MatchFit®

Sam Stevenson

Creating a Legacy of Leadership: An Interview with Sally Gibson

With the CLIMB Shadow ExCo programme at its midpoint, we spoke with Sally Gibson, Managing Director of Dawleys, a multi award-winning fulfilment and communications specialist. We explored her motivations for undertaking the programme and its current progress, shedding light on how it aims to transform the company’s leadership dynamics.

The motivation behind the programme

“The initiative stemmed from an internal programme called ‘Scaling Up,’ aimed at steering Dawleys’ growth and development,” Sally shared. “Last year, we started working on ‘Scaling Up’ to map out how we wanted to steer the business toward growth,” she explained. “A key outcome was the need for a ‘Vivid Vision’ to define the company’s future goals. This vision helped us ask crucial questions about where we want to be in three years and also created a Big Hairy Audacious Goal for 2040,” she added. This visionary approach led to the creation of the ‘Dawleys Flywheel,’ focusing on enhancing efficiency across various business areas.

To support this flywheel, particularly in attracting new customers, business efficiency, delivering excellent customer service and developing her team, Sally turned to the CLIMB Shadow ExCo Programme. “A flywheel gains momentum when all its parts work in harmony, and we needed a programme like CLIMB to ensure our team’s learning and development supported the flywheel to move in the right direction, enabling us to grow as a business”.

Recognising a gap in leadership development, Sally saw the necessity for a robust management team to support Dawleys’ growth. Conversations with Bradley and Tim from MatchFit highlighted the need for a programme to enhance commercial awareness and leadership skills. “I realised we needed to invest in our leadership capabilities to prepare for future challenges and my eventual retirement,” Sally said. “Leaving a legacy of strong leadership is crucial for the business’s continuity.”

Implementing the Shadow ExCo programme

Participants in the programme are working on three areas of leadership Purpose, Mastery and Autonomy, supported by one-to-one coaching sessions and the opportunity to work on key projects that directly relate to improving the Dawley’s flywheel.  The team have been paired and assigned to five key projects supported by MatchFit’s facilitator, Tim Forman. These projects cover essential areas such as new business development, employee experience, business efficiency, employee recognition, and customer experience. “The idea was to use real-life projects to drive the business forward, not just theoretical exercises,” Sally explained.

One notable project focuses on developing a sales playbook. “We’re working on creating a structured approach to attract new business and identify key markets,” Sally shared. Another project aims at improving the employee experience through better recruitment, onboarding, and development processes. “We also have a project on business efficiency using the ‘two-second lean’ methodology, which encourages continuous small improvements,” she added.

The programme has also fostered initiatives for employee recognition and customer experience. “We want to ensure our team feels valued and motivated, which in turn enhances the customer experience,”.

Real-life applications and outcomes

“Real-life projects within the programme are so important” Sally emphasised. “Participants tackle actual business issues, gaining practical experience and driving the company forward. It’s about giving them the chance to work on genuine challenges and learn from the process,” she said. “Despite the challenges, the support from MatchFit has been crucial in boosting confidence and fostering a proactive mindset.”

The programme has already yielded positive outcomes. The five teams have launched various initiatives, such as improving the new employee onboarding experience and organising company events. “Our employee benefits team came up with the idea of celebrating key days such as Easter and Employee Recognition Day.  As a multi-site organisation it’s important to regularly bring the 70-strong team together to meet and mingle over cakes and coffee,” Sally recounted. “A WOW board has also been created to recognise daily achievements by team members, enabling anyone to give recognition and a ‘shout out’ to other team members who have done something great.”

Aligning real life projects to the training programme has had many benefits for both the teams and the company. “They’ve shown great initiative, and the changes they’ve implemented are already making significant improvements to our website, our onboarding, our employee engagement. They’re making our processes more efficient” Sally enthused.

Key learnings and adaptability

The initial goals often evolved, with the programme coming to focus more on practical applications. “Initially, it was about leadership development, but it quickly also became about making our flywheel work,” she explained. “The Shadow ExCo has helped participants understand the importance of clear objectives and alignment with company values. They’ve learned that successful projects must fit within our vision and core values,” she said.

This learning environment allows for mistakes and growth, supported by coaching from MatchFit. “Some participants have faced challenges, but it’s all part of the learning process,” Sally noted. “For example, our employee benefit project team learned valuable lessons about managing expectations and aligning initiatives with company goals.”

The programme has been particularly effective in fostering a sense of ownership among participants. “By making everyone apply for their place in the programme, we ensured that each participant was genuinely committed from the start,” Sally explained. This commitment has translated into a proactive approach to tackling their projects. “Some of the more junior members, who had never faced such high expectations before, have really stepped up,” she said. “Even when they made mistakes, it was in a safe environment where they could learn and grow.”

Measuring success and looking ahead

Success will be measured by the delivery and continuation of the projects post-programme. The development of team leaders and their ability to manage themselves and others will be crucial indicators. “We’ll be looking at how well these projects continue after the programme ends and how the new leaders develop their teams,” Sally said.

For Sally, creating a lasting leadership programme is vital to ensure Dawleys’ future success, adapting to changes and maintaining the company’s growth trajectory. “We need a leadership programme with longevity that can adapt to new technologies and market shifts,” she emphasised. ‘’Dawleys’ success has been built on our ability to quickly adapt to market conditions, new technologies, and innovate solutions’’.

Sally highlighted the importance of a continuous leadership development approach, ensuring Dawleys remains adaptable and successful in the years to come. “MatchFit’s support has been instrumental in fostering a leadership mindset that can navigate future challenges,” she said. “I want to leave a legacy where Dawleys can continue to thrive and grow, driven by a strong and capable leadership team.”

Creating positive change for the future

Looking forward, Sally is optimistic about the programme’s long-term impact. “By the end of the Shadow ExCo, participants will have developed skills in decision-making, strategic thinking, and leadership,” she said. “These skills are essential for Dawleys’ continued growth and success.”

Sally is also keen to ensure that the leadership programme remains adaptive. “Business environments are constantly changing, and we need a leadership methodology that can evolve with these changes,” she explained. “Our goal is to create a culture of continuous improvement and adaptability.”

Identifying standout moments

Sally reflected on some standout moments from the programme. “Bradley, MatchFit’s MD, shared his personal journey during the first workshop, which was incredibly inspiring for everyone,” she said. “Hearing about his struggles with dyslexia and how he overcame them resonated deeply with the participants.”

Another memorable moment was the strengths analysis workshop. “Participants were initially hesitant, but discovering their strengths was a significant confidence boost,” Sally shared. “One team member, who initially thought he was ‘rubbish at everything,’ was surprised to find he had many outstanding strengths. It was a transformative experience for him.”

The Mastery workshop was particularly challenging for the team. “This workshop focussed on strategic thinking, decision-making, and assertiveness, areas that some participants find difficult,” Sally explained. “However, it’s these challenges that often lead to the most growth.”

Ensuring legacy and continuity

Sally is committed to leaving a lasting legacy at Dawleys. She emphasised the importance of starting early. “We need to be working on this now, not six months before I retire,” Sally said. “Developing a leadership programme with longevity is essential for the company’s future success.”

“The power of the CLIMB Shadow ExCo programme has been transformative,” Sally concluded. “MatchFit has been instrumental in creating a leadership mindset that can adapt to whatever the future holds,” she said. “I’m confident that the skills and insights gained through this programme will ensure Dawleys’ continued success and growth.”

The CLIMB Shadow ExCo programme is more than just a leadership development initiative; it’s a catalyst for change, fostering a culture of continuous improvement and adaptability at Dawleys. Sally Gibson’s vision and commitment to leaving a lasting legacy are driving this transformative journey, ensuring that Dawleys remains a leader in the industry for years to come.

If you’d like to learn more about our MatchFit programmes, take a look at our information pages here, or why not get in touch? [email protected] or call +44 (0) 7858 775 249

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Bridging the Gap – A Conversation about Designing Interventions

In this interview, MatchFit’s Bradley Honnor talks with consultants Heather Rayfield and Nina Taylor about the process of designing a bespoke intervention for a client.

Firstly, what do we mean by interventions?

As Bradley explains, an intervention is the solution, together with the method of delivering the necessary skills and knowledge, in a response to a work-place challenge. This could entail a variety of strategies, from learning modules to one-to-one coaching, that together form a blended approach to effectively develop people and teams.

“It’s an intervention rather than a training program,” he says, “because it has a broader context and is delivered by us as a consultancy, rather than simply a learning and development organisation. For example, the requirement might involve HR professionals working with managers to develop their skills around how to run a disciplinary. But there might be dynamics in a team that aren’t really working and need to be resolved. So in this instance, we might create a training course as part of the solution, but also bring in an HR professional.

An intervention therefore closes the gaps, and brings together different elements to solve the client’s issues. We look at where the client is now, where they are moving from and to, and in that space lies the intervention.”

What are the steps to getting the information you need to start designing for the client?

“Initially we’d have a call with the client to discover what their thoughts are.” Nina explains. “But then we dig deeper with a full 360 Analysis. That would involve interviews with the senior people in the business such as CEOs or directors. It could involve employee interviews, and an employee survey, to understand what their thoughts are. We may have forums, where we undertake analysis and review the data to assess what needs fixing.”

“And what happens next is we listen,” Bradley says. ”Really, really listen. Because the client may not have the full picture yet, which is why the analysis is so important.”

“We start with a questioning funnel using open questions, which is really important because we’re aiming to learn ‘what’s on your mind?’.  

Questions for active listening

People will then start to tell us things, (and there’s a whole process around that which I think is another conversation), but an important part of getting the solution right is getting the requirement right. While that’s not so difficult, there’s a level of sophistication and expertise needed to elicit that accurately. Very often, one individual doesn’t know what all of the requirement actually is, or has a view that not everybody shares. So we look at how to come to a collective consensus that fits everybody.”

Nina says “I would add ‘listen to understand’. Because, as well as asking probing questions, it’s about asking enough questions. So, the client might think it’s a surface problem, ‘oh, I just need to fix this problem,’ but the skill is in digging deeper to really understand what the problem is and what’s causing what they think is the issue.”

“And I would add one more thing” says Heather. “Obviously, it’s important to have robustness and rigour, but also to be flexible. Sometimes we find that we’ve done all our wonderful robustness and rigour and then after maybe the second session, new things emerge. It is about being observant and staying curious. The solution can invariably change, because change happens so quickly in an organisation that we have to be flexible and adaptable as part of that process as well.” 

“I think it’s actually really good and healthy to say, ‘this will change, let’s not set it in stone,” says Bradley. “Because ultimately things will change as we go through the programmes and interventions. That’s been my experience – it never stays the same, ever.”

 

What other considerations do you come across?

“Time is often an issue,” says Bradley. “People are really busy, but it’s important for us to refine the requirement and complete the initial piece of work so that we can start the development and intervention delivery. But clients have their day jobs and priorities to manage. So encouraging people to carve out the time for what we need can be a challenge. And sometimes their expectation around the time needed to develop and then deliver a programme is unrealistic. Because it’s our professional world, we’re very aware of how tight time already is. But when people aren’t giving us what we need internally to get going, that can cause difficulties.”

How do you select the theories and methodologies that will suit the client, issue and desired solution?

“That’s a question for Heather,” says Bradley, “because she done some good work around this, and people have really enjoyed what she’s selected and delivered.”

“It is handy to have a background in learning development, as well as being a consultant,” Heather replies, “because there is a process, and having that core basic knowledge of what actually helps people make behavioural change is really important. That toolkit, plus lived experience and wisdom, is the foundation piece.

The next piece is using the analysis. Then we bring our lived experience and wisdom into the client’s world and find the sweet spot. Next we offer ideas based on considerations they’ve told us around time, budget, global reach, etc. Then, at the simplest level, we provide one to three options.”

“One thing I’d add to that, “says Nina, “is that we start with the end in mind. Once we know what we’re aiming for, that will inform our approach. So for instance, if you were a global company and it wasn’t possible to get everyone together, we might need to incorporate more e-learning, and videos. And we would have to think about the different elements and steps in the journey to decide which would deliver the best outcome.”

Bradley agrees: “Yes, and I’d reiterate the importance of having that background and experience. There are certain business models and concepts that just tend to work for the majority and resonate strongly for participants. More specifically, there are a number of models that I have experienced people’s reaction to many times around leadership, or change, or whatever the subject is. This is a great help too.”

“I’d say working in partnership with the client is also incredibly important,” says Heather. “So you’re not seen as some sort of bolt-on outsiders. It’s about working with them, engaging them every step of the process, so they understand the content and are living and breathing it, and they get a sense of what you’re doing.”

“They generally have other things going on in the business,” continued Bradley “and might already be applying a certain methodology. For example, at the moment I’m working with a company who are talking about ‘finding more zebras’. A zebra being your ideal client, because they look like a zebra. So if they were using that sort of terminology, that would probably influence how we come in off the back of that.”

What happens if an organisation is already applying a methodology, but you don’t think it will deliver the right outcome?

“That does come up!” says Bradley. “If a client is utilising something already, we can of course incorporate that if they want us to. We wouldn’t presume that we know better than the client about their own business. So we certainly incorporate what is being used but we will also bring new light to any given situation including new materials and insights.”

“We would also ask questions to understand their reasoning, and how we might add value to the broader solution,” adds Nina.

“We might ask them to tell us about some success they have had with it’,” adds Heather. “And then try to build on that success.”

How do MatchFit measure the effectiveness of the programme?

Bradley explains: “Measurement is essential for us at MatchFit, and we do it on four levels, five if the client allows:

  1. Reaction – How do people respond to what we’re doing? Are they finding it valuable? Are they enjoying it?
  2. Learning – What new insights are they gaining by taking part?
  3. Behaviour – What are they changing, what have they done differently based on those insights?
  4. Impact – Having done something differently, what is the result of that changed behaviour?

And then the fifth level, if they can share the information, is ‘What is the monetary value of that change? What has actually been saved, or made financially?

For example, one client has saved over £120,000 pounds on average for each unit the intervention was rolled out in, because the leadership really engaged in the programmes and learned not only that it was important to manage things differently, but how to do so.

We’ve earned so much credibility with clients by being able to measure outcomes. There’s a lot of learning and development that people go on that isn’t measured at all, and I honestly believe that’s a waste of budget.”

What is MatchFit’s top tips for designing a really great programme?

  • You don’t get a degree in one day. So invest in programmes not training days.
  • Support people in committing the time for their development.
  • Make sure your consultant communicates well, is open to different ideas and asks sufficient questions to really understand the problem. Are they really listening?
  • The best interventions have reflection time built in. People are so busy, and have such a lot going on, they need to have time to sit quietly with the content and look at it to build results.
  • Does the programme include wellbeing support? Learning and doing new things creates stress (positive stress) in the body, so wellness support woven in helps people bring their very best self all the way through.
  • Does the programme have plenty of interaction? Does it get people involved in what they are learning so that they can practice the skills?
  • How will it be measured?

Bradley concludes, “It’s really important to MatchFit that we work in partnership with a client and get to know the senior team, because we’re there to facilitate positive change. We’re not just flying in and flying out to supply a service. We need to engage the senior leadership team, because even if they’re not coming on the intervention, they need to be aware of what the intervention involves. When we step away, they’re the people who are going to continue embedding those new skills and behaviours. That’s how we set them up for success.”

To learn more about the MatchFit CLIMB interventions, please visit the website https://matchfitwith.com/climb-interventions/

If you’d like to learn more about our MatchFit programmes, take a look at our information pages here, or why not get in touch? [email protected] or call +44 (0) 7858 775 249

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When absence masquerades as sickness: A MatchFit perspective

By Bradley Honnor

It’s a fact of life that people get sick. And as employers, we have a duty of care to ensure that the terms and conditions of employment look after people’s wellbeing; that they don’t feel pressurised into coming to work when they’re unwell. How well we support them is a reflection of the organisational culture.

But it’s important to differentiate between genuine sickness absence, and absence in general, as the latter is often a manifestation of a deeper issue. Managing sickness absence is the straightforward one to deal with, as long as there is a robust policy in place, which is well communicated. Where things get more complicated, is when the absence is not a direct result of ill-health – and this is where we find that a lot of organisations and managers are not dealing with the issue very well.

Often it can be the elephant in the room – everyone in the team knows that the individual is off again, but the leadership is not dealing with the problem. And that has an impact on the culture of the organisation. It makes people feel frustrated that they’re doing the extra work, and taking the responsibility of the people that are off, and the resentment builds.

Not managing that effectively can lead to a negative feedback loop. A company might start off being very sympathetic and supportive of absence, but then when this is taken advantage of, they become less supportive. Then the genuinely sick are impacted and it spirals from there.

We’ve worked with an organisation that had exactly this problem. When new starters joined, they were told in their induction that they’d get their 25 days holiday pay, but 10 days sick leave as well.   So those 10 days were assumed to be part of the annual leave entitlements. It became an acceptable norm because everybody did it. On some days, 50% of the staff were off! Imagine the impact that was having on the remaining staff.

The impacts of absence

The most obvious impact of a high degree of staff absence is reduced productivity. When staff are absent, productivity often dips. Tasks get delayed, and it’s a real challenge to keep things moving smoothly. Coupled with this, the workload for others increases. Team members end up shouldering extra responsibilities. It’s tough on them and can lead to burnout. Customer service can take a hit. Reduced staff means slower response times and potentially unhappy customers.

This in turn leads to problems with morale. Frequent absences can really dampen team spirit. It’s something we’ve seen first-hand, and it’s a delicate issue to manage.

There’s a direct financial impact too. Covering overtime or bringing in temp staff isn’t cheap, and it adds up. Workflow and project timelines suffer. Delays become common, and it disrupts the rhythm that teams and organisations work hard to establish.

From a management perspective, it’s a real headache. It’s time-consuming and stressful to keep reorganising work schedules, and the quality of work can drop. Staff covering for others might not always match the usual standards, or have the time to do the jobs thoroughly, cutting corners just to get them done.

Ultimately, over time, business reputation suffers, especially as service levels drop.

So why is absence frequently not addressed?

In some workplace cultures, a certain level of absenteeism is almost accepted – changing this mindset is challenging. Often, absenteeism stems from deeper issues, like workplace dissatisfaction, but the root causes can be overlooked. Addressing the symptoms, not the cause, is a common mistake. But without good monitoring systems, it can be hard to spot and address patterns in absenteeism effectively.

Often, the problem is simply a lack of training. Many leaders aren’t trained in handling the formal processes of absenteeism, and often aren’t even aware of the support framework that, for instance, ACAS offers. It’s a gap in management skills that MatchFit often encounter, but it’s actually very straightforward to rectify.

More complex is the issue of avoiding confrontation. Confronting absenteeism means tough conversations, and some managers shy away from this to avoid conflict. However, this can also be addressed with the appropriate training to give managers skills and confidence in this area. An additional outcome that we often witness is that the manager finds their new skills empowering. They start to enjoy this part of their role more, because being able to have tricky but trust-based conversations has further, positive ramifications for developing high-performing teams.

It’s not unusual for a fear of legal repercussions to paralyse decision-making. Without clear policies, it’s tough to tackle absenteeism. MatchFit have worked in organisations where this has been a significant barrier. This might due to a lack of resources such as HR support, which can make managing absenteeism seem daunting.

Sometimes, however, managers simply underestimate the impact. They see it as a minor issue and don’t realise how much absenteeism is affecting their team. Managers are busy, and dealing with the issue falls by the wayside due to other pressing tasks.

So what can be done?

Firstly, how well do the HR policies and procedures stack up? Are they regularly reviewed and updated? Is the HR department fully-versed in ACAS guidelines and law?

Then, how well is this communicated? Does every manager know how and where to access support and information? If they’re not accessing it, why not?

Where gaps are identified, outsourcing to a consultancy such as MatchFit can save an organisation a great deal of money. For example, we were able to save one client £120,000, simply by training them to manage their absence effectively!

There are many fears and misconceptions around tackling absenteeism. But if the appropriate support is in place and the processes are followed correctly, then it need not be the costly headache it often becomes.

If you’d like to learn more about our MatchFit programmes, take a look at our information pages here, or why not get in touch? [email protected]

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The what and the why of CLIMB 360 Analysis

By Bradley Honnor

Creating and sustaining a culture of high-performance whilst ensuring an inclusive environment of diversity of thought and background can be challenging for organisations to navigate. MatchFit have always believed passionately that the key to solving this dilemma is a thorough understanding of an organisation from all perspectives, which is why every programme we deliver begins with a CLIMB 360 Analysis.

But what is CLIMB 360 Analysis, and how does it impact the outcomes for clients? One example is evidenced by our partnership with the Civil Service HR Casework team to form the multiple award-winning HR Technical Consultancy (HRTC), which uses CLIMB and other MatchFit products as an essential element of its service.

Why CLIMB 360 Analysis?

Fundamentally, the goal of CLIMB 360 Analysis is to thoroughly understand the perceptions of individuals that work within a business or a team. It seeks to deeply understand individual perspectives, for example, what it’s like to work there and how it feels. It asks for people’s views on communication, leadership and the culture, and seeks to obtain a thorough sense of what staff feel is working and what needs to change in order to make the culture, leadership and communication more effective.

We always start with the CLIMB 360 Analysis process because we cannot and should not assume that we know and understand exactly what needs to be addressed; that the priorities are the right ones. How can we take a team or organisation to the next level of performance without actually speaking to the people that work in it and understanding their current perspectives and challenges? Quite often, one outcome of the analysis is that the commissioning leadership will have some of their beliefs and expectations confirmed. But equally, there are often surprises; insights that they were not expecting at all.  

Seeking perspectives

For a programme to be effective, we can’t just rely on leadership to commission the work – we need to seek the perspectives of others in the organisation, with whom we conduct confidential, one-to-one conversations via our skilled consultants. To solicit the widest range of views possible, we ask the leadership team to select 12 diverse people. We request that this includes staff at different levels of seniority; maybe who have just joined the organisation and those who have been there a long time. We ask for diverse backgrounds and identities to be represented. And we specifically ask for the ‘disgruntled and the evangelical’.

Because confidentiality is ensured throughout the process (and the fact that we are an external organisation) people feel safe to speak openly and honestly. This means we gather a really broad range of views and opinions around specific questions that are non-directive and non-leading. What emerges from these conversations is the discovery of what people are actually thinking; what’s on their minds. We see themes emerging and the real issues that everyone is talking about. This way, we can identify the challenges that need to be overcome, and the elements that are working and need to be reinforced.

Views in tandem

Alongside the CLIMB 360 Analysis, HRTC run a bespoke organisation-wide survey which reflects very similar questions. We then compare the CLIMB analysis responses with the survey.

In addition, a skilled HR case management audit is conducted. This is where an HR Case Manager sits with management and examines every outstanding HR case – for example, every grievance, every disciplinary, past and present. They look at how quickly and professionally past cases have been concluded, the outcomes and how best to resolve the outstanding current cases. The objective is to provide a strategy which supports managers and leadership to conclude the cases professionally; to recognise what’s worked before, and take into account their risk appetite in terms of resolution. The case manager can then advise how to progress the case.

These three elements run together to provide what we term ‘Cultural Immersion’. Collectively, they allow us to achieve a genuine insight into how the organisation is really operating. This information is then fed back to the leadership in the form of a full report that outlines (anonymously) the themes drawn from the conversations that will result in better leadership and management, and move the needle in terms of organisational high performance.

MatchFit have always worked in this way because we have a deep-seated belief in the importance of getting underneath the surface, behind the scenes of what’s going on in an organisation. This is also a reason why the HRTC partnership works so well, because SC HR Casework have a similar passion for evidence-based practice.

Measuring outcomes

This approach makes a huge difference to overall outcomes, because in the report, we can specify what the focus of actions should be and what outcomes can be expected. From that analysis, we’re able to benchmark and measure the process moving forward. There’s a stake in the ground stating ‘this is where you started, this is what we’re doing, and this is the change needed’. The leadership can then priorities and shape their own direction for progress. Not only can we then look back at the end of the programme and ask if we were successful – we can also adjust as required during the journey. This ability to measure is invaluable.

As the programme itself progresses we actually measure at four different levels. We measure how people are reacting – are they finding value in the process? We measure what they have learned – what insights have they gained that they didn’t have before they engaged in the process? And we measure behaviour – what have they been doing differently based on what they’ve learned? Finally, we measure what the impact is on the organisation of doing things differently.

We tend to find evidence for the first three levels via the CLIMB 360 Analysis, HR bespoke survey and Case management audit. When we, as HRTC, conduct this Cultural Immersion and feed the analysis report back to the leadership team, we can identify whether there’s value in the process; is this information useful? Are you gaining insights? Did you know this already? Is this new to you? What are you learning about your own organisation?

We can then advise what they need start thinking about as the programme moves forward: what are the priorities for doing things differently, what are the interventions that are needed to effect change. The analysis helps us to not only identify the dimension of the CLIMB programme, but also helps us identify the interventions to be delivered.

Collaborative working

Throughout the programme, we’re not only working with people individually, we’re working with them as a group. We really get to understand them, and their challenges. That might be, for example, a manager talking about the need to upskill their own team in certain areas. So the process by definition, also uncovers areas that need additional input.

Because we work through and wholly in partnership, the access to data and material we can use to benchmark and evidence each programme’s success is unprecedented. If MatchFit was just a supplier, we wouldn’t have access to that confidential information. But because we’re working in partnership, we work together to demonstrate the success of the CLIMB programme.

Even from stage one of the CLIMB programme, we can start to see a positive impact on an organisation. For example, a disciplinary might historically have taken 18 months to conclude, whereas now it only takes seven months, because the managers have been upskilled through the HRTC technical interventions.

Being able to measure the impact so clearly is unusual. And it’s a key reason the HRTC partnership is award-winning – because we can visibly demonstrate the path towards high performance.

If you’d like to learn more about our MatchFit programmes, take a look at our information pages here, or why not get in touch? [email protected]

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Motivation Part II: Igniting Intrinsic Motivation: A Leadership Imperative

In our previous article, we looked at the importance of making a self-motivation a strategy, and how to build habits around this area of self-development. Here, we’ll delve into the dynamics of motivation, the role of company culture, and strategies for igniting intrinsic motivation in your team.

Extrinsic motivation is a fundamental of leadership – addressing Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, such as salary, conditions, bonus, rewards, recognition, showing people they are valued. These external factors can drive performance and satisfaction to a certain extent. However, it’s crucial to recognise that they are not the sole drivers of sustained motivation. To drive actualisation and high-performance, igniting intrinsic motivation in others is key – providing people with a sense of purpose, autonomy and an opportunity for mastery.

People need to feel that they count; that they are doing a great job, are adding value, are making a difference. They need to feel challenged, stretched, that they’re developing. All these elements come from within but may need a leader to blow on the embers and ignite the fire of self-motivation.

But motivating others in the workplace can be a formidable challenge, and leaders often find themselves grappling with a lack of motivation among their teams. Understanding the root causes and knowing how to overcome them can make all the difference.

The part that culture has to play

A strong organisational culture fosters a sense of belonging, purpose, and shared values. When employees resonate with the culture, they are more likely to be self-motivated. However, it’s important that leaders don’t take a strong culture for granted – assuming that everyone is on the same page can lead to disenchantment. A leadership that cultivates collaboration, innovation, personal growth, keeps asking questions of its employees—and listening to the answers—fuels intrinsic motivation.

Pushing through when everyone is ‘stuck’

There will often be situations where teams feel stuck or demotivated. During these times, it’s essential to trust the team to find their own way forward. Encouraging people to take ownership, show belief in their abilities, and assigning challenging tasks that stretch their potential will help them grow and gain confidence. But it’s also important to support employees on their ‘stretch’, not just dump tasks on them and let them struggle.

Making group habits

Building group habits can be a powerful motivator. As we explored in the last article, making motivation a strategy, developing consequential thinking and defining aligned goals are powerful tools for building successful inherent responses to challenges. Establishing routines that promote teamwork, creativity, and self-improvement, and regularly reinforcing these habits creates a culture of continuous improvement.

Be kind – but don’t be afraid to challenge thinking

Becoming really good at offering great feedback is a key skill for leaders. Treating employees as human beings with feelings and their own phenomenology is obviously fundamental. But ultimately, nobody gains from not addressing areas for improvement, which left, can start to impact other members of the team, as well as the employee’s own intrinsic motivation.

Top Tips

While extrinsic motivation has its place, true leadership excellence is about igniting the motivation that lies within each team member. By understanding the contributory factors, nurturing a positive culture, and applying effective leadership strategies, you can inspire your team to sustainable high-performance and drive organisational success.

  • Trust people to do things their way.
  • Show unwavering belief in your team and assign tasks that stretch their abilities.
  • Offer support during their growth journeys; don’t leave them to struggle alone.
  • Be kind and recognise their efforts and achievements.
  • Challenge their thinking and self-belief when necessary to foster personal growth.

If you’d like to learn more about our MatchFit programmes around motivation, take a look at our information pages here, or why not get in touch? [email protected]

You can read Part I here

Motivation Part II: Igniting Intrinsic Motivation: A Leadership Imperative Read More »

The Value of Experience in Navigating Complex Challenges: A Personal Journey with MatchFit

An interview with Catharine Brooks

When the world was plunged into uncertainty with the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic in early 2020, businesses and individuals alike faced a new reality. It was a time when adaptability and innovation became paramount, and for Catharine Brooks, it marked the beginning of her journey as a consultant with MatchFit.

Highly experienced, Catharine has always thrived on the dynamic interaction with clients. But as the pandemic struck, the landscape of her work shifted from physical, ‘in the room’ interventions, to virtual. One of her first experiences of virtual training was quite unique – she found herself working with the nation’s elite footballers, the England Lionesses. “It was an absolute privilege as well as being a real test,” she admits, “I am a huge football fan myself, and found myself working with these athletes who have achieved so much!” The experience exemplified the adaptability and resourcefulness required to deal with increasingly complex challenges. Through Women in Football, Catharine now has the exciting opportunity of working with the FA and the Premier League.

As a MatchFit partner, Catharine provides services and support that effect tangible changes to the lives of clients, their teams, and the organisations they operate within. When asked what she brings to the role, Catharine’s response is unequivocal: “I have over 35 years’ experience in corporate and cultural change, leadership and personal skills development, and executive coaching. I’ve worked across various sectors, including public and private, working with leading global organisations and FTSE 100 companies.”

But regardless of the organisation, it all comes down to people and personal development. “Personal development is exactly what it says – personal,” she continues. “I love that moment when an individual’s lightbulb switches on. You can sense, in that moment, they have taken their first step on their personal journey of new insights, reflective practice, and meaningful feedback.”

Catharine practises a strength-based and action-focused approach to both leadership and personal development. Being a certified Strengths Coach, as well as an Emotional Intelligence Coach, she encourages and supports leaders to identify strategies to get the best from themselves and their teams.  When asked what makes a great leader, she stresses: “Possessing a growth mindset, understanding and regulating emotions, demonstrating the right behaviours, and playing to strengths are at the very core”.

Her ethos for creating inspirational and servant leadership is simple: “My job is to help leaders find their spark and discover ways to share their passion, knowledge, and experience with their teams and across the business. Their job is to go out there, be themselves, and to grow and develop themselves, their teams, and their organisation.”

The programmes created and delivered by Catharine and MatchFit focus on giving compassionate, strengths-based feedback and coaching alongside interventions to deliver new understanding, simple strategies, and practical tips to successfully deal with phenomenological challenges and opportunities. Leaders who have worked with Catharine report having gained significantly higher confidence in their ability to lead themselves and others.

Catharine’s work with HMPPS and several leadership teams in a variety of HMP prisons highlights the transformative power of MatchFit’s CLIMB programme. In fact, with the programme’s support, the Civil Service HR Casework team recently won the award for best talent management initiative at the CIPD Awards 2023.

In an extremely challenging environment that lacks resources and faces high staff turnover, the CLIMB programme focuses on engagement, communication, problem-solving, and leadership. It creates a safe space for leaders to reflect on what matters to them in the present and how they can make a difference, even in small ways, to the future. “It’s about committing to small, meaningful actions,” Catharine emphasises. “If they can make a one percent change, it’s the first step. Then they can look to take their next step. It’s simply the aggregation of marginal gains.”

This philosophy underpins the importance of incremental progress when dealing with complex challenges. Creating a safe space for individuals to reflect, share their thoughts, show vulnerability, and commit to actions, is imperative.

“This is often the first opportunity for many of these leaders, and they find it both cathartic and rewarding.” As facilitators, Catharine and her fellow associate consultants at MatchFit assume roles that blend coaching and mentoring. They ask probing questions, share practical strategies, and challenge participants to carefully consider their decisions. This approach harnesses the power of collective small changes, which, when combined, yield significant impacts.

But success in this field isn’t just about tactics and strategies; it’s also about trust and communication. MatchFit has cultivated an outstanding reputation within the Ministry of Justice and the wider Civil Service. “Our clients trust us, which is so important,” Catharine acknowledges.  A poignant moment from her work with prison staff encapsulates the impact of trust. One individual told Catharine, “When you first came here, a lot of us were very sceptical; you said we could trust you, and you had our best interests at heart. Having worked with you over the past six months, you were right, and you’ll never know how much that means to us.” Feedback like this reaffirms the profound difference MatchFit makes in the lives of its clients.

Outside of her demanding role at MatchFit, Catharine balances running a successful personal leadership consultancy business. She enjoys travelling (her next trip being to China to visit her daughter, who us currently studying in Beijing), going to the gym, long country walks with her dog, and relishes good food and wine with family and friends. Mindfulness also plays a crucial role in maintaining a positive work-life balance, reminding us of that even in the pursuit of helping others navigate complex challenges, taking care of oneself is equally important.

In a world fraught with ever-evolving complexities, Catharine Brooks and MatchFit exemplify the invaluable role of experience, adaptability, and trust in guiding clients through the most challenging of journeys. As she continues to make a difference, both in the boardroom and at grass roots, Catharine’s unwavering commitment to positive change is a testament to the power of experience in a rapidly changing world.

The Value of Experience in Navigating Complex Challenges: A Personal Journey with MatchFit Read More »

From bonding to action – making a team ‘Match Fit’

Jean-Pierre Beneche, Executive Director of global financial services group Julius Baer, explains how MatchFit’s ‘Building Teams’ programme delivered tangible results in creating and establishing a highly-effective specialised team.  

Headquartered in Switzerland, and with a presence in the UK, Julius Baer is a global private wealth management company, specialising in supporting the financial needs of high-net-worth individuals. Jean-Pierre’s team reports into the Chief Risk Officer and was created to ensure the efficient and compliant handling of data connected to the organisation’s activities.

Building a new team, understanding the challenge

Jean-Pierre’s had the task of rapidly building a new team capable of quickly delivering on a clear vision. Following the team’s formation in September 2022, MatchFit came in to offer guidance and ensure the group would develop in the most effective way.

“I was new to a role that required building and leading a new team, who were quite diverse in their levels of experience and specialities. A key factor in my successful leadership would be finding ways to get them to work together effectively as a team. I was also mindful of the pressure I can put myself under to constantly deliver high standards. Having discussed the challenges with our HR department it was suggested we work with MatchFit, an organisation that had delivered good results for other teams in the past,” he explained.

MatchFit ‘Building Teams’ module

Having analysed the challenge with MatchFit, it was decided that their ‘Building Teams’ module was the most appropriate programme to achieve the required outcomes.

Jean-Pierre wanted to create a core vision for the department and motivate the team. Given the different role profiles and levels of experience, it was key that everyone came together early in the process, to ensure they could see how their roles fitted into the team and how the group could become as efficient as possible.

“There was an important pre-phase before the group came together,” he explains. “Individually, we had one-to-ones with [MatchFit managing director] Bradley, where we explored a range of issues. We joked about what we might have said in these sessions and that in itself allowed us to start bonding more as a group.

“Expectation was building before we met as a group for the first time around what was going to come out of the process. It became a recurring topic of conversation. I didn’t need to proactively remind the team that the group session was going to happen. I thought that was fantastic,” said Jean-Pierre.

After the first group meeting, the group took the view that they needed to digest what had been discussed and Jean-Pierre followed up with group and individual conversations about the output and what it meant for the team.

Making a real and immediate impact

There were immediate tangible signs that the programme was working.

“Naturally I expected the programme to help but it actually contributed to the enhanced performance of my team in a very short period of time. It definitely helped me individually and I have to say I was not necessarily expecting it to be so helpful,” said Jean-Pierre.

The dynamic around the programme really engaged the team who discussed it throughout the three-week process and took bets on what the next session would focus on. “It really became a ‘thing’, which added to the team bonding process,” added Jean-Pierre.

He continued: “I think what this has really, truly, created is an awareness of our strengths and weaknesses as a group. That was one of the main outcomes: the understanding that we need to be aware of these as a team, because there’s nothing worse than being blind to them.”

The programme has helped Jean-Pierre understand you cannot just get on with your day-to-day operations without taking the time to step back and reflect. “And the MatchFit sessions allowed, and even forced, us to do this”, he said.

The sessions proactively helped Jean-Pierre and his team take action to be more efficient with regular discussion around things the group could do to achieve this.

“It’s easy to say that you need to improve in certain areas but then just carry on with your day job. The programme forced us to stop, take a pause and decide: okay, out of the 10 things that we said we potentially wanted to do, we’re going to focus on two or three, actually do those, and assign responsibilities. We also understood we needed to make sure we stay accountable around those decisions.”

Tangible changes

He continued: “I’m especially proud that we didn’t just close the door after the session and say, ‘let’s see what’s going on in six, eight weeks’ and then take no action. We really stepped up to the mark and made the changes we said we would.

It was one of the first comments in the second session. Michael [Brooke, MatchFit consultant] and Bradley really challenged us. It is normally the moment in a programme when everybody’s looking at each other, because nobody has actually done any of what they said they would. But my team all stood up and said, ‘no we have done things. Things have changed. We’ve really been active around what we discussed’. And that’s something that I really liked.”

When the programme finished, the team documented the actions they still felt they should focus on.  

“My team has been very, I’m going to say, aggressive in taking action, but in a positive way.” He continues: “MatchFit created energy around the determination to make us a successful team. It has definitely created a bond around the desire for excellence that this team wants to be recognised for; it’s become a shared goal.”

A new viewpoint

“I would definitely encourage anybody to embark on this programme, which can be done at any stage in your team’s lifecycle.

As a middle or senior manager, you may think that you already have the necessary knowledge and experience and you know what is best. But it is very, very helpful to have support to lead you through such a programme and help you take the very the best from it.

Different elements of the programme will resonate more strongly with people, but as a team, we have gained invaluable takeaways and made great strides forward.” He concludes.

From bonding to action – making a team ‘Match Fit’ Read More »

Subject Matter Expert or Super Leader: Can You Be Both?

Most people will be familiar with the scenario where someone who’s really good at what they do technically in their specialist area is promoted into leadership or management. But that technical expertise doesn’t necessarily equate to effective leadership, which involves taking charge, making decisions, setting direction, and fostering collaboration within a team or organisation. Effective leaders critically need strong interpersonal skills, emotional intelligence, and the ability to communicate and motivate others. Suddenly that high-flying subject matter expert (SME) is struggling to succeed in a role that actually requires quite a distinct skill set. And the importance of the dynamic that’s created by good leadership and the cohesiveness of a team is often underestimated.

So why does this keep happening?

Recognising the challenges – out of the comfort zone

Highly proficient in their respective domains, SMEs possess deep knowledge, expertise, and skills in a specific field or area, making them an invaluable asset. They often serve as go-to resources for guidance, problem-solving, and mentorship within their organisations, and their expertise and experience contribute significantly to the success of projects and initiatives related to their area of specialisation.

Particularly in technical skills-based organisations, a person may have been recruited for those skills, and then progressed up the ranks towards seniority based on that technical proficiency. They then find themselves managing people, which requires a very different set of skills. Sometimes, this can mean that team members end up with two managers—a technical manager and a people manager—which can create a tricky dynamic in itself.

Recognising the challenges – letting go

Another consideration is that it can be difficult for an SME to step away from the feeling that they have to be THE authority on their specialism. Having been accustomed to focusing primarily on their area of expertise, delving into technical details and problem-solving, they now find themselves needing to balance their technical knowledge with broader organisational perspectives. It can be challenging to shift their mindset from being hands-on experts to guiding and supporting a team.

Letting go of control and trusting others can also be challenging. SMEs often excel precisely because of their deep understanding of their field and so prefer to take ownership of tasks. They are also accustomed to sharing their expertise with others who possess a similar technical background. However, to be successful leaders, SMEs must also learn to delegate responsibilities and empower team members to contribute their own expertise and perspectives as well. They must communicate effectively with diverse stakeholders, including team members, executives, clients, and other departments. Influencing skills become essential in gaining support, driving change, and building relationships.

Clearly, some SMEs, even without training, are just naturally good leaders. They are more outwardly-focussed, and have the ability to guide, inspire, and influence others to achieve common goals.

However, what often happens is that somebody goes on management training course, but there’s little follow-up in terms of whether they’re implementing their new management skills, and doing so effectively.  Like learning any new skill, it develops over time. There needs to be some method of measuring growth and progress, through active demonstration of the skills, and feedback from others about the impact. The fact that there is some good work being done around measuring development, and yet many organisations haven’t embraced it, speaks volumes about how important it is seen to be. Which is strange when you think we measure most other aspects of a business, spend a substantial budget on training, and yet don’t apply the same ROI lens to evaluate it.

Another consideration is whether people are being provided with leadership and people management skills early enough in their careers, even before they’re ready to be a leader. Clearly, there is an investment cost in providing CPD, but many of the rapport-building and communication skills necessary for leadership are also pretty useful for employees at a much earlier stage.

Defining a Leader

A leader, on the other hand, is more outwardly-focussed, and has the ability to guide, inspire, and influence others to achieve common goals. Leadership involves taking charge, making decisions, setting direction, and fostering collaboration within a team or organisation. Effective leaders may also possess technical skills, but critically they need strong interpersonal skills, emotional intelligence, and the ability to communicate and motivate others.

Three Differences between SME and Leader

  1. Focus:

An SME primarily focuses on their area of expertise, working to deepen their knowledge and contribute specialised insights. Their attention revolves around technical aspects, problem-solving, and maintaining a high level of expertise in their field.

In contrast, a leader focuses on the bigger picture, aligning team members toward a common goal, and coordinating efforts to achieve organisational objectives. Leaders prioritise building effective teams, developing talent, and creating a positive work culture and environment.

  1. Skill Set:

SMEs excel in their technical skills, possessing a deep understanding of their domain. They become experts through years of experience, continuous learning, and honing their craft. However, technical skills alone are not necessarily sufficient for leadership success.

Leaders require a broader skill set, encompassing communication, strategic thinking, decision-making, problem-solving, and interpersonal skills. They must inspire and motivate their team members, manage conflicts, delegate tasks effectively, and foster collaboration.

  1. Perspective:

The perspective of SMEs tends to be biased towards their area of expertise. Whilst they excel in their technical knowledge, they may lack a holistic understanding of the organisation or industry.

Leaders, on the other hand, possess a broader perspective by necessity. They understand the interdependencies among different functions, teams, and stakeholders. Leaders consider long-term goals, market trends, and organisational dynamics while making strategic decisions.

The challenges when SMEs transition into leadership roles

Promoting SMEs into leadership positions can present challenges. While their technical skills are highly valuable, the transition to leadership usually requires additional development. Leadership requires a distinct skill set that goes beyond technical expertise. Effective leaders possess strong interpersonal and communication skills, emotional intelligence, strategic thinking, decision-making abilities, and the capacity to motivate and inspire others. SMEs may need to invest time and effort in developing these leadership competencies.

Limited exposure to the broader organisational or industry landscape because of a specialist technical focus can also be problematic. Leaders need to understand the interdependencies among different functions, teams, and stakeholders, and, for SMEs, adapting to a more comprehensive perspective can be a significant adjustment.

In addition, they may have limited experience in leading and managing teams, which requires resolving conflicts, providing feedback, and fostering a positive work environment. Developing people management skills is crucial for successful leadership.

Navigating the Expert-Leader paradox

Recognising that different skills are required is the first step in overcoming these challenges. Leadership is a continuous learning process and embracing growth and development is also a key leadership competency. Organisations that provide opportunities for professional development, such as leadership programmes, coaching, and mentorship—and have prospective leaders with the awareness to seek these out—are likely to benefit from the best of both worlds.

Subject Matter Expert or Super Leader: Can You Be Both? Read More »

The Art of Present Leadership

Avoiding Past Ruminations and Future Worries.

Business leaders today face a particular challenge; the need to stay ahead of the competition and mitigate for risks, while also not getting bogged down in worrying about what might happen in the future. To achieve a balance between the two, leaders must learn to embrace and lead in the present. By doing so, they can open themselves up to the opportunities of living in the here and now, and avoid the dangers of always playing it safe. In this article, we discuss the importance of leading in the present and how to achieve it.

The importance of remaining in the here and now.

In today’s fast-paced business world, it is easy to get caught up in the chaos and constantly worry about what could go wrong in the future. While it is essential for business leaders to be proactive and take necessary steps to mitigate risk, it is equally important to remain present in the here and now.

One way to achieve this is by understanding the circle of control and the circle of influence. The circle of control consists of things that are within our control, such as our thoughts and actions. The circle of influence, on the other hand, consists of things that we can influence but cannot control, such as market trends or the actions of our competitors. By focusing on what we can control, we can maintain a sense of calm and serenity, even in the face of uncertainty.

Being present in the here and now also requires us to be resourceful emotionally and in terms of activity in a phenomenological way. This means that we need to be aware of our emotions and the impact they have on our decision-making processes. It also means being open to new ideas and opportunities, even if they may seem risky.

Of course, it is important to strike a balance between risk mitigation and taking advantage of opportunities. While catastrophising is an important process for creating resilience plans, we also don’t want to be continually in a state of anxiety about what might happen.

Achieving balanced leadership means understanding that there is always an element of risk in any decision we make, but it is possible to manage that risk and make informed decisions that benefit our business. By remaining present in the here and now, we can tap into our resilience and stoicism, enabling us to navigate uncertain times with confidence, and inspire that confidence in others.

Being aware of the environment you’re working in.

As a business leader, you are likely to operate in a highly competitive environment, where you are expected to deliver results and achieve success at all costs. This pressure can cause you to lose sight of the present moment. You may become too focused on future goals, worrying about the what-ifs, and the impact that this could have on your business.

One useful way to manage this stress is to take a lesson from the military. In the military, stress testing is a common practice. It involves subjecting soldiers to a series of intense and high-pressure situations that help to prepare them for future crisis situations. This kind of training helps soldiers to remain calm and focused in the moment, even when faced with high-stress situations.

Similarly, as a business leader, it’s important to remain aware of the environment you’re working in and understand how it can affect your decisions. It’s important to acknowledge the stress and pressure that come with leading in a competitive environment. It’s equally important to learn how to manage these stressors effectively and develop strategies that help you stay focused in the present.

One approach that can be useful is mindfulness. Mindfulness is the practice of being present in the moment and not getting caught up in thoughts or feelings about the past or future. By learning to be mindful, you can better focus on the task at hand, stay present in the moment, and avoid becoming distracted by concerns about the future.

Another way to remain aware of your environment is to pay attention to the people and the culture around you. Get to know your colleagues, your clients, and your competitors. Understand what motivates them and what drives their decision-making processes. By understanding these factors, you can make more informed decisions and be better prepared to handle challenges as they arise.

What you can do when you’re stuck in the moment.

Being present is an important quality for any business leader, but what happens when you feel like you’re stuck in the moment? It’s easy to get lost in the day-to-day challenges of running a business, but it’s essential to take a step back and evaluate your current situation.

One way to do this is by asking yourself these questions:

  • What is the crux of this problem?
  • On a scale of 1- 10, how bad is this problem? What will actually happen if I don’t fix it?
  • In six months’ time, what will it look like?
  • What resources do I have available right now in terms of time/budget/people?
  • What are my actual constraints/barriers vs those that I am making assumptions about?
  • Whose expertise can I utilise? What ideas might others in my team have?

Who becomes the judge of what is considered acceptable risk?

It’s worth remembering that what may seem like an acceptable risk to you, may not be the same for others in your organisation or even for your customers and stakeholders. When making decisions about risk, it is important to consider the potential impact on all parties involved. This includes evaluating the potential benefits and drawbacks, as well as the likelihood of success or failure.

Risk is subjective and can vary depending on many factors, such as market conditions, financial stability, and company culture. Finding a balance between complete risk avoidance and taking calculated risks is a delicate process that requires constant evaluation and adjustment.

As a leader, you can establish clear guidelines and protocols for evaluating and managing risk. This can include regular risk assessments, training and education for employees, and implementing effective communication strategies to ensure everyone is on the same page.

Remember, being too cautious can limit your organisation’s potential for growth and innovation. On the other hand, taking too many risks without proper consideration and planning can have devastating consequences. Finding the right balance requires a thoughtful and proactive approach to risk management.

The importance of having a balance between the past and the future.

Business leaders are often caught up in worrying about the future or analysing past decisions, which can lead to missed opportunities in the present. On one hand, looking to the future is essential for anticipating changes in the industry, developing innovative ideas, and setting goals. However, excessive worry about what might happen in the future can be paralysing.

Dwelling too much on past mistakes or successes can be equally limiting. While it’s important to learn from past decisions, being overly preoccupied with them can keep leaders from seeing new opportunities or taking chances. The past is important to inform decisions, but it shouldn’t dictate them.

Achieving a balance between the past and future requires an awareness of the present moment.

Ultimately, it’s crucial to find a balance between mitigating for risk and living in the present moment. Business leaders must keep an eye on the future without worrying too much about it, while also learning from the past without letting it control the present. When they strike the right balance, leaders can make confident decisions that help their organizations thrive.

 

Achieving the ideal overall balance

Ultimately, if you think of risk as a continuum from paralysing fear to complacency, the arc of the pendulum swing and its centre of gravity will depend on circumstances, a person’s natural phenomenological experience; and where they naturally tend to fall on that continuum. Achieving a balance is about reducing extremes, while still retaining the flexibility to react with creativity to challenges as they arise.

Achieving a balance between the past and future requires an awareness of the present moment.

The Art of Present Leadership Read More »

Organisational change can deliver real success, but commitment needs to come from the top

Bradley Honnor explains why the effort to improve the way teams and businesses operate through leadership development programmes requires engagement from the top down.

I’m often asked how MatchFit can demonstrate the ‘why’ when I discuss a leadership programme with a new client.

The answer is fairly simple. As in any purchase, it’s important to make sure the benefits are understood. You may well think that your business performance and culture are strong, but there is always room for improvement. Can ‘good’ become ‘great’? We ask that question – the honest answer is always ‘yes’.

It’s important to realise the benefits that improving from good to great can deliver for the business and what that means for the return on your investment.

We encourage clients to consider the pain and pleasure principle. The first task is to identify where they see the pain within the business. Is it poor performance, is it attrition rates? Is the senior leadership team overwhelmed, are teams and staff working in silos?

Once the pain has been identified, we can create a programme that identifies the opportunities to enhance performance and operational excellence and delivers the solutions.

Staff remain the biggest asset to any business. If you can progress, improve, enhance and build a team or organisational culture where people can thrive and take pleasure in working, the results can be significant both in performance and staff retention.

The success of any programme, however, depends on the level of engagement both during the programme itself and subsequently over time.

And that engagement has to start from the top. Senior management needs to lead by example and drive the process. More importantly, they need to been seen to drive the process. If the process is not seen to be top of the leadership agenda, it will not be top for the wider employee group.

When clear and engaged leadership is happening, we see nothing but good outcomes. When it is not, there is a significant chance that what we are trying to achieve with the client will fail.

Giving staff the time to succeed

As well as enjoying senior-staff sponsorship, the programme needs to be relevant to those participating, and to fit around their working days. People do not want to spend weeks out of the workplace, or away from their desks. The programme must recognise attendees have a day job to do and be structured to accommodate this.

Engagement also needs to go beyond the session itself. There needs to be the willingness to understand:

  • what changes are being suggested
  • why they have been suggested
  • the difference they will make to the individual and business and,
  • why it is important to put those into practice after the sessions have been completed.

Maintaining momentum post programme

Leadership development and driving change does not finish once the programme has come to an end. Maintaining momentum is vital to delivering success.

At this stage, MatchFit cannot directly influence the actions of the leadership team, so we advise creating a record of what the business and individuals say they are aiming to achieve and the actions required to do this.

That list needs to be focused and achievable. It’s better to have three or four specific actions that are more likely to be achieved, than 25 points which will be far harder to manage and record.

Team ethos and mutual accountability are also critical at this stage. Where these are strong, each member will feel responsible for playing their part and not letting the rest of the team down. Having multiple forums in which the actions can be reflected on, and success acknowledged and celebrated by the teams and wider business, is also important.

When there is strong leadership from the top, a culture of accountability, and pride and an understanding of the tools and techniques needed to affect positive change, then success is far more likely to follow.

Organisational change can deliver real success, but commitment needs to come from the top Read More »