Saturday, 22 September 2012

Kids ... MBTI ....Winnie the Pooh?

I was asked by one of my granddaughters aged 7 to do a test to determine my preferred learning style. Her school are using four characters from Winnie the Pooh to determine how best each child learns. Apparently this is universally adopted and as you go into a classroom you can immediately see the preference of each child. All the children know the profile of their teachers, plus the head teacher, and they even run sessions for the parents to find out their profiles.Rather cleverly they have used the middle two letters of Myers Briggs, known as the functions, to identify learning styles.

From wikipedia

According to the Myers-Briggs typology model, each person uses one of these four functions more dominantly and proficiently than the other three; however, all four functions are used at different times depending on the circumstances.

SN - Sensing and intuition are the information-gathering (perceiving) functions. They describe how new information is understood and interpreted. Individuals who prefer sensing are more likely to trust information that is in the present, tangible, and concrete: that is, information that can be understood by the five senses. They tend to distrust hunches, which seem to come "out of nowhere".[1]:2 They prefer to look for details and facts. For them, the meaning is in the data. On the other hand, those who prefer intuition tend to trust information that is more abstract or theoretical, that can be associated with other information (either remembered or discovered by seeking a wider context or pattern). They may be more interested in future possibilities. For them, the meaning is in the underlying theory and principles which are manifested in the data.

TF - Thinking and feeling are the decision-making (judging) functions. The thinking and feeling functions are both used to make rational decisions, based on the data received from their information-gathering functions (sensing or intuition). Those who prefer thinking tend to decide things from a more detached standpoint, measuring the decision by what seems reasonable, logical, causal, consistent, and matching a given set of rules. Those who prefer feeling tend to come to decisions by associating or empathising with the situation, looking at it 'from the inside' and weighing the situation to achieve, on balance, the greatest harmony, consensus and fit, considering the needs of the people involved. Thinkers usually have trouble interacting with people who are inconsistent or illogical, and tend to give very direct feedback to others. They are concerned with the truth and view it as more important than being tactful.

As noted already, people who prefer thinking do not necessarily, in the everyday sense, "think better" than their feeling counterparts; the opposite preference is considered an equally rational way of coming to decisions (and, in any case, the MBTI assessment is a measure of preference, not ability). Similarly, those who prefer feeling do not necessarily have "better" emotional reactions than their thinking counterparts.

How does this translate into learning preferences?
Back to Winnie
Now as interpreted for children.

  • EEYORE - Rational. Based on Myers Briggs NT, students like serious, knowledgeable classrooms.

  • POOH - Idealist. Based on Myers Briggs NF students tend to like harmonious, nurturing classrooms.
  • PIGLET - Guardian. Based on Myers Briggs ST they like structured, traditional classrooms.
  • TIGGER - Artisan. Based on Myers Briggs SF, they like exciting, accepting classrooms
I think what a great way to make sure young minds are fully engaged in the learning process, and a superb way of enlisting parents as part of the overall nurturing process.

Wednesday, 19 September 2012

What are you good at?

It makes real sense to put people in jobs that play to their strengths. This was brought home to me last night in a conversation with family where I discovered that their daughter who had taken the drama school / arts route had joined a start up in the financial services. After a very short period of working for the company she was sent abroad as part of a team to train a group of people, and was loving ever minute of it. She felt almost overwhelmed by the thanks and appreciation showered on her for 'just doing her job'. What that start up had seen in their raw recruit with no training experience was the way she was 'just doing her job'. Her ability to tell the story, the way she cartied herself, her abilty to create rapport quickly, her care and concern for her learners, always making sure that the other person learned. Never belittling them and always making them feel special. This was what gave her an edge, as she was playing to her strengths.

So what are you good at?

How do we truly discover our person edge that we bring to work and life? Obviously the earlier we are aware of our strengths, the sooner we can start working on them and developing them. Also finding jobs that make use of these skills always results in a higher lever of motivation and greater performance. A real win win situation, but what happens in real life so often does anything but develop your strengths.

To tell you more watch Marcus Buckingham who has dedicated his career to helping individuals discover and capitalise on their personal strengths. Hailed as a visionary by corporations such as Toyota, Coca-Cola, Master Foods, Wells Fargo, Microsoft, and Disney, he has helped to usher in the strengths revolution, persuasively arguing that people are dramatically more effective, fulfilled and successful when they are able to focus on the best of themselves. In his nearly two decades as a Senior Researcher at Gallup Organization, Buckingham studied the worlds best managers and organizations to investigate what drives great performance.

Note: I will provide more information later on solutions.

Wednesday, 12 September 2012

High Performing Team

Last week I was helping to facilitate a Purina conference of 100 people from central Europe and it was a real pleasure to be there. I met up with so many people who had come through our leadership and high performing teams programmes - wonderful being reunited with old friends.

There were many superb presentations and fun activities during the conference, but the one that brought tears of joy to my eyes was by the young HR team on how they had run the 'High Performing Teams' programme across the German market. I felt so proud of them as they had done such a great job and judging from how many people in the audience had attended, had made a real impact on the organisation.

The conference very kindly acknowledged me as the 'father' of HPT, but although I provided the initial passion it was only through the collective contributions of all involved that it developed into such a great programme. We continue to run High Performing Teams as a fairly unique programme, but it made me think back to how it evolved.

  • People attending our Inspirational Leadership programme had benefitted from such amazing support and comraderie that they asked me if I could create a programme that they could run with their teams.
  • Looking externally I couldn't find a programme so decided to create our own. There were lots of team building offers, but no structured programme.
  • The HPT workshop is run over two days, with day 1 focussed on 'the way we are' and day 2 on 'the way we want to be'. It includes a team 360 feedback, and a step by step approach that gets team members opening up and sharing in a way they have never done before.
  • Very important to note is the programme also helps to deal with the 'smelly fish' or tackle the 'elephant in the room' because a team can't move forward if they don't deal with the issues.
  • Sustainability was a key part of the programme and we tackled this in a couple of ways. We trained all our HR Business Partners and Trainers to be able to run the programme, and they in turn trained others to do the same. Plus we continued to develop the programme, sharing our experiences, so that at the time I left at the end of 2009 we had evolved to version 12!
What made me feel so proud of the German HR team was to see their passion for their HPT programme. My little legacy was to create the vehicle to enable them to release the magic in others, and WOW are they doing an amazing job!!!


Wednesday, 5 September 2012

The confidence of youth

On today's flight to Cologne I started reading Ken Robinson's book 'The Element How finding your passion changes everything'. First of all I love his opening story...

An elementary school teacher was giving a drawing class to a group of six year old children. At the back of the class sat a little girl who normally didn't pay much attention in school. In the drawing class she did. For more than 20 minutes, the girl sat with her arms curled around her paper, totally absorbed in what she was doing. The teacher found this fascinating. Eventually she asked the girl what she was drawing. Without looking up, the girl said "I'm drawing a picture of God." Surprised, the teacher said "But nobody knows what God looks like."

The girls said, "They will in a minute."

How confident children are in their own imaginations, and yet somehow education and work tends to condition too many people not to have confidence and as a result never connecting with their true talents.

This is so true as we find in our coaching that mostly we are helping people to believe in themselves and to have the confidence to do what they really want to do.



Monday, 3 September 2012

What work needs today is more happy people!

It's a grand time of the year here in the UK with all the young families getting back from their two week holidays in warmer climates. Gone are the stress lines now replaced with tans and smiles. It's a shame that within weeks the harsh penalties of commuting and struggling with tough economic conditions will eradicate most of the good that has been done.

This made me think of how do you go about doing the things that bring happiness and I reminded myself of that great TED Talk by Nic Marks, which really does deserve another airing.

I think what came out of Nic's research certainly makes sense to me and very relevant to my life. I know I think I am blessed with the happy gene, but perhaps it's also that I tend to do the things that will make anyone feel happy.

  • Stay connected - initially this was very hard when I retired from NestlĂ© where my busy life as a trainer meant I was almost permanently connected. My starting point was a loving family around me so I was never struggling, and over time I was able to reconnect with old friends, make new friends and new business pals and really never felt isolated.
  • Continuous (curiosity ) learning - I have always loved learning but now I really do follow my curiosity. The wonderful world of iPhones / iPads and Apps, learning how to develop web sites, plus as a BBQ and wok cook I gave myself the task of learning to cook 50 new dishes. Thanks to Delicious books and web site although completely out of my comfort zone I am really enjoying learning to cook.
  • Be active - in the spring of 2010 we bought Thandi our German Shepherd puppy. She is a lovely intelligent dog who I adore and walk every day regardless of the weather. Having a dog we know just makes people feel happy, and that plus the exercise does wonders for me.
  • Give to others - a wise person who knew me well advised that I do no charity work until after my first year away from NestlĂ©. They said establish your business first and then look for pro bono work, otherwise you will trade your busy work life for a busy charity one. After a year and a bit we started running leadership training for that wonderful charity Canine Partners. They do an amazing job, and in some small way I am able to help them and that makes me feel good about life.
  • Take notice of what's happening in the world - having more time means that I can read more and thanks to our digital subscription to the Times and Sunday Times and my fascination for so many things I take notice of what's happening around me.
Yes I am very happy and I realise that its actually what I do rather than my genetic wiring that makes this happen. This is the first time I have ever done this analysis and I think I need to bring more of this thinking into my coaching work. People need help!

What work needs today is more happy people!