Engage with your stakeholders more effectively – stop talking about communication!


Guest blog by Fran Bodley-Scott, 25th August 2016

Editorial note: I came across Fran in my work for the APM Enabling Change SIG. She has developed an ‘ABCDE’ model for communication, which she offered to coach me on in support of a publication that we are preparing.

ABCDE logo for shaping communications, from Fran Bodley-Scott

ABCDE model for shaping communications, from Fran Bodley-Scott

I was very impressed by the effectiveness of this model at taking us through a structured process for thinking about our stakeholders and how we would engage with them. It’s a model that I think would help any line or project manager plan their communication activities. I asked Fran to write something about her approach. This is what she wrote…

Communication plays a big part in the ability of managers and teams to influence others.

Click here for information on RiverRhee's training courses for managers

Click here for information on

RiverRhee’s training

for managing change

Managers and their teams don’t operate in an isolated world. They operate in and are influenced by their environment, and the ability of the team to deliver services and benefits depends on their ability to influence other people (their stakeholders). Partners, suppliers, sponsors, clients, experts and operators need to be engaged, persuaded, informed and supported. So, communication plays a big part in enabling a team to perform effectively. Unfortunately, poor communication can throw all sorts of spanners in the works:

  • Information can be misunderstood or interpreted in different ways depending on an individual’s expectations, assumptions, bias, prior experience or what’s going on around them. Making assumptions or not asking what people understand can result in confusion and mistakes.
  • Too much, too little or complex information can create a barrier to productivity: people become disinterested in working with you leading to delays, duplication of effort or poor quality.
  • A report can go unread, or a business case be rejected simply due to the way information is presented. The subsequent rework, delay and loss of confidence add cost and risk to the project.

Poor communication continues to be an issue

Poor communication costs money and impacts the team’s ability to be effective. This is not new: people have been saying it for years and yet it continues to be an issue: why? I believe there are three fundamental reasons:

‘SOS’ – sending out stuff: We’ve become accustomed to thinking of ‘communication’ in terms of output not outcome. Communication is defined as a two-way process of reaching a mutual understanding, yet discussions about communication frequently centre on what’s going to be produced: a website, a brochure, an email, a newsletter. People leap straight into writing content before considering who it is they need to reach and why.

Complexity: Communication is actually quite complicated. There are a lot of factors that need to be taken into account even for something as seemingly simple as getting a yes/no answer from the client. Without enough information about who you’re trying to engage with, it can be easy to overlook key issues that may help or hinder.

Difficulty: Communication also involves a number of different skills. An individual’s ability or confidence can affect whether they perceive ‘communication’ as an opportunity or a problem. The challenge of using social media, creating a video or emailing a senior executive can be a barrier if they feel they don’t have the skills, lack the time to work it out, or don’t want the risk of making a faux pas. If it’s not a priority for them, communication will just not happen.

Focus on attitudes and behaviours rather than communication.

So, if you want to improve the effectiveness of your team, my recommendation is that you stop talking about ‘communication’! It puts people in the wrong frame of mind and introduces all sorts of problems. Be confident about this: the raison d’être of your team is not to do communication. Focus instead on what attitudes and behaviours you need people to have and exhibit in order for your team to be successful.

Here are three simple steps to get you started:

  1. Measure outcome not output: Output is a measure of the team’s activity, what ‘stuff’ has been sent out. Outcome considers how effective the activity has been, whether the intended objective has been achieved. Choose criteria that help you understand how your activity has performed. For example, instead of a tick-box that checks whether a brochure has been received, evaluate how well the information provided has been understood, the level of confidence about using a new process, or motivation to change behaviour.
  2. Create solutions not challenges: Make it easy for the right messages to reach the right people at the right time. For example, provide team members with ready-to-use messages and guidelines for different platforms; format data to integrate automatically with another team’s process so that cascaded information is accurate and consistent; facilitate client feedback by being visible, accessible and flexible.
  3. Be audience-led not technology-driven: Instead of simply doing what’s convenient (eg. sending an email) or what everyone else does (eg. social media), take time to consider who it is that you need to reach and the most effective way to impact their behaviour or attitude. For example, seeing the finished product can influence confidence and commitment much more effectively than receiving a picture via email.
    “If the best way of reaching and influencing your audience is to stand on a box with a loud hailer, do that.” Stephen Hale, Head of Digital at the Department of Health

About the Author:

Fran Bodley-Scott is passionate about helping individuals and teams use communications effectively to achieve business goals. As a Chartered Engineer and Chartered Marketer Fran’s approach is both customer-focused and systematic, applying core marketing principles and the ABCDE communications process in order to drive business performance.

Her company, Marketing In Control Ltd, provides training and coaching in communications effectiveness and stakeholder engagement, as well as consultancy and marketing services. If you are interested in talking with Fran about your project, email scottf@marketingincontrol.com.

ABOUT THE EDITOR

Elisabeth Goodman is the Owner and Principal Consultant at RiverRhee Consulting, a consultancy that specialises in “creating exceptional managers and teams”, with a focus on the Life Sciences. (We use training, facilitation, coaching, mentoring and consulting in our work with our clients.)

Elisabeth founded RiverRhee Consulting in 2009, and prior to that had 25+ years’ experience in the Pharmaceutical Industry in line management and internal training and consultancy roles supporting Information Management and other business teams on a global basis.  

RiverRhee is a support supplier for One Nucleus, a quality assured training provider with Cogent Skills and a CPD provider for CILIP (Chartered Institute for Library and Information Professionals).

Elisabeth is accredited in Change Management, in Lean Sigma, in Belbin Team Roles, MBTI (Myers Briggs Type Indicator) and is an NLP (NeuroLinguistic Programming) Practitioner.  

She is a member of CILIP and of APM (Association for Project Management) where she leads on Membership, Communications and Events for the Enabling Change SIG committee.

Taking delegation a few steps further.


Guest blog by Janet Burton, 9th August 2016

Editorial note.  Janet Burton is a co-trainer on our RiverRhee Introduction to Management course.  I asked her if she would be willing to write a blog on one of the aspects that we cover, and she chose delegation, a topic that we explore on day 3 of the course.  What Janet has written takes the content from the course a few steps further…

Taking delegation a few steps further

When managers come on our Introduction to Management courses, we help them to handle their new responsibilities of allocating tasks and achieving their own and their team objectives. They need to delegate. This can be fairly straightforward, if they follow the guidelines and understand the benefits of the delegation process.  However, there can be circumstances where delegation is not straight forward.

delegation without authority

Delegating upwards and sideways can be challenging. Often bosses and colleagues will not be responsive to someone not in the direct line of command. Someone (you) who is expecting them to stop their own work and help!

One of our delegates found that no matter what approach he took to getting information from colleagues, they failed to respond. This happened time and time again, even though he was polite and patient. He explained to me that it was their job to supply him with information and that their tardiness held up his work and compromised his results.

Click here for information on RiverRhee's training courses for managers

Click here for information on

RiverRhee’s training

courses for managers

The delegation guide

So, it is isn’t easy delegating without authority but it can be done.

First, let’s look at the Delegation Guide

  1. Identify the Task
  2. Choose the right person for the job
  3. Explain the task, timings, and extent of the job
  4. Check understanding and commitment
  5. Agree deadlines and follow up
  6. Once completed, appreciate and communicate the results

making it mutually beneficial

Aim for a mutually beneficial start (Identify the task and choose the right person).

There are several ways to approach the right person with the task:

  • Sell them the concept and outcome
  • Ask for their help with their expertise and skill set
  • Assume they will cooperate because it is their job
  • Ask for a favour…not recommended!

planning for the best outcome

Plan for the best outcome (the task, timings, and extent of the job).

The secret is in the planning. You will be encroaching on the time that they might otherwise use to achieve their own objectives, so you need to sell the idea. Anticipate what they might say in response to your request so that you are ready with a mutually beneficial reason for their help.

You need to outline the job with the timescales and anticipated outcomes.   Negotiate the desired results, the timing and the benefits. Also, in the negotiation, there may be something you can do for them which, with your skill set, you could easily do.

checking for understanding

Negotiate (Check understanding and commitment).

When discussing the extent of the work, you need to check that they know exactly what you expect of them. There must be no confusion as confusion can lead to the job being left unattended. Don’t ask “Do you understand?” as the stock answer is likely to be “Yes” even if they don’t. Check understanding by asking questions such as “So when (this) happens, I would expect (that) to be the result, what do you think?” Ask, “What process will you adopt and how long do you think that will take?” These questions do not insult the colleague or superior’s intelligence but shows your understanding of what they must do and enables you to show your appreciation.

keeping in touch

Monitor (check progress).

When negotiating the deadline, appreciate their own workload, but be firm about your scheduled needs. Build monitoring devices into the timetable, for instance ask them to send you emails for any clarification needed or to supply you with information by such and such a time.  Schedule a meeting to assess progress and to check if more resources are needed.

Once delegation has occurred, there is a very firm and sensible rule to follow – never take the delegated task back again. If you have delegated correctly, you will not be tempted to say “OK leave it with me, I’ll do it myself”

showing your appreciation

Reward (appreciate their efforts).

Finally, the job is done and you are delivered of a successful project or task. Thank the person, don’t hold back. They have worked their butts off for you and you need to give them a big smile and a huge “Thank You”.

about the author

Janet Burton is an Associate with RiverRhee Consulting who uses her experience of training and management to help people develop their skills, enhance their confidence and change for the better.  Her unique style is an inspirational combination of laughter and learning.  Janet’s experience enables her to understand the challenges for organisations across varied industries and disciplines.  She has run her own sales and marketing business, has worked in the recruitment and stationery wholesaling industries, and has operated in sales and marketing for major food manufacturers.

ABOUT THE EDITOR

Elisabeth Goodman is the Owner and Principal Consultant at RiverRhee Consulting, a consultancy that specialises in “creating exceptional managers and teams”, with a focus on the Life Sciences. (We use training, facilitation, coaching, mentoring and consulting in our work with our clients.)

Elisabeth founded RiverRhee Consulting in 2009, and prior to that had 25+ years’ experience in the Pharmaceutical Industry in line management and internal training and consultancy roles supporting Information Management and other business teams on a global basis.  

RiverRhee is a support supplier for One Nucleus, a quality assured training provider with Cogent Skills and a CPD provider for CILIP (Chartered Institute for Library and Information Professionals).

Elisabeth is accredited in Change Management, in Lean Sigma, in Belbin Team Roles, MBTI (Myers Briggs Type Indicator) and is an NLP (NeuroLinguistic Programming) Practitioner.  

She is a member of CILIP and of APM (Association for Project Management) where she leads on Membership, Communications and Events for the Enabling Change SIG committee.

Calibrating the mind to lead teams. Five tips for being an effective team leader.


Guest blog by John Hicks, 26th July 2016

Five tips for being an effective team leader

Editorial note from Elisabeth Goodman:

Many of the managers that we work with are transitioning from a scientist to a manager role.  John Hicks has joined our RiverRhee team to support us with our training, and also to provide coaching for scientists making this transition.  So I’m pleased to share some of his perspectives on how to be an effective team leader.

Introduction

Having been a scientist and a senior manager, I have come to learn some important lessons about managing people.

Use the following five tips to help you to be a more effective team leader.

Tip 1 – Be motivated to be a manager more than a scientist

To make the transition into management effectively, we must understand what being a manager is.

A popular definition of being a manager is someone who is responsible for administering or controlling an organisation or group of staff.

As a manager you create a larger positive (or negative) impact on an organisation because you are empowering a group of individuals within a team to work more effectively rather than simply empowering yourself.

If you want to be a manager, I challenge you to explore your motives for that move.  If you want to make a positive impact through orchestrating a team of people then you will have a positive management career moving forward.

If you recognise this then you are well on the way to exploring Tip 2.

Click here for information on RiverRhee's training courses for managers

Click here for information on RiverRhee’s training courses for managers

Tip 2 – Get to know yourself more

Working with people often causes us to react in certain ways that are positive and negative emotionally.

Someone can easily say something that will trigger a memory of one of your previous experiences. This in turn might ‘colour’ the way you view, hear or feel about their comment and lead to an inappropriate reaction.

Allow yourself to create a distance between how you feel in the moment and what you need to do next to move the team forward.  Are there triggers that make you feel strongly enough to warp your thinking about what is important?  Then you need to understand what they are before you make the wrong decision based on strong emotions.

Being prepared in this way is important because you HAVE to listen to your team, otherwise you will fail at being a manager.

Tip 3 – listen to your team

There are three levels of listening to your team that will help you to make sound decisions on your way forward.

1) Listen to what your team members are telling you.

What words are you physically hearing and how useful are they to you for the decisions you need to make?  Don’t dismiss them out of hand as your team are your eyes and ears on processes currently taking place in the laboratory or the office.

2) Listen to and think about what is behind what your team members are telling you.

So you have been given some good information but something doesn’t feel right.  You need to dig deeper and understand what is behind what is being said to you.  Is someone struggling in their role and is their information to you compromised by a stressed perspective? What’s that stress about?

3) Listen to and observe what your team is feeling.

Have you ever walked into a room full of people and felt the excitement in the room?  No one is particularly doing anything ‘excitable’ but all the same, you can feel it.  Have you ever walked into a work place and felt that there is a grey cloud looming above it?  You can’t put your finger on what is wrong but you know that something is off?

This is an important skill for leading your team.  Being aware of those around you and how they feel enables you to come alongside your team and nurture them with what they need to be more successful. 

Tip 4 – Don’t get sabotaged by self-defeating beliefs

This is related to Tip 2, but deserves a mention on its own.

Have you ever given a presentation where you have felt nervous? Perhaps you are focusing on what could go wrong more than how positive your impact could be?

This is normal and is what is called a self-defeating belief or what I like to refer to as a saboteur thought.

They tend to happen when dealing with change or opportunity.

As a manager you need to spot these self-defeating beliefs and determine what is rational or not rational because you might be holding back your team.

Tip 5 – Be kind to yourself

This tip is easy to remember. 

Your next mistake might well be your next greatest discovery.  Don’t berate yourself for mistakes, this will mess up your thinking ability. Give yourself the chance to seize the next opportunity from your learning.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

John Hicks is an Associate of RiverRhee Consulting.  He spent the first ten years of his career in science within academic, contract research and environmental laboratories specialising in Chemistry. John then worked with two of the leading scientific instrumentation companies providing technical sales support to large Pharmaceuticals and Biotech companies across the UK before moving into a senior leadership position within a Cambridge based technology company.  John now runs his own training and coaching company delivering performance coaching to scientists that are new to or working towards a career in management.

about the editor

Elisabeth Goodman is the Owner and Principal Consultant at RiverRhee Consulting, a consultancy that specialises in “creating exceptional managers and teams”, with a focus on the Life Sciences. (We use training, facilitation, coaching, mentoring and consulting in our work with our clients.)

Elisabeth founded RiverRhee Consulting in 2009, and prior to that had 25+ years’ experience in the Pharmaceutical Industry in line management and internal training and consultancy roles supporting Information Management and other business teams on a global basis.  

RiverRhee is a support supplier for One Nucleus, a quality assured training provider with Cogent Skills and a CPD provider for CILIP (Chartered Institute for Library and Information Professionals).

Elisabeth is accredited in Change Management, in Lean Sigma, in Belbin Team Roles, MBTI (Myers Briggs Type Indicator) and is an NLP (NeuroLinguistic Programming) Practitioner.  

She is a member of CILIP and of APM (Association for Project Management) where she leads the Internal Collaboration theme of the Enabling Change SIG committee.

Brexit – exploding some myths and reinforcing some truths about responses to change


By Elisabeth Goodman, 3rd July 2016

As someone who writes and gives talks about managing change, and trains and coaches people in how to lead change, I feel compelled to write about one of the most dramatic examples of change that 72% and more of the British electorate are currently experiencing.

I believe that the EU referendum illustrates, very poignantly, some truths about how people respond to change, whilst also exploding some commonly expounded myths about change.

Myth #1: People don’t like change. Correction: People do sometimes choose change.

“There were some things that had to be shaken up, and they have been” says Cliff Hampton, retired, living in Stroud (“Voices on the to rise”, The Observer, 3rd July, 2016, p.23)

Leave vs. Remain Brexit results (Press Association, Graphic News)

Leave vs. Remain Brexit results (Press Association, Graphic News)

I often hear the refrain, amongst change practitioners and people in general, that “people don’t like change”. However, the 52% who voted to leave did want change. Granted that some of them voted to return to a vision of former greatness that they felt we had lost when we first joined the EU – so in effect voting to reverse the change that they had not wanted at the time. But others voted to change because of their concerns about what is not working as a result of us being part of the EU: the bureaucracy, the lack of autonomy about how we allocate our money, the impact of seemingly uncontrolled immigration on a thinly stretched infrastructure (education, health, housing, jobs). They wanted to regain “control over their borders, their taxation system and their laws.” Gisela Stewart, The Observer, 3rd July 2016, p.33.

And yes, most of the 48% who voted to remain did so because they did not want to change. They voted against change because of their concerns about losing economically beneficial trade agreements and grants, employment legislation, freedom of movement for our workforce, and skilled workers from other countries, all of which they did not believe could be secured outside the EU. But some of the 48% who voted to remain, actually did so because they believed that to do so would provide a better platform for creating change within the EU.

Click here for more information about Elisabeth Goodman’s change management training with RiverRhee Consulting

Myth #2: Resistance is to be avoided. Correction: Resistance is natural and something to be understood.

Those leading change often talk about the need to avoid resistance: that it is as “a bad thing”. However, I believe that no-one witnessing the strength of emotion being experienced across the UK would want to suppress it. It is a natural thing and, if we are to heal as a nation, we each need to understand, appreciate and find a way to respond with empathy to our own and each other’s reactions. Facebook has been a seething bed of emotions through all of this, with many people trying to find explanations and ways to reconcile the impact on relations between friends who voted differently.

Pooh and Piglet - Brexit (Source unknown)

Pooh and Piglet – Brexit (Source unknown)

Politicians too, both in the UK and in Europe, in order to be effective in building the way forward, would be wise to listen to and ensure that they respond to all the anxieties being raised on either side of the voting divide. There are indications that the EU at least is starting to do so: “EU heads of state, reeling from the UK’s vote to leave…want to be seen to be responding to the new Eurosceptic mood, and some want a new “vision for Europe” document that distils the conflicting thinking.” The Observer, 3rd July 2016, page 2.

We are waiting for the resolution of the shake up in our political parties that has resulted from the referendum, to see how well our politicians respond to the voices of those who voted to leave and to remain.

Other truths about responses to change

I have been taken by surprise by the depths of my emotional response to this change, and it has certainly stirred up lots of emotion across the board. So this experience has reinforced some other truths about change.

Truth #1: People’s responses to change can have parallels with bereavement

Elisabeth Kübler-Ross first suggested this parallel, and reactions to the referendum result for those who voted to remain certainly reinforces it.

Negative change curve - from "The Effective Team's Change Management Workbook", RiverRhee Publishing, 2013

Negative change curve – from “The Effective Team’s Change Management Workbook”, RiverRhee Publishing, 2013

People who voted to remain woke up to the result in tears, feeling a real sense of loss. They have been angry, are denying that anyone will dare to activate article 50, or to reverse the thousands of legislative document involved. They are trying to bargain a way out through petitions signed by millions, and demonstrations attended by thousands.

Truth #2: Even those who welcome change will experience periods of doubt and symptoms of resistance

The most striking illustration of the doubts experienced by those who voted to leave was the realisation that they had been lied to, and the scale of the upheaval that leaving the EU would cause. Some have expressed regret at the way they voted (on both sides).

Positive change curve - from "The Effective Team's Change Management Workbook", RIverRhee Publishing, 2013

Positive change curve – from “The Effective Team’s Change Management Workbook”, RIverRhee Publishing, 2013

People moved from “uninformed certainty” that leaving the EU was the right thing to do, to “informed doubt” for example when leaders of the campaign said that the £350 million a week saved from our membership could not or would not in fact be rerouted to the NHS.

At some point we will all need to be ‘navigators’ of the change. Some form of certainty and control will help us to Be so.

“We woke up on Friday morning to shock and disbelief. But we now have to grasp the opportunity, roll up our sleeves and work together.” Clark Willis, chief executive of Anglia Farmers, The Observer, 3rd July, 2016, p. 44.

At some point we will all have to accept that there is no going back from the outcome of the referendum, and that we must get on with the job in hand. To do that we will need as much certainty, in the form of clear and complete and accurate information, as our politicians can give us.

The navigator - from "The Effective Team's Change Management Workbook", RiverRhee Publishing, 2013

The navigator – from “The Effective Team’s Change Management Workbook”, RiverRhee Publishing, 2013

If we can also be involved in some way in putting the new way of living and working in place, it will also help us to recover from the traumas that this referendum has caused to us individually, in our relationships, and in our communities.

One way to do this might be, as some have suggested, to hold a second referendum on the actual Brexit deal that is negotiated with the EU. People will be able to take a final informed decision, which will give it democratic legitimacy and make it easier for everyone to accept the outcome.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Elisabeth Goodman is the Owner and Principal Consultant at RiverRhee Consulting, a consultancy that specialises in “creating exceptional managers and teams”, with a focus on the Life Sciences. (We use training, facilitation, coaching, mentoring and consulting in our work with our clients.)

Elisabeth founded RiverRhee Consulting in 2009, and prior to that had 25+ years’ experience in the Pharmaceutical Industry in line management and internal training and consultancy roles supporting Information Management and other business teams on a global basis.  

RiverRhee is a support supplier for One Nucleus, a quality assured training provider with Cogent Skills and a CPD provider for CILIP (Chartered Institute for Library and Information Professionals).

Elisabeth is accredited in Change Management, in Lean Sigma, in Belbin Team Roles, MBTI (Myers Briggs Type Indicator) and is an NLP (NeuroLinguistic Programming) Practitioner.  

She is a member of CILIP and of APM (Association for Project Management) where she leads the Internal Collaboration theme of the Enabling Change SIG committee.

Understanding when we are at our best


By Elisabeth Goodman, 26th June 2016

Why seek to understand when we are at our best?

Two of the most popular topics in the 3-day Introduction to Management course that I run with RiverRhee Consulting are motivation, and Belbin team roles.  The way we explore them is by examining what motivates the delegates on the course, and what their most natural and preferred ways of behaving are.

Delegates at the June 2016 RiverRhee Introduction to Management course

Delegates at the June 2016 RiverRhee Introduction to Management course

It’s through this understanding that we appreciate how different we each are from one another, and what this therefore means about the people that we work with, and those that report to us.

For instance some of us will enjoy our work most if we have lots of opportunities to learn and develop, or if we can help others in their work, or if we feel that what we are doing will make a difference to people’s lives.  Or we may feel happiest in our work if we have the ability to shape strategy, make decisions, or work independently of others.

Given the diversity of our motivators, and preferred ways of working, we need different conditions, types and levels of support to help ourselves and others perform at their best.

Click here for information on RiverRhee’s training courses for managers

And yet, we don’t always know what motivates each of our colleagues or direct reports, what their natural or preferred ways of working are, or how we can help them to be at their best.

So how to find out what will help us and others be at their best?

Direct questions such as “what motivates you?” don’t necessarily work. Other open questions might though, such as:

  • What do I / you enjoy most about my / your work?
  • What do I / you like least about my / your work?
  • What would cause me / you to be more / less satisfied about work?

Observation might help too. When we are at our best we are “in the flow”, time just seems to fly by. The chances are that we are totally focused and content, and our body language should demonstrate that. There will also be types of work or tasks that we and others volunteer for or take on gladly, and others that we or they are less enthusiastic about.

Psychometric questionnaires will of course help to identify Belbin team roles and other personality types such as MBTI (Myers Briggs Type Indicator).

I’ve been playing with another aid to understanding in recent workshops and training courses, which is based on my NLP training. I ask people to remember a situation at work when they have been at their best, or the conditions that have enabled them to do so.

I ask them to picture the situation, or the conditions, or to recreate the sounds that they heard, what they felt, or how they would describe it.

They then, if they can or want to, choose a postcard that illustrates the situation, would help them to talk about or describe it, or just feels right.

A selection of postcards courtesy of the Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge

A selection of postcards courtesy of the Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge

This personal reflection, and subsequent conversation with colleagues, can be a powerful way of helping people to appreciate the different opportunities and conditions that will enable themselves and their colleagues be at their best.

When are you at your best? How will you promote and support the right conditions for the people that you work with?

Do you know?  How will you find out?

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Elisabeth Goodman is the Owner and Principal Consultant at RiverRhee Consulting, a consultancy that specialises in “creating exceptional managers and teams”, with a focus on the Life Sciences. (We use training, facilitation, coaching, mentoring and consulting in our work with our clients.)

Elisabeth founded RiverRhee Consulting in 2009, and prior to that had 25+ years’ experience in the Pharmaceutical Industry in line management and internal training and consultancy roles supporting Information Management and other business teams on a global basis.  

RiverRhee is a support supplier for One Nucleus, a quality assured training provider with Cogent Skills and a CPD provider for CILIP (Chartered Institute for Library and Information Professionals).

Elisabeth is accredited in Change Management, in Lean Sigma, in Belbin Team Roles, MBTI (Myers Briggs Type Indicator) and is an NLP (NeuroLinguistic Programming) Practitioner.  

She is a member of CILIP and of APM (Association for Project Management) where she leads the Internal Collaboration theme of the Enabling Change SIG committee.

Reaching for emotional intelligence – a manager’s guide


By Elisabeth Goodman, 17th May 2016

Why is emotional intelligence such an important skill?

Emotional intelligence helps us, as individuals, to cope more easily with the ups and downs of work and life.  It helps us to build stronger relationships, collaborate with and influence others more effectively and to make better decisions.  In a work situation, it helps us to be better managers.

What is emotional intelligence?

Emotional intelligence enables us to be more aware of our own and other people’s responses to the situations that we find ourselves in, and to more consciously and actively change those responses.

It relies on us being more in tune to the relationship between how we think, feel and behave, and how changing any one of these can actively influence the other two.

Emotional Intelligence enables us to be more aware of our responses to change. (The survivor illustration from "The Effective Team's Change Management Workbook", RIverRhee 2013

Emotional Intelligence enables us to be more aware of and to influence our responses to change. (The survivor illustration from “The Effective Team’s Change Management Workbook”, RIverRhee 2013

How does emotional intelligence work?

I have been watching Gareth Malone’s work with the Invictus Choir, a simultaneously heartbreaking and uplifting experience.

The two one-hour episodes were graphic portrayals of many of the individuals’ journeys from barely coping with the aftermaths of the physical and emotional traumas that they had experienced, to releasing their emotions and moving to a new stage of acceptance and hope. Their injuries are still there and things to be dealt with every day, but they can now choose how they respond to them.

The choir’s opening lines :”Don’t turn your eyes away, and leave me in the dark” summarise for me how we can all interact with each other at a deeper level.

Gareth himself was truly impressive in how he steered and supported the members of the choir. He combined his impressive technical skill in teaching them to find their voice and excel, with what seemed to me tremendous emotional intelligence.

One of Rob Jeung’s publications focuses on emotional intelligence and I turned back to my copy to remind me of some of the key concepts. These are the ones that particularly stood out for me in watching Gareth Malone and what he achieved with the Invictus Choir.

Click here for information on RiverRhee's training courses for managers

Click here for information on RiverRhee’s training courses for managers

  1. Be alert to and aware of each individual. Respond to each person appropriately.
  2. Listen, really listen – use your eyes and ears, pick up on body language and tone of voice, not just the words.
  3. Give people one-to-one time – it shows them that you care about and value them, and gives them the space and time they need to say what’s on their mind, as well as build rapport between you.
  4. Say what it is you are observing – just that can open up the conversation.
  5. Don’t try to solve their problems – only the individual can do that.
  6. Judge when it is best to leave people alone, when to give them a chance to talk, when to give them a hug (if this is acceptable behaviour).
  7. Recognise that you are also learning how to deal with other people’s emotions, and that it’s alright to have your own “wobble” now and then!
  8. Don’t forget to be assertive. You still need to influence your team to achieve their primary objective. Being clear and direct about what this is will give them an anchor and a goal during their emotional journeys.

How are you applying emotional intelligence

What works for you?  What are your challenges?  As ever I’d be really interested to hear about your experiences.

(You might also want to read one of my previous blogs about empathy – the magical leadership ingredient.)

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Elisabeth Goodman is the Owner and Principal Consultant at RiverRhee Consulting, a consultancy that specialises in “creating exceptional managers and teams”, with a focus on the Life Sciences. (We use training, facilitation, coaching, mentoring and consulting in our work with our clients.)

Elisabeth founded RiverRhee Consulting in 2009, and prior to that had 25+ years’ experience in the Pharmaceutical Industry in line management and internal training and consultancy roles supporting Information Management and other business teams on a global basis.  

RiverRhee is a support supplier for One Nucleus, a quality assured training provider with Cogent Skills and a CPD provider for CILIP (Chartered Institute for Library and Information Professionals).

Elisabeth is accredited in Change Management, in Lean Sigma, in Belbin Team Roles, MBTI (Myers Briggs Type Indicator) and is an NLP (NeuroLinguistic Programming) Practitioner.  

She is a member of CILIP and of APM (Association for Project Management) where she leads the Internal Collaboration theme of the Enabling Change SIG committee.

The power of quiet questioning


By Elisabeth Goodman, 25th April 2016

2016-04-23 12.50.10.jpg

Taking time for some quiet reflection on Brighton beach, April 2016

Why quiet questioning?

Two of the most powerful resources available to us as managers, and as members of a team are questions and silence.

The ideal dynamic, when we are working with others, is to have a natural back and forth of conversation: each person comfortably expressing their views, their feelings, their ideas and listening, responding to, and building on the other’s.

That ideal to and fro of conversation occurs when each person is taking ownership for their part in whatever is being discussed, is fully motivated, and has no trouble being assertive; when there is good rapport.

But we know that this ideal scenario is just that, that there are times when it does not happen, when it is hard to know what to say, when emotions get in the way, when the other person cannot or will not play their part.

This is when asking questions, asking the right questions, and being comfortable with silence can really make a difference.

Click here for information on RiverRhee's management training course

Click here for information on RiverRhee’s training courses for managers

Asking the right question

We already know that open questions (those starting with Why, What, How, When, Where) are much more effective in engaging others in conversation than closed ones (that elicit only a Yes or No answer).  It’s so easy to slip up and ask a closed question such as:

“Are you feeling sad?” as opposed to, for example: “What are you feeling sad about?”

I’ve been learning about ‘clean’ questions: those that contain as little of the questioner’s bias as possible.  So for example the question:

“What are you feeling sad about?” includes our interpretation that the other person is sad.  It may be that they have told us this, in which case it may be an appropriate follow-up question.

But if they have not told us they are sad, we may be making a big assumption based on their facial expression or body language – but we don’t really know and we are not mind-readers.

So a clean question would be: “How are you feeling”?

And if they do say “I’m feeling sad”, then another suitable ‘clean’ follow-up question might be “What kind of sadness is that?”,  or “In what way are you feeling sad?”, or even just “Sad?”  So you are reflecting back on what the other person has said, rather than inserting your interpretation.

Caitlin Walker’s “From Contempt to Curiosity” has some terrific structures to help any manager or individual use questions to foster open dialogue and build rapport between individuals and within teams.

Rachel Alexander’s and Julia Russel’s “And the Next Question is – Powerful Questions for Sticky Moments” has a rich selection of different questions to use in different situations.

And we can learn so much from NLP (NeuroLinguisticProgramming) too about spotting the assumptions that we and others make in our language, and how to ask questions to get past those.  For example if someone is saying to you: “This kind of situation always makes me sad”, we can ask “Always?”, or “What kind of situation is that?” or even “In what way?”

Using quietness, or silence

Even when we’ve developed the skill to ask the right questions, we can destroy the effect we’ve tried to create by jumping in with our own suggested answer!

Silence is so powerful: it gives the other person time to reflect and come up with their own answer.  It tells them that we care and want to listen to what they have to say.  It encourages them if they are feeling hesitant.

Silence can be companionable too.  Sometimes just working alongside the other person on something in which you are both involved, or going for a walk together, will create the conditions for the other person to open up and say what they have to say.  You may not even have to frame a question!

Click here for information on RiverRhee's training courses for managers

Click here for information on RiverRhee’s training courses for managers

Developing skills in quiet questioning

I’m still learning and practising the art of quiet questioning.  It’s something that we can not only apply at work, but in our interactions with people at home too.

I will continue to reflect upon and share my experiences in my work with managers and teams.  It would be great to hear about your experiences too.

About the author

Elisabeth Goodman is the Owner and Principal Consultant at RiverRhee Consulting, a consultancy that specialises in “creating exceptional managers and teams”, with a focus on the Life Sciences. (We use training, facilitation, coaching, mentoring and consulting in our work with our clients.)

Elisabeth founded RiverRhee Consulting in 2009, and prior to that had 25+ years’ experience in the Pharmaceutical Industry in line management and internal training and consultancy roles supporting Information Management and other business teams on a global basis.  

RiverRhee is a support supplier for One Nucleus, a quality assured training provider with Cogent Skills and a CPD provider for CILIP (Chartered Institute for Library and Information Professionals).

Elisabeth is accredited in Change Management, in Lean Sigma, in Belbin Team Roles, MBTI (Myers Briggs Type Indicator) and is an NLP (NeuroLinguistic Programming) Practitioner.  

She is a member of CILIP and of APM (Association for Project Management) where she leads the Internal Collaboration theme of the Enabling Change SIG committee.