, , , ,

Belbin Team Wheel

Totem-WheelUnderstanding how teams work

When a group of people work together with a clear purpose, the autonomy to do what they are naturally great at, combined with complementary approaches to getting things done, amazing things can be achieved.

The reality is of course that we rarely work in such high performing teams.  Why don’t we always see such amazing outputs from the teams we work with?

Often it’s because teams have been pulled together from the people who are available, willing to volunteer, or those with the technical expertise or experience required.  That’s not necessarily the best way to get a great team.  We’re often working hard to make the best of a far from ideal situation.

When we want a good team, we often focus our efforts on making sure we have people who have the technical expertise or experience we need.  Have we got someone with leadership experience on the team for example, who can cover Finance, HR, Operations of some kind, and so on…

Whilst this approach can be very helpful for making sure you have the knowledge around the table that’s critical, it is not the fundamental ingredient for great teamwork. What if all the people around the table are risk averse?  Or all but one team member are creative types, and there’s one person who is more interested in implementing?

Totem Lollipops

So part of what makes a great team is having a group of people working to their strengths, and appreciating the benefit each other person brings.  It’s helpful to understand the different aspects of work and the different styles or preferences that we tend to see and one way to dig into how we can build a great team is to use the Belbin Team Wheel.

Belbin Team Wheel

Each person in a team will have aspects of that wheel that they have natural strengths in. Here’s a breakdown of those strengths:

Plant – Generating ideas on what to do

Coordinator – Coordinating people, delegating tasks and keeping the focus on the overall goal

Investigator – Connecting with people outside of the team, networking and kick-starting momentum

Shaper – Energising people to get to the desired outcome at pace and maintaining momentum

Specialist – Pulling in specialist expertise as required to get the job done

Evaluator – Critically evaluating the work and managing risks

Team Worker – Keeping people in the team happy

Implementer – Getting on with the tasks to be done

Finisher – Checking everything has been finished and done correctly

There are benefits and downsides to each of these preferences or natural styles of working, which is why having a team made up of too many people with one style can be damaging or make it difficult to achieve your goals.  So it’s important to have a blend of working styles within a team – not simply the technical expertise required to achieve a specific goal.

The key to using the Belbin Team Wheel effectively is to develop a better understanding of these different ways of working, and how we can make the best of them.  A few tools that can help develop your understanding of others can be found in Transactional Analysis and Kahler’s Five Drivers.

Feel free to hop on over to Belbin and take a closer look.

Read More
, ,

What is Good Leadership Development?

Matches - leadership conceptWhat is good leadership development?  And who are the leaders anyway?

Sony’s Talent & Performance Senior Manager, Christoph Williams has shared his experience of developing talent at all levels.  Individual leadership is the future, where all of us step up and take responsibility for developing our own strengths and therefore deliver more for our business.

Quoting Dan Pink, Christoph spoke about the “talent that whispers.”  He emphasised how we all have talents in different areas and if these are not being maximised in our workplace, both the business and the individual miss out.

Inviting us all to consider and maximise our talents is a fantastic talent management, employee engagement and commercial growth activity.  Three for the price of one!

Sony’s development activities ranged from X Factor style peer reviews, Dragon’s Den style project pitches with investments made for great ideas, and finally an experience along the lines of The Apprentice.  These specific activities may or may not be relevant for us – we must each find development projects that fit our organisational cultures.


Many of us have discussed for years the idea that we are better to consider talent management as a focus on everyone’s talent rather than an elite group. This talk from Sony emphasises the description of all of us as not only talent, but leaders.

How are we leading our lives?  How are we leading those around us – teams, peers and managers?
And how are we recognising “talent that whispers”?


  • A development programme that welcomes and recognises all sorts of talent at all levels, positively impacts on both talent management and employee engagement
  • Add in projects that ask participants to generate commercial growth ideas, and we also get immediate payback on our investment in development
  • When we ask our people what they want, what they’ll do to get it and how we can support them, we bypass the focus on management to provide everything for everyone and ultimately empower all to lead, grow and deliver

Further Reading

Christoph quoted Dan Pink on “talent that whispers” and Gary Hamel on management innovation – click on their names above to read more about their work.

Read More

Magic Moments

child_wow 400x265We thought our community would appreciate a different view on some of the hot topics in our industry.

As values have been a bit of theme this year, we knew who to go to!  So drum roll please… We’d like to introduce Jackie Le Fevre, Director at Magma Effect

We asked Jackie to contribute some fresh thinking into how values affect the way we work.  This blog explores how our values filter what we notice about the world around us, which then creates a bias for how we extract meaning from any moment.  You can connect with Jackie here!

So without further ado…

Magic moments

When two hearts are caring

Magic moments,

Memories we’ve been sharing

A reflective note from the 1957 song written by Bacharach and David and the biggest UK hit for Perry Como. I don’t know about you but I often find when comparing memories with other people who were there at the time that our recollections differ: sometimes a little, sometimes a lot.

For instance I remember Christmas lunch last year as a relaxed, leisurely affair with plenty of laughter and far too much good food. My youngest daughter (then 13) remembers it being a drawn out affair that went on too long and simply got in the way of being able to open the presents under the tree.

How is it possible for groups of people with close relationships – be that within, family, friendship or workplace groups – to make such different meanings out of essentially the same experiences?

Prof Peter Sells of the University of York says “the interaction of message, mind and context creates meaning”. This makes sense really as we are dynamic beings that are aware of past, present and future and are interested in drawing on those perspectives to achieve better outcomes for ourselves and others. What interests me is that ‘mind’ component.

Daniel Goleman says  “The range of what we think and do is limited by what we fail to notice. And because we fail to notice that we fail to notice there is little we can do to change until we notice how failing to notice shapes our thoughts and deeds.”

So what determines what we notice and what we fail to notice?

Well for one thing we are only human. Every moment of every day there is more information coming at us in terms of what we see, hear, taste, smell and touch for us to be able to make sense of it all so we have to filter some stuff out. Thing is most of that filtering is done at an unconscious level by structures in our limbic system hence that fact that as Daniel says ‘we fail to notice that we fail to notice’.

Our personal values play a powerful role in the filtering activity of the limbic brain. For example I have a very strong ‘play’ value which determined what I noticed about Christmas dinner whereas Victoria with a weak ‘patience’ value combined with a strong ‘status/image’ value was just desperate to know whether she did or did not have a new iPod.

If you want to stop failing to notice and thereby increase your options of what to think and do I thoroughly recommend getting to grips with your personal values. One of the many wonderful things about values is that you can’t have the ‘wrong’ ones and that if you want different ones you can effect that change.

Let’s go back to the ideas of magic and moments.

Magic has long been thought of as a power that invisibly (or supernaturally) influences the outcome of events.

A moment (in physics) is the turning force that acts upon the fixed point of an object (such as the hinge of a door or axle of a wheel) and then causes it to turn.

Your values are invisibly influencing the outcomes you seek and providing the driving force of intention that acts in key moments to put you on one path as opposed to another.

Maybe 2014 has been so full of magic moments that you would happily live through a rerun in 2015: but if not it may be time for a different approach.

Why not lift your eyes, open your mind and consciously harness your values for a 2015 filled with meaningful moments and magical insights? That’s my plan.

Jackie Le Fevre

Director at Magma Effect

Read More
, ,

Evolving the Trusted Advisor

evolution-400x265Has the Trusted Advisor model been superseded?

The Trusted Advisor model introduced us to the wonderfully common sense, yet rarely common action approach to building strong relationships as advisors.

The model was and still is invaluable for sales, consulting and internal advisory functions like HR, Finance and IT, in showing us how to build trust and therefore achieve better outcomes.

The Challenger research from CEB came about in 2009, when their members were asking, “how do we continue selling through a recession?”  Yet what CEB discovered was a far more powerful finding: That certain behaviour resulted in higher sales performance, whatever the economic context.

So does the Challenger research mean the Trusted Advisor model is obsolete?

Here we’ll look at each model, how they might be complementary and some recommendations for businesses.

Guess what happens if you click the image below?


And if you want to find out more straight from Matthew Dixon, Brent Adamson and the CEB, click the image below and be whisked away to a rain forest.

Read More

Before Performance Management

Totem-Challenge 400x265How to get the most out of your team.

When you think about performance management, it’s likely that appraisals, objectives, reviews and even disciplinary meetings come to mind. There is a lot that comes before all of that which can greatly help in getting the most out of people.

Work out what you want

What do you want to gain personally from working at the practice – financial security? The knowledge that you have provided a great service to the community? What’s in it for you? Why is that important to you? Being clear on all of these things is a critical starting point because it means you have something to fall back on.

Totem Lollipops

On the days when it all gets too much, at the times when you can’t remember why you do this, you’ll have this reflection to recall and know why you’re there. Plus it means you now have something meaningful to share with your team. If it’s meaningful to you, you can make it meaningful to others.

Tell others what you want & make it personal

So once you know what you want, you’ll want your people on board to help you get there. And the best news is, your team will have a lot in common with you in terms of goals. There may be differences, and as we tend to emphasise differences, it’s easy to only recognise these. Give this a go:

  • Explain to someone what you want, your goals for the practice and your life
  • Ask them what they want, their goals for work and life
  • Look for the similarities and ask them what commonalities they can see too
  • Ask them how working towards your goals will also help them achieve their goals

Agree the way forward

What’s the plan? How are you and your team going to achieve what you have agreed you want from work and life? Now you’re clearer on what each person wants, work together to agree how you can get there.

Only now can you really even consider what we would usually call performance management – review meetings / appraisals / progress against objectives etc. You have just agreed what you will all be measured against, so you can have relevant and valid review meetings that everyone has signed up for.

You’ve just created an approach to reviewing performance, without all the usual heavy paperwork.

Read More
, , ,

Stand Out

standout1Why doesn’t it work when we copy what another great leader does? 

In his new book Standout, Marcus Buckingham introduces how we can more effectively innovate and spread great ideas that land and work.

When we see a part of our business performing well or one manager doing a great job, we tend to say, what can we learn from that?  How can we repeat it?  The problem is, we’re not taking into account that the idea may be specific to that individual’s strengths.

A better way of spreading great ideas, is to match the ideas to individual strengths.  If your strength is in focusing on learning, you might get great mileage out of this idea to encourage and share learning.  If you’re a great energiser, you may get more from this idea to introduce wild and whacky fun into the workplace.

Let’s stop forcing an idea onto people who don’t get it, and focus on finding the right ideas for each individual’s strengths.


Marcus’ work to date on strengths has argued these points, but now we have a more specific focus  on growing commercial performance, through the spread of ideas that work – to people who make them work.

What can we do to apply that right now?  What ideas have you heard recently that you thought sounded ok but not quite “you”?  How could you make those ideas more “you”?  Make them your own and watch them work far more effectively.


  • When we focus on the concept of an idea (e.g. to understand individual strengths), we can do more with it than if we just take the tactic (e.g. to make everyone fill out Strengthsfinder!)
  • If we take ideas and make them our own, we are far more likely to succeed – therefore corporate programmes to implement ideas across the board are to some extent doomed to fail
  • As Marcus put it, “true diversity is in strengths”– what mix of strengths do we have in our teams and how are we maximising them?

Marcus Buckingham’s book Standout focuses on using your strengths to gain competitive advantage.

A great summary of the tool, the nine strength roles and how this can help innovation can be found on Kenexa’s website.

Read More