Our CEO, Crispin Read chats to Mike Edwards, the Director of The Northern Affinity, about how to improve your people and your business.
Aired: Wednesday 8 February, 11.00am, LinkedIn Live
Check out the full livestream here.
Read the interview below:
Host: Mike Edwards, The Northern Affinity
Guest: Crispin Read, CEO, The Coders Guild
Mike Edwards: Hi, welcome to our latest live video, we're going to be quite short and snappy today. And we're going to be spending about 10 minutes speaking about, as you can see on screen; ‘Improving your people and your business’. And I'm absolutely delighted to say I'm joined by Crispin. So Crispin, do you want to quickly, kind of introduce yourself and then we'll kind of take the discussion from there.
Crispin Read: Sure, thanks. I'm absolutely delighted to be here as well. It's great, we've not been part of The Northern Affinity very long, only two or three weeks or something, but fantastic experience so far. And also, like I say, absolutely delighted to be here.
So I'm Crispin, I’m the CEO of The Coders Guild, we're a training firm with a social mission. The mission is to improve diversity, inclusion and equity of opportunity in tech, and also to promote knowledge share. The way we learn as 'techie people', it's about sharing knowledge, there's a lot of collaboration and learning from our peers and our colleagues. And this is something that works really well in the tech world. And it's something that now we're bringing, as an ethos to a wider audience. So more people can benefit from it.
Mike Edwards: Fantastic. I'll put some kind of links in the comments as well for people to have a look a bit more about what you do and who you are, and the things we talk about. But I know today, we're going to be kind of covering a couple of different areas, really, which is the digital project management, as we said in the and the leadership skills. So I think before we kind of go into maybe what you guys are doing, how you do it, and all that kind of stuff, it’d be interesting, if you kind of got any helpful hints and tips and things that people can take away that’d help them. Yeah. Is there anything particularly you want to cover on that?
Crispin Read: Absolutely, I think. So, as a place to start, I think it'd be good to talk about the, again, like the way that we create training, it's all really, really practical stuff. It's stuff that we know has worked. And so we're trying to replicate those things that we've done in the tech world; of how to teach people how to be coders, how to be testers, teach them about UX, the things that are that are super important to us, you know, like, how really effective teams work. That's what we're trying to do with these courses. So, if I was thinking about project management for a start, some tips around project management. I guess the first one would be to, to make sure you're really certain about the purpose of your project;
- What are the goals?
- What is it that you're actually trying to achieve?
- Write that down and make sure you're talking about it as a team.
- Be super clear about what it is that you're actually trying to achieve.
And another tip for project management, I think would be; a project is always a big thing, you need to break it down into bits. And this could be different depending on what the project is:
- It might be a small project that just needs breaking down into one or two bits.
- There might be milestones or specific goals along the way.
- You might be breaking down by budget, or by a specific scope. But the more you break a project down into definable parts, the easier it is to resource and manage.
My last tip is going to be about communication:
- How important communication is in projects
- How often you need to talk about what you're doing, much more often than you would think.
- Things that facilitate communication between teams.
One in particular is, which is always, always neglected, is the retrospective:
- So when you’ve finished a project, you need to talk about how that project went?
- What went well?
- What didn't?
- If you were going to do that again, what would you do differently?
Because then you're gaining knowledge as a team, as an organisation, and you're taking that stuff forward.
On the leadership side, and again, thinking about effective teams and how effective leadership works in the teams that I've run, and the people that train with us, the things that we've got from techie world, important things again, are around communication, right?
- It's knowing your team
- How do they want to be managed?
- What do they need?
- What are they lacking?
- How can you help them?
Another thing is to be a good listener. It's always important to be listening to what people are saying to you and that you know, as a leader is really empowering, because then you get to lead by assisting people, by helping people, by making them better, which is a very, very positive way of leading a team. And the other thing, last one for leadership, is about knowing when to ask for help, which I think as a leader is a really, really important thing. Like, when is this not my responsibility? When is this outside of what, not just my comfort zone, but what I'm actually good at? And how can someone help me, in the team, or, outside the organisation?
Mike Edwards: Yeah, and I think that's an important kind of hint or tip for any of us in any walk of life really, if you need help kind of look and find support there. So, thank you for that Crispin. It'd be interesting to know, I know you've got these various programmes that we can talk about, do you, can you just give us a brief overview of what they're about and how they can help people?
Crispin Read: Sure. So like I was saying earlier, you know, these are, our background, our main business is training people in very technical things, you know, software dev and testing and that, but one thing that we've always been trying to do is, is extract the other things that you know, like the core skills, or the soft skills, as we used to call them. So the thing for these two particular courses are really, that we're just starting them now, like a pilot version that we're running, they're really important to me through the experience of running a small business, project management, being aware of that, and leadership, these are the things that always get left, that are always, “once I've done this thing that's on fire. Once this fires out, once I’ve achieved this, once I've closed that deal, I'll move on to being a better leader or managing the projects better”, “oh, that project didn't go well. The next one will be okay”. But without, you know, taking the time to step back and take ourselves through this.
So that's what these courses are about, really practical, and proactive, actionable things. They're short courses that run for 12 weeks, but they're not, this isn't like, you know, 40 hours a week or anything, they're just a few hours a week, one or two sessions of two hours, remotely, where our trainers, who, all of our trainers, they do this for a job, as in, they don't train for a job, they’re project managers, or they’re leaders, or they’re developers or they’re testers. So, someone like that will take you through a series of exercises, and with every session, on both of the courses, we're trying to give people actionable, useful, practical homework, to take back to their teams and work through problems or issues. And by the end of that 12 weeks, we're looking to have delivered some sort of actionable stuff for getting really effective teams.
Mike Edwards: That makes sense. And who are these courses mainly aimed at? It’s probably quite a long list, but give us a summary if nothing else.
Crispin Read: Yeah, the project management one, I think we're specifically looking for, people in a creative industry, I think like, project managers often are, accidentally promoted into a position where they're managing projects, without actually having been trained in how to manage projects. So, not wanting to limit it to just creative industries. But this is kind of, the outreach here, is kind of aimed at that sort of, I think anyone in a small business who's running projects, using or not using, digital tools would benefit from the stuff we're teaching. And similar with the leadership one, that is about, it's geared towards leading digital teams, as in using digital products, to help and facilitate the leadership of your team. But I mean, who isn't running a digital team these days? I think that you know, the amount of products that are out there, that maybe you're not using, that could help you. So I think the digital team, you know, we were digital right now aren't we, on the video? So I think it's a really, really wide scope.
Mike Edwards: Yeah, absolutely. I've seen a couple of comments of people asking where I am because of the background. I’m in Clockwise in Liverpool, by the way, because of the red brick and everything, the little pipes and everything, just to answer that question.
But moving on, Crispin in terms of if people want to get involved in this and obviously find out more information as well, where are the best places to go now? Like I said, I've put a couple of links in there. But how do people get involved?
Crispin Read: Oh sure, the links that I think you're sharing Mike, they go directly to the course directory on the site, from both of those courses. So if you go, or if maybe you’re listening to this if you just go to thecodersguild.org.uk. It’ll be signposted from there to our course directory where there's a load of information about that and an expression of interest form.
Mike Edwards: Perfect. And I assume you're happy for people to contact you, if they want to ask a question? And contact the team about that? That's okay?
Crispin Read: Yeah, of course, of course. Oh, one thing I should mention, these are government funded courses. So, if you're applying for yourself, there's no fee. If you're applying as a business for your team, the government are paying, I can't remember if it's 90% or 95%. But it's largely government funded. There's no real cost of business.
Mike Edwards: Fantastic. So it's either free or almost free, I guess. Which is great! So I think that's great. I think it's a great introduction to it, Crispin, so thank you for your time. I think there's so much benefit that people could get from it in all walks of life and all types of businesses. I think at least looking into it would be beneficial for many. So, yeah. Thank you. And thank you for coming on to talk about it.
Crispin Read: Brilliant. Thanks so much for having me.
Mike Edwards: You're welcome, Crispin. Thank you.
Crispin Read: Cheers.
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