Saturday, 5 December 2020

Apart from Covid & Brexit, What Should We Be Thinking About In 2021?

 


Things are in a better place than we might have hoped for-there's a vaccine and it might be the game-changer we've been hoping for. This, combined with more effective "Test, Track and Trace," has the potential to bring us to a much improved situation. But there's a "but," (isn't there always?). What have we learned and how can we apply it in a world that will have changed?


"Bright Light! Bright Light!!" (Gizmo-Gremlins 1984)


It feels that the Covid Pandemic has shone a very bright, focused beam on some residual flaws in the way we "do" things. Flawed processes and assumptions have been exposed at a time when public trust in traditional institutions has declined. That said, whatever assumptions we may hold, there is an understandable "By their deeds they shall be judged!" element to the manner in which faith and trust of all kinds is experienced. That's important because it informs future decision making.




Taken form KPMG's November UK Economic Outlook the above extract assumes that unemployment will be around 7.8.% by May 2021 with a full year effect of around 7.2%, the impact is likely to be felt disproportionately in the 16-24 year old group. As I write these numbers, I have to remind myself that what they are is one thing, what they represent is another. They represent for some, economic destruction and a collapse of hope and this can and has, been the seedbed for immense anger and challenge to the status quo.

Q: Why are scientists that develop vaccinations sad? 

A: Because all their work is in vein (Boom-Tish!!)


One of the areas I had in mind with the "Bright Light" comment concerns "Collaboration." It is here it would appear, that the global scientific community has put the political community to shame. You don't get this far, this quickly without collaboration on a grand and focused scale. 
So, what do we learn from this?

To face the challenges ahead, we must collaborate, locally, regionally and nationally and this will mean working to a set of core values that embrace what can be done rather than reinforce previously held and hugely unhelpful, local, regional, national and assumptions and beliefs. There will, as discussed in the KPMG article, be a shift away from traditional work patterns and therefore, the service/hospitality industries that support these long-established processes: they will become something else and we need to be ready.

We should learn from what works and ask if there are ways of developing those collaborations that "could do better," developing learning conversations as we do so. There is an opportunity for significant realignment of Education,Training and Wealth Creation, one that provides pathways that might exist in some areas and require development in others and as they do so, give voices and opportunities to local communities and the potential to connect and collaborate with others.

Communication styles, content and media are an essential consideration in reaching out to groups where the impacts of change are most keenly felt and as I consider this, I reflect on the sentiments of Eric Berne, a Canadian Psychiatrist and author of "The Games People Play", a lead figure in the development of Transaction Analysis. He said that we should


 
"Write (communicate) in a manner that was accessible to the average eight year old-or take another look"
 (My take on his words!)

...how can this sound advice inform approaches to communication and community engagement as we travel forward on an as yet, uncertain road?











Wednesday, 2 December 2020

Sheena Easton Sings

 Do you remember this? The song "My Baby Takes the Morning Train" Released in 1981 it sings to a time that doesn't exist anymore and some of you might give a resounding "Good!" in reply.

But there's a but. The song speaks to some pretty much embedded assumptions about work, life leisure and relationships-a sort of musical cultural folklore, one that has continued to speak to our expectations and assumptions and I'm going to suggest that for many, its narrative continues to do so

There have been changes, of course there have and I'm going to suggest that the political/cultural shifts we've seen are about to be diminished by the impacts of the Covid 19 Pandemic and what it might mean for us, the way we live, the way we work.

I wanted to find out about the WFH (Working from home) experience and made a few 'phone calls to have a chat with people known to me for some time. I've taken a few themes form those conversations and have brought them together here

  • "Last March and before lockdown, people were pretty sure that radical change was on its way 

  • The manner in which leaders and managers communicated their expectations regarding distribution of work and leading on regular “health checks” (emotional well-being as distinct from “supervision”), has had a significant impact on morale and connectivity 

 

  • Working from home positives 

      • Help with child-care 
      • Able to concentrate on tasks-a distraction free environment 
      • Ability to structure working day to include “well-being breaks” 
      • No time “lost to commutes” 
      • Making a contribution to reduced carbon emissions 
      • Out of the day to day presence of unduly aggressive managers 

 

  • Working from home negatives 

      • Work is my only escape from loneliness 
      • Challenging home relationships 
      • Pre existing conditions have re-emerged as a result of Lockdown & Working from Home 
      • Health concerns for relatives 
      • “Zoomed Out” demanding meeting schedules 
      • Absence of work based social contact 
      • Absence of work-based learning/development opportunities 
      • A keenly felt absence of informal, work related conversations and connectivity 
      • Email misunderstandings 

 

Some conversations considered the opportunities presented to us by the prolonged gap in day-to-day workplace attendance. The layout of working environments and how we organise ourselves in high intensity workspaces, discussion spaces and recreational zones. Are we able to look at the opportunities to reconsider design, taking into account the potential for a reduction in the number of people present in the workplace at any one time? 


I'm interested in how "true and real" the above is. It's important-today I have learned that Unilever are trialling a 4 day working week in New Zealand-"Wellness matters! Yet when I look at the above list, there are significant shouts that tell me that things are not well and we need to start to build an alternative story about work, our expectations and its relationship with life in its broadest meaning.

I'm happy to extend this conversation and work with those who would like to find out more about their teams' expectations, hopes and fears.

Sheena Easton's song might now describe a piece of history we're happy to leave behind but we need to consider the spaces we're creating and the assumptions that inform them. I fear we are in danger of a reaction that reinforces messages we should refuse to revisit, we need to come up with another story!

Please note-I have nothing against Sheena, she worked with Prince, you don't get there by accident!

Wednesday, 1 July 2020

Can The Tuckman Model Help Us Understand What is Happening?

Tuckman: there's something so perfectly simple about this model that means it's sometimes overlooked in favour of more complex stuff.....



....and I think that's a mistake!

First introduced in the mid 1960's, the Tuckman Model has been around a while and there's a good reason for that: it works! Developed to help us understand Team Development and Dynamics, this model and conversations it primes has been my "Go to" place in conversations with Teams, their Leaders and Managers in a number of contexts. Why? Well, it helps us to talk about what might be going on and to anticipate what might be on its way: there are 4 stages that help us form up and discuss our ideas, they are:
  • Forming
  • Norming
  • Storming 
  • Performing
More recently a 5th Stage "Adjourning" has been added-for the purposes of this piece I'm staying with the original 4.

One of the challenges presented by using a model is that we need to remind ourselves that our sometimes complex and rapidly shifting work patterns don't often if ever, follow neat diagrams. So I won't include one-you can find plenty of them on Google Images (other sites are available!)
Some years ago I came across a piece of work that had shown how the model can be applied to individual and team behaviour across a range of team processes and activities. I've adapted it and made 13 YouTube Videos that discuss how each of process can be seen within the context of the Tuckman Model and what this might mean for developing a better understanding of our behaviour(s) and expectations.

The table sets out "What's going on" in the right column, the links in the left column will take you to a commentary/overview of the context. They're brief no longer than 10 minutes and most are well below.

 

 

Context

Narrative

  “Focus”

What do people focus on as change takes place?

How do we behave when we focus on what needs to be done? Whether thinking about the "big stuff" or agreeing on roles and operational area, our behaviours might define our contribution to the process. These are likely to be influenced by our individual and collective journeys within the Tuckman model. Here's an overview of what might be going on.

“Trust”

What is the “state of trust” at each stage?


We're going nowhere without it but how often do we consider how trust is affected by where we are at any particular point in our team journey? This clip gives some insights into how the concept of trust is subject to our relationship with change and our own securities/insecurities

“Team Relationships”

How might we expect relationships to change/grow/develop?


Divided, embittered and quarrelsome teams do not perform well. Ones with a sense of unity and purpose do. This clip builds on previous ideas of how we need to allow space to allow people to grow and develop through the relevant stages, establishing our values, ethics and behaviours as we so do. It's about trust & clarity, two essential "we're going nowhere fast without them," components of great teams.

“Criticism”

What takes place and where, overt, covert or productive?


An ever present in our lives, Criticism has the power to be both destructive and creative. It can drive people apart or become part of the social adhesion that binds group members together. This clip talks about how Criticism might present within the four stages and its potential to contribute to positive group and individual journeys

“Decision Making”

How do we go about taking and making decisions?


We all know what this means, that doesn’t however mean that the process is easy to describe. What is our role in setting and maintaining the ethical climate in which decisions are made? Where does confidentiality rest and is it okay to “backtrack” when we need to?


 

“Sharing of Knowledge”

Who benefits? How and when is knowledge shared and why? 

Not hearsay or gossip but knowledge. What are the disadvantages to holding on to information that under any reasonable examination would be seen as critical to enabling progress? How does our behaviour here reflect organisational culture and can we articulate the benefits of “synergous sharing”?

“Performance”

What efforts and collaborations are involved in “Performance”?

There are important conversations to be had here and they’re not about “target setting.” They are concerned with how we describe our role purpose and outputs in the context of achieving flow and excellence.

“Predictability”

How can we benefit from and go beyond predictability?

Arguably, we like a balance where life (work), is predictable enough. Too predictable and boredom takes over, ever changing relentless shifts in predictability? Expect burnout. Reaching a place where we anticipate and adjust quite naturally is a challenge for leaders and their teams.

“Understanding”

How well do we understand purpose and direction?

The greater clarity we can achieve here, the more likely it is that we will achieve some great outcomes! Ambiguity is welcome, it helps us decide the degrees of certainty under which we operate and that enables us to be more confident in developing and projecting a confident, flexible approach to how our role is both developed by ourselves and perceived by others.

“Products”

When we consider our outputs, what is going on at each stage?


Our outputs aren't limited to "work done", there are outputs related to our behaviours, our connectivity and commitment. Here, we open some discussion with the watch-phrase "keep your eyes on the outputs!"

 


“Interventions” (Overview)

When do interventions occur and how are they delivered? 

Interventions: Hands on/Hands off-they’re by no means mutually exclusive and there are times in the development cycle when we shift from one to the other. When we think about our actions in the context of the Tuckman Model, things may become clearer.

“Interventions” (Support)

As confidence and competence grows, support changes

A linear process? Not really and we might need to consider the information as part of our responses to change and a blend of leadership skills and approaches.

“Interventions” (Leader Focus”

At what point and for what purpose should leaders intervene?


At what point and for what purpose should leaders intervene? Here we take a look at the importance of the leader maintaining focus and awareness of the dynamics that might be at work within teams. We refer again to the importance of clarity and conversations that create clarity.

 

I'm happy to have a conversation with you about the model and how it might be used in your place of work. It's my belief that it has strong messages outside of the workplace too.
You can reach me on 07984409937 or mail me:


I'm sometimes asked why I use the Butterfly image-the link takes you to a brief explanation!


John.

John Dooner. DY 3Solutions.

Thursday, 28 May 2020

Six Leadership Styles, Emotional Intelligence and Stepping Into The Light

Background





The impacts of Covid 19 on how, where and when work is done are likely to be varied and challenging

This piece sets out to both inform, support and challenge people in Leadership, Management and Supervisory roles. Its history is  based on the findings of research and its practical applications by Daniel GoldmanCary Cherniss and Reuven Bar-On. It has informed my professional practice (and beyond!) for the best part of twenty years.
Some years ago Cary Cherniss asked employers to list their greatest concerns their organisations face. Here's what they came up with.
  1. People need to cope with massive, rapid change
  2. People need to be more creative in order to drive innovation
  3. People need to manage huge amounts of information
  4. The organisation needs to increase customer loyalty
  5. People need to be more motivated and committed
  6. People need to work together better
  7. The organisation needs to make better use for the the special talents available in a diverse workforce
  8. The organisation needs to identify potential leaders in its ranks and prepare them to move up
  9. The organisation needs to identify and recruit top talent
  10. The organisation needs to make good decisions about new markets, products and strategic alliances
  11. The organisation needs to prepare people for overseas assignments

Here are a few that occur to me as we adapt the above to meet today's challenges

  • What are our values, how do we communicate and live them?
  • How do we access, talk about and share Knowledge & Wisdom within and between organisations and partnerships?
  • Can we describe what we have learned?
  • How do we tell our stories about the "What is possible" in a manner that inspires others so that they want to be part of the narrative?
  • Let's use "We" instead of "People"
  • Let's use "Our" instead of "The" (organisation)
  • Some of the above have a much sharper focus as we come to grips with our rapidly changing, challenging and uncertain futures and leaders need to think about which ones matter most right now and then act.

We are suggesting that the Post Covid Adjustment period is an ideal time for those tasked with engaging with the organisation and delivery of very different ways of working to consider how incorporating some principles related to Emotional Intelligence may help us on our journey.



We Need to Talk About The What and How 

To incorporate a blended approach to Emotionally Intelligent Leadership into our change/development processes. 
This introductory clip sets out our initial thinking and refers to an existing body of work that might inform our practice

We Have Prepared 6 Clips

Where we guide you through the elements of Leadership Styles and drawing your attention to the implications for Emotionally Intelligent Leadership to have an impact on outcomes.

In clip 1 of 6 (5:50) we talk about Visionary Leadership and how it is used to secure a Change In Direction-something that we feel is very much a "live issue" for individuals, teams and organisations.

In clip 2 of 6 (6:48) we draw attention to Affiliative Leadership a style that is particularly effective in healing rifts in teams or to motivate them in challenging times.

In clip 3 of 6 (8:57) We set out to illustrate how a Democratic Leadership Style could provide a mechanism to achieve the very necessary "buy in" required from those involved in and affected by change. We feel that this will be of particular importance in the coming months.

In clip 4 of 6 (6:08) We draw attention to the potential that resides in a Coaching Leadership Style  one that seeks to develop strengths and improve performance

The above four styles are positive and nurturing, seeking to develop and encourage others. However, we have to recognise that there are occasions where we are seeking rapid movement from place A to place B. This might mean that we are required to address resistance

In clip 5 of 6 (8:28) We consider the elements of a Coercive Leadership Style within which we require high levels of prompt compliance-this is "turn around leadership" or where there may be a history of poor performance

In clip 6 of 6 (8:46) We draw your attention to Pace Setting Leadership Here the assumption is that we have a highly skilled and motivated team in place, one that is required to bring about rapid high performance and reliability change 

On The Journey




It is suggested that successful leadership will integrate four or more of the above.

We want to open up conversations that look at how we set out on our journey with a level of awareness of how an integrated approach to Emotional Intelligence, Leadership, Management and Supervision may contribute to the well being and success of organisations, partnerships and the individuals who work within them.

Monday, 25 May 2020

Is There A Space for Emotionally Intelligent Leadership Today?

Emotional Intelligence: 

here's my understanding of what it is:


"Understanding one's own feelings and those of others and how these are expressed as behaviours"


Introduction

This piece sets out to both inform, support and challenge people in Leadership, Management and Supervisory roles. Its history is  based on the findings of research and its practical applications by Daniel Goldman, Cary Cherniss and Reuven Bar-On. It has informed my professional practice (and beyond!) for the best part of twenty years.
Some years ago Cary Cherniss asked employers to list their greatest concerns their organisations face. Here's what they came up with.
  1. People need to cope with massive, rapid change
  2. People need to be more creative in order to drive innovation
  3. People need to manage huge amounts of information
  4. The organisation needs to increase customer loyalty
  5. People need to be more motivated and committed
  6. People need to work together better
  7. The organisation needs to make better use for the the special talents available in a diverse workforce
  8. The organisation needs to identify potential leaders in its ranks and prepare them to move up
  9. The organisation needs to identify and recruit top talent
  10. The organisation needs to make good decisions about new markets, products and strategic alliances
  11. The organisation needs to prepare people for overseas assignments
A couple of things occurred as I mentally adapted the above to today's challenges
  1. Let's use "We" instead of "People"
  2. Let's use "Our" instead of "The" (organisation)
  3. Some of the above have a much sharper focus as we come to grips with our rapidly changing, challenging and uncertain futures and leaders need to think about which ones matter most right now and then act.

For A While It Felt Like This




We hit the buffers and some fast footwork was required just to keep things going and it feels that we have, since late March been growing our coping mechanisms whilst trying to best guess our way into an uncertain future and very different work patterns.

I've Heard About and Discussed




How some fantastic people have reached out to their teams and offered the above and more, providing continuity, purpose and care in so doing. As we move forward our organisations be they:

  • Large corporates
  • SMEs
  • Education providers
  • Community & Charitable
Will need to visit items 1-12 above and decide for themselves

  • What to prioritise
  • How to communicate their priorities
  • How to use existing knowledge and wisdom
  • How to capture and communicate new knowledge and learning
  • How to support, motivate and up-skill people

It is my belief that we are better able to equip ourselves for this journey if those in leadership roles are aware of the styles of leadership that will take us towards an increased sense of the possible together with how they might be blended as contexts changes.

Here's an introduction to our thinking:


https://www.youtube.com/watch

Our next post will look at Six Leadership Styles and the context in which they might be applied.