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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


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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Summer and the 3 Cs. RiverRhee Consulting Newsletter, July-August 2013

Collecting, connecting, creating

As Elisabeth Goodman mentioned in her recent blog – Umbrella 2013, a view from a CILIP trainer – there are some common themes in Information and Knowledge management in terms of collecting information and knowledge in a form that can be made accessible to others, and then connecting people to these assets, and to each other to really make that information and knowledge flow.

The ultimate goal of these activities is of course to enable us to create ideas and opportunities that will lead to incremental improvements in what we do, or to break-through innovations.

We thought this would be a great theme for our summer newsletter as summer holidays are traditionally a time to collect new experiences or to simply relax and pick up pebbles on the beach; to connect with friends and family or our own inner thoughts; and to create new energy and ideas for the coming months.



A lot of RiverRhee Consulting’s work also centres around these 3 Cs: we help teams to collect facts, perceptions and insights relating to what they do; to reflect and connect with these insights and with each other; and to then create and implement improvements to their work as a team.


Any effective initiative makes use of sound facts and data.  Information and Library professionals have a vital role to play in helping to make the wealth of in-house and external information more accessible to individuals within an organisation.

We are now all ‘knowledge workers’, and so tapping into what we already know should be a prerequisite for anything that we undertake.  It is something that the APM and Project Managers continue to be passionate about in advocating the collection and sharing of ‘lessons learned’ before, during and at the end of any project.

Operational teams can also benefit from collecting facts and data on their work, and this is something that we support through the use of team ‘temperature checks’ or diagnostics, and as part of the Lean Sigma ‘Measure’ phase as input for analysis and discussion in team workshops.




Elisabeth Goodman has been doing one-to-one consultations using the MBTI (Myers Briggs Type Indicator) psychometric tool to help people gain a deeper understanding of their strengths and of how they can use these insights in both their personal development and in their interactions with others.  This makes MBTI a powerful tool for team building activities – and Elisabeth will also be using this in her work with a client in September.

One of the four dichotomies in MBTI describes where we prefer to focus and draw on our energy.  In a sense this is also about how we prefer to connect: outwardly in interaction with others, or inwardly through quiet reflection.  (Of course, as with the other dichotomies, many of us will like a mixture of both.)

Information and Knowledge Management resources and processes also provide the means for connecting with hardcopy or electronic resources, and for connecting with other people either individually or as part of a community.  Elisabeth’s latest article in her and John Riddell’s ‘Knowledge Management Surgery’ explores how understanding the MBTI personality profiles could help with many aspects of Knowledge Management.

NLP is also a powerful tool that we have been using to foster personal understanding and for team building.  Lorraine Warne and Elisabeth are running a workshop in Cambridge on the 24th July Increasing your Personal Effectiveness, which will give delegates an opportunity to explore both of these techniques alongside each other.




This brings us back to the last of our 3 Cs that we mentioned in our introduction.  If we have our facts and data, our experiences, our insights, and reflect on them individually or with others, we can start to identify new ways of doing things.  We can come up with new products, services, improvements to our processes, and ways to achieve a high performing team.  We can be in the flow, enjoy what we do and achieve great things!

Speaking of which, John and Elisabeth have completed the body of our book – Knowledge Management in the Pharmaceutical Industry – and are now reviewing the content with contributors.  We anticipate getting the final product to our publisher, Gower, by then end of the year, 10+ months ahead of our delivery date…

If you’d like to find out more

Do get in touch if you’d like to find out more about RiverRhee Consulting, our range of off-site and in-house workshops, and how we can help you to 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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Learning alliances and the coaching continuum. RiverRhee Consulting Newsletter, May-June 2013

Giving teams the time, environment and skills to reflect

As Elisabeth Goodman wrote in her recent blog – Feel the fear and do it anyway – our work at RiverRhee Consulting is all about giving teams the right conditions for thinking about their work and dealing with the challenges that have been getting in the way of their productivity and positive morale.

It is a kind of facilitation that sits at whatever point in the coaching continuum, from the most directive, where we are in instructive mode, to the least directive where those that we work with can simply reflect on what they are doing.  And it relies on forming a strong ‘learning alliance’ with our clients, so that we can listen and respond to exactly what they need.

Lorraine Warne and Elisabeth had the opportunity to provide just this form of blended and responsive approach in a recent 1½-day workshop for an EU organisation. Our combination of presentations, interactive discussions and break-out groups enabled the team members to develop fresh personal insights on their communication styles and values, build a stronger team spirit and collectively identify solutions to improve their efficiency and performance.

The teaching end of the continuum

Although our workshops usually combine teaching new skills with opportunities for practice and reflection, we do occasionally put a little more emphasis on the teaching.  John Riddell did just this in a 1½-hour taster on Lean and Six Sigma for people in Abcam, one of our existing client organisations, who had not yet attended one of our 1-day workshops.  We’re hoping they will be amongst those signing up for a further workshop for the client in the autumn. (A full case study of our work with Abcam was included in the June issue of the One Nucleus TrainingNews.)

Mentoring our existing/returning clients

Four years into our business and our list of returning clients is starting to grow.  John and Elisabeth previously introduced a client to Lean and Six Sigma.  Elisabeth has now begun mentoring them as they work their way through the DMAIC approach to define what constitutes value to their customers, and how they can deliver that more efficiently.

Coaching SMEs for business development and innovation

Elisabeth is now a registered and approved GrowthAccelerator coach, which means she can provide “expert, tailored advice to help ambitious businesses achieve rapid, sustainable growth”.  You can find out more about the programme at http://www.growthaccelerator.com

Other forthcoming and recent activities

We have several workshops and seminars coming up during June and July.

Two of these are new collaborations with The Training Manager when Elisabeth will be delivering introductory evening seminars in Royston on Social Media on June 11th, and also on the Myers Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) on July 4th.

(Elisabeth delivered a presentation on the ROI of Social Media to members of the Cambridge Network during April.)

Also coming up, for the third time, is ‘Getting Better at Everything you do: optimizing the way you work’, with UKeIG, on 19th June in London.

And finally, just to confirm that we are still busy in the Knowledge Management space:

  • John and Elisabeth’s series of KM articles has started to appear in Aslib’s publication (Knowledge Management Surgery – How to get started in Knowledge Management. Managing Information, vol 19 (8), 2012 pp. 54 – 55)
  • And you can view Elisabeth’s presentation Where does information management end, and knowledge management begin? from the APM evening seminar in Birmingham in May.

If you’d like to find out more

Do get in touch if you’d like to find out more about RiverRhee Consulting, our range of off-site and in-house workshops, and how we can help you to 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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Personality types, teamwork and innovation. RiverRhee Consulting Newsletter, Sept-Oct 2012

Autumn is proving a very busy time!

These early months of autumn are proving a busy and fascinating time for RiverRhee Consulting Associates.  Our work has been very diverse and has included:

  • Applying an understanding of personality types to our work with teams that are experiencing significant change and implementing Open Innovation.
  • Working at the interface of the Myers Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) and NLP (NeuroLinguistic Programming).
  • Applying our expertise in Knowledge Management to help establish Communities of Practice.

In reflecting on the breadth of our work, we thought you might be interested in how an understanding of personality types and mindsets can help with teamwork and innovation.

MBTI (Myers Briggs Type Indicator) and NLP (NeuroLinguistic Programming)

There is of course a whole range of psychometric and related tools available to help us get a better understanding of ourselves, our personal strengths, and how our individual preferred ways of behaving affect our interactions with each other.

Elisabeth Goodman has been helping the Babraham Bioscience Technologies team and some of their colleagues in the Babraham Institute in Cambridge to do just that: to help them prepare for some significant changes expected from a major growth in their client base.

One of the tools we use is the Myers Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI), which describes four preference pairs, and 16 personality types that reflect how people prefer to behave.  We can all of course display aspects of each of the 4 preferences at some time or other and what we experience and our own development will help us to do this more over time, but we will always keep our intrinsic preferences.

Very briefly, the 4 pairs address how we prefer to:

  • Direct and take in energy – through a more dynamic interaction with others, or through more individual reflection (Extravert and Intravert)
  • Take in information – through a more precise use of our five senses, or through a more intuitive, ‘bigger picture’ approach (Sensing and Intuition)
  • Make decisions – with a greater focus on logic, and cause and effect, or a greater focus on what we and others might be feeling (Thinking and Feeling)
  • Generally approach what we do – in a fairly structured way that seeks closure sooner rather than later, or in a more exploratory, open-ended way. (Judging and Perceiving)

It turns out that there is a strong relationship between MBTI and NLP.  Lorraine Warne ran a 3-day Coaching Diploma in Cambridge which included looking at how the NLP “Meta Programmes” influence values and behaviours.  The “Meta Programmes” are based on the MBTI model.  It helps new coaches understand how others communicate within a team environment and gives them greater flexibility in how they do so.

Applying personality types to teamwork

An understanding of our own personality type, and that of others’ in the team not only helps us in communication as mentioned above, but in everything that we do together.

Our preferences will influence every aspect of our interactions: how we share information, tackle problems and projects, make decisions, innovate and respond to change.  Understanding the diversity of the personality types within your team will enable team leaders and members to draw on individual strengths, interact more effectively and be aware of and address any potential blind spots!

Personality types and innovation

Elisabeth introduced the MBTI personality types to delegates at a recent 3-day course on Open Innovation in R&D with OI Pharma Partners and WTG Training.  We will be running this again in January!

It’s fascinating to understand how different types are drawn to the different phases1 of innovation in open innovation networks and collaboration or partnerships and through crowd-sourcing platforms:

  • Defining the problem to be addressed, or solution to be offered
  • Discovering all the potential ideas ‘out there’
  • Deciding on the ideas to be adopted
  • Delivering them through implementation

The Sensing and Intuition pair come into play in exploring ideas: where those with a Sensing preference might look for more incremental improvements, those with an Intuition preference tend to look for more original (or “disruptive”) ideas.

The Judging and Perceiving preferences are important in implementing the ideas: those with a Perceiving preference tend to want to ensure that options have been fully explored, whereas those with a Judging preference tend to drive towards closure.

Lucy Loh has also been looking at the profiles of innovators and entrepreneurs in terms of the thinking styles they use in a series of workshops that she’s been running on Innovation, Entrepreneurship and Commercial skills.

Elisabeth and Lucy will be exploring these themes further in November in their seminar “How can Personalities and Mindsets Influence Creativity and Innovation?” at the Stevenage BioScience Catalyst OI Summit on 15th November.

A quick mention about some other things RiverRhee Consulting Associates have been involved with.

John Riddell has been working with Knoco Ltd where he is supporting the start-up of several Communities of Practice (CoPs) in Belgium, Europe and the USA.  The work for two of these will be carried out virtually, which should pose some interesting challenges!

Elisabeth also led a half-day workshop on “Healthy Change” with Pelican Coaching and Development.  The focus was on helping the team involved to understand the change process and cope with their reactions to change in a mutually supportive way.  We drew on ideas from the ‘Being Resilient’ book to support this.

If you’d like to find out more

Do get in touch if you’d like to find out more about RiverRhee Consulting, our range of off-site and in-house courses, and how we can help you to not only enhance team effectiveness but create an exceptional team.  See the RiverRhee Consulting website or e-mail the author at elisabeth@riverrhee.com.

1. Based on: “Introduction to Type and Innovation”, by Damian Killen and Gareth Williams, Introduction to Type Series. CPP, Inc. Mountain View, California.

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