Tag Archives: self-employed attitude

Starting from a position of choice in manager-employee relationships

By Elisabeth Goodman, 17th May 2019

An article in the latest issue of Harvard Business Review has, as is often the case, triggered some lateral thinking on my part.  Borys Groysberg (2020) explores a case study of whether a manager should fight to keep a star employee who decides to leave the organisation without any apparent prior indication of wanting to do so.

There follows some very valid discussion, from the author and from two contributing experts, on the merits or otherwise of various remedial-style actions.

What are your options when an employee says they plan to leave your employment?

As the manager you can:

  • Make various forms of counter-offer to the employee
  • Find out why the employee is leaving and see if the reasons can be addressed in a way that would stop them doing so
  • Promote their colleague to stop them leaving as well, and to fill the gap even if they might not (yet) have the necessary skills
  • Give their colleague the incentive to work towards promotion by developing their skills to fill the gap
  • Put your own work to one side in order to fill the gap until someone else can be found to fill it

What the article also begins to explore is what preventative actions the manager could have taken which might have prevented the employee wanting to leave in the first place, or helped them to be better prepared for them wanting to do so.

What are your options to pre-empt an employee taking you by surprise with their career choices?

I believe that such preventative options could be even better positioned were managers and employees to adopt the mindset that:

  1. People work for a company by choice, just as a company chooses to recruit people for specific jobs
  2. The relationship between an individual and their manager is a collaborative one, which combines meeting the organisation’s requirements and supporting the individual in their personal development plans
  3. An individual may find that their personal development is best continued elsewhere
  4. A company’s requirements from an individual will also evolve over time

There are various tools that can support discussions between managers and employees about their respective expectations. Most important is to have the conversation itself. [Illustration based on various RiverRhee courses for managers.]

How to start from a position of choice in manager-eMployee relationships?

If we start from a position of choice in manager-employee relationships, then some good practices, which the HBR article does mention, could be re-cast as follows:

1. Have regular one-to-one discussions which are not only task-focused, but also reflect on how things are going in terms of :

  • The individual’s expectations for their personal development
  • The organisation’s requirements from the individual

2. Discuss succession planning:

  • How the individual’s career might evolve within the organisation in terms of potential gaps from other people leaving
  • What the individual could do to develop others who might fill their role if they move to other roles within or outside the organisation

3. Perhaps most importantly of all, regularly demonstrate, through positive feedback, how much you value the individual’s contribution to the company



Groysberg, B. (2020) Case Study: Should you Fight to Keep a Star? Harvard Business Review, May – June

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.

Banishing the Monday morning blues: Being Exceptional

Holidays are an excellent time to catch-up with my reading, so I have just had a very stimulating week reading Rob Yeung’s “E is for Exceptional”.  I’ve previously enjoyed Yeung’s books on networking, and emotional intelligence, and picked this one up at random, not really knowing what to expect.

It’s a gem!  Like his other books it’s extremely readable – with anecdotal illustrations from the many exceptional people that he has interviewed, backed up by references from the literature, exercises to start developing our own capabilities for being exceptional and summaries at the end of each chapter in case we missed anything.

I would strongly recommend everyone to read this book, but in the meantime, here’s my own interpretive summary.

(By the way, the key capabilities in this book are aimed at individuals, but many would apply to businesses or teams – so I’ll be writing the next issue of my company newsletter based on this too.  Look out for ‘Creating Exceptional Teams’ on http://riverrheeconsulting.wordpress.com)

Banishing the Monday morning blues (authenticity)

I’m always sad when I come across people who feel glum or worse at the start of the working week.  I’ve wondered if I’m naïve to think that people have a choice: that they could take the plunge and go for something different.

Rob Yeung backs me up: he calls this ‘authenticity’ and suggests that we should absolutely be true to ourselves and find work that is inspiring: what we enjoy most and are good at.  It’s what will help us feel fulfilled and, whilst doing it, put us ‘in the flow’ – where time just goes by without us noticing.  If we find and do what is authentic to us, Yeung maintains that the money will follow!

Being ‘authentic’ does not necessarily mean completely changing what we’re doing – it may be possible to craft a current job or role to bring it closer to what we enjoy doing the most.  This relates to other blogs that I’ve written about taking a self-employed attitude when working for an employer.  Fostering this may also lead to greater employee engagement and empowerment.

Having a vision

The idea of writing a business or team vision is well established – that of writing one for ourselves as individuals is less so.  Yeung makes a strong case for both developing and writing down our personal vision.

A vision acts as a framework for our ‘authenticity’.  It helps us create work-life balance so that we give enough time to all the things that are important to us: family, friends, physical health, social activities or anything else, as well as our work. It helps us enjoy the ‘here and now’ and avoid ‘destination fixation’.  And it puts our shorter term goals into a longer term context so that we can make sure we don’t get inappropriately side-tracked.

Up till now my personal vision has been very much in my head – but I’ll be writing it down, referring to it and refreshing it as Yeung suggests.  I’ve written my first draft.


I’m following a different order in describing these capabilities than the one in the book, because I believe that finding our area of ‘authenticity’, and then putting it within the context of a personal vision gives us the focus from which everything else can flow.  Daring is then all about taking action: pursuing opportunities that come our way even if they’re scary, but with the conviction that they’re the right thing to do – as I did in starting my own business!

Being daring is about doing things that we would otherwise regret not having done.  But it’s also about articulating these daring activities as individual goals, with specific measures (so we know when we’ve succeeded), timelines (to avoid procrastination), and a series of steps that we can follow one at a time and so maintain and build our motivation as each step succeeds.

I love Yeung’s suggestion of having a ‘setback manifesto’, so that we can constructively review what’s happened if things go wrong, identify actions to take to reduce the likelihood of reoccurrence, and know how to behave if something similar happens again!

All the ‘C’s

Yeung describes 5 other capabilities of exceptional people, which would seem to ‘feed’ and sustain our authenticity.

Curiosity or ‘awe’ enables us to develop our knowledge, pick up new ideas, be more creative.  In a work situation this is what enables us to ‘work smarter not harder’: solve problems more effectively and innovate.  Yeung encourages us to read widely – not only in our area of expertise, but across disciplines too.  Incidentally he challenges the group approach to brainstorming, saying it is less effective than individual brainstorming and suggesting a new (4-tier) model, which combines the two.  I will definitely be trying this different approach with teams.

Connecting with people to achieve diversity in our contacts, but with an emphasis on ‘netfriending’ rather than ‘networking’ so that we build relationships with the people that we get to know.  Yeung talks about ‘seeking the spark’ with people where connecting comes easily rather than forcing ourselves to try building relationships with everyone we meet.  He also reminds us that making connections with people can come through speaking at and running events or courses, writing, joining committees, going to conferences etc. not just attending pure networking events.  For those working within an organisation, connecting can come from going to lunch with people, joining task forces, or simply stopping by to say hello to colleagues.

Cherishing is about building that rapport with people; having the emotional intelligence to put ourselves in other people’s shoes; really listening to others and giving them space to express themselves.  Yeung also encourages us to look for the ‘3rd way’ in conflict situations in that both people could be right in their views, and the way forward could build on both views, rather than on only one or the other.

Centredness is also a form of emotional intelligence.  In this case it’s about developing our inner calm; cultivating more positive than negative inner thoughts; recognising that ‘thoughts are just thoughts’; and developing a mindfulness or focus on the here and now.  Yeung has some very helpful exercises on how we can help ourselves feel better about both short-term and more serious emotional setbacks.

Citizenship is all about integrity, being a responsible member of our community, and respecting the environment (sustainability).  It’s about focusing on our personal legacy and managing our reputation.  Without it, all the other efforts we might make at being exceptional could be wiped out!

Closing thoughts

“E is for Exceptional” has been an inspirational book.  There are lots of ideas that I have taken away for developing my own capabilities, and I’m looking forward to exploring how these ideas can be applied to ‘Creating Exceptional Teams’ in my RiverRhee Consulting newsletter.  Hopefully some of you will also pick up Rob Yeung’s book, and/or follow my newsletter.

I do hope that anyone suffering from Monday morning blues will discover a way to banish them forever, and will be daring enough to follow it through!

[Footnote.  It’s interesting to compare Rob Yeung’s “E is for Exceptional” with Stephen Covey’s “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People” and “The 8th Habit – From Effectiveness to Greatness” – there is a strong overlap in the capabilities covered between them and I may re-read Covey’s books in that light on my next holiday!  I would also mention Michael Bungay Stanier’s “Do more great work” as another easy to read, exercise based approach for helping you to find your ‘authenticity’.  I wrote a blog some time ago (Building Strong Personal Careers)  inspired by “The 8th Habit” and “Do More Great Work” which readers might also find interesting.]


Elisabeth Goodman is Owner and Principal Consultant at RiverRhee Consulting, enhancing team effectiveness through process improvement, knowledge and change management. Follow the links to find out about how Elisabeth Goodman and RiverRhee Consulting can help your team to work more effectively for greater productivity and improved team morale.

Read Elisabeth Goodman’s blog for more discussions on topics covered by this blog.

Why is employee engagement such an important topic?

By Elisabeth Goodman

My blog on employee engagement (Employee engagement – some interesting data and perspectives for Lean and Six Sigma practitioners) is, of all the blogs that I have written since 2009), the one that has attracted the most attention.  I wrote it in response to an article I read in the business section of the Sunday Observer1 – a very informative study that the Observer had commissioned, rich in case studies and data from FTSE 100 companies.  So why has this blog attracted so much attention?

Employee engagement is the key to organisational and team effectiveness

The Observer article caught my attention because employee engagement, or involvement is intrinsic to business process improvement through such techniques as Lean and Six Sigma.  If people are not engaged, they won’t be committed to the organisation’s goals, won’t be able to communicate those goals as part of building strong customer relations, and won’t be looking for ways to achieve those goals through efficient internal processes.

People also need to be engaged in order to achieve effective business change.  Participants in my Change Management courses sometimes find it a revelation to hear that resistance from those experiencing change is a good thing, something to be welcomed.  Resistance is an indication that people are actually beginning to engage with a change:  that they are considering what the impact will be on them, rather than oblivious to or ignoring it.

And without engagement, people will find it impossible to identify and share the learning and insights, which are essential to healthy and thriving teams and organisations if they are to learn from their mistakes and build on their successes.

As I wrote in the December 2011 version of my RiverRhee Newsletter, “The answer comes from within… with the help of others”, it’s only possible to have an effective team or organisation if people are engaged.  Employees have the key!

‘Empowerment’ and ‘Intrapreneurs’

One of the big themes in my life as a corporate employee was ‘empowerment’: encouraging employees to appreciate and act upon the idea that they had ‘the power’ to make decisions and carry them out without necessarily referring to their managers.

As someone who is now self-employed and runs my own business, the idea of acting otherwise makes no sense at all!  I work in teams in an associate relationship, and we collaborate in our decision-making and actions.  I meet a lot of entrepreneurs, and have often wondered what it would be like if people took an ‘intrapreneurial’ approach to working within organisations.  In a 2010 newsletter (‘Finding our voice’ – a route to greater employee engagement and empowerment?), I suggested that what might help people to do this is to take a more active perspective of their careers – so that they view their current job as one that they have chosen, and are in control of, rather than something that they are being subjected to (to put it a bit bluntly!).

What if there weren’t any managers?!

I really enjoyed reading the case study of Morning Star in the December 2011 edition of Harvard Business Review.2   Gary Hamel describes a leading food processor, with revenues of over $700 million and 400 full-time employees, which functions entirely around the principles of self-management.

At Morning Star, no-one has a manager, each employee negotiates responsibilities with their peers and is responsible for finding the tools that they need for their work, everyone can spend the company money, there are no job titles or promotions, and compensation is decided between peers. The only ‘boss’ is the overall mission of the company.

This model works at Morning Star because it combines an individuals’ responsibility (and freedom) for managing their work within the context of the overall mission, and collaboration between peers to define and review individual roles and expected performance.

The article goes into a lot more detail, but one of the many interesting aspects of this model is that engagement and empowerment are not issues at all in this kind of scenario.  As a result of this approach, every individual inevitably has to:

  1. Use their initiative
  2. Continuously develop their skills to enhance the quality of their work
  3. Display flexibility to respond to the changing environment of the organisation
  4. Work in a collegiate way to fulfill their role in relation to their peers
  5. Make decisions that directly affect their work

These are wonderful illustrations of process improvement / Lean and Six Sigma (1,2,4,5), Change Management (3), and Knowledge Management (2, 4) in practice.

Some final thoughts about thriving

I love my work, and welcome Monday mornings as the start of another week of new discoveries, opportunities to work with others and practice and develop my skills.  I meet many others running their own business that feel the same.  It sounds like the employees at Morning Star may also feel like this.

Another Harvard Business Review article3 suggests that giving employees a chance to learn and grow will help them and the organisation to thrive.  This time the managers are in charge again, but some of the themes re-occur:

  1. Providing employees with the discretion to make decisions directly affecting their work
  2. Ensuring that people have the information they need to understand how their work relates to the organisation’s mission and strategy
  3. Encouraging good (civil) behaviour – positive relationships
  4. Offering performance feedback

The authors suggest that these 4 mechanisms will foster vitality (or energy in individuals and in those with whom they interact), and learning (or growth from new knowledge and skills).


It seems that, unless people are running their own business or are self-managing themselves in an organisation such as Morning Star, employers need to study and support the mechanisms that will enable employee engagement and so help individuals and the organisation to thrive.  We’re obviously not there yet.

Why are you interested in employee engagement? It would be great to read your comments.


  1. Are more firms listening to their staff or are they just paying lip service? Observer, 22 August 2010, pp38-39
  2. Gary Hamel.  First, let’s fire all the managers. Harvard Business Review, December 2011, pp49-60
  3. Gretchen Spreitzer and Christine Porath.  Creating sustainable performance.  Harvard Business Review, January-February 2012, pp93-99

Elisabeth Goodmanis the Owner and Principal Consultant at RiverRhee Consulting, a consultancy that helps business teams to enhance their effectiveness for greater productivity and improved team morale. 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), and APM (Association for Project Management).

Building strong personal career paths – do you have a case study to share?

Readers of my blogs will know that I am an avid reader.  I’ve just made my way through ‘Do more great work’ by Michael Bungay Stanier.  It’s a misleadingly small book!  It looks small, and from the outside could be mistaken as the kind of book that you can wiz through.  But it’s taken me about a month to read!  In the process, I’ve been discovering some strategic and tactical things I can, want and will do differently, and looking back over my notes, realize that I have even implemented some of them already.

So many of us could do with some help in determining our ideal career.

Helen Chapman, of Pelican Coaching & Development, recommended the book to me in the first place, and I have found myself recommending the book non-stop to people I’ve been talking to:

  • Participants in a NetIKX seminar on Information and Knowledge Management competencies that I chaired – where we got onto how people could and should think about what career path they wanted to steer in life – and engage their line managers in personal review & development discussions accordingly.
  • Someone I met at the DIA conference that I spoke at in Nice last October, that I’ve kept in touch with and who inspired me by the innovation she brought to her work.  I know she reads my blogs: ‘R’ you will know who you are J
  • Two of my local LinkedIn trainees, experience consultants and trainers, who are bravely re-examining what unique offering they can bring to their clients in order to represent that effectively in their LinkedIn summaries and other marketing activities.
  • One of my ex-colleagues who is being made redundant and, like me at that point, realized he’d never thought closely about what he could do in his career, if he had a complete choice, and how difficult it is to begin to do so.

Re-thinking our careers is both scary and exhilarating but there is help available.

Michael Bungay Stanier’s book is a very good, exercise-filled guide to discovering what’s important to you in your work and how you might get to do more of it.  There are other books too that have helped me and that I’ve recommended to others: Steven Covey’s ‘8th Habit’ that I’ve referred to in previous blogs, and ‘Book yourself solid’ by Michael Porter which also has exercises to help you discover what’s important to you and how to get there.

An important piece of advice in many of the books is to find someone, a ‘buddy’ that you can test your ideas with and who can encourage / support you as you embark on this journey.  Sometimes it’s easier to find someone who isn’t your partner or a close member of your family, as they may be finding your re-thinking as scary as you are!

I have found some seminars / workshops quite helpful as well, as they are often safe places to explore new ideas for what you want to do.  In the UK, the government sponsored BusinessLink seminars are examples of these, although the range of seminars has recently been cut back.  I also was fortunate to attend very good ones organised by DBM; I particularly enjoyed ‘Start your own business’ by Andrew Halfacre of Lighthouse 365

Local networking groups can also be great places to explore new ideas about your way forward: many of the people attending are going through similar soul-searching! Though if you are in full time employment, finding the time to attend can be a challenge.

Re-thinking our careers is worth doing whether an employee or self-employed

The extra year that I had with my employer following which I knew I would be made redundant was a tremendous opportunity for me to mentally prepare for my new life.  As I already had some idea of what I would like to do, it also changed my attitude towards my day-to-day work: I could approach it with a ‘self-employed’ attitude.  I believe that people who have consciously re-thought their careers, and decided to pursue them within an organisation, bring so much more to their work, and can gain so much more personal satisfaction from it.

I would be really interested in learning of case studies that people would be willing to share.

I’d like to collect some case studies from people who have re-thought their careers, or are in the process of doing so, and hear your experiences of what has or has not helped you in your personal journey.  Do get in touch if you would like to share your case study with me, and, with your permission, I will share your case study, or the approaches you have found effective, either anonymously, or with your name.

Related Blogs & Notes

1. Taking control of your working life as an employee;  a first 100 days approach? http://wp.me/pAUbH-1h

2. Personal reflections on living through change and… reaching ones potential http://wp.me/pAUbH-E

3. Elisabeth Goodman is Owner and Principal Consultant at RiverRhee Consulting, using process improvement, knowledge and change management to enhance team effectiveness.

Follow the links to find out more about RiverRhee Consulting, and about Elisabeth Goodman.

“Topgrading”: it’s possible to be talented AND be an effective team player

‘Topgrading’ by Bradford D Smart1, is a wonderful testament to the existence of talented individuals who can also ‘work smarter’, ‘deliver higher quality work’, ‘demonstrate greater team work’, and ‘find ways to get the job done in less time and with less cost’.  Smart argues that it’s the proportion of ‘A’ players in an organisation that will enable it to succeed over other organisations that are also focusing on customers, quality and process improvement.

In a sense, this book contradicts somewhat the conclusions drawn by Rob Goffee and Gareth Jones in ‘Clever. Leading your smartest, most creative people.’2 which I’ve written about previously – see http://wp.me/pAUbH-1n.3 They would seem to suggest that talented people find it more difficult than others to be effective team players.  However, Smart’s approach seems to focus very much on managers, whereas Goffee and Jones’ could be said to be more about individuals within teams.

What is ‘Topgrading’ about?

‘Topgrading’ is about several things:

  • Attracting and retaining the most talented people / high performers / top 10% of those available for a position: the ‘A’ players
  • Aiming to fill the organisation with 90% (or better) A players
  • Improving existing resources by coaching people who are B/C players to become A players
  • Redeploying B/C players into internal positions where they might be a better fit to become A players, or if not, helping them to find positions where they can be A players outside the company.

We can / should take responsibility for ‘Topgrading’ ourselves

What is also interesting about Smart’s approach is the idea that we should, individually, take responsibility for finding those positions or roles where we can be A players, instead of being satisfied with playing a B/C role.  Indeed, in the right role, we can all be A players.  In this, he echoes people like Stephen Covey, in his ‘8th Habit’4 who stresses the importance of finding one’s personal voice, and others that I’ve quoted in another previous blog http://wp.me/pAUbH-1h 5– about taking control of one’s working life.

Smart’s quote from Peter Drucker: Managing in Times of Great Change, is very apposite: “The stepladder is gone, and there is not even an implied structure of an industry’s rope ladder.  It’s more like vines, and you bring your own machete.  You don’t know what you’ll be doing next or whether you’ll work in a private office, or one big ampitheater or out of your house.”

Smart has a wonderfully refreshing approach for the manager, VP or CEO who is aiming to be both successful and happy.  It’s not just about career success, but about addressing 7 other critical life dimensions: wellness, family (relationships), pleasure, spiritual grounding, financial independence, giving something back (to the community), being creative – and also being resourceful to achieve balance in all of these.

He suggests that people perform periodical personal career reviews of their competencies relative to the marketplace, and that we cultivate networks of knowledge people as well as reading widely and attending seminars and trade-shows to help us with this.

‘Topgrading’ is especially about the role of the recruiter, manager, HR

This book seems a ‘must read’ for anyone looking to improve the capability of their organisation.  It is filled with guidelines and templates for interviewing, coaching, retaining and generally ensuring that your organisation has the best talent it needs.  There are dramatic case studies of the impact of Topgrading on individual companies’ stock performance.  It describes 50 competencies (!) that any manager should aim to achieve, in the categories of intellectual, personal, interpersonal, management / leadership, motivational.

Smart also challenges the school of thought of only focusing on ones strengths: he argues that a fully competent manager should aim to address his/her weaknesses, rather than relying on others to compensate for them.


1. “Topgrading” by Bradford D Smart, Portfolio, 2005

2. “Clever. Leading your smartest, most creative people.” By Rob Goffee and Gareth Jones, Harvard Business Press, 2009

3. Why conventional knowledge management, process improvement and project management won’t work with ‘clever’ teams.  Or will they? http://wp.me/pAUbH-1n

4. “The 8th Habit. From effectiveness to greatness”, by Stephen R. Covey. Simon & Schuster Sound Ideas,1980.

5. Taking control of your working life as an employee; a first 100 days approach? http://wp.me/pAUbH-1h

6. Elisabeth Goodman is Owner and Principal Consultant at RiverRhee Consulting, using process improvement, knowledge and change management to enhance team effectiveness.

Follow the links to find out more about RiverRhee Consulting, and about Elisabeth Goodman.

Taking control of your working life as an employee; a first 100 days approach?

At 4am on a fresh autumn morning, a coach load of members of the European Pharmaceutical Student Association (EPSA) began their early morning journey from Genoa, Italy, to Nice (France) to attend a workshop on ‘Personal Career Development – new to the job or ready for a change?’  This was one of the sessions organised by the DIA’s 3rd Annual Clinical Forum in Nice, France, and also an integral part of EPSA’s own conference taking place simultaneously in Genoa!

As one of the ways that Elisabeth Goodman, principal consultant at RiverRhee Consulting (1) helps to improve team effectiveness, productivity and morale is to enable team members to generally ‘find their voice’, Elisabeth took the opportunity to listen to what others have to say on this subject.  This article, with the kind permission of the speakers involved, documents what she learnt during this workshop.

Carl Metzdorff, Principal at ACES Health Care, introduced the concept of ‘the first 100 days’ as one that obviously applied to Obama’s and other US Presidents’ first days in office.  It’s also a concept that organisations use in the days following mergers and acquisitions.  Carl used it to describe the priorities that a new manager should address in his / her first 100 days.  He suggested that the first 100 days are a period of grace or temporary incompetence whilst the incumbent is getting to grips with their job.  It’s a time when effective communication is essential, when the individual is expected to form their team, shape and share their strategic direction, and start delivering results.  To achieve all of this, a new manager would do well to start developing their plans before the start of the 100-day period, as this can run out very quickly.

For an individual ‘finding their voice’, wanting to make themselves visible, and make an impact that will shape their career going forward, a 100-day approach might be a very useful framework.  Thus they too could do some useful preparatory work to identify their values, career goals, and key stakeholders in the organisation.  They could use their first 100 days to connect and communicate with the key stakeholders and get input on how they could best deliver value to the organisation as well as effectively start shaping their career.

Nicolaos Gentis, PhD Student and Teaching Assistant at Industrial Pharmacy Lab, and Parliamentarian for EPSA, also emphasized how important it is for students to be clear on their wants, skills/talents, strengths and weaknesses when considering their career direction. He also talked about the importance of communication in the early days of a new job both to learn from others, and to ensure that the job develops as the individual would wish.

Wim Souverijns, Senior Director Global Marketing Excellence, Celgene, own career is a vivid illustration of how switching jobs during the course of a career is part of the deal nowadays.  In 12 years he has worked in 3 industries, 4 companies, 6 jobs, and has had 4 international moves.  He suggested that a desire to learn and a basic curiosity are key factors for creating ones own career opportunities.  Wim also stressed the importance of reflecting on ones career objectives, on what matters to the individual, and what they are good at or enjoy doing in time.  Companies will try to get the best out of an individual, for the benefit of the organisation.  The individual needs to decide independently, where they want to go. Again, he stressed the importance of communicating with other stakeholders, in this case with one’s boss, and of identifying a mentor or coach, to help steer one’s career in the right direction.

Finally, Max Beckmann, Managing Director of Beckmann Bio, reminded people that being self-employed, or starting one’s own business, is also an option as a route for achieving your potential, if working within an organisation no longer meets your needs.  Whilst being employed has many benefits, if it gets too limiting in terms of the scope of an individual’s work, their level of responsibility, or their income, then being self-employed may be the answer.

However, the self-employed route is not a choice to be taken lightly!  The alternative is to take a long hard look at your values, goals, talents and strengths; consider how you could meet the needs of others from within an organisation; and take a 100-day approach to achieving it.


(1) This article focuses on one of RiverRhee Consulting’s key goals: helping teams achieve improved team morale.  We enhance team effectiveness for improved productivity and team morale by:

  1. Focusing on your customers
  2. Simplifying and streamlining what you do
  3. Optimising information and knowledge assets
  4. Ensuring successful business change

If individuals within a team are clear on their personal objectives, strengths and on how they can best support their customers, then they will play a powerful role in helping the rest of the team enhance its effectiveness and productivity.

Follow the links for more information about RiverRhee Consulting, and about principal consultant, Elisabeth Goodman.

Personal reflections on living through change and… reaching ones potential

All change practitioners, and those who have practiced ‘change management’ know the theory about negative and positive change, based on Elisabeth Kubler-Ross’s experience of people dealing with grief.  And, as organisational change practitioners, we encourage people to bear these in mind when they are either responsible for introducing significant change, or are trying to cope with it themselves.  But of course there’s nothing like experiencing significant change yourself, to really know what it’s about.

Everyone’s experience of change and how they react to it is different, and very personal. I would not want to be so presumptuous as to try to speak for others, but I can share a couple of my experiences.

A few days ago, I found myself literally shaking as a reaction to a change we are making to the way our daughter is being educated: from conventional school-based learning, to home education.  As parents, we strongly believe it’s the right thing for her, and are very excited about what it’ll mean both to her, and to ourselves, and yet it challenges all my mental frame-works about how people should be educated, as well as being extremely daunting: how will we cope, will we do it right etc.?

And like so many, I’ve experienced change in the workplace: changes in working practices, and both the negative and positive impact of re-organisations and redundancy, resulting ultimately in my new career as an independent consultant.

Readers of this blog will have extensive knowledgeable and experience in many aspects of dealing with change, and how to reach ones potential, and it’d be enriching for us all should you wish to share your insights in response to this blog.  Meanwhile, here are some of my insights that I draw strength from:

  1. We are all programmed for success! I learnt this from Tony Buzan “The Ultimate book of mind maps”: we would not have got this far if we were not programmed to learn from events and adjust the way we do things and so achieve success.  But of course we can’t begin to do this, if we’re not prepared to try or take the risk.  There are powerful visioning techniques such as the very simple question at the start of a training workshop: what will success look, feel, sound, and generally be like? Or we can simply try to articulate our goals for whatever change we are facilitating / experiencing, and then draw up some steps for how we will get there.  Mind maps are powerful ways to do this!
  2. Each one of us has the potential within us to be great! Stephen Covey writes about this in “The 8th Habit”, and I’ve referred to this in some of my other blogs e.g. on adopting a self-employed attitude at work, and finding ‘our voice’.   I’ve both experienced and seen others go through ‘incremental unhappiness’: passive passengers in changing work practices that make us feel less-and-less in control and under-utilises our potential.  We hope that one day things will change for the better, or that there will be a ‘burning platform’ that will push us into a new and better situation. There are some strong reasons why we do just ‘put up with things’ – and an article in today’s (20th Sept 09) Observer illustrates this powerfully: “Workplace stress adds up to a sense of doom for the fearful French”.  It’s penultimate sentence sums things up well: “…French workers need to regain the sense that they are in control of their destiny”.  Of course this applies to all of us, not just the French!

These 2 insights are tremendous motivators to me, both in the changes we are going through at home, and in my new life as an independent consultant.  I hope to be able to share these insights with others as I work with them on enhancing team effectiveness for greater productivity, and improved team morale.  Perhaps, with my help, teams can learn these strategies for coping with change, not just when they are right ‘in the thick of it’, but early on, to be better prepared to either introduce business change, or deal with it themselves.

Do share your thoughts on the above.

You might also be interested in looking me up on http://www.linkedin.com/in/elisabethgoodman, or following me on twitter.com/ecgoodman

We are still in the knowledge age: are we meeting the needs of knowledge workers?

I first got involved in the discipline of Knowledge Management about 15 years ago, so it’s very refreshing to revisit the basics and check on what I might have missed or forgotten along the way.  This is why I’m reading Melissie Clemmons Rumizen’s “The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Knowledge Management.”  It’s a very good book.

At one point Melissie references a presentation she attended by Peter Drucker about how to make knowledge workers more effective – this was back in 1998 – but seems very relevant today in the context of how to help people continue to feel motivated during the continued cut-backs that are going on.  In fact, Drucker’s points, like Covey’s (see my earlier blogs) remind us that we are very much in the knowledge age rather than the industrial age, and should be treating people / behaving accordingly, irrespective of any cut-backs!

Here then are Drucker’s points about how to make knowledge workers more effective:

  • Make demands of them and help them to establish goals (this is where we can help people to adopt a self-employed attitude, but within the context of the overall organisation’s goals)
  • Make them accountable for achieving these goals in their own way (empowerment again?!)
  • Ensure they have the education and training for their current jobs, and future development (I particularly like the ‘future’ consideration)
  • Place them where they can be productive (i.e. if they are a square peg in a round hole, you may need to move them to a square hole)
  • Ensure meaningful (i.e. in their context) reward and recognition

These seem like good reminders for managers, but also for individual knowledge workers.  If the latter are not happy with their current work environment, it may help them to understand what’s missing and perhaps take some action to address the gaps?

For me, with one of my upcoming courses being around Promoting Information Literacy to End Users – it is a timely reminder of what the needs of those End Users (i.e. Knowledge Workers) may be.

Is the key to empowerment to adopt a self-employed attitude?

One of the preoccupations in large organisations is how to encourage individuals to be more ‘self-empowered’.  In the words of one of my HR colleagues, it can become a bit of an oxymoron if employees choose not to be, whilst employers are telling them to be…

Having started on my journey of being self-employed whilst I was still ’employed’ I discovered how liberating it can be to think about the unique capabilities that I could offer, and the difference I could make to my (internal) customers.

Perhaps one way to foster more empowerment in an organisation, is to encourage all employees to think as if they were self-employed, and consider who are the customers that they are relying on for their business, and what unique value they are bringing to them.

Their managers and colleagues would then be associates or partners that they would choose to work with because of the complementary knowledge and skills that they bring.

Their annual objectives would begin from the unique value that they can bring rather than those cascaded down from senior management.

The result might be that they decide that their future lies outside of the organisation, but if they chose to stay how much more empowered they would be…