>Sometimes being collegiate isn’t worth it

>I provoked an issue today. I saw something happen and I wasn’t happy about it. Normally I’m all about collaboration, effective feedback and generally being collegiate. I threw that book out the window.

It’s not often I get this wound up about something, but there’s certain things I don’t like to see, and today was a prime example. I have no idea how this will pan out. I was careful not to attack the person I provoked. At least I hope I didn’t attack them. I was certainly harsh and even rude. I didn’t swear or anything like that, but I equally was not kind in my message.

I’m anxious about the outcome. I won’t apologise for what I provoked as else I wouldn’t have provoked it. Equally though I am hoping that this is a good platform for open discussion.


>The closing gap between OD and L&D


This week I put up a post about Organisational Development and my learnings from the L&D2020 workshop held by the Training Journal. Today I’d like to let you know about the actual session itself and the topics talked about.
The Benefits of an OD Approach
Linda Holbeche opened the day’s proceedings with an introduction to OD from her research based consultancy the Holbeche Partnership. She spoke about the ability of an organisation to be agile and ensuring the ‘right’ people are focused on the ‘right’ things and engaged in collective effort. To support you also then need the ‘right’ kinds of management and leadership, the ‘right’ business model, processes, structures and systems.
Linda gave some insight into what constitutes a high performing organisation:
– Adaptable and change-able
– Enable innovation and are knowledge rich
– Boundaryless
– Stimulate individuals to higher levels of performance
– Great places to work
– Values based
From the work she has carried out, her research and exeprience, OD applies to:
– Changes in the strategy, structure and/or processes of an entire system
– Based on the application (and transfer) of behavioural science disciplines e.g. group dynamics, leadership, strategy and work design
– An adaptive process for planning and managing change
– The design, implementation and reinforcement of change
– Oriented to organisational effectivneess; supporting organisation improvement and sustaining organisation renewal
At its core, OD has the following humanistic values:
– Democracy and participation
– Openness to lifelong learning and experimentation
– Equity and fairness – the worth of every individual
– Valid information and informed choice
– Enduring respect for the human side of enterprise
Typical OD applications include:
– designing and delivering L&D interventions
– process improvement
– HR’s transformational role
– culture change
– leadership development
– team development
– conflict resolution
– supporting clients in major change and organisation design projects
– generalist system health practitioners; keeping the organisation healthy, ethical and agile to face future challenges
I found Linda’s presentation a good introduction to OD and to provide a lot of context to the range of work that OD includes.
Developing Your OD Agenda
Next we had Martin Saville present a fascinating OD model. Martin is an independent consultant and has his own practice – Martin Saville Consulting. The first point Martin raised is that those work in OD don’t come from a particular background, instead they have a mindset. That mindset is about looking at a complete organisation and finding ways to ensure each part understands that if a piece of work is to be achieved successfully, other relevant parts need to be involved, and if they’re not it has a direct impact on operational effectiveness.
The model he presented is called the Burke-Litwin model which hopefully is presented below clearly.

Okay so apologies for the lack of clarity – my first time trying to add an image to a post (any advice welcome). Essentially you have two broad categories of the way an organisation responds and reacts to change. There are transformational factors which are factors that drive the change. These include – the external environment, mission and strategy, leadership, the organisation culture and individual and organisational performance. Then there are transactional factors which you need in order for the the change to be effective. These include – structure, management practices, work unit, motivation, systems and processes, task requirements and individual and individual needs and values.
Once you take some time to think about an OD challenge you are facing, you can look at the Burke-Litwin model to help you identify what are the factors you’ve considered and which you do need to pay attention to. Martin admitted the model isn’t perfect and excludes some factors such as communication processes but it at least provides a holistic perspective of the factors which will help support and drive change.
The Emergence of the L&OD Function
This presentation was delivered by Lee Sears whom I have spoken about before in the post about the future skillset of L&D. The information he presented was no different to that, and if you’re interested, have a read of the post.
What it did help to do was re-surface his findings of how L&D and OD are becoming more and more entwined. Even though they are separate disciplines, the cross-over is becoming more commonplace, and in fact many HR/L&D/Project Management/Internal Communication specialists are all engaged in activities which are in effect OD, but they’ve just not been exposed to the terminology or processes or structures to help them think of it in that way.
Case Studies
There were some interesting case studies from the civil service and from a housing organisation that offered insights into how OD has helped with real organisational issues. Unfortunately, the decks weren’t available and so I can’t divulge information as it’s history now. From memory though, the housing organisation were reaching a point in their development where a number of mergers and formation of Group status meant OD played an important part in the way very different groups and senior management who had not worked together previously and were now expected to.
The civil service was an interesting case of a department whose resources had been outsourced with the remaining incumbents feeling bereft of responsibility and control over what the outsourcing company was producing and the quality of that work was in question. OD helped to bring this group to accept what their situation is, what they currently do, their responsibilities, and then included the outsourced company in conversations about current and future practices.
Where I’ve not included specific references to materials, all the above is taken from the respective individuals decks and is to be attributed to them directly unless otherwise stated.

>So what is Organisational Development then?

>On Monday I attended the last in the series of the Training Journal workshops entitled L&D2020 the future of workplace learning. This session in particular was about the Closing gap with L&D and OD – Organisational Development. The others that I’ve attended this year have been about understanding how to get ROI from training and the future skillset of L&D. This session was of particular interest to me because I find the world of OD fascinating.

The first question to answer then is what is OD. Here’s the definition from Wikipedia:

Organization development (OD) is a planned, organization-wide effort to increase an organization’s effectiveness and viability. Warren Bennis has referred to OD as a response to change, a complex educational strategy intended to change the beliefs, attitudes, values, and structure of organization so that they can better adapt to new technologies, marketing and challenges, and the dizzying rate of change itself. OD is neither “anything done to better an organization” nor is it “the training function of the organization”; it is a particular kind of change process designed to bring about a particular kind of end result.

That’s a very good definition but it is long-winded. L&D is about the upskilling of staff across technical and behavioural skills. OD has a broader remit than that and is about looking at wider business needs to ensure the business is geared up to deliver on the strategy and KPIs. This can look like a variety of activities and initiatives from Onboarding programmes to employee engagement surveys to talent management programmes to grad programmes to competency framework development. And that’s a shortlist of activities.

Where does OD sit then? More and more it’s the case that OD is its own department and normally reports directly into the CEO. But who is classed as an OD professional? Now this is the interesting piece. Although conventional wisdom may suggest it sits best with HR or L&D, in actuality the people involved in this line of work can come from Operations, Exec, Project Management, Strategy or HR. It’s not about a specific person as such that is best suited to OD but more a mindset.

What yesterday helped me to realise is that I’m good at L&D. I’ve spent the last 8 years of my career perfecting this art and I’m doing a bloody good job of it. If i want to start expanding my role – and that’s what this is about, I need to start developing my understanding of OD theories and methodologies. I have an introductory understanding of some of the methodologies and of the range of activities or initiatives that require an OD approach. I think I’m starting from a good place, and from here on in it’s only about continuing my own learning on this and helping my business with both L&D and OD initiatives.

I’ll be posting another blog this week about the actual session itself and the key messages from the different speakers and case studies.

>’Ers’ when presenting are NOT evil

>I’m designing some presentation training that’s actually pretty advanced stuff. I’m looking at things like how to understand the psychology of your audience quickly, spending time to rehearse in front of a highly critical group, how you develop your ideas, what presentation aid you should be using. This is exciting stuff and I’m looking forward to rolling this out.

But, in the midst of this, and in the reading around the subject I have to dispel some myths. What irks me – massively – is the way presentation ‘gurus’ / trainers / experts claim you can deliver a perfect presentation without any hiccups.
Let’s take a step back and re-frame what we’re trying to achieve. Someone is trying to develop their presentation skills because there is a need to deliver messages to a group. There will be varying levels to which the message needs to be delivered, but in essence what we’re trying to achieve is getting the person to be able to deliver that message in a way which means that the audience are receptive to it.
Well I tell you what – I can bet my bottom dollar that’s not where a lot of presentation trainers are starting from. They’re typically starting from – you’re broken, let me fix you. The absolute incredulity of it all. The trainer will often have had no experience of their delegate before, but they can fix them so quickly?
I laugh in the face of this audacity. Presentation training is about getting the presenter to understand their own state of mind, how to accept their foibles, and then how to not let those be an issue. I’ve seen presenters who are very nervous. So much so that they physically shake when presenting. With careful development over a course, and coaching, I’ve been able to help them accept that being nervous is fine, and shaking is fine, they just need to be in a different state of mind and not focus on those nerves.
It’s not easy, and that’s why I’m such a harsh critic when I watch programmes like Apprentice or Dragons’ Den where these people are meant to be at the peak of presenting excellence. But equally I do not allow myself to fall into the same traps. I’m incredibly critical of my own presentation abilities. I actively seek feedback which picks up what I need to do to improve. I do this because I have to be able to understand a full range of emotions and anxieties that come with presenting.
So, don’t fall over yourself, or be critical of others if they say ‘er’ or any host of other behaviours that you may think are negative. First, observe. Not just the presentation but the whole person. Then question to understand what they’re trying to achieve and how they think they’re going about it. Then demonstrate what the behaviour looks like. Get them to practise again bearing in mind the feedback. Be critical and supportive. Ultimately you want to find their motivation for doing well. Once you’ve identified that, you need to build on it.
This really isn’t easy. The psychology and training into helping develop presentation skills is of vital importance. You can’t be fixed of your foibles, nor should you be sold this. You can learn how to deliver a message authentically, and this is what you should be sold.

>I’d like coaching please

>I want to provide a look at how you should be planning your management training for your organisation. There’s a lot of iffing and aahing about what constitutes good management in today’s world. There is structure you can and should have in place and all it takes is a bit of planning.

The first thing I have to talk about is whether or not you go external or internal. That’s to say should you bring in an external trainer or have someone internal deliver the training? The answer to this lies in where your budget lies and how you choose to spend it. There are some very good external trainers who will do a stellar job of training in this field. Just please, whatever you do, get some ‘free’ or ‘taster’ training first as you don’t want to pay £oooo’s for someone only to realise the training has been dead pan. To further this, if you have used a particular external trainer you’re happy to recommend to others please let us know in the comment section below.

Also, I’m not getting into defining leadership over management. In truth, the two terms are so interchangeable that it only really makes a difference to those concerned with titles.

Ok so there are 5 categories of management training you need to give thought to.

1) Management Essentials. This is about giving the managers who are in their role anew or within a 18-24 month old a core look at the things they need to know. Policies, procedures, core management skills such as objective setting, feedback skills, performance management, basic coaching skills, some models on motivation, delegation and flexible management styles. These are the core things that any new manager just has to know. Without this they’ll forever be lost in the sea of management and never know if they’re on the right path.

2) Effective Management. This should be for managers who are experienced in their role, have had teams to look after and need to know what more is expected of them. At this level they should be exposed to a psychometric tool of some sort to raise their own self awareness and give them insight into how other personalities are likely to either support or clash with one another, including their own. There should be some further development of actual management models such as Situational Leadership or a Coaching model such as GROW, better description of techniques surrounding motivation either delving into studies from Gallup or Roffey Park, and some form of business insight or business acumen development from leaders in the business.

3) Emotional Intelligence. This should be for managers who are growing in their role to a senior role and need to be able to understand how to work with a wider group of people and increase their influence across the business. Emotional Intelligence is a much disputed area of management devleopment in recent years. To be honest since competency frameworks were introduced, EI is the last big model introduced in the last 20 years. The dispute arises from the fact it’s mainly credited to Daniel Goleman. If you can get over that, there are many good EI models developed by practitioners who are credible and very reputable. Namely Dr Reuven Baron or work doen by Consulting Tools. This should also include a proper 360 survey tool to truly unravel an indicidual and allow for genuine personal development.

4) Global Management Effectiveness. In an increasingly global world, this level of manager needs to be aware of cultural differences, how to get the best out of teams in other countries, how to deliver on projects that involve global clients, effective multi-national communication. This is a truly difficult topic to handle and needs someone with experience in this field to deliver this.

5) Leadership Excellence. This is for those at senior levels within a business who are looking to find out what it is they’re missing. Training at this level is often about how to inspire teams, deliver a strategic vision, deliver powerful messages, operating at a level where you’re thinking about the future and long term development of the business.

So where does Coaching fit into all of this? Honestly? At every single point. But that’s a whole other blog post. In essence coaching should only be utilised if you are certain of the goals and purpose. If you think you need it because you’ve been hearing lots of great things about the great work Bob has been doing with other people similar in a role to you then you’ve got the wrong idea about where your personal development needs to be.

And you can take the categories I’ve named above and give them any other title you want to change them for. This is intended to provide a framework for overall management development. There are other considerations I’ve not given them time of day to such as succession planning or talent management. To be honest though you can take those concepts and adapt the above to fit those.

>Assertiveness is not trainable

>Yesterday I was doing some training in Assertiveness. It’s a topic I personally find really hard to connect with and deliver training on. The main reason for this is there is no way of knowing if the training has been effective or not. I have little doubt about the content I am covering, I have done all the expectation gathering at the beginning of the session, I’ve facilitated complete discussions, but I’m always left feeling flat because there’s no way of testing it.

And I don’t like doing role plays. Role plays have their place in training. I will use them when I think there is no other alternative. But you can’t role play being assertive. It just doesn’t work. You can display the behaviours you think you want your delegates to display, and you can get them to mirror you, but it’s just not the same.
With many other behavioural training, you can readily identify how far someone has come on their learning and understanding of the topic. But with assertiveness it’s really hard to tell. Why?
Because each person’s set of values determines when they think they have been ‘violated’, I can’t peer into your soul and identify ‘yes, you should have been assertive in said situation’. I can raise your awareness on the topic. I can help you identify your ‘bill of rights’. I can help you learn techniques about responding to challenging and difficult people. But I can’t know if you’ll do it.
Attending training on the topic will only ever serve as an awareness raiser. You will never know, without certain follow up activities, if the person has taken their learnings and used them effectively. Those certain follow up activities are dedicated and committed follow up training sessions, one to one coaching (either from line manager or from A N Other), reminder messages about the learnings and follow up discussions. That’s a lot of activity which the best willed L&Der in the world will want to do, but in reality won’t.
Also, being assertive is often part of other things a person wants to achieve. They have too high a workload. Unreasonable requests are put on them. They are a go to person for problems. They are seen to be highly effective at what they do. Yes, being assertive in part in these situations will help, but the skills needs to be used in conjunction with other activities – open discussions, time management, presentation skills, facilitation skills, delegation skills. As such, when talking with delegates about why they want to be assertive it’s because of something else they’re trying to achieve. This is just one piece of the puzzle.
I have tried time and again to come up with activities that can truly ‘test’ whether or not someone has learned the requisite skills and can then be assertive. I’ve not found an answer yet, and I’m still on the hunt.

>I’m a dreamer

>In the world I live in, we are all capable of doing great things, birds are singing, children play happily and safely, work is meaningful and everything is rose tinted. So that’s an insight into my value set. Ok I’m being facetious, but you can see what I’m saying. But that’s how I think about the world. Which is also why I’m such a believer in positive psychology as I’ve mentioned so many times before.

In this rosy world I live in, I also believe in complete openness and transparency. Even down to revealing personal foibles. I’m not a negative person, and I don’t (well I try not to) judge others for any reason. And I’m not talking about diversity here, I’m talking just day to day stuff. A street beggar, the newspaper you read, the clothes you wear. I may take the piss, but I won’t judge you for it.
Anyway, back to this world of openness and transparency. There’s been many a time when I’ve thought to myself – am I too open? Do you need to know half of the things I talk about? And come on, I do talk a lot of shit. I know that, but is it ok? Actually the fundamental question is this:
Am I putting the sense of professionalism you may hold about me into question when I tweet completely non-work / non-industry related things?
A while back (June me thinks?) I posted a tweet asking should I have 2 separate accounts. One for personal ramblings, and one for the professional / industry / work related stuff?
You may think this is navel gazing stuff, and here’s why it is. I have no problem in being open with the world. Especially now that I engage in social media type stuff so much. And I’ve talked on blogs before about how your career is now open to the world to see, and most people will accept that to be the case. So I’m interested in your opinion on this:
Should I have a ‘professional’ me, a ‘personal’ me, or stick to what I have (or something else)?