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Elevating People Power

Southampton Science Park was thrilled to host an in-person Lunch & Learn workshop in Axis, our dedicated conference and events centre, on 25th November. The event, aimed at anyone in a managerial or supervisory role, explored how to set an internal climate where every person performs at their best, regardless of external factors. Alison Craig, Founder of Alison Craig Coaching, was our guest expert speaker for this inspirational and highly practical session.

“Big company or small, the opportunities and challenges that you face with people are the same wherever you work,” began Alison. “As leaders, we must understand the part we play in creating the right environment for success. You can make the difference. In fact, you are integral to it.”

Alison went onto explain that what leaders say and do has proven to make a 70%[1] difference to whether people feel included and, the more people feel included, the more likely they are to go the extra mile and collaborate effectively. Engaging your team in this way has shown to lift organisational performance, productivity and profit by up to 20%[2]. In the face of adapting to new ways of working and a well-publicised talent shortage, this has never been more important or urgent. There is a clear business case for action.

“When we lose talented people, they are incredibly hard and expensive to replace right now, so the emphasis should be on growing and retaining the people that you already have. Consider that talented people want to work alongside other talented people and in environments where they will be stretched,” Alison advised.

Alison advocates a 3C’s Framework to unlock high performance, the three C’s being: Clarity, Confidence and Consequences.

Clarity: Be crystal clear with every individual about your expectations of what they do (the results you expect), how they do it (their behaviour in the workplace) and their progress against these expectations.

“It’s so important to ensure that everyone knows why the company, and their specific role, exists, and what their priorities and responsibilities are so they understand how they fit into the bigger picture. Getting back into the swing of collaborative team working requires you as leaders to bring company values to life and to be absolutely clear about what’s OK and not OK, especially if you have people hybrid working,” said Alison.

And the crucial bit? Check understanding and give super-specific feedback - often.

“You can tell people things many times, but do you actually check that they understand it in the same way that you do?” challenged Alison. “We often make assumptions about what people are thinking and how they are feeling but, to get the best out of every individual, check in with them frequently and ask open questions to be sure your expectations are aligned. Put some certainty in an uncertain world.”

Confidence: Give people the necessary confidence to develop and achieve what is required of them by delegating effectively and avoiding the micro-management which undermines confidence.

“There is a difference between knowing it and being confident enough to do it. People don’t want to stick their neck out and risk getting things wrong,” advised Alison. “What we’re all looking for is continuous improvement so think through what’s coming up in the business and create a plan that will help each person feel happy, deliver consistent performance and empowered to develop.”

Importantly, don’t dismiss anyone who says things you don’t want to hear.

“You want to create a climate where people know they have a voice and that their opinion is valid and welcome. Ensure that everyone knows that they’re not just a cog in a wheel, they really do make a difference,” Alison said.

Consequences: Whether positive or negative, be clear with yourself and others about what will happen if they do or do not achieve the behaviour and results required. This is particularly important because failing to deal with poor results or behaviour undermines those that are performing well.

Alison advises: “Tailor consequences to individuals based on their personal motivations and make sure that they are understood. If you can articulate what good looks like, people will gravitate towards it. On the other hand, if there are inconsistencies in performance, come at the conversation with positive intent and ready to be curious. Find out what’s going on and what might have changed for that person to nip any negativity in the bud.”

Closing the session, Alison asked delegates to identify their strengths and any areas that need focus. “Realise that there’s always something you can do to get every individual performing at their best. Look in the mirror and score yourself out of 10 on each of the 3Cs for each member of your team to identify what you can do to move things on,” she said.   

Science Park Business Development Director, Jane Holt, drew the event to a close, commenting on the real buzz in the room, and thanking both Alison Craig and the delegates that had come from a great mix of companies from on and off the Science Park for their engagement with this timely topic.

For a full range of support ranging from 1-1 coaching to team building workshops and benchmarking exercises, Alison Craig can be reached at via www.alisoncraigcoaching.co.uk.

Look out for more Lunch & Learn events in 2022.


[1] The Key to Inclusive Leadership - Juliet Bourke and Andrea Titus – HBR March 2020

[2] Gallup

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