How do I get our team moving (again)?
What could be an effective leadership programme for our managers?
How do we promote the development of self-management in our organisation?
What kind of leadership do we need?
How do we strengthen relationships after a conflict or merger?
Organisations are networks of human interactions, leadership and teamwork relational processes. To which everyone contributes. A team only functions when every team member is seen and participates. And a leader is only a leader when others let him fulfill that role. How do you know what kind of teamwork and leadership is needed to achieve your goals? And how do you get there? Or how do you revitalize it: after a conflict for example? Or when a team is stuck in a rut?
Leadership and (self) management
Everyone has different ideas on management, and on what constitutes 'a team'. These implicit notions shape your expectations. Building any powerful cooperation starts with clarifying and calibrating those images. What kind of leadership is needed in your organisation in this phase of its existence? What kind of cooperation do you want within your team, given your shared purpose and organisational context? The answers to these questions differ per situation. A period of hardship and setbacks requires different leadership than times of prosperity. No two (self-managing) teams are the same. A joint discussion about what is needed, and how you want to work together, lays a solid foundation for any successful collaboration. Theory and models can help with this, so we use them. But a real dialogue is key.
As an exploration
As Kessels & Smit, we clarify your goal and direction from the onset. But the exact route is determined as we go along. Building the bridge as we walk upon it, as the saying goes. That may make it slightly scary at times, but the opposite – making a detailed plan in advance – isn’t really possible in these processes. Instead, we take you on a well-designed journey. In the form a leadership programme or a teambuilding session; during a process of a year or a 24-hour off-site. Regardless of whether we start from a deadlocked situation, or from a growth ambition, we start with the interests, motivations and talents of the people involved. And the goals you want to achieve together.
If there is such a thing as 'truth', then an organisation is full of different truths. Your truth, that of your direct colleagues, that of other employees and the environment. We work from all of these 'truths'. Inviting people to make their voices heard and name the 'undercurrent': the conversations at the coffee machine. We do not shy away from discomfort and conflicting stories. We call that pleasantly disruptive. And living with questions is often more effective than rushing to clearcut, single answers.
Finding your own answers
As consultants, we sometimes serve as experts, but we mainly see our role as facilitators. We organise conversations and experiences that enable you to find your own answers to your leadership and cooperation challenges and dilemmas. After all, your organisation will have to continue on its own in the future – therefore we invest in new competencies, strengthened mutual relationships and trust. When we leave, this result remains. For you to build on.
(Learning and) leading in times of crisis
Attention for social, mental and physical well-being
Leading in times of crisis, how do you do that? Nobody knows. Never before have we seen so much work happening from home. So we are all, both employees, managers and organisations as a whole, learning and pioneering at full speed.
A major insurance company asked itself: how can we support and accelerate the learning process of our managers? Department A may learn from what is already working in department B. That would help all those involved and strengthen us as an organisation.››
A start-up within a large organisation
Building a learning community online
Two years ago, a large multinational set up an entirely new service aimed at protecting our climate. A group of about 12 people from all over the world pioneered this unique task (you can find that story here). The big question was how to build a learning, largely virtual, community that produces results and in which people can work safely and healthily - within a larger organisation with structures and protocols that are designed for a completely different type of work process. All this, in times of rapid growth.
We supported at the kickoff and then stayed on board one day a week to search and build from the inside out and on-the-go.
Coordinating a flock of sparrows
Online organisational development in a consultancy firm
After the departure of its owner-founder early in 2020, an ecological consultancy firm continued as an employee owned company. The approximately 25 consultants organise themselves like a 'flock of sparrows'. There is no hierarchical management and everyone is co-owner of the company. In addition to customer projects, employees also take on all management tasks - managing and building the organisation together. Whoever takes the lead on a particular subject varies from time to time. Everyone works from home and freedom is an important value.
A challenge lies in the area of coordination - essential in a flock of sparrows, and not so easy to achieve in practice. That is why the company sought support at the beginning of March for the question: 'how do we organise better coordination within our organisation?
Since the national covid-19 related regulations in themselves had little impact on their ecological field work and because the firm's workload always rises sharply during the summer season, the consultants wanted to get to work on this - despite the fact that it was no longer possible to get together physically. After all, the issue was still highly relevant, or perhaps even more so. But how?››
New energy in a team of teachers
A short and powerful team intervention
A team of teachers from a large school for vocational education had slowly but surely come to a standstill... It was difficult to pinpoint the exact cause - everyone had different explanations. But it was clear to all that there was a problem. Student evaluations were negative. Performance criteria were structurally not being met. And people’s joy in teaching and working together was at an all-time low.
The team leader asked for a short process intervention that would help to get things moving in the right direction again. A positive turn of events. On which the team could build in the new school year.››
Creating space to explore
A leadership journey for international directorsTraditionally, humanitarian and development aid programmes were mainly funded and delivered by ‘rich’ countries in the global north to ‘poor’ countries in the global south. A large NGO that operates in more than 90 countries is actively trying to shift this pattern. They aim to become an international interdependent network, with powerful country offices. Much of this change is driven by the country directors, whose role becomes increasingly important. These are people who all lead country teams of around 300 people, often in extremely challenging conflict areas. They are the faces of the NGO towards national governments. Because of their responsibilities and their role as change agents, the organization wanted to support these regional and country directors and strengthen them in their leadership role with a targeted programme. HR specifically requested to co-design and co-facilitate it together, as well as for it to be ‘different’ from what people were used to. All this took place in the midst of a radical organisational change process. Approach We designed the programme based on the idea of a leadership journey. No models or lectures on what leadership should be, but rather a personal exploration for every participant. Starting with questions like: “Who are you? What is your aspiration as a leader?” against the backdrop of the greater organizational challenged and ambitions. Then we moved on to turning this vision into concrete leadership practices. Working ‘from the inside out’ and from small to big, by asking leaders to experiment with their own everyday leadership practices first,... ››
Development Centers for leadership development
A catalyst for personal growthEvery year, the Dutch government's leadership agency organises a 'leadership learning journey' for around thirty high-potential civil servants. These are the future top-level directors and managers of the government. Since 2003, Kessels & Smit has been organising one of these meetings: the Learning Center. The aim of this learning intervention is to help managers discover their strengths and talents and how they can use them effectively. But also to explore pitfalls and stumbling blocks: where do these patterns come from? And how can the candidates tackle them effectively? Approach We work with a Development Center - approach [link]. This means that participants are given the opportunity to work very intensively on the basis of their own cases. They reflect on their personal leadership style and its impact on others and develop new approaches. A Learning Center is short and powerful: in 1.5 days, three core situations - studios - are covered. ... ››
Leadership for the future and now
Investing in high-potentialsAn international retail company is in the midst of a transition to new combinations of physical and web shops. The whole sector is under pressure and in a state of flux and this organisation is no exception. Management sees the continuous development of its own employees as an important key to finding innovative solutions and maintaining its strong market position. So each year, they select 15 to 20 leaders who they think have the capacity to take the company a step further. These high-potentials are typically 30 to 40 years old and most of them have already participated in two or three personal development programmes. For many years now, we have been designing and facilitating the leadership programme for these groups, which is aimed at ensuring that they grow in leadership and take on more responsibility in their work. The starting point for management and HR is to create a distinctive programme with measurable, sustainable impact. And that the workplace is used as the most important place for learning: that's where it happens. Approach The leadership programme is based on the metaphor of the 'hero's journey', the archetypal story of personal growth and development. In each phase, we present participants with a challenging assignment: a 'test'. We provide support in their work and in the form of content-based workshops. For example, as a first challenge, participants work on a short, in-depth personal profile. They can draw inspiration and nourishment from (engineered) on-the-job encounters that we set up with others, from reflective assignments... ››
Building self-organising teams in a factory
Strengthening engagement and empowermentA mid-sized factory was faced with disappointing results. When looking for solutions, a number of other themes surfaced, such as a pigeonhole mentality and a strong focus on problems and impossibilities, instead of on solutions. The production manager had a dream, which he summed up as 'everyone happy and engaged at work!' His idea behind this is that if people feel involved in their work, when they can do what they are good at, and work together smoothly, this will lead to better product quality. And, ultimately, to a healthier business. He wanted to initiate this development in his factory. Approach Our support for this process started with a question we asked the production manager himself: "When do you come to work happily and fully engaged?" The ensuing conversation was so meaningful to him that he wanted to repeat it with his seven managers. So we invited them, along with a few other key people, to explore the same question together. ... ››