Development

, ,

Managing Millennials

Top Tips on Managing Millennials

We probably need to start this article with some caveats and health warnings.  We cannot claim that everyone born between 1980 and 2000 is the same or has the same requirements from their manager.

And just like any other group of people, the best thing you can do as a people manager is take time to build a relationship and work out together what each individual needs from you.

However there are some particular quirks to those in the latter half of this generation known as millennials: those born after around 1990, who grew up with technology at the centre of their lives and experienced 9/11 in their formative years.

There are lots of sources out there on millennials and understanding how they have developed into people that are frequently insulted in the workplace.  Our favourites are Simon Sinek’s frank and entertaining version from a US perspective and this UK version from the Guardian

But this article is about how to manage millennials.  Understanding their mindset and how they have come to certain ways of thinking and being is useful, but what do we do with that information when they’re in our team and we’re struggling?

There are again a lot of places to look for such guidance, but the best by far is this book where there are specific suggestions given on how to adapt your management style in order to get the best from your team (frankly whether they’re millennials or not).

Here are our highlights:

Adaptability – are you willing to adapt to the needs of others or do you find yourself (like most people do) saying about millennials: “I can’t believe they did that.  I would never have done that when I was their age / in their position.

They need to get a grip / realise the world we’re in / follow my lead or get lost.”  Examples often quoted are people taking long lunch breaks, leaving the office early or taking six weeks off to go travelling.

The problem here is that we always compare ourselves to others, so we say “I would never have taken a long lunch break when I was early on in my career – I never even do that now!”  But just because we didn’t do it, that doesn’t mean there is a universal law saying nobody can ever take a long lunch break.

We need to challenge ourselves to meet people where they are, challenge our beliefs about what is acceptable and unacceptable behaviour and work with each individual to agree ways of working.  In practice that probably means that sometimes it’s fine for people to take long breaks as long as they get the job done.

Challenge Orientation – ah that classic phrase – “it’s not a problem, it’s a learning opportunity.”  We scoff at this like it’s false, but the fact is that when we really believe something is an opportunity to learn and stretch ourselves and a challenge we look forward to, we get a lot more out of the experience.

We only need to remind ourselves of Carol Dweck’s Growth Mindset work to see how powerful this can be.  So do you view millennials in your team as a pain, or as a new challenge for you to work through and find a way to help them thrive?  Your mindset could be the greatest barrier to your success in their management.

Poweralthough we probably all still come across people who use their title, rank and level in the hierarchy as their power, there is no doubt that this is losing its relevance and prevalence in the workplace.

For millennials in particular, having grown up without the need for authority figures in some ways, as they can find out just as much as an expert in seconds on google, the focus is on relational power over authoritative power.

So next time you feel like saying, “I’m the boss, so just do what I say,” remember that this is likely to switch people off.  Work on building trust and helping your team understand the pressures you are under, so that you can ask people to help you and all work together on solutions.

Success – finally another point on mindset.  Do you believe that millennials hinder your chances of success?  Or do you see that they can help you succeed – and you can help them thrive?  Not surprisingly, those managers who believe the latter tend to be better managers.

What you will notice is that far from magic solutions for getting millennials to adapt to the workplace, the research shows that businesses who see millennials thriving and contributing greatly to results, have managers with a different mindset.

So, are you willing to think differently, in order to help your team thrive?

Read More
, , , ,

Making ‘No Ratings’ Work

handcuffs-brokenHow to make the transition to no more performance ratings – successfully.

If you’re considering saying bye bye to the classic performance rating system, you are not alone.  You can read here about the findings of many companies who have already made the same move.

It’s not surprising that this has been a popular move because who has ever really enjoyed rating or being rated?  At some point it becomes an awkward conversation.

Congratulations – you don’t have to go through that anymore!  But what do you do instead?  And how does that make things better – for you, your team and your business?  Here are some top tips from our experience with helping managers make this transition, backed up by neuroscience and research from the CEB and NLI.

Explain the change

We know that change can be difficult, particularly when we can’t see why change is happening.  Our brains like certainty, predictability and safety in knowledge, so not knowing what’s happening, what that means for me, what might happen next – and all the other usual hallmarks or organisational change, can lead us to unrest and panic.  Explore for you personally and the business overall why you are moving away from performance ratings.

Totem Gummi Bears

You could even remind people how awkward these conversations have been in the past, so it is a good thing to remove a painful and potentially unhelpful process.  Have you and your team been more effective and produced better results in the lead up to and just after that rating conversation?  If not then surely this is a good reason for change.

This leads us on to the future focus.  If we understand why what we had before is not so good, then we ask, “What is better then?  What will we do from now on?”  You need to be ready for this question and have some good ideas.

Or if you want to be truly collaborative, you could ask your team: “We think there must be something better than this awkward ratings conversation, but we’re all involved in this process, so what do you think could work better?”  Being involved in shaping the future process increases engagement in both business and neurological terms – we both feel good about our employer and feel valued in ourselves, all having a positive impact on the way we feel and our productivity.

If you don’t have the option to be so collaborative, perhaps because your HR or Executive Leadership team have already agreed what will happen instead, then explain the new process.  Make sure you explore with the team why this new process is considered to be better and ideally still ask them to define part of it.

Jelly Bean Diversity

Even a small amount of consultation and empowerment to make decisions keeps our brains happy, so this as an example could get you a more positive outcome than having no consultation at all: “We know we need to have more frequent performance check-in conversations and these need to happen every other month.  Which months would you prefer these occur in?  And when in the month would be best for you?”

Have the conversation more often

The increased frequency of conversations has been found to correlate with organisations seeing success from this transition, as found in the NLI’s research.  It stands to reason that the removal of a past-focused once or twice a year rating process, if replaced with nothing, could just mean that performance goes nowhere.

Getting rid of hours spent justifying a rating is best seen as an opportunity to have more frequent ‘check-ins’ – shorter, sharper conversations about an individual’s results and behaviours.  This means as managers we need to be putting time aside for these conversations, whether face-to-face or remotely over the phone / skype etc.  As I often say on workshops, this is not about finding more time for conversations, it’s about taking the time you already spend in conversations – and making that more effective.

General chit chats about how things are going, moaning about systems, politics and red tape, are not a good use of our time.  So instead make sure you have 1:1s booked in with the specific purpose of reviewing what is going well, what needs working on and how the individual will be working on that over the next few weeks.

Give more specific feedback and coaching

Of course all of that means you need to be confident and skills with feedback and coaching.  Here’s a starting point suggestion for a good conversation or performance check-in:

The purpose of this conversation is for us to both be clear on what’s going well, what needs improving and what each of us will do over the next few weeks to make those improvements.  That means we should be ending this meeting with agreed actions and timescales for review

  • How are things going for you?
  • What’s going well?

Add your specific feedback on what you have seen them do well – both in terms of results and the behaviours that got them there.

  • What needs further improvement?

Add your specific feedback on what you have seen them do not so well – both in terms of results and behaviours.

  • What could you do over the next few weeks to make more of what’s going well and improve on the other areas?
  • Where will you start?
  • What support would you like from me?
  • When we next meet to review progress on [date], what will you be telling me then – as an indicator of success?

Use statements and questions like these to keep the conversation focused and make sure it is the individual planning their future success, rather than justifying their past performance.

Totem Lollipops

This level of coaching or empowering someone to come up with their own feedback and solutions, is shown in our brains to make us feel good about ourselves and help us commit to the plans agreed.  Being told what to do and how to do it just doesn’t cut it, so sense-check you’re doing this well by reviewing who did most of the talking during your meeting: it should not be the manager!

Any change is going to feel uncomfortable, because we’re not used to it yet.  Even the best things we’ve ever done feel unnatural at first as we get used to them.  Clear communication about why we’re changing, what we’re changing to and how that’s better, following by more frequent check-ins with good feedback and coaching – all of this can help you instil a great performance culture – minus the ratings!

If you would like support working out how to implement a no-ratings approach, we can help with on-the-job quick reference guides, workshops and online learning tools – just give us a call for a chat about how we can help you.

Read More
, ,

The Value Add of Executive Coaching

value-totemHow We Go About Improving the Value Add of Executive Coaching

Whether we’re coaching one senior executive in a firm or a whole leadership team and whether we are the sole coaching provider or one of many, there are some consistent ways of working that help.

We’ve put together this useful little guide to help you understand some of the key steps to successful executive coaching.

Click on the image and the magic will happen.

coaching-download-image

Read More
, , ,

Goldilocks & Leadership Development

goldilocks1-400x265How do you design a leadership development programme right for you?

Many of our clients are wanting to have a development programme for managers and leaders that is tailored to them – or completely bespoke for each person.  The days of off-the-shelf learning approaches seem to be numbered as recognition grows that traditional classroom learning is simply not effective.

So what can businesses do to make their development programmes for managers and leaders – more appropriately tailored or bespoke?

Here are some of the lessons we’ve learned over the years about how this approach can work best – whether you work with an external provider or not.

Make the vision for development crystal clear.

Let’s start with the intent.  Why on earth are you doing this?  If you want to engage and demonstrate to your organisation the value-add of developing managers and leaders, you’ll need to answer the questions below.

What’s the purpose?   What do you want people to learn through this development?  What might people be doing differently as a result of this?  How does that add value to the business?  How could you measure that behavioural change to monitor the effectiveness of the programme?

Totem Lollipops

What’s the Development Path?  Where might learners want to take their careers and how does this development support that?  What features might your approach need in order to best support personal, career and business-critical development?  Do you need to add in mentoring from the Exec, buddy systems, external experiences and support?  How does your approach enable people to grow their self-awareness, a critical door-opener to all other development?

We’ll admit that list of questions can be tough to answer, and working through those questions with your stakeholders can often take months.  But in our experience, considering and responding to each of those questions will mean you’ll be able to create a solid and compelling business case for developing your people; and a better programme as result.

So now to the doing.  What activities or interventions could you use?

Below is a little list of things you can use on top of facilitated skills workshops, but we’d always recommend starting with the learning objectives.  What do people need to learn?  Is it knowledge, skill – or about embedding behavioural habits?  Plan interventions or learning activities that best suit that sort of learning.

  • Engage the senior team. When we talk about the 70: 20: 10 model, the difficulty is always working out what to do with the 70%.  The fact is that the 70% of our learning comes from the underlying culture and unconscious observation of how things are done around here.  That can be heavily driven by our managers – so getting them on board with the learning objectives and role modelling the right sort of behaviours is critical.  It doesn’t of course always work that way – but it’s a great starting point to at least get leaders on board.
  • Problem-solving workshops. Reflecting the best practice accelerated learning principles of having learners create their own learning, this approach starts with them.  What is the problem they’re facing linked to your development outcomes?  A common example is both the business and the delegates want to get better at having difficult conversations.  So instead of jumping into traditional classroom training showing people how they should have difficult conversations, ask people to look at it like a problem to solve.  The fact is that in this example, and many others, we all know what we should do, but actually doing it is a different story.  Powerful facilitation of “why is it we don’t do what we know we should, and how might we address that?” can be far more beneficial than yet another training course.  You can read more about this in the article High Performance Conversations.
  • Webinars and self-directed learning. If some of the learning you want to deliver is knowledge-building, then you may as well make use of all the resources available in your documents and systems – and the good old internet.  Giving people knowledge in a workshop can be energy-draining and unhelpful, so use online learning, webinars and workbooks to encourage learners to work at their own pace, reflect and build their knowledge.  The idea with self-directed learning is to encourage the same kind of behaviour as you see when someone is curious about a topic.  We start with a google search and find ourselves going in all sorts of directions from there, clicking on more links and expanding our understanding of something.  You can encourage this by suggesting particular Google searches, giving suggested web links and TED talks and recommending people explore from there.
  • 1:1 coaching and Action Learning Sets. When it comes to embedding behavioural habits, the best option is always to have a manager who supports and challenges us to try out new things, reflect on learning from experience and keep trying things out.  This of course is very rare – and whilst engaging your leaders at the start is wise, it’s always useful if you can give a helping hand to the embedding of habits.  Coaching and action learning give you the chance to challenge people on how they have applied their learning, what they’ve tried and what they could do differently next time.

Own it!

The real jazz hands moment in our work is when individuals take personal accountability for their learning.  This is singularly the most important thing you can encourage when developing people.  If you get this right, and get it in early, learners will be better engaged, more responsive and eager to improve their capabilities.  Starting any learning with it all being focused on people coming up with their own solutions is a great message – and enables you to build from there, the theme of personal accountability.

You could argue that there is nothing in here that stands out as particularly bespoke or different from an off-the-shelf programme – but the key difference is, it all starts with what your business needs to achieve and what your learners offer as solutions.  That’s what makes it work.

Read More
,

The Games People Play

games-people-play-totemUnderstanding the dynamics of relationships in a way that is truly practical

The Games People Play explains and analyses with pertinent real-life examples, the continual struggle between our inner child, parent and adult to dominate a social situation, colloquially termed as ‘games’.

The book interprets that the outcomes of these games are a fundamental human requirement and by understanding the way these games are played we learn to understand the motivations of ourselves and our peers.

Each chapter addresses various situations and the author lists the multitude of games people partake in where the outcome is win, lose or draw.  The games have names such as: “See What You Made Me Do”; “Ain’t It Awful”; and “I’m Only Trying To Help You”.

Berne introduced some of these concepts in Transactional Analysis and gives lots of examples of the different games played by people.  The book provides a view to pinpoint and categorise people’s behaviour or combinations of behaviours and to think about the origins & continued causes of this behaviour.

The book examines the roles people assume in their interpersonal relationships which foster the subsequent and often repetitive transactions. The description of some of the games such as Alcoholic and Courtroom are incredibly interesting.

On the whole the book is a very interesting study of human behaviour and a good set of “worked examples” for anyone trying to understand Transactional Analysis.

Read More
, ,

Emotional Intelligence

intelligenceHow to improve your Emotional Intelligence.  The Totem Way.

Improving an individual’s emotional intelligence is a journey.  We start with developing a keener self-awareness of emotions and progress to the managing of others’ emotions.

We take individuals or teams on that journey using master classes, workshops and 1:1 coaching, and we’ve found that a combination of those three methods provide the most dramatic results.

We start with self-awareness.  Being aware of our own emotions can sound strange – surely we know what we are feeling?  Yet becoming more conscious of these auto-pilot reactions can help us noticing the effect of emotions on our behaviour.  Sharing principles from Steve Peters’ The Chimp Paradox (the best-selling book from the man behind the GB Olympic Cycling team), we encourage individuals to reflect back on their reactions to situations, noticing themes if possible.

Discussing these themes with others and hearing how certain behaviours can come across grows awareness of the impact of behaviour. Some useful questions to begin with are:

  • What emotions am I experiencing?
  • How are they affecting my behaviour?

Jelly Bean Diversity

We then aim to move towards self-management.  How can I manage my emotions consciously and take control of my emotional responses?  At this point we encourage the use of use practical tools like the locus of control, mindfulness techniques and concepts from cognitive-behavioural therapy that can be applied to everyday work and life.

Building on the self-awareness, individuals learn how to notice emotional reactions, take control of them and choose a different reaction.

And finally we address the awareness of others.  What emotions are others experiencing?  How do I know that?  How is that affecting their behaviour?  How am I affecting their emotions and behaviour?

Again there can be an assumption that we all instinctively know how to read others’ emotions – yet it is something many of us do not spend time focusing on

In a busy restaurant or office, with customers or colleagues, we can miss the cues people are giving us to their emotional reactions.  Often we simply need to remind ourselves us of what we instinctively know – how people display their emotions and how those feelings can affect their behaviour.

If you’d like a little more information on Emotional Intelligence and its importance follow me!  Alternatively, check out The Chimp Paradox by Dr Steven Peters…

chimp

Read More
, ,

Concentrate!

ConcentrateHow can we encourage concentration?

How many times has someone been asked a question in a lecture but wasn’t paying attention?

We have all been there, and at times, been the one that wasn’t listening.  Humans are not naturally good at paying attention and concentrating for long periods of time, particularly in settings such as education.

This inevitably presents a huge problem to anyone trying to teach, deliver training or even just a speech; how do you get people to actually listen to more than the first couple of minutes?  Ideally, we want our participants or audience to listen, engage, absorb and reflect on the content we are discussing.  Otherwise, if you’ve invested time and resource in developing a training programme, having a room full of day dreamers is going to be incredibly costly.

And online teaching is no different to traditional face to face methods.  If anything, maintaining attention can be harder as there are more distractions and it’s easy to click away to a flashing advert in a sidebar.  So how do we ensure people watch, pay attention, engage and reflect on material?

Here are some top tips that should help your audience stay with you throughout the presentation.

We all know that targets and goals help keep people focused in many areas of life.  Delivering material online or in a training environment should be no different; not only does it help to break a large topic of section into smaller, more manageable sections, it can provide the audience with a sense of achievement when they get there.  Having something to aim for is definitely an incentive to stay tuned in.

Another useful way to maintain an audience’s attention, is by giving them something they want to pay attention to! Jelly baby anyone?

Totem Lollipops

If this is in a scenario where they may not have chosen to take part, for example at an employment training session, it can be harder to keep them interested.  By using a variety of techniques, colour, images and other varying methods of presentation, you are ensuring it is as interesting as possible.  If the audience is simply presented with pages and pages of text to read or click through they will switch off almost instantly.

One of the simplest ways to maintain an audiences attention is to engage with your audience and make the presentation interactive.  This will ensure they are paying attention as they will want to know the answers.  Moreover, it also provides an excellent opportunity for reflection and a chance to fill in any gaps in participants’ knowledge.

It’s also helpful to recognise that every learner or participant is completely different, and will find different areas interesting and challenging.  It is impossible to have an entirely unique course or presentation for every person but variety can be included.  Ensure there is a sufficient variation in the methods, levels of complexity and themes you use to communicate, to maintain interest from each person.

Different people will respond to different methods and somehow you need to incorporate a bit of each into the presentation, lecture, lesson or speech.

And one of the most powerful ways to keep learners engaged, is to simply ask people to reflect on the material.  What are they enjoying, not enjoying, finding difficult?  The only way to find out what is stopping people from paying attention throughout is to ask them.  You can then adapt the material as necessary to ensure maximum engagement and attention next time, or if you’re really good – during the training!

Read More
, ,

Intrepreneurial Thinking

EntreprenuerLet’s not argue about the spelling…

The word entrepreneur is certainly the flavour of the moment, it’s even been reported that school children and college students are beginning to use this phrase in connection to their career aspirations.

So what then is an Intrepreneur?  And why has it become so popular within a business setting?

In this download we hope to explore some of the key attributes to Intrepreneurial Thinking and how if at all, we can develop those attributes.

Spoiler alert.  Yes we can.

Click on the image and magic will happen.

intrepreneur

 

 

 

Read More
,

Maximise Your MOOC

maximise 400x265How Do You Maximise Your MOOC Experience?

We introduced the concept of a MOOC here, so if you’re unfamiliar with the concept we’d recommend jumping back a page.  In this article we’re exploring how an individual learner can maximise the benefits of using an online course, whether that’s as an employee, or as an indivdual looking to learn a new skill.

Online learning is a relatively new and alternative way of studying a range of new skills.  It’s  progressed massively in the last few years, and has become an equally valid form of learning in the workplace.

However, with change come a few challenges.

Totem Gummi Bears

Common sense and an awareness of the pitfalls of self learning can hugely improve the experience for everyone involved.

One of the main hooks into online learning is the freedom to study in your own time, but this can also be its biggest drawback.  Managing your own development requires self-motivation, discipline and self-control.  Which is a lot easier said than done for many people!  And we’re not about to have an online course about taking online courses!

If you always put it off and think ‘it can be done tomorrow’, maybe online learning is not the best option for you.  For many MOOCs you are required to manage your own time, often set your own deadlines and will be required to find the energy and motivation to work when perhaps you really don’t want to.

One main way to stay on track is to try and follow the schedule of courses as much as possible.  Whilst you won’t always be able to achieve this, if you can either work ahead for when you know in advance you will be unavailable, or catch up when needed, you shouldn’t go far wrong.

Totem Lollipops

Another consideration is that of general life; most people complete online courses around the craziness of day to day life, whether it is work, home or family.  All these competing demands will put pressure on your time and ability to cope, and unfortunately, online learning can easily be put to the bottom of the list.  Particularly if the outcome from the course is linked to some greater sense of reward or advancement.

Finding a way to manage the demands of daily life and working will ensure a much smoother and more enjoyable experience.  And we’d also suggest linking the completion of the course to some greater purpose.

Finally, a MOOC offers us something quite unique in the world of online learning, it’s social interactivity.  You have a whole world of learners from all walks of life out there who are interested in the same topic as you, so use them.  Whatever time of day or night you are studying, whichever module you are on, chances are there is someone else on the course somewhere in the world doing the same thing as you.

By staying in regular contact with the other learners through message boards and course chatrooms/messaging features, you get the social side of studying without leaving your home.  Sometimes all we need is a nudge in the right direction by someone who understands what we are trying to do.

Read More