance reviews and appraisals and how to do them well were the subject of animated discussion in two recent management courses that Elisabeth Goodman and Janet Burton ran with One Nucleus and with the Herts Chamber of Commerce. The following are some of the key points that emerged from these and our previous work supporting SMEs (Small and Medium Enterprises) in particular with their performance review and appraisal processes.

Some of the delegates at the recent 3-day One Nucleus Introduction to Management course, held at the Melbourn Community Hub.  Feedback from one of the delegates: “Thank you very much for an excellent course - I found it very informative and well run. I should have done it years ago.”

Some of the delegates at the recent 3-day One Nucleus Introduction to Management course, held at the Melbourn Community Hub. Feedback from one of the delegates: “Thank you very much for an excellent course – I found it very informative and well run. I should have done it years ago.”

1. Performance reviews are a 2-way process

The review should be, in transactional analysis terms (Eric Berne 1960s), an “adult to adult” conversation jointly owned by the individual and their manager. For the employee it is a time to get formal feedback on their work and to plan what they will be doing in the coming year. For the manager it is an opportunity to provide that formal feedback and direction. A manager could create an opening for that 2-way discussion by asking such questions as: “How could I help you to make 2015 a real success?”

2. There should be no surprises

Although the formal review takes place once a year, it should definitely not be the first time that comments on requirements for improvement, or positive feedback are exchanged. Nor should it be the first time that issues with or adjustments to objectives are first discussed. These things are relevant to day-to-day work and should be discussed as they arise.

3. Objectives should cascade down from the organisation’s goals

What is often quite striking when we work with SMEs is how well connected and engaged people usually are with their organisational goals. There is a clear connection with what the organisation wishes to achieve and the individual’s role in supporting that goal. This is something that can be harder to achieve in larger organisations where there can be quite a gap between the two and quite a delay before objectives are confirmed for the coming year.

4. Performance reviews are an excellent opportunity to support personal and professional development

This aspect of personal objectives is what helps to make the discussion a two-way process. As SMEs are by definition often small there may be limited opportunities for progression through management ranks, but this should not be an excuse for limiting career development. Motivators for people in SMEs are often self-actualisation or, in the words of Dan Pink, mastery and autonomy. Providing opportunities for personal and professional development should be possible whatever the size of the organisation.

5. Make sure that your objectives are SMART

People may be dismissive of acronyms but this one is a useful one to ensure that both the individual and their manager are unambiguously clear about what they have agreed and how the successful achievement of objectives will be assessed, whatever the individual meaning of the letters. We use the terms Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, Timed and that seemed to work for the delegates on our courses!

How effective is your performance review process?

Do you have variations on these five golden rules?

Let us know if you would like us to tailor our performance review and appraisal training to help you with your process and coach your managers and staff for greater engagement, innovation and growth. You can also read more about this topic and other ways to create high performance teams in Elisabeth’s book “The Effective Team’s High Performance Workbook” now available from Amazon as well as through the RiverRhee Publishing website.

Other news and upcoming courses and events

RiverRhee gained Cogent Sector Skills Council accreditation during September, which, amongst other things, means that our courses can reach more small businesses across the UK. We are offering our Introduction to Management, Introduction to Lean Sigma, and also Managing Change courses through Cogent.

We will be active on the Project Management front again in the coming weeks. Elisabeth is now leading the Capabilities and Methods Pillar for APM’s Enabling Change SIG (Specific Interest Group). She will be co-presenting at APM’s Project Management in Practice event on behalf of the SIG, and will also be running the Effective Project Management course for TFPL in November.

Finally, do come and find John Riddell, Sue Parkins and Elisabeth on exhibition stand 2 at One Nucleus’s Genesis event in London on 9th December

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

 

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RiverRhee Consulting newsletters – pre-2011

See below for a table of RiverRhee Consulting newsletters prior to 2011.

The usual posting order of blogs is in reversal chronology, but these newsletters were transferred from a previous site, hence the actual chronological order!

Reflections on making better use of our time and resources May 2010
RiverRhee Consulting – 1 year old in July 2010! June 2010
Knowledge Management August 2010
‘Finding our voice’ – a route to greater employee engagement and empowerment? October 2010
Effectively engaging customers in change management and day-to-day work December 2010

RiverRhee Consulting, enhances team effectiveness through process improvement, knowledge and change management. Follow the link to find out about how RiverRhee Consulting can help your team to work more effectively for greater productivity and improved team morale.

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‘Finding our voice’ – a route to greater employee engagement and empowerment?

October 2010

When Elisabeth Goodman first left full time employment after 21 years in a FTSE 100 company, and a previous 4 years in a similar corporate environment, she had an exhilarating sense of freedom and opportunity to exercise her talents and wits in whatever way she wished.  Fifteen months on she’s very pleased with the choices she has made, and the new path she has carved out for herself as Owner and Principal Consultant with RiverRhee Consulting.

However, her conversations with those who are employees and her experience of running work-shops, seminars and training courses on process improvement, knowledge management and change management, continue to convince her that employees will be more ‘empowered’, more engaged and more motivated in their work if, as advocated by Stephen R. Covey1, they are encouraged and helped to ‘find their voice’.

One way we can ‘find our voice’ is by re-thinking our careers2.

Those of us working for employees should think about what career paths we want to steer in life – and engage our line managers in personal review & development discussions accordingly.  Thinking in this way can help us to view our roles within the organisation differently and perhaps take more of a leadership, creative and continuous improvement role within the context of our remit.  It can help us to approach our work with a ‘self-employed’ attitude.

Those of us who have worked for the same employers for a long length of time, and are now branching out into something new, can find ourselves bravely re-examining what unique offerings we can bring to our potential new employers, or customers.  It may be the first time in a long while that we realize we have a choice, and how difficult that choice can be.

‘Do more great work’ by Michael Bungay Stanier3 is a very good, exercise-filled guide to discovering what’s important to us in our work and how we might get to do more of it.

We can / should take responsibility for ‘Topgrading’ 4 ,5ourselves

Bradford D Smart advocates that we should each take responsibility for finding those positions or roles where we can be “A” players, instead of being satisfied with playing a “B/C” role.  He argues that, in the right role, we can all be A players.

He suggests that people perform periodical personal career reviews of their competencies relative to the marketplace, and that we cultivate networks of knowledgeable people as well as reading widely and attending seminars and trade-shows to help us with this.

Managers also of course have a key role in developing employee engagement and empowerment6,7

It’s a sad paradox that in difficult times, many of the people that get laid off are those who have the knowledge that could help the organisation out of recession.

Covey et al make a number of references to how Anne Mulcahy, CEO of Xerox in 2001, managed to turn the organisation around.  One of the key ways she did this was by making fewer people redundant than others might have done, and by appealing directly to people throughout the organisation for ideas.  It may seem obvious but, as the authors point out, “only knowledgeable people can create the solutions you need to succeed in a crisis.”

Closing thoughts

In a recent blog based on 2 articles from the Observer on employee engagement8, Elisabeth Goodman makes the point that companies’ focus on employee engagement and on the tools to facilitate and measure this engagement are important, but will only work if the people involved are: doing the jobs that they enjoy; supported in the skills that they need to do them effectively; ‘empowered’ (or have control over) how they do their jobs and can improve them; and have a belief (endorsed by their managers) that what they are doing is worthwhile.

RiverRhee Consulting approach to working with organisations, and running workshops, seminars and training courses is to develop people’s capabilities and encourage them and their managers to use their knowledge and expertise so that they are ‘empowered’ to be creative, and be leaders in finding ways to continuously improve their work.

Related Blogs & Notes

  1. “The 8th Habit. From effectiveness to greatness”, by Stephen R. Covey. Simon & Schuster Sound Ideas,1980.
  2. Building strong personal career paths
  3. ‘Do more great work’, by Michael Bungay Stanier
  4. Topgrading
  5. “Topgrading” by Bradford D Smart, Portfolio, 2005
  6. Achieving more value with less
  7. “Predictable results in unpredictable times”, by Stephen R. Covey, Bob Whitman and Breck England. FranklinCovey Publishing, 2009.
  8. Employee engagement – some interesting data and perspectives for Lean and Six Sigma practitioners
  9. Elisabeth Goodman is Owner and Principal Consultant at RiverRhee Consulting: enhancing team effectiveness using process improvement, knowledge management and change management.  Follow the links to find out more about RiverRhee Consulting, and about Elisabeth Goodman.

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