Tag Archives: team morale

Reaching for emotional intelligence – a manager’s guide

By Elisabeth Goodman, 17th May 2016

Why is emotional intelligence such an important skill?

Emotional intelligence helps us, as individuals, to cope more easily with the ups and downs of work and life.  It helps us to build stronger relationships, collaborate with and influence others more effectively and to make better decisions.  In a work situation, it helps us to be better managers.

What is emotional intelligence?

Emotional intelligence enables us to be more aware of our own and other people’s responses to the situations that we find ourselves in, and to more consciously and actively change those responses.

It relies on us being more in tune to the relationship between how we think, feel and behave, and how changing any one of these can actively influence the other two.

Emotional Intelligence enables us to be more aware of our responses to change. (The survivor illustration from "The Effective Team's Change Management Workbook", RIverRhee 2013

Emotional Intelligence enables us to be more aware of and to influence our responses to change. (The survivor illustration from “The Effective Team’s Change Management Workbook”, RIverRhee 2013

How does emotional intelligence work?

I have been watching Gareth Malone’s work with the Invictus Choir, a simultaneously heartbreaking and uplifting experience.

The two one-hour episodes were graphic portrayals of many of the individuals’ journeys from barely coping with the aftermaths of the physical and emotional traumas that they had experienced, to releasing their emotions and moving to a new stage of acceptance and hope. Their injuries are still there and things to be dealt with every day, but they can now choose how they respond to them.

The choir’s opening lines :”Don’t turn your eyes away, and leave me in the dark” summarise for me how we can all interact with each other at a deeper level.

Gareth himself was truly impressive in how he steered and supported the members of the choir. He combined his impressive technical skill in teaching them to find their voice and excel, with what seemed to me tremendous emotional intelligence.

One of Rob Jeung’s publications focuses on emotional intelligence and I turned back to my copy to remind me of some of the key concepts. These are the ones that particularly stood out for me in watching Gareth Malone and what he achieved with the Invictus Choir.

Click here for information on RiverRhee's training courses for managers

Click here for information on RiverRhee’s training courses for managers

  1. Be alert to and aware of each individual. Respond to each person appropriately.
  2. Listen, really listen – use your eyes and ears, pick up on body language and tone of voice, not just the words.
  3. Give people one-to-one time – it shows them that you care about and value them, and gives them the space and time they need to say what’s on their mind, as well as build rapport between you.
  4. Say what it is you are observing – just that can open up the conversation.
  5. Don’t try to solve their problems – only the individual can do that.
  6. Judge when it is best to leave people alone, when to give them a chance to talk, when to give them a hug (if this is acceptable behaviour).
  7. Recognise that you are also learning how to deal with other people’s emotions, and that it’s alright to have your own “wobble” now and then!
  8. Don’t forget to be assertive. You still need to influence your team to achieve their primary objective. Being clear and direct about what this is will give them an anchor and a goal during their emotional journeys.

How are you applying emotional intelligence

What works for you?  What are your challenges?  As ever I’d be really interested to hear about your experiences.

(You might also want to read one of my previous blogs about empathy – the magical leadership ingredient.)


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.

Enhancing team effectiveness through temperature checks or diagnostics – a second look

By Elisabeth Goodman, 13th December 2015

Additional insights on team temperature checks

It’s been three years since I wrote my last blog on team development and team temperature checks, and I have since published The Effective Team’s High Performance Workbook, and also used the principles and approaches with project and operational teams.

Stages of team development, adapted from Tuckman

Stages of team development, adapted from Tuckman


My adapted version of Tuckman’s stages of team development, and the team temperature check survey or diagnostic are continuing to prove to be both simple and powerful tools for helping teams to be more productive and happier in their work.

I have, inevitable, gained some additional insights:

  1. There are no short cuts for achieving high performance teams
  2. It is however possible to accelerate the formation of high performance teams
  3. There is a handy way to group the different elements or prerequisites for team effectiveness
  4. There are many more aspects of team effectiveness to add to the list
  5. A team’s stage of development is determined by the least integrated member of the team

I’ll go through each of these in turn.

There are no short cuts for achieving high performance teams

My recent work with a team vividly reminded me that there is no point trying to encourage them to think about how they are going to work together, until they have resolved what they are each trying to do.  People not only need clarity on the team’s overall purpose, but also on their individual roles and responsibilities.

Until they know what they are expected to do, the lack of certainty involved can lead to insecurity and an inability to think beyond that to how they can build stronger relationships with the other members of the team, let alone start developing more effective working practices.

It is possible to accelerate the formation of high performance teams

An early face-to-face team building event still seems to be the most effective way to accelerate the formation of a team.  We need to be in the physical presence of our colleagues to foster that deeper understanding of each other, to build trust, and to have open discussions with each other about what we think and feel.

I continue to find that psychometric tools such as MBTI (Myers Briggs Type Indicator) or the Belbin Team Roles are a terrific resource to help team members understand and appreciate the respective strengths that they each bring to the team.

The other very simple technique to accelerate the formation of high performance teams is to encourage people to work with different members of the team in turn.  There is nothing like working with someone on some specific task as a way of getting to know each other.

The different elements or prerequisites for team effectiveness can be grouped together

I realised, as I was working with one team to collate the results of a team temperature check (or diagnostic), that there is a natural way to group these elements.  This discovery was reinforced by another client that was already using the groupings, albeit under slightly different names!

A way to group the different elements or prerequisites for team effectiveness

One way to group the different elements or prerequisites for team effectiveness.  The elements listed are examples from potentially longer lists.

There are many more potential elements of team effectiveness to add to the diagnostic list

Each client I work with has their own ‘take’ on which elements they wish to retain or add to the list – and that seems entirely appropriate.  The list is likely to depend on their team’s stage of maturity, and the nature of its role.

The list in my original blog on team development and team temperature checks was just nine items long! I have reproduced it here.

  • Clear purpose & goals
  • Trust & support each other
  • Open communication
  • Clear roles
  • Diversity
  • Task / Relationship Balance
  • Decision Making
  • Meeting management
  • Information Management

The various teams I have worked with have added such elements as:

  • Communication with stakeholders (as opposed to communication within the team)
  • Creativity and innovation
  • Action follow-up
  • Leadership
  • Performance monitoring

We use the final list as the basis for the team temperature check or diagnostic survey, and so it’s also worth having an ‘other’ category to pick up anything else that team members feel it’s important to review.

A team’s stage of development is determined by the least integrated member of the team

When my colleague Janet Burton and I are running the RiverRhee training courses for managers we ask them to identify which stage of development their team is at.

It’s not unusual for most of the team to have got to a certain point in their performance, only to be pulled back to an earlier stage with the arrival of one or two new team members.  Alternatively, part of the team may have forged ahead, whilst the rest of it is still in the storming stage.

After some discussion we usually come to the conclusion that the manager needs to work with those members of the team who are at the earlier stage(s) to properly assimilate them into the team.  Only then can the whole team achieve high performance.

What has your experience been?

As always, it’d be great to hear from readers who have explored the stages of team development and/or used temperature checks or diagnostics to enhance their team’s performance..  Have your experiences been similar to the above, or different?  What else have you learned?

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, facilitation, 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. 

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).

Difficult people are not necessarily being difficult!

By Elisabeth Goodman, 31st March, 2015

How to work with difficult people is a subject that many managers struggle with

How to work with “difficult” people is one of the topics Janet Burton and I explore in RiverRhee Consulting’s 3-day Introduction to Management course , and in our tailored in-house supervisor and line manager courses. I also previously referred to this subject in one of our newsletters on the subject of creating exceptional managers.

Elisabeth Goodman presenting the Introduction to Management course

How to work with “difficult” people is one of the most popular aspects of our courses, being one that many new and even more established managers can find quite challenging. I wonder whether it’s because the whole area of managing interpersonal relationships, dealing with conflict, emotional awareness and intelligence is something that is largely neglected in our educational system. We are so focused on academic achievement, that this essential aspect of work and indeed home life can be under-developed, unless other people in our lives have helped us to learn about it, or we have taken the initiative to explore it ourselves.

Difficult people may just be being different – we should take time to understand them

As I wrote in the newsletter, difficult people are not necessarily being difficult, but just different! Our different personalities, perspectives on, and beliefs in life will lead us to approach our work differently, communicate differently and generally act differently. At any moment in time, there will also be other circumstances happening in our lives that might be influencing how we think, feel and behave.

When faced with what seems to be a difficult situation or person, we would do well to step back and reflect on why they seem to be difficult, and to also step forward into the other person’s shoes. It may indeed be some aspect of our own behaviour that is creating or at least contributing to the situation.

We all make assumptions and try to mind read. One of the most obvious solutions, but also the one a lot of people will avoid, is to actually have an open conversation with the person concerned, to understand their perspective as well as communicate our own. Several of the managers we’ve worked with have dared to have those conversations as a result of what they’ve learnt on our courses and have been greatly relieved by the outcome.

Other strategies and tools to help us understand “difficult” people

There are various other strategies at our disposal, such as active listening, coaching and assertiveness that can help us to better understand what is leading to people being “difficult” as well as helping us to influence any associated behaviours and situations in a positive and constructive way.

We use various psychometric tools in our training ranging from Honey and Mumford’s Learning Styles, to NLP representational (or communication) styles, Belbin’s Team Roles and MBTI (Myers Briggs Type Indicator). These can be very illuminating in terms of understanding our different perspectives and approaches to life and work.

I’m in the process of reading “Working Together”[1], a book about transactional analysis (TA) in the workplace. TA, and the “OK corral”[2] originated with Eric Berne in the 1970s. It’s about understanding our beliefs about ourselves and how we believe others view us – often something we have inherited from childhood – and how that influences our behaviour and interaction with others. It can lead to individuals being generally passive or aggressive rather than assertive in their behaviour, or to responding passively or aggressively in certain situations.

The OK Corral - based on the work of Eric Berne

The OK Corral – based on the work of Eric Berne

In an organisational setting, the nature of the “OK” dynamic between individuals can influence the dynamics within teams and make a difference between a dysfunctional team and one that thrives on open discussion and attains high performance. The open and positive behaviour of senior and middle managers can make a difference between engaged and ‘empowered’ individuals in what Wickens (1995)[3] calls an “ascendant” organisation, and one where people are alienated, acting in an anarchic way, or where there is total apathy.

In conclusion – it’s worth spending the time to understand people, to create a more positive working relationship

As one of my own exceptional managers once told me, the work of a manager can be as much as 80% about people, and only 20% about tasks. If people are being “difficult” we should take the time to understand why they appear to be so. The root cause may be something that we can do something about or otherwise influence.

As Mountain and Davidson point out: people working together don’t have to like each other to still be able to work effectively together. In my own experience, better understanding can lead to something that is more akin to liking (if that was not there already), and certainly to a more positive working relationship.

[1] Mountain, A. and Davidson, C. (2015) Working Together. Organizational Transactional Analysis and Business Performance. Farnham, England, Gower

[2] Eric Berne’s 4-box matrix matches the various combinations of “I am OK”, “I am not OK” and “You are OK”, “You are not OK”. The “healthy position” being “I am OK, You are OK”.

[3] Wickens, P. (1995). The Ascendant Organization. Basingstoke, England, MacMillan Business


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.

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.

Empathy – the magical leadership ingredient?

Empathy can make a difference in every situation that we find ourselves in as leaders or managers

I recently read Geoff Crane‘s chapter 55 ‘Empathy in Project Management’ in the ‘Gower Handbook of People in Project Management‘. It’s a very large book, with a wealth of fascinating information, so I’m dipping into it a chapter at a time, and giving myself time to reflect on each one.

I really enjoyed Geoff’s chapter, and believe our ability to be empathetic can make a difference not only in Project Management, but in every leadership or people management role that we may have.

As Geoff explains in his chapter, empathy is different from sympathy in that the ‘listener’ not only acknowledges another person’s (the ‘speaker’s’) emotions but actually connects with them by ‘vicariously experiencing’ their feelings, seeing things through their eyes, or ‘getting into their shoes’.  Empathy requires active listening, picking up things that the other person may not even be saying.

Active listening?

Geoff shares a ‘behavioural change stairway model’ adapted from Vecchi et al.(1)  In it he shows that whilst active listening is a precursor of empathy, empathy in turn leads to rapport and so influence and the ability to effect behavioural change.

So, whilst empathy required us to emotionally connect with the other person, we still need to retain our own sense of self, and this is what enables us, as leaders, to then take some appropriate action to influence the ‘speaker’ to achieve a desired outcome.

This is what I have been reflecting about since I read Geoff’s chapter.

The role of empathy in project and line management

When we are responsible for a project, or for a team, should we be task or people focused?  The answer is both.  But whilst we can delegate aspects of the task management to members of our team, ultimately, the responsibility for the people within the team rests with the manager.  If we don’t recognise and respond to the needs of the individuals within the team, and to the dynamics between them, then we will never achieve a high performing team, or see each individual performing to their full potential.

Some people may think this is ‘too touchy feely’, and that we are all independent grown-ups without the need for ‘molly coddling’, but what is the reality of what happens in teams?  Aren’t the emotions visibly there (or thinly disguised) on a day-to-day basis? So as team leaders, wouldn’t we do better to acknowledge that and work with the emotions rather than ignore them?

(By the way the next chapter I read will probably be number 53, Deanne Earle’s on ‘Emotional Intelligence in Project Management’.  Geoff Crane has put up pictures of all us contributing authors and the themes of our chapters on his website – The Papercut Project Manager.  I also wrote a short blog referencing my chapter on Team Development.)

Empathy in change Management

Our APM Enabling Change SIG committee are currently working on a glossary of terms associated with Change Management.  We’re having a bit of a debate around the definition of ‘resistance’ in Change Management.  Is it a barrier to be overcome, as is commonly described by Change Management practitioners?  Or is it something that, in our role as leaders, we should be helping to surface and understand, so that we can respond to what we learn about the ‘speaker’ and use this not only to influence the ‘speaker’ but also to improve on our Change Management plans?  Isn’t that empathy truly at play?  I take the latter approach in my book ‘The Effective Team’s Change Management Workbook’.

A further thought: change agents recognise the importance of communicating the benefits of change, and of doing it in the context of WIIFM (What’s In It For Me).  There is surely an emotional context to that which requires change agents to empathise with – hence the value of asking such questions as: “If this change was successful for you, what would that look, feel or sound like?”

Empathy makes for better facilitation too!

A recent client very kindly said that he uses me as a facilitator because I understand his organisation and the people within it.  We know that the most effective facilitators disconnect from the content of workshops and discussions that we facilitate, and focus instead on providing the right tools and guiding the dynamics of what’s happening.  We need to tune into the emotions involved, and judge when and how to intervene to help the participants achieve their overall goals.

Empathy also helps us to be effective trainers, mentors and coaches

A friend of ours recently died from cancer.  For a short while he’d taught my daughter to improve her guitar playing.  At his funeral service another student talked about how special our friend had been in effectively being able to empathise with his students and help them to achieve whatever it was that they needed – and it wasn’t just about learning to play the instrument – it was about wider aspects of their lives.  I recognised what he was saying from how I’d seen and heard him work with my daughter.

Isn’t empathy what distinguishes a skillful trainer, mentor or coach from a mediocre one?  Which of your teachers do you remember best?  Was it empathy that distinguished them from the others?

(I wrote more broadly about the qualities of trainers, mentors and coaches, in my RiverRhee Newsletters on the ‘coaching continuum‘.)

With empathy we as leaders can give the people that we work with some of the most valuable gifts in life: the time, the space, and ultimately the skills, to achieve what will help them to be successful as ’empowered’ individuals and as members of our teams.  Doesn’t that make empathy a magical leadership ingredient?


  1. Vecchi, G.M., Van Hasselt, V.B. and Romano, S.J. (2005).  ‘Crisis (hostage) negotiation: Current strategies and issues in high-risk conflict resolution’, Aggression and Violent Behavior, 10, 533-51.

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

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

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

Feel the fear and do it anyway

By Elisabeth Goodman

Last night I heard Sheri Kershaw & Band at the Royston Folk Club – our favourite twice-monthly music venue.  She introduced her first song ‘Colours of Life‘ with the observation that we will all suffer at some time in our lives, and the suggestion that we embrace rather than resist this experience, as it is what adds colour to our lives.

One of the reasons that I write these blogs is the opportunity this gives me to share the insights that experiences like hearing someone like Sheri gives me.  Combine this with a Harvard Business review blog by Peter Bregman ‘The unexpected antidote to procrastination‘ that I spotted in my twitter feed earlier in the day, and some magic happened that I wanted to share!

Not being afraid to fall

Feeling the fear and doing it anyway

Feeling the fear and doing it anyway

Bregman writes of his experience of watching surfers, who dare to ride the waves in search of that epic experience, with the full knowledge that they will always end by falling.  Some fall gracefully, others resist it for as long as they can.  But inevitably, they do fall.  He suggests that the reason we put off doing a lot of difficult things in work or in life, put off taking risks even if what we might achieve might be epic or wonderful, is the fear of what might happen, of failing, of falling, of being hurt.

However, if, like Bregman, like Sheri Kershaw, we accept that the intensity of what we might feel, of what we might suffer, is an integral part of life’s rich tapestry, and of what we can achieve and succeed at, then it’s going to be about feeling the pain, and doing it anyway.

The link to engagement, empowerment and change

This brings me to why I’m writing about music and surfing in a business blog, and why I do the work that I do!  I had the pleasure to experience a one-day course on coaching, organised by the Cambridge Network‘s Learning Collaboration, and led by Sue Blow from Management Learning & Coaching.

Listening to Sue and hearing about her approach as a coach reminded me that my work with teams is all about giving the individuals within the team the time, environment and skills to deal with the pain that they have been experiencing.  As a result, the members of the team can become more engaged with their organisation’s goals, and also feel more empowered to do something about the challenges that they are facing.

I was talking with David Bance and John Moore earlier in the week, in our nascent Melbourn Business Association Special Interest Group for Operational Excellence. We were comparing experiences of how empowered people had been to raise suggestions for improvement as a result of participating in Total Quality Management, or Lean and Six Sigma initiatives.  The best outcome was that it gave them the permission, the courage, the skills, the data and reasoning to dare to change situations where they had previously been feeling the pain.  Of course, a successful outcome is also dependent on the management and organisational support to make the resultant changes.

The fear and the pain can be large or small

I definitely do not wish to minimise or trivialise the fear, pain or suffering that people might experience in their working or home lives, and the courage and the risks that they take to overcome them.  I recognise that these can be very great and some of the situations that I come across can seem relatively small.

For example I also recently attended an excellent seminar by Janet Burton, of The Training Manager, where we explored how to develop, prepare for and deliver  presentations.  Even these kinds of situations can feel challenging and require effective mental preparation, a good stretch and taking a deep breath before beginning!

I’m also a trustee of the Red Balloon Learner Centre in Cambridge, and admire the courage of the students who come in to tackle their personal challenges of recovering from bullying and other traumas that they’ve experienced, so that they can come back to learning again.

The main thing is, as Sheri Kershaw and Peter Bregman suggest, to embrace these experiences and to also remember that there are people out there who will help you if we can.


  1. Elisabeth Goodman is Owner and Principal Consultant at RiverRhee Consulting, enhancing team effectiveness through process improvement, knowledge management, change management and MBTI (Myers Briggs Type Indicator)
  2. Follow the links to find out about other ways in which Elisabeth Goodmanand RiverRhee Consulting can help your team to work more effectively for greater productivity and improved team morale.

What can Lean and Six Sigma and Dilts’ Logical Levels of Change bring to effective change management?

By Elisabeth Goodman and Lucy Loh

This is the fifth and last blog in our series on “Enhancing Team Effectiveness in a time of change” based on our recent publication in Business Information Review(1), and other publications and seminars in progress.  We explore two last tools: Lean and Six Sigma in Change Management and Dilts’ Logical Levels of Change.  We also suggest some next steps for you to practice what you will have learnt, and ask whether you would be interested in some follow-up support, and if so, what form that might take.

In case you missed them, this is what we covered in our previous blogs

In our first 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.

Our second blog (Recognising reactions to change, and responding to them) explored how people (either as individuals or teams) respond to change and how to help them through their journeys in a positive way.

Our third blog (Tools for supporting teams during their journeys through change) introduced five more specific tools for supporting teams during their journeys through change.

Our fourth blog (Team development, pre-requisites for success and temperature checks: tools for effective change management) explored three of the tools: team development, pre-requisites for success and team temperature checks in more detail.

Lean / Six Sigma

The Lean and Six Sigma process improvement philosophies and tools can be extremely useful to a team undergoing change.  We have worked with organisations to help them develop strategies and implement change in an approach analogous to that described by Steven Spear(2):

  1. Identify the value to be delivered, and your team’s goals, in the context of your customers’ and other stakeholders’ expectations
  2. Adopt an end-to-end (cross-organisation) process orientation i.e. going beyond traditional silos to explore how to deliver customer value most effectively and efficiently
  3. Commit to identifying, solving and learning from problems
  4. Build capability within the team to perpetuate a culture of continuous improvement

Even short workshops around any one of these steps with a team undergoing change can already help them to be better equipped to deal with it.  We have worked with an academic library team preparing to centralise processes for books and periodicals that were previously decentralized across several college libraries.  An engagement with a pharmaceutical contract research organisation (CRO) has enabled it to engage people across the whole of its organisation, deliver real savings in cost and time, and embed this approach as a sustainable way of working.  You can read more about these case studies on our web site (RiverRhee Consulting case studies).

Dilts – Logical Levels of Change

This tool is one that can be used both as a diagnostic, and as a planning tool in a time of change.

Robert Dilts is a leading figure in the field of Neuro Linguistic Programming (NLP) who recognised that it is important for team leaders to act at multiple levels to achieve change.  He developed the Logical Levels of change model, as a helpful way of understanding the elements of effective team performance(3).

Logical levels of change


The ‘Environment’ is outside the team: the place and time where and when the team works, the team’s customers or stakeholders, the physical layout of the work area.

Behaviour and capabilities

‘Behaviour’ consists of specific actions: what each team member does, says and thinks.  This will be the outward display of having successfully introduced new working practices and so it will also be useful to define the key expected behaviours for implementing a particular change.

‘Capabilities’  (or ‘competencies’) are skills, qualities and strategies, such as flexibility and adaptability.  They are consistent, automatic and habitual, are how work gets done in the team and will often need to be defined, taught and practiced in order to support change.

Performance management is an established process for managing goals for Behaviours and Capabilities in most organisations.

Values and beliefs

‘Values’ are what an individual or team holds to be important.  They act as the ‘why’: the emotional drivers for what a team member or the overall team does.  ‘Beliefs’ are what an individual or team holds to be true, and so influences how the person or team acts.

Values are critical: for most of us, they are key, unconscious influences on how we act.  The values demonstrated by the team leader are particularly important.  For example, a team leader who values harmony could act to reduce tension in the team.  In some circumstances, it could be more important that the team leader values achievement, and temporarily ‘parks’ an issue of tension in order to meet an important deadline.

Within the team, it is vital that the team leader manages a sensitive debate on the values which will be important for future team success, meeting the needs of its customers and stakeholders – not necessarily the values which the individual team members hold most strongly.

At a time of change, it is helpful for the team leader to ask all the members of the team to state their Beliefs about working in the team – and to facilitate a healthy debate about these.

Identity and purpose

‘Identity’ is how a team thinks about itself, the core beliefs and values that define it, and provide a sense of ‘who the team is’.  Healthcare professionals could have an identity as nurses, for example.

‘Purpose’ refers to the larger organisation of which the team is part.  It connects to a wider purpose – ‘for whom?’ or ‘what else?’  For healthcare professionals, their purpose could be to alleviate suffering or to provide care.

Using the Dilts model

The model helps the team to understand its status, and to make choices about what to do.  It has a natural hierarchy, and indicates where change is required in the team, to assist its effectiveness in the wider organisation.  Where the nature of the wider organisation has changed, and the role of the team has changed within it, then the team would work through all of the levels, from identity downwards, to consider what has changed and to redefine itself.

When introducing change in an organisation: our first thought might be to put up posters, or run training courses.  To achieve change, it’s tempting to focus activities on the lower levels of Dilts’ pyramid, because they are more ‘visible’, and easier to act on.  Organisation change, for example, (changing the organisation chart, reporting lines, which skills are located in which team), affecting the bottom three levels of the pyramid.  But change at these lower levels will not necessarily affect the higher levels, and we can both identify examples where large amounts of energy went into these activities at the lower levels but little into the identify and values of the new organisation, with poor results.

We can create more lasting and sustainable change, by working on purpose, identity, values and beliefs.  These higher levels in the pyramid are generally more ‘invisible’, harder to change and harder to assess because they address the thoughts and emotions of individuals. For lasting and sustainable change, we therefore need to consider the new purpose of the team, what the new identity would look, feel, and sound like, and what the values and beliefs would be to sustain that new purpose and identity.

It is worth significant effort to engage the organisation and its teams in this as much as is practically possible.  This is the way to change those thoughts and emotions, which will then motivate changes in capabilities and behaviours.   Training courses and posters could be developed which re-emphasised the changes in identity and values, while also developing the capabilities and behaviours needed.  Development of the environment to support the change would also honour the new identity and values.

Conclusions and suggested next steps for you & for further support

There are many drivers for change in today’s business world, and change brings challenges to teams, who are delivering services today and need to evolve to deliver differently tomorrow.

Fortunately, there are many well-established methods of assessing and developing team effectiveness, and our series of 5 blogs has covered several of them.

Now that you’ve read this, and perhaps some of our other blogs, what might you do differently?  Here are some suggestions:

  1. Think about the changes that you are experiencing, either at work or at home.  Where are you on the change curve in relation to these?  What action(s) could you take to help you move through the change curve?
  2. If you are responsible for initiating or driving change, think about your personal or organisational context for change.  Is there a way of better articulating the associated purpose, identify, values and beliefs (i.e. as in the Dilts’ model)?
  3. If the change you are involved in has an impact on others, think about what they may be experiencing in the change curve and what might help them through it; use Lean and Six Sigma techniques (in this blog) to identify and engage all the stakeholders involved in an end-to-end perspective of the process
  4. If you are leading a team, or would like to support the team leader, consider the status of the team in terms of team development, and the prerequisites for team success, and engage the team members in building the (new) team
  5. Review the list of tools for organisational change and team effectiveness, and try at least one of them.

And finally, these blogs on organisational change and team effectiveness have achieved a record level of readership.  We’d like to offer further support and are considering webinars, e-books / workbooks, training courses additional to those that we already offer (see RiverRhee Consulting training and development).

Would you be interested in some further support?  What form would you like this support to take? Do let us know!


  1. Goodman, E and Loh, L. (2011) Organisational change: a critical challenge for team effectiveness.  Business Information Review, 28(4) 242-250
  2. Spear, Steven (2009) Chasing the Rabbit. How market leaders outdistance the competition and how great companies can catch up and win.  McGraw Hill
  3. O’Connor, Joseph (2001) NLP workbook.  London : Element

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.