Team building is a valuable skill, as is coaching your team to perform to the best of its ability. These books provide useful examples and techniques on how to do this effectively, as well as how to manage, mentor and inspire individuals within your teams.
Performance coaching for complex projects
Author: Tony Llewellyn
Publisher: Gower Publishing
Performance Coaching for Complex Projects invites project managers to learn how to coach project teams as part of their main role. The primary idea behind the book is that team coaching can help project teams to work better and think through issues together before collectively implementing a solution.
Tony Llewellyn has split the book into two parts. The first looks at the challenges of complexity, while part two introduces a model of project team coaching, including the processes and methodologies that have been shown to be effective in improving team performance.
On top of theoretical models, the book offers real examples. These are especially useful as they help the reader understand how to better performance coaching in real life. Also engaging is the description of the more practical aspects of coaching, such as learning how to recognise personal preferences and character traits. These takeaway lessons will be useful in any workplace practice.
Reviewed by Tayvanie Nagendran
The team coaching toolkit
Author: Tony Llewellyn
Publisher: Practical Inspiration Publishing
“CLEAR, CONCISE, NICELY DESIGNED AND EASY TO DIP INTO”
A toolkit to help managers build better teams, The Team Coaching Toolkit is designed as a quick reference guide for team leaders and coaches looking to make use of team-building tools in their working lives.
The book is structured around 10 team coaching techniques and 45 team coaching tools in an effort to help readers build great teams – and great teams are, author Llewellyn suggests, thin on the ground.
He outlines tools such as ‘slow down to speed up’ – the process of resisting the urge to launch straight into task completion – and ‘curious enquiry’, a shift in mindset that allows team members to gain information from others by being genuinely interested in what they have to say. Other techniques – such as agile, and using visual information on paper, flip charts or whiteboards – are also covered, as well as means of delivering bad news without derailing team performance, and resolving conflicts between members of the team.
Clear, concise, nicely designed and easy to dip into, The Team Coaching Toolkit should provide a valuable addition to the armoury of project managers who want to improve their team-building skills.
Reviewed by Ben Hargreaves, editor of Project
The mentor's way: Eight rules for bringing out the best in others
Author: Rik Nemanick
“CONCISE AND WELL STRUCTURED”
As organisations strive to tap into the full potential of their employees, a mentoring approach is often suggested. It is, after all, a traditional way of learning a craft, with origins stretching back to before the industrial revolution. In our modern world of technology and fast-changing work practices, the ingredients of this winning formula can be lost.
This concise and well-structured book is a useful tool for understanding and applying mentoring. The book is for anyone who is in a position to guide the development of another, but it also opens up a world of potential to a junior. It clearly establishes key principles, perhaps most importantly that the individual needs to be accountable and take control of their own development.
In chapter two, the tone is set for aspiring mentors to ‘lead by following’. The book explains that the mentor must suppress their natural urge to solve a presented problem, and rather guide their charge to find the answer themselves. Mentoring is different to leading or managing, and the book illustrates this through a number of short case studies.
The author provides a clear framework for the art of mentoring, offering insightful guidance on all aspects, and the tools to foster a successful and empowering relationship for the benefit of the individual and the organisation.
I would recommend this as an essential reference for those seeking to grow and develop their staff , as well as those who wish to make the most of their own development.
Reviewed by Andrew Wells
How to be an even better manager
Author: Michael Armstrong
Publisher: Kogan Page
Independent consultant and former chief examiner at the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development, Michael Armstrong gives guidelines which aim to boost management ability and “achieve process excellence”.
This revised 10th edition of How to Be an Even Better Manager has new content on difficult situations, treating people right, managing performance issues and engaging your team in their work. Data, knowledge, information and systems – potentially trendy topics – do not appear in the index.
Chapters are self-contained; those I dipped into were a clear read, thankfully free from academic gobbledygook. In chapter one, Armstrong’s overall theme is defined. A subject to be learnt, management is about approaches which can be modified to suit demands in novel situations.
The author’s concept of management is extended to the effective use of resources or, better still, adding value through use of resources while “solving problems for customers”. Leadership is defined as a vision for the future – and gaining commitment to that vision. But Armstrong admits such positive ideology is undermined because of the real world’s unrelenting pace, fragmentation and ambiguity, and events that push aside priorities.
The chapter ‘How to Manage Performance’ warns managers, when following the tradition of meeting subordinates twice a year, not to adopt the bureaucratic rating methods which apparently keep human resources happy. A better approach is to manage your team’s performance as something you “do all the time”, based on expectations of their contribution to organisational objectives. Alarmingly, for employees whose performance is deemed inadequate, potential causes – Joe is in the wrong job, Joe lacks the necessary skills, Joe isn’t trying hard enough – don’t include the possibility that the organisation has carelessly bitten off more than it can chew.
The chapter ‘How to Think Clearly’ certainly gives readers an eye-catching title, though critics might raise their eyebrows over recommended texts – a single book published in 1959. My quibbles aside, detailed examples of putting ideas into action would have made this book much more interesting.
Will the top brass be interested in debating new ideas? Not necessarily. According to The Telegraph’s Liam Halligan, economists in big institutions tend to accommodate only a single ‘house view’, serving up only what their political masters want to hear. Groupthink rules. So, if you enjoy mulling over topics ‘outside the box’, don’t inevitably expect to be popular. Or promoted. Just manage the best you can.
Reviewed by Neil Richardson