What is it and Who is it for?

Levelstone’s Managing Contribution Programme is for managers, whether experienced or newly promoted into a management position because they are expert and experienced in their field, but feel they’ve had little or no preparation for this new management role.

Management teams are frequently a mixture of those who have come to management:

  • A while ago and been in position for some time
  • Relatively recently and are new to the role
  • From management roles elsewhere in the organisation
  • From a management role outside the organisation.

They will typically contribute in different ways and at different levels, but may not be collaborating together cohesively.

What it is

The Managing Contribution Programme™ is a scaleable service that combines learning sound but pragmatic principles for managing people, with personal support to implement them. It is intended to be applied with a group of managers who work together, whose development journeys eventually converge. We endeavour to make participation in the programme as un-intrusive into work time as possible.

The programme is modular and essentially comprises a launch workshop to introduce the principles of managing contribution followed by Topic Modules that cover the underpinning knowledge of each topic, with personal support to implement it in the individual’s personal context. Participants complete a self-assessment after the launch workshop to help gauge how each person is contributing at that time. This forms the basis of a personal Transition Plan, which is followed by personal brief coach/mentoring by phone or web-based calls that diminish in frequency as progress is made to support implementing the Transition Plan.

Additional learning is introduced incrementally when the group is ready to move ahead, and supported through a Programme Manual and Topic Workshops, carefully timed throughout the programme to bring the group together and be relevant to the managers’ next steps.

We measure progress through periodic mini-surveys throughout the programme to see what differences others are noticing.

Being modular, the programme can be scaled to suit the size of the group, its specific needs and of course, your budget. The underpinning principles of the programme are explained in more detail here.

It shouldn't be hard to manage

In building on the ideas of Dalton and Thompson, and Elliott Jacques we developed the idea of the Managers’ Contribution CurveTM. It summarises the progression of contribution that a manager has to make, whilst recognising that every manager will reach an optimum level of contribution for the role that they are in. This will relate to the number of direct reports they manage, the level of management they are working at and the nature of the business they are in.

It also recognises that it is cumulative. It isn’t possible to focus on long-term strategy if the team is falling apart. The capacity you have for long-term and higher contribution matters will grow and shrink with the inevitable changes that happen in your team: people develop and move on, new people come in, people have families, crises, new technology comes along, the market changes and so on – all things that mean the manager has to attend to the more “here and now” team matters for while.

How does the Managing Contribution Programme help?

If you recognise a need for improving alignment and collaboration in your management team, then the Managing Contribution Programme could be beneficial for your organisation.

The programme is designed to help managers recognise:

  • What level of contribution they are starting from
  • The level that they realistically could be contributing at and
  • The steps they must take to get there.

Our programme will provide you with a common language, enabling conversations that rise above the day-to-day operational issues and allow fundamental organisational issues to be addressed from a common point of interest.

Developing your management contribution

Developing your management contribution also relates to the progression of the other managers you work with. The reason we work with management teams is simply because one manager will find it extremely hard to progress on their own if their peers are not making the same journey.

Whilst any manager can make far more difference by implementing changes in how they work, the capacity they can create for themselves will be limited by their colleagues if they aren’t making similar changes. By working with the whole management team, everyone makes the journey together with far more spectacular results.

The Managers’ Contribution Curve is a simple graph of work capacity against contribution. In other words, as you contribute more to the organisation by developing the team’s contribution, you create more capacity for yourself to plan on a longer timeframe and make more difference. It’s far more rewarding than fire fighting and nothing like as exhausting.

Managers supporting each other

When a whole group of managers embark on their respective journeys together, they soon find that they are confronting similar challenges and can help and support each other. Organisational issues that are common to all of them are easier to address when there are common goals and understanding about what needs to change.

The programme also acts as a leveller that reduces some of the negative effects of perceived seniority and gives the team a common language that opens up conversations that would not otherwise take place.

All of a sudden, a lot more seems possible.

The Pedigree of our Managing Contribution Programme

The underpinning thinking behind our programme comes from various prestigious sources. The research of Dr Gene Dalton and Dr Paul Thompson at Harvard University identified the four stages of contribution across a career. Our friend Dr S. Brett Savage has continued their research and inspired the development of this programme. “The Manager’s Quest” was co-written by Dr Savage and Ian Critchley to provide an everyday explanation of the four stages – or Phases of Contribution and why an appreciation of them is essential to managing in any organisation. Buy the book at www.waterstones.com

It also calls upon the work of Elliott Jacques who pioneered the model of ‘management themes’ at the different levels of management plus the different developmental trajectories of managers with his ‘Career Path Appreciation’ and the skills needed for higher levels of management.

The convergence of these pieces of research inspired our concept of the Managers’ Contribution CurveTM, and a programme for managers who can learn how to contribute more to their organisations through a progression of learning and incremental changes over an accelerated, although realistic period of time.

We have gone on to define what managers need to have established and mastered at each level on the Managers’ Contribution CurveTM to create the capacity to contribute at the next level.

This is the essence of our programme – helping managers to recognise at what level they are contributing and precisely how they can overcome what prevents them from contributing more, whilst making work-life easier and rewarding for themselves, their people and their colleagues.

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