Tag Archives: team leadership

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.

Recognising reactions to change, and responding to them


By Lucy Loh and Elisabeth Goodman

This is the second in our series of blogs on “Enhancing Team Effectiveness in a time of change” based on our forthcoming publication in Business Information Review, and other publications and seminars in progress.

[Note – If you like this blog you may be interested in purchasing a copy of The Effective Team’s Change Management Workbook – available from RiverRhee Publishing at £10.00 plus packaging and posting.]

In our previous blog (Enhancing team effectiveness in a time of change – an introduction), we described the challenges being faced by organisations, teams and individuals and the impact that these changes have on them.  Today’s blog focuses more on recognising reactions to change by individuals and in teams, and how to respond to them.

Understanding the change cycle: the Kübler-Ross change curve

This approach was developed by Elisabeth Kübler-Ross and was based on her work with people confronting grief.  It illustrates the typical stages that people go through in response to change, and is at the core of most approaches to managing change.

Whether the people affected view a particular change as predominantly positive and to be welcomed, or as something negative, they will go through some version of this change cycle.

In this description, the stages are named for the prevalent emotion or activity experienced.

When a substantial change happens, many parts of the organisation are affected and go through this curve and at different rates.  Within any one team, the individual team members go through the change curve at different rates.

Using the change curve to support team effectiveness during change

It is important for leaders of affected teams to recognise that they too are travelling through the change curve.  They will need the emotional resilience to travel through the change curve quickly themselves.  This gives them the capacity to monitor the responses of the team members, supporting each one according to where they are in the cycle, and assisting them if they get ‘stuck’ at a particular point.

The flexible leader will recognise that some members will focus on the rational reasons for the change and view it as a ‘task’, whilst others are more likely to focus on the people impact and the disruption to relationships.  Both are likely to go through the curve in different ways, and so require a different management approach.

All change involves ‘letting go’ of something, and it is important to actively create space for this to happen.  In one reorganisation where a team was broken up, they held a celebration party, where they acknowledged all the learning and accomplishments they had achieved together; this was their way of letting go in a positive way, and developing energy and resources for each of them to take forwards.

In another team, where a team member was stuck in depression, the team leader spent time listening to that person and their sadness about what they were leaving behind, and then gradually coached them into seeing some possibilities in the future.  Other resilient team members can also support their colleagues in an informal way.

The people with whom the team interacts (its stakeholders, suppliers and customers) may also be going through change, and so the same principles apply.  At a time of change, a number of people will not be operating at their best, and yet much is expected of them.  It is a time for mutual respect and support!

Our next blog will explore the tools that can be used with teams to support them during their change journey.

Notes

Elisabeth Goodman is 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).

Lucy Loh is the Owner and Principal Consultant at Lucy Loh Consulting, a consultancy that helps businesses and organisations develop their business plans, and manage change in their organisations and teams to be able to deliver those plans.  She is also a RiverRhee Consulting Associate.  Lucy has 25 years’ experience in BioPharma, where she has held management roles in strategy development and all aspects of performance management, as well as extensive internal consulting.  Lucy has expertise and experience in organisation development, benefits management and in designing and leading business change. She is a certified Master Practitioner of NeuroLinguistic Programming (NLP), which enhances her work in change management and individual coaching.  She is also an accredited trainer with the Institute of Leadership and Management for Strategic Leadership.

 

Enhancing Team Effectiveness in a Time of Change – an introduction


By Elisabeth Goodman and Lucy Loh

Lucy Loh and Elisabeth Goodman have been preparing a few publications and seminars that deal with enhancing team effectiveness, strategies for personal and organisational change, and team development in the context of project management.  We thought it would therefore be timely to write a series of blogs picking up on some of our thinking in these areas.

All organisations, whether in the public, third or private sector, are continuing to experience organisational change on a large scale.  Whether this involves reshaping, redefinition of roles or just addressing internal efficiencies, all of these bring huge challenges.

At the same time, teams within these organisations must continue to deliver today as well as achieve changes to their own roles and services for delivery tomorrow.

Challenges facing today’s teams

As we write, in the second half of 2011, many global economies, including the UK’s, are undergoing unprecedented change.  These macroeconomic changes are triggering change at all levels in the public, private and third sectors.  The public sector faces the challenge of having to do ‘more with less’.  The private sector is seeking increased efficiencies and effectiveness, and is looking at innovation of products, services and the ways in which it does business.  The third sector has the opportunity, and challenge, to take on activities previously performed by the public sector.

Although today’s wave of change has been primarily created by economic conditions, change is now a constant, so this series of blogs is relevant whatever the trigger for change.

Impact on organisations

The economic conditions have created a scale and rate of change to challenge organisations, and the teams within them, as never before.  Within organisations, some teams are being downsized, with difficult choices to make about which people to retain and which to let go.  Often, a team is in the position of waiting and watching as the change ripples down the organisational layers towards them.  Some teams are being reorganised, revising their priorities, or making a case for their survival.  Teams are being asked to be more effective than ever, at a time when they are under more pressure than ever.

Impact on individuals and teams

It is important to recognise that all change involves people: what they do, and / or how they do it.  Many people in today’s organisations have spent their working lives in a period of relative stability.  Their expectations about the emotional ‘contract’ with the organisation (their future, their working style, and terms and conditions) may now be challenged, leading to a sense of uncertainty and instability.  Their job content (what a job comprises, how it is to be done, and how performance is assessed) may have been stable for years.

For many individuals, change is demanding, personally and emotionally, as things that were important in the past are put aside, and new ways of working take their place.  But change also offers an opportunity for renewal: to look again at what each team does, and to reposition the team to meet the voice of its customers.

To sustain team effectiveness during change, engagement of the team throughout the process is crucial.  As Peter Senge said, “People don’t resist change.  They resist being changed”. We believe that it is the uncertainty associated with change that can be so difficult and painful to cope with, and that everyone needs to feel that they have some sort of control over their situation.  Team leaders should value expressions of resistance as an opening up of dialogue on what people are thinking and feeling, paving the way for constructive discussion on how best to go forward.

External and internal drivers of change

Some organisational change is driven by factors outside the organisation, to which it then has to react.  In other cases, an organisation can proactively choose to change, interpreting the changes in customers, services and demand likely in the future and reshaping itself accordingly.  In each case, a particular team may discover that its customers have changed, or the needs and wants of their existing customers have changed.  This means that the value which the team delivers to its customers must also change, which in turn alters the nature of the team itself, its roles, and what ‘good quality’ looks and feels like.

In addition, the team members will have a wider set of established stakeholders with whom they have a good relationship, and whose needs and styles of working they understand well.  As the organisation changes, the stakeholders for the team may change, bringing the need to build relationships with a new set of people.

The UK local government election in May 2011 offers a vivid example of change in organisational values.  A number of councils changed from leadership by one political party to leadership by another, with a substantial turnover in the Councillors themselves.  The incoming Councillors held different political views and values (political and other), and had different manifesto commitments to the outgoing Councillors.  Almost overnight, the local government officers needed to stop working with previous Councillors, and begin adapting to a new programme of work described in the manifesto.  This is change at its most radical: a new direction, new values, new stakeholders, a new programme of work, and new ways of working.  This is the ultimate requirement: sustain delivery to the team’s customers in parallel with evolving the team and its effectiveness.

Concluding comments

Jay Galbraith, a world leader on organisation and team development, tells us : “Every organisation is perfectly designed to get the results it’s currently achieving”.  We believe that it is critical for teams to design themselves for effectiveness, to manage the status quo and to increase their resilience for change.

In this series of blogs, we provide insights into the challenges for the effectiveness of teams when their organisations are changing, and practical tips and suggestions on how to lead and maintain a thriving team.

Our intention is to provide ideas and techniques that both leaders and members can use to improve the effectiveness of their team, whatever its sector or current level of performance.  We describe core principles and general approaches to team development (often initiated from inside the team) and show how to use these to address change from outside the team.  We share ideas on how to ‘diagnose’ the current state of the team, whether it is performing well and is strongly aligned with its customers, or less so.

Our next blog in this series will address: “Recognising reactions to change, and responding to them”.

Notes

Elisabeth Goodman is 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).

Lucy Loh is the Owner and Principal Consultant at Lucy Loh Consulting, a consultancy that helps businesses and organisations develop their business plans, and manage change in their organisations and teams to be able to deliver those plans.  She is also a RiverRhee Consulting Associate.  Lucy has 25 years’ experience in BioPharma, where she has held management roles in strategy development and all aspects of performance management, as well as extensive internal consulting.  Lucy has expertise and experience in organisation development, benefits management and in designing and leading business change. She is a certified Master Practitioner of NeuroLinguistic Programming (NLP), which enhances her work in change management and individual coaching.  She is also an accredited trainer with the Institute of Leadership and Management for Strategic Leadership.