Gavin Berman reflecting on  June SITP Forum

Influence and Collaboration track

Parliamentary Digital Service, Gavin Berman

At the SITP Forum in June, I had the pleasure of hosting The Influence and Collaboration track. My guests were Robina Chatham, who spoke about how to become personally powerful, followed by Judy Rees and Steve McCann explaining how we could improve the experience of online meetings. 

How to become personally powerful

The concept of personal power can be quite difficult to comprehend – how is it achieved? What does it look like? Robina presented the pyramid model, which shared the four areas of capability that make up personal power, this was a really useful way of breaking the concept down into something more relatable and achievable.

Odoo Members

There are four levels of the pyramid, from the bottom-up:

  • Triple deep-skills (Digital IQ; Business IQ; Emotional IQ)

  • Drive, initiative and outside-in curiosity  - Be curious like a child – use the 5 year old mentality approach by asking the daft questions and 'why'

  • Courage and confidence - be prepared to challenge authority and expected wisdom, even to those more senior

  • Personal power – recognising “you’re on stage” and how you present yourself, and being able to make things happen

As a colleague put it, the pyramid model approach helps you realise that many of us are operating with personal power, but also shows what can be done to continue building on that.

Odoo image and text block

Some of the other things that I took from the session:

  • For a Business Partner to thrive and survive they need a supportive organisational culture

  • More strategic, trusting collaborative organisations rely on qualitative rather quantitative measures of success for their BRMs.

  • Unhelpful quantitative measures can be viewed in the same way as Prenup agreement, with its key message 'I don’t trust you’.

  • There are a range of different types of question: analytical / probing / reflective / affective / explorative / fresh. Some of these are likely to illicit negative excuses, while others make people think and take ownership. I need to consider if I am using the appropriate type of question for the situation. 

Fixing Ghastly online meetings

Following a short break, the track’s second session kicked off with some initial definitions to ensure we were all speaking about the same thing. A remote meeting was one where all participants were online, while people dialling in to a physical meeting was defined as hybrid.  I found this to be a useful distinction to have in my head as the conversation progressed.

Judy asked the group to highlight some of the issues experienced when we used technology to participate in meetings. Little encouragement was needed for the for group to start sharing and the nodding heads around the room made it clear that these concerns were widespread.

Odoo Members

To improve the effectiveness of remote and hybrid meetings we were given a number of tips such as: 

  • Ensure there is a clear purpose for you attending the meeting

  • Technology and setting matters, so implement a 'one remote – all remote' rule to ensure a level playing field for participants

  • Engagement and divergent thinking is more difficult online, so actively encourage divergent thinking questions:

    • Who’s got something different (or similar) to add?

    • Who’s not like that?

It struck me during the session that although this was billed as improving online meetings the tips were equally relevant for all types of meeting.

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