Tag: teamwork

My Belbin results – Part 2

In My Belbin Results – Part 1 I outlined what the Belbin process is and listed the nine different characteristics that the process identifies for those who are part of a team. At the end of the blog post I asked people, whether they knew me solely online or also offline, to ascertain which three of the nine characteristics were most like me. Go and read that post (and especially the comments) before proceeding. πŸ™‚

It was interesting that those who know me solely online seem to view me differently from those who know me offline as well. That showed up in my ‘official’ Belbin report as well – there was one external assessor who I’ve only ever talked to on Skype and over the phone.

So what were my results? In order:

Plant – Creative, imaginative, unorthodox. Solves difficult problems. Ignores incidentals. Too pre-occupied with own thoughts to communicate effectively.

Resource Investigator – Extrovert, enthusiastic, communicative. Explores opportunities. Develops contacts. Over-optimistic. Can lose interest once initial enthusiasm has passed.

Shaper – Challenging, dynamic, thrives on pressure. Has the drive and courage to overcome obstacles. Prone to provocation. Liable to offend others.

The above were agreed upon by all five of my observers, apart from one who came up with ‘Specialist’ instead of ‘Shaper’. As for me, I had down Plant and Shaper, but had ‘Monitor Evaluator’ down as number one. Perhaps I’m not so ‘serious minded’ after all… πŸ˜‰

The pigeon-holing is interesting but some of the report was intriguing. There were six people who assessed me, if you include the self-assessment; here are the top words and phrases people selected to describe me (in order of most frequent):

  • innovative
  • impulsive
  • creative
  • imaginative
  • opportunistic
  • enterprising
  • provocative
  • encouraging of others
  • persistent
  • outspoken
  • technically skilful
  • clever
  • professionally dedicated

The word ‘aggressive’ also came out a couple of times, but right next to it was ‘calm & confident’ so I saw them as cancelling each other out. Talking to one of the people who assessed me, they explained the former as positive and being akin to ‘tenacious’. πŸ™‚

There’s various other bits of feedback you get, including a ‘strengths’ and ‘possible weaknesses’ report, along with (hilariously) a ‘counselling report’. Here’s some choice excerpts:

Has innovative tendencies and needs to work in a mentally challenging environment. Requires work where he can use his outgoing nature… Needs to work in an environment which offers scope for personal expression.

Could have problems adapting to a supportive and subordinate role when necessary.

Needs to work within a loose framework. Will function best when given the freedom to roam.

Yours is essentially a pioneering profile. You are one of the few people equally read to develop new ideas on your own or in conjunction with others. Your best line of work is one in which you are required to explore possibilities and to take advantage of new opportunities. You have some features of the visionary. But take care you do not become isolated from others and resistant to the contributions they can make to the development of what is new.

For you above all others, it is best to establish the moment of exit. Do not outstay your welcome.

Your operating style is that of one who always seeks to be at the cutting edge of change. So remember that this is a hazardous spot to occupy. You will need to respect others of more traditional habits if you are to win respect yourself.

Does that seem a fair assessment? πŸ˜€

5 characteristics of successful organisations

I tried recently to count the number of organisations of which I’ve been part over the years. I attempted to list everything from junior football teams through to my current employers. I began to lose count.

We’re part of many organisations in both our working and personal lives. I began to wonder how many of the organisations to which I’ve belonged would be considered successful. This then led me to consider what I meant by ‘success’…

What follows is a list of five characteristics I believe to be common to every successful organisation.

By ‘successful’ I mean demonstrably achieved what the organisation was set up to do. For a swimming club that’s teaching people to swim, being successful in galas, and training-up lifeguards. For schools it’s not only achieving good value-added but striking an achievable work-life balance for staff and preparing young people for the wider world.

Each of the following is additive: an organisation needs to get the first one sorted before moving onto the next. Skipping straight to 5 is a waste of time if 1-4 aren’t in place!

1. Story

Every successful organisation needs a story. Often this is the mission statement based on the founders’ wishes. An independent school often has a strong story and a proud history which is often reflected both in the events calendar and positions within the staff and student body. A business that sells a product might have a story on how the company was founded or the ‘lightbulb moment’ – such as the Dyson story that’s printed on the side of all Dyson vacuum cleaner boxes.

The story not only lends the organisation legitimacy, but gives its members a common shared interest and direction in which to point. It sets the parameters, the tone. Sometimes the story is summed up in the organisation’s slogan, such as Google’s ‘Don’t be evil’ and Nike’s ‘Just Do It’.

More than anything, the story tells the world why the organisation exists. And that’s an important thing to communicate, especially in these testing times.

2. Call to action

Every organisation needs a story, a mission, a raison d’Γͺtre. But it also needs a call to action – a reason why people should care – or, perhaps more importantly, a reason why people should join in.

A church, for example, is unlikely to get new members by providing bland, inoffensive services that allow people to forget the main messages soon afterwards. Public bodies such as the National Health Service need to not only go through the motions to improve the nation’s health but capture the public’s imagination and give them a reason to change their habits.

The call to action is difficult, especially if it requires demonstrable change in lifestyle or belief system. And, of course, the most successful organisations are the ones that maximise (and capitalise) upon these changes.

3. Growth mindsets

It’s fully possible to have a successful organisation without charismatic leaders. But I’ve yet to come across a successful organisation without leaders who have growth mindsets. Carol Dweck’s work has revolutionised not only my approach to education and business, but interactions with my son:

According to Dweck, individuals can be placed on a continuum according to their implicit views of where ability comes from. Some believe their success is based on innate ability; these are said to have a “fixed” theory of intelligence. Others, who believe their success is based on hard work and learning, are said to have a “growth” or an “incremental” theory of intelligence… Fixed-mindset individuals dread failure because it is a negative statement on their basic abilities, while growth mindset individuals don’t mind failure as much because they realize their performance can be improved. Dweck argues that the growth mindset will allow a person to live a less stressful and more successful life. (Wikipedia)

I’m fortunate enough to be surrounded by people with growth mindsets most of the time – at home, at work and online. However, I was recently in a position where I was surrounded by people with fixed mindsets. It was soul-destroying. πŸ™

Seek out a growth mindset for yourself and foster it in others for your organisation to be successful and to flourish!

4. Commitment

Once the story, call to action and charismatic leader are in place, commitment should be a fairly easy win for an organisation. Give staff a reason to work their socks off and give all they can to the organisation and the organisation will reap dividends.

The example often cited is Google. Having recently been to their London headquarters I saw some of what has been written in action. I saw happy, motivated staff working past 9pm on a weekday night, the legendary free food, micro-kitchens and off-the-wall accessories. I didn’t ‘see’ the 20% time that Google staff are given to work on their own projects, but it’s a well-known fact that many of their most innovative offerings were borne from this.

As a leader, I’d much rather have one person giving 100% than two people giving 50%. Not only because it’s cheaper, but it creates a palpable ‘buzz’ around the place. It energises other people. Create a culture of commitment and people not only thrive but flourish.

5. Workflows

You can have the story sorted, a call to action prepared, the leaders with growth mindsets in place, and committed staff, but still fail to have a successful organisation. Why? Friction.

Friction occurs where there are bottlenecks, frustrations and indecisiveness. These almost always are the result of poor workflows. A workflow is merely a way of doing something. I can remember one school at which I work, a high-achieving specialist school. I remember being surprised at the number of flow charts in the staff room, up on the walls in classrooms and reproduced in the staff handbook. At first, this felt quite constraining. “Is this the only way we’re allowed to do things around here?”, I thought.

But then it dawned on me that effective workflows freed up people in that school to be creative, to focus on more important things, such as learning, their life outside school and adding value to the lives of young people. In other words, it allowed staff to achieve the mission of the school and be part of a successful organisation.

Workflows are crucial to the running of any organisation. At our most recent planning meeting, we mapped our current and future workflows. It was an interesting and enlightening experience. I can honestly say we’re becoming more efficient, more aware and, yes, more successful as a result.

Conclusion

The above constitutes my overview of what I believe organisations – both educational and otherwise – need to work on to become successful. I’d be very interested to hear whether you agree. What would you add? What would you remove? What would you change? πŸ™‚

Image CC BY Taro Taylor

Never lose a document again: how Google Docs can change the way you and your department work!

Instead of attaching documents to emails, why don’t we attach email addresses to documents? That way, everyone sees each update of a document (e.g. a scheme of work) and there is a central repository for departmental or school files.

Watch this video:

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Google Docs is part of a wider suite known as Google Apps. There’s a version of this called Google Apps Team Edition that allows only those within an institution or business to collaborate on documents. You can access Ridgewood’s login page here. Only those with an @ridgewoodschool.co.uk email account can access this (which includes pupils, so be careful who you share documents with!)

Step 1

Sign up for an account. Follow the instructions using your school email address.

Step 2

Login to the Ridgewood Google Apps dashboard using the username/password set up in Step 1. You might want to bookmark this login page for ease-of-access next time!

Step 3

In the dashboard area you have several options, the rest of which you can explore at your leisure. For the moment we’re interested in Docs, so click on that!

Step 4

The Docs overview area is fairly straightforward. Documents which have been shared with you are accessible to the bottom-right. You can click on the toolbar to create a new document/spreadsheet/presentation/form/folder, upload existing documents (in Word .doc format, etc.), and share these with others:

Step 5

Once you have created or uploaded a document, click on the blue Share button to the top-right of your screen in the editing window. Then click on Share with others:

Step 6

You can view the ‘revision history’ of the document by going to Tools/Revision history in the editing window. This shows every change that has been made to the document. You can revert to any previous incarnation of a document if necessary!

Step 7

Play! Explore what Google Docs can do. Once you exhausted that, have a look at the rest of the offerings within the Google Apps suite – Sites (easy departmental websites), Calendar (plan course/departmental/school events), Start Page (customised ‘home page’) and Chat (real-time text chat like MSN Messenger)

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