Tag Archives: management development

Empathy revisited: what, why and how. RiverRhee Consulting Newsletter, November-December 2018

By Elisabeth Goodman, 11th December 2018

As readers of this newsletter, and of my separate blog will know, I have been making my way through Daniel Goleman et al’s twelve Building Blocks of Emotional Intelligence.  I had the sixth one, on empathy, all lined up to read when I came across The Problem with Empathy, shared by one of my connections on LinkedIn.

The gist of the post is that we should be careful about getting onto the bandwagon of what is trendy in the management world, and make sure that we do not get so absorbed in the emotions associated with empathy as to lose our critical thinking.  The author also suggested that the term ‘compassion’ might be a more appropriate one to use.

I still believe, based on RiverRhee’s recent and ongoing experiences in working with our clients that, whatever we call it, empathy is still (as I described it in a previous post) a “magical leadership ingredient”.

#6: Empathy in Building Blocks of Emotional Intelligence, by Daniel Goleman et al. Key Step Media, 2017

Daniel Goleman and his co-authors have some excellent insights to share with us on this topic, and so it seems like a fitting one on which to focus in RiverRhee’s last newsletter for 2018.

(Readers interested in our programme of courses for 2019 will find this listed at the end of this newsletter.)

What is empathy?

According to Goleman et al, empathy is one of the two components of social awareness.  (The other is organisational awareness, which I have written about previously).  It is about tuning into what others are thinking and feeling.

Illustration based on description in 6: Empathy in Building Blocks of Emotional Intelligence

Empathy also, as everyone seems to agree, combines both cognitive (or intellectual) understanding and emotional understanding.  In fact, different parts of the brain are involved in each of these.  The key, as both Richard J Davidson and Vanessa Druskat explain, is to be able to turn this empathy, or compassion, from caring into action.

Most importantly: leaders and team members who are able to balance empathy with constructive feedback will be far more effective than those who are simply able to relate to others’ emotions.

Why is empathy so important?

Empathy is about showing the other person that they have been heard and understood.  Knowing that you care about them could help the other person feel more motivated.  And having this level of insight will help you to communicate with and work with the other person in a way that will be more effective.

Illustration based on #6: Empathy in Building Blocks of Emotional Intelligence.

Explained in these terms, empathy really does seem to be a key ingredient for all the important activities and situations that arise in our day-to-day interactions with others.

For line and project managers, leaders, and team members empathy could make all the difference in terms of being able to influence, motivate, mentor and inspire.  It should help with managing conflict, collaborating in teams, and working across cultures.

How to develop your ability to be empathetic?

Goleman suggests that we are more likely to be good at being empathetic if we have strong emotional self-awareness.

Tuning in. Illustration based on Richard Boyatzis chapter in #6: Empathy – Building Blocks of Emotional Intelligence

Beyond that, Richard Boyatzis suggests we practise ‘tuning in’.  We can develop our observational skills, and compare them with what people tell us when we ask open questions such as:

  • What do you think about this?
  • How do you feel about this?

We can also “widen our circle of compassion”, as Richard J. Davidson suggests, by taking the same level of interest in our co-workers, as we take for our family and friends.  And we can actively listen to them when in one-to-one discussions, or in meetings, rather than writing notes or looking at our electronic devices.

George Kohlrieser takes this a step further.  He suggests that we could learn to open up to our own and others’ emotions (if we are not already doing so).  Apparently he asks leaders in his workshops to create a timeline of their lives that include five of the most painful, and five of the most positive of their experiences.  He then has them tell each other the story of one of these.

Whether or not you agree with this level of revelation, there is something to reflect upon here in terms of what makes a leader come across as more authentic, credible or trustworthy, and better able to tune into and act upon their understanding of others.

NOTES

Blogs on other booklets in the Building Blocks of Emotional Intelligence series:

RiverRhee’s schedule of courses for 2019 can be accessed on our web site and is also shown here:

For those on a management journey:

  • One-day Supervisors’ course. 10th January 2019. If all you want is one day of training to get you started
  • Performance Reviews & Appraisals (for supervisors and line managers). Tuesday 15th January.  Note that this is a half-day course: 13:00 – 16:30.  It reflects the content of RiverRhee’s management module on Performance Management and Development and emphasises the two-way nature of this topic.
  • Introduction to Management.  Tuesday 29th to Thursday 31st January (FULL); also Tuesday 12th to Thursday 14th March.  RiverRhee’s flagship course for new managers and those who are more experienced but have never had any formal training.
  • Transition to Leadership. Tuesday 5th February. This one-day course is targeted at managers who have attended RiverRhee’s 3-day course, and those who have recently moved to, or are planning to move to a more senior leadership role.
  • Coaching Skills for Managers. 11th June 2019. To further develop your coaching skills
  • Recruitment and Interview Skills* Essential skills for managers involved in the recruitment process

For day-to-day process and project management:

  • Introduction to Lean and Six Sigma*. Explore how you can gain up to 20% savings by improving your processes
  • Introduction to Project Management*. All the basics for managing your projects effectively

For essential capability and confidence building skills in other aspects of your work:

  • Assertiveness.  Tuesday 5th March. This is one of RiverRhee’s newer courses to complement their courses and modules on Effective Influencing and Communication, and on Dealing with Difficult Situations.
  • First steps in selling* Building effective relationships with your customers when selling is not necessarily your thing
  • Presentation skills*
  • Managing change* How to deal with and lead change in your organisation

* Please enquire for dates in 2019.

All of RiverRhee’s courses can be scheduled on demand, either to run in-house for your company, or to publicise as an open course for other delegates. We can also explore most topics in one-to-one coaching sessions.

Do get in touch if you would like to find out more about RiverRhee, 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 or contact Elisabeth on 07876 130 817.

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Curiosity, continuous improvement and innovation. RiverRhee Newsletter, September-October 2018

By Elisabeth Goodman, 8th October 2018

Francesca Gino’s article on “The business case for curiosity”, in the September-October issue of Harvard Business Review (pp. 48-57) is my source of inspiration for this issue of our bi-monthly newsletter.

The newsletter also includes details of our remaining scheduled courses for 2018, and some early plans for 2019.

2018-10-08 12.59.13

Key points from Francesca Gino’s “The business case for curiosity”, Harvard Business Review, Sept-Oct 2018, pp.48-57

Francesca Gino’s article has lots of great fact and data from surveys and studies and case studies – which make the article a fascinating read should anyone wish to take a look for themselves.

I’ve pulled out the conclusions under three main headings: how curiosity leads to better performance, the barriers that can get in the way of curiosity, and how to encourage greater curiosity at work.

Greater curiosity leads to better performance

Curiosity in practice equates to an interest in new ideas, learning and development, continuous improvement, creativity and innovation.

Individual team members and leaders who demonstrate curiosity in these ways are more likely to:

  • Be more collaborative as they listen to and build on each others’ ideas
  • Demonstrate less un-constructive* conflict (for the same reasons)
  • Gain more trust and respect from their colleagues
  • Make more effective decisions (as they consider a wider range of alternatives)
  • Enhance their personal (or ‘soft’) and technical skills
  • Better position their organisation for success

[*We at RiverRhee strongly believe in the value and power of constructive conflict as a way of encouraging the open exchange of ideas, feelings and opinions – as described in this blog “Conflict is the lifeblood of high performing organisations”]

The barriers that can get in the way of curiosity

As with so many things, a leader or manager can easily discourage curiosity by their behaviour towards it

A leader or manager will put barriers in the way of curiosity if they are overly concerned about:

  • Timelines and efficiency
  • Avoiding potential chaos or conflict

How to encourage greater curiosity at work

And so a leader can do much to create a culture of greater curiosity at work.

Managers and leaders can role-model curiosity

A manager or leader who asks questions. listens to and acknowledges what others have to say will demonstrate what it is to be curious.  This, rather than telling, is likely to lead to trust and respect from others.  It’s OK to not know the answer, especially if that is followed-up with a desire to find out and learn from others.

Managers and leaders can give individuals the time and resources to explore

Key performance indicators are important drivers of performance, but so is the opportunity to learn and be creative.  If individuals and organisations are focused solely on meeting deadlines, there will be little scope for reflection, exploration and innovation.

Francesca Gino quotes Ford’s and Toyota’s approaches to process improvement and one of the principles that we teach is that it should be used to free up people’s time for reflection and creativity.

Dan Pink also emphasises the importance of giving people time to explore to satisfy their motivational need for autonomy and mastery. (See Motivation – a refresher… eight years on..) Some organisations go as far as giving people a periodic creativity day when they can do this.  Or they pay for learning and development opportunities that might be outside the immediate scope of the employees current role.

Hire for curiosity

There are some suggestions for how to do this in the HBR article:

  • Ask the interviewee about their interests outside work.  What they enjoy reading or learning about can be a good indicator of curiosity – especially it this goes beyond their area of expertise
  • Assess them on their collaborative skills as well as the depths of their skills (described as ‘T-shaped” skills by IDEO.  The horizontal stroke is the collaborative capability which should include empathy and curiosity.  The vertical stroke is the depth of skill.)
  • Listen to the questions that the candidate asks – especially if these go beyond questions on the immediate role – as another indicator of curiosity.
  • Administer a curiosity assessment (of which apparently there are many validated examples…)

(We have more tips on the interview process in our training on Recruitment and Interview skills.)

Teach and encourage people to ask ‘Why?’ and ‘How could we?’

The ‘5 Why’s’ that we teach in our Lean and Six Sigma training echoes one of Francesca Gino’s recommendations.  We also teach managers on our management training courses the value of asking open questions to promote the sharing of ideas by their direct reports.

“How could we?” is a great way of engaging people in finding ways to address problems – and one that Ludo Chapman of The Innovation Practice use in a recent strategy and team building event that I co-facilitated with him.

Create an environment that supports curiosity

We know that people learn and explore in different ways.  Some people do so more through individual research and reflection, others do so through their interactions with others.

Francesca Gino puts more emphasis on the latter: giving people the opportunity to network with others, creating collaborative working spaces, promoting cross-training.  We also believe that people need the opportunity for individual reflection, and encourage our delegates to find creative ways of scheduling such opportunities into their agendas.

Notes

Our schedule of remaining courses for 2018 and early planning for 2019 can be accessed on our web site and is also shown here:

For those on a management journey:

  • Introduction to Management (11th-13th December). An in-depth three-day course for those who are new to management or have been doing it for some time
  • Transition to Leadership* For those moving into a leadership role
  • One-day Supervisors’ course (10th January 2019). If all you want is one day of training to get you started
  • Coaching Skills for Managers (11th June 2019) To further develop your coaching skills
  • Recruitment and Interview Skills* Essential skills for managers involved in the recruitment process

For day-to-day process and project management:

  • Introduction to Lean and Six Sigma (6th November). Explore how you can gain up to 20% savings by improving your processes
  • Introduction to Project Management (8th November). All the basics for managing your projects effectively

For essential capability and confidence building skills in other aspects of your work:

  • Assertiveness*
  • Effective Influencing and Communication*.
  • First steps in selling (7th November). Building effective relationships with your customers when selling is not necessarily your thing
  • Presentation skills (13th November).
  • Managing change (15th November). How to deal with and lead change in your organisation

* Please enquire for dates in 2019.

 

All of RiverRhee’s courses can be scheduled on demand, either to run in-house for your company, or to publicise as an open course for other delegates. We can also explore most topics in one-to-one coaching sessions.

Do get in touch if you would like to find out more about RiverRhee, 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 or contact Elisabeth on 07876 130 817.

 

 

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Changing management practices? RiverRhee Newsletter March-April 2018

By Elisabeth Goodman, 3rd April 2018

Change

Changing images of the Cesse near Minerve in the Languedoc, March 2018

From long-term planning and rule-based approaches to “servant leadership”

Peter Cappelli and Anna Tavis tell us, in their article “HR goes agile”, in the March-April 2018 issue of Harvard Business Review (HBR) (p.46), that managers need to get used to “servant leadership” as their approach to leadership.

They argue that HR and management are changing from the long-term planning and rule-based approach that typified manufacturing industries in the post World War II era.  And are now adopting the more flexible, adaptable, customer and employee-based approaches derived from Agile IT and project management.

As we enter the second quarter of 2018, and RiverRhee’s next wave of public access courses for managers, teams and individual contributors, it seems appropriate to review what some of these “servant leadership” changes might entail.

Coaching versus telling

The concept of “servant leadership” is at the heart of Peter Cappelli and Anna Tavis’s article.  This is where supervisors and managers act as coaches rather than monitors for their direct reports.

Intro to Mgmt March 2018

Delegates at RiverRhee’s March 2018 Introduction to Management course

As coaches, managers give their direct reports the space and the time to reflect on what they are learning.  They create forums for people to learn together (we call these Action Learning groups).  And they focus on building people’s capabilities, and approach that typically leads to greater engagement as people feel more valued.

[Coaching is a skill we introduce to delegates on our Introduction to Management course, and is the focus of our Coaching Skills for Managers course that will be running next on the 24th April.]

Providing frequent and wide-ranging feedback, rather than single annual events

We know that many organisations have already been making the shift from the once yearly performance review, to more frequent and flexible approaches.  This makes sense at so many levels.

For those working in scientific environments, the nature of their work is too uncertain, and changing too rapidly to tie objectives down for a whole year.  The same is true for any environment that thrives on innovation.

Cappelli and Tavis stress the importance of frequent feedback to facilitate learning, for teams as well as for individuals.  They also remind us of the importance of collecting feedback more widely than from an individual’s line manager.  With people working in teams, and changing teams throughout the year, some organisations are using Apps to collect feedback from all those who will have input on an individual’s and team’s performance.

[RiverRhee can help you to review your Performance Management and Development processes, as well as deliver in-house training for managers and their direct reports.  Performance Management and Development is also one of the modules in our Introduction to Management course.]

Promoting reflection and continuous improvement

Agile management has some analogies with Knowledge Management and with process improvement techniques such as Lean and Six Sigma (both of which are areas that RiverRhee provides training in).

Agile teams carry out frequent “retrospectives”, a version of the “After Action Reviews” that we promote in Knowledge Management, Lean Sigma and also in our Project Management courses to ensure that teams take time to learn and reflect on what they have learnt.

The HBR authors also advocate that teams monitor and continuously improve the dynamics within their teams.  This is again something that we advocate in the Good Practices for Team Working module of our management courses and also support in our team building / team development workshops.

Moving to single project team membership, rather than a multi-team approach?

We know that there are many benefits as well as challenges to the wide-spread practice of multi-team project management. (See Addressing the challenges of multi-teaming in project management.)  This is a topic that we also explore in RiverRhee’s Project Management course, coming up on the 24th May.

Lisa Burrell, in the HBR March-April 2018 (p.54) write-up of her conversation with IBM’s Head of HR, Diane Gherson, describes how IBM has moved to a model of small dedicated teams.  People are allocated to a single team, rather than moving between mutiple teams, and this enables them to focus on the requirements of their clients in a way that also enables faster turn-around.

Is this a transition in management practice that more organisations should be considering?

Taking a more collaborative approach to recruitment

Recruitment continues to be a challenge for many of the organisations that we work with.  (See Tips for hiring the best people in rapidly growing Biotech and Life Science companies.)

Cappelli and Tavis describe a collaborative approach to recruitment where recruiting managers form a cross-functional team, rather than relying more exclusively on the HR function to do this.  The managers prioritise the recruitment effort based on urgency and readiness.  They share information on the candidates in case they fit more than one position.  They monitor and improve on the cycle time for recruitment and so reduce the risk of losing candidates to competitors due to poor follow-through.

[RiverRhee offers in-house courses on Recruitment, Interview Skills, and Employee Relations.]

Providing individually tailored Learning and Development programmes

I wrote previously about the importance of company learning and development strategies.

MOOC research on learning

Illustration from “Can MOOCs solve your training problems” by Monika Hamori, Harvard Business Review, January-February 2018, pp. 71-76

Such strategies demonstrate that companies value their staff, as well as equipping them with the capabilities to provide value to the organisation.  Companies are increasingly sourcing online programmes to provide more flexible and affordable training for their staff.

Cappelli and Tavis describe the use of Artificial Intelligence (AI) tools to help match Learning and Development modules to individuals and their roles.

The predominantly SME-size Life Science and Biotech organisations, and the Library & Information Management clients that RiverRhee works with may not yet be using AI to design L&D programmes for their staff.  However, we do like to think that they are providing their staff with opportunities to tailor their training to their needs.

Here are a few of the areas that we have planned to help managers and individual team contributors polish their “soft skills” in our open courses in May and through our in-house courses:

 

  • Develop your assertiveness, influencing or communication skills
  • Be more confident with your presentations
  • Learn how to build more effective customer relations
  • Be more efficient with your time, processes or projects
  • Deal more effectively with all the changes going on in your business or team
  • Increase your success rate when recruiting and interviewing candidates
  • Manage your employee relations, performance and development with conviction…

Concluding thoughts..

How do these changes in management practice reflect what is going on in your organisation?

What about the whole field of emotional intelligence, which Cappelli and Tavis do not mention, but which could help managers be more effective in a coaching-style role?

[This last is an area we include in many of our courses, and especially in our Transition to Leadership course which runs next on the 26th April.]

Do get in touch if you would like to find out more about RiverRhee Consulting, our range of off-site and in-house courses and 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 or contact Elisabeth on 07876 130 817.

 

 

 

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As you prepare for 2018…RiverRhee Newsletter, Jan-Feb 2018

By Elisabeth Goodman, 8th February 2018

Snow drops in the winter garden

Snow drops in the winter display of the Botanical Garden, Cambridge

Many of our clients are in the midst of planning their objectives, and their learning and development goals for 2018.

So this newsletter is a reflection on some of the ways that RiverRhee’s learning and development resources have been evolving in the past year – in case this resonates with your needs.

Exploring mindsets as well as ‘how to’ processes

How we think about ourselves and what’s possible can have as great an influence on our capability for doing something, as having the right tools, skills and knowledge for doing it.

RiverRhee’s courses have evolved since our early days in 2009 to include more and more of the softer or people aspects of our work, as opposed to just the ‘how to’ process.

So for instance, our Lean Sigma training emphasises the mind-set of continuous improvement, and of seeking out problems so as to prevent them recurring, rather than rewarding fire-fighting.

Effective Project Management relies on creating and sustaining a high performing team, and of understanding the soft skills that people bring to it. These are just some of the challenges and opportunities of working in a matrix environment and on multiple simultaneous projects.

Managing Change is of course all about understanding how people are perceiving and experiencing change and how to respond to that to get the desired outcome.

And, Sharing Knowledge and Collaboration will be easier to do in a climate of good relationships and trust.

Our ability to:

are all as much a factor of understanding and working with the strengths of different personality types, as adopting smart personal and team practices.

(*Assertiveness is our newest course and is currently in development.)

Accessing the rich resources of Neurodiversity

In November 2017, we delivered a seminar on Neurodiversity with Carol Fowler, co-sponsored by Abzena and Babraham Bioscience Technologies.

We are now offering in-house seminars on this topic, with a view to building managers’ and HR professionals’ awareness of the rich resources that could be available to their teams.

How we recruit, interview, and support people with Autism, Dyslexia, ADHD and other cognitive differences will determine how well we can access the unique skills that they bring and ensure their well-being at work.

Going beyond introductory management skills

Delegates at RiverRhee's June 2017 Introduction to Management course

Delegates at RiverRhee’s June 2017 Introduction to Management course

Our 3-day Introduction to Management course (running next on the 13th-15th March) continues to be our most popular course.

With over 100 managers having now taken part, some of them are now looking for options to develop their skills beyond the introductory level.

We now offer a 30-minute follow-up call as an integral part of the course, as well as the one-to-one coaching that each delegate received during the course.

Our Associates are also available for further one-to-one personal coaching – to which we bring various specialisms such as dealing with Dyslexia, coaching in French, and transitioning to leadership roles.

In 2017 we added Transition to Leadership and Coaching Skills for Managers to complete our portfolio of resources available to managers beyond the introductory level.

Tailored in-house programmes

All of our courses can be tailored for in-house delivery.  In 2017 we worked with 4 clients to customise and deliver variations of our management and individual contributor courses for their staff.

These programmes included tailored versions of:

(*We were delighted to have Alison Proffitt join the RiverRhee team of Associates in January to support us with this and our other offerings.)

Concluding thoughts..

Hopefully there is food for thought there for you as you prepare for your learning and development in 2018.

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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13 good practices for effective management. RiverRhee Newsletter, November-December 2017

By Elisabeth Goodman, 12th December 2017

We have had over one hundred managers complete our RiverRhee Introduction to Management course since we started running it in 2013.

We have thirteen modules in our course and there are some key learnings that our delegates have helped us to identify from each.

We are planning to use these key learnings in some free taster sessions for managers in 2018, and thought our readers would also be interested in a free preview of the headlines now!

Key learning 1: John Adair’s 3-part focus on individuals, teams and tasks helps our managers identify and balance their different responsibilities.

Courses workshops and coaching for managers and teams

John Adair’s model is at the heart of RiverRhee’s training for managers and teams

Key learning 2: Job descriptions, project charters, SMART objectives – are 3 invaluable tools to clarify and communicate expectations.

Key learning 3: Managers can learn a lot about what motivates their staff by listening to how they talk about their work and observing what they do.

Key learning 4: A manager should adapt the style of her communication so as to be better understood.

Key learning 5: The style and content of performance reviews is evolving.  A focus on developmental opportunities and goals vs. retrospective reflections could be more productive.

Key learning 6: Developing your coaching skills as a manager will support both your own and your direct reports’ performance.

Key learning 7: When in difficult situations, it’s useful to first consider your own mindset and assumptions.

Key learning 8: Managers of high performance teams make it natural to discuss ‘the elephant in the room’.

Key learning 9: Skilful managers understand and develop the diverse personality strengths within their teams.

Key learning 10: High performing managers and their teams excel with a clear purpose and roles, strong relationships and good working practices.

Key learning 11: There will never be enough time.  Effective managers focus their attention and manage their productivity rather than endeavouring to “manage time”.

Illustration of the Productivity Ninja

Illustration based on Graham Allcot’s Productivity Ninja

Key learning 12: Delegation, for a productive manager and their direct reports, is both a necessity and an opportunity.

Key learning 13: A structured approach to projects and processes makes it possible to identify and share good practices and to continuously improve.

Other news from RiverRhee

RiverRhee schedules its courses on topics, at times, and in locations to meet anticipated need.  Dates for upcoming courses can be viewed on the RiverRhee website.

If the course you want is not available when or where you need it, then do get in touch. We may be able to schedule an extra course, arrange a workshop for you in-house, or deliver it in the form of one-to-one coaching.

We’ve been enjoying a particularly high demand for our in-house courses during 2017.  Here is some of the feedback we have been receiving from delegates:

  • Onsite course for CILIP “Making the most of your time and resources”: “very good introduction from an excellent trainer”, “lots of information but not overload.  Good that we were able to use specific examples relevant to what we do.”
  • Onsite course with CILIP “Good practices in knowledge sharing and collaboration” “A knowledgeable trainer and a focus on practical tasks very much helped to embed the learning”

We also had this feedback from a client who received one-to-one personal coaching on what they valued most about it: “Having time to think about my personal development which I wouldn’t have had normally”.

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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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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