Tag Archives: management skills

The manager as coach: helping your team find new meaning


By Elisabeth Goodman, 6th July 2020

The pandemic is by no means over, and everyone is experiencing it in different ways and at different paces. Whether your team has just kept going, somehow, or is only just beginning to emerge into a different way of working, two articles in the latest issue of Harvard Business Review have some great insights for your role as a manager.

Recognising that what we are all going through is some form of grief

David Kessler (2020) puts it with great humanity: we will all be experiencing this pandemic in our own ways. It is a trauma, and each of the ways in which we are experiencing it can be legitimately described as a form of grief.

There are the worried well who are healthy, have not experienced sickness or bereavement, but will still be grieving losses in various aspects of their way of life.

The affected will have been ill themselves or know someone who has. They have recovered or are recovering. They have suffered trauma and will be looking for ways to deal with that.

And there are the bereaved who will be mourning someone who has died, and will continue to do so for quite some time.

I’ve written about how managers can support people through grief before (Goodman 2019). Kessler, who was a co-author with Elizabeth Kübler-Ross’s (2005) of the five stages of grieving, adds something more.

He suggests that we can help people move beyond acceptance to find new meaning: a sixth stage of grief that has been accepted by the Kübler-Ross foundation, and also features in Richard Tedeschi’s (2020) article in this same issue of HBR.

First connect

Reaching out to the members of your team is probably something that you have already done, and are continuing to do. It is a common theme in both HBR articles.

I was fortunate to be able to work with some of my clients in the early stages of the pandemic. They recognised that bringing people together, whether at work or furloughed, through some form of learning over the internet, would help them to connect and continue to feel part of a community. I certainly saw some of that connection in practice, and indeed have benefited from it in working online with my clients, and through other communities that I am a part of.

Tedeschi (2020) suggests that your connection with your team can go further. It takes courage, and it involves communicating at many levels. And it’s the kind of thing a manager can do with a coaching mindset.

In the last part of this blog I take Tedeschi’s (2020) five steps and put a bit of my spin on it: how you can make this connection with your team, and how it can lead to finding new meaning.

Five steps to healing, meaning and growth

1. Learning and re-imagining.

What we have all been through has been a tremendous time of learning at so many levels: about ourselves and our values, as well as what we’ve discovered is and is not possible. Managers can act as coaches in helping the members of their teams reflect about these things, derive strength from doing so and take their learning further in terms of what might be possible going forward.

2. Emotional regulation

This is about being aware of and acknowledging how we are feeling (as managers) and giving ourselves the time, space and resources (e.g. mindfulness, focusing on successes, exercise, sleep) to help ourselves recover. This bring us to the next point – disclosure and listening.

3. Disclosure and listening

It takes courage to communicate how we are feeling and what we are doing to help ourselves. Doing so will help others too. And of course so will just listening – such an invaluable coaching skill for managers. Just having someone hear how we are feeling is an invaluable step towards healing.

4. Develop your stories

Turning this whole experience into a story for yourself, your team, the organisation – what happened and what emerged from it – could be a great source of inspiration going forward. Tedeschi (2020) references “stories of crucible leadership” such as those around Nelson Mandela and Johnson & Johnson as examples of people and organisations that have emerged more strongly from crisis.

5. Find new meaning

Tedeschi (2020) suggests that finding work that benefits others can be a great source of strength after a trauma. We’ve seen and heard lots of examples of that in what key workers have done, and how others have supported them. I have found it in just being able to continue to provide training and one-to-one coaching online to some of my clients during this time.

As a manager working with your team, you might want to tap into the ideas that people have to do things differently, or to do new things. As Tedeschi (2020) says: coming through a crisis can be a bonding experience; look for personal and shared missions that will energise the team further and help it to find meaning.

Conclusion

What are your thoughts on the above? What have you found useful that you might follow-up on?

But also, be aware that people’s experiences of the pandemic are not yet over – they may be at an earlier stage of the grief curve. If that is the case, give people time.

NOTES

References

Goodman, E. (2019) The manager as coach: when your direct report is grieving – https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/manager-coach-when-direct-report-grieving-elisabeth-goodman/

Kessler, D. (2020) Helping your Team Heal. Harvard Business Review, July – August: 53-55

Kübler-Ross, E. and Kessler, D. (2005) On Grief and Grieving: Finding the Meaning of Grief Through the Five Stages of Loss. Simon and Schuster

Tedeschi, R.G. (2020) Growth after Trauma. Five Steps for Coming out of a Crisis Stronger. Harvard Business Review, July – August: 127-131

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 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.

Fostering individual and team learning from outside our comfort zones


By Elisabeth Goodman, 27th June 2020

I enjoyed my first experience of “Coaching in the Workplace, 2020” this week: a joint conference by the Association for Coaching and the Institute of Coaching, delivered this year through a digital platform.

I learned about more than can be covered in just one blog, but was particularly drawn to this  blog’s theme that applies not only to coaches, but to any individual and team in the workplace.

VUCA and the DNA for learning

Inevitably, at this time of Covid-19, a common theme of the conference was that of VUCA (Volatility, Uncertainty, Complexity, Ambiguity), and how our individual experiences of the pandemic have accelerated our learning in so many ways.

Illustration based on my notes from David Peterson’s presentation at “Coaching in the Workplace” 2020.

David Peterson’s DNA (Diversity, Novelty, Adversity) model is a very useful synthesis of how the nature of the pandemic has accelerated our learning through adversity.

In response to a question from me during the Q&A session after his presentation Peterson suggested some playful small ways in which we can do this:

  • Read a novel or magazine that you would not usually read.  Think about the target audience and what value they would derive from that. [Diversity and Novelty]
  • Challenge yourself to only use 3-word questions in your coaching interventions. (Tell your client that you are planning to do this before-hand!). [Novelty]

Peterson summarised this perspective for learning in terms of:

“There’s no comfort in the learning zone, and there is no learning in the comfort zone.”

I’ve been reflecting on how I’ve been experiencing this form of learning during the last 3 months or so.

For example:

  • It has coincided with completing the taught component of my PG Certificate in Business and Personal Coaching with Barefoot Coaching, and the University of Chester.  Completing a course of this nature involves a lot of personal reflection on every aspect of one’s own life and nature – and that process is continuing.
  • This was accentuated during the pandemic by the abrupt interruption of the end of my course, and then being plunged right into the experiences and insights of a completely different set of people with whom I completed the course.  How I responded to this emotionally was a surprise to me and another source of learning.
  • I found myself PIVOTing (another popular acronym at the moment – Purpose, Innovation, Vulnerability, Opportunities and Threats) and converting my courses so that I could deliver them via the internet. This involved rising to the challenge of learning new technology and how to use it effectively to deliver a positive learning experience for my clients.
  • And of course there has been further reflection associated with working from home, the changes in the dynamics of interactions with family and friends, changing the nature of my leisure activities – experiences very familiar to all.

The Summer issue of Project (the APM’s journal for project professionals) abounds with stories of how project managers and their teams have accelerated their learning during this time.  It includes some individual learnings that project managers have shared as tips for the present time, some of which will continue to apply as we go forward:

  • Create positive habits such as having a designated workspace if working from home; using the time saved from commuting for learning and development; develop a routine; take regular breaks and exercise; ensure you schedule in time to keep connected with your colleagues.
  • Put extra measures in place to provide direction and support for your employees such as regular one-to-ones, company-wide updates, newsletters that celebrate employees and provide resources for wellbeing, in-house training.
  • Make the most of video calling to reduce travel time and the environmental impact of travelling.
  • Take the time to personally engage with each person that you interact with, and say thank you, every day.  It helps people to feel valued, they feel good, they will be more motivated.

How have you been experiencing VUCA and what learning have you been gaining associated with the DNA of it? To what extent has this stretched you outside of your comfort zone?

The “antidote to VUCA” and learning in teams

I was excited by the “antidote to VUCA”, which came up in a session at the conference that featured Georgina Woudstra, Founder and Principal of Team Coaching Studio, in conversation with Carroll Macey.

They described this antidote as:

  • Vision – to anticipate issues and shape conditions
  • Understanding – to know the consequences of issues and actions
  • Clarity – to find coherence, align expectations and check for understanding
  • Agility – to prepare, interpret and address opportunities

Woudstra’s organisation focuses on team coaching, so it’s perhaps no coincidence that her antidote sits well with what would also foster a collaborative and learning approach in teams.

In fact there are strong echoes for me with the “5 Behaviours” developed by Patrick Lencioni and colleagues (https://www.fivebehaviors.co.uk/), and which I and my Associates at RiverRhee are starting to explore through team coaching with our clients.

The “5 Behaviours” are those that enable a team to:

  1. Start from a position of trust where people have the courage to be their authentic selves (equates to ‘Clarity’)
  2. Be comfortable with conflict in the form of open and honest discussions that take account of everyone’s views (equates to ‘Understanding’)
  3. Be committed to priorities and decisions made by the team, without them needing to be reached by consensus, and to review these on a regular basis (equates to ‘Vision’)
  4. Be individually and mutually accountable for following through on commitments, and to learn from the impact of these (equates to ‘Agility’)
  5. Achieve results through the previous four behaviours

Woudstra (2019) describes team coaching as :

“Partnering with the team, unleashing its potential to collaborate, to achieve its collective purpose.”

Accelerated learning at this time, as exemplified by the many case studies in the current issue of Project is surely at the heart of a team’s ability to achieve it’s purpose.

Has your team been operating outside of its comfort zone? To what extent are you adopting the “antidote to VUCA” to support your team’s learning?

NOTES

References

Peterson, D. (2020) The DNA of VUCA: coaching leaders to deal with chaos, complexity and exponential change in Coaching in the Workplace. Performance. Culture. Mastery. Association for Coaching and Institute of Coaching (digital conference).

Project Me (2020). Project, Summer, Issue 3030: 63-64

Woudstra, G. (2019) cited in Woudstra, G. (2020) Sitting in the Fire: the journey to team coaching mastery in Coaching in the Workplace. Performance. Culture. Mastery. Association for Coaching and Institute of Coaching (digital conference).

Woudstra, G. (2020) Sitting in the Fire: the journey to team coaching mastery in Coaching in the Workplace. Performance. Culture. Mastery. Association for Coaching and Institute of Coaching (digital conference).

The Five Behaviors – https://www.fivebehaviors.co.uk/ (Accessed 26th June 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 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: helping others find their goal


By Elisabeth Goodman, revised 11th June 2020

(Originally posted as “Developing your coaching skills as a manager” 18th January 2017)

Helping people perform at their best – where to start?

We teach coaching skills in  RiverRhee’s Introduction to Management  course and also in Coaching Skills for Managers.

We also apply these skills ourselves as coaches.

The result is a double benefit: it enhance managers’ performance and it gives them a tool to develop their direct reports’ performance.

[You can read more about some of these coaching skills in my blog on Appreciative Inquiry which also references the GROW model of coaching.]

Michael Bungay Stanier’s  (2010) “Do more great work” is proving to be a valuable starting point for helping people who are making decisions about their direction in life: what they want to achieve.

Helping people to articulate what they want to achieve

This the Define step in Appreciative Inquiry, or the Goal in GROW.

What you’re looking for, in terms of a coaching conversation, is what will help the individual define, in positive terms: what they want to move towards, rather than away from.

Adapted from Michael Bungay Stanier, 2010

Ask them to think about what’s currently happening: find the great work and what makes this so

Use this 3-part circle to help individuals differentiate between the aspects of their work that is OK, that they don’t particularly enjoy, and that is ‘great’.

(This equates to the Reality step in GROW).

What you’re after are the instances of great things that happen for them in their work.

  • What are they doing when they are feeling wonderful?
  • What do they really enjoy?
  • Feel fulfilled about?
  • What are they doing when they are completely “in the zone” or absorbed in their work?

Then ask them to differentiate what they are doing in terms of:

  • How it relates to interaction with others – is there any interaction; does it involve training or mentoring; working things out together; anything else?
  • The kind of thinking they are doing – does it involve researching; creating new theoretical models; evaluating alternatives?
  • What they are practically doing – is it hands on work; making or testing things?

Helping them to drill down in this way will help them to identify the kind of work they might want to focus on going forward:

  • What they value most about their work
  • What motivates them
  • What their particular strengths are that they would like to use more fully

What to do once someone has discovered what makes their work great

Stanier (2010) gives us a 4-box grid which compares and contrasts the things that an individual cares and does not care about, with those that their organisation does or does not care about.

I have super-imposed the grid with the 5-Ds’ from the MindGym’s (2006) “Give me time”.

So this becomes a useful tool for discussing what options the individual has for doing their ‘great’ work within or outside of the organisation.

(‘They’ is the organisation. ‘I’ is the individual.)

taking-action-on-great-work

Michael Bungay Stanier’s (2010) ‘caring’ 4-box matrix overlayed with the 5Ds (in blue text) from the MindGym

At this point, the person you are coaching may be ready to consider what they will do…

The ideal is of course is to achieve the dream scenario: a perfect match between what the individual cares about, and what the organisation expects.

(The dream scenario fits nicely with the Dream step in Appreciative Inquiry.)

The reality is that we tend to have a mix in our work – and the individual may need to decide what they want to do about that.

(These are the Design / Deliver steps in Appreciative Inquiry or the Will step in the GROW model.)

If they arrive at the conclusion that there is not a good fit between what they want to do, and what the organisation expects from them – then that is a useful realisation in terms of their onward career planning.

Conclusion

Having this kind of coaching discussion with your direct report might assume a high level of trust between you.  It could equally be a way of building trust: you are demonstrating a real interest in what they value in their work.

Your ability to respond to the outcome in a positive and supportive way will also help to reinforce that trust.

Using this approach will enable an open and honest conversation about your expectations and theirs, and their options within or outside your organisation as a result.

As always, I’d be interested in hearing what readers think of these tools and approaches.

NOTES

References

Stanier, M.B. (2010) Do More Great Work. Workman Publishing Company, Inc.

The Mind Gym (2006) Give me Time. Time Warner Books.

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.

Maintaining employee engagement in growing and large organisations


By Elisabeth Goodman, 25th November, 2018

Small SMEs, large organisations, and a “microenterprise” model

One of the aspects I enjoy so much about working with smaller Life Science or Biotech organisations* is the level of energy, enthusiasm and connection that every employee seems to have with their company’s purpose.  The people we encounter seem to demonstrate a level of autonomy and independent thinking that is sadly so often lacking in larger organisations.

[*Typically referred to as SMEs – Small or Medium Enterprises.]

When I’ve worked in and with larger organisations it’s been more common to encounter “us and them” mentalities, cynicism, a lack of connection with the company’s purpose and objectives, and a lot more bureaucracy.

So I always enjoy Gary Hamel’s articles in the Harvard Business Review when he describes organisations that have found other approaches to management that mitigate the disadvantages inherent to larger organisations.

In this latest article, co-authored with Michele Zanini, Hamel writes about a Chinese white goods company, Haier, that has achieved significant employee engagement for its 75,000 global workforce, by developing a “microenterprise” (ME) management model.

“Haier’s empowering, energizing management model is the product of a relentless quest to free human beings at work from the shackles of bureaucracy”.  Gary Hamel and Michele Zanini. The End of Bureaucracy, Harvard Business Review, November-December 2018, pp. 50-59.

The microenterprise model: autonomy instead of bureaucracy

Haier’s model is an extreme version of an approach that GSK trialled, whilst I was working there, with its Centres of Excellence (CoEs).  In that model, there were about half-a-dozen CoEs, each with about 350 people.  They set their own goals, and managed their own budgets.

In Haier’s model, there are about 4,000 MEs, most of them with 10-15 people.  There is a strong emphasis on autonomy, with the ME teams setting their own, very ambitious, goals, and managing their own budgets. The MEs also set their own pay rates and distribute bonuses, dividends and profits based on their performance against goals (or “lead targets”). Ultimately, employees behave and are treated more as owners and members of start-up organisations than as employees of a corporate organisation.

The MEs demonstrate a more autonomous approach in other ways:

  • Groups such as HR, Finance, IT, legal affairs etc. are set up as “node” MEs instead of the centralised or shared service model common to larger organisations.  These node MEs have to bid as suppliers to market-facing MEs who can choose between competing support services within or even outside the organisation. Contracts or agreements are then put in place to ensure that expected standards of service are maintained.
  • MEs can change their leaders if they are under-performing, can recruit new leaders in an internal selection process, and can accept take-over bids from leaders elsewhere in the organisation.

Collaboration, open innovation and intrapreneurship in the microenterprise model

There are risks as well as benefits from Haier’s microenterprise model.  The MEs form a sort of network which the authors compare to the internet, or the web.  They have evolved this model to ensure that it works to their advantage as follows:

  1. Collaboration.  Haier’s MEs were initially very competitive, and risked losing the benefits that could be gained from pooling their efforts and expertise.  Haier formed “platform” MEs to address this.  These platform MEs are somewhat akin to the “Communities of Practice” known to Knowledge Management practitioners.  The platform MEs are of two types, one type addresses categories of product or technologies, the other addresses capability development or competencies that might cross several products.
  2. Open Innovation. Haier adopts all the practices available to tap into sources of innovation beyond the boundaries of its organisation. It invites potential users to provide input on needs, preferences and problems.  It accesses a world-wide network of experts for creative problem solving and to support R&D and eventual sales and support.
  3. Intrapreneurship.  As the HBR authors point out, one of the consequences of  bureaucracy in large organisations is that the organisations can become very conservative.  Haier encourages a start-up culture whereby employees effectively act as intrapreneurs to pitch for and launch new MEs. These new MEs are often initially externally funded, to prove their viability,  before Haier pitches in with internal funds.

The results…

As Haier’s CEO, Zhang Ruimin told one of the authors on an earlier occasion: “We want to encourage employees to become entrepreneurs because people are not a means to an end but an end in themselves.  Our goal is to let everyone become their own CEO – to help everyone realize their potential.”

Apparently, Haier’s resultant growth in gross profits, revenue, and increase in market value are unmatched by any of its domestic or global competitors.

Zhang believes they have achieved this through their practice of rendanheyi – a tight association of “the value created for customers with the value received by employees”.

As the HBR authors point out, most companies have focused on optimising their operations, and, more recently, on digitising their business models.  Haier’s microenterprise approach would appear to be a unique route for achieving employee engagement in a large organisation.

There could be some interesting ideas here for managers and leaders to explore in growing Life Science SMEs:

Could finding ways to continue to work and think like a start-up mitigate against the otherwise inevitable increase in bureaucracy, and decrease in employee engagement inherent to large organisations?

Notes

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 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 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) in which she was a founding member of the Enabling Change SIG.

Operational excellence can give you the competitive edge!


By Elisabeth Goodman, 4th September 2017

According to Sadun, Bloom and Van Reenen, writing in the Sept-Oct 2017 issue of Harvard Business Review, a disproportionate amount of emphasis is put on the competitive advantage of strategic planning, to the detriment of operational excellence.

Competitive advantage of operational excellence_HBR Sept-Oct 2017

From: Why do we undervalue competent management? Neither great leadership nor brilliant strategy matters without operational excellence. Raffael Sadun, Nicholas Bloom and John Van Reenen. HBR Sept-Oct 2017, pp. 120 – 127

What is operational excellence?

Their definition of operational excellence, or good management practice, goes beyond a more traditional focus on Lean and Six Sigma process improvement techniques.  It covers four broad dimensions, and 18 specific aspects.  The four dimensions are:

  1. Operational management – which includes Lean process management
  2. Performance monitoring – which includes the use of key performance indicators (KPIs)
  3. Target setting – which includes a clear link between organisational strategy, and individual goals (aka. a clear top-to-bottom cascade of objectives)
  4. Talent management – which includes setting stretch goals, employee development and retention

What is the evidence for the competitive advantage of operational excellence?

As Sadun et al say, MBAs and management experts such as Michael Porter distinguish between strategy and operational effectiveness, and put greater emphasis on CEOs’ priority being on strategy for competitive advantage.

The authors of this HBR article have been carrying out in-depth research since 2002 on more than 12,000 organisations in 34 countries, in conjunction with the London School of Economics.

They have found that operational excellence is a massive challenge for organisations and that the large persistent gaps in these practices are associated with large persistent differences in organisational performance.

The better managed organisations are more profitable, grow faster, are less likely to die, focus on innovation as well as efficiency, attract talent and foster employee well-being.  All in all they demonstrate sustained competitive advantage.

Achieving operational excellence boils down to three things

Erroneous self-assessment, a blame culture, overestimating the costs involved and underestimating the potential benefits can all get in the way of adopting good management practices.

Managers, especially in family businesses, can worry about potential loss of control if they bring in others with greater expertise in operational management.

The workforce may not have the numeric, analytical and other skills to implement operational excellence.

And it requires a shift from working in silos, to collaborating across teams; reassurance that greater process efficiency won’t lead to redundancies; and “walking-the-talk” by management (CEOs included).

So achieving operational excellence boils down to three things:

  1. Commitment from the top: with a clear vision, visibility and role modelling by senior leaders (i.e. all key approaches for managing change)
  2. Understanding and ensuring availability of the required skills i.e. those associated with all four broad dimensions of operational excellence, as described above
  3. A shift in mentality at all levels to adopt these management practices as a way of working

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 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 was a founding member of the Enabling Change SIG.

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.

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.