Hints and tips for new and experienced managers
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eManagement Tips - June 2019

A free monthly update for Associates and Members of RiverRhee's Managers' Community
Welcome to RiverRhee's managers' version of the June 2019 issue of eManagement Tips, our monthly resource for new and experienced managers who have attended or are considering one of our leadership and management courses.
Our new course on Conflict Management works through these 5 steps inspired by Daniel Goleman et al's work on Emotional Intelligence.

This month's issue of eManagement Tips includes:
  • How a mindset of learning and continuous improvement will help to save time
  • Reminders of key principles and approaches for effective recruitment
  • Some very helpful insights on trust from a recent study by the Institute of Leadership and Management
We have added Conflict Management to our portfolio of courses that can be requested for in-house delivery, or to add to our schedule of open courses.

We have a couple of places left on the Introduction to Lean and Six Sigma on 2nd July, and just one place for Introduction to Management on 9th-11th July.

Other topics on our calendar of courses are shown at the foot of this newsletter.  Do get in touch if you are interested in these, or indeed in any of our other courses.

How a mindset of learning and continuous improvement will help to save time

Two of the most commonly reasons that our delegates cite for why they struggle to tackle tasks that require more thought and expertise are:

  1. Interruptions by colleagues
  2. Too many other urgent and important things to deal with

There is no way to put this politely: many of the interruptions by colleagues are often unnecessary!

The Situation, Target, Proposal ("STP") tool is a very simple one that you could share with your direct reports to help them take more ownership for their problems:

  • Situation - what is the problem that we have encountered? What facts do we have to describe it? For instance: I am struggling with using this piece of equipment because every time I come to use it, it has run out of ink. As a result I often lose a good half hour trying to locate a replacement ink cartridge. This is making me have to work into my lunch hour, or miss my bus in the evening so as to get my experiment completed on time.
  • Target - what would you like to have happen? I'd like to be able to have the equipment up and running when I come to it, or a spare cartridge ready to hand to install.
  • Proposal - what options have you thought about to resolve this? What do you think about these options? I've had a quick chat with the other technicians, and most of us are encountering this problem at one time or another, and are feeling frustrated by it. We've come up with a couple of options that we like. I would like to get your views on them: a) Keep a spare cartridge on the shelf above the equipment, and each of us take responsibility to alert the people in charge of lab supplies to order a new one as soon as we use the spare; b) Assign one of us the responsibility to run a test print of the equipment at the start of each day, as part of our lab maintenance activities.

They might still interrupt you, but at least they will have thought things through more carefully beforehand.  This is one way to encourage learning and development.

[N.B. You might also agree a system with your colleagues so that they know when they can interrupt you, and when only to do so if they have something that is truly urgent.]

A mind-set of continuous improvement
We can apply a mind-set of continuous improvement to all aspects of our work, whether it is based around projects, or on-going operational processes.  

Everything that we do is a complex interaction of people and things! We should therefore expect problems to happen - things will go wrong! What we can do though, is:

  • Take time to anticipate the greatest risks and develop mitigation plans for them
  • Make sure we deal with issues that do arise as promptly as possible and in a way that will reduce the risk of them happening again
  • Actively seek out what we can learn from previous experiences to continuously improve our processes and how we go about our work
  • Tackle the root causes of problems rather than just the symptoms

There are some great tools to help us with achieving a mind-set of continuous improvement. Making time to reflect and apply them will help us to reduce the amount of fire-fighting that we do. If we can reduce the time spent on urgent (but important) tasks, we can make more time for the other important but not (yet) urgent tasks.

You can find out more about these topics in our courses on Project Management,Lean and Six Sigma and Knowledge Management.

Reminders of key principles for effective recruitment

Peter Cappelli (HBR, May-June 2019) has written a really helpful overview of how newer methods of hiring have lost some of the positive qualities of more traditional methods.

A summary of his main points can be found in Revisiting the positive qualities of more traditional methods of recruitment.

Current methods of recruitment involve making greater use of recruitment or head-hunting agencies which may result for example in:

1.  More external vs internal sourcing with the possible consequence of:
  • Not developing or retaining internal staff
  • Having to pay more and spend more time to attract and then develop external staff
2.  Attracting more "passive" rather than "active" applicants - with potentially different levels of motivation for applying for the job (higher pay vs greater challenge?)

3.  Creating a large funnel of candidates vs. encouraging a smaller number of ‘better fit’ candidates.  This will take up more time and cost to whittle down.  In addition, a long list is not necessarily a high quality one.

Recommended good practices include:

1.  Take time to clearly define the post that you wish to fill

This way, candidates will self-select to exclude themselves from the recruitment process, or to continue with it as appropriate.

Some organisations are creating online tests with visible scores, or gamification programmes.  These help candidates to better understand the nature of the work and the potential match with their interests and capabilities .

2.  Understand the limits of internal referrals

Some companies encourage their staff to make internal referrals, and may even have some form of reward for doing so.  However there is a risk that this can result in a reduction in the diversity of the workforce, as people may refer people who are like them.

Suggestions that may help internal referrals be more effective:

  • Have the internal referrer help with on-boarding the new member(s) of staff
  • If you pay people for making referrals, do so about 6 months after the new person is in place
3.  Measure the results of your recruitment / interview processes

Measurement of any process is good practice: it helps you to identify what is working well, and what could be improved.

Possible approaches include:

  • Monitoring turn-over and attendance level of those recruited through different routes
  • Looking at results from your Performance Review process
  • Getting qualitative feedback from the managers of new hires on their degree of satisfaction with their recruits
4.  Enhance your interview skills

There is no doubt that competency-based questions are the most effective way to find out whether the interviewee has the experience, attitude and capability to match the job.

However, it takes time and skill to formulate these questions, and to ensure that all your interviewers are using the same questions consistently across all candidates.

As Cappelli says: "Just winging it and asking whatever comes to mind is next to useless."

This is something that we could help you with through our courses on Recruitment and Interview Skills.

Some insights on trust from the Institute of Leadership and Management

Illustration from "Trust in Leaders 2018" a report from the Institute of Leadership and Management

A leader's or manager's ability to inspire trust will obviously have enormous impact on their ability to engage with, motivate and influence their direct reports.

This fascinating report from the Institute of Leadership and Management is the result of their latest research on this topic (previously conducted in 2009, 2010 and 2011).  Their latest research is based around the seven dimensions of trust depicted in the illustration above (which in themselves are worth reflecting upon).

Their resultant recommendations for building trust include:

1. Asking direct reports what actions you could take to build trust - maybe not in quite those words. (Our management delegates will have gained some insights on different ways to find out answers to questions such as these...)

2. Continuously working at creating and maintaining an environment of trust to help everyone be more resilient in today's climate of general challenge and change

3. Building and maintaining relationships through taking a real interest in what people are doing and thinking

4. Ensuring diversity within senior management teams and working together to present a united front (apparently female managers score slightly higher on trust than male managers do)

5. Appreciating the demands on line managers and sustaining what they do (they score higher on trust than senior managers or CEOs do)

6. Making sure that longer serving members of staff are looked after as well as new members (e.g. through learning and development opportunities and general levels of attention)

Our current schedule of courses for 2019 

... please ask if the course you want is not listed

Introduction to Lean and Six Sigma - 2nd July. Explore how to gain up to 20% savings on internal processes, free up talent to innovate and grow the business, and ensure that you deliver what your customers value.

Introduction to Management - 9th - 11th July. An in-depth three-day course for those who are new to management or have been doing it for some time

Managing Change - 14th November.  A one-day course on the behavioural and procedural concepts and techniques for effective business change.

Transition to Leadership - 12th December. For those moving into a leadership role

We are also in the process of scheduling further dates for:

Green Belt Lean and Six Sigma - a modular course to equip people to lead Lean and Six Sigma process improvement projects in their organisation.

Introduction to Management -  An in-depth three-day course for those who are new to management or have been doing it for some time

All of 
RiverRhee’s courses can be scheduled on demand, either to run in-house for your company, or to publicise as an open course for other delegates.

Please get in touch to ask for any course that is not already scheduled.

We can also explore most topics in 
one-to-one coaching sessions.

See the RiverRhee Consulting website or contact Elisabeth at or on 07876 130 817.

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