Everyone CAN make a difference - business improvement through employee involvement
"As a professional services firm, our people and their expertise are our most valuable assets. At Anderson Strathern, we believe in investing in our people, encouraging team work and involvement at all levels" Robin Stimpson, Managing Partner
Sounds good - but how to achieve this was a problem facing Anderson Strathern WS, a firm of solicitors based in Scotland, providing a full range of legal services including specialisms in land ventures, employment, liability insurance litigation and the financial sector.
Moira Morris, Personnel and Training Manager, knew traditional 'chalk and talk' was not the answer. For the staff of 170, she had three main criteria: to involve people at all levels so they learned about each other's roles; to engage everyone in continuous improvement; and to be so interesting that people would want to take time out to attend. The Keil Centre proposed the Service version of Apples & Oranges, a business stimulation based on a sound psychological understanding of how different people learn. Information is presented through figures, words, pictures and by physically moving resources round a table-top 'organisation'. Working as a team, people see how cash flow, work in progress, consumables, overheads, profit, capacity utilisation etc. change as customer demands are met, invoiced and paid for. Income statements and balance sheets come alive through the physical evidence on the table-top.
Anderson Strathern's pilot workshop ran with 12 volunteers, including Partners, Legal assistants, finance staff, admin staff and secretaries. After a morning learning business concepts, there was a buzz of activity as each table identified improvements for Anderson Strathern. It was agreed that ideas for improving the accuracy, efficiency and cost of mailings could be piloted straightaway. Improving multi-skilling, cross-selling and standardising systems were for the medium term. Partners and fee earners decided to focus on feeing and service protocols, billing more promptly for work in progress and closely managing unpaid fees. To keep up the momentum, the implementation of everyone's ideas was reviewed as a group four weeks later. An added benefit was the link to the firm's Investors in People programme. There is now no shortage of volunteers for the next workshops.
Contact Louise Clarkson at The Keil Centre' s Edinburgh Office to discuss Apples & Oranges for service, production, healthcare, distribution and public sector organisations.
UK implementation of the EC Working Time Directive
The EC Working Time Directive will be implemented in the UK during 1998.
This will regulate maximum working hours, rest periods, days off, holidays and night work. This imminent change in legislation is leading many employers, particularly those working shifts, to reconsider how they organise working time.
For shiftworkers, the basic problem is that people were not designed to work at night. Rather than ignoring this fact and simply reaching for a calendar to redesign working time arrangements, The Keil Centre has been working with major employers in the petrochemical, manufacturing and pharmaceutical industries to redesign working patterns and shift systems according to ergonomical principles. Like a well-designed ergonomical chair, an ergonomic shift system is both functional for the organisation and comfortable for the use. It is possible to satisfy the business need for shiftworking whilst minimising adverse effects of shift work on circadian rhythms, health, safety and social life.
Recent projects have included designing a more flexible 8-hour alternative to 12-hour shifts; educating shiftworkers on minimising health effects of shiftwork; and analysing workload prior to altering shift schedules.
To hear more about The Keil Centre's capabilities, contact Ronny Larnder, Chartered Occupational Psychologist.
A new face at The Keil Centre
Louise Clarkson, Chartered Occupational Psychologist, joined The Keil Centre in October 1997.
Louise has brought a wealth of experience in human resource management to the team from her role as Management Development Manager with Christian Salvesen plc.
One of Louise's areas of expertise lies in helping individuals align their career and personal development aspirations with the organisation's strategic needs. She has been involved in significant organisational change programmes and successfully used a wide range of techniques to help people to adapt to change and focus their development efforts.
"Identifying and developing a set of workable competencies based on the business strategy helps, but it is really only a beginning - what brings them to life are the tools which help people use them meaningfully to focus their personal development efforts. For example, linking 360° feedback, action learning and project-based learning processes can provide powerful benefits for both the individual and the organisation" Louise Clarkson, Chartered Occupational Psychologist
The Keil Centre Cognitive Management Programme
Currently many organisations are operating in a fast-changing and turbulent business environment. Psychologists working with organisations have come to understand that when people are placed in situations of rapid or very marked change, they can become more effective by using the principles of cognitive management.
Cognitive management techniques are based on the work of US psychologist Aaron Beck who was among the first to identify the long-term psychological and physical effects of negative thinking on reduced well-being (anxiety and/or depression). The role of habitual negative or self-deprecating thought proved to be far more destructive of self-confidence than had been thought.
Since then, in many controlled trials, the technique of cognitive therapy has been demonstrated as a highly effective method for restoring well-being.
The benefits of cognitive management are gained not from the "power of positive thinking" but from "control of habitual negative thought", which clears the way for a more constructive approach.
These techniques have recently been offered to managers who wish to improve their effectiveness and well-being in rapidly changing business circumstances, and have gained their acceptance. Using a structured technique, first in groups, then individually, participants in The Keil Centre's Cognitive Management Programme learn to identify patterns of self-deprecating thought that may have become habits. During the individual sessions, each person learns to identify the particular "negative spin" that they put on the comments of other people or their own thoughts about the future. There is a considerable amount known about the types of self-defeating or illogical thoughts that individuals produce in any significant change situation.
Once an individual recognises their habitual pattern they can then act to prevent it affecting their mood and, in a commercial context, their business performance. It is seen for what it is, a pattern of unrealistic, irrelevant thought that can be shrugged off, and will then fade away.
"The cognitive management process is a very powerful tool in helping managers to assess the impact of habitual negative thought on their work performance. It then helps the individual develop the skills to address this" Kate Guthrie, HR Manager, United Distillers and Vintners
For further information about The Keil Centre Cognitive Management Programme, contact Ian Tierney, Chartered Clinical Psychologist at our Edinburgh office.
Our Developing Tomorrow's Leaders 1998 Programme got off to a flying start in January. Nine senior managers from distribution, government, public healthcare, financial services, design and manufacturing met to explore the concept of a Learning Organisation and see how this compared to the reality of their own organisation.
The rest of the time was spent using left and right brain activities to help participants assess 'where they want to get to over the 10 months and how to close the gap. After the workshop, Gordon Samson, Customer Services Manager, Simpson Label Co. Ltd, spoke about the benefits he saw in store. "I am going to be able to challenge what we do in our organisation and in the wider world and what I believe in as an individual. It's an opportunity for me to broaden my experience and test out new theories and ideas against my own and the organisation's needs. Key for me is the supportive yet challenging environment within which I can try out new ways of doing things". Developing Tomorrow's Leaders has been designed to fit in with busy lifestyles yet stretch participants. Over 10 months, participants meet once a month for residential workshops, 360° feedback, a business simulation, Action Learning sessions and personal coaching. An essential component is the opportunity to visit, and learn about, other organisations. The next Developing Tomorrow's Leaders will start in January 1999
"It was the opportunity to develop new perspectives on ways of working and work relationships. It is of particular benefit to functional managers who want to expand their interpersonal skills and accommodate new ways of working" 1997 participant Bill Patrick, University Planning Officer
Contact Louise Clarkson, Programme Director, if you require further details or are interested in an in-house programme tailored to your needs.