Exploring the organisation’s current and future impact
A regional branch of this national charity network wanted to ensure that their passion for what they do came across consistently in their everyday dealings with ‘clients’ and through their website. They described this as wanting to develop a ‘different sort of conversation about our work’ based on shared ideas about why we are here. » Read further
The brief was to help them develop a compelling vision for the charity – one that would be highly motivating for themselves as well as their wide array of audiences - trustees, local community groups, business networks and donors - ‘friends’ of the charity.
We were asked to start this process off and to design and run a short workshop for the whole team which would also help them to experience and understand the difference a powerful vision can make.
We designed a day that helped members of the team understand what the collective action of the charity brought to the local community and explored the team’s values in relation to this. We also mixed activities with group presentations and discussions - allowing them to build on their personal and organisational best, identify connecting themes and beginning the outline of a new shared vision.
Our summary of the day captured essential points and provided guidance notes for the team on taking their ideas to the next stage of development.
Feedback from the team was that they enjoyed the challenge of bringing their work together in this way and that it was both fun and constructive.
Theme: Communicating and evolving strategic change
The senior management team of a technology company wanted to involve and consult with staff on the implications of a change in business strategy. They also wanted to reflect on the company’s values – ensuring that what was important to the team would be retained and even improved as the company grew and adapted to its new future. » Read further
We were commissioned to design and run an away day for the whole company (40 people). Throughout the project we worked closely with the directors helping them consider their outcomes for the day in more detail and advising them on the venue, their presentations and on all advance communication. We also increased staff involvement by training up some of their team as helper-facilitators.
An important outcome was that each person attending should feel able to join in and to experience the day as consultative and creative – the beginning of an ongoing dialogue abut their market access strategy.
Feedback from the day was that it had been worthwhile and very constructive. Employees said that it had created a respectful and honest environment in which they felt valued and readily able to participate and generate ideas.
Theme: Collaborative working in an inter-company alliance
Managers in this international department were concerned that the number of different stakeholders (external and internal) involved in a vital project would slow its progress. There had been a history of ‘rocky’ relationships with those previously involved and they were keen that the new working group should have the best possible start. They wanted to build strong, long-term working relationships and to have the attitudes and skills to make progress quickly. » Read further
We facilitated an initial meeting for the departmental team looking at the ideal outcomes for the overall project - what was likely to be important to the other parties and what would be happening when they all were working together at their best. Together, we brainstormed ‘what would make this project and its associated meetings stand the best chance of success and be enjoyable for all attending?’ This generated some important points that the team subsequently decided to propose to the whole working group and led to each member hosting a meeting and choosing a venue of personal interest to them. This helped the group get to know each other and commit to the whole programme of meetings.
We also held communication workshops and individual coaching sessions for the client to improve skills and confidence over a six-month period. This helped develop new perspectives on how to approach meetings and work issues as they were happening. A good rate of progress was reported almost immediately and the working group successfully resolved a major issue for the company during this timeframe. The Head of Department felt that managers had much greater insight into how they were being perceived and were now more flexible in their communication styles. The managers themselves reported excellent working relationships on the project and were very pleased with the levels of innovation and commitment.
Theme: Influencing positive change in cancer care
Imagine influencing change in cancer care. What would you need to succeed?
Fruitful Conversations has been helping Macmillan Professionals increase their ability to have more productive conversations with their NHS colleagues and commissioners. » Read further
Some 4,000 clinicians, nurses and information specialists in the UK work alongside Macmillan Cancer Support to seek new ways of dealing with cancer patients to improve their care. For new ideas and projects to take hold, Macmillan Professionals must lead change in a complex and busy environment – often managing upwards and across a number of disciplines and departments. They need a range of leadership skills to engage colleagues in the idea of change and then to implement it.
They have to gain their colleagues’ attention - listening, consulting, inspiring along the way - and often must play to a colleague’s strengths and interests or demonstrate that it is small changes that will make a big difference to patients i.e, that the effort of change is outstripped by the reward.
Building productive long term working relationships is essential to even initiate some of these conversations – and certainly for innovations and ideas to root and develop.
Conversations for high stakes
These are conversations with the potential to affect patient care – so furthering the skills that allow the conversation and the relationship to continue, and to take productive rather than dead-end turns, is crucial.
Macmillan Cancer Support wanted to help professionals develop these skills by sharing ideas with each other and by understanding best practice, so Fruitful Conversations drew on studies of top leaders to design an experiential learning programme of ‘Influencing with Integrity’. Essentially this looked at the component skills and beliefs in three areas: Intention, Inspiration and Exploration.
Current challenges as well as successes were also brought to the table to give relevant meaning to new tools and exercises covering rapport and relationship and listening and language skills for clarity and progress.
Macmillan professionals have now taken away ‘considerable food for thought’ and a number of specific actions. They rated the new approaches as ‘excellent’ and ‘good’ and appreciated the opportunity for such reflection and planning.
Influencing with integrity
Conversations for high stakes
If you or your team would like to increase your influence or to develop your own best practices in these areas, we can offer coaching, introductory workshops or programmes of development. Please email firstname.lastname@example.org or contact Deborah Goodall for further information.