Introduce A Life-Long Learning Culture

life-long learningBe an organisation that supports life-long learning!

If you are a Leader, Manager or HR Professional then you may have established a life-long learning habit.  In a survey by CIPD The Coaching Climate shows that out of 332 responses from organisations; 77% of them used coaching and mentoring.  All activity was to help develop and improve talent planning and performance. A massive 61% used coaching to aid leadership development.

So learning by leaders is alive and well!

I don’t know about you, but if you are anything like me, life-long learning has featured as a major part of my career to date.  My love of lifelong learning has not just been to develop my career and work life.  I have been a lifelong learner for life itself.  The zest for learning started at an early stage for me.  And I can confidently say that the drive for learning is in all of us from the beginning.

Whether we like it or not, we are all lifelong learners.  Some of us learning consciously, a lot of us unconsciously. Some of us learn how to make our lives better, and this is usually a conscious decision.  There are people who learn the hard way by making decisions which don’t honour themselves or others.

If you are a coach then you know the concept of “away from” motivation and “towards” motivation.  If you haven’t come across those terms, they describe whether your motivation to learn is to avoid pain or to seek pleasure. An organisation which has a whole philosophy around “towards” learning would definitely be on my list of wants. In other words an organisation which supports and values life-long learning and development is a must for my employer of choice.

Not only does life-long learning  support the development of valuable skills, knowledge and competence; it also gives an employee a conscious and positive experience of learning and bringing out the best in them. It also raises self-awareness, which raises awareness and an understanding of others.

Unfortunately too often, organisations will slash the training budget or undervalue the life-long learning experience as not their responsibility.  Some employers resist helping their people to develop beyond their current skill set for fear they will move on, taking their newly found skills with them.  These mind-sets actually teach something.  They teach their employees that they aren’t valuable and that the employers don’t support growth. For employers who want to bring out their best in people and develop a learning culture as one of their cornerstones of being an employer of choice, here are my top tips:

  •  Wherever possible have a clear internal career path to allow employees to progress up the ranks
  • Support people with professional or specialism qualifications, either with time or money.  Tie in, if necessary as a condition, but not for too long.
  • Support personal development as well as skills and knowledge development.  Helping employees develop greater self-awareness,  emotional intelligence, confidence or a sense of wellbeing through your learning activities, will definitely empower them, and pay dividends for you.
  • Support your employees to move on to pastures new, when it’s right for them.  It gives the right signals, and if people are free and encouraged to do the right thing for them, then they know you have their best interests at heart.  You will never lose the reputation for supporting them.
  • Use a multitude of learning opportunities.  Learning can be encouraged, when employees are working on projects, helping develop business plans, being involved in customer relationships etc.  If the learning potential for employees was articulated and defined, when they are helping to move the business on, then it creates a win/win culture.
  • If budgets are tight, consider developing your in-house expertise for disseminating skills and knowledge.  Have a skills register, so you can tap into the rich resource you may already have at your fingertips.  There is nothing more frustrating for an employee sitting there with requisite skills and you don’t make use of them.
  • Make sure your life-long learning culture is at the top of your communication strategy, both internally and externally.  Even if you aren’t recruiting right away, you will be at some point.  If your learning reputation is to go before you, then you need to articulate it at every opportunity.

If you are a leader, you are continually developing and "Sharpening the Saw".  If you lead and manage teams, then you must read about our Inspirational New Leadership Programme.  Sign up now to find out more details when we launch in July 2014.  There is no obligation to undertake the programme, if you sign up today, you will simply be sent more information about the programme.  You can unsubscribe at any time!  Click below to register for further information.

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Know How + Great HR = Inspiration

Inspiration is the best way to engage people!

Or  does it make you squirm?

You may be an HR Professional leader or manager relying on HR to help move your business forward.  When discussing strategy with people of different roles at many levels, I have often been met with a perplexed look when I have mentioned that the role of the HR professional is to help the business to be inspirational.   Many people feel much more comfortable with descriptors like, credible, respected, focussed, performance-led…. well I could go on and on.

So what does inspiration mean and why do many people not relate to it?  The free dictionary gives the following definition of inspiration.

  1. Stimulation of the mind or emotions to a high level of feeling or activityOr the condition of being so stimulated.
  2. An agency, such as a person or work of art that moves the intellect or emotions or prompts action or invention.
  3. Something, such as a sudden creative act or idea that is inspired.
  4. The quality of inspiring or exalting: a painting full of inspiration.
  5. Divine guidance or influence exerted directly on the mind and soul of humankind.
  6. The act of drawing in, especially the inhalation of air into the lungs.”

For me; inspiration is about tapping into the true self of a person and helping them to engage, emotionally, intellectually and physically with a situation or cause which resonates with their values.  No mean feat huh?

For you as an enlightened leader, manager or HR professional, you may be well ahead of me.  However, If you aren’t sure how, you might be asking “Is that the role of HR? “

Some people will prefer other expressions, such as “gain commitment” “going the extra mile” employee engagement”. “Performance management” to name but a few.   There is nothing wrong with these ways of expressing how you get the best from your people.  The questions are; Are you inspiring your people to be the best? and: Is the task of inspiring your people something HR should be involved in?

Well I believe yes it is.  If HR is going to be at the top table, and bring real value, it needs to understand the equation of Knowhow + Great HR = Inspiration and it goes like this: -

  1. Great HR professionals know how people tick.  – They understand why people like words like inspiration and why other people prefer words like respected.  They understand how to motivate people and why some people will never be motivated unless you pivot them in a certain way.
  2. They understand the dynamics of their organisation; how people relate to each other, and the dominant dynamic which is in place.  If their organisation is a caring sharing one, for example, they know what the big no-no’s are which might shatter the brand it has consciously or unconsciously developed.
  3. They are great at all levels of the HR offer.  They understand how to develop people strategy, as well as pay people on time.  The policies they develop reflect the desired outcomes and culture as well as mirror the values of the company.
  4. They make sure that the products they develop and the frameworks they set out include the right information and are in a format which is understood by everyone.  Most importantly, they know how to get them to people in the right way so they absorb them.
  5. They understand the business inside out.  They know how their CEO and the Board ticks and they are committed to helping the business become a success, because they share the vision and values of the organisation.
  6. They care about people, know that people are the organisations greatest resource, and so they take care to inspire them.

What do you think?  Are you an inspirational leader, manager or HR professional?  Are you managed by someone truly inspirational?  I would love to hear from you with your story.


If you are a leader, you are continually developing and "Sharpening the Saw".  If you lead and manage teams, then you must read about our Inspirational New Leadership Programme.  Sign up now to find out more details when we launch in July 2014.  There is no obligation to undertake the programme, if you sign up today, you will simply be sent more information about the programme.  You can unsubscribe at any time!  Click below to register for further information.

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The Steps to Organisational Change

Welcome to this weeks Guest Blogger.  Paul Myers is the HR Manager for a local transport company.  He has initiated significant change in his organisation and has managed to keep his staff on board.  He is a people centric manager who has considered how to increase and harness employee engagement at every opportunity.  Below he charts just one of the organisational changes he has led to transform the organisation. 

The Steps to great organisational change

I moved into my current post as HR Manager 4 years ago.  The company had at that time transferred from a deep cultured public sector organisation to the private sector.  Invoking TUPE had meant the process had already involved a painstaking consultation period with trade unions.   .

The organisation is complex.  After the transfer, one of my objectives was the harmonisation of 28 shift patterns across 3 distinct teams, with varied terms and conditions linked to them.

The issues and reasons for harmonisation included.

  1. Varying and different shift patterns being operated between three operational areas.
  2. Not all shift patterns supported 24/7 working
  3. New equipment meant a reduction of workforce and also a requirement for new skills.
  4. Possible further reduction in workforce due to a new project.
  5. Company commitment to minimising compulsory redundancies

Starting Consultation

The objective of the consultation was to mutually agree the harmonisation of the shift patterns, to agree one pattern for all.  The consultation process was a time for all parties to gather and discuss the need for change as well as place suggestions for consideration, counter proposals and refinement.  The objective was to mutually agree the way forward.  The range of the consultation reflected the number of employees affected and the extent of change need to be implemented.

The outline of the consultation process was to:

  1. Undertake consultation period with affected employees and their representatives.
  2. Outline the need for change and timescales.
  3. Set a period of time for suggestions of ideas, proposals and counter proposals
  4. Reviewing and giving consideration to the proposals
  5. Answering and addressing concerns and questions.
  6. Agreeing the way forward.
  7. Getting ready for change such as training and agreeing terms
  8. Implementing change
  9. Monitoring  and reviewing the change.


Change Issues

Often with consultation and change programmes, it is difficult to get all parties and employees to agree to the changes in the working practices and terms of employment.  If the changes had not been mutually agreed, an impasse may have resulted between the employees, their representatives and the company.  If an impasse had resulted, then the organisation may have had to take the decision to invoke and enforce change.  Whilst it is was hoped that an impasse was not reached, as long as the organisation had endeavoured to consult before enforcing change, this is likely to be valid with any employment tribunal.

The organisation launched the proposal for change for Economical, Technical, Operational (ETO) reasons. In these circumstances, when it can be proven that consideration has been given to all alternatives, or there has been refusal and objection to mutually agree the way forward, then the change is enforced by giving the contractual notice under the old terms of employment, advising and offering new terms of employment from a set date.

If reaching an impasse and enforcing change, the company may be at risk of breach of contract claims.  This is as a result of the change and terminating the terms of employment, which exist.  To defend such claims the organisation needed to prove the ETO reasons for change; that it had tried to implement due change on reasonable grounds;  and that should the change not occur the business would suffer a severe detriment.

The organisation knew that at that time there was an increased risk of industrial action. This was to be avoided as well as was the leaking of any changes to the local press and media.

Achieving the Goal

Transparency with the Trade Union

I met with the union explained the plan we wished to peruse and set out our reasons. Also suggesting measures we could implement to effect the changes

Full staff Engagement

We stated our commitment to full staff engagement: Involving them fully in the decisions about their jobs to make it work

Accepted the need for disagreement

We used disagreement as a stepping stone to initiate full discussions to reach mutual agreement

The process for change

We started with staff meetings, which was a logistical nightmare due to 24/7 shifts patterns and getting the staff to participate in the meetings.

We worked in partnership with the union.  We held meetings which were quite heated at times, although we were committed to coming to agreement.

Initially we reduced the 28 shift patterns down to 15, covering 24/7/365.  A great deal of work then took place, evaluating salaries, allowances and leave entitlements.  This information together with the advantages and disadvantages of each shift pattern were verified with the unions. .

We then conducted further meetings to discuss the various shift patterns to reduce the 15 to smaller number, to where we could then go into more detailed negotiations.

In the next stage we considered 3 different working patterns.  We carried out further meetings to discuss the issues.  The staff were asked to vote.  One team was reluctant to agree and at that stage refused to reach agreement.

We initiated further discussions which revealed that the team identified a problem which meant that any of the patterns could result in a perceived detriment to their work/life balance.  We suggested some slightly different terms and conditions which had a small cost but in the overall scheme was worth the investment.

Initially they refused to agree this renewed offer.  We recognised however that we had been fair, transparent and given fair alternatives, so we advised them we had no option but to invoke an impasse and force change although we had been clear we had tried to avoid this throughout the process.   We also suggested that we would remove the additional terms and conditions offered.  At the eleventh hour the team agreed the newly offered terms and conditions.


We have now been working the shift patterns for 2 years, and they have been a great success.  This is largely because we have continued with an open door policy with the staff and unions.  As a result of the process we have successfully changed the culture in line with the current needs of the organisation.

The transparency of the process and the good employee relations built in that time helped in a subsequent change when the workforce was reduced by 52%, We had followed the same principles and feel we added the human factor into our HR practice, when dealing with those selected.  During this time, we have also reduced sick absence from pre-transfer from 16% to a remarkable 0.8%.

I firmly believe to be effective in organisational change you must be open transparent and honest with employees and the trade unions to gain maximum effect.

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Paul began his career in the Infantry in the Army, He served 20 years in various locations and was discharged in 1992 at the rank of Warrant OfficerOrganisational change

He commenced employment with his present employer in 1992. With no previous civilian experience, he started on the shop floor. He learned about the company and operations, and using his previous skills gained in the military and took the company through ISO 18001, 14001 and EMAS, gained all accreditations finally producing a integrated management system.

Prior to TUPE transfer on PFI he took the role on as HR Manager, responsible for delivering on the organisational change which involved reducing numbers and the reorganisation of the structure of the operational sections.

In 2 years staff numbers were reduced by 55% and all operational staff where on a one shift system. This was only achieved by being transparent with the unions and achieving maximum engagement with all staff.

He remains active in the ex military community he is trained as a welfare advice officer for SSAFA and The Royal British Legion

To achieve in HR he believes in putting the Human touch back into Human Resources, primarily effecting maximum engagement, transparency and fairness with all employees.  He has dyslexia and this has never been a barrier to his success in life

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If you are a leader, you are continually developing and "Sharpening the Saw".  If you lead and manage teams, then you must read about our Inspirational New Leadership Programme.  Sign up now to find out more details when we launch in July 2014.  There is no obligation to undertake the programme, if you sign up today, you will simply be sent more information about the programme.  You can unsubscribe at any time!  Click below to register for further information.

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Organisational Change – Making the Best of Bad News

92846673Its not the organisational change – its how you do it!

I recently held a workshop which had a section around organisational change and particularly redundancy.  It’s obviously a big subject at the minute, and one which is exercising many managers and HR professionals.

What struck me about the difference within this workshop to those I had held before was that there was less discussion about the case for redundancy.   There appeared a tacit acceptance that cutting back costs, and organisational change which may lead to redundancy was a way of life right now.

It got me thinking about changes which involved reductions or closures I had managed through in the past.  Some initiated by me, and some which were out of my control, but I had to do the “dirty work” so to speak.

The psychological profile and change

Myers Briggs Type Indicator is a psychological profiling tool which helps people understand how they take in and process information and also how they make decisions.  In the decision making arena some of us make decisions based on logical thinking and rationale, while some of us do so based on our feelings and the impact on people.  It will come as no surprise to you that given my passion for people, I come into the latter category.

Well at a feedback session I held a few months ago, we got to talking about redundancy, and someone stated, “It’s no good looking at redundancy as thinking or feeling process, the process of redundancy is inherently one of logical thinking, so feeling people naturally feel uncomfortable”

So I pondered this statement, because I had been through numerous organisational changes, and actually had never felt uncomfortable with the process.  So was my type indicator wrong?  Was I not a true feeling type?  Well no, of course not, that assumption would be too simplistic.

I realised that organisational change and reductions in numbers of staff in themselves wasn’t a big deal for me.  Not because I don’t care about the people involved in the process and the impact on them.  On the contrary, I realised it wasn’t a big deal for me, because I did care about the people involved and made sure I did everything I could to reduce or cushion the impact on my employees.

Now that’s not to say everyone I have managed through the process has been happy with what was happening.  I am guessing there are very few of us who are threatened with potential or actual loss of their livelihood who would feel happy.  But what can be done is to help them through the process.

Employee relations are key

With some managers and HR practitioners; employee relations in the context of organisational change especially reductions in staff or hours, is synonymous with the trade unions.  But it is much more, and there are lots of great managers and practitioners out there who know this.

Yes, there is a process to be gone through and legislation and regulations to adhere to, but here are my top tips for a manager or HR professional who may be taking someone through any change which is going to impact adversely on their working life.

  • Give them the bad news straight.  People have a remarkable capacity for accepting and processing bad news.   What they don’t like is not knowing, or having to guess what the true picture might be.
  • Be abundantly clear about the drivers for change.  If the change is imperative, then you will have good and sound reasons for it.  Show that you have considered all options and that you have no choice but to go for it
  • Talk Adult – Adult.  You are not responsible for their lives, but you have a responsibility for how you relate with them.  Do not let any fingers of blame point at you or take on board any guilt.  Likewise, treat people with dignity and respect.
  • Be Kind.  Understand that everyone will take the news differently, and that is ok.  Make sure you have support for those who may be affected most seriously and don’t compare the different ways people react.
  • Let them be negative.  In fact encourage negativity, but do it in a structured setting where you can pivot the beliefs and thinking about the impact of the change into a positive focus.
  • Encourage them to face fears.  By facing fears, people then turn their attention to solutions.  If they never face their fear, fear will be the driving force and will sap their energy.  Energy they can put into reskilling or finding alternative employment or other adjustments.
  • Let them talk as much as they need.   Ask them how regularly they want to be updated, in what format and what will work best for them.  Such time is never wasted.  It is much better to be proactive with time, rather than let the time bomb of the rumour mill tick.
  • Celebrate their successes.  Make them understand the vital contribution they make, the unique skill set they have at their disposal and help them identify how to make the most of the experiences they have accumulated while working for you.  This is the most vital time to do this.  It can actually engender great hope.

I know, I know, all of this sounds time consuming.  But honestly it doesn’t have to be.  All you have to do is genuinely appreciate and care about your people and it will come naturally.  It is better to use the time during the organisational change productively and positively than deal with unnecessary stress and disputes.

Later in the week, I have a brilliant guest blogger who has taken their organisation through significant change in a tough unionised environment with a great result.  Watch this space!

What do you think?  Do you have any strategies to help people through difficult changes?  We would love to hear from you.



If you are a leader, you are continually developing and "Sharpening the Saw".  If you lead and manage teams, then you must read about our Inspirational New Leadership Programme.  Sign up now to find out more details when we launch in July 2014.  There is no obligation to undertake the programme, if you sign up today, you will simply be sent more information about the programme.  You can unsubscribe at any time!  Click below to register for further information.

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Silver Lining – Find the Hope in every Cloud

Every Cloud has a Silver Lining164810012

A couple of weeks ago, I heard from a young mum of three.  In a downsizing by her husband’s company he lost his job after one interview.  He had been in the job for 14 years, and loved it.  Now I don’t know the detail, so I don’t judge.  And I know such hard decisions have to be made if the money simply isn’t there.  I would also say though that I had used services provided by the organisation and he was dedicated, enthusiastic and went the extra mile.  As you can imagine there was shock, indignation and anger from his friends and relatives.

We all know the business reasoning about Remploy, and why the government decided to untangle what seemed to be viewed as an “outdated segregated remedy” by the disability bodies.  It was also making a colossal loss.  But seeing those people talking about their fears not knowing what is going to happen in the future was heart-breaking.     The theory is that employers will be given financial incentives to help these people and more to secure employment.  Will this happen in reality?  I’m not sure.

I am all for facing up to the reality of any unpalatable truth we may have to accept.  I know that it’s important that we all know why hard decisions like the above are made.  I think as a nation, we did actually get the message.   We need now however to refocus, and we need to refocus on the silver lining.

In the two situations above, those decisions appear harsh and inhuman without making sure that the people affected had some hope about what their options might be in the future.  We are not reporting well enough, that vital step.  Any change strategy, including downsizing in any shape or form is poorly executed unless before the decision is made to cut jobs or change course, the fears and possibilities for the people involved have been explored and articulated.  There has to be a plan B for everyone.

And so instead of the process, we need to focus on the vision for the future.  We need to focus on the silver lining, but what might that be?  Well it might not be apparent yet, but here are a few ideas.

  • As a nation, we are learning to be more financially responsible
  • We are becoming more efficient
  • We are driving up the quality of services
  • We are learning resilience in the face of adversity
  • We can show that we are strong and are able to reinvent ourselves

Ok, not a long list yet, but I’m sure there are more to be identified, as we learn from the situation we find ourselves in.  The main message for everyone needs to be one of hope.  If this doesn’t start coming soon and stridently we will simply be a nation sapped of our energy, enthusiasm and commitment.

Let us shift the balance and focus on and celebrate successes, and find and articulate that silver lining.    For people who are facing hardship and a loss of way of life, let’s make sure we can create meaningful options where everyone wins in the end.  Let’s tell the story of how great our workers are and how dedicated and efficient they can be.  These factors are all there, we are just not looking at them.

There is no doubt about it, if we focus on and celebrate hope and success, the results will surely follow.

What do you think?  Do you think we need to be more positive about the change we are going through?   Do you think a shift in focus is needed at this time?  Let us know we would love to hear from you.


If you are a leader, you are continually developing and "Sharpening the Saw".  If you lead and manage teams, then you must read about our Inspirational New Leadership Programme.  Sign up now to find out more details when we launch in July 2014.  There is no obligation to undertake the programme, if you sign up today, you will simply be sent more information about the programme.  You can unsubscribe at any time!  Click below to register for further information.

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Happiness at Work

We all want Happiness at work!

Today the sun is shining and the hope of a beautiful spring and lovely summer are in the air.  Most of us know the feeling of happiness and wellbeing that comes with a lovely sunny day.

The day made me think about happiness at work, and the happy memories I have over the years.  It was interesting that the images that sprung up were:

  • The memory of times when the full team were on the same wavelength and really felt like what we were doing mattered and made a difference.
  • When someone did something they were proud of and a personal success had materialised
  • When we laughed when we worked, even when things weren’t perfect.

It’s funny that what didn’t come up when considering happiness at work,  were the memories about performance, or profit margins, or great management, or any of the traditional things we try to get right in the workplace.

Stories about Steve Jobs and his questionable leadership style abounded after his untimely demise.  Although he was celebrated as a great leader, some of the rumours hinted at bullying tactics, micromanagement and a sheer determination to get results no matter what, certainly no consistent tales of happiness at work.

I don’t know if these are true, but If I were an Apple employee, I would guess that being part of some of the most world changing set of products and how amazingly they were marketed and accepted, would be up there in my portfolio of happiness at work. The fact that Jobs wasn’t the perfect people leader may well have been irrelevant.  Who knows?

Having significant meaning in your work can be the happiest experience you can achieve.  It can be the most motivating, resilient inducing factor.  It is amazing how being involved in a meaningful way creates determination and builds character, despite the odds.

Likewise being in a place where individuals can grow and feel proud of what they do is one of the best cultures to foster.   When people feel a sense of achievement, when they’they’ve gone the extra mile and made a difference, it can not only be motivating for them, but can brilliantly move the whole team to action.

You might laugh to think that workplaces could be exciting, inspiring and create enthusiasm.  It might be that it is difficult to muster these states in ourselves and people we work with for long.  But it is these factors which the majority of us will remember about our working lives.

These qualities don’t have to be present only for world changing products.  Making a difference to the care of our elderly population or with our kids who need help to have a better sense of themselves and therefore achieve more with their lives for example, can be equally inspiring, even on a one to one.  Providing an everyday service, or producing inexpensive products can be inspiring if they make a real difference to others’ lives.

I’ve met many wonderful people over the years and worked with some inspirational leaders and individuals across all different roles.  The ones I remember the most are the ones who could laugh in the face of adversity.  The people who had a sense of fun.  This entailed a sense of detachment and lack of  seriousness about the job in hand at times, but never a lack of commitment or dedication.

Studies have shown, that laughter can have the following positive effects on our own and others wellbeing in the following areas:

  • Reduce the effects of stress
  • Invoke muscle relaxationHappiness at work
  • Reduce pain
  • Invoke essential cardiac exercise
  • Maintain healthy blood pressure
  • Improve Respiration

And we all know that people who feel better and have a greater sense of wellbeing are more productive.  So can you afford to spend the time to focus on happiness at work?  I would suggest that you can’t afford not to.

Wishing you happiness at work today, and if you aren’t feeling happy, try to bring some sunshine into someone else’s life today.

What do you think?  Is your workplace a happy one?  Do you have happy memories of work?  We’d love to hear from you.

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If you are a leader, you are continually developing and "Sharpening the Saw".  If you lead and manage teams, then you must read about our Inspirational New Leadership Programme.  Sign up now to find out more details when we launch in July 2014.  There is no obligation to undertake the programme, if you sign up today, you will simply be sent more information about the programme.  You can unsubscribe at any time!  Click below to register for further information.

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Sparking Creativity

Welcome to this weeks’ Guest blogger – I am really pleased to introduce Claire Marriott.  I have known and worked with Claire over a number of years.  We instantly developed a rapport as we both had similar views about innovation, creativity and life!  Claire has a flair for weaving creativity and innovation both in her communications expertise and other interests.  As you can see she is the perfect person to talk about sparking creativity!  You can  learn more about Claire below.   

Let your Creativity Sparkle!

Hello everyone! Having worked with Christina on a number of projects I am delighted to be her guest on this blog.

For many managers, creativity is something of a holy grail. How many of you, if asked about your ideal working environment, would end up describing a free-thinking, energetic set-up where ideas flow like water and innovation is the norm?

Unfortunately, the day-to-day realities of working life and the typical structure of organisations often work to hamper the very qualities that we desire most in our team members, limiting their ability to generate new ideas or their willingness to think differently.

Letting go of expectations

The first step to unlocking creativity is to let go of expectations. Creative people aren’t fixated on what others think of them and tend not to focus on the ‘right’ way to do things. Instead they try a number of different approaches and see what happens. They follow their instincts and their intuition to see where it takes them and, above all, they ask questions.

Here are two exercises that you can try with your teams to increase the amount of creative energy in your organisation.

  • Summarise a challenge that you are facing in just one sentence and then ask each team member to spend ten minutes writing down everything that occurs to them about the situation. Tell them that they don’t have to worry about spelling and grammar but should just write anything and everything that comes into their head when the y start thinking about the problem. This type of free-writing helps people to overcome their internal censor and can give rise to intriguing new ideas.


  • Over a number of weeks ask your team members to save any images that they come across which remind them of your organisation, or what they would like your organisation to be. Gather the images together and paste them all onto a board then discuss what you see. Look for themes that the pictures have in common.  Identify any colours or settings that recur. Imagine the lives of any people in the pictures and see how the images make you feel. Using images activates different parts of the brain and can be a wonderful way to bring a company’s vision and values to life.


If you would like to find out more about living creatively then I would thoroughly recommend ‘The Artist’s Way’ by Julia Cameron, a classic book on the subject. I leave the last word to film-maker Frank Capra who said ‘A hunch is creativity trying to tell you something.’


[message type="custom" width="100%" start_color="#FFFCB5" end_color="#F4CBCB" border="#BBBBBB" color="#333333"]After a 16 year career working in corporate communication for a range of public and private sector companies, Claire  redesigned her life and became a freelance writer, craftsperson and reiki practitioner. As well as providing communications advice to a number of organisations she has also begun to write creatively and is currently studying scriptwriting with the Open University. To find out more, please visit her website:[/message] signupchange

If you are a leader, you are continually developing and "Sharpening the Saw".  If you lead and manage teams, then you must read about our Inspirational New Leadership Programme.  Sign up now to find out more details when we launch in July 2014.  There is no obligation to undertake the programme, if you sign up today, you will simply be sent more information about the programme.  You can unsubscribe at any time!  Click below to register for further information.

Inspirational New Leadership


Make your Innovative Idea come to Life

The innovative process is available to everyone!innovative

You either own or run a business, and so you know what it takes to make a concept work.  You must be providing a product or a service which is or has been in demand.  If your business is thriving then congratulations, if not doing so well, then take heart.   You have the means within yourself to expand and create new and innovative products or service.  You just have to believe you have and that you can.

You may be in the position where you aren’t sure about how you expand and accelerate growth in your business, or you may have a great idea, but are not sure how to make it a reality.  Either way, the first thing you have to do is get clear.

The innovative process is not going to begin until your mind formulates a clear outcome. The problem is, is that we get fixated on the details, and the “how’s” and this actually inhibits the creative process.  All you need to do, to start is have an outcome.

I remember coaching a young entrepreneur in her 20’s.  She had paralysed herself into inaction because she wasn’t sure which career path to take.  She had got to a crossroads in her life, and wasn’t sure what she wanted.  After some exploration, she realised that she didn’t need to be specific about exactly what her career looked like, but she did need to be specific about how she would feel about what she did.

Thus her success criteria and outcome became.  “She would feel enthused and love what she did.  She would feel motivated and grateful that she was doing work which made a huge difference”.  Ok, so she still had to make choices, but outlining an outcome that meant something to her gave her a standard or a benchmark to work towards.   As she tried different things, if her outcome didn’t materialise, then she knew she had to try something else.

You may have an innovative idea, and a clear outcome for a product or a service which is going to make a difference, but are not sure how to make it happen.   Alternatively, you may just want to make your business profitable, more profitable or make a bigger impact, but at this stage you may have no idea about how that is going to happen.  In both situations simply set out the outcomes that you want, and that process will give you a massive head start.

The next step in the innovative process is to believe it can happen.  Doubt is the biggest prohibitive force in the innovative process.  Doubt shuts off your mind to the possibilities out there.   If you think you can’t then – guess what – you can’t.  If you doubt you can, then it either shuts off the mind, or delays the realisation of your innovative idea.

I’ll give you an example.  A number of years ago, a team I worked with wanted to be great at customer service.  To change the mind-set, the only way was to access some in-depth customer service training.  After some research, across the board of all the providers who could help, the cost came to some £25k for all of the staff to be trained (It was a large team, and the training stretched over  a number of  months).

There was no way that sort of budget was available.  There was a resignation across the management team that it wasn’t going to happen.  But I asked the team to keep open to possibilities.  That if we kept out doubt then a solution would appear.  And it did.  About 3 weeks later we received a call from a company who had heard we were looking for customer service training, could they come and talk to us?  Because we hadn’t dismissed the possibility, we agreed.   It turned out the training company had access to grant funding for just what we were looking for.  Altogether, a team of 30 people were trained for 9 months, with a City and Guilds qualification for under £2k.

I could relate many stories like that which show the power of trusting that you can make things happen is key to the innovative process.  The vital message here is that you simply need to get started with an outcome and then believe it can happen.

Here at People Discovery, we help clients formulate their success criteria, and then find a way to make things happen, which works to each owners individual style, to realise their outcome.

If you have any questions, or have a great innovative story to tell, then let us know.  We would love to hear from you.

This coming week, I have a brilliant guest blogger who is a writer and entrepreneur, who will talk about sparking creativity.  Look out for her blogspot in the next few days!


If you are a leader, you are continually developing and "Sharpening the Saw".  If you lead and manage teams, then you must read about our Inspirational New Leadership Programme.  Sign up now to find out more details when we launch in July 2014.  There is no obligation to undertake the programme, if you sign up today, you will simply be sent more information about the programme.  You can unsubscribe at any time!  Click below to register for further information.

Inspirational New Leadership


Emotions – What People Managers Need to Know – Part Three

 People Managers need to know about Emotions!

This is my third blog in a series of 3, where I take a look at 3 basic psychological components which great people leaders and managers know and work with to create great teams. In Part One, I outlined the importance of the power of belief and understanding how your employee’s beliefs can influence your business.  In Part Two I explored why how you think is important both in relation to your team and being more effective.

In this final part I explore emotions.

If you are a person who is not in touch with their own emotions, (and many of us aren’t and there’s nothing wrong with that), then it’s likely you haven’t even read this far.  But if you have, then please bear with me.

I have seen more conflicts arise in the workplace because some people prefer to live their lives logically, thinking things through and applying facts, and some people use their feelings and how they feel as a barometer for what they like, dislike, how they relate to others and how they make decisions.   The thinking and feeling divide, unless understood and appreciated can cause havoc.

Some of you may have come across the book “Men are from Mars – Women are from Venus” by John Gray.  The book aims to help male/female relationships by analysing the different ways “Thinkers and Feelers” communicate”.  It can seem a little stereotypical because it assumes that men are thinkers and women are feelers.  And frankly that’s not always true, as you know.

Now everyone is able to use both thinking and feeling to inform decisions, we just usually have a preference one way or another.  As we mature, we usually are able to learn out less preferred way, and fingers crossed end up being fairly balanced.

Just to be clear though.  Our emotions are based on what we think about something.   We take in information, we process it, and then we interpret the information.  Depending on whether our interpretation is a negative one, or a positive one, will decide on how we feel about it. Often our processing is so instantaneous and/or unconscious that we don’t know why we feel that way.

Like it or not, many people make decisions based on how they feel about something.  It is well known that great employee engagement usually goes hand in hand with people feeling good about what they do, when they feel valued and respected.

Being able to harness positive emotions and getting people involved positively is a real skill.  If you are in touch with your own feelings, then this can work for and against you in the workplace.  Why?

Being in touch with your own emotions means you can more easily empathise with what other people are going through. And when that works it is great.  But and there’s a big “but” here.   I have found that unless you have emotional intelligence then quite often you can misinterpret another’s reaction, identifying how you would feel rather than the other person.

Emotional intelligence is a great science and needs to be balanced alongside intellect and academic prowess.  Wikipedia describes emotional intelligence as” the ability to identify, assess, and control the emotions of oneself, of others, and of groups”. The great thing about emotional intelligence is that if you haven’t got any, you can learn!

My first challenge as a young manager was learning how to control my own emotions.  In the early years I was quite often scared to bits about having to deal with some larger than life characters I had to manage.   Managing my fear was one of my first and probably my longest lessons.  I am quite adept, but hey, Mr Fear still comes knocking at my door even now.  But now I know him well and I know what I have to do.

My second challenge was to learn how to manage the emotions of my team.  I could at times seem to quite inadvertently make people angry or upset.  I was bamboozled at times by some of the reactions I had to suggestions I made or action I took.

I remember having a review with one of my team managers.  I held her in high regard, she was an excellent manager.  We had always gotten along well, or so I thought.   I can’t remember what we were discussing, but I had challenged her about something, in what I thought was a friendly way.  But her demeanour changed, she got angry then got upset.  At this stage, I was completely at sea, I asked her what on earth was wrong, at which point she stormed out of the room with tears streaming down her face, stating “You don’t care about us!”

As you can see, I had to learn fast.   Her reaction wasn’t about me; it was about her interpretation about what I said to her.  I realised that I needed to be vigilant, and make sure I chose my words with care.  I realised that she had no idea that I valued her so highly.  I hadn’t ever told her.  I just thought that she must know I did.  Like Magic!

My emotional intelligence learning in relation to my team was a long one.  I still fall into the trap at times, I crack a joke, and someone looks stonily at me, and I realise I’ve done it again.

The final stage in my learning came when I had to think about engaging large teams.  Some of who I didn’t see for months at a time.   Although I did try to do the best I could to have physical contact as much as I could humanly manage.  Trying to encourage people to feel good, fulfil their potential and understand how much I appreciated them was more difficult.

There are some basic components to great emotional intelligence at all levels.  I have practiced these in the latter years, and wished I had access to and learned them in the early years.  These are:

  1. Accepting people completely for who they are
  2. Always looking for the good in people, there is always some
  3. Dealing with negatives in an impersonal but practical way and getting over it!
  4. Not judging – we all make mistakes.
  5. Giving people the benefit of the doubt
  6. Listening to what people need and wherever possible – obliging
  7. Reacting neutrally to anger or other attacking behaviour and helping the person to reframe it in a positive way.
  8. Caring about people, even when they were difficult.

What do you think?  Is emotional intelligence important in the workplace?  Have you had difficult situations to solve?  We’d love to hear from you.

If you would like to know more, or want to claim your free consultation.  Contact us by visiting .

Emotions – What People Managers Need to Know – Part Three is in audio.  If you can’t see the button below visit:

To find out more about people managers and emotions click here










If you are a leader, you are continually developing and "Sharpening the Saw".  If you lead and manage teams, then you must read about our Inspirational New Leadership Programme.  Sign up now to find out more details when we launch in July 2014.  There is no obligation to undertake the programme, if you sign up today, you will simply be sent more information about the programme.  You can unsubscribe at any time!  Click below to register for further information.

Inspirational New Leadership