Bowland Software – [Videos] Farrer & Co. Law Firm

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William Dawson, Managing Partner, Farrer & Co.

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Bowland Software – [Videos] Trowers & Hamlins Law Firm

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Paul Robinson, Director of HR, Trowers & Hamlins

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Bowland Software – [Video] Performance Appraisal with Integrated 360 Feedback

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An introduction to Bowland’s Performance Appraisal & 360 degree feedback for law firms

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Bowland Consulting – [Video] What distinguishes Bowland?

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[Video] What’s the problem with performance appraisals in law firms?

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Motivating Millennials through Meaningful Conversations

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A short article in Smart Company magazine caught my eye recently regarding a report that highlighted how millennials were more likely to show loyalty to an organisation where there was a good frequency and high quality of meaningful conversations with their Line Managers.

Such conversations were having a motivating effect as they demonstrated a genuine interest on the part of the Line Manager in the individual both within the scope of their work and beyond.

We find ourselves increasingly working with organisations where managers are finding themselves with individuals for whom their current style of management is not working as it might have before – the lament is ‘How do I motivate them?’ - part of the answer from this report would seem to be to simply show interest and foster more, meaningful two-way conversations; the other part of the answer would probably follow from the thinking popularised by Dan Pink’s book, ‘Drive’, which suggested offering people a sense of purpose, the opportunity to act autonomously, and develop mastery in their role/career, would fire up individuals to perform to the best of their ability.

All of these intrinsic motivating factors can be tapped into through having regular meaningful conversations with your team.

John

 

 

 

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Is this a new era of Performance Appraisals?

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We have touched upon this topic many, many times, and rightly so; because each new article trumpeting the end/death/demise (tick favourite to suit) of performance appraisals has a more nuanced message behind the attention grabbing headline.

Take this latest article in Forbes, about IBM very dramatically ‘blowing Up’ it’s performance review process.

The IBM story is particularly interesting because as you read through, you realise that ‘enhancing’ might be a better description than ‘blowing up’; they will still set objectives, albeit these will be shorter-term in nature; they will still assess at year-end against a number of ‘dimensions’ rather than a singular grade; they will dispense with performance ranking (which has been a trend for some time), and they will encourage a process of continuous feedback & coaching throughout the year.

What is being described is Performance Management.

Realising that a once-a-year conversation/evaluation doesn’t actually work when it comes to getting the best out of people, is not a revelation – it is sensible conclusion borne out of experience, where greater levels of communication and open, transparent relationships between a Line Manager and their team members, is more likely to deliver sustainable results.

The performance appraisal projects we work on with clients, are rarely just about implementing an effective performance appraisal system; invariably, we are deep down into revising their approach to performance management:

- understanding the purpose of performance management

- designing appraisal forms and processes which are ‘fit for purpose’ and include the input of employees

- creating an easy-to-use on-line appraisal system, which allows for capturing continuous feedback and feedback from others (360 degree feedback),

- and ‘Meaningful Conversations‘ training for Line Managers for every aspect of performance management i.e. Setting objectives, giving feedback, coaching and appraisals

 

If you would like to talk us to us about ‘blowing up’ your performance appraisals, then feel free to contact us, but I suspect you might find we do a better job of ‘building on’ what you are already doing.

John

 

 

 

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HR in Law Awards 2016

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A brief post to share our delight to again be sponsoring the ‘Excellence in Learning & Development’category at this years HR in Law Awards which is taking place on 5th May 2016.

We have been successfully working within the legal sector for many years now, helping firms successfully implement 360 degree feedback and performance appraisal process through on-line software, consultancy, training and debrief services.

In that time, we have forged long-standing relationships with many of HR professionals who continually prove themselves to be integral to the sustained success of the firms they work in; we wish them every luck in these awards.

The closing date for entries is Friday 4th March, so if you do wish to showcase the great work you have been doing, then do submit an entry and we hope to see you there!

John

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Webinar – The Art of Meaningful Conversations

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We are running our next webinar on the above topic on January 26th at 1pm in conjunction with Shorebird RPO.

Meaningful Conversations is a framework which enables Line Managers at any level to conduct effective Performance Management conversations whatever their purpose; be that setting objectives, giving feedback, coaching, appraisals or 360 feedback debriefs.

At the end of this webinar, you will:

  • Understand what Performance Management really is and why it’s so important.
  • Be introduced to the ‘Meaningful Conversations’ framework as a guide to conducting effective Performance Management conversations.
  • Appreciate what is the mindset and the core communication skills required to conduct a Meaningful Conversation.
  • Have reflected on your own style of Performance Management conversations and considered some changes you could make immediately to improve.

This webinar is aimed at anyone who has to conduct Performance Management conversations with team members in their organisation and will appeal to all those in a management or senior positions.

Please go to the registration page here for more details.

If the event is fully booked, a waiting list will be opened up, so you can still register your interest to attend and/or be invited to a re-run of the session at a later date.

We hope you can join us for this or a future event.

John

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Wishing you a Merry Xmas!

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The challenge of being a more productive lawyer

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We have been exploring working with Lancaster University – we completed three projects with them in 2015 – and I was in recent discussion with them on productivity.  It is an area that I suspect some of our law firm clients could work with the university on the research they are currently conducting.  I read over a brief that was sent to me and was immediately struck by how useful productivity is as a lens for lawyers – particularly the partners that we tend to work with.  A simple definition of productivity within the brief is

a measure of the amount of output (goods and services) obtained from a certain amount of input (labour, materials, energy, etc.), or how well various resources or inputs in the organization are used to achieve the planned or desired results (outputs). At the simplest level, improvements are engineered by either increasing the numerator (output) or decreasing the denominator (input).

When working with partners who need to become ‘more productive’ the general tendency is to work harder and so increase the input.  The focus is actually on producing more rather than being more productive.  This can be culturally bred into the partner after years of being measure on input (hours billed).  It can be a quantum leap of effort to look to reduce the input and instead focus on delivering improved results from a more sustainable effort level.  Client demand, organisational measurement processes, personal characteristics, office norms all conspire against a focus on productivity and instead condition a response to work harder and longer.

The well publicised UK productivity gap indicates this is a wider malaise.  Our 360 debrief discussions with partners and other senior members of organisations often indicate that personal and organisational productivity is a key focus.  It is certainly something we will be exploring further.

 

Brendan

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Busting Urban Myths – The Key to Meaningful Conversations

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The neuroscience of Meaningful Conversations

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We recently held a webinar on ‘The Art of Meaningful Conversations’…well, here is the neuroscience of Meaningful Conversations in a snippet from David Rock’s recent presentation to the CIPD HR Leaders Network.

He talks of mindset as being critical to successful performance reviews, namely a growth mindset over a fixed one; the simple belief that one can improve and is not limited solely by talent but by effort.

We see the beliefs and assumptions that one takes into a performance management conversation are key to the ability to make it more likely one can conduct a meaningful conversation; one where the purpose of the conversation is delivered upon and where the dynamic is adult, 2-way, constructive and respectful.

You must believe the person in front of you is capable of change and improvement; if not, why persist with performance management?

John

 

 

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Recording & Slides available – The Art of Meaningful Conversations

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We were delighted to host our latest webinar this week with Shorebird RPO on ‘The Art of Meaningful Conversations’ – all seats were filled, so a second session is planned on January 26th 2016 – if you would like to attend, please feel free to email me at john@bowlandsolutions.com if you would like to add your name to the notification list.

Both the recording and slides from this week’s session are available below – the recording is useful in that you can see some of the great insights that came from the attendees during the interactive exercises; it was a vibrant session with a lot of participation!

Meaningful Conversations is a framework which enables Line Managers at any level to conduct effective Performance Management conversations whatever their purpose; be that setting objectives, giving feedback, coaching, appraisals or 360 feedback debriefs.

At the end of this webinar, you will:

  • Understand what Performance Management really is and why it’s so important.
  • Be introduced to the ‘Meaningful Conversations’ framework as a guide to conducting effective Performance Management conversations.
  • Appreciate what is the mindset and the core communication skills required to conduct a Meaningful Conversation.
  • Have reflected on your own style of Performance Management conversations and considered some changes you could make immediately to improve.

This webinar is aimed at anyone who has to conduct Performance Management conversations with team members in their organisation and will appeal to all those in a management or senior positions.

Listen to the webinar

View the slides

 

Hope you can join us for the next webinar!

John

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Busting Urban Myths – Creating quality 1-2-1 time

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3 key trends in performance appraisal

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In a recent meeting, John and I were asked what we saw as the key trends in 360 degree feedback / performance appraisal.   We came up with two ‘off-the-cuff’ and I would add a third below.

The first is a desire for continuous feedback to be included within the performance management cycle.  Often attached to millenials brought up on social media and feedback sites such as tripadvisor this is our most common current discussion point.  Perhaps not too separate from the age old mantra that discussing performance is ongoing rather than an annual event the challenge for Bowland and others is to reflect this drive in a considered manner that improves feedback as well as making it more frequent.

The second is 360 feedback being integrated into the appraisal process.  Many, if not all, of our clients now include some element of “feedback from others” into the appraisal cycle.  We see this driven by team structures that no longer have the line manager able to review/comment on all performance and a desire to bring the “how” of behavioural feedback into the standard “what” of performance objectives.  At Bowland we have long had the technical capability to support this.  The interesting area for us over the coming years is retaining a developmental 360 as a distinct exercise from an appraisal from a range of sources.  The two conversations tend to be different and the process should be.

The third and final trend we are seeing is a welcome focus on the conversation.  Our meaningful conversations model that looks to assist all managers deliver on the purpose of their conversations while building up trust within the relationship has reflected this focus.  Clients are seeing with absolute clarity that whatever the process, however frequent it may be, the best managers hold the best conversations with their team.  Accordingly we should focus on supporting that meaningful conversation as much as on the process that leads to it.

 

Brendan

 

 

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The power of a positive, encouraging conversation over 60 years later…

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It was my Dad’s 80th birthday last week.  At a family meal in a local pub near where my parents live my wife Liz said (as you do) “Well done, Mike”.  Now, for my Dad there is a bit more of an achievement in that he was diagnosed with diabetes before he was 10.  The British Diabetic Society (he supports Ireland, is very Irish, but will take things off the Brits!) recently sent him a John McLeod medal to celebrate living over 70 years with diabetes.

Dad then told a very simple story of when he first came to England in the 50s.  His older brother took him to a hospital hoping in a wonderfuly naive way that they might have a cure for diabetes in England.  He met a consultant who had this advice for Dad … “Live your life, keep working and stay fit, do everything everyone else does and don’t let this stop you from doing anything”.  That was over 60 years ago.  And in response to Liz’s “Well done, Mike” he told this story (first time I’d heard it) and said “And, I have done”.

For someone who has had more than their fair share of health issues, my Dad is the most positive person I have ever met.  Always ready with a smile and able to bounce back from anything.

Now, this might not all be traceable back to that consultant’s positive message but it is interesting that Dad has held that conversation for all that time.   A positive, encouraging conversation will always have a better effect than a critical one.  At times we need a balance but positive, encouraging wins overall.

 

Brendan

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The Art of Meaningful Conversations

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We are running our next webinar on the above topic on October 13th at 1pm in conjunction with Shorebird RPO.

Meaningful Conversations is a framework which enables Line Managers at any level to conduct effective Performance Management conversations whatever their purpose; be that setting objectives, giving feedback, coaching, appraisals or 360 feedback debriefs.

At the end of this webinar, you will:

  • Understand what Performance Management really is and why it’s so important.
  • Be introduced to the ‘Meaningful Conversations’ framework as a guide to conducting effective Performance Management conversations.
  • Appreciate what is the mindset and the core communication skills required to conduct a Meaningful Conversation.
  • Have reflected on your own style of Performance Management conversations and considered some changes you could make immediately to improve.

This webinar is aimed at anyone who has to conduct Performance Management conversations with team members in their organisation and will appeal to all those in a management or senior positions.

Please go to the registration page here for more details.

If the event is fully booked, a waiting list will be opened up, so you can still register your interest to attend and/or be invited to a second run of the session at a later date.

We hope you can join us for this or a future event.

John

 

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Another one bites the dust…the collapse of Performance Appraisals?

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Another week, another article, or in fact another series of articles, sounding the death knell of the performance appraisal – Accenture, National Australia Bank, and Deloitte – all deciding to stop the annual performance review process, whilst moving to a more regular series of feedback conversations throughout the year.

However, if you look more closely, what is actually being scrapped is a practice of forced ranking and distribution, which was a key feature of their review processes.

We have long debated the relative merits and pitfalls of ranking individuals and/or reducing their performance over a year to a singular grade or number – but of course, performance reviews don’t have to work this way, and many organisations approach reviews with the idea that it is an opportunity to reflect on what has happened over the previous 12 months as a means to learn and improve performance in the future.

With this purpose in mind, removing a conversation at the end of the year which offers a chance for a Line Manager and team member to come together and discuss past performance in a meaningful way, seems somewhat shortsighted.

Moving to a process whereby there are regular, ongoing feedback conversations throughout the year, is certainly to be advocated and applauded – but these timely, in-the-moment, conversations are often quite tactical in nature; they are helping people track progress and keeping tacking back and forth towards their goals.

Such conversations need to be supported by a more reflective, strategic type discussion, which allows a summing up at the end of a year, and critically, prompts a conversation about learning & their development.

Performance Management is simply a series of two-way conversations, each with a specific purpose – if you don’t like the Performance Review conversation and find it meaningless, don’t scrap it, change it’s purpose to one you do like and is meaningful.

John

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Busting Urban Myths – Emoticons for 360 degree feedback

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