Tag Archives: Project 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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A second look at project management. RiverRhee Consulting Newsletter, November – December 2015

By Elisabeth Goodman, 26th November 2015

Why a second look at project management?

We have been running an introductory course on project management for Library and Information Professionals for a while now, through TFPL. This has just been rebranded as Successful Project Management.

We also include a short module on “Managing Projects, Processes and Problems” in our Introduction to Management course and find just this summary slide very effective to tease out challenges and opportunities for managing projects more effectively.

Project Management summary slide

One slide overview of some of the key components of project management

And our one-day course on project management for those working in science based industries has just been quality assured and approved for addition to our offerings via Cogent Skills.

Many people are expected to lead projects without having received any or very little formal training.  Although there are a lot of in-depth courses available for project managers, we’ve found we can make a big difference with just our one-day overview of the basics.

This newsletter picks up on four aspects of project management that have been cropping up quite regularly in our courses.  It also builds on one of our previous newsletters: Notes for the occasional project manager.

Working in a matrix environment – project charters

Many of the people we work with are both line and project managers.  Or they are managing people who also report to someone else in a matrix environment.

P1090047.JPG

Managers exploring aspects of their responsibilities during RiverRhee’s November 2015 Introduction to Management course

Either way, it can be quite challenging to ensure that project team members have the support from their line managers, and are themselves committed to providing the time and attention that the project leader needs.

Individual project charters are a relatively simple tool that can facilitate conversations between the project leader, individual team members, and relevant line managers to discuss and agree roles, responsibilities and time commitments.

We recognise that project priorities will change, and individuals may be involved in more than one project, but the project charter provides a starting point for facilitating further conversations and agreements.

What to do if the project is not initiated by the project leader; how to influence your business development team

Many of the managers that we work with ‘inherit’ their project from someone else.  Sometimes this is the business development team who liaises directly with the company’s customers.  Or it may be another member of the management team.

The consequence is that the project comes to the project manager with the timelines, budgets, resources already defined.  They are not necessarily realistic, and may not be open to renegotiation.

In the spirit of sharing knowledge and experience, continuous improvement, and learning in general, one approach might be to invite those who initiate projects, such as the business team, to project reviews. That way they can hear first hand what the impact of pre-defined timelines, budgets and resources have been on the project, what happened in practice, and what might be done differently next time.  There is more on learning reviews below.

Learning reviews

How to capture and make optimum use of learnings from projects is a perennial topic of conversation amongst both project and knowledge managers.  Project teams often do not make the time to reflect on how the project went, and to identify what successes they might build on in future projects, as well as what they might do differently.  Where they do capture such learnings, organisations seldom have a mechanism to act on these learnings in their future work.

We recently provided advice, organisation and facilitation for a retrospective learning review workshop for an organisation. The workshop participants identified 21 recommendations to act upon as a result of the learning review.  The organisation will also be adopting a simplified version of the learning review to support all future projects.

Risk management is not just for Health and Safety, nor just for Quality Assurance audits.

There is a lot of cross-over between the different disciplines that we support, as illustrated by a couple of seminars that I have recently co-led for the APM in my capacity as committee member for the Enabling Change Specific Interest Group (SIG).

We introduce our delegates to the FMEA (Failure Mode Effect Analysis) matrix used in Lean and Six Sigma.  It is a variation of risk management tools used in project management, in Health and Safety, and for Quality Assurance audits.

Risk analysis matrix or FMEA

Risk analysis or FMEA matrix

Project teams that take the time to go through this kind of analysis at the start of their projects, can do so with the insights that they and others have learned in previous projects.  Like all project management tools it is one to keep very much alive, constantly referred to and updated throughout the life of the project.

Other news

We also continue to be included in the ‘on demand’ course list for CILIP, and are in fact one of the first CILIP recognised CPD providers.  Our courses with CILIP include:

RiverRhee’s 2016 course and date list for Life Science companies is now available.  It includes the details for our one-day Introduction to Project Management course.

We are in the process of developing half-day versions of “Effective Influencing and Communication” and “Time and Meeting Management” to deliver to a local Life Science company and would be glad to discuss either of these with any one else who might be interested.  We are also able to provide training / coaching in Sales and Marketing.

We have also had expressions of interest for our new half-day “Management Development” workshop which uses the Myers Briggs (MBTI) tool to help participants gain more in-depth insights on their style as a manager and how to interact more effectively with others.  Do get in touch if you would like to join us for this.

Last but not least we could not resist sharing this wonderful testimonial from one of the delegates at our November Introduction to Management course: “I have been on numerous courses and this was by far the best.  Fantastic content, delivery and above all instructors.”

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, enhance team effectiveness and create an exceptional team.  See the RiverRhee Consulting website or e-mail the author at elisabeth@riverrhee.com.

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New opportunities for the Autumn? RiverRhee Consulting Newsletter, July – August 2015

By Elisabeth Goodman, 14th August 2015

Summer holidays – a time to think about and try something new?

A place for reflection on holiday

A place and a time for reflection….

July and August are a strange couple of months with colleagues going and coming back from holiday. Work can become fragmented as a consequence, but it can also be a very energising time with a bit of peace and quiet to think about and try something new.

We’ve been doing a bit of the latter, so that I’m using this relatively short newsletter to share some of our thinking about potential new courses and see if any of them might appeal to you.  I’ve also listed the courses that we have scheduled for the Autumn in case you would like to sign up for one of those.

Potential new courses

One of the ways in which we have been developing our thinking is in discussion with other organisations.  So for instance:
RiverRhee, which delivers the Introduction to Management, and Supervisor Training (and other) courses, and Perla Development, which delivers the Leading Virtual Teams course, are considering offering two new courses for One Nucleus members, and would like to gauge your interest in these.

Open Innovation from a Biotech or CRO perspective
Are you considering or already engaged in a collaborative working relationship with Pharma, the NHS, Academia and others? Would you like some guidance on how to do this more effectively? RiverRhee is considering putting together a one- to two- day course to explore the challenges and opportunities of collaboration in an Open Innovation environment.

Topics could include:
• What is Open Innovation, why do it? Developing a definition for your organisation
• Exploring case studies from other organisations
• Developing a strategy / roadmap for your organisation
• Identifying and addressing challenges, best practices and opportunities (organisational, cultural, technological, IP etc.)
• Developing individual action plans

Trainers and facilitators would include subject matter experts with direct experience of the various aspects of the course. Please contact Elisabeth Goodman (elisabeth@riverrhee.com, 07876 130 817) if you would be interested in participating as a delegate, or as a trainer/facilitator.

Management Development Workshop – deepening your management skills
Have you had some training in, or experience of, management and would like to explore ways to deepen your skills? Would you like to understand your strengths and potential blind spots better and use them to greater effect in your interaction with others?

As a manager and leader in your organisation it’s sometimes hard to deliver your team goals effectively. Successfully getting work done through others, effecting the change you want to make and influencing those above you takes self-awareness, self-management and an ability to maintain effective working relationships – the core elements of Emotional Intelligence.

“The rules for work are changing. We’re being judged by a new yard-stick: not just by how smart we are, or by our training and expertise, but also by how well we handle ourselves and each other” – Daniel Goleman: Working with Emotional Intelligence

Using the Myers Briggs Type Indicator as a platform for considering your work style, this half day workshop would create new insights on how to build on your natural style as a manager and work on steps to help you interact more effectively with others.

Have you recently attended the RiverRhee Introduction to Management or Supervisor Training courses, or have you been a manager for a while now and want to make a step change in your performance?

Do get in touch with either Elisabeth Goodman (elisabeth@riverrhee.com, 07876 130 817), or Liz Mercer (liz@perladevelopment.co.uk, 07825 229686).

The workshop could also be run within a single organisation for a group of interested managers.

Are you experiencing anxiety as the result of change in the workplace?  Is this affecting the quality of your work, or preventing you from achieving your targets?  Would you like to be feeling calm and in control of any change in your workplace? 

Managing and Dealing with Change
RiverRhee already runs a full-day course on Managing Change for business leaders, project managers and line managers which draws on a full range of behavioural and procedural concepts and techniques in a participative and practical way, to equip participants with the necessary skills and tools for effective business change.

If you are looking for something that will go deeper, and feel that you would like to address the anxiety that is affecting your ability to deliver, you may be interested in our proposed additional half-day course on Dealing with change. The course, which will also be available in-house and on a one-to-one basis, will help you to:

  • Understand the nature, root cause and triggers of your anxious responses to change
  • Access resources and solutions that will help you to address that anxiety
  • Begin to practise and embed your new responses to change

If you would like to enquire about our new Dealing with change course, please get in touch with Elisabeth Goodman (elisabeth@riverrhee.com, 07876 130 817).

Other courses available to you in the Autumn

We’ve been getting some wonderful feedback on our courses, and recently included the following testimonials in the publicity that we circulated for an exhibition stand at the Babraham Research Campus in Cambridge.

“The two trainers were brilliant. Very knowledgeable, fun, engaging and I would recommend this course to any managers.”

“The atmosphere of the course was fantastic and the course content covered all the areas I needed help on. The one-to-one coaching session was especially helpful.”

“I thoroughly enjoyed the course, certainly an eye-opener – both trainers incredibly knowledgeable and very easy to listen to!! Thank you! P.S. Will highly recommend.”

If you would like to access similarly positive experiences, then you might like to consider one of our courses that have been scheduled for the Autumn – details of which are available through the RiverRhee Consulting website.

  • Introduction to Management (3-day course) – 22nd – 24th September
  • Managing Change (1-day course) – 12th October
  • Introduction to Lean and Six Sigma (1-day course) – 2nd November

Other courses that are available on demand include:

  • Building Highly Effective Teams
  • Supervisor Training
  • Conducting Effective Performance Reviews and Appraisals
  • Effective Project Planning and Management
  • Myers Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI)
  • Belbin Team Roles

Happy Holidays if you are just about to go – welcome back and I hope you are feeling refreshed if you have just come back!

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.

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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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Looking back on 2014 and forward to 2015. RiverRhee Consulting Newsletter, November – December 2014

RiverRhee Consulting, 11th December 2014

Introduction

December is traditionally a time when many of us reflect on our achievements, what we have learned and what we can look forward to in the coming year.

2014 has been our most active and varied year so far, in the just over five years of RiverRhee’s existence. We thought we would share a little about our achievements and our learning, and several things that might be of interest to you in 2015 under the headings:

  • Developing management and interpersonal skills
  • Managing and dealing with change
  • Continuous improvement
  • Knowledge management
  • Strategy facilitation
  • Upcoming courses

Developing management and interpersonal skills is an important area for growing SMEs as well as larger organisations

Interest in Elisabeth Goodman’s and Janet Burton’s off-site courses and customised in-house training and coaching for new managers and supervisors has really taken off in 2014. Our client base for management related skills is continuing to expand with bookings for January through to March 2015.

Delegates at our Introduction to Management course, September 2014

Delegates at our Introduction to Management course, September 2014

We have learnt that some SMEs can spare the time for people to attend our off-site 3-day Introduction to Management course and really appreciate the opportunity to network with and learn from colleagues from other companies.

Equally important though, is our ability to customise our Supervisor Training course so that the content and duration match what other clients would prefer to have delivered in-house. Elisabeth and Janet ran one such course for Red Balloon, Cambridge and subsequently shared the experience in the blog “There will never be enough time

Sometimes our support takes the form of short coaching sessions with individual managers – we did some of this in 2014, and are due to do more in 2015.

How to enhance team effectiveness is one of the topics included in supervisor and management training, and Elisabeth recently published “The Effective Team’s High Performance Workbook”, now available through Amazon as well as through the RiverRhee publishing page.

We’ve also found that SMEs appreciate the help we can give them in reviewing and rolling out improved performance review and appraisal processes . And we have used Elisabeth’s and Lorraine Warne’s skills in MBTI (Myers Briggs Type Indicator) and NLP (NeuroLinguisticProgramming) to help individuals understand their strengths and enhance their interpersonal skills.

Managing and dealing with change is a big topic of interest

We have run workshops and delivered seminars on the subject of change for Library and Information organisations (CILIP, UKeIG, Health Libraries Group), and at Project Management (APM) events in 2014 (see for example “Common factors for managing successful change“).

Changing the way we change - APM event at GSK June 2014

Changing the way we change – APM event at GSK June 2014

This subject continues to be something that people would like more help with, so that they can make change happen in a more positive and effective way.

We have introduced a new off-site course on Managing Change for Life Science organisations in 2015 and look forward to finding out how popular this will be.

Elisabeth Goodman became the ‘pillar lead’ for Capabilities and Methods in the APM Enabling Change SIG, and this is already giving her access to new knowledge to bring into our work with clients. We also recently heard that Elisabeth’s jointly authored article with Lucy Loh’s “Organizational Change: A Critical Challenge for Team Effectiveness” is to be included in a collection of such articles in an academic work entitled “Change Leadership” edited by Colette Dumas and Richard H. Beinecke which will be published by SAGE Publications in May 2015.

There continues to be an appetite for continuous improvement

We have continued to run in-house courses on Lean and Six Sigma, and are now offering this also as an off-site course in 2015. In fact, this is one of three courses (the other two being Introduction to Management, and Managing Change) that we are now accredited to deliver through Cogent as another source of potential subsidised funding for SMEs. (Elisabeth also continues to be a registered coach and trainer with the GrowthAccelerator programme and organised a fairly well attended free event with them at Babraham Science Park in the summer.)

We delivered a half-day version of the Lean and Six Sigma course as one of two seminars with Janet Burton for the Herts Chamber of Commerce, and there are prospects of delivering more of these in 2015.

We facilitated some in-house continuous improvement with an academic organisation during 2014, and a few of the delegates who visited our stand at One Nucleus’ recent Genesis event also expressed interest to Sue Parkins and John Riddell in potential support from us in this area in 2015.

(By the way, Sue joined our team of associates during 2014, along with Paul Hadland, Rose Bolton and Margie Gardiner.  We shared a little more about the team under the theme of “What motivates us in our work“.)

Look out for Elisabeth’s next book on the topic of continuous improvement in 2015: “The Effective Team’s Operational Excellence Workbook”.

Our work in knowledge management has picked up some new momentum

The big news was the publication of Elisabeth and John’s book with Gower “Knowledge Management in the Pharmaceutical Industry” at the end of August. An immediate outcome was that we were invited to give an “inspiring” talk to help a Pharmaceutical company develop its knowledge management strategy.

Knowledge Management in the Pharmaceutical Industry, by Elisabeth Goodman and John Riddell

Knowledge Management in the Pharmaceutical Industry, by Elisabeth Goodman and John Riddell

Elisabeth also delivered a session on Knowledge Management to IMPI earlier in the year on behalf of TFPL, and worked with the Open University Library Services to carry out an audit and facilitate a stakeholder workshop for their metadata project.

Our strategy facilitation skills have been in demand

We returned to the EU organisation that Elisabeth and Lorraine Warne had worked with in 2013 to help them shape their forward strategy.

We called in another independent consultant, Janette Thomas, at the start of the year to help us with a strategic workshop with a health research organisation.

And Elisabeth has been working with a government organisation to facilitate a workshop and a focus group to help shape one of their strategies.

Upcoming courses

Details of our upcoming courses and events are kept up-to-date on our website. Here is what the list is looking like at the moment:

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.

Meanwhile, we wish you a healthy and happy end of year and start to 2015…

 

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Notes for the occasional project manager. RiverRhee Consulting Newsletter, January-February 2014

Support for new or occasional project managers

In November last year, Elisabeth Goodman ran an introductory one-day course on Project Management (Effective project planning and management) through TFPL for a group of Library and Information Professionals.  Although Project Management is now a recognised profession, with a range of educational and vocational qualifications available, there are still many people who find themselves needing to manage projects without having had any formal training for how to do so.  There are others who have had the formal training, but would welcome some continued support as they start practising their new knowledge and skills. Our course, and the key themes in this newsletter are for these occasional and new project managers.

Articulate and agree the project goal and scope

Articulating and agreeing the goals and scope for a project are a critical first place to start.  Without these it is impossible to sensibly plan the approach, timescale or the right people to be involved  It may take some iterations, through crucial discussions with the sponsor.  The project goal and scope may also evolve as you start finding out more about the subject of the project.

By the way, there is a strong overlap between managing change and managing projects – some would argue that the two are synonymous! This is something that we are looking forward to exploring further through the newly formed APM Enabling Change Special Interest Group (SIG) that Elisabeth has been helping to set up.

Build your team

Project teams need to go through the different stages of development to reach high performance just as operational teams do.  Unlike line managers though, project managers tend to have limited authority over their team members who are often ‘on loan’ from their day job.  Clarity of people’s roles and responsibilities on the team, and some active team building are therefore doubly important – themes that feature strongly in our various courses for enhancing team effectiveness.

Manage your stakeholders

It is crucial to have the right sponsor, at the right time for your project, giving the right messages and generally supporting you in mobilising the people and budget involved, and in influencing the other stakeholders.  This was a theme that came out strongly in our recent presentation, and the associated discussion at the APM Midlands branch: Facilitating operational excellence in and for business change projects.  Again, as in change management, it is important to understand who your stakeholders are, their attitudes, knowledge and skills in relation to the project, and what you need to do to engage, influence and support them through the project.

Develop your plan

Inexperienced project managers can find this the most daunting of their responsibilities.  It lends itself well to a brown paper and post-it exercise and can be done with the whole team. We used a decision tree in the TFPL course to help participants identify all the key steps and their interdependencies.  We annotated each step with how long we expected it to take, and then mapped the steps onto a timeline running from the anticipated start time to the anticipated delivery time. It also helped those who had been set a fixed deadline to be able to argue what might or might be possible from a more informed stand point.

Project plan

Manage your information and access available knowledge

Library and Information Managers usually have well developed skills in managing information and accessing knowledge that they can apply in their role as project managers.  Whereas we have found that making sure the team learns before, during and after a project has been completed is an ongoing challenge for many other project managers.  The range of information to manage includes the various documents describing the project and its status, anticipated risks and mitigation plans, decisions made (to avoid reinvention), actions and their status, and more!

Put some good working practices in place

As your team evolves you will not only want to consider how to manage your sponsor and other stakeholders, team member remits, project plans and associated information, but also such things as meetings and communications.  There is therefore lots of scope to engage team members in creating some strong working practices for the team. Objective external facilitators such as ourselves can help with carrying out team diagnostics and with supporting the team in shaping these good practices.

Other news

We have a strong portfolio of courses for our clients to choose from in 2014.  We have just announced the dates for our Introduction to Management course with One Nucleus and will be holding it in the lovely new facilities at theMelbourn Hub in South Cambridgeshire on the 26th-28th March.  Janet Burton will be running this course with Elisabeth Goodman.

We also have a new course on Conducting Effective Performance Reviews and Appraisals with One Nucleus, and those interested can read a case study and testimonial of an in-house course that we delivered on this topic.

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, enhance team effectiveness and create an exceptional team.  See the RiverRhee Consulting website or e-mail the author at elisabeth@riverrhee.com.

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Creating Exceptional Managers – RiverRhee Consulting Newsletter November – December 2013

EXCEPTIONAL MANAGERS CREATE EXCEPTIONAL TEAMS

Are you supporting your managers’ development to position them well for creating exceptional teams?

RiverRhee Consulting has been privileged to work with several very talented, enthusiastic and relatively new managers in recent months.  These managers have been keen to develop their skills in various aspects of those three magic circles that were originally described by John Adair, and are still the bedrock of effective team management today: developing the individual, building the team, and managing the task.

Manager's responsibilities

Elisabeth Goodman and Janet Burton worked together to deliver our new One Nucleus three-day Introduction to Management course to managers from four Life Sciences organisations.  Delegates commented on the value of “Learning from others and a real understanding of what I should be doing”, and “Reflecting on my experiences and seeing how I could have dealt with previous situations”, “Overall an excellent experience”.

Elisabeth also coached two supervisors in a customised version of our new Supervisor Training course and helped another Life Science organisation to define and implement an enhanced performance appraisal process.

In this newsletter we explore some of the emerging themes from our experiences with these managers and organisations.

EFFECTIVE PERFORMANCE REVIEW PROCESSES BUILD SUCCESS FOR THE ORGANISATION AND FOR THE INDIVIDUAL

Effective performance review processes are an opportunity to engage individuals in the goals and success of the organisation as a whole.  They are also a key vehicle for shaping individual roles and personal development.  Unfortunately negative experiences with such processes can lead to a loss of trust, a disinclination to ‘own’ personal performance reviews, and a disproportionate focus on how they will be used for salary or bonus assessments.

Some of the supervisors and managers that we worked with re-discovered the value of performance reviews and how to plan and manage SMART* objectives in a way that would reinstate positive attitudes within their organisations.

[*Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, Time bound.]

DIFFICULT PEOPLE ARE NOT NECESSARILY BEING DIFFICULT!

We know that we all have our own perspective on the world, and that this can influence how we communicate with each other, and yet it is easy to forget those differences as soon as someone is perceived as being difficult.

Psychometric tools ranging from Honey and Mumford’s Learning Styles, the NLP representational (or communication) styles, Belbin’s team roles and MBTI (Myers Briggs Type Indicator) can all help us to get a better understanding of our different perceptions and approaches to life and work.

If, even with the benefit of those insights, we still think that someone is being ‘difficult’ then there are various strategies at our disposal, such as active listening, coaching and assertiveness that could help a manager effectively address that situation.

THE ABILITY TO FLEX THEIR STYLE IS ONE OF A MANAGER’S GREATEST ASSETS

Different individuals within a team will draw on different aspects of a manager’s skills.  The team as a whole will require different management styles as it goes through the various stages of team development.  The ability of managers to flex their styles to best suit the individual and the situation is a topic that provoked a lot of discussion during our training courses.

The teams that we have been working with recently are all very local, but Elisabeth also facilitated a recent APM (Association for Project Management) East of England event where we explored the challenges and approaches for working with ‘far flung’ teams.  We have a project management related course, Effective project planning and management , which we ran for the first time with TFPL in November.

ENCOURAGING TEAM MEMBERS TO COME UP WITH POSSIBLE SOLUTIONS RATHER THAN PROBLEMS

Our third course with One Nucleus – Smart Working for Business Growth and Innovation – combines aspects of Lean and Six Sigma, Knowledge Management and Change Management, and focuses on good business practices such as identifying, analysing and resolving problems as they arise, rather than rewarding firefighting.

We included some of the problem solving techniques in our training for managers and supervisors, and whilst some people were already using the techniques in their organisations, others were keen to explore how they could use them to encourage their staff to come them with potential solutions, rather than just the problems.

NEWS ON OUR PUBLISHING ACTIVITIES AND ON CHANGE MANAGEMENT

We continue to be busy on the publishing front.  John Riddell and Elisabeth have now submitted their manuscript for “Knowledge Management in the Pharmaceutical Industry” to Gower.  This is approximately one year ahead of schedule so we are waiting to hear what the revised publication date will be.

On the publishing and Change Management themes, Elisabeth’s new book: The Effective Team’s Change Management Workbook is now available under our RiverRhee Publishing label, and is starting to receive some good reviews.

Elisabeth also ran an interactive seminar as part of CILIP’s Prison Libraries Group’s conference at Birmingham’s new library, entitled “Navigating change in an ever-changing world”.  In the face of cuts and changes in funding models, staff cuts and other changes, they agreed that the key was to adopt a navigator rather than a victim or stoical survivor mentality, to be clear about their goals (focusing on quality for their customers), and to seek out and address the root causes for wasted time and effort.

Birmingham Library

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, enhance team effectiveness and create an exceptional team.  See the RiverRhee Consulting website or e-mail the author at elisabeth@riverrhee.com.

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