Masterclasses in organisational change, executive coaching and behavioural change

Join us in London throughout 2017 to learn critical skills in organisational change, executive coaching and behavioural change.

Hot on the heels of our successful one-day BootCamps, we’re delighted to announce a series of intensive two-hour afternoon sessions covering some of the most common questions we’ve been asked.

Our MasterClasses provide an opportunity to look at specific challenges in detail and answer questions to accelerate your leadership and change projects.  Best of all, like all our public events, they’re completely FREE!

Our new schedule will cover topics such as:

  • Creating an internal coaching programme
  • Effective management and measurement of executive coaching
  • Harnessing the power of culture
  • How to create meaningful change (and ditch the ‘values’)
  • Turning leadership promises into business results
  • Getting the most from 360° assessment

For more details, and to book your free place, visit our events page.

Look forward to seeing you soon!

Supporting organisational change at Air France KLM

We supported managers at one of the world’s largest airlines to better manage conversations about change.

Combining coaching techniques with skills in conducting difficult conversations, their UK management team were better equipped to help employees succeed and support their people through change.

They really enjoyed the experience as well.  Vicky Frith, Air France KLM’s Corporate Sales Manager called it “highly engaging and motivating and an excellent learning opportunity”.

Read more about our work with Air France KLM here.

Why we love to run free events

For over 3 years, we’ve been running regular Leadership BootCamps across the UK.

Our BootCamps are free events on a range of topics close to our heart such as Executive Coaching, High Performing Teams and Organisational Change.

So why do we continue to give away learning that our customers have told us regularly they’re prepared to pay for?

  1. We like meeting new people.  We love our customers (very much), but we also like meeting new people.  We’re a bunch of extroverts, so new encounters keep our energy levels high.
  2. We love our topic areas.  We’re passionate about coaching, leadership and change so that’s what our BootCamps focus on.  We love talking to people about these topics, and we love the questions and challenges they bring along to discuss.
  3. We love presenting.  A lot of our team are from learning and development backgrounds, and really get their kicks being in front of a new audience.  They say there’s nothing better than a bunch of enthusiastic participants!
  4. It helps us generate new business.  Let’s be absolutely honest, we’re not only doing this for the love!  People who meet us generally like us, and often ask us to help them with their challenges.  We’ve met a lot of new customers that way, including OCS, The Co-operative Bank and Air France KLM.

    We’re absolutely transparent about this point because it keeps us focussed on providing great learning events, rather than sneaky sales days!

Click here to explore our latest free events

The joy of being ‘normal’

A customer told us a lovely thing recently – she said we were “very normal”.  If you’ve had any dealings with management consultants, you’ll know that’s a massive compliment!

However the context of the sentence worried us, because she was surprised at how “very normal” we were.  That led us to think long and hard about the image we portrayed to people, and what our customers really valued about working with us.

After talking to them we discovered it came down to 4 things:

  • We’re always passionate and enthusiastic about what we do – we arrive with a smile and leave them smiling
  • We know our stuff – we’re really insightful and have lots of experiences that we share with them
  • We always start with principles – we use this to help people make decisions they’re really happy with and are confident will deliver the right results
  • We’re very normal – our customers said they liked us as a bunch of people, which was lovely, because we really like them too

So we’ve had a bit of a spruce up, and built a new website and social media presence that is more reflective of who we want to be, and our customers value about us.

There’s still some work to do, but we’d love your thoughts.

Building a successful online learning community

Online collaborative learning has been a hot topic for over a decade.  Since the advent of modern social networks organisations have grappled with how to best make use of these tools to support and enhance the learning experience.

Early attempts usually involved the deployment of a relatively simple set of online ‘tools’ in isolation or as an add-on to a CMS (Content Management System) in the hope (and it was little more than hope) that employees would grasp the ‘opportunity’ to interact and share in the same way they were doing with Facebook and MySpace (remember them?).

The number of tools available, their capability and sophistication, and the understanding of users has increased enormously in the intervening years, but the challenge of maintaining consistent, meaningful interaction within a group of learners remains.

Having deployed a significant number of online learning environments, we have seen that their success is a function of 4 key factors:

Purpose

All too often, the purpose of the online learning environment is rather vague, being little more than an ill-considered ‘bolt-on’ to an otherwise unchanged learning process.  When building an online environment, consider 3 questions:

  • Are the goals of the online environment clearly understood and articulated?
  • Are the interconnects and handoffs between the online and offline environments built in to your learning approach?
  • Are the measures of success documented and tracked on a regular basis?

People

The users of your online environment are the most important consideration factor, and the one that will ultimately determine whether it is successful and valued.  Without a critical mass of participating people, online collaboration will fail.  More important than the number of users is the construction of the online population.

In addition to the learners themselves, many other stakeholders can add, and derive significant value from a collaborative learning environment.  Consider including:

  • The learning faculty – those involved in delivering the offline learning elements can use the online environment as a place to support and encourage ongoing development
  • Programme sponsors – those ultimately responsible and accountable for the business outcomes of the learning can provide valuable insight to keep learning on track
  • Learners’ line managers – using online tools is sometimes perceived as a waste of time by line managers and supervisors – inviting line managers to be part of the collaborative process can be a valuable engagement tool and help keeps learning focussed and relevant

Platform

There are many different online platforms available with varying degrees of sophistication and integration with existing systems.  Some will require significant capital investment, whilst others can be deployed in very little time at little-to-no-cost.  It’s all too easy to be bowled over with high levels of functionality, that in practice never get fully utilised.

When choosing your platform, consider:

  • Does it have the functionality to support your overall purpose?  Separate out the must-haves from the nice-to-haves.
  • Does it offer a familiar environment?  Familiarity is critical in removing barriers to use and in reducing the cost of deploying a system.  For example, most of your users will already use Facebook, so a system that uses similar terminology will make usage easier.
  • Where does it need to be ‘housed’?  Cloud-based systems often provide good value options, but the data is outside of your secure corporate network.  Is this acceptable?  Can you make it secure enough to satisfy your IT department?  If the discussions taking place were to ‘leak’ how much of an issue would this be?

Pied-Pipers

Perhaps the most important element of success are your ‘Pied-Pipers’ – those who engage regularly with the system and create the compelling content that drags others in.  Our experience suggests that these will typically make up around 1% of your online learning population.

If you have a large learning population upwards of several hundred users, then 1% of these may be all you need for successful take-up.  Smaller environments with only a handful of users can work just as well, but the Pied-Pipers will need additional attention and encouragement, or you may need to adopt this role yourself.

Consider:

  • Creating schedules for contribution that ‘force’ content onto your system and create reasons for people to keep visiting.
  • Having a clear policy that learning-based communications must use the online environment and ONLY the online environment
  • Create exercises in the offline environment to be completed online, such as writing a blog or producing a video.
  • Celebrate all types of contribution.  Some people will naturally want to publish, whilst others are more comfortable reacting to what is published.  Both are essential to the long-term success of the online environment.

New year resolutions. The first step on the road to hell or an opportunity not to be missed?

They say that the road to hell is paved with good intentions and it seems to me that the road through January is paved with failed resolutions.

There is a great deal of good advice about how to make meaningful resolutions – think small, make incremental steps, create habits etc. but I want to focus on how we, as organisational leaders can use the start of the New Year to really drive engagement levels and help provide purposeful support in the development arena.

Psychologically, the New Year is a great time for both reflection and planning.  It provides a natural point in time when we are encouraged to look back at what we have achieved in the previous twelve months and what we aspire to achieve in the following year.

Organisations generally do not take advantage of this process of reflection and planning yet it seems to me to be the ideal time to engage in development planning.

It is a great time to ask employees:

  • What do you want to achieve in your career over the next twelve months?
  • What skills and knowledge do you want to gain this year?
  • How will you add greater value this year than last?
  • What development activities have you considered to enable you to achieve your career goals?
  • How can we help?

It is, of course, vitally important to ask the last question so that employees know that the business is supporting them in their ongoing development and that the process of development is owned by themselves – the organisation should be supporting, not ‘doing’.

These career development resolutions can be as hard to maintain as the resolution about losing weight or going to the gym, so some of the same advice applies – don’t make the steps too ambitious, try to focus on changing behavioural habits with a focus on what you want to achieve as opposed to what you want to change.

Of course the greatest support for any resolution is affirming the positive benefits of the change, being supported in making the change and receiving positive feedback through the process of change – all of which are entirely in the gift of the leadership team of the business.

Having used this time of year many times to stimulate personal growth and career development pathways, I have consistently found that support, encouragement and positive feedback help the New Year resolutions to be grounded, habit-forming and, above all, sustainable.

Happy New Year!

How much tailoring is appropriate for a leadership development programme?

 

Developing leaders is, quite rightly, seen as a core business activity in the majority of contemporary organisations and the marketplace is inundated with a wide range of open programmes that leaders can attend.  The challenge here is finding the one that most accurately meets the needs of the individual participant and is aligned with the values and strategic imperatives of their business.

Assuming that these two challenges can be addressed appropriately, there is great benefit from meeting leaders from other organisations, sectors, and cultures to discuss leadership practice and develop knowledge, insights and skills in a mutually challenging yet supporting environment.

‘Open’ programmes attended by individuals from a variety of organisations therefore have a place, but there are times when the organisation needs to adopt a more specific approach.  For example, when seeking to embed a particular performance culture, aligning leaders around a focused strategy or developing potential future leaders to name but a few.

Having decided that an in-house programme is the most strategically appropriate, the business then, in conjunction with their development partner, has to decide on the degree of organisation-specific customisation required.  A programme can be designed from first principles or be adapted from a ‘shell-programme’, using a standard structure and content flow, with varying degrees of organisation-specific customisation or tailoring.

Each approach has pros and cons and it is worth exploring these in more detail:

Bespoke Programme Adaptation of shell design
Most useful when:

  • Seeking to drive the performance culture and strategic competencies with clarity and focus
  • Content is absolutely specific to the business, e.g. designed around a specific performance framework
  • Developing high potential groups where significant business-specific knowledge and leader-contributions are required
  • The business wants to maintain the IP of the content
Most useful when:

  • Meeting the need to provide more generic leadership development to a group
  • A swift delivery is required to meet a pressing business issue or opportunity
  • Cost is an issue
  • Wanting to work with a proven concept in a successful formula to mitigate risk
  • When wanting the programme to have industry comparability
  • When qualifications are a required output
Areas of potential concern:

  • Bespoke designs are expensive
  • Design time may compromise a fast roll-out
Areas of potential concern:

  • May not be fully aligned with the business strategy
  • May introduce language or approaches that are disconnected

Of course, over and above the decision to have a programme written or adapted is the need to have a successful and aligned learning process and business outcome, which means that we need to ensure that the following pre-conditions apply:

  • You have absolute confidence in the track record, capability and alignment of your development partner
  • The programme design and delivery link very clearly, and tangibly, with the strategy and performance culture of your business
  • The programme focuses on skills development not just knowledge acquisition
  • The participants have access to business leaders who can explain how the knowledge they are acquiring is translated into performance within their specific context
  • The participants have permission, opportunity and support to use their learning to create demonstrable value to the business
  • The triadic partnership between learner, leader and development partner is well thought through and firmly embedded with clear operating principles and commitments
  • The programme equips learners to deal with real issues in real time and focuses on the transferability of skills and knowledge
  • The programme has a clear cascade architecture so that the wider business benefits

It can be difficult to balance the decision making between what you want to achieve and what you can afford to do in terms of time and cost commitments, but as with most aspects of management, time spent thinking and planning with a clear outcome focus, will pay dividends and ensure that the learning intervention lives on well beyond the programme dates.