Progress School in Leeds

Just about to embark on a new venture in Leeds called Progress School, providing pay what you can professional and personal development.  Progress School offers:

  • A confidential and supportive environment in which to plan your personal and professional development
  • Time to develop a vision for the ‘ideal you’ and to learn more about the ‘real you’ – how you are perceived by others
  • Recognition of strengths and gaps – those potentials that you have not yet fully realised
  • A learning agenda – identify what you need to learn and how you are going to learn it to bridge the gap between ‘real’ and ‘ideal’
  • Access to a network of fellow Progress School members who will commit to helping you learn
  • A chance to experiment – to try out new behaviours and skills – to see if they work for you
  • Develop new practices that help you make progress

Progress School is designed to offer you a flexible process to support your development.  The more you attend the more you are likely to get from it – but there is no curriculum to follow – just a process of reflection and action to engage with.

Interested?  Book Your Place…Now

Prices start from free….

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Focussing On Deviance and Missing Beauty

I often meet managers who are obsessed with plans and performance.  As a result they tend to focus on deviance.  Things that go wrong, that don’t meet the plan.

As a result they find it hard to see and acknowledge the good stuff.  The vast majority of their feedback is about problems and they fail to acknowledge or even see the good work that is done every day.

If you need convincing that you only see what you are looking for try this video for size.

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Web 2.0 – What’s the Fuss About?

Great piece by McKinsey that does a top job of explaining why Web 2.0 is getting so much attention.

In essence – its quick, cheap, extends your reach and provides you with insight and feedback.  It can definitely give you an edge.

It is not all up-side – there are issues of time management and the digital divide – but that’s life!  Nothing’s perfect.

I have been blogging for a couple of years now as well as twittering (a lot) Facebooking (a little), using wikis for collaborative writing and product development and forums for community building.  My interest started a bout 10 years ago when we took on a post grad student studying knowledge management for a year.  That got me into the theory of and practice of knowledge management – especially communities of interest and practice and the facilitation of large groups – both online and face to face.

Read the McKinsey piece here.

Also happy to share what I know.

If you want more than the occasional blog post from me you can follow on twitter at www.twitter.com/mikechitty

Measuring Management

Managers spend much of their time measuring – market share, year on year sales, voids, arrears, return on investment, customer satisfaction, orders fulfilled, calls handled per hour, orders placed, orders fulfilled (again), total invoiced, hours billed, attendance, productivity per employee etc

Why the obsession with measuring stuff?

Because it gives us the data to recognise what has changed, what needs to change, and when we make the change – whether it has had the impact we planned.

But none of these metrics are about US – the manager.  They are all about the performance of the system and the people that we manage.  And this often lets us of the hook for making real change in the way we manage.

What if we measured some more personal aspects of our management efforts?

  • how much time we spend listening in 121 conversation with team members
  • how many times we give REAL feedback – affirmative and adjusting – each day/week
  • how often we make sarcastic or cynical comments
  • how many times we interrupt others mid-sentence
  • how often we check our blackberry in meetings
  • how often we talk about values and vision
  • the amount of time we spend in meetings that are inefficient or worse
  • how many coaching contracts we put in place with our team members
  • what percentage of coaching contracts achieved their goals
  • how many significant tasks we genuinely delegated (rather than then allocated) because they provide great development opportunities
  • percentage of working time allocated to pursuing key objectives
  • how often we acknowledge our own development opportunities and make planned conscious change in our behaviours

I am convinced that if we started to measure our own personal performance in relation to some of these more personal aspects of management, most of us would we would pretty quickly get some powerful data on what we needed to change.  Measurement would also pretty quickly confront us with the fact that our perceptions of our performance are markedly different from reality.

As we make planned changes based on measurements of our own personal behaviours we will soon see a very positive impact in some of the more traditional areas where measurement prevails.  The act of measurement itself would also increase the likelihood of planned changes being implemented and seen through.  That after all is perhaps the main reason why we measure.

To make sure that important things get done.

Finding Feedback Difficult? Try Feedforward!

Great and very simple exercise from Marshall Goldsmith designed to help you get seriously useful ideas for your professional development.

Name the area in which you wish to improve. – e.g. I want to be a better leader.

Tell someone, almost anyone  ‘I want to be a better leader‘.

Ask them for two ideas for things to do that would help you become a better leader.

After they have offered their suggestions – simply say ‘Thank you‘.  No discussions, no debate, no analysis – just ‘Thank you‘.

This should work brilliantly in 121s as a way of getting information on how you can improve.

Pluck up the courage to try it.  It works.

People Are Our Greatest Cost – Honest Banker Shock!

You know when you hear a Chief Exec say,

“People are our greatest…”

and you are thinking yeah, yeah I know – ‘ASSET’.

Except on the Today programme I heard the CEO of RBS (rumoured to be looking at 20000 redundancies) say,

‘People are our greatest cost’.

Cognitive Dissonance or what!

Life is complicated though.  Most of us are BOTH great assets and great costs in weird and dynamic combinations.

Outstanding managers have systematic and effective processes (121s, feedback, coaching, delegation etc) for developing both the asset part of the equation AND the cost.  Yes, outstanding managers do want good people to cost more, and more, and more – because they recognise that what matters is the value that they create – not how much they cost.

How are you doing with your systematic and effective processes for asset development?

Ten Steps to Better Management

Step 1: Clarify, negotiate, and commit to your role as manager.

  • Many management jobs will have changed priorities in response to the current economy.
  • Check with your manager that you are doing what is best for the organisation.
  • Check with your conscience that you are doing what is best for you and your team.
  • Check that you are prepared to do the work that will help others to be outstanding.

Step 2: Understand the results you are expected to produce.

  • If you are to be recognised as an outstanding manager you need to know what excellence looks like.
  • At the moment you might be expected to drive costs down while producing more value.
  • Watch out for mediocrity. Expect excellence. Don’t let the current climate be an excuse to cut corners.

Step 3: Know your business.

  • Know what excellence looks like. Recognise the behaviours and habits that lead to it.
  • Recognise behaviours and habits that undermine it.
  • Understand the metrics that are relevant to your part of the business. Use them to get better.
  • Understand what your organisation needs from you – now.

Step 4: Build a great team.

  • Recruit, develop and retain people who will take responsibility and work independently – within parameters agreed with you!
  • To make sure you retain your best staff in difficult times talk to them – give them control – give them the chance to shape the organisation and their future in it.
  • Build a team that you can lead – not a flock that you have to herd.

Step 5: Ensure your team knows what excellence looks like.

  • Feedback, feedback, feedback.
  • Coach, coach, coach
  • Delegate, delegate, delegate
  • If you are not sure what constitutes excellence in your business – FIND OUT QUICKLY!

Step 6: Plan – with flexibility.

  • Review and revise plans on a weekly basis.
  • Expect progress on a weekly basis.
  • 121s are ideal for this.

Step 7: Get out of their way.

  • Help them to do great work.
  • Listen to them.
  • Understand what stops them from being great.
  • Get barriers out of their way.

Step 8: Be engaging.

  • Be positive and constructive.
  • Smile a lot.
  • Be energetic and hopeful.

Step 9: Proactively manage progress.

  • While change IS inevitable – progress is not.
  • Make sure that everyone knows what constitutes progress and has their own plan to make it.

Step 10: Leave a legacy: develop people and the organisation’s capacity to produce results.

  • better meetings
  • more focus
  • more knowledge and skills
  • more professionalism
  • better execution
  • higher standards

This post was inspired by Lisa Haneberg over at Management Craft.