Tag Archives: leadership training

Gaining value from investing in learning. RiverRhee Newsletter, May-June 2017

By Elisabeth Goodman, 7th June 2017

CIPD In-Focus Report - May 2017

Continuous learning opportunities not only at the individual but also at the organisational level are key factors for success

This is one of the conclusions from a recent CIPD report authored by Jane Daly and Laura Overton. Ways cited in which an organisation can benefit include increased growth, profitability, transformation and productivity.

This is one of several references that I have come across in recent weeks exploring the value that organisations can gain from investing in learning.

Not surprisingly, as a provider of training courses, workshops and one-to-one coaching, it’s a topic close to our heart!

The report makes several references to Senge, who was an early advocate of the learning organisation.  The first edition of his book, “The Fifth Discipline” came out in 1990.

The Fifth Discipline

The Fifth Discipline. The Art & Practice of the Learning Organisation. By Peter M. Senge.

His tenets have been adopted by Knowledge Management practitioners who advocate a range of approaches for connecting employees so that they can share knowledge between them.  These include for example:

  • Creating Communities of Interest or Practice to share expertise within and between organisations, irrespective of any hierarchical structure.
  • Ensuring that people share knowledge with peers before, during and after completing any significant piece of work, including projects.
  • Capturing knowledge from experts in a particular field to ensure that it is not lost when they leave an organisation.

These are approaches that we teach in our Knowledge Management and Project Management courses.

We also promote continuous learning and improvement in our Lean and Six Sigma courses, something that the CIPD report advocates as part of creating a “thriving ecosystem”.

Learning and development initiatives must be supported at an organisational level

The CIPD report emphasises that learning and development cannot occur in a vacuum, but instead must be set within the context of the organisation’s purpose.  As the authors say: employees are asking for clarity of purpose (the ‘why’) and top organisations are those that are sharing this – it’s the ‘golden thread’ for unlocking potential.

Delegates on our management courses and new leadership course tell us repeatedly that they struggle to set effective objectives for their direct reports when they don’t know what the organisation’s strategic objectives are.  Learning and development related objectives rely on that clarity of purpose.

Michael Beer, in the October 2016 Harvard Business Review (HBR) article “Why leadership training fails” also tells us that clarity of direction is one of the six basic steps for ensuring an effective outcome from investment in training.

Investment in training must itself demonstrate value

Training is an overhead, and opinion is divided as to whether or not to invest in it when times are lean.

So it is important to have some measures of the impact of training, as advocated in Kirkpatrick’s four levels i.e. it’s not enough to have a ‘happy sheet’ at the end of a training course (level 1).  Instead, we should measure the level of learning gained (level 2), how it has been applied (level 3) and what impact it has had (level 4).

We have been getting some excellent feedback from a current in-house management and leadership development programme that speaks to levels 1, 2 and intentions for level 3:

Delegates at a team building event on a RiverRhee management course

Delegates at a team building event on a RiverRhee in-house management course

“Another great training day. Having clear labels for appraising / coaching has been extremely beneficial and I am looking forward to implementing what I have learned”

 

We occasionally get an opportunity to carry out follow-up surveys to get a proper assessment of levels 3 and 4, as with one in-house client last year for whom we delivered courses in management skills, project management, communication and influencing skills, and time and meeting management:

 

Example of Kirkpatrick level 2 to 4 feedback

Example of Kirkpatrick level 2 to 4 feedback

There are many routes available for learning and development

The CIPD report mentions the value of coaching for all levels of an organisation.  Coaching is something that we embed in our management courses, offer as a stand-alone, and we have just launched a new Coaching Skills for Managers course. 

We also advocate the importance of a range of on-the-job learning approaches that organisations can implement for themselves, such as shadowing, buddying, cross-training, mentoring, and sharing insights gained from external courses through internal seminars. 

What we are more skeptical about is the degree of emphasis that the CIPD report puts on online learning as a major platform for learning.  Yes it is convenient and widely accessible, but, as the report says, people struggle to find the right information online, and to make the time to use it (“35% of employees say that uninspiring content is a barrier to learning online”).

Our experience is that face-to-face events still seem to suit a lot of people better in terms of their learning style, tailored content, and helping them to make the time.  The ability to interact and explore their challenges with and learn from colleagues is an aspect that they continuously rate highly.

Do get in touch if you would like to access some of our portfolio for learning and development

Courses workshops and coaching for managers and teams

Courses, workshops and coaching from RiverRhee for managers and teams

Do get in touch if you would like to find out more about RiverRhee Consulting, our range of off-site and in-house workshops and one-to-one coaching, and how we can help you to create exceptional managers and teams.

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

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Inspirational leadership. RiverRhee Newsletter, March-April 2017

By Elisabeth Goodman, 11th April 2017

An effective leader is inspirational

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

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

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

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

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

We can learn a lot from neuroscience and from personality tools

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

The Neuroscience of Trust_HBR_JanFeb2017

The neuroscience of trust, HBR Jan-Feb 2017

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

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

An inspirational leader adapts their influencing style based on the circumstances

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

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

Kipnis Schmidt and Wilkinson influencing

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

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

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

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

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

Inspirational leaders also operate at an organisational level

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

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

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

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

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

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