Tag Archives: Elisabeth Goodman

From stoical survivor to natural navigator – strategies for proactive change programme managers.


By Elisabeth Goodman, 26th February 2015

Roles of those associated with change programmes

I’ve just come back from delivering a seminar for the Midlands branch of the APM, with my colleague (and Chair) on the APM Enabling Change SIG, Martin Taylor. The event, “How to keep programmes on track and teams inspired during periods of change”, attracted a lively set of people.  About a third of them were managing change programmes, another third were supporting programmes in some way and a further third were frequently (!) being drawn into change whilst addressing their day to day responsibilities.

This blog reflects some of the points that came up on the theme of proactive management of change programmes.

(By the way, this was our second visit to the Midlands branch of the APM.  I spoke last year on Facilitating operational excellence in and for business change projects.)

Railway destination for 24th Feb 2015 APM Midlands branch event

Railway destination for 24th Feb 2015 APM Midlands branch event

The nature of change within change programmes

I was impressed by how some of the people I spoke to were doing what they did because they enjoyed the challenge of change. They were often dealing with continuous change, rather than discrete periods of it, had multiple change programmes on the go, sometimes juggling equal priorities, whilst at the same time coping with change within the programme itself.  These ‘internal’ programme changes include, but are not limited to:

  • Sponsor turnover
  • Shifting objectives
  • Additional constraints on timelines, budgets and resources
  • External impacts – legislation, competitors, politics – the typical components of a PESTEL analysis. (We are now entering the “purdah” period for the forthcoming UK elections which brings additional constraints for those operating in or with the public sector.)

Strategies for keeping change programmes on track

Some of those present mentioned how they would like now and then to have just a few change programmes to deal with at a time.

They’d like to see some joined up thinking between programmes, especially where they are affecting the same stakeholders.

They’d also like the decision makers to remember why individual programmes are happening in the context of the bigger organisational strategy.

All of these and more formed the basis of a check list that Martin and I developed with the delegates for how they could proactively keep programmes on track during periods of change. (The full list, other notes and slides from the event will be posted shortly on the APM Enabling Change SIG microsite.)

Victims, survivors and navigators of change

The above proactive approach to change is also an illustration of how programme managers can effectively be navigators rather than victims or survivors of change (terms defined by Richard McKnight and further described in one of my publications – The Effective Team’s Change Management Workbook, RiverRhee Publishing 2013).

Victim, survivor and navigator mindsets in change

Victim, survivor and navigator responses to change

Being a victim of change, as the name implies, is an unproductive ‘us and them’ mindset where we blame others for the situation we find ourselves in and expect them to sort it out. Whilst we may occasionally need to give way to our emotions in this way, as leaders of change we do, at some point, have to shake ourselves up and get on with it.

Stoical survival techniques can also only be temporary. It’s a kind of “in limbo” state where we are only just coping, and it will bring its own stresses.

Navigators on the other hand are people who ‘embrace’ change and explore what they can do to make it happen in a constructive way: tackling the issues, anticipating the risks, and taking advantage of the opportunities that come their way.

Helping your team to be inspired during change

In the seminar we also discussed how managers can help their teams to be ‘inspired’ during the changes that affect the team: the sorts of changes that we outlined above. These changes can ‘hit’ the team at any stage of its development: whether newly formed, already storming or in full high performance flow.

We discussed how the programme manager can and should adopt the situational leadership approach: being highly directive during periods of uncertainty and ensuring that members of the team have one-to-one time to discuss their concerns and explore their ideas.

Creating the conditions for inspiration during periods of change

Creating the conditions for inspiration during periods of change

Members of the team, as much as the stakeholders affected by the outcome of the change programme, will benefit from plenty of communication. We all respond best when we have some degree of certainty and control over what happens to us.

Any information, however negative, or preliminary will help towards certainty.

Clear roles and responsibilities, and some level of involvement, will help people to feel more in control.

If, as a programme manager, you can provide this level of direction and support for your team, you will create the conditions where team members can feel more motivated, become navigators themselves and take more of a leadership role within their own domain of responsibility, and ultimately be more creative and inspired!

About the author

Elisabeth Goodman is the Owner and Principal Consultant at RiverRhee Consulting, a consultancy that helps business teams and their managers to enhance their effectiveness for greater productivity and improved team morale. (We use coaching, training, mentoring and consulting in our work with our clients.)

Elisabeth founded RiverRhee Consulting just over 5 years ago, 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. 

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) where she leads the Capabilities & Methods pillar for the Enabling Change SIG.

De Bono’s thinking course. An essential facilitator’s tool?


By Elisabeth Goodman, 24th January 2015

Edward De Bono’s thinking course

One of the aspects of my local library that I particularly enjoy is the way I might serendipitously discover a gem of a book that the staff have either casually or deliberately put on display. One such recent discovery was Edward De Bono’s “Thinking Course: Powerful tools to transform your thinking

De Bono’s book caught my eye because the methods I’ve already learnt from him: mind mapping, and the “six thinking hats” have become an integral part of the way I work, and the tools that I pass on to others as a trainer and coach, and also as a facilitator. So I was curious as to what other lasting approaches I might learn from him in that vein.

The book proved to be a veritable treasure trove and I was delighted to discover that the term for another skill that I’ve enjoyed for years “lateral thinking” is actually one that he coined!

Facilitating workshops

One of the activities I particularly enjoy is facilitating workshops. This is when I create an environment where people have the time, the comfort, and the tools to really think about how they are approaching their work, and how they can do so in a more enjoyable and productive way.

De Bono’s “Thinking Course” is all about developing our skill in thinking, so that we are more conscious of which approaches we are using, how we are using them, and how we could use them more effectively in any given situation. As he says, it’s a bit like practising a sport where we might have a choice about which golf club, tennis stroke, or volleyball position to adopt to achieve the desired result.

The six thinking hats

De Bono’s “six thinking hats” (which incidentally is not mentioned, at least in the edition of the book that I read) is a good illustration of this more deliberate approach to thinking. It is somewhat of an introduction, and also a synopsis of some of the approaches in the Thinking Course, although the book also develops these approaches and others more fully.

Edward De Bono's Six Thinking Hats as they might be used

Edward De Bono’s Six Thinking Hats as they might be used

The “six thinking hats” encourage us to objectively consider what we already know (the white hat) and to exercise creative or divergent thinking to come up with new ideas (the green hat). With the yellow hat we look for the strengths of potential solutions, before narrowing down or converging the options by considering what won’t work (the black hat).  The red hat allows us to  consider our ‘gut feelings’. The sixth, blue, hat is like the director of the orchestra or the facilitator. It enables us to consider how we are thinking and whether we might like to think things through further or differently.

Become a flexible and creative thinker

In “The thinking course” De Bono encourages us to move beyond the traditional ‘for’ and ‘against’ confines of critical thinking, and the natural limitations of our perceptions and to engage our creativity. He provides lots of tools and exercises for approaches in addition to ‘lateral’ thinking. He suggests a framework for how people might set up “thinking clubs”, which is intriguing in his assertion of how much people can achieve in sequences of as little as 2-6 minutes of thinking.

The more creative and flexible thinking advocated by De Bono, and the techniques he suggests should be invaluable for problem solving, decision making, innovation, and thinking in general. I will certainly be adding them to my facilitator’s tool kit.

How could you make the most of your thinking?

Are you a facilitator and/or interested in how you and your team solve problems, make decisions and innovate?  What approach do you take to thinking things through?

About the author

Elisabeth Goodman is the Owner and Principal Consultant at RiverRhee Consulting, a consultancy that helps business teams and their managers to enhance their effectiveness for greater productivity and improved team morale. (We using coaching, training, mentoring and consulting in our work with our clients.)

Elisabeth founded RiverRhee Consulting just over 5 years ago, 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. 

Elisabeth is accredited in Change Management, in Lean Sigma, in 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) where she leads the Capabilities & Methods pillar for the Enabling Change SIG.

Common factors for managing successful change


Reflections prompted by discussions at APM Presents: Project Management in Practice, October 16th, 2014

By Elisabeth Goodman, 25th October 2014

The same issues arise for managing change, whatever the size of the organisation. There are also some common factors for managing successful change, whether the change involved is IT, organisational or process-based.

Delegates during the break out session of the Enabling Change SIG at APM Presents: Project Management in Practice, October 16th, 2014

Delegates during the break out session of the Enabling Change SIG at APM Presents: Project Management in Practice, October 16th, 2014     (Photograph courtesy of Andrew Gray)

I recently co-led a workshop with Neil White of ChangeVista on behalf of the APM’s Enabling Change SIG (Specific Interest Group). Our brief was to provide an introductory level interactive workshop, with delegates from a variety of backgrounds, in 45 minutes, and to be prepared to repeat it, 3 times!

Neil did a great job at consolidating some key principles and perspectives on enabling change into a ten-minute presentation – no trivial task!

I set the delegates the challenge of making a better job of three not unusual scenarios for IT, organisational and process change, using what they had learned from the presentation and what they could learn from each other’s experiences. They did a very good job of it!

(The slides, handouts on the three scenarios and a link to the outputs from the Enabling Change SIG seminar at APM Presents are now available)

The same issues arise in dealing with change whatever the size of the organisation

Paula Baxter, one of the delegates at the event, in her follow-up feedback said: “Found the session earlier really useful, especially hearing how we all go through the same issues with change no matter how small or large the organisation is!”

Effective management of change is about involving and informing the people affected so that they can be navigators rather than victims of change.  And yet this is the part that is often neglected, either deliberately out of a mistaken desire to protect people from unnecessary worry, as in the organisational change scenario used in the workshop; or, as in the case of our IT scenario, out of an assumption that everyone can learn to use new software quickly, easily and in the same way.

There are common factors in managing every type of change

As another delegate mentioned to me, although we were working with three very different scenarios, the same headlines came up in each one in terms of how to achieve more effective management of change. These are just eight of them:

  1. Involve and inform your stakeholders, especially those most directly affected by the change – and do so sooner rather than later
  2. Two-way communication is key and your sponsors can help with this by being visible and accessible. They can also have a positive influence by role modelling the change
  3. Use stakeholder analysis, and training needs analysis to understand the different perspectives and requirements of your stakeholders and to shape your approaches accordingly
  4. Clearly articulate why the change is being introduced (the benefits), and get your sponsors and change agents or champions aligned on these and other key messages (what, who, when, where, how) to communicate about the change
  5. Consider the context for the change:
    • What the change demands in terms of your stakeholders’ behaviours and time, and how that will relate to what else they are doing in their day jobs
    • What other changes are going on that might affect their receptiveness to this particular change (the bigger picture)
  6. Think carefully about motivators and incentives and target them at the right level – they won’t necessarily be the same for everyone
  7. Involve HR (and external consultants / contractors) as appropriate to support but not to lead the change – the sponsors should come from the business
  8. Consider using pilots, and a gradual transition / evolutionary change as an alternative to revolutionary change to minimise the ‘pain’ for those involved, and to get things right

What are your thoughts on common factors for managing successful change?

All in all it was a very enjoyable and stimulating experience. It was very rewarding to see how many common factors for managing successful change the delegates could extract in an intensive 45-minute session. What else could they have identified?

About the author

Elisabeth Goodman is the Owner and Principal Consultant at RiverRhee Consulting, a consultancy that helps business teams and their managers to enhance their effectiveness for greater productivity and improved team morale. (We using coaching, training, mentoring and consulting in our work with our clients.)

Elisabeth founded RiverRhee Consulting just over 5 years ago, 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. 

Elisabeth is accredited in Change Management, in Lean Sigma, in 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) where she now leads the Capabilities & Methods pillar for the Enabling Change SIG.

The Effective Team’s High Performance Workbook – out soon!


by Elisabeth Goodman

I’m delighted to say that the second in my series of  “The Effective Team’s ” workbooks will be coming out soon.

THE EFFECTIVE TEAM’S high performance WORKBOOK

Elisabeth Goodman (author), Nathaniel Spain (illustrator), August 2014 – ISBN 978-0-9926323-6-6

The Effective Team's High Performance Workbook

This second book in the series focuses on how to achieve a high performance team.  This is the description on the back of the book:

“Being part of a team that has achieved a level of high performance can be a truly enriching experience. In this second book for ‘effective teams’ the author draws again on her experience with business support groups such as Library and Information services, and with organisations in the Life Sciences and SMEs (Small and Medium Enterprises). The book reflects her approach as a line manager, project manager, trainer and coach for achieving high performance teams.

It encompasses the team development journey, tools for valuing the individual, defining the team’s purpose and goals, self-evaluation of the team, and developing good working practices. As with her previous book on change management, the plentiful principles and methodologies are explained through scenarios and are accompanied by individual or team exercises. There are also notes on further reading. Both operational teams and project teams will benefit from the book’s rich insights and depth.”

THE DETAILED CONTENT OF THE BOOK

The first two chapters focus on the stages of team development and how to understand and value the differences between individuals within your team.

Chapters 3 to 6 take you through the processes to use if you are looking to actively enhance your team’s effectiveness to help it reach and sustain high performance.

There are practical scenarios to show how the various principles and methodologies can be applied, and each chapter has an exercise for practising the principles and methodologies, either in teams or individually.

The workbook also includes support materials in the form of full-page versions of illustrations, tables and a questionnaire for use as a team and for your individual planning. There are references for further reading if you would like to find out more about the subject.

COST AND AVAILABILITY

Copies are priced at £10.00 each, plus packaging and posting, and will be available via the RiverRhee Publishing web page.  Or you can use the RiverRhee contact form to pre-order your copy.

current and FUTURE BOOKS FOR ENHANCING TEAM EFFECTIVENESS

The workbook on change management was published in November 2013 and can be ordered through the RiverRhee Publishing web page.

Future books in “The Effective Team’s” workbook series will address operational excellence, knowledge management, and facilitation.

Notes

Elisabeth Goodman is the Owner and Principal Consultant at RiverRhee Consulting, a consultancy that helps business teams and their managers to enhance their effectiveness for greater productivity and improved team morale. (We using coaching, training, mentoring and consulting in our work with our clients.)

Elisabeth has 25+ years’ experience in the Pharmaceutical Industry where she has held line management and internal training and consultancy roles supporting Information Management and other business teams on a global basis.  Elisabeth is accredited in Change Management, in MBTI (Myers Briggs Type Indicator) and in Lean Sigma and is a member of CILIP (Chartered Institute for Library and Information Professionals), APM (Association for Project Management) and is also registered as a Growth Coach and Leadership & Management trainer with the GrowthAccelerator.

There will never be enough time!


Red Balloon

Last week, Janet Burton and I had the pleasure of working with several of the Coordinators and other staff from the Red Balloon at their headquarters in Cambridge.

These talented and caring individuals work with often deeply troubled young people at the Red Balloon’s centres around the UK who have experienced bullying and other traumas that have interfered with their education. In the words of Ruth Loshak, Consultant Coordinator with the group, the teachers and other staff help the students “to come to terms with what has happened to them, learn coping strategies, get back on an academic track and move on with ‘the rest of their lives’.”

RiverRhee Consulting’s Introduction to Management training

Janet’s and my task, and challenge, was to condense our three-day RiverRhee Consulting Introduction to Management course into an effective one-day session. Needless to say, we were very much aware that our delegates had as much if not more to teach us and each other as we might be able to teach them! We also knew, from previous experience, that they enjoy and benefit from opportunities to share what they know and how they go about things.

So we did two things: we planned a minimum of presentation, and a maximum of discussion and interactive exercises, and we solicited their input in advance to make sure that we focused the day around their areas of greatest challenge.

Managing performance and developing people

Many of the participants had had very little previous formal management training, and so it was no surprise that “Managing performance and developing people” was one of the two main areas of challenge to emerge. They are also very used to working in counselling mode with their students, and so they particularly liked the contrast with the GROW model of coaching for personal development, and enjoyed trying it out amongst themselves.

Managing time and priorities, and delegation

The second main area of challenge was “Managing time and priorities, and delegation”. The staff of Red Balloon are enormously committed to what they do. They love their work, care deeply about the well-being and development of the students, and seldom observe a strict 9-to-5, five day working week. And of course there is always admin and paperwork to do too.

One of the main advantages of taking a day out for training is having the opportunity to pause and reflect about what we are doing. So the delegates did just that. We shared Stephen R. Covey’s urgent vs. important matrix (from “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People”), and the “five Ds” for time management from The Mind Gym’s “Give me time”.  (Do now, Defer, Delegate, Diminish, Delete).

We then had the delegates reflect about their own use of time with the help of these tools. Some of them also had a go at “Joe’s dilemma” – a case study based exercise about delegation.

A positive outcome

This is how one of our delegates described how she felt by the end of the day!

A ninja warrior!

“This is me after today’s management training.  Thanks to Janet and Elisabeth for giving us all the necessary tips.”                              (Illustration by Isabelle Spain.)

As The Mind Gym taught me many years ago: there will never be enough time. What matters is finding a way to be happy with how we are using our time. Hopefully Janet and I will have helped the Coordinators and staff at Red Balloon Learner Centre to do just that.

Notes

Elisabeth Goodman is the Owner and Principal Consultant at RiverRhee Consulting, a consultancy that helps business teams and their managers to enhance their effectiveness for greater productivity and improved team morale. (We using coaching, training, mentoring and consulting in our work with our clients.)

Elisabeth has 25+ years’ experience in the Pharmaceutical Industry where she has held line management and internal training and consultancy roles supporting Information Management and other business teams on a global basis.  Elisabeth is accredited in Change Management, in MBTI (Myers Briggs Type Indicator) and in Lean Sigma and is a member of CILIP (Chartered Institute for Library and Information Professionals), APM (Association for Project Management) and is also registered as a Growth Coach and Leadership & Management trainer with the GrowthAccelerator.

Finding the leader within ourselves


Why yet another article about leadership?

I’ve had an unusually busy few weeks so the gap between my blogs has been greater than usual. However the magical combination, for me, of coming across an inspirational article, engaging with enthusiastic people, and listening to others’ ideas at a conference has finally triggered my own reflections!

So, this blog is about leadership.  As Julia Hordle, a speaker at this week’s Perfect Information 2014 (#PIC2014) conference, pointed out, there is already a lot of literature on this topic.  So, like Julia, I’m not making any claims to be an expert, nor am I going to try to cover the whole area.  These are just a few points that have struck me in what I heard from her and others this week.

Everyone in a team is a potential leader

I can’t remember who said this during the years that I was working at GlaxoSmithKline.  It may have been one of the values that informed our performance review discussions. The idea was that everyone within a team had a particular area of expertise and a particular strength, and by exercising leadership in those, could really add value to the work of the team.  (This was often referred to as ‘empowerment’.)

It was whilst I was at GSK that I was also introduced to ‘Lessons from Geese‘, inspired by Milton Olson, and beautifully captured in the video by Breakthrough Global.  Amongst the several lessons is that of everyone taking a turn at doing things, rather than expecting the team leader to do it all.

Some of the lessons from geese for high performing teams

Some of the lessons from geese for high performing teams

Julia Hordle shared another video, Lord Digby Jones’ 5 tips to business where he encourages leaders to train their teams to do the simple things well so that, when they are faced by challenging tasks, their intuition can kick in and so, by implication, exercise leadership in what they do.

As my co-speaker, Steve Boronski, pointed out during our joint workshop at #PIC2014 on “Project Management through a knowledge and information management lens”, when everyone within a team is clear on what they are expected to do, and has the training to do it, then the team leader’s role is ‘simply’ that of managing by exception: providing the support and direction to deal with the unexpected.

Also on this point, the article that has inspired me to write this blog is the one on Blue Ocean Leadership, by W. Chan Kim and Renée Mauborgne, in the May 2014 issue of Harvard Business Review (pp.60-72), pointed out by my business colleague Sarah Hillman.  There are some terrific insights in the article on the behaviours of ‘to-be’ as opposed to ‘as-is’ leadership.  I particularly liked the concept of “inspiring people to give their all as opposed to holding people back”.

Leadership is about daring to do or say what others might not

A member of the audience during Julia Hordle’s presentation at #PIC2014 quoted some recent figures, one of those bold generalisations, to the effect that women will only consider taking on a new position when they are 80% sure of their capabilities to deliver it, whereas men will do so when they are 50% sure.  The delegate wondered whether this might have a bearing on the behaviour of leaders.  I, like many others, dislike such generalisations but they can also be food for thought.

Another member of the audience (a man) responded that there might be some truth in this because he does not hold back, as a leader, from voicing opinions that others might consider stupid.  The discussion continued along the lines that leaders, and indeed any team member, should be confident enough to air their views.  This will benefit the team in the long run and, although it may carry risks for the individual, being true to yourself does ultimately deliver benefits to you too.

Which brings me to the particularly enthusiastic people that have inspired me this week.  I spent a very enjoyable hour with some young entrepreneurs on the Peter Jones Enterprise Academy course at Cambridge Regional Centre.  We were exploring the topic of team make-up and leadership.  At a certain point I asked them to write out their personal strengths on individual post-it notes: the strengths that they might bring to a team.  About 60% of the notes carried the word ‘confidence’!  They certainly came across as a very confident set of people.  At least 3 of them had already set up their businesses, in such areas as luxury goods and organising musical events, and many of the rest were looking forward to doing so as they moved on to their business degrees.

And yet…

Leadership is also about communication and empathy

What made those young entrepreneurs so enjoyable to speak to was that not only were they very vocal and articulate, they were also clearly listening to and reflecting about what we were discussing.  Amongst the many post-it notes about confidence, there were also several with the words ‘empathy’ and ‘listening’.

Julia Hordle and Lord Digby Jones had a lot to say about the importance of a leader’s communication skills (as listeners as well as conveyers of messages), and their ability to inspire trust.  A leader’s ability to empathise is something I’ve explored in a previous blog.

I came away from my interaction with the PJEA students feeling quite enthused about the qualities that many of them would bring to their future roles as leaders.

Notes

Elisabeth Goodman is the owner and Principal Consultant of RiverRhee Consulting and a trainer,  facilitator, one-to-one coach, speaker and writer, with a passion for and a proven track record in improving team performance and leading business change projects on a local or global basis. 

Elisabeth is an expert in knowledge management, and is accredited in change management, Lean Six Sigma and MBTI (Myers Briggs Type Indicator).  She has a BSc in Biochemistry, an MSc in Information Science, is a full member of the Chartered Institute of Information and Library Professionals (CILIP) and of the Association for Project Management (APM) and is also registered as a Growth Coach and Leadership & Management trainer with the GrowthAccelerator.

Elisabeth has 25+ years’ Pharma R&D experience as a line manager and internal trainer / consultant, most recently at GSK and its legacy companies, and is now enjoying working with a number of SMEs and larger organisations around the Cambridge cluster as well as further afield in the UK and in Europe.

Exploring NLP for enhancing team effectiveness


I recently graduated from Advance Coaching Consulting‘s and Magenta Coaching Solutions’ 7-day NLP Practitioner course in Cambridge.  It was a wonderful opportunity to explore some new resources for my work as a trainer, coach and consultant whilst also achieving some invaluable personal developments.  We discovered that the opportunities for applying NLP for enhancing individual and team performance are extremely diverse.

In this blog I will use examples of what we learnt to explore how a trainer could apply NLP tools and techniques when working with teams to enhance their effectiveness.

(N.B. We covered a lot more than is included here.  For more background on NLP and on some of the concepts in this blog see an earlier guest blog from ex-RiverRhee Associate Lucy Loh.)

 

A mind map of possibilities

A mind map of possibilities

How could NLP be applied to a trainer’s work with teams?

There are many courses and books devoted to the subject of training with NLP so this is very much a snapshot from my practitioner’s learning and experience so far that I have captured in my mind map. The headings in the mind map are courtesy of Bevis Moynan who ran the course alongside Lorraine Warne.

Bev categorised what we discussed in terms of:

  • The strategies we unconsciously adopt for how we go about tasks and decisions
  • Our sensory acuity – the various cues we pick up to detect the responses we are getting from others
  • Language – how we and others use language to convey subconscious as well as conscious meanings
  • The ingredients and magic of building rapport
  • How focusing on desired outcomes can enable you to achieve what you want
  • The sub modalities of how we internally represent our experiences and how we can change those (anchors) to give us more choice in our emotional and behavioural responses

The last bullet point in particular starts to get into very deep material, and is an area we each personally experienced during the course, and which Lorraine also applied in my follow-up one-to-one coaching session with her to great effect.

Strategies for tasks and decisions

Whether we are choosing an item in a shop, or carrying out a complex surgical operation there will be a sequence of internal and external behaviours that determine our approach.  Many of these will be subconscious.  As with driving a car, we may once have consciously learnt the steps involved, but once we are skilled in them they are simply automatic.

A trainer wishing to enhance the work of teams could use NLP techniques to help them break down and identify the sequence of steps they use for all aspects of their work.  They would go beyond the obvious steps in an SOP to the more individual thinking patterns, emotional responses and behaviours involved for example in how they collaborate, share their knowledge and expertise and make decisions.  In this way the team could choose to change and improve on their performance, and also more consistently replicate what they are already doing well.

Using sensory acuity to detect the response we are getting

We know that the words people use are only a small proportion of how we communicate.  Tone of voice and body language account for the rest.  On our course we also practised picking up even smaller visual cues such as changes in breathing patterns, skin colour and facial movements.  These are signals that we might normally detect subconsciously in our interactions with others. With more practice and attention our sensory acuity can become an even better resource for team members who are aiming to achieve a high performing teams.

Making more effective use of language in our two-way communications

This subject is vast! We explored such topics as representational styles and predicates, linguistic presuppositions, meta models and the use of metaphorical storytelling, all of which can enhance how team members communicate amongst themselves and with their stakeholders.

Representational styles are how we take in the information around us and represent this internally.  These representational styles are visual, auditory, kinaesthetic (touch and feel) and auditory-digital (self-talk).  Whilst we are likely to make use of all or most of these at some time, there are often one or two that we favour.  These preferences often manifest themselves in the language (or predicates) that we use, as in the following examples:

  • That looks right to me (visual)
  • That sounds right (auditory)
  • That feels right (kinaesthetic)
  • That seems right (auditory digital)

We can make our communications more effective by listening out for other peoples’ linguistic cues, and using some of them in return. It may aid their understanding of something we are trying to explain.

There are a vast number of NLP meta models – the way people use language to represent what they are often subconsciously thinking such that they may distort, generalise or delete information in their communications.  We learnt about a range of examples and how to challenge them, such as:

  • Mind reading: “She doesn’t like me” – challenged by for example “what makes you think she does not like you?”
  • Presuppositions or assumptions: “If he knew how uncomfortable that makes me he would not do it” – challenged by for example “How does what he does make you uncomfortable?”
  • Universal quantifiers: “He is always late with his data” – challenged by “Always?”

Although we might not encourage team members to be quite so direct in their responses, having a greater awareness of what is happening in these kinds of communications could enhance team interactions.

Finally, we had great fun experimenting with the use of metaphorical stories to convey an underlying message and also to create atmospheres that are conducive to learning.  We are conditioned from childhood to enjoy and pay attention to stories.  Being able to create and use metaphors and weave in the different predicates, as well as using different tones of voice and body language are powerful features of good storytelling. Storytelling is an approach that is already being used in business for such things as knowledge sharing, and managing change – important aspects for enhancing team performance.

Building rapport

All of the tools that I’ve already described in this blog can be effectively used to build rapport within a team and with their stakeholders.  Paying attention to and matching the words, tone of voice and body language in normal conversation will rapidly enhance the relationship between people. However if it’s too obvious it could backfire as people may think you are either making fun of them or manipulating them!  We did not explicitly discuss how to apply rapport in conflict situations so this is an area for me to reflect on further..

Focusing on outcomes

Anthony Robbin’s book, “Notes from a friend”, was one of the ones on our pre-course reading list.  He graphically described how focusing on what we don’t want – such as not to crash into a wall when going into a skid – will invariably focus our attention and result on us crashing into that wall.  So we were encouraged to articulate goals that we would like to achieve in terms of a positive outcome that we were personally accountable for, to represent it as powerfully as possible in visual, auditory and kinaesthetic terms, and to also break it down into the steps for getting there.  This is essentially an enhanced version of writing the strategic and tactical goals of a team, or individual SMART objectives.

Anchoring sub modalities

This really starts to get into Master Practitioner territory!  However we did explore our finer internal representations of likes and dislikes, and states of mind, and were guided through different techniques for ‘reprogramming’ ourselves.  Classic examples are reducing anxiety before presentations, helping with anger management, reducing long-lasting sadness.  These types of applications will be more appropriately addressed in one-to-one coaching rather than as a general team building activity.

So what if you were to apply some of these NLP approaches to enhance team effectiveness?

You may already be doing so either consciously or unconsciously, and might have called your approach by a different name. If so there may be something here to help you do this even better.

If much of the above is new to you, what could you try? What difference might that make to your work?

As ever, I’d love to hear from you, read your comments, share your experiences and learn from you too!

Notes

Elisabeth Goodman is the owner and Principal Consultant of RiverRhee Consulting and a trainer,  facilitator, one-to-one coach, speaker and writer, with a passion for and a proven track record in improving team performance and leading business change projects on a local or global basis. 

Elisabeth is an expert in knowledge management, and is accredited in change management, Lean Six Sigma and MBTI (Myers Briggs Type Indicator).  She has a BSc in Biochemistry, an MSc in Information Science, is a full member of the Chartered Institute of Information and Library Professionals (CILIP) and of the Association for Project Management (APM) and is also a Growth Coach with the GrowthAccelerator.

Elisabeth has 25+ years’ Pharma R&D experience as a line manager and internal trainer / consultant, most recently at GSK and its legacy companies, and is now enjoying working with a number of SMEs and larger organisations around the Cambridge cluster as well as further afield in the UK and in Europe.