Category Archives: Enhancing Team Effectiveness

Working with diversity in thinking, learning and interpersonal styles


Elisabeth Goodman, 9th May 2020

I’ve been doing a bit of reading and thinking about the impact of diversity in how we think and learn and how this might play out in our interactions with each other at work, or indeed at home.

A look at Neurodiversity

There is a lot that we can learn from people who are described as ‘neurodiverse’, given, as Nancy Doyle (2019) says, that:

It is estimated that just 59% of people can be considered “neurotypical”. With prevalence data like that, we have to assume that neurodiversity is a natural variation within the human species.

People who are ‘neurodiverse’ include those “with autism, Asperger’s, dyslexia, ADHD. They have a cognitive profile of extreme strengths and weaknesses and in how they think, and in how they interact with others. People who are ‘neurotypical’ tend to score about the same on all measures of their cognitive profiles.

According to Genius Within , the cognitive strengths of the ‘neurodiverse’ cover a plethora of intellectual and interpersonal skills (or intelligences) such as problem solving, holistic thinking, verbal skills, visual thinking, mechanical skills, creativity, attention to detail, hyperfocus, empathy, persistance etc.

The list represents all the different skills that we would want in the workplace the difference being, Doyle (2019) suggests, that individuals who are ‘neurodiverse’ will specialise in some of these, whilst those who are ‘neurotypical’ might be more generalist. Or would they?

Insights from personality tools and learning styles

We have a vast choice of personality tools available to us to help us understand our individual strengths and those of others.

MBTI summary slide

MBTI summary slide from RiverRhee’s training courses, with illustrations by Nathaniel Spain

What we can learn from personality tools is that we are all diverse in terms of which cognitive and interpersonal skills come to us most naturally, and which ones we have learnt to develop over time.

Kolb, and Honey and Mumford add yet more perspectives to this in terms of our different learning styles such as:

  • experiential or activist
  • reviewing or reflecting
  • concluding or theorising
  • planning or pragmatism

Are we simply talking about different types of intelligences?

In digging deeper on this whole subject, as part of carrying out my research for my PG Certificate in Business and Personal Coaching, I came across Watagodakumbura (2014).  His focus is on the need to address all of these differences in terms of education.

He quotes, amongst other really useful things, a range of intelligences: linguistic, spatial, logical-mathematical, musical, bodily-kinesthetic, intrapersonal and interpersonal, naturalistic and existential.

Watagodakumbura also reminds us, as Grandin (2013) does, that a lot of the differences in our cognitive and interpersonal skills can be related to differences in brain development. This opens up further questions for me about what we are born with, and what we can develop over time.  What role does neuroplasticity for instance play in all of this?

Conclusion: So what can we do with this understanding of diversity?

I personally find this whole area tremendously fascinating and exciting.  There is so much we can learn about ourselves and the people around us.

We can use this knowledge in a way that is enriching for ourselves and to enhance our interactions with others. We can make conscious choices about how to develop ourselves, and how to take advantage of opportunities that make the best of our strengths.

There is so much more to learn about this area.  I’m looking forward to finding out more.

Notes

References

Doyle, N (2019). Making the invisible visible – supporting neurodiversity in the workplace. Personnel Today, 1st Feb. https://www.personneltoday.com/hr/making-the-invisible-visible/ (Accessed 9th May 2020)

Genius Within – https://www.geniuswithin.co.uk/infographics-and-literature/neuro-diversity-venn-diagram/ (Accessed 9th May 2020)

Grandin, T. and Panek, R. (2013). The Autistic Brain. Rider Books.

Honey and Mumford – https://www.open.edu/openlearn/ocw/pluginfile.php/629607/mod_resource/content/1/t175_4_3.pdf (Accessed 9th May 2020)

Kolb – https://www.simplypsychology.org/learning-kolb.html (Accessed 9th May 2020)

Watagodakumbura, C. (2014). The need to address psychological and neurological characteristics of learners in the mainstream education system. Journal of Studies in Education, Vol 4(1), 94-108

About the author

Elisabeth Goodman is the Owner and Principal Consultant at RiverRhee Consulting., a consultancy that specialises in “creating exceptional managers and teams”, through courses, workshops and one-to-one coaching, and with a focus on the Life Sciences. RiverRhee is a member-to-member training provider for One Nucleus.

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 teams on a global basis.  She is developing her coaching practice, with a focus on helping individuals to develop management, interpersonal and communication skills, and to deal with change.

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 the APM (Association for Project Management) in which she was a founding member of the Enabling Change SIG.

Elisabeth is also a member of the ICF (International Coaching Federation) and is working towards her PG Certification in Business and Personal Coaching with Barefoot Coaching and the University of Chester.

Creating a culture of psychological safety – in project and operational teams


By Elisabeth Goodman, 1st May 2020

Psychological safety – definition of the term

One of our RiverRhee Alumni reminded me recently of the concept of ‘psychological safety’ in teams.  It’s a concept that’s been around for a few years now and is something that is relevant to any team, at any time.

It may be something to pay particular attention to at the moment, with many teams working on a shift basis and spending even less time together in a face-to-face environment.

Edmondson (2002) listed “four specific risks to image that people face at work: being seen as ignorant, incompetent, negative, or disruptive”.

She described potential triggers for these risks as:

  • Asking questions or asking for information
  • Calling attention to mistakes or asking for help
  • Seeking to learn or improve (on what’s not worked as well as on what has worked well)
  • Wanting to do any of the above, or asking for feedback on their performance

Discomfort with being able to express these kinds of questions is what would typically be represented by the ‘storming’ stage of Tuckman’s (1977) stages of team development: “Can I get my say”?  The suggestion is that, until we can get this part of the team’s culture properly sorted, it will be very difficult to move onto the ‘norming’ let alone the ‘high performing’ stage.

Stages of team development_Elisabeth Goodman

Stages of team development, adapted from Tuckman.  Illustration by Nathaniel Spain in Goodman, E. “The Effective Team’s High Performance Workbook”, 2014

Edmondson used the term ‘psychological safety’ to reflect “the degree to which people perceive their work environment as conducive to taking these interpersonal risks”.

There have been further publications and also some TedEx talks and other presentations on this topic, by Edmondson and others since 2002.  This blog touches on some of these, and on the key points that are emerging from them.

Understand and influence group norms

Google launched Project Aristotle in 2012 to understand why some teams performed better than others and came to the conclusion that it was all about team norms:(Goodman, 2018b) the unwritten rules that a group operates by.

They concluded that psychological safety, more than anything else, was critical to the effectiveness of these team norms, and looked at Edmondson (1999) to understand this better.

They found that what helped to create psychological safety was when:

  • There was less of a divide between home and work life
  • Everyone took turns to speak about what was going on in their lives (if they chose to do so)
  • Individuals were comfortable about expressing fears, feelings, emotions
  • People showed empathy towards each other.

This behaviour is what Delizonna (2017) referred to as “speaking human-to-human”.  She too points to Edmondson’s (1999) work which includes her tool for measuring psychological safety.

Lead by example

Young (2020) has a collection of recommendations for creating psychological safety in project teams.  His article in the APM’s Spring 2020 issue of Project magazine includes these useful nuggets:

Be visible, available, open and curious

A leader sets the tone for psychological safety within the team.  The old adage of ‘management by walk-about” still holds.  If you are available, supportive, open and curious about what is happening and wanting to learn from others then you will create a safer environment.

Choose your pronouns carefully

As the team leader, choose “I” for messing-up, and “we” for successes.

Use “it” for finding the root cause of problems, combined with “why” to understand: “Why was the customer told that?”, rather than “Who told them that?”

Set a forward-looking and positive tone

Things will go wrong, that is the nature of any complex endeavour.  Reframe problems as learning opportunities, for working together using the diverse strengths and expertise of the team, and for being creative and innovative.

This point echoes some of Delizonna (2017) to:

  • Approach conflict as an opportunity for collaboration rather than competition. (This is reminiscent of emotional intelligence and conflict management (Goodman, 2018a))
  • Replace blame with curiosity: adopting a learning mindset

Use team kick-off meetings, and regular reflections to agree and review how the team is working together

Ask such questions as:

  • What will help the team thrive?
  • What can the team agree to do when things get “sticky”?
  • What kind of atmosphere do we want to create as a team?
  • What can we do to work even more effectively as a team?

And, as suggested by Delizonna (2017) generally adopt a culture of asking for feedback.

Conclusion

Edmondson (2014) describes this whole topic very vividly in her TedEx talk.  She uses the word “voice” to describe what we need to be comfortable about conveying and has three simple rules:

  1. Frame the work as a learning opportunity rather a problem
  2. Acknowledge your own fallibility
  3. Model curiosity

What are you doing to create a climate of psychological safety in your teams?  How well are you expressing your “voice” and enabling others to “bring their whole and contributing selves” to the workplace?

Notes

References

Delizonna, L. (2017) High-performing teams need psychological safety.  Here’s how to create it. Harvard Business Review, August 24th

Duhigg, C. (2016) What Google learnt from its quest to build the perfect team. New York Times, February 25.

Edmondson, A. (1999) https://www.midss.org/content/team-learning-and-psychological-safety-survey (Accessed 1st May 2020)

Edmondson, A.C. (2002) Managing the risk of learning: Psychological safety in work teams in West, M. (Ed) International Handbook of Organizational Teamwork, London: Blackwell.

Edmondson, A. (2014) Building a psychologically safe workplace. TEDEx HGSE. https://youtu.be/LhoLuui9gX8 (Accessed 1st May 2020)

Goodman, E. (2018a) https://elisabethgoodman.wordpress.com/2018/04/28/conflict-is-the-lifeblood-of-high-performing-organisations/ (Accessed 1st May 2020)

Goodman, E. (2018b) https://elisabethgoodman.wordpress.com/2018/06/03/defining-team-norms-for-high-performance-teams/ (Accessed 1st May 2020)

Tuckman, B and Jensen, M. (1977) Stages of small group development revisited in Group and Organisational Studies pp 419-427

Young, R. (2020) Honesty is the best policy. Project, Spring pp. 49-51

About the author

Elisabeth Goodman is the Owner and Principal Consultant at RiverRhee Consulting., a consultancy that specialises in “creating exceptional managers and teams”, through courses, workshops and one-to-one coaching, and with a focus on the Life Sciences. RiverRhee is a member-to-member training provider for One Nucleus.

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 teams on a global basis.  She is developing her coaching practice, with a focus on helping individuals to develop management, interpersonal and communication skills, and to deal with change.

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 the APM (Association for Project Management) in which she was a founding member of the Enabling Change SIG.

Elisabeth is also a member of the ICF (International Coaching Federation) and is working towards her PG Certification in Business and Personal Coaching with Barefoot Coaching and the University of Chester.

The manager as coach: working across generations


By Elisabeth Goodman, 25th April 2020

I’ve been enjoying being a student on the Post Graduate Certificate in Business and Personal Coaching with Barefoot Coaching and the University of Chester. The course has brought me new insights as well as very helpful reminders of the key principles and techniques that go into making us more effective coaches.

One such set of principles or techniques is encapsulated in Eric Berne’s (Berne 2016) Transactional Analysis.  It’s something I have been using for a while with people that I coach, and also in RiverRhee‘s training course on Assertiveness.  And it’s something that has huge relevance for managers working across generations, as well as for interactions between generations at home.

 

Screen Shot 2020-04-21 at 15.11.23

We are at our best when we are making a conscious choice about our behaviour

Have you ever noticed, when you have been away from home and the other people who live there for a while – perhaps on holiday or on a work trip – that you come back a bit different, slightly changed?  Perhaps more confident, more assertive?

It’s certainly something I used to notice as a student when I returned home on holiday from university.  For a short while, I saw the dynamics that went on between the various members of my family more objectively, more clearly.  And I initiated and responded to conversations in a more open, more direct (in a respectful way), more resourceful way.  I felt like a better version of myself.  Then, after a while, I slipped back into my old patterns of behaviour that I had known as a child – this seemed easier if not nearly as positive. I was often glad to get back to university where I could  return to what felt like my better ‘adult’ self.

Our behaviour can influence the behaviour of others

As a parent, it can be difficult to recognise, respond to, and encourage that more ‘adult’ behaviour in our young people at home.  To listen, really listen to them.  To treat their ideas, opinions and feelings in the same way that we would treat those of say our adult friends, or our colleagues at work. It can also be difficult to retain that more ‘adult’ behaviour when we interact with our parents.

In the language of Transactional Analysis, if we act as an over-controlling ‘parent’ towards someone, someone that we manage, or a young adult at home, their automatic response can be to behave as a rebellious ‘child’.  If we act as a helpless ‘child’ towards our manager, or towards our parent (even if we are an adult) then we can bring out their overbearing ‘parent’ behaviour towards us.

[N.B. ‘Parent’ and ‘child’ behaviours do have their positive as well as their negative sides.  So ‘parent’ behaviour can be constructive or nurturing, as opposed to controlling or overbearing.  ‘Child’ behaviour can be creative or responsive, as opposed to disruptive or helpless.  I am putting a greater emphasis on the negative interpretations for the purpose of this blog.]

Is this something that you have noticed?

Imagine the added complexity of working across generations at work:

  • Do you project your ‘parent’ behaviour onto younger people who report to you?  What effect does that have?
  • Do you project your ‘child’ behaviour onto older people who manage you? And what effect does that have?

choosing a more open and collaborative behaviour

Interacting in ‘adult’ to ‘adult’ mode can promote openness and a more collaborative behaviour between all those involved.  But doing so takes awareness and effort.

As a manager, parent and coach, you can help yourself and those that you interact with to have a more open and collaborative interaction through:

  • Self-awareness during, and reflection after, your interactions with others
  • Maintaining an attitude of respect and ‘unconditional positive regard’ (Rogers 2012) towards those that you interact with
  • Listening, really listening to others’ ideas, opinions and feelings
  • Taking the time to express your own ideas, opinions and feelings to others in a way that shows that you value their attention and response
  • Keeping the lines of communication open between you: being prepared to ask “How could we work (or interact) better with each other?”

Conclusion

What have you noticed about the dynamics between generations at work or at home?

How much of this might be down to your own behaviour?

What could you change?

Notes

References

Barefoot Coaching (2020) Post Graduate Certificate in Business and Personal Coaching

Berne, E. (2016) Transactional Analysis in Psychotherapy: A Systematic Individual and Social Psychology. Reprint.  Pickle Partners Publishing

Rogers, C. (2012) On Becoming a Person: A Therapist’s View of Psychotherapy. Reprint. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

About the author

Elisabeth Goodman is the Owner and Principal Consultant at RiverRhee Consulting., a consultancy that specialises in “creating exceptional managers and teams”, through courses, workshops and one-to-one coaching, and with a focus on the Life Sciences. RiverRhee is a member-to-member training provider for One Nucleus.

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 teams on a global basis.  She is developing her coaching practice, with a focus on helping individuals to develop management, interpersonal and communication skills, and to deal with change.

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 the APM (Association for Project Management) in which she was a founding member of the Enabling Change SIG.

Elisabeth is also a member of the ICF (International Coaching Federation) and is working towards her PG Certification in Business and Personal Coaching with Barefoot Coaching and the University of Chester.

The manager as coach: visual thinking tools and the wheel of anything


By Elisabeth Goodman, 13th April 2020

Visual thinking tools are something that many of us use in our day-to-day work

Visual thinking tools

Visual thinking tools – illustration by Nathaniel Spain in Elisabeth Goodman’s “The Effective Team’s Facilitation Workbook”, RiverRhee Publishing 2018

Readers might remember when Tony Buzan’s mind-maps (Buzan, 2000) were all the rage, and in fact you may use them still for planning out pieces of writing, taking notes at meetings, or revising for assessments.

Edward de Bono’s “six thinking hats” (De Bono, 2016) are very popular too for facilitating creative group thinking, and he has written at length about a range of other thinking tools (DeBono, 2006, and Goodman, 2015).

Anyone who has experienced a Lean and Six Sigma workshop (Goodman, 2015), or a Knowledge Management workshop (Goodman, 2016) will also be familiar with visual tools for instance to improve processes, to solve problems, or to reflect on what they have learnt.

The advantage of visual thinking tools is implicit in their description:

  • They enable all those involved in a discussion to express and to see exactly what is in everyone’s mind
  • They make it easier to draw out and make new connections between everyone’s ideas

There is room for all sorts of different thinking styles.

Those who are big picture thinkers will be able to see the big picture.  Those who pay more attention to detail will be able to work in the detail.

Those who need to see things to help them think, will certainly see what’s involved.  The group’s conversation around what is being shared will help those who need to hear it.  The conversation will also help with the active exchange of knowledge, ideas, opinions.

In face-to-face discussions, those with a more tactile approach will have the pens, flip charts etc. at their disposal, and of course all those involved will feel the mood too.  (These last two are more difficult where meetings are conducted virtually as in the current pandemic, but we facilitators, group coaches and one-to-one coaches are working on that!)

So a manager has a wealth of potential tools to choose from to support visual thinking with individual direct reports, or with their teams.

The “wheel of anything”

Readers might have come across “the wheel of life” which is a very useful tool for those who are, literally, at a cross-roads in their lives.  It helps you to explore the balance between what is happening for you for example at work, with your family and friends, with your health and well-being.  Reflecting on this balance helps you to consider what you would like to do to adjust that balance: what you would like to put more or less emphasis on, and how you will do that.

The wheel of life

The idea of a “wheel of anything” (Barefoot Coaching, 2020), enables you to populate the different segments of the wheel with all the topics that you would like to explore, using any number of segments.

I have found that the “wheel of givens” (adapted from Human Givens, 2018) has been particularly apt with some of the people I have been coaching at this point in time, when everyone’s lives have been affected in some way or other by the Covid-19 pandemic.  The topics this explores are:

  1. Security
  2. Attention
  3. Autonomy
  4. Community
  5. Privacy
  6. Meaning and Purpose
  7. Intimacy
  8. Status
  9. Achievement and Competence

The definitions used by the Human Givens organisation for these nine emotional needs are quite specific but, as with everything to do with coaching, they could be adapted to suit an individual’s preference.

Adapting the wheel for your use as a manager

As a manager, you can choose to use any version of the wheel that seems most helpful to your direct report, or to your team.

For your direct report you can ask them for example: “What’s important to you at this point in time?”  They can then divide their wheel up into the appropriate number of segments, label them with each item they’ve identified, and then evaluate each in terms of how well they are going, and what they would like to do differently.

For your team, you might want to use a version of the 14 team practices as shown on my website (RiverRhee, 2017).  Or you could facilitate a conversation amongst team members, using the wheel, to identify and evaluate the team norms or values (Goleman et al, 2018 and Goodman, 2018) that will help the team to be at its best.

Conclusion

There is a lot of scope for managers to have a coaching style conversation with individual direct reports, or with their team as a whole.  Visual thinking tools such as “the wheel of anything” can help to create a more energetic and productive conversation.  What tools are you already using?  Which ones will you now consider?

Notes

References

Barefoot Coaching (2020) Post Graduate Certificate in Business and Personal Coaching

Buzan, T. and Buzan B. (2000). The Mind Map Book. (Millenium Edition) BBC Worldwide Limited.

De Bono, E. (2006) Thinking Course: Powerful Tools to Transform your Thinking. BBC Active

De Bono, E. (2016) Six Thinking Hats. Penguin Life

Goleman, D. et al (2017)  Building blocks of emotional intelligence. 11. Teamwork: a primer. Key Step Media. More than Sound

Goodman, E. (2015) https://elisabethgoodman.wordpress.com/2015/01/24/de-bonos-thinking-course-an-essential-facilitators-tool/ (accessed 13th April 2020)

Goodman, E. (2015) The Effective Team’s Operational Excellence Workbook. RiverRhee Publishing

Goodman, E. (2016) The Effective Team’s Knowledge Management Workbook. RiverRhee Publishing

Goodman, E. (2018) https://elisabethgoodman.wordpress.com/2018/06/03/defining-team-norms-for-high-performance-teams/ (Accessed 13th April, 2020)

Human Givens (2018) https://www.hgi.org.uk/sites/default/files/hgi/Emotional-Needs-Infographic-2018.pdf

RiverRhee (2017) http://riverrhee.com/blog/temperature-checks-or-diagnostics-high-performance-teams (Accessed 13th April 2020)

About the author

Elisabeth Goodman is the Owner and Principal Consultant at RiverRhee Consulting., a consultancy that specialises in “creating exceptional managers and teams”, through courses, workshops and one-to-one coaching, and with a focus on the Life Sciences. RiverRhee is a member-to-member training provider for One Nucleus.

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 teams on a global basis.  She is developing her coaching practice, with a focus on helping individuals to develop management, interpersonal and communication skills, and to deal with change.

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 the APM (Association for Project Management) in which she was a founding member of the Enabling Change SIG.

Elisabeth is also a member of the ICF (International Coaching Federation) and is working towards her PG Certification in Business and Personal Coaching with Barefoot Coaching and the University of Chester.

Keeping our personal values in mind in the workplace


By Elisabeth Goodman, 13th February 2020

I am finding some great intersections between my regular reading of Harvard Business Review and my new reading as part of my development as a coach.

This blog explores how congruence between our personal values and those of the organisation for which we work can influence how we feel about our work. It relates to Myles Downey’s writing (2014) and Maryam Kouchaki and Isaac Smith’s article in the January – February issue of HBR (2020).

Congruence between the inner and outer worlds of individuals and organisations

Downey builds on the work of Tim Gallwey (1974) to develop a model of individuals’ and organisations’ inner and outer worlds as shown in this illustration.

Values at work - illustration adapted from Myles Downey (2014)

Values at work – illustration adapted from Myles Downey (2014)

As my adaptation of Downey’s illustration shows, values are a key component of the inner world of individuals, and of organisations. These values are, in turn, reflected in how an individual behaves, and in how an organisation articulates its goals and assesses the performance of individuals.

It follows that, if there is not a good match (or congruence) between the four quadrants, then:

  • Either the organisation will not be satisfied with an individual’s performance
  • Or the individual will not be happy in their place of work

The values that might have the greatest influence on these dynamics are those associated with the ethics of the organisation, or in how they play out as individual morals. Kouchaki and Smith refer to these as “eulogy virtues”.

Eulogy virtues

Eulogy virtues, as the name implies, are the ones by which we would like others to remember us after we’ve died. So they may relate, for example, to our kindness, our generosity or our honesty. In an organisation they would translate to how we would expect peers and managers to behave towards each other, and towards their customers.

Kouchaki and Smith’s article has some useful guidance on how we could help ourselves keep to our chosen values for instance by:

  • Anticipating situations where they might be compromised and how we would behave in those situations
  • Sharing our values with others who could hold us accountable for our behaviour
  • Thinking about how we would feel if our behaviour was publicised (if we did not adhere to our values)
  • Considering ourselves as role models to others

Identifying and relating personal and organisational values

Barefoot Coaching Ltd (2019) has a beautiful set of cards covering 50 potential values.

Barefoot Coaching Values Cards

A snapshot of Barefoot Coaching’s values cards (Barefoot Coaching Ltd, 2019)

These and other values-related tools can be used to stimulate reflection and discussion with individuals, in teams, and in organisations.

A previous HBR article by Patrick Lencioni (2002) has some excellent tips for defining company values – an approach that I have facilitated in team building events as part of my work with RiverRhee.

Lencioni suggests that company values typically relate to three areas:

  1. What makes your company unique
  2. Employee qualities and interactions
  3. Customer service

Examples of questions that individuals could ask themselves when developing or reflecting on their company values include:

  • Why do I enjoy working at my company?
  • What unspoken values have contributed to our success so far?
  • How could each person in the organisation integrate their company’s values into their day-to-day work?
  • How will we know that people are practising the values

Conclusion

Values are an important component of our inner lives.  They affect how we approach and feel about our lives at work as well as at home.  We can gain some valuable insights from the authors mentioned above about how we can shape and influence organisational values to achieve maximum congruence with our own and others’ personal values.

Notes

References:

Barefoot Coaching Ltd (2019). Values coaching cards.

Downey, M, (2014). Effective modern coaching. London: LID Publishing.

Gallwey, W.T. (1974).  The inner game of  tennis.  New Yort: Random House.

Lencioni, P.M. (2002).  Make your values mean something.  Harvard Business Review

Kouchaki, M. & Smith, I.H. (2020) Building an ethical career. Harvard Business Review, January-February, 15 – 139

Other notes:

Elisabeth Goodman is the Owner and Principal Consultant at RiverRhee Consulting., a consultancy that specialises in “creating exceptional managers and teams”, through courses, workshops and one-to-one coaching, and with a focus on the Life Sciences.

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 teams on a global basis.  She is developing her coaching skills and practice, with a focus on helping individuals to develop management and ‘soft’ skills, especially associated with change, and with Neurodiversity.

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 the ICF (International Coach Federation) and of the APM (Association for Project Management) in which she was a founding member of the Enabling Change SIG. RiverRhee is a member-to-member training provider for One Nucleus.

The manager as coach: leadership, management and coaching


By Elisabeth Goodman, 4th February 2020

We had a question during our recent RiverRhee Introduction to Management course about the relevance of learning about leadership skills as part of a management course. (We do have a follow-on Transition to Leadership course.) We believe that the visionary aspects of leadership are valuable ones for managers to bear in mind, albeit their focus might be more on the operational side of things.

I have, coincidentally, just come across a connection with this topic as part of my reading on coaching skills (Downey, 2014).

Leadership_management_coaching per Myles Downey

Adapted from Myles Downey’s illustration (Downey, 2014)

Myles Downey asserts that a manager can usefully draw on skills from all three areas: leadership, management and coaching, depending on the situation and the individual involved.

(This is a slightly different take on Hersey and Blanchard’s ‘situational leadership’ model (Hersey and Blanchard, 2013))

exercising leadership vs management vs coaching in a management role

Referring to my version of Downey’s illustration above, a manager can make good use of their leadership skills to inspire the members of their team.  They can articulate and role-model the organisation’s vision and values.

They can use their management skills to clarify purpose, roles and responsibilities, to define measures for performance and to foster continuous process improvement.

And they can use their coaching skills to assist with the on-the-job and career development of the individuals reporting to them by:

  • providing feedback on their performance
  • listening to understand and asking open questions to stimulate further thinking
  • supporting (rather than automatically advising) them so that they can find their own answers and solutions

An Individual’s authority over their destiny

I remember feeling ‘liberated’ in my last months as an employee to be totally myself, and more in control of my destiny than I had ever been. I did not worry unduly about needing to respect hierarchy and the boundaries between departments, so much as looking for opportunities to collaborate, share knowledge and ideas, and be of value. How different would my life at work have been if I had adopted more of this kind of attitude throughout my career?

Myles Downey suggests that, whilst an organisation (and a manager) have authority about what work an employee needs to do, the employee could have authority about how they do their work.  It’s something that is often referred to as ’empowerment’, and as something that is in the gift of managers to give to their direct reports; or that individuals should somehow take the initiative to acquire.  Wouldn’t it be better if we just assumed that this is the way we work?

Downey also suggests that an individual could think more in terms of whether an organisation will be a good fit for them before they join. They could ask themselves: “does the organisation have the kinds of purpose, values and ways of working that I can relate to?”.

Similarly, he suggests that an organisation, when recruiting new employees, could consider whether the individual’s aspirations, values and approach, as well as their technical skills are a good fit.

Conclusion

Underpinning all of the above is the necessity for a good relationship between managers and their direct reports.  Such a relationship would be founded on mutual respect, trust, open communication, honesty.  Building this relationship is in the gift of both the manager and the individual.

Notes

References:

Downey, M, (2014). Effective modern coaching. London: LID Publishing.

Hersey and Blanchard, (2013). https://www.selfawareness.org.uk/news/situational-leadership-and-developing-great-teams (Accessed 3rd February 2020.)

Other notes:

Elisabeth Goodman is the Owner and Principal Consultant at RiverRhee Consulting., a consultancy that specialises in “creating exceptional managers and teams”, through courses, workshops and one-to-one coaching, and with a focus on the Life Sciences.

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 teams on a global basis.  She is developing her coaching practice, with a focus on helping individuals to develop management and ‘soft’ skills, especially associated with change, and with Neurodiversity.

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 APM (Association for Project Management) in which she was a founding member of the Enabling Change SIG. RiverRhee is a member-to-member training provider for One Nucleus.

Working in “far flung” or global teams – revisited


By Elisabeth Goodman, 13th January 2020

Working in geographically dispersed teams is a challenge for line and project managers

The issue of how to best to manage geographically dispersed, remote or virtual teams was a hot topic at our recent Introduction to Management course.

It seems that all the challenges of how to properly support, involve and engage team members become even more acute if you are not able to see and work with people on a day-to-day basis.

A few years ago, I facilitated a seminar for the APM (Association for Project Management) on “Working in far flung teams” (You can read my write-up of it here: https://elisabethgoodman.wordpress.com/2013/11/13/working-in-far-flung-teams-notes-from-an-apm-east-of-england-apmeoe-event/).

I included an illustration inspired by the HBR article “10 Rules for managing global innovation” (October 2012) which I updated for our Introduction to Management course.

Good practices for virtual team

Key points from an HBR article from October 2012, as shared at a 2013 APM meeting and in RiverRhee’s Introduction to Management course

Global teams bring cultural challenges too

The Winter issue of Project (the APM’s journal) carries a very good article by Alexander Garrett on this same topic, entitled “Working beyond borders”.  The article has some great tips on avoiding “cultural gaffes” and “unconscious expectations”.

As the author points out, behavioural norms can differ significantly from one country to another.  They can affect expectations for how people participate in team meetings in such ways as:

  • How much material should be prepared for review and reflection in advance vs. more open-ended approaches to discussion
  • How much people put themselves forward and are comfortable about expressing their ideas and opinions vs. waiting to be asked or preferring to do so in private
  • How comfortable people are about making decisions without consulting others outside the meeting

Global team meetings are generally conducted by phone or video conferences which bring added challenges, assuming the technology is working correctly, for:

  • Ensuring that everyone is engaged
  • Picking up cues for when people want to say something
  • Interpreting tone and body language and any associated emotions

Additional tips to bear in mind

So the additional tips from this latest article include:

  • Learn as much as you can about the cultural norms for the countries that your team members come from
  • Take time to build an understanding of each team member on a one-to-one basis (they won’t necessarily conform to their country’s norms)
  • Establish team working practices that will optimise the ability of each member of the team to fully participate outside and within team meetings, such as:
    • Varying meeting times to fit in with different time zones
    • Agreeing norms to ensure everyone can have their say during meetings
  • Make these as explicit as necessary – either individually, or with the team as a whole.
  • Find other ways to facilitate informal communication if face-to-face meetings are really not an option.  The author suggests Google Hangouts or Slack and the use of emojis.

Conclusion

There’s a very apt closing comment to the Project article:

“Only when you understand your team members as individuals, create the structure to facilitate communication and decision-making, and build a genuine sense of team spirit will you be ready to surmount the challenges ahead.”

Notes

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 support our clients through courses, workshops and personal one-to-one coaching.) 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 member-to-member training provider for One Nucleus.

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 (Chartered Institute for Library and Information Professionals) and of APM (Association for Project Management) in which she was a founding member of the Enabling Change SIG.