Protect Your Notre Dame

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It will have been very difficult to miss the news that the Notre Dame cathedral in Paris had a serious fire earlier this week.  This iconic cathedral was under restoration and parts of the spire, visible from across Paris, collapsed as a result of the fire. In response to this misfortune, millions of Euros have been donated towards the restoration of this medieval Catholic cathedral, considered to be one of the finest examples of French Gothic architecture.

What does this have to do with business?  The Notre Dame is one of the USP’s of France, indeed of Europe.  A point of difference which drew and continues to draw people from all over the world. When your point of difference is so well known that everyone is aware of it without even having to point it out, then it is working for you as a business.  

Imagine if the response to the ruin of the famous spire was “It was just an old church spire - there are thousands of them dotted across Europe and the world.  Why be worried?” For some, this may even ring true as their priorities and values lie in different areas; but for those to who Notre Dame is a part of their life, their identity and their heritage, it is important enough to donate their own hard-earned money to its continuation.

Are you educating your customers on the value of your point of difference?  How are you helping them to know the unique difference it makes to them, the issues it solves, the understanding of their problems and the ease with which you resolve them? As you help your customers to know the value of your product - not just in the product, but the service, delivery and care of them as a customer, you will develop a loyalty and following which becomes a part of your identity as a business.

Protect your Notre Dame.

Practice What You Preach

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"It's not what you preach, it's what you tolerate" is a quote from the book Extreme Ownership and is a principle that I have seen play out in many businesses.

Many managers and business owners spend an incredible amount of time talking about and taking action around company culture. One of the quickest ways to undo all of the time and effort a company has put into creating great culture, is for the leadership team to fail to hold to the standards that they themselves have set

When we consider company values, I would estimate the most common word used across multiple companies would be Integrity. The reason so many people use this as a core value is because Integrity really does matter to them. They know that when they have a team and a culture that operates from a place of integrity, it builds trust and relationship. The irony is that it is this very commitment to Integrity as a core value that results in undermining the very culture that they are striving to build.

Insisting that people update the CRM and keep their actions current and live - then failing to do so in a management role - is one of the surest ways to send a message to your staff that it doesn't actually matter what you say. Team members know that integrity is important to the management. When they see management members not doing key activities - ones that have been identified as important - then if they don't do their own key activities, they have complete confidence that they will not be pulled up on it because management are not setting the example. If ever team members are pulled up by management, they can just point right back at them.

This doesn't mean management members have to be perfect. However, if the company are wanting to build a culture to the potential they are capable of, they must be willing to be open and vulnerable to receive feedback, and mature enough to act on that and change what is needed. It is a very powerful method to use yourself as an example of "how things are not being done" -v- "how we want them to be done" - and then following through on that. It shows a solid commitment to living what you profess, and set the tone for the very culture you want to build.

Actions speak louder than words - and your commitment sets the example of "follow-through on words" to your team will strongly contribute to the culture that is built and maintained in your business.

I Find Myself Disagreeing With Gary Vaynerchuk

Mike Clark looks at Gary Vaynerchuk LinkedIn Post

To even type that title feels like an anathema - almost the equivalent of questioning Richard Branson on business, or Warren Buffett on investing.

For those who do not know Gary Vaynerchuk, he is best known for his work in digital marketing and social media, leading New York–based companies VaynerMedia and VaynerX. I follow him on social media and one cannot question his success - but his latest post on LinkedIn has had me seriously questioning his realism.

The post was simple and audacious - nothing new there. I even "Liked" it, along with over 5500 other people. Then, over the course of the day, my subconscious interrupted the flow of the day with the sheer ridiculousness of what I had read.  

Titled “5 LinkedIn Marketing Strategies for 2019”, point number one reads: Use the $1.80 strategy on LinkedIn. (leave your $0.02 cents worth on 90 comments posts a day in your field).

That sounds logical - with that much activity on LinkedIn you are bound to get noticed!

Do the math however and you need to be allocating 3+ hours a day to find enough stuff worthy of comment, think what to say, type it and respond to replies.

It is sufficiently challenging for myself, doing a post a day and making half a dozen comments and likes. I consider it a huge success when I am able to help clients to see the value of a post a day and feel victorious when their resulting action is regular posting of a few times a week!


No surprises here - SME business owners are time poor. If they could find 3 focused hours daily, they would be better off working on their business rather than in it, doing solely LinkedIn marketing! As a matter of interest, I went and looked up Gary’s LinkedIn activity for the day he posted that advice. I was somewhat relieved to see that he managed 10 ‘activities’ on the same day (that means that he is human like the rest of us).

The concept is really interesting and my subconscious is continuing to play with the idea but I just don’t see myself investing that much time in one strategy. I have asked Gary how he proposes a busy, mortal human, with no super powers, actually does what he is suggesting and look forward to his reply.

Am I simply naive? Have I missed something? I am interested in your thoughts on this - please leave comments in the section below the blog.

Lessons From Schoolkids

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October 2018 and the hall was packed with eager young adults all keen to be a part of the next Boys High/Girls High school production. Fast forward to mid-March and the Addams Family production has had its final performance - 80 odd people all working seamlessly together to deliver a stellar performance. Having watched and been alongside of our two girls through this experience, I have reflected on many lessons learnt.

Being on the team was a privilege that had to be earned. I was amazed at how clear the play director was on the information evening, around the commitment that was going to be required. He actually stated that he was attempting to put people off before they got carried away with dreams of how wonderful it would all be. The play was to be the top priority - more important than family days out, work commitments, sport commitments or friend commitments.

The play would require total dedication and any deviation from this would see team members been removed from the company. Lines were to be learnt in your own time and team time was to practice and refine the delivery of the play. School work and performance at school was not allowed to be negatively affected by involvement in the production. In the five months build-up to the performance there were many long nights and tiredness was frequently evident. The whole team kept focused and committed.

The amazing thing with a school production is that all of this effort and time is put in by people who will not receive a financial reward! The effort given from a pure point of passion and wanting to contribute and make this production awesome was inspiring. What lessons could you take for your team to get them fully engaged and totally committed?

Some lessons for business: 

Select team members very carefully with clear roles in mind. Get people to perform their task before you select them to ensure they are right and can deliver in their role. Be very clear on the commitment required and the vision that your people are buying into.

Have understudies for key roles so that the vision is not at risk due to one or two key people being sick or absent. In the workplace, this is seen in role rotation and cross training of skills. In the build up before team members are released to do their role, train them thoroughly. Practice and feedback regularly, always setting the bar high so that team members know the standard expected and what they're striving for.

 In the training period ‘rehearse’ often and reinforce what you want more of (rather than what's wrong). Foster and build team spirit. Keep the vision in front of everyone's mind and have encouraging mantras “We will be awesome” was one I heard often. The culture was built around clear expectations and making it fun with regular feedback - I was amazed at the constant communication over Facebook after every performance practice. Practices were regularly filmed to give people the opportunity to reflect and see what needed to be worked on. 

 When we create cultures that allow everyone to bring their best, to come complete with their skills, willingness to learn and passion to excel, then people are fully engaged and any company will excel!

Here’s to your success!

Get It Done - A Template

Hand drawing idea

“Nothing Changes if nothing changes”

“Action speaks louder than words”

“Not just action - the right action”

There is so much said around the importance of action. Nike’s famous 3 word slogan “Just Do It” is often lauded as the rally cry for productivity. The real secret though, lies not just in taking action but ensuring it is the right action.

“I’m just too busy” is an excuse many have heard and used. Busyness does not equal business. It is oft the whirlwind of activity that is responsible for the speed of disappearing days. The well known ‘secret’ to effectiveness is to ensure we work on the important and stick with the task until it is completed.

This raises two key questions: How do we know what is important and how do we “stick with it”?

After a decade of working with companies to answer these ever present questions, I have found that one way to answer this is a simple 90 Day Dash Template. Before using the template it is important to have a goal and a plan - many companies do this, but as Peter Drucker pointed out, “The purpose of information is not knowledge. It is being able to take the right action.”

So your steps are as follows:

Step One - Take time out to decide what is important - A strategy day/session is great for this  

Step Two - Prioritise at a board/management level how you will succeed in reaching these goals - your strategic priority areas

Step Three -  Next work out what is most important now i.e. Your Strategic objectives

Step Four - Decide who must do what

Step Five - Make it easy to know what must be done by when

Step Six - Execute and follow through with reporting and feedback

Where do you get up to in those 6 steps? I see many people doing steps 1 & 2 well and doing ok at step 3 and 4 before it all gets swept away in the busyness of busyness.

To ensure the important gets done break your goals and objectives into 90 day segments (A 90 day dash) and then further break this down into a 30 day sprint which is monitored weekly. This can be done on a whiteboard (one of my preferred methods as it is visible to the whole team and brings in peer accountability) or shared online documents - Google Docs, Smart Sheet, etc

Very simply this is how it works:

State the goal(s) it the goal area (I like to do this on a Post It note as it keeps it short and succinct)

Break this down into the key actions and decide within which quarter the tasks need to be completed

For the current quarter break the tasks down into what needs to happen monthly if we are to complete the tasks

Take the current month and break the actions into what needs to happen in each week and allocate a person to ensure this is done (they do not need to do the actions - they are responsible for ensuring the actions are done!)

The link on this article will take you to a video and downloadable version, should this be a tool you would find useful in your business. Please do get in touch if we can help you through any part of this process.

Here's to your success!

Swan Principle

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“Courage is grace under pressure” is an Earnest Hemingway quote I had hung on my wall for many years. “Grace under pressure” was a virtue I greatly aspired to. For me, however, it resided in as remote a place as another desired virtue: “Patience”.

My awakening moment came, as so many of them do, in the midst of the business of an ordinary day. ‘Everything’ felt like it had gone wrong - a full noise ‘Murphy's Law’ kind of a day. Sadly living in a “what could go wrong, will go wrong state” was a normal. I obliviously slipped into in my boundless enthusiasm to people-please. The result? I was pleasing no-one and stressing myself out.

“Mike! Stop. You are running around like a headless chicken, spreading tension and concern with reckless abandon.” My boss’s words stopped me in my tracks. “I know it is busy. I know you have a lot to do. You need to be team focused and your current state is making them anxious. You need to be a swan”

“A swan?” I asked rather incredulously, more than a little hurt, offended and disappointed at being called a headless chicken and now being told to become a swan!

“Yes. A swan.” he replied with a wry smile, “Beautiful and serene, gliding effortlessly across the water while paddling like crazy with their feet underneath. People don’t need to see the effort to admire the result.”

It was shortly after this that I came across the statement “Your team is one of the greatest reflections of yourself” and I realised how important it is for a team leader to be and reflect what they want to see in their team. This encompasses one’s attitude, discipline, approach to work, and even the language you use on a day to day basis. Contrast the difference between working for someone who is always seeing the worst in every situation and complaining, versus a leader who is goal focused and committed to getting the right outcome through their people with a positive attitude.

“People rarely leave bad jobs, usually they leaving bad bosses”

Some thoughts to help you in this space.

Firstly, be honest with how you are currently behaving from your team’s perspective. If you’re not sure, it can be worth doing a full 360 team review to get a feel for the areas that can be improved. It can also be useful to get a tool such as to get a true understanding of how your team is feeling.

Be careful of how you speak and what you say. Words from leaders carry considerable extra weight and your positivity and confidence that things are going to be alright is very quickly picked up and reflected by your team.

Know how to take time out, relax and recharge.  When the pressure is on, this might literally mean taking a walk outside for a few moments or even taking a deep breath, counting to ten and starting again. Part of recharging is looking after yourself. Make sure you get enough sleep; stay hydrated; eat well and take breaks as you need them even if they’re short and sharp, encouraging your team to do the same by having fruit available and giving the team water bottles or having a water cooler nearby can have an amazing impact.

Understanding that your role as a leader is to remove roadblocks, so check in regularly to get updates on progress, celebrate success and ensure that your team have all they need to keep moving forward with confidence.

This is by no means an exhaustive list, but I have found that these few pointers mean that I operate a lot more like a swan these days, than a headless chicken.

As always, if we can help with anything in this area, please do let us know.  Here’s to your success!

Are You Gliding Or Clutching At Straws?


As the pace of life increases we can often feel like it is a sink or swim situation. When everything is all go and you feel you are up to your ears and drowning, one of the helpful realisations is that we have a choice - we can swim and glide through the oceans of work or we can sink.

I have recently been exploring this further as I seek to optimise my time. As I have so often before, I have attempted to do everything and judged my success by crossing everything of my to-do list, emptying my inbox and having the CRM up to date with all KPI’s met.

There have been glimmers of success - successfully emptying my inbox on one day, updating the CRM on another day, meeting all KPI’s on another day. The challenge has been that these days have not aligned. That dreamy place of having it all done seemed so elusive and, with that being the goal, the sinking feeling seemed ever present.

Oddly it was my to-do list - which I never got to the bottom off - that gave me my epiphany moment. It is not how much you do but rather how much of the important that you do that matters.

You are probably thinking, “Well nothing new there. Prioritise - ABC tasks. Do the A1 tasks first” My challenge, and I suspect one many can relate to, is the executing of this. Mid week, this week, I found myself in the familiar clutching at straws position and took a moment to think about where I add the most value to the team and company.

Ruthlessly looking at my to-do list through this lens did not suddenly make all the other stuff disappear but rather made the key things pop forward. As with much of the truly value-adding tasks these ones were not easy and certainly not the ones I felt like doing right then.

I did them anyway.

Curiously the sea of things to do remains but suddenly I find myself gliding through with purpose. The clarity and sense of achievement fueled more similar action. I made myself finish stuff - what gets rewarded gets repeated.

It is so simple. Not necessarily easy but certainly simple. Be clear where you add the most value and pour your focus, effort and energy into doing those activities. It might feel unnatural - bit like your first set of swimming lessons, but the confidence that comes from it changes everything.

Here’s to your success!

How Phone Behaviour Can Help You Leverage the Best from Millennials

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Love ‘em, hate ‘em, they’re here and they’re a significant part of our future.  Millennials are reputed to have many characteristics, both positive and negative.  Often labelled lazy, narcissistic, entitled and given to hopping from job to job, they are also attributed to be flexible, confident, tech-savvy and achievement focused.  Having worked with a number of millennials, and observed their behaviour both onscreen and at work, these are our top tips for getting the most out of them, from our experience.

Top Tip #1 Feedback

Understand that the reason they are fixated to their phone screen is because they get instant feedback. Ensure that your systems and team members have rapid feedback loops.  The feedback does not always need to be good. If something is wrong, something is wrong. In a computer game, when you jump off the cliff the wrong way, you die and then you have to start again. What phone and computer games tell you is that millennials need to know the rules that they are expected to play by, the end goal outcomes, and have instant feedback when they are off track so they can rapidly get back on track.

Top Tip #2 Variety

Sitting in a car with a millennial, listening to the radio; or watching them on any form of screen very quickly shows you that they need variety.  It is pointless bemoaning the fact that they get bored quickly. Accept this and leverage the positive by utilising their adaptability, ensuring that their job has variety.  Interestingly, this variety can include some mundane elements as long as they are well mixed with stimulating work, and especially as they see the significance of the mundane aspects.

Top Tip #3 Millennials are still human

For countless generations the younger generation has always vexed the older.  This generation is no different, despite the label we have given them. When all is said and done, they still need the three core elements that motivate all human beings.  According to Daniel Pink these are autonomy, mastery and purpose. Autonomy is the ability to be able to do a good job - satisfying work is what I call it. Mastery is the ability to be the best that you can be at what you do (hence why on-screen games always go to the next level). Purpose is knowing that what you do is meaningful and makes a difference. Getting these three (or the potential for these three) right in their roles is key.

When we work from a place of strengths that we see in people, we get the most from them, whether they are eighty, thirty-eight or eighteen. Look for the best in your team, and if we can help, do get in touch.  Here’s to your success!

Who Knows and Who Cares?

Five team members in casual dress

Fourteen phone calls, three postponed appointments, one missed flight, three hours of solid discussion and you’ve landed the sale.  It took two months, but it’s a tenth of your annual target, and you worked darned hard to get it. You log the sale in your CRM and wait for the response.

What would your team members do?

Will they notice when you log the sale?

Will it register on their radar amongst their own heavy workload?

Will they hear your whoop of triumph as you put down the phone and join you in celebrating before you even have a chance to explain?

And if they achieve a similar success in their role, what would you do?

Every team has its own culture, and these are as varied as the people that make them up and the businesses that operate in our amazing country.  How would you rate the culture of your team? The bond that exists between people who have shared the same pain, conquered the same mountain and triumphed over the same challenges is one of the strongest bonds between humans.  When we share our triumphs and disasters, the path we’ve chosen to tread to get to this place, our dreams for the future and the obstacles that get in our way, it gives a deep and lasting empathy.

It is a well researched fact that people do not leave bad jobs but bad bosses.  Contrasting this, people stay in jobs where they feel appreciated, valued and like they are working towards a worthwhile common goal. Every team member can contribute towards the team environment and when this is supported by some simple systems and processes, it can be incredibly powerful.

Team members hands in pile

The top five things that we have seen work really well are -

#1 Having dashboards visual for everyone to see recording key success criteria such as sales received, invoice value for the day back order value, etc. Dashboards allow people to know what the goal is, and to keep score that they are winning

#2 Having a group chat over mediums like Whatsapp, Viber or Slack allow teams to share information quickly and celebrate success. This is one of the simplest things to set up and yet can give the quickest return on investment.

#3 Daily toolbox or standup meetings where people share briefly a highlight of the previous day, a challenge and their current focus.  This keeps team members on the same page and can help keep the important the important.

#4 Sharing calendars is an incredibly simple thing to do in both Outlook and Gmail. When team members know where other team members are and when they will be available, it makes for far more cohesive team interaction and communication

#5 Having a buddy system at work is very powerful because it is so easy to get wrapped up in the busyness of work that one can feel like nobody knows or cares. A buddy system puts humanity and caring back into the busy and often stressful workday.

As with all things, the above is just information and it is what you do with what you have that makes a difference.  What will you put in place today? And do you have anything that you have found successful that you could share with other people?

Here’s to your success!

The Power of Rapport

Business People Giving Thumbs Up

The basis of all relationships is trust and we establish this upon our very first connection with people.  It is for this reason that rapport building is a skill set which is critical for success in every field of one’s life.

Think about the last time you went into a store and had somebody ask you the classic “Can I help you?” question, as against somebody genuinely wanting to connect with you asking a more intelligent question, for example: "What occasion do you want a dress for today?" or "Are you wanting a new kitchen or are you looking for a renovation?" or "Is this for a rental or for your own home?". The ability to connect with somebody very quickly is reflected by how easily they can open up and start to share information with you. It is this sharing that builds and develops trust.

In rapport building, what we are really aiming to do is to find some common ground which will allow us to make a connection with another human being.  It is this search for common ground that leads to most people resorting to talking about the weather. Subconciously we all know that the weather we are all experiencing is something we all have in common with the person with whom we are attempting to engage.  The better you know someone, the more in depth and meaningful the connections/ questions can become. Consider, for example, the difference between “Has it been raining a lot here lately?” or “It’s a really lovely day outside isn’t it?” against “Did you go and enjoy the game last night supporting your team?” or “How’s your daughter doing with her broken arm?”

As we get to know people better, we know what their passions and interests are, and when we connect at this level, people open up very willingly and quickly.  It is this ability to get conversation going and flowing naturally that makes rapport building such a core skill. The amazing thing is that it is not a difficult skill to develop. Whether you are going to a network event, a customer service agent, a tradesman or a sales rep, you know you will be meeting people and therefore you can deliberately plan ahead by developing questions with a bit more depth, thought and care than the "How are you?", "Isn't it a nice day?" or "Can I help you?".

Along with developing questions, some other things you can do are have good eye contact, handshakes and overall confident body language (which obviously includes a smile). Take an interest and actively listen to the person you are speaking to and take notes so that you can refer back to them when you see them again. Being prepared to share some personal information about yourself also creates a degree of authenticity and vulnerability that makes it safe for other people to open up and be authentic with you.

Here’s to your success!

Where Is Your Company IP?

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Do you have trademarks or even patents?

Where is your company knowledge held?

If you lost your three longest serving team members what impact would it have?

I am privileged to work with businesses than believe in investing in their people. However, over the years, what I have noticed is that it is not enough to just invest in your people. You have to make sure that information is shared and that knowledge is transparent and available.

I have worked with businesses that have, sadly, lost some of their best staff very suddenly through an accident; others who have lost their staff because they've had to move on for personal reasons or because they have been offered better opportunities. One of the single biggest challenges businesses then have, is when all the skill, knowledge and experience walk out the door with a person - because the time has not been taken to record what that person knows and how that information and knowledge links into other people's skills and knowledge.

If you were to lose your three longest serving team members, or the three people who knew the most in each section in your business, would you be able to recover?

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When you get a new team member on board, how quick and easy is it for them to learn what they need to know so that they can perform at the highest level? One of the incredible things that comes from having a culture where knowledge is shared and information is openly available, is that people do not hoard their skill and knowledge and what they have learnt over the years as a way of keeping their job secure.

One of the best methods of making this happen is to make an expectation that all staff will have somebody that knows as much as they do, so that they can take leave and have holidays. This allows for job rotation; makes work a lot more interesting and creates a security - the company cannot be held to ransom by a small group of people or single person who for a short period of time has some crucial skillset which only they hold.

The use of a Skills Matrix is one of the best ways of ensuring that this is done effectively. This shows the Core Skills per department; followed by who is able to do the work under supervision, do the work competently and train others to do the work. When this is openly displayed for all to see, it is easy to see where your skill gaps are.

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It is also easy for employees to see who they can approach to help them learn something. One of the great benefits is that we can show people a career path and what they need to know if they want to grow into a new role. This can then be tied into professional development plans and can ensure that your organisation develops a learning culture.

Ensure that your company's future is sustainable and secure by putting into play some basic reporting - creating a culture that allows and encourages people to expand their skillset, share information, to grow and thrive - and in turn help the company to do the same.

As always if we can help in any of these areas please do get in touch.

Here's to your success!

Professional Development

team of people in meeting

Are your people really your greatest asset?

Would your balance sheet attest to your answer?

Do you invest as much in developing your people as you do developing your physical assets, your market share, your R&D?

More & more I find that companies that use personal development plans are finding a long term edge in the marketplace. Ken Blanchard & Spencer Johnson’s classic “The One Minute Manager” held many gems that I have used from the day I first read the book. One of my favourite quotes is “The best minute I spend is the one I invest in people.” This marries nicely with 2 of my favourite Richard Branson quotes:

“Train people well enough so they can leave, treat them well enough, so they don't want to.” and “Learn to look after your staff first and the rest will follow.”

PD’s allow people the chance to honestly assess themselves and consider where they want to progress to in their life. Done well, they ensure people are more engaged, feel invested in and are more loyal and productive. If you do not use personal development plans, here are my top tips on what they should include:

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Part One - Personal Self Analysis and Reflection - This can include a brief description of words that shows “who they are”, their education, employment history (not a copy of their CV but rather a short synopsis to show life experience), a space to share their personal preferences, their values and any areas they identify as limitations. Noting current competencies, skills, knowledge, experience is the last part of this section.

definition of goal

Part Two - Goal Setting  - For some employees this will be the first time they have done this. I encourage companies to have goal setting split into 3 time periods - Short term / 1-2 years; Medium term 3-4 years and Long term 5years+. Each time period should include a section on Personal/Home goals and Work/Business goals. The purpose of goals is to give people something to aim for and measure themselves against and to help people know when they are winning. Clarity = Action so do ensure goals are SMARTER.

Part Three - Identify, Define and Create Action Steps
- Once there is clarity on who a person is and what they want to achieve/who they want to become then the stage is set to work out what the first steps are, when they need to be done and the resources required to make this happen. By comparing Part One with Part Two the gaps will be obvious and this facilitates discussion on development needs and skills required  for current job and future goals.

Once discussed and agreed clear action steps need to be written up and signed off. Ideally these will be reviewed at least every quarter noting if team member is on track/off track with notes and new action steps.

PD’s take time to implement and maintain. The return on invested time is akin to compound interest - the longer it is done the greater the return. I conclude with a quote often attributed to both Henry Ford and Zig Ziglar, “The only thing worse than training an employee and having them leave, is to not train them, and have them stay.”

Making Training Stick

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Is training worth the investment?

When we launched Learning BITES back in 2016 this was the question we tackled and touched on the topic of making training stick to be effective and see an ROI.

After as I enter my 10th year of full time training I have given further thought around the long term impact and would love your comments and insights:

1) Cascade training is something we encourage on every session we deliver. Getting people to share what the training was about, what they took from it and what action they believe they and/or the team need to take is effective way to ensure people look for actions that can be applied.

2) Accountability make a difference. Involving team leaders in the pre and post training discussion increase their buy-in and adds valuable insight. Team leaders can:

a) write up what areas they believe the training can be applied to

b) the current state of the area

c) the expected/desired state if the training is 100% successful and then

d) a follow up in 1-2 months post training to see what was implemented and the impact to the organisation

3) Send a survey out pre and post training (using something like survey monkey) asking team members/clients/organisations to rate you/themselves on some key metrics and identify improvements

4) Ask for written testimonials from participants - - their willingness to do this and the points they raise will show the current attitude towards the training

5) Create 'champions' and give them some additional training. When the champions are well trained the training is more likely to be effective. (Tip: It is better to keep champion training to short time blocks to minimise effect of having these team members away from the workforce.)

6) Measure the training impact and effectiveness. Some additional thoughts:

Do you currently have an "Gauge" for office tempo? -  is a programme some of my clients use to great effect.

In line with Donald L Kirkpatrick’s "Four steps to measuring training effectiveness” - (This model uses four separate stages for the evaluation of the effectiveness of a training program being: Reaction; Learning; Behaviour; Results - As above we gather feedback at the end of each training session; encourage "Cascade Training" after each session; Incorporate individual actions into peer accountability, management feedback, reporting and reviews and measure customer feedback. )

Measure customer satisfaction as this is the ultimate key driver  (NPS scores; surveys; call backs after service delivery)

Measure key metrics - what really important factors does your business hinge on - e.g  response time, DIFOTIS, return rate?

(Share this information across the whole team)

Do team member personal development plans and measure their progress.

Do a departmental skills matrix.

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Measurement is one of the most important factors in leadership, management and exceptional team performance. "You can only manage what you measure" is an oft used quote but there is more than just measurement:

- You have to measure the right things

- You have to share and feedback the information - speed of feedback and willingness to receive it is vital

- You have to reward what you want more of - "What gets rewarded gets repeated!"

How do you let your team know they are winning?

Here's to your success!

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Customer Experience - The Insatiable Desire For More

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Things change.

Expectations move.

If you are smart you are driving the change.

If you are progressive, you are looking at the current landscape and seeing that the internet, mobile apps, augmented reality and artificial intelligence is speeding up the pace of change, feeding and nurturing the insatiable desire for more. Customer service, which for years has been a point of difference for companies who want to stand out from others who merely supply products and services, has reached maturity and is now an expected rite of passage to even be considered as competitive in the current marketplace.

The goal posts have moved from service to “experience”. It is no longer just about how well you serve me - No, no, now you have ensure I ‘feel’ great and feel like engaging in business with you was good for me.

This self centric view is fueled, encouraged and constantly fed by the increasing reliance of us all on social media ratings and reviews. I remember reading in September 2016 that ratings and reviews were going to become a key part of the Google algorithm - if people did not share their experiences when interacting with you then you were doomed to be removed from the oasis of first page rankings and cast into the desert of page 2 and beyond.

If this dawning realisation is becoming evident for you and you are wondering about a way forward here are a few things to consider:

Your internal culture will always be directly reflected in the external customer experience. One of the best ways to get a quick gauge on this is to listen to how people in your team talk to each other and about each other.

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Consider where you put your focus. You get more of what you focus on, so focus on what you want more of. Do you operate on the old adage of “no news is good news” or have you advanced to the point where you are aiming to catch people doing things right?

Do you have a team charter and clear service promises that the whole team knows, lives and is committed to? While good, old fashioned politeness goes a long way in creating a good experience, it helps when the whole team is intent of ensuring your unique experience is felt and enjoyed by every customer who encounters your business.

People process information based on their personal knowledge, skill, experiences, culture, faith, schooling, upbring and so much more. All of these create filters that will often cause us to act and react in a certain way. Well trained team members know that they are not responsible for other people's actions and reactions, only their own.

The customer experience is no longer the next frontier but rather the one you must face now or forever be left behind to fade into the sea of mediocrity.

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What Defines You?

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“Rather than setting New Years goals around what you will do - set on them around who you want to be!” is a quote shared by a friend that profoundly changed the way I approach life as well as New Year's resolutions.

Who are you and what defines you?

Is it what others say?

Is it what you say (& what are your reference points?)

Is it who you are or what you do?

Is it your impact or your legacy?

These questions apply as much to companies as individuals. Companies with inspiring visions engage their team because work becomes so much more than a job. It becomes about who you are and what difference you are making. A vision for our business and our life sets our course, determines our choices and decisions and pulls us ever forward, sculpting and defining you with every passing moment.

One of the most challenging facets of vision-casting is that there is no one ‘right answer’. In working with companies I find this wrestling with vision and purpose to be one of the toughest and most rewarding parts of my work. People’s visions are as varied as the characters that make up this cosmopolitan kaleidoscope of life that we have the privilege to live in.

Indeed to live in a country, where we have the choice to choose what we want from life, is a freedom many take so much for granted that the magnificence of this brilliant opportunity is lost in an eclipse of comfort and entitlement.

Leonardo DiCaprio captured this well, “If you can do what you do best and be happy, you’re further along in life than most people”.

Are you happy (at least most of the time anyway)? How do you want to be remembered? What footprints do you want to leave on the shores of life?

footprints on beach

Exploring this topic afresh led to much profound and varied wisdom:

“Do you want to know who you are? Don’t ask. Act! Action will delineate and define you.” - Thomas Jefferson

“Two things define you. Your patience when you have nothing, and your attitude when you have everything” - Imam Ali

“Define yourself; you have the monopoly on your life’s dictionary.” - Matshona Dhliwayo

“It's the way we deal with what fate hands us that defines who we are.” - Lisa Graff

“Never defend yourself, but define yourself with your imagination and actions.” - Debasish Mridha

“Strong people define themselves; weak people allow others to define them.” - Ken Poirot

“Our past may shape us, but it doesn't define us.” - Alyson Noel

“When a defining moment comes along, you define the moment, or the moment defines you” - Kevin Costner

“Judging a person does not define who they defines who you are” - Anon

“The chances you take, the people you meet, the people you love, the faith that you have. That is what is going to define you.” - Denzel Washington

“What defines you as a person is not the life you were born in to, but what you made of it.” - Shahid Kapoor

Make the time to do the tough work of thinking through and answering these challenging questions. For me, I found my defining identity through my faith. The answer gives a depth of meaning to life that is hard to define and explain - rather like trying to explain to people who don't have kids the joy of having children, or the privilege that freedom is to those who have lived in the ‘free world’ their whole life.  

Think. Act. Be.

Here’s to your success!

Spread the Love

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There are so many studies and suggestions around what makes a life well lived, worthwhile and enjoyable. One of my favourite pieces of advice was that the 3 necessities of life are “To love and be loved, to have a reason to get up and to have a purpose worth pursuing.” At this time of year we often get to reflect and remember all the people who are special to us.

Movies and programmes with a love theme or romantic undertone abound, in a plethora as innumerable as the stars. This is for good reason - we all want and need love. Humans are social creatures and we derive much from connecting with each other and while you might be 1 of 7+million people, to some people you are their world.

“The greatest happiness of life is the conviction that we are loved; loved for ourselves, or rather, loved in spite of ourselves."

Be sure to take time to tell and show those near and dear to you that they are special - we never know when there won’t be a tomorrow.

Enjoy your time these holidays and strengthen the bonds of love and friendship - “Being deeply loved by someone gives you strength, while loving someone deeply gives you courage." May you find and create much strength and courage as you spread joy and peace.

Thank you for being a part of our world and we look forward to connecting again next year.

Getting Some R&R

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Many people look longingly at retirement as the time in life when you will finally be able to relax with no pressure. In the interim, we have holidays. The risk is that it is used as ‘catch-up’ time rather than the rest and recuperation we tout it as. Whether we are rushing around catching up with family and friends, or attending social functions, or using the quiet time to clear emails and “just” finish that last little bit of a project that “will allow me to come back next year a lot fresher!”

The illusion of retirement is rose tinted by hectic holidays, giving it a heavenly hue of a serene paradise. Speak to anybody who has been retired for any length of time and you will quickly have a much clearer picture - without purpose, the days drag on interminably. Many people wish they had developed a hobby, sporting interest or group of friends or something while they were younger.  Time waits for no-one and looking back wistfully is something many of us have an opportunity to avoid.

How do you live with no regrets? There are many wonderful ideas around this but for this time of year I thought I would share one: REST

Relax - Plan to do something (ideally lots of) whatever helps you to relax. Some people like to read a book, others love to travel and see new and beautiful things, some are active relaxers - choosing to do something physical and rewarding that helps them disconnect from work. “Every now and then go away, have a little relaxation, for when you come back to your work your judgment will be surer. Go some distance away because then the work appears smaller and more of it can be taken in at a glance and a lack of harmony and proportion is more readily seen.” Leonardo da Vinci


Escape your routine. Do something a little different. Break the normal mould and routine of your life. A change is as good as a holiday. “Sometimes it's important to work for that pot of gold. But other times it's essential to take time off and to make sure that your most important decision in the day simply consists of choosing which color to slide down the rainbow.” Douglas Pagels

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Stillness holds magic. In a world where survival often feels like it is dictating the need to become the perfect ‘human doing’ there is a deep joy to be found in being. “When was the last time you spent a quiet moment just doing nothing - just sitting and looking at the sea, or watching the wind blowing the tree limbs, or waves rippling on a pond, a flickering candle or children playing in the park?” Ralph Marston

Think about different things. Allow your mind to rest and be creative, to solve a puzzle and day dream, to marvel at the wonders of creation and do nothing more than watch a cloud float across the sky. “Your mind will answer most questions if you learn to relax and wait for the answer.” William S. Burroughs

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However you relax do take time over the holidays to rejuvenate your body mind and soul and bring your best self into 2019.

Here’s to your success!

New Stories Replace Negative Definers

We are the result of all our experiences and how we have processed these and, more importantly, how we continue to process these. 

Recently I did a psychometric test and was told that 20-40 minutes would be required. Having done many similar tests in the past I started with full gusto and sailed through the first section which was a fairly typical personality profiling batch of questions. 
The next section was a timed section on language comprehension. I ‘saw’ myself react to the concept of being timed - I am a teeny, tiny, tad touch competitive and have a slight tendency to rush unthinkingly when feeling under pressure. The quote “more haste, less speed” could have been written for me.” I then reassured myself I was good at English, took a breath and went through methodically. That section went well. 
Next section. Timed again. This section - maths. “I’m hopeless at maths. No use even trying here,” was my first thought as I looked at the question and just circled any old answer with little to no thought. I then remembered I was paying a decent amount for this test and the results would be shared with my team. The thought was enough to make me slow down, read the question and actually think. 

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Those little voices in our heads massively impact our confidence. They can inhibit you or enable you.

Oh, the best bit - it’s your head, your mind, your voices - you get to choose which ones you listen to and which ones define you.

“I’ll NEVER do that again!” Have you ever made a promise to yourself like that? At the time, in that moment, with those circumstances, that might have been a ‘reasonable statement’. Normally it is made to keep your future self safe. When training people to speak in public most have to overcome huge fears. 

Fears come from stories we tell ourselves. There are many acronyms for FEAR. 

Finding Excuses and Reasons
False Emotions Appearing Real
Future Events Appearing Real
Failure Expected And Received

The common factors in all of these is that fear is emotionally driven and sees the future in bad light based on historic knowledge and experiences. You can redefine your experiences and even redefine fear. 

FEAR = For Everything A Reason.

What can you learn from this experience? Where do you need to grow and stretch outside your comfort zone? People often look back to who they have been and project that forward to define who they are. 

When we learn to look at all experiences as opportunities to grow
into who we want to be we can approach everything with so much more confidence. 

You realise you can never fail again - you will either win or learn, and that is a recipe for a life far more deeply enjoyed, far more rewarding and satisfying - because, as I discovered in my psych test - we are all far more capable than we often allow ourselves to believe! 

Here's to your success!

3 C's of Teampower

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Here are three short exercises to share with your team to help them understand the importance of clarity, communication and commitment when working in a team.  Using these simple and practical illustrations, you can help them develop a mindset which allows them to adjust their practices and move towards successful practices both in their work and personal lives.


Grab a pack of tiny waterpistols, and hand them out to your team. (You can choose whether to load them or not!) Give the following instruction: “Pick up your waterpistols and fire!” Notice how some fire will fire at you, some fire at their friends, a few fire at their enemies.  Rarely will any fire in the same direction. As the laughter dies down, without saying a word, draw a target on the board and repeat the instruction. Over 90% of the people will aim at the target.

What is your business aiming for?  Does everyone know and are they all aiming at the same thing?  When we have clarity in our objectives, it gives clarity to the work we do and why. Aiming to get better profits? Or to increase your turnover by 30%? One is a big goal, the other is much more clearly defined.  The more clearly you set the goal, the more clearly you can describe the outcome you’re looking for and the more likely you are to achieve it.


Give each of your team a piece of paper and ask them to follow these instructions.

Respond positively to questions, clarification or repetition of the instructions. (This encourages people to use feedback loops to learn!)

  • Draw a circle with diameter 5cm.  

  • Draw a circle in the centre of that with diameter 1cm.  

  • 45 degrees up and to the left of the centre of the inner circle, at distance of 1cm from the centre, draw a dot .  

  • 45 degrees up and to the right of the centre of the inner circle, at a distance of 1cm from the centre, draw a dot.

  • Beginning at the circumference of the outer circle, vertically above the left dot, draw a line on a 45 degree angle up and to the left of the circumference, 1 cm long

  • From the outer edge of this line, draw a vertical line down to the circumference of the circle.

  • Beginning at the circumference of the outer circle, vertically above the right dot, draw a line on a 45 degree angle up and to the right of the circumference, 1cm long.  

  • From the outer edge of this line, draw a vertical line down to the circumference of the circle.

  • What have you drawn?

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Usually, you will get vastly different pictures from the same set of instructions. People hear the same thing, but interpret instructions differently. If it’s that easy to mess up drawing a picture of a pig, think about some of the complex information that we sometimes need to communicate, and respectfully use the tools of repetition, questioning, slowing down and feedback to ensure you are being understood.


Ask people to stand up and stretch as high as you can. Once they have done that, challenge them to stretch 10% higher.  Who gave their commitment to the first instruction?  Who gave more on the second instruction?

Find the things that motivate you to give that little bit extra and ensure you practice giving your all to the very best of your ability. You will find your ability increases incrementally in proportion to both the amount of effort and consistency of effort you put in.

Success comes from hard work and a can-do mindset. Clarity, communication and commitment are fantastic tools to get your organisation there a little easier and faster. Let us know how you get on using these exercises with your team!

Here’s to your success!

3 Tips Learnt from Fighting with Technology

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To update or not to update - the dreaded question!
Next dreaded question... How long do you attempt to fix the problems yourself before calling IT support?

I had successfully avoided the latest Windows 10 update following articles about a bug that deleted user files. Eventually though the time came when an update just had to be done and that was when the "Irrustratration" started (One of my favourite words for moments like these! I wrote an article some time back on this wonderful word my kids created  for those moments of intense irritation and frustration).

Two points of reflection for this blog: 1) The power of social media and 2) Lessons learnt

The first pain point was MS Word saving all documents as read only - after a few days of thinking I was going insane I jumped online and found a solution in the screeds of similar laments. 

It is so easy to share one's frustrations and in the heat of the moment people tend to vent flamboyantly. Social media gave a swath of thoughts, feelings, viewpoints and emotions on the latest update. Thankfully included in all that was some ideas suggestions and solutions! 

While you cannot stop people being people on the internet, you do have full control over the way you respond! You are in control of your actions and reactions - “play nice” as my Nana use to say! Your response will carry far more weight than a dozen frazzled rants.

Next pain point – our new printer would not print - many uninstalls and reinstalls later I called the service desk (and yes you are right - I should have called them waaayyyyyy sooner!)

The last time Windows 10 did an update I Iearnt to check the web for common problems associated with the latest update before pressing the update button. The learning for me this time around, was 3-fold:
1) Know where I add the most value to the organisation and work in that space most of the time - DO NOT spend time doing stuff where you are not adding value 
2) Don't waste time creating 'work-arounds'
3) Ask for help sooner

What is your top tip when facing IT frustrations?

If you need to look at a team event to review this year and plan for the year ahead do get in touch - we would love to facilitate the day for you!