The perception of academic science is probably someone in a white coat peering into a microscope in a laboratory. Whilst this is true of the day-to-day for some, the skills required to succeed in modern science include the ability to collaborate positively with colleagues across the globe, display resilience in the face of failure in both experiments and funding applications, and support and direct the work of junior colleagues. Communication skills and people skills are vital.
A group of international scientists spread across multiple European countries whose roles include supervising PhD and postdoctoral students as well as carrying out their own research. Many of the delegates were also leaders of commercial teams and companies. These were people hugely accomplished in their particular branch of science, but in the highly competitive nature of modern science, taking time to focus on people development skills wasn’t something they had spent a lot of time doing.
Annie Vernon, Olympic silver medallist rower and Kinetic People Development associate, and I designed a two-hour workshop. We work well together because whereas I bring my strengths in business and psychometric analysis, Annie can provide insights from her sporting career as well as her award-winning book, Mind Games, a study of the mental side of elite sports performance.
We knew we would only have this amazing group of individuals together for a short time and as such our session had to be engaging, insightful and interactive and most importantly to the point! We love working with clients who challenge us, and this group of scientists certainly engaged robustly with our material.
We designed a workshop called Developing People with Behavioural Agility.
A blend of insights from sports coaching, psychometric analysis and management theory, it had three objectives:
To enable these scientists, who had groups of people working under them ranging from 3 to 35, which they had to supervise both professionally and personally whilst also carrying out their own work and applying for funding, to reflect on their own management styles
To use the Thomas International Personal Profile Analysis (PPA) tool, based on the four metrics of Dominance, Influence, Steadiness and Compliance, to improve their interactions, self-awareness and understanding of others
To provide opportunities to apply the learning and have some fun!
Prior to the session we completed DISC based assessments and provided one-to-one feedback sessions for every delegate. In the workshop itself, we built on this knowledge by delving into detail around behavioural agility including insights on Betari’s box and how our behaviour as managers impacts the behaviour of those around us. We compared different communication styles, then ran activities to rehearse what good coaching and behavioural agility feels like based on a variety of personality profiles.
I am pleased to report the session was extremely well received. With feedback ranging from “a wonderful session and you and Annie are absolutely brilliant”, to “an absolutely brilliant delivery team”, and “Thank you so much for everything you have done for our team. It really has been so insightful and so worthwhile.”
We loved meeting the scientists and have received subsequent requests to design similar workshops for their own teams, in universities based across Europe. If you think your team would benefit from understanding how to achieve behavioural agility to improve your interactions, we would love to share some ideas.