Tag Archives: Introduction to Management

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

By Elisabeth Goodman, 8th October 2016

We are preparing to deliver our 10th Introduction to Management course since we first started running it in 2013. Our 60+ alumni, from 20+ organisations, know that we are committed to continuous improvement, to ensuring that managers receive the very best guidance to help them and their teams excel in their work. We do this by acting on the feedback that we receive, and by monitoring and incorporating what external experts are saying and doing across the 13 modules that we cover in the course.

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

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

You can read more about our goals for excellence, how we are doing, and our forward plans, at the end of this newsletter.

For now, for the benefit of our alumni in particular, here are some extracts from two issues of the Harvard Business Review that we feel support the benefits that we focus on: how to help you become more confident and capable in your role as a manager.

(References:

Amy Gallo. Get your team to stop fighting and start working. HBR June 09, 2010 – thank you to Tony Jones of One Nucleus for sharing this with members earlier this year.

Linda A. Hill. Becoming the boss. HBR January 2007. Reprint R0701D – selected by RiverRhee Associate Liz Mercer.)

Being the boss does not give you automatic authority

Many of the managers that we work with have been promoted to this role because of their strong performance in their previous scientific or technical role. It can be disorientating to then find yourself in a role with different criteria for success. You may also have to manage people who were previously your peers, have more years’ experience, or who have different areas of expertise from your own.  Linda Hill reminds us that a manager does not have automatic authority in these situations, and that, in fact, an autocratic and controlling (or micro-managing) approach is the last one to aim for.

Instead, she suggests that your power as a manager will come from your ability to listen to your direct reports, and then exercise judgement and influence to get them and others to do the right thing.  It’s about ensuring that the goals are clear and that individuals take accountability, supported by the high level guidance that you give them.

Your focus should be on the team rather than on the individual

The last point in the previous section also emphasises the balance that you should be aspiring to as a manager: to delegate more of your work so that you can then focus outwards from the team.  This will enable you to concentrate on developing relationships within and outside the organisation that will anchor your team and its work more strongly in its wider environment.

Linda Hill argues that you should be focusing on what will make the team successful, rather than focusing exclusively on the individuals within the team.  This seems like a balancing act too.  We use John Adair’s model with the three overlapping circles of individual, team and task. You do need to understand and build rapport with the individuals within your team, but not to the exclusion of the overall success of the team.

You may need to make hard headed decisions to fulfil your role as a manager

Linda Hill’s previous points about having a whole team and an external orientation mean that you will be better able to make objective decisions about what you need to do to ensure that your team is performing at its best and to make the changes needed to meet your strategic goals.

Amy Gallo has some more tips on how to create a high performance team, a topic also covered by one of the modules in our course. Like us, she acknowledges that conflict is a natural and healthy feature of team dynamics. She also suggest that there are things you can do to minimise the damage, such as making time to agree and reinforce the team purpose and its norms (or ground rules). She stresses that is important not to let conflict fester, to discuss it early and to resolve it as a team, and to then ensure that those involved get re-engaged quickly in some group task, however small.

We will bring all of these ideas, and more, into future iterations of our Introduction to Management course, the next one of which is scheduled for the 15th-17th November.  Do get in touch if you, or others you know, might be interested in coming along.

Some closing notes on our targets for excellence for the Introduction to Management course

We use Kirkpatrick’s first and second levels for evaluating our courses: delegates’ ratings of the course against various criteria combined with their comments on how they will apply what they have learned.  Our target is to achieve consistent (100%) ratings of 4 or 5, on a scale of 1-5 where 1 is low and 5 is high, across all the criteria that we assess in our end of course feedback.  We are currently achieving 98.5% 4 or 5 ratings for the quality of our presentations, the value that delegates gain from the course, and the extent to which they would recommend RiverRhee to others.

(Interestingly, the September 2016 issue of HBR contains a model for assessing customer value that Bain and Co. have evolved from Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. We might explore ways to apply that model to delegates’ evaluations of our courses.)

From November we are going to start including more insights from external experts, enhancing the style of our hand-outs, and exploring the best approach to and balance of individual and group discussion and exercises. We have also, reluctantly, decided that we have outgrown our current training venue at the Melbourn Community Hub for the 3-day course, and so have booked the more spacious Copley Hill facility near the Babraham Research Campus, for 2017. Our 1-day courses tend to attract smaller numbers, so those will continue, for now, in Melbourn.

What will you do next?

Would you like to work with us to develop your managers and your teams?  Are you, or someone you know, interested in attending our November 15th-17th Introduction to Management course?

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

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Training the trainer – our top five tips. RiverRhee Consulting Newsletter, May-June 2016

By Elisabeth Goodman, 1st June 2016

Why share our tips on training?

One of the cornerstones of RiverRhee’s way of working is that we pass on the capabilities that we teach, through our training and coaching, for our clients to support themselves after our work with them is done.   So it was with some pleasure that I learnt recently that the US colleagues of one of our regular clients in the UK are now running their own version of our one-day Introduction to Lean and Six Sigma course.

It also made me realise that one capability we had not explicitly shared was how to deliver training. Perhaps our client had learnt this through emulation of what had worked well when we worked with them.

For the benefit of this client, and for others, here are our reflections on what we believe contributes to effective training.

  1. Use a why, what, how, so what format
  2. Include a combination of approaches to support different learning styles
  3. Share stories and case studies
  4. Create a relaxed and enjoyable atmosphere
  5. Make it easy to take away key learnings
Meena Chidambaram receiving her certificate after completing one of our courses

Meena Chidambaram receiving her certificate after completing one of our courses

Use a why, what, how, so what format

I learnt this approach in my NLP Practitioner training and have found it invaluable ever since. When introducing each topic in a course we either ask the delegates, or suggest reasons ‘why’ this particular subject might be important to them – so that they want to find out more. For Lean and Six Sigma it’s about finding ways to streamline and improve the way they work so that they can consistently deliver value to their customers and make better use of limited time and money.

The ‘what’ is a description (only as long as necessary) of what the topic consists of – perhaps with some background on its origins, the key principles, frameworks, tools etc.

Click here for information on RiverRhee's training on Lean and Six Sigma

Click here for information on RiverRhee’s training courses

The ‘how’ consists of the ‘nuts and bolts’ – how to apply the principles and tools.

The ‘so what’ is the opportunity for delegates to consider what they will do with their new knowledge once they are back at work.

Include a combination of approaches to support different learning styles

We learn from a young age to “show and tell”. It’s because some people learn more easily from being able to see things (visual cues), others from hearing (auditory cues). There are also people who are more kinesthetic – so that being able to touch things will help them, and auditory-digital people will benefit from more detailed explanations and examples. These different representational styles are also ones I learnt about in my NLP Practitioner training.

We cater for these different styles through the use of visuals on slides or flip charts, giving presentations, using videos. We have lots of discussion and examples. And we have hand-outs and various study aids that people can handle and refer to.

MBTI - Step II Facet Feedback Cards provide compelling visual and kinesthetic support for learning

MBTI – Step II Facet Feedback Cards provide compelling visual and kinesthetic support for learning

Honey and Mumford’s Learning Styles describe preferences for theory, reflection, action and pragmatism. So we give background on what we teach, allow time for private reflection, practice in pairs and small groups, and we base all our courses on people’s own challenges, projects, processes and situations.

Include stories and case studies

Telling stories also dates to our childhood and indeed to the early stages of humanity. Just beginning a story triggers a different level of alertness and receptivity. Stories are fun to tell, and fun to listen to. They are an extraordinarily powerful way to get a message across. They don’t have to be strictly true.

Case studies are a form of story – the fact that they are based on something that really happened is what gives credibility to the lesson that you wish to reinforce. Again having visuals will help to give them strength, as will testimonials from the people who were involved.

Create a relaxed and enjoyable atmosphere

People will learn most effectively if the atmosphere is right. Our favourite training venue has lots of natural light and space to move around in. It is far removed from our delegates’ normal place of work so that they can focus with minimal distractions. Refreshments are close to hand.

We often use two trainers and play off the dynamic between us to create a sense of fun and relaxation. We believe people learn better when there is laughter. We watch out for body language and other cues that tell us when people are engaged, confused, need a rest or change of pace.

Delegates enjoying a moment at one of RIverRhee's courses

Delegates enjoying a moment at one of RiverRhee’s courses

Make it easy to take away key learnings

Coming on one of our training courses is an opportunity to take time out to reflect on challenges and learn and practise new skills. The price to pay is the extra work to catch-up on when back in the office or lab, with the associated risk of all the new learning being buried in a drawer along with the course notes.

We ask delegates to complete some pre-course questionnaires and exercises to help them identify what aspects of their work they will focus on during the course. We pause and encourage them to record key insights and actions they would like to take at intervals throughout the training. We make time for them to recap, share and so commit to what they will take away do at the end of the day.

What will you do with these training tips?

How do these points relate to your own views on what makes for effective training? Which if any are you applying, or will you apply?

We always welcome conversations around what we share in these newsletters and what we do.

For those of you based at the Babraham Research Campus near Cambridge, UK, do come and see us at our exhibition stand in the Bennett building on Thursday 30th June.

And of course you are always welcome to sign up for one of our training courses to experience our approach for yourself. Our next one is the Introduction to Management on 21st-23rd June and details of this and our other courses can be found at http://www.riverrhee.com

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 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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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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