‘Managing People for Growth’ (Part 2)

Karen MacArthur - 'Managing People for Growth' course

Spreading the wisdom – More practical tools and techniques

Last month, Karen MacArthur, our powerhouse Candidate Support Coordinator, shared some of the key learnings following her successful completion of the six-month ‘Managing People for Growth’ course run by Connect Three in partnership with Scottish Enterprise.

In this follow-up post, we share details of additional management techniques discussed during Karen’s course which might prove useful when scheduling coaching sessions with your team. 

Let’s start with Belbin Team Roles

Making use of Belbin Team Roles – with their positive approach to team building, identifying individual strengths and weaknesses and corresponding insight into effective delegation of tasks – is standard practice for our team at Esteem Training.

“Nobody is perfect but a team can be.”

The Belbin approach to team roles was introduced by our company’s founder, now Founding Trustee of Esteem Training’s Employee Ownership Board, Trudy Mackenzie. To quote Dr Meredith Belbin, visiting professor of Henley Management College and the originator of Belbin Team Roles: “Nobody is perfect but a team can be.”

The Belbin approach identifies nine contributing team roles ranging from Resource Investigator, Teamworker, Plant, Shaper and Completer Finisher, to Specialist and Monitor Evaluator to name but a few.

We find this practical methodology key to better understanding our colleagues and gaining awareness of each person’s strengths and potential weaknesses.

“The types of behaviour in which people engage are infinite. But the range of useful behaviours, which make an effective contribution to team performance, is finite. These behaviours are grouped into a set number of related clusters, to which the term ‘Team Role’ is applied.” 
Meredith Belbin | ‘Team Roles at Work 

Managing Individual Performance

It may seem obvious, however it is critically important to identify, for each of your team members, what motivates each person. Drawing on the key aspects of their ‘animal type’ – using Nigel Risner’s ‘What animal are you?” questionnaire – can prove helpful as fellow team members can have widely differing motivational factors.

Another useful tool to consider is Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs as developed in 1943 by American psychologist Abraham Maslow.

'Managing People for Growth' - Colourful graphic illustrating Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs

His theory suggests that human beings require to have their fundamental needs met before they can self-actualise to achieve their full potential. In other words, we need to have safety, food and shelter; to feel love and belonging; have self-respect/self-esteem and respect from others. And that these basic needs must first be met before we can feel secure enough to express our creativity, develop our talents, reach our life and career goals, and ultimately meet our higher, more spiritually-oriented needs.

Motivating your team

Few people in UK business can be unaware of the current challenges involved in recruiting staff, with the result that many companies are investing considerable resources into ensuring that their employees remain motivated and satisfied with both their career prospects and working conditions.

But how to gauge which factors can tip the balance away from your team feeling motivated and content, and how to safeguard that your day-to-day interactions actively address their respective needs to help maintain peak performance, since these requirements can differ between individuals?

Another tool to consider is Herzberg’s Hygiene and Motivation factors, devised in the 1950s and 1960s by US psychologist Dr Frederick Herzberg.

His work proposes that two sets of factors influence our level of job satisfaction – ‘hygiene’ factors and  ‘motivational’ factors. Hygiene factors can include everything from a comfortable work environment, levels of pay and job security which do not, of themselves, provide motivation but can have an adverse effect on levels of satisfaction.

Motivational factors – such as a promotion, recognition for a job well done or even rewarding work – can be responsible for increasing motivation.

Herzberg identified that correcting causes of dissatisfaction will not necessarily result in increased levels of satisfaction within teams or individuals. Also, that – should a hostile work environment exist – giving someone a promotion will not make them feel more satisfied. Conversely, if you create a healthy work environment but don’t provide your team with the satisfaction factors they crave, they likely won’t find their work satisfying.

Feedback culture – addressing the tricky stuff

With clear communication and regular feedback key to maintaining team motivation, there will likely also be times when less-than-positive feedback needs to be conveyed.

In such cases, the BOFF model (Behaviour, Outcome, Feelings, Future) can provide a framework, particularly in situations where a colleague is being consistently negative in meetings, or has withdrawn from interacting with colleagues.

The BOFF approach disciplines you, as team leader, to stick with the facts and avoid adding personal opinions. To achieve this:

  • Describe the behaviour you have observed that needs to be addressed
  • Discuss the consequences of their behaviour and the impact it is having on colleagues
  • Make sure the person understands what is being said, and express any positive and/or negative feelings that you have around their behaviours
  • Discuss how they could adjust their behaviour or attitude, moving forward.

Recognising and Resolving conflict

Conflict, resulting in the need to defuse and resolve issues between colleagues, can prove detrimental to team performance. Teaching conflict resolution techniques are therefore included as standard in our supervisory and management courses.

You may already be familiar with the Thomas Kilmann Conflict Model that highlights competition, collaboration, compromise, avoidance and accommodation, with most people tending to favour one of these five strategies when faced with having to resolve conflict.

'Managing People for Growth' - Colourful graphic illustrating the Thomas-Kilmann Conflict Model
Thomas-Kilmann Conflict Model © Management Weekly

Creating a culture of innovation

As an employee-owned company that has operated a 4-day week since 2020, we’re proud of our creative and collaborative approach, and our ability to innovate.

We feel strongly that innovation needs to be embedded within an organisation’s core culture. Specifically, that managers need to develop a supportive working environment where team members feel able to speak up not only to contribute new ideas for creative products and services but also to express when they might be struggling or encountering difficulty. This can prove challenging if, historically, certain barriers to innovation have existed through fear of change or a negative attitude towards embracing new ways of doing business. Yet as data from the CBI (Confederation of British Industry) has shown, the most resilient businesses prioritise their people.

‘Chunking’ to make information easier to remember

Chunking’ is the process whereby you group different bits of information together into small, well-organised units or ‘meaningful chunks’, making that information clearer and easier to remember for yourself and others. This approach was devised by Harvard psychologist George Miller in the 1950s.

His work, on human short-term memory, found that the maximum number of unrelated items the human brain can memorise generally falls between five and nine, with the result that seven is often the ‘sweet spot’ for many people.

‘Chunking’ information © The Peak Performance Center

We’re already familiar with this approach in our everyday lives – for example landline phone numbers tend to be grouped in packets of three and four digits, following the area code.

When preparing presentations or briefings for your team, why not try ‘chunking’ the information:

  • Use short paragraphs, and create a new paragraph each time you introduce a new topic
  • Create standalone titles for each new concept
  • Use visuals and pictures that show how you have ‘chunked’ information into groups
  • Include lists and bullet points, though no more than seven items per data set
  • Present information in clearly formatted tables or columns
  • Be clear and specific with your instructions, separating each step as appropriate

We’ve shared a wide range of tools in both this article and its predecessor – ‘Managing People for Growth – Part 1 – however feel free to refer back to the various resources listed, when we hope you might find some helpful insights.