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  1. How has Leadership and Management Training Changed? - Part 3

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    In my previous two blogs on leadership and management in more traditional v tech/knowledge-based industries (which you can read HERE and HERE), I discussed how leaders and managers in different types of organisation have very different remits, and so need to have very different styles and skills.

    It’s not that one way is right and the other is wrong. Leadership/management style is either appropriate or not for the industry you work in.

    And this brings me (finally) back to the original question “How has Management and Leadership Training changed in the last 25 years?”

    When I started my career, it was in a regulated industry in a traditional business. People (generally) liked to be told what to do. Yes, they liked to have a little flexibility to add their own style, but generally, having a checklist explaining what was acceptable, what wasn’t and what good looked like was appreciated. It still is. Experienced people are still generally respected, and traditional training – both on and off the job, being guided by an expert still works. These people can’t learn at their desk. They often don’t have a desk. Many don’t have easy access to tech. Training needs to be formal and planed in advance BUT that doesn’t mean it’s all chalk and talk…’traditional’ training is much more interactive and much more respectful of the experience in the room that it was 25 years ago.

    In the creative/knowledge-based industries, leaders still need to be made aware of the boundaries they shouldn’t cross, but so much more is self-discovered, so much more is being created as we go. Training has to be much more reactive to give people (and the business) what they need rather than being able to create development far in advance because roles (and so training needs) are not so clearly defined. Learning is much more in the moment because the pace of change is so much faster. There is no single expert to turn to – everyone is an expert at something, so L&Ds role is much more about connecting people together in a meaningful way.

    And that’s where I think too much generalising about leadership and management training is dangerous. Too many people seem to suggest that a more traditional approach is not effective. Naturally, it’s not effective in a creative, tech-centred, knowledge-based business. Of course digital learning, peer learning is the right thing to do. It fits how the business works. However, a self-serve , on-line, peer-discovery approach to L&D will be less effective in more traditional industries. For safety and/or regulation requirements, people need to be signed off. Even in terms of process and behaviour, there needs to be a consistency across sites, and that means formal training – they can’t just do what they think is best. The consequences could be catastrophic.

    So the difficult thing for trainers is that there’s no single right way to approach L&D, it very much depends on your industry.

  2. How has Leadership and Management Training Changed? - Part 2

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    In my last blog, I reflected on how my recent experience with a young, tech-based business in Bulgaria demonstrated how a different type of management and leadership has evolved from that I grew up with. I’ve generally worked in more traditional environments, so although I was aware of this different approach, I hadn’t experienced it first hand.

    My work with these bright, young leaders highlighted that increasingly (and especially in more creative, knowledge-based industries) leaders have all arrived in their position via a different route. First-line leaders have skills and abilities that would have only been associated with the most senior people a generation ago or in more traditional businesses.

    tech workers

    They also have skills gaps and blind-spots. Without many years’ experience, they are brilliant in some respects yet may flounder in others. However, due to the flexible and agile nature of their roles ‘traditional’ management skills are less relevant (not unnecessary – just less important). With multiple lines of reporting, lack of standard operating procedures, few tried and tested processes or even set job roles, this type of leader needs an entirely different type of management and leadership development, focusing on:

    Managers of knowledge-based workers don’t always have the answers; they haven’t always done the exact same job themselves. Unlike their counterparts in more industrial or regulation-led businesses, they are less likley to have worked their way up through a structured career path. Instead they have adapted to the changing needs of the buisness and seized an opportunity. As such, their role is less about being the expert. Instead, they need to know how to unleash their team members’ creativity, and provide just the right amount of support and guidance to keep everyone pulling in the same direction. They are all about making the idea work, and ensuring expectations are met. Of course, these skills are important in more traditional industries too, but they are front and centre in every-day operations.

    READ PART 1 (more traditional industries) HERE

    In my final blog, I’ll discuss how this has changed management leadership training.

  3. How has Leadership and Management Training Changed? - Part 1

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    Earlier this month I was lucky enough to be invited to Bulgaria to support a growing team and help them to define ‘what good looks like’ and how to develop leaders for the future.

    For the first time in my career I was the oldest person in the room! One of the delegates asked me (as we anjoyed a drink after the workshop) "How has Leadership and Managament TRaining changed since you started your career?" I thought this was a great question, and I intend to answer it, albeit in a round about way.

    To give you some context, generally, I work with quite traditional organisations (manufacturing, construction, finance), but this client works in a highly technical and more creative sector, and most of the people employed there are very tech-savvy and brilliant in their own way. The traditional ways of working do not apply: People are given responsibility based on ability and attitude – not years of experience. This is quite different to how things used to be: generally, you couldn’t even be considered for a Team Leader role unless you had served 3 years, and no-one would be considered for a senior role unless they had a minimum of 10 years’ experience, no matter how good they were.

    In some ways, this was good… people with responsibility had lots of experience to fall back on. In other’s it was not – you could be held back due to some arbitrary rule, and of course, years’ service discriminates against women.

    However, it did make management training and leadership development quite easy. As a rule, we knew where managers were at each stage of their career: what they had done (and not done); what skills they would have developed already and ones they were unlikely to have; the level of decision-making they had experience of; and what responsibility they had for people management. In traditional industries such as manufacturing, retail, construction, hospitality, health-care, this still (more or less) applies. Jobs are more clearly defined, decision-making authority clear and reporting lines fixed. There is a hierarchy, and everyone knows what they are (and are not) expected to do. Information and responsibility still goes up and down the line, with good reason.

    Management and Leadership training in this sector still needs to focus on the more traditional skills:

    It’s not that ‘people skills’ aren’t important – of course they are! BUT focus on process and efficiency is more so. Leaders in this type of industry are reqiured to make the process work and ensure standards are met. Contrary to what many articles will tell you, it’s not out-dated. Not if you work in a traditional, process (or regulation) driven industry. It’s highly appropriate, so this is where the focus of core management and leadership development should be in my opinion.

    factory team

    Next week, I shall share my observations about how this is different in the knowledge-based/tech/creative industries.

    READ PART 2 NOW

  4. What racing around the world has taught me

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    around the world

    Sadly, it's not me that has been racing around the world - but 5 (now 4) pairs of intrepid explorers as part of a BBC programme. I don't usually watch 'reality' shows, but this one had me hooked from the start, as it quickly exposed how differently we handle uncertainty and pressure.

    The person who has been on the biggest learning journey is Alex. Probably becuase he is the youngest at just 20. All of the others have life experience to fall back on. It seemed that Alex had probably led a very easy and sheltered life.

    So even when travelling through Europe, he was out of his comfort zone: Without his phone, where normal routines didn't work, where he had to think for himself and adapt quickly, he complained, he sulked and basically struggled. His Dad (and travelling partner) was clearly frustrated at his immature attitude.

    In terms of the brain's social needs (David Rock) - all 5 elements had taken a hit: His Status (initially he was very image conscious), Certainty (for sure), Autonomy (he could no longer do what he wanted, when he wanted, how he wanted), Relationships (him and his Dad weren't close) and sense of Fairness were all challenged. The Impact of Change was huge, and he struggled - which meant his dad struggled too.

    The thing is, he had no resilience. In his cosy little world, it looks like he'd never had his relisilience tested; I suspect that he'd never had to dig deep and get himself out of a difficult sitation. The easy option was always the preferred option, and resilience is something that can only truly be developed through experience. Yes, we can raise awareness and get into good habits, (which is what my Power Hour Module on this aims to do) but it's only when we put our resilience to work, that we can strengthen and develop it.

    And boy, in 6 weeks has Alex's resilience developed!! He is diving into new experiences where he previously backed away; he's being assertive, taking the lead and seems willing to fail. He's now (generally) enjoying the trip, and is a totally different character. His dad is (quite rightly) proud of the man his son is becoming.

    Change isn't easy - especially when you have limited life experience and haven't developed resilience. Organisations and middle-aged managers need to realise that, and demonstrate a little understanding and provide help. Those who are younger and experiencing uncomfortable change need to be brave, to trust those with experience, to take the help that's offered, and to try. 

    Bite-size training on Change and Resilience won't magically transform your organisation, or the people in it - but it will make things just a little easier for all concerned.

  5. Implementing 70/20/10 Learning

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    The 70/20/10 concept was popularised by Charles Jennings, who noted that executives questioned about how they learned the skills for success in their role, identified that 70% of it had come from on-the-job opportunities; 20% from planned coaching/mentoring and just 10% from formal learning. 

    This is now doing the rounds as a model for L&D departments to aim for. It isn’t. To revisit the original findings, CLICK HERE

    702010

    For a start, if you have someone who is new to a role, you wouldn’t expect them to just pick up what to do from those around them. That’s unfair on all concerned. Someone new in a role is quite likely to need quite a lot of formal training and support. Whereas someone who is experienced and competent can be expected to continue to develop and hone their skills through on the job experience.

    But good on-the-job learning doesn’t just happen. You can’t just put people together and hope that the right development occurs. There needs to be a plan: what do people need to learn? How can they best learn that? What natural opportunities are there and can we make sure that they take advantage of them? What opportnities do we need to create?

  6. Why Bite-Size Training Won't Work

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    An odd title to be found on a website selling bite-size training materials don’t you think?

    Perhaps I ought to extend the title a little: Bite size training won’t work if that’s all you do. And to think of it, neither will your e-learning, or resources library.

    Much like a cocktail sausage and a vol-au-vent won’t fill you up the same way that a roast dinner will.

    buffet

    Bite-size training should be seen as part of a learning buffet- one of the many options available to learners in your organisation, but it needs to be supplemented with other bite-size elements to create a satisfying 'mea'l: Bite-size training is part of a blended solution, not a replacement for traditional training. It should be delivered along with some self-directed study, a coaching conversation, e-learning, active reflection, a discussion on social media. Taken TOGETHER these bite-size elements can replace a traditional day (or two-day) workshop.

    Anyone who has catered for a large group knows that creating a good buffet is just as hard work as cooking a roast dinner, so bite-size training (if it is to be a success) isn’t always an easy option. It offers more flexibility (as a buffet does in comparison with a sit-down dinner), and if properly planned and substituted, it can be a satisfying alternative. But equally, one element e.g. e-learning, a 90-minute whistle-stop session, can leave people disappointed and hungry for more if that’s all they can have.

    So make sure that you include some live elements as well as e-learning, some social methods as well as independent ones, and opportunities for deep-dives as well as light touches.

    And remember that we have an end of year on ALL our training materials – Theres 20% off everything in our training materials shop until December 31st. Just use the code 31122018 at the checkout.

  7. Customising Training Materials

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    For a number of years, I've offered my bite-size training materials in editable format as well as PDF so they can be customised. I've done this so that they can be integrated into a longer programme (Maybe you just need 90 minutes from us and have written the rest yourself), or (more commonly) so that they can be tailored to reference your own examples and use your internal language.

    But what do I mean by customisation? 

  8. 10 Mistakes New Managers Make

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    It's disappointing that even today, many people take on, or are promoted into a job without real training. This is a sad reflection on a businesses induction training - and if you need help with that contact Keystone Development for assistance. But even those who are promoted from within need a Manager's Induction. Heres why...

    lady learner

    New managers (like new drivers) may technically be ready for the job, but they lack a whole heap of experience and (as we all know), driving lessons can only prepare you for specific scenarios. The rest we have to learn as we go.

    So the purpose of this blog is to highlight some of the mistakes that new managers make in the hope that forewarned is forearmed. By anticipating difficulties, training teams (and the manager themself) can have a plan in place for overcoming them. Here are some of the most common challenges:

    1. Not setting out expectations – What’s obvious to you may not be obvious to others. They are not mind readers. Discuss what is expected and set clear goals and objectives so that you CAN leave your team to get on with things.
    2. Poor planning and prioritisation – Many managers simply react to what is happening around them, or jump to attend to their boss whenever called. Even very hands-on managers need to take time to plan each day and identify what MUST be done, as well as focus on the future.
    3. Not delegating – You can’t do it all yourself, and you shouldn’t try. You have a team now, and people in that team need to feel useful and valued. Do your fair share of the work, but don’t do it all.
    4. Focussing on paperwork – many managers make the mistake of focussing all their time and energy on paperwork, reports, admin and spreadsheets. Reading and manipulating data will not achieve results. Managing is about PEOPLE so prioritise them over paperwork.
    5. Lack of Trust – When you have high standards, and when you are responsible for the work of the team, it is tempting to check everything personally. However, this creates a bottle-neck and makes the team feel that they are not trusted. Instead of spending time checking, spend the time coaching.
    6. Trying to be ‘one of the guys’ – Of course you can have friendships at work, but when you are at work, you are a manager. You cannot gain respect as a manager if you act too much like one of the team. set and stick to boundaries.
    7. Not asking for help – When you start a new job or are promoted, give yourself time to grow into the role. You don’t and can’t know everything you need to from day one. Learn from more experienced managers, ask for advice and even consider getting a mentor.
    8. Being busy rather than productive – Many managers rush from one crisis situation to another, from one meeting to another. They work long hours but never seem to achieve anything. Identify the activities that will add most value to your objective/team and focus your time on those. It feels good to 'save the day', but this can be addictive and managers who are too involved are doing, not managing.
    9. Being too eager to please – Many managers feel their job is soley about helping others (which in part it is), but this doesn’t mean getting involved in things that don’t help your team to achieve its objectives, or getting sucked into other peoples problems. Sometimes you have to make unpopular decisions or have difficult conversations. Being respected isn't always about being nice.
    10. Poor performance management – Managers have a duty to manage the performance of their people. This means having conversations every day about what is going well, and where improvements need to be made. Giving feedback is probably the single most important skill that a manager needs.
    We have done our best to provide training materials to give people the skills to avoid these problems - In particular, our New Manager Bundle and Performance Management Package have been designed to help new managers to get to grips with the basics and avoid these common mistakes.
  9. Budget shouldn't mean inadequate

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    Recently I stayed in a budget hotel as I delivered 2 days training. I’m used to budget hotels. I don’t need a lot so the Premier Inn (aka Purple Palace) meets all of my needs.

    It provides:

    • A comfy bed
    • A quiet room
    • A good breakfast
    • Option to purchase an evening meal (so the lone traveller doesn’t have to venture into the unknown to get fed)
    • A hairdryer (important for the female traveller)
    • Free wi-fi (important for the business traveller)
    • Enough towels

    There’s no gym, or catering for specialist diets, or room upgrades, or room service, but that’s OK – it’s a budget hotel.

    However, on this occasion I was booked into a different chain. The bed was OK and for the most part it was comfortable and quiet (I got around 5 hours sleep), but there NO food available at all, only 30 minutes wifi, no hairdryer, no extractor fan in the bathroom and only 2 towels so the smaller towel has be used for hand washing, teeth-brushing, standing on when you get out of the shower AND wrapping your hair.

    How they are in business when the Premier Inn exists I have no idea.

    Budget should mean you have all the basics, and the basics are good. The opportunities for personalisation are minimal. This is what keeps the price down. A standard service, not a limited (or dare I say it) inadequate service. A service that’s predictable, reliable and provides everything you need, if not everything you would want.

    I modelled my Power Hour training materials on the Premier Inn – standard, not fancy (I’ve done all the typesetting myself, and you print them out) but providing all the content and guidance you need to run as great training session. Good value. A bargain. Because there’s a difference between budget and cheap.

    fivers

  10. The Coaching Continuum

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    At the outset, I would like to frame this piece by stressing that I DON'T advertise myself as a coach. I have a basic qualification in coaching and don't offer coaching as a stand-alone service. However, I do help managers to develop basic coaching skills so that they can have constructive and developmental conversations with their teams. So... here's goes.

    I ran a half-day session on coaching skills for managers recently. There was a confusion over what coaching actually is. As I see it, it means different things to different people. The construction manager will tell you that he's coaching people when he shows them how to build a wall; the engineering team leader may tell you she's coaching people when they solve a problem together; the professional coach may tell you that it's about unlocking personal obstacles.

    Some people are scared to offer 'coaching' at work because they associate it with counselling. Some people feel that it can only take place in a long, formal session and therefore isn't compatible with the modern business needs of agility and pace. Others think that they can only coach someone if they are an expert themselves.

    This is why I wanted to state my position at the start: I'm not precious about the definition people use. To me, 'coaching' can fall anywhere on the continuum below, and the format of coaching will vary depending on the nature of the issue, the urgency of finding a solution, the relationship between the individuals, whether there is a single 'right' way or many, and the risk associated with choosing an untested path. What matters is that people work together to find the best way forward for them.

    coaching continuum

     

     

    I cover this in my bite-size module 'Coach People', as well as the core skills. It's not designed to provide the skills needed to be a professioanl coach. It's designed to help line managers have supportive yet challenging developmental conversations with their people to create learning from real-work situations.