Author Archive

This Month Michelle and Sue Went On Tour

Written by Michelle Mook on . Posted in Sunflower Diaries

Away day June 2018 Yorwaste What goes on tour … well, doesn’t stay on tour as we can’t wait to share with you about what a fantastic 2 days we had. This month Michelle and Sue went on a Yorkshire tour (well a residential) with a fabulous local Yorkshire company and their amazing leadership team. How great it is to see a business seeing the benefits in investing in their managers and leaders.

When you consider that 62% of people leave their job because of their manager, investment at this level makes plain business sense. Managers not only motivate and engage their teams to deliver and be the best they can be, they also ensure that your strategies are implemented and embedded. So how did this group of managers and leaders benefit in attending?

Here are some comments we received…

• A better understanding of the bigger picture – where is the business going and individual roles within that

• A better understanding of why certain polices and procedures are so important

• Able to build new relationships

• The opportunity to make deeper connections with people

• Explored more effective ways of communicating with each other

• A commitment to talk more to each other

• Daring to be vulnerable, sharing their weaknesses

• Had honest conversations and built upon the levels of trust

In addition, we noticed an increase in energy and a lot of fun being had too along the way! Not bad for two days out of the business and we are really excited about where they will take this next?

What about your business?

• What are you doing to develop your leaders and managers?

• Are you giving them time out to step back and reflect?

• When did you last invest in your leaders?

If you would like to know more about how to develop you managers and leaders Click Here for more information or give us a call to understand how we could develop a bespoke event to meet your needs.

Honest Conversations

Written by Michelle Mook on . Posted in Sunflower Diaries

football 2018 We’ve just found out that Gareth Southgate is a massive advocate of honest conversations.

Speaking about his management style to football journalism students at the University of Derby, he stated, “I think that feedback is really important to players, I think they value one-to-one discussions. I think it has got to be honest. There is no use saying: ‘You’re really unlucky not to be in’ as it doesn’t mean anything, you are not giving a player something he can go away and work at. So, I think it is important to be precise.

Also, players are pretty savvy; if you tell them something which they believe not to be true or in a couple of weeks’ time it isn’t true, then they’ll lose faith and belief in you. Sometimes those conversations are really difficult as you have to leave a player out, but I think you owe it to them to be honest.”

Well Mr Southgate we couldn’t agree more, having an honest conversation can help someone develop and grow in their role and if you’re not having those conversations then you could argue that you’re getting in the way of them being their best. Now that doesn’t feel right does it?

What honest conversations have you been putting off?

Remember honest conversations are positive too so we would like to challenge you to have three honest conversations this month. If you would like to know more about support in this area why not contact us or check out our training page for more information and to give you some ideas for the kind of training we can help you with.

Phone Addiction

Written by Michelle Mook on . Posted in Sunflower Diaries

mobile phone pic 2018 This month we have heard about Simon Cowell who has ditched his smart phone for 10 months…WOW! We say WOW because we are not sure we could do that, but the thought of it sounds fantastic. We wonder how many times a day we look at our phones? Even writing this blog we have glanced at it about ten times and touched it twice. If we ever can’t see our phone or fear that we have left it somewhere we go into a complete meltdown. Its quite a scary addiction, and we say addiction because we think we probably are addicted to it.

Rest assured that it’s not just us. When we deliver training courses, we now ask people to turn their phones on to silent. Sometimes we ask people to agree a way of working together to get the most out of the training event, often the mobile phone is mentioned where people ask for agreement that they will remain off them for the duration of the course. Interestingly though, as soon as it is break time we see delegates rummaging in their bags looking for their phones taking calls and checking appointments. Are we really that critical to the business that a couple of hours without contact will cause a massive risk to the business? We think we all know the answer to that one!

Our challenge to you

• Ask someone to be your conscience and notice how often you check your phone during a work day.

• The next meeting you go to, turn your phone off or leave it ask your desk.

• When you get home tonight, turn your phone off until the next morning.

• Notice how you feel, being away from your phone.

Thank you for the…team event!

Written by Michelle Mook on . Posted in Sunflower Diaries

team Kanyu pic 2018 This month the team at Pro-Development achieved a wonderful thing and we’re so grateful and proud and all we want is to say it out loud. Yes, we went to the Kanyu Escape rooms near Wetherby and made it out (eventually, with a lot of clues). Now, team events are a bit of a busman’s holiday for us, but how interesting when the tables are turned! So how did we get on?

Well, very well…surprisingly! Although we needed an extra 12 minutes to achieve the task, we got there in the end.

What did we get from the event?

• We worked well as a team, all bringing different strengths and applying them effectively

• It was so good to spend time together without thinking about workloads and deadlines

• Everyone had a voice and was listened to

• When you don’t know what to do, ask for help (we had a lot of help!)

• We are fairly good at sharing information and communicating

• We need to do it more often

If it’s been a while since you have had a team event, we can highly recommend it. If you would like some help, get in touch with us. We design and deliver bespoke events especially for your team so you can get the most our of it too, just like we did.

The power of self-awareness

Written by Michelle Mook on . Posted in Sunflower Diaries

self awarenes 3 Increasing self-awareness is a very powerful tool. What’s great is that ANYONE can do it at ANYTIME. There is just one key rule, you need to be open to it!

There are many ways that we can increase our self-awareness – we can seek feedback from others either verbally or non-verbally, we can work on being more present and in the moment so we spot what is going on around us and how we are feeling/behaving and from reflecting on situations, conversations and their outcomes. In a recent Chartered Institute of Personal and Development article, there is reference to a large company who has invested in a Leadership Programme to “help managers increase their self-awareness and deliver more effectively” and they are seeing great results.

Managers and leaders having great self-awareness is important. How many of you have worked for a manager whose lack of engagement has impacted on the whole teams’ motivation to deliver, or the manager who delivers key business messages starting “this isn’t me saying this, its them” leaving the team disengaged from the content of the message. Managers and Leaders need to have an awareness of their impact on others which in turn impacts on engagement levels and ultimately business results.

Questions for you…

• How engaged are your managers/leaders?

• How self-aware are your managers/leaders?

• How often do you provide feedback to your managers and leaders?

• Do you your managers and leaders ask for feedback?

• How well do your managers/leaders understand and manage their own emotions?

Now reflect and answer the questions on yourself!

Pro-development offer programmes and coaching to build self-awareness Click Here to find out more. If you would like further information or to speak to us then call us on 01904 628838.

Productivity Leadership

Written by Michelle Mook on . Posted in Sunflower Diaries

leadership may 18 Did you know that productivity has hardly grown since the 2008-9 recession, compared to the historic average of around 2%? The UK lag behind all but one of the other G7 nations. Pro-Development have been bringing this important issue to the attention of Yorkshire businesses from the very beginning of our existence! It is something we are very passionate about and driven to make a difference.

Ian Brinkley (acting Chief Economist for the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development) recently ascribes the problem to poor quality managers, he states that “managerial and technical competencies have long been a weak area in the UK”. Indeed, a government report back in 2012 stated that 75 per cent of workers waste up to two hours out of their working week due to inefficient managers.

Worst management practices responsible for time lost include:-

– unclear communication (33 %)

– lack of support (33 %)

– micro-management (26 %)

– lack of direction (25 %)

Pro-Development see this trend in our Employee Engagement surveys, so our experience suggests this is as real today as ever, so this issue of leadership capability isn’t going away.

Pro-Development have a Leadership Development Programme and we really do recommend that you speak with us if you feel that the leadership capability in your business would benefit.

“Improving leadership and management skills is the key that will unlock the potential of UK businesses, allowing them to seize the opportunities available to them and achieve sustainable economic prosperity – leadership & management in the uk – the key to sustainable growth”

To find out more about the programme click here.

“The course cleverly combined experiential outdoor learning in groups (with very different and stretching activities to anything I’d experienced before) with one-to-one coaching sessions in between and it’s this combination which is really powerful. If you’re serious about your own development as a leader, I couldn’t recommend Pro-Development more highly.” Ed Reid, Owner of The Alternative Board UK

Is this the end of the appraisal?

Written by Michelle Mook on . Posted in Sunflower Diaries

appraisal This is becoming an increasingly common question we are asked by managers, often with a hopeful glint in their eye!

Some organisations are indeed ditching the annual appraisal, finding it time consuming, not really understanding the purpose of it and therefore not getting any value. In some organisations the original purpose of introducing appraisals has been lost and they have simply become a method for awarding pay rises or bonus based on a box the individual has been placed in or a label they have been given. The label given is often awarded by managers competing against each other to get their team top ranking, potentially to avoid any awkward honest conversations!

Interestingly, psychologists at Stanford University studied 607 performance tools and they found the ‘labelling of people’ which so often happens in many of these appraisal schemes in fact worsens peoples performance. According to research by leadership specialist Roffey Park, a third of operational managers say they find the nine box grid (another tool used to identify talent) difficult to implement, have concerns about their capacity for objectivity when using such methods, and are reluctant to ‘label’ employees.

Now that is interesting. It’s rare these days to attend a seminar or conference on talent without someone discussing the shortcomings of the talent grids like this. Having worked in talent management we can see where placing people in a talent category might appear to help with succession planning, but there is much evidence suggesting now that doing so, is not helpful. What we are finding works better, is where people are more closely connected, and where management know all their people. Giving people a label or category can over-complicate the process. So back to the original question – is this the end of appraisals?

Absolutely, if it is a once a year process, based around meaningless objectives, ensure compliance or to tick a box.

Absolutely not, if the appraisal is part of an annual framework based on regular, honest conversations that support an individual to meet their objectives, develop and grow and help them work toward aspirations along with helping the business to manage any risks and identify future successors for key roles.

Ultimately the appraisal is one part of a series of quality conversations an individual has with their manager to help them to be their best, feel valued and appreciated. When it’s done well, it’s a fantastic tool, just don’t over-complicate it!

Our challenge to you…

Are your managers equipped with the skills, to conduct quality conversations?

Click here to see what we can offer and how we can help you.

Is that the sun I see?

Written by Michelle Mook on . Posted in Sunflower Diaries

smily sun We’ve been talking in the office about how lovely it is, driving home, and it’s… sunny! Yes, its bright and light outside and we are feeling great! We’ve been thinking, shall we go for a run, cut the grass, go for a walk or swing a golf club? This is great news as our usual thoughts are, what’s for tea, goodness I am tired, or shall I have a glass of wine tonight? Sound familiar?

There is something about the sunshine that fills us with energy. We have read that sunshine boosts levels of serotonin which contributes to a sense of wellbeing and happiness, that’s why we tend to feel happier and more energetic when the sun shines. More importantly (for us), we have also read that HIGHER levels of serotonin in our bodies not only makes you feel happy, but it also suppresses the appetite, so you’ll eat less in warmer weather, say hello to weight loss and feeling healthly!

The good news is that this week it’s only going to get warmer and sunnier, so are you going to seize the opportunity to boost your wellbeing and happiness?

Why not do a brisk walk for 15 to 20 minutes at least once a day. Early in the morning can prepare you for the day ahead. Perhaps at lunchtime to re-assess and re-plan you day, or after work maybe, to release any pressures and to ensure you focus on time for you. We challenge you to do this and email us the difference it made to you on

Wellbeing, happiness and energy levels are very important, if you’d like to talk more about ways of increasing these, to get the best out of both you and your colleagues, why not get in touch for a chat or attend one of our monthly Employee Engagement Workshop events.

Reward and Recognition

Written by Michelle Mook on . Posted in Sunflower Diaries

reward and recognition Having undertaken numerous employee engagement surveys in businesses of different shapes and sizes, we are beginning to build up a picture of how local companies are finding different and innovative ways to recognise and reward their employees.

We have known for many years that money is a short-term motivator, plus many of the businesses we work with are not in a position to hand out large bonuses and pay rises. However, they are exploring new and different ways to help people feel valued.

Here are a few ways some of our clients are rewarding their teams:

• Having your birthday off

• Buying pizza once a week

• Buying sandwiches on a Friday or (food has featured quite heavily)

• Working from home

• More flexible working

• A move away from set hours

• Able to bring your dog to work

• Provided a seating area to work outside

• Setting up a fun committee with an agreed budget

• An indoor recreational area for relaxing or having lunch

• Having study time

• Gift voucher

The key is to note that not one size fits all. Businesses who are investing the time getting to know their people have a clearer understanding of what will make individuals feel more valued. Here’s an example:

Someone on slimming world or weight watchers would not necessarily feel recognised by being gifted free Pizza, but they may well appreciate being able to leave earlier on a Tuesday to get to a slimming class.

It seems simple but its effective! Each business is different, and you will have you own limitations as to what is feasible, but why not spend some time thinking creatively to see if there is anything you may be able to do that would make a difference to your people.


• Do you know how valued your employees feel?

• Do you understand what would help them to feel more valued and recognised at work?

• How effective are your current reward and recognition strategies?

Our Employee Engagement survey can provide a measure of how valued and recognised your people are, alongside insights into what’s working for them, and what’s not as effective. If you would like to find out more, click here or contact us on 01904 628838

Receiving Feedback

Written by Michelle Mook on . Posted in Sunflower Diaries

receiving feedback We have talked a lot about having honest conversations and delivering feedback to help people grow and develop…however, we’ve noticed something recently. When we ask people to gather feedback on themselves, there is always a sharp intake of breath and more often than not, complete inaction in gathering any feedback.

Ok, so getting feedback on yourself isn’t the most comfortable of things to do, I mean, who’s to say people will be honest with us. Are we just happier with our head in the sand?

Here are some hints and tips to help you receive feedback.

• See the feedback as valuable information. It will potentially help you to move in the right direction.

• Remember, it may have taken a lot of courage for someone to provide feedback, so we should be thankful that they were kind enough and brave enough to provide it.

• People generally deliver feedback with good intention.

• Listen to the feedback without interrupting, so you fully understand and check out your understanding by restating what you have heard.

• Probe for more information. Ask questions such as “Can you give me a bit more detail?”

• Avoid a defensive or emotional response. Comments like “I only did it that way because …” and watch out for “Ah yes, but …”

• Don’t argue with the feedback. It is based on their perception of the truth.

• Feedback is a gift, you can choose whether to accept it.


So, we challenge you to go out and ask for feedback from 3 people, you never know, it might just be the catalyst for change you have needed for a while!

Disc 363

If you are a leader and would like to take a more structured approach to receiving feedback we are accredited to offer the Everything DiSC® 363 for Leaders profile. This tool can be used by anyone in a leadership role who wants to include 360 feedback as part of their ongoing personal development. If you are interested in finding out more, contact us on