Wednesday, 16 August 2017

How does Google develop leaders?

The transition from individual contributor to manager is not an easy one. In many cases, the skills that got you the promotion will not be the same ones that make you effective as a manager.

Using Project Oxygen, an internal study that analyzed more than 10,000 manager impressions including performance reviews, surveys, and nominations for top-manager awards and recognition, Google identified eight habits of highly effective managers. Google also designed a management training workshop to share its newfound knowledge with its bosses and now the world.

Through the company's Re:Work website, a resource that shares Google's perspective on people operations, Google posted this training presentation in hopes that it could benefit all.

1. Mindset and values

Implementing research from Dr. Carol Dweck, professor of psychology at Stanford University, Google encourages its managers to develop a growth mindset. As opposed to a fixed mindset (the belief that skills and abilities are predetermined), individuals with a growth mindset believe that intelligence can be cultivated. This simple idea develops leaders who are more eager to learn, challenge themselves, and experiment, and it eventually boosts their performance. Although success will always require tenacity, hard work, and concentration, this research suggests these traits are byproducts of a quality that underpins them, optimism.

Also, Google encourages its managers to identify values and leverage them within their management styles. The purpose is not to impose set values, but rather to empower leaders to leverage their individual morals to drive deeper meaning and impact to their work. Managers have to make tough decisions. When faced with uncertainty, values can be a manager's saving grace.

2. Emotional intelligence (EI)

Per Daniel Goleman and Richard Boyatzis (experts on the topic), EI is the ability to recognize and understand emotions in yourself and others, and leverage this awareness to manage your behavior and relationships. In other words, it's a heightened sense of self-awareness.

Managers who are self-aware make better decisions, communicate more effectively, and are more relatable. In fact, Goleman reported not only that EI-based leadership may be the most important driver of climate but also that climate may account for 20 to 30 percent of organizational performance.

3. Manager transition

All right, so this one doesn't seem like an attribute. However, if you take a look at Google's new manager training facilitator's guide, you'll notice some common themes. As instructors encourage new supervisors to share their transition challenges and frustrations with their peers, they simultaneously teach that it's OK to be vulnerable and honest. As managers open up and tell their stories, others chime in with advice and guidance providing actionable new strategies.

It's important for all managers to know that you're not in this alone. Others have faced similar challenges and can help -- if you let them.

4. Coaching

Through Project Oxygen, it was revealed that the number one quality of effective managers is being a good coach. Google defines good coaching as:
  • Timely and specific feedback
  • Delivering hard feedback in a motivational and thoughtful way
  • Tailoring approaches to meet individual communication styles in regular one-on-one meetings
  • Practicing empathetic "active" listening and being fully present
  • Being cognizant of your own mindset and that of the employee
  • Asking open-ended questions to discover an employee's acumen

5. Feedback

Managers' words have the power to build or destroy. Google understands this sensitivity and teaches its supervisors to be consistent (free from bias) when delivering feedback across their teams, to balance positive (motivational) and negative (developmental) feedback, to be authentic and appreciative, and to state growth opportunities in a clear, compassionate way.

6. Decision making

To ensure judgments aren't made in a vacuum, Google has established a routine to help managers make better decisions. This framework includes asking and articulating:
  • What are you solving for, and is everyone on the same page? (Identify and communicate the root cause.)
  • Why is it important? (Does it support other business goals?)
  • Who is the decision maker?
  • How will the decision be made?
  • When can people expect a decision? (Keep stakeholders in the loop, and manage expectations.)
Also, to ensure informed decisions are made, Google encourages managers to test their ideas out loud and collect feedback by explicitly advocating for their opinions (voicing individual views, reasoning, and providing data), testing their understanding by inquiring about others' perspectives (soliciting ideas and feedback), and then synthesizing the responses to ensure a comprehensive understanding before making a decision.

While these six attributes may seem basic, according to a New York Times article, the results are anything but. Google reported a statistically significant improvement in 75 percent of its underperforming managers after implementing the program.

Are You Ready?

“No Matter How Ready You Think You Are, The Difference Is Staggering” – How I Survived My First Year As A Middle Leader

"You can read all the leadership books you want, but nothing prepares you for having to have a conversation with a team member about the school dress code"

Read through Nikki's very honest account of the challenges of leadership:

Wednesday, 9 August 2017

What does it mean to be a Headteacher now?

Roger Pope of the National College has contributed an interesting article about the changing role of leadership and what it now means to be a Headteacher.

Read the full article here

Follow Up Difficult Conversations...

Below are three key steps that can rebuild a good working relationship following a challenging conversation, while also making progress on the problem at hand:

Step 1: Acknowledge that the conversation happened. 

We often want to “forget” or purposely avoid recognising that a hard conversation took place with a colleague. That’s a mistake, because it leaves you powerless, and leaves your colleague guessing at how to handle the situation, as well. My advice is to: 
a) proactively follow up
b) acknowledge that it was a tough situation
c) focus on the positive. 

There is huge value in appreciating that you were able to come together, identify and discuss a big issue, and even have the conversation in the first place. Thank your colleague for taking the time to engage in the conversation.

Job Interview Tips

Jessica Pointing knows how to interview.

The Harvard University junior received internship offers at companies including Google, Apple, Facebook, Microsoft, McKinsey, Bain, Goldman Sachs, and Morgan Stanley.

A computer science and physics major, she's received offer letters for roles in software engineering, data science, product management, consulting, investment banking, trading, and quantitative finance.

How does she do it? She credits being prepared and relaxed with her string of successful interviews. Here are some of here top tips...

1. Do your homework

Pointing made sure to hit the books before interviewing.

"I treated the internship interviews as a class — I studied material from books and did practice problems before the test (a.k.a. the interview)," she writes. "There is usually a go-to book for each industry." These books help prepare job candidates, covering likely interview topics and even featuring practice problems.

2. Develop a structure for problem solving

The stress of interviewing can make it pretty easy to blank out when you're speaking to a hiring manager.

That's why Pointing says it's important to adopt a problem-solving mindset.

Here's the structure she used for answering questions in her software engineering interviews:
Repeat the question to make sure that you understood the question and have all the relevant details.
  • Clarify the function input and output.
  • Check assumptions.
  • Give an approach to solving the problem.
  • Discuss the tradeoffs of the approach.
  • Code the solution.
  • Test the solution with a normal test case.
  • Test the solution with some edge cases.
She also broke down the approach she uses for consulting interviews:
  • Repeat the question to make sure that you understood the question and have all the relevant details.
  • Explain the objectives of the case and ask if there are any more objectives.
  • Ask any clarifying questions.
  • Generate ideas and a solution.
  • Organize and structure the answer.
  • For calculations, give insights into what the calculated number means.
  • Summarize the case at the end.

"These structures ensure that I hit almost everything I need to mention for a successful interview," Pointing says. "In consulting, giving insights into a number you just calculated separates a good candidate from a great candidate."

3. Practice and strategize

"It is very important to practice in an interview setting before the interview," Pointing says. "If your college offers mock interviews, take them! Some companies offer mock interviews too. There are other services out there, such as Refdash that give you free mock interviews. Do a practice interview at every opportunity."

If at all possible, Pointing recommends scheduling your "dream interview" last. That way, all of your previous interviews can serve as practice sessions.

4. Have a backup plan

Interviews can be pretty stressful.

So how can you keep your cool when the stakes are high?

Pointing advises having a backup plan in mind. You should always have an alternative path to pursue if your job or internship opportunity falls through.

"If you are interviewing for the summer and you go into an interview with no plan for the summer, then you will probably be way more stressed," Pointing says. "Instead, if you already have an offer or a vague idea of something you would do in the summer (e.g. travel), then the stakes for the interview aren't as high. The more options you already have, the more relaxed you will be in the interview and the higher your chances are for the job."

So take some pressure off yourself and make sure to sketch out a backup plan.

5. Invest time

The interviewing process isn't just about setting time aside to talk to a bunch of hiring managers. You'll need to devote time to reading, practicing, and perhaps even traveling.

"I traveled across the country more than six times in twelve weeks for my interviews, and spent approximately 80 hours in planes," Pointing says. "Make sure you have enough time in your schedule to invest in your internship search process. You should dedicate a few hours each day practicing for interviews. I scheduled time in my calendar for interview practice for every morning (after my regular morning routine)."

6. Create a question bank

Pointing recommends that after each interview, job candidates write down interview questions and solutions, as well as their own strengths and areas they could improve on.

"In one of my software engineering interviews, I missed a particular data structure that would have allowed me to have given a more efficient solution, but I made a note of it, and in another interview later on, I ran into a question where I could use that data structure," she says. "After doing enough cases and problems, you will start to recognize patterns and you will become more confident and quicker in solving problems."

7. Don't skim over behavioral questions

Don't just focus on industry-specific questions. Pointing says that interviewees must also come prepared with answers for common behavioral questions.

"Behavioral questions usually fall under several categories: leadership, teamwork, challenges and successes," she writes. "You should identify stories in your life that fall under each of those categories. You should also write down those stories and all the details. Writing down your answers to behavioral questions before the interview is important."

Havering Learning Partnership Awards

We were delighted to be asked to support the inaugural year of the Havering Learning Partnership awards. These awards are to celebrate the effort and achievement of Secondary school staff across the Borough.

17 different schools were represented. The achievements of all the teams were fantastic to hear about; from leading Duke of Edinburgh trips, to fundraising, to outstanding pupil progress, there was a wide range of stories to enjoy and celebrate.

The positive energy in the room and the excitement of being in contention for collecting a prize means that this is an event that will definitely become an annual celebration.

Iris Connect Training

To further improve the positive impact of Iris Connect video cameras, we held a training event for Teaching Assistants and teachers who are new to the product.

What is Iris Connect?
Click here to visit their website

I was inspired by the way it was so simple to use. Sometimes the technology in school can be quite daunting, but this system was so easy. I will certainly go and give it a go in my classroom
A Davies

Feedback from the training was extremely positive.
  • 88% agreed that they would be willing to use the equipment to record their teaching or interactions with pupils
  • 90% agreed that the equipment was easy to access and use
  • 100% agreed that it would have a positive benefit to improving teaching and learning

Google Training


We were delighted to host a regional training event for Google. The Google Educator training (Level 1 & Level 2) gives teachers a great insight into how Google tools can revolutionise their planning, collaboration and time management.

Over 35 staff took part in the training - which is amazing as it took place on a Saturday!

As a consequence Havering now has 28 additional Level 1 Google Educators and 7 additional Level 2.

The feedback on and impact of the course was extremely positive:

  • 100% agreed they were more knowledgable about Google's products
  • 100% strongly agreed that they had learnt something that would improve their practice
  • 95% strongly agreed that this would improve their time management