Create an environment of openness and trust

Written by Michelle Mook on . Posted in Sunflower Diaries

honest trust We’ve been sniffling and sneezing a lot recently at Pro-Development Towers, and being the engaged lot that we are, we all come into work and plough on, hankies in one hand and Lemsips in the other (other products are available!). However, Nottingham (try saying Nottingham with a blocked nose!) Business School’s latest research has found that the average employee spends almost two weeks a year at work when they are unwell, costing more than £4000 per person! How can that be?

Well, it’s quite simple, its due to lower productivity. We all know when we come into work under the weather, we struggle to focus, we’re less creative, we’re slower than normal and I for one certainly spend more time talking about my ailments to anyone who will listen! Then if we consider how we are potentially passing the illness on to others, costing yet more money, it does make you stop and think! Would people be better off staying at home to recuperate, and come back fitter and stronger, sooner?

Working in an engaged team impacts positively on sickness, the research suggests that the annual sickness level of an engaged employee is 2.69 days as apposed to 6.19 in disengaged, so this could suggest an engaged person may be more likely to come into work when they are unwell.

So, where’s the balance? Well we don’t have the answer, but we do believe that by creating an environment of openness and trust, operating in a flexible manner, having honest conversations with people when they seem unwell, having a good team spirit and having strong sickness management processes can help.

Our conclusion then, it’s good to have an engaged workforce, in fact it’s great. Just remember to challenge people when they are unwell to look after themselves and offer support to meet any looming deadlines.

For more information around how you can help ensure you employees are engaged and productivity is at its best, then click here. We also run a monthly Employee Engagement Workshop click here to book.

Pushing yourself out of your comfort zone to build resilience

Written by Michelle Mook on . Posted in Sunflower Diaries

comfort zone pic How often do you push yourself out of your comfort zone? We’re thrilled that our latest Management Development Programme has started, and we can’t wait to work with our new cohort. Some of the cohort have admitted to feeling a bit nervous; it’s completely normal to feel apprehensive at the start of something new. It isn’t surprising they feel a bit nervous given that our programme is experiential and includes a range of outdoor activities which push people out of their comfort zone, into their learning or stretch zone. The activities enable us to observe leadership behaviours whilst managing people outside the normal work environment.

Why is it important to push yourself out of your comfort zone? Moving into your learning or stretch zone helps you to become more comfortable with being uncomfortable. The more often you introduce small stretches, the more resilient you will become. Greater resilience will help you to tackle life’s challenges more effectively.

How can we be comfortable with being uncomfortable? It won’t be easy and will involve us feeling some pressure; however, some pressure is good for us, it energises us and helps us to move forwards towards our goals. And the more we do it, the more we will increase our comfort zone. If you want to push yourself out of your comfort zone, do so in small steps. The good news is that we still have a few places left on our Management Development Programme starting in April, so go on, take a step and click here to find out more.

What if you were the one who pressed the button!

Written by Michelle Mook on . Posted in Sunflower Diaries

Press the buton We were reflecting last week on the official alert sent in Hawaii warning people a ballistic missile was about to hit – only for it to turn out to be a false alarm!

It’s your worst nightmare, just like when you send an email to the wrong person or even, send to all!

You know, we all make mistakes…granted, some are bigger than others, but we have two choices in our opinion:

Choice 1 – Make everybody involved feel bad and spend copious amounts of time and effort finding out who exactly was to blame.

Choice 2 – Find out where it went wrong to ensure we learn from our mistakes and stop it from happening again.

Let’s look at choice 1 for a moment. Making people feel bad is a waste of energy and no doubt the person involved will be doing a good job of that themselves. We know from our own experience how we love to beat ourselves up when we make an error or even dare to produce a piece of work anything less than perfection! Secondly, finding out who is to blame reflects an unhealthy company culture, one which encourages people to hide errors, lie, avoid accountability, and stifles risk taking and innovation.

Now lets look at Choice 2. Ask yourself who do you know who comes to work and intentionally does a bad job? We bet you’re struggling to think of anyone, and that’s because people generally want to do a good job. So when mistakes are made, rather than spend the time blaming someone for something they didn’t intend to do, find out what and where in the system or process led the individual to the error and change it, learn from it, improve it! Operating in this manner will foster a culture of openness, honesty and learning, where people will step out of their comfort zones and try something new!

If an action was taken with good intent, next time maybe think about the choice you take in response.

If you would like to know more about how you can create a great company culture, come along to one of our Employee Engagement workshops. This workshop will provide you with a framework to understand the key drivers for employee engagement and give you the opportunity to consider what you can do to bring out the best in your teams and increase your productivity and sales. Click here to book your place and we look forward to seeing you soon.

I’ve seen the light!

Written by Michelle Mook on . Posted in Sunflower Diaries

Clock The shortest day is behind us, but many of us are still going to work in the dark, driving home in the dark and spending the days indoors, not even breaking for lunch. If you’re lucky enough, you may have a lovely view of the daylight out of your window!

Interestingly scientists at the Lighting Research Center have reported that daylit environments increase occupant productivity and comfort, and provide the mental and visual stimulation necessary to regulate human circadian rhythms (sleep/wake cycle)!

In a 1999 study “Daylighting in Schools: An Investigation into the Relationship between Daylighting and Human Performance,” found a high correlation between schools that reported improvements in student test scores upwards of 10 percent and those that reported increased daylight in the classroom.

So why, if natural daylight is so good for us, do we not get more of it? This year we want to challenge you to do at least one of the following:

• Look at your working environment and make the most of your well-lit areas, make plans to share the space with other team members.

• Make sure files and other bulky items are away from the windows letting the light flood in.

• To enhance the benefits of daylight further, find time in your working day to get outside, hear the birds tweet and feel the wind in your hair!

• Design an outdoor space for you and your team to enjoy. Maybe buy a picnic table or some garden furniture. What about developing an edible garden in plant pots for people to pick lettuce leaves in the summer?

Overall, research suggests that daylight and daylit areas are likely to improve worker satisfaction, mood, and productivity, so come on, let’s SPRING into action!

If you want to know more about creating an environment that can positively impact on profit and productivity, why not join us on one of our employee engagement workshops where you can find out some handy hints and tips to put into action.

This year I am going to be more organised!

Written by Michelle Mook on . Posted in Sunflower Diaries

untidy desk Ha! If only we had a pound for every time we heard that over the last couple of weeks! Being organised can make such a difference so we would like to share some top tips to help you start 2018 the way you mean to carry on!

• Operate a personal clear desk policy – Keep documents, supplies and stationery to the bare minimum and move anything that doesn’t directly serve a function.

• Give everything a home. If you don’t, it WILL join ‘the pile of paper’ or go in ‘the drawer’. If you haven’t got space to store it, have a clear out, maybe scan it, ask yourself ‘do I really need it?”

• Filing – Studies suggest that 80% of what we file is never accessed again (just saying!) if you do need to file, book some time in each day to do it until it becomes a habit.

• Organise your PC/Laptop – Take some time to think about the programs you use regularly and set up your homepage to allow easy access to the program and files you use on a regular basis.

• Plan your work – Take 15 minutes at the end of each day to wrap up loose ends and prioritise key tasks for tomorrow.

• Identify when you have the most energy – Keep a note of your energy levels throughout the day and see if you can establish a pattern. If you notice your energy levels are higher at a particular time of the day, maybe save the larger and more challenging task for then.

• Eat the frog – If you have a task which you find distasteful, a bit like eating a frog, make sure you do it first thing, otherwise you’ll never get around to it!

And, if you need more help, then we can offer training and coaching, Click Here to find out more.

Leadership…Bah Humbug!

Written by Michelle Mook on . Posted in Sunflower Diaries

Ebenezer Scrooge, was a cold-hearted miser who despised Christmas. So, what was he like as a leader we wonder? The words difficult and challenging spring to mind and that’s being kind! His behaviours towards poor old Bob were dire, to say the least! He showed Bob very little respect, not even providing the basic resources needed to enhance performance such as heating or good light (having said that, it’s been a bit nippy in Pro-Development Towers recently!) He was totally inconsiderate, work life balance was pitiful, 1:1’s and honest conversations were non-existent as were any performance and development conversations. And forget creativity and innovation, the negative culture would have stifled that!

However, throughout all this, Bob continued to work hard and provide for his family, but we would suggest he wasn’t engaged in his work!

We have invited Mr Scrooge onto our next Employee Engagement workshop on 23rd January however he is yet to accept the invitation! However we feel that once he sees into the future of how an engaged workforce can increase profit and productivity, he might change his mind!

We have also suggested he might want to join one of our next Leadership Development Programmes commencing in January or March 2018. He said he’d sleep on it. We do hope he has a good night’s sleep.

If you know of anyone who has Scrooge like characteristics, why not point them in our direction. We can help them move from the past, reflect on the present and feel hopeful about what’s yet to come!


The Journey of Authentic Leadership

Written by Michelle Mook on . Posted in Sunflower Diaries

2017-12-05 16.20.31 This month we said goodbye to another cohort on the Leadership Development Programme. It’s a strange time as on the one hand we are filled with sadness as we say goodbye to people whom we have built strong connections and emotional bonds with, yet on the other hand we see people who have been on an incredible journey over the last seven months and we know they will continue to be great and inspiring leaders in their respective workplaces.

On the last day of the programme we hear from the delegates what have they learnt throughout the programme, what have been their greatest achievements, we even want to hear about their biggest challenges as we believe we learn a lot from these.

Their personal stories are incredible! A couple of examples, yesterday was one individual stated how she had been described as going from ‘zero to hero’ whilst on the programme, this was a colleague describing the difference they had seen in her confidence and self-belief. Another individual had asked for feedback from a team member and both opened it for the first time and read it out loud to us. The feedback stated how this team member felt very disengaged with work and his manager, however went on to share how this has changed over the course of the programme and how he had seen his manager change his style to one which built a relationship of mutual trust and respect. Our delegate wasn’t surprised by the content of the feedback as he knew, through having regular honest conversations, what the feedback would say. All the same, a very brave thing to do and we admire him for it.

So filled with sadness and joy we say goodbye to this cohort knowing that we made a difference, and that is all we can ask for. The Leadership Development Programme is truly a remarkable programme, we are very proud of it and the difference it makes. It’s special, it’s different and it’s powerful. If you know of anyone who you think would benefit, then get in touch, we’d be happy to discuss the programme to see if it’s right for them.

We have a programme starting early 2018…Click here for more information and watch our video of a past delegate describing his journey through the programme.

Feeling rewarded, recognised and revived

Written by Michelle Mook on . Posted in Sunflower Diaries

boot of cases spa 2017 With a heart full of joy and a skip in our step, we headed off to a beautiful spa for one night. All we required was a toothbrush and a swimming costume. So with the Range Rover boot rammed we headed off on our adventures!

Having had a beauty treatment we all received a prescription for our numerous flaws, poor Steph’s prescription amounted to a whopping £199 of products! Of course she didn’t go ahead with the purchases. We then headed off to the relaxation room to sleep, with numerous others! Janette narrowly missed being stood on and Michelle nearly picked up a women, believing her to be a pile of pillows or a bean bag!

We then hit the steam, sauna, ice and numerous other pamper rooms which encouraged all our spots and impurities to reveal themselves! We finally headed back to our apartment for a Champagne and Prosecco fuelled evening with lots of naughty nibbles!

We headed home the next day with our humdinger spots, a mild hangover, a warm bottom, thanks to the heated seats and singing Michael Bublé! Christmas songs loud and proud whilst stuck on the M62!

It was a great day and we all feel thoroughly rewarded, recognised and revived.

What are you doing to recognise your people?

Contagious Behaviours

Written by Michelle Mook on . Posted in Sunflower Diaries

are you contagious Research undertaken on the nation’s workforce in June 2017 has revealed that workplace behaviours are highly infectious. The ILM surveyed 2,000 UK employees in full and part-time work and found that 74% of UK professionals mirror the leadership styles of their colleagues.

Be mindful though, as it is both the best and worst leadership traits that can spread contagiously through a business, with professionals’ behaviours most heavily influenced by the people they work with most frequently. Surprisingly, people are not influenced by traditional hierarchies when it comes to who they emulate. Almost half (49%) of respondents revealed they replicate behaviours from people across their organisation regardless of their age, and a similar number (46%) say they copy behaviours from people of all levels of seniority.

The findings also found.

• 74% of people who copy humour do so to help them work better with others.

• 29% of people who copy delegation/organisation do so to be promoted or receive a pay rise .

• 41% of people who copy creativity/inspiration/innovation do so to increase productivity (source ILM).

This begs the questions: .

1. What behaviours may be emulated in your organisation? .

2. Which of those can behaviours are having a positive effect and are highly valuable, supporting your continued business success and growth? .

3. Which are having a damaging effect? .

4. Are honest conversation being held to tackle those damaging behaviours head on? .

5. Are you and your managers/leader acting as role models?

If you don’t know where to start in answering these questions why not contact us, we can help with a cure.

Through employee engagement we can establish what is working for your business and what is getting in your way.

Our Management Development Programme can help your managers and leaders be truly authentic role models.

Our bespoke training can support people in having robust and honest conversations that can be the step change that you would like to see.

The Diana Award

Written by Michelle Mook on . Posted in Sunflower Diaries

Diana award Here at Pro-Development we’re proud to be working with the Diana Award, mentoring a group of young people to help instil citizenship, improve workplace readiness and develop resilience and determination. The Diana Award was founded in 1999 as a legacy to Diana, Princess of Wales, and her belief that young people have the power to change the world and inspire those around them. Through the Mentoring Campaign, young people are encouraged and empowered to take positive actions in their school, local and even global communities by undertaking a social action project and skills training.

The young people we work with are full of energy, enthusiasm, and a belief that they can make a difference. Although we became involved with the Diana Award to give something back, we come away after each session with a renewed sense of positivity and a belief that if young people are empowered and given the skills they need, they do have the power to make changes in the world and to be inspiring role models.

If this sounds like something you would be keen to get involved in, The Diana Award are currently signing up individuals and teams of mentors across York, Leeds, Sheffield and Birmingham to start in mid-November, or at the end of March 2018. As a Mentor you would work in a team with other volunteers, giving a group of students an insight into your role and world of work and supporting them to develop a social action project around a topic of their choice. If you are interested in finding out more please email: