Life as it is: the Stanwick consultant
Consultant. What a broad term. I often get asked what my job actually looks like or what I do during the week. Every day, every week is different and fascinating. Are you riding along?
The art of facilitation and listening
I start the week by facilitating a workshop on psychosocial wellbeing at work. Usually a topic for which little or no time is made in teams. There are already several of these sessions in my diary, so I have the subject in hand by now. Each time, I let them express their views on the same topics within psychosocial wellbeing, but since you end up in a different team each time, each session is also different. The fact that each group dynamic is different, makes each session fascinating. Again, this group is grateful that time has been taken to discuss these non-ordinary issues. They invite me to join them for lunch and after the afternoon I drive on to a new potential client. An in-take interview is mainly about listening very carefully to the question, where it comes from and its context. I understand from the site manager that they have already made some attempts to get started with LEAN, but it doesn't seem to be getting off the ground. Whether we can help them with a more structured approach and that extra push? I am convinced we can. On the way home, I call a colleague to briefly report back and spar how he sees it. We seem to be on the same wavelength. Good, so I can work on that. Just need to find a slot in my diary to write out the formal proposal.
Sharpening all senses
Tuesday promises to be an intense day. We are engaged in an OPEX assessment. In doing so, we try to visit and question each branch of the organisation about their job and way of working. This of course requires constant alertness (with all your senses) so that you can ask the right questions, but it is invaluable how much you learn about the organisation in a short time. Necessary to get a correct picture of the current situation and to be able to formulate improvement proposals from there. The overall picture gradually becomes clear.
Training 'à la Stanwick'
Wednesday morning. The alarm clock sounds at 5.30am. Thankfully, it's not that early every morning, but it's not an exception. Clients are located all over the country (as well as abroad), so driving far is the rule rather than the exception. Of course, wherever possible, we also try to use public transport. But often clients are hard to reach that way, so driving is unavoidable today as well. I would like to arrive well in time to prepare the room for our Project Management training. It is the third and final day of the course, I know the group better now, but it has been a month since we saw each other. So it is nice to meet everyone again and I am eager to learn about the learning experiences since the first two days.
In the morning, we take ample time to present everyone's individual case and discuss it in the group. We discuss devil's triangles, process triangles, stakeholder management and risks. One participant sighs: "Surely that's all much easier said than done," to which someone else responds: "I don't think that's entirely true. We have known for a long time that we should be doing all this, but now we are finally getting some useful principles and tools that we can work with". Nice, I like it that way, nice and dynamic in the group. In the afternoon, we talk about commitment, mobilising people in your project and teamwork. Of course, we build this as much as possible from the participants' experiences: experiential and practice-oriented, that's what we stand for, and it works. At the end of the day, I took a quick glance at the evaluations I had them fill in. Overall positive, but still a few critical reservations. Food for thought on the way home: what can I do more, less or differently?
Change and what it entails
Thursday, a totally different client: different sector, different environment. Great, something new again. Compared to yesterday, anyway, because I've known the client longer. I have been working there for a few months on an optimisation project. On arrival, I get lots of warm "good morning" messages. They already know me there. I walk straight to my contact to check in on how things are going. Her good morning is a little less enthusiastic. I hear a kind of oppression or concern in her voice. "Tell me what's bothering you," I ask her, and she seems relieved to be asked. "I don't quite understand," she says, "I believe 100% in this journey and the company will clearly only benefit from it, but my people don't seem to see this. It's as if they are more antagonistic than cooperative." Commitment and mobilising people, we talked about it yesterday. I take the time to listen to her concerns and eventually assure her that this is all very normal, but of course we should not ignore it. We set up a meeting with her team to listen to their pro's and con's of the journey, then work together to see how we can make the change workable for everyone. She blocks extra time in her agenda for one-to-one moments with her team members. I spend the rest of the day connecting with different departments in the organisation to see how we can make further small steps. Another eventful day that we can build on next week. On the way home, I remember that my contact's concern about her team becomes another nice practical example to include in trainings like yesterday.
Friday's destination is our office in Merelbeke. Time for our 6-weekly Stanwick day, which I look forward to every time. It gives us the opportunity to discuss important internal matters and, besides that, it is of course nice to see colleagues again, as often we are on the road alone. It keeps us on our toes to keep challenging each other. Every break is used to tune in with one colleague or another, but also - not to mention - to show genuine interest in how they are doing personally. Today is another busy and intensive day, but again I get a lot of positive energy out of it. In between, I also double-check what next week looks like and whether I need to bring any materials. And when the working day is over, we take the opportunity to do something fun together. This time, the FUN team provided an escape room. Escaped in 45 minutes! Again, that team spirit sits well.
Tired, but fulfilled after a productive week. Happy weekend!
Lidewij Van Nevel