Vision

Written by Michelle Mook on . Posted in Sunflower Diaries

vision jan 2019 “In order to carry out positive action, we must develop a positive vision”

Dalai Lama

When we come back after a break over Christmas, it can often feel a bit lack lustre. The weather is dark and dreary and it is back to business as usual. Sometimes it takes a few weeks for us to get back into our flow and rebalance our energy levels.

We may have set ourselves some goals for the New Year, hopefully we have set some goals for the company and for ourselves. But with the best will in the world sometimes goals turn into things we talk about doing, but we don’t ever seem to complete. Do you feel like that? You are not alone.

So, what about vision? How can having a vision for ourself and our business make a difference? A vision is a picture in our mind that we have about ourself, our company or anything we may wish to pursue. Without a vision we can lack clarity of how we can pursue our dreams. Without a vision, goals can seem meaningless and we may question why we set them in the first place.

How can we create a vision?

It can seem a little daunting to create a vision, whether this is for our self or for our company. To begin with it can be really useful to ask to questions like:

• Who do I want to be?

• What impact do I want my company to have on the world?

• What difference do I want to make to my customers/clients?

These questions can help to create some clarity of our vision and of course they can be amended to suit the purpose of the vision statement. The questions may not be the vision, but the key is to energise ourselves to begin the creative process. So, begin by creating a list of really great questions that help you to craft your vision, if your vision is about your company, bring in other team members to answer the questions with honesty.

Achieving meaningless goals that are not linked to vision and purpose can be difficult and sometimes when we are further along in our journey of running a company every day can feel like an adventure and some days, we may question why we are doing it, particularly in January. It is on those days when the vision can really help us to reconnect to the passion and purpose of why we do what we do.

If you would like help in bringing your vision to life, please get in touch or, if you are available, we are running a vision board session at our REFRESH monthly leadership boost event on the 12th February. To book your place please get in touch with Kath@pro-development.co.uk

Appraisals

Written by Michelle Mook on . Posted in Sunflower Diaries

appraisals January is the time for many businesses to undertake appraisals (performance reviews). When we talk about appraisals, does it make your heart sing or fill you with dread?

We quite often find it’s the latter! The main reason we find is that people are driven by the process and paperwork, and often, form completion and return is how managers are measured. So, no wonder this is people’s experience – is this the case for you?

When this is the case, generally the appraisal process has added little value (other than a tick in a box to say the form is complete).

However, the appraisal and indeed the whole performance management process is really just about having a good quality conversation.

The conversation should focus on the period since the last appraisal and talk around what went well, what was challenging, what has been learnt. The conversation should then focus on the future, setting new objectives and identifying any support and development the individual may need to help them to deliver. Also consider career aspirations and what steps can be taken to support career growth and succession planning.

Now I am sure you will agree, that’s a lot of talking, but wow what a great conversation to have. Even better, if you are having monthly 1:1s with your team, then this conversation is more of a summary and a celebration of key areas and a lot easily than trying to recall everything from the last year! Once the conversation has taken place, it makes sense to capture the key points, after all, we struggle to recall information after a few months, that’s a fact. This is where the main part of the paperwork comes in, capturing the key points, objectives and development plans.

So, if your appraisals are too focused on the paperwork, this year why not switch it around so the conversation drives the process. You will gain so much more value, and highly likely you will enjoy the experience. If you think your appraisal process needs a rethink or maybe your managers need some support in having good quality conversations, why not get in touch to see how we can help. Click here on our site to find how we can support your business.

How do I feel?

Written by Michelle Mook on . Posted in Sunflower Diaries

Blue Monday Drum beat please…

“How does it feel to treat me like you do?

When you’ve laid your hands upon me and told me who you are

I thought I was mistaken, I thought I heard your words

Tell me, how do I feel

Tell me now, how do I feel”

Yes, Blue Monday is here. 21st January, apparently is the most depressing day of the year!

Let’s turn this around and turn this negative into a positive! Here are some hints and tips to brighten your day…

• Wear your favourite item of work clothing, something that makes you feel good.

• Treat yourself to an extra special breakfast (egg benedict springs to mind)

• Pick out one of your favourite happy tunes and blast it out on the way to work (we recommend Xanadu by Olivia Newton John )

• Don’t forget to sing along!

• Make a point of wishing colleagues good morning and pay them a genuine compliment (You never know, they might just be wearing a favourite item of work clothing!)

• Go for a lunch time walk, notice the trees, the sounds that fill the air, feel the wind in your hair.

• Give colleagues some positive, authentic feedback.

• Repeat a personal mantra in your head (something like “I rock”)

• Leave work on time and return home with another favourite tune (We recommend ‘I’m in the mood for dancing’ The Nolans, or ‘Funky Town’ Lipps inc)

• Don’t forget to sing along!

• Go out for tea. A lot of restaurants have great deals on a Monday.

• Relax at home, note all the good things in your life.

• Have a bath with some of the body wash you undoubtedly got for Christmas.

• Spray your pillow with lavender scent and tuck yourself into bed for an early night.

There, I think we’ve got you through it! If you would like to learn more about personal wellbeing, then get in touch to find out how we can help you develop in this area. For more info click here.

New year, New You!

Written by Michelle Mook on . Posted in Sunflower Diaries

new year new you Well here we go again! Resolutions set, however, the stats would tell us we are unlikely to succeed! Well not this year. Why not turn those resolutions into serious goals that you can smash!

Are you with me?

Ok, whether you have thought about what you want to achieve this year or not, think about the following, you might get some new ideas:

• What has been your biggest learning in 2018?

• What are you going to do differently this year?

• What do you want to achieve in 2019?

• What do you want to be saying about your achievements in a years’ time?

Once you have done that, it’s time to write down some goals. Make sure they are SMART though!

• Specific (in other words, you are very clear what it is you want to do)

• Measurable (how will you know you have achieved?)

• Achievable (in the realms of possibility)

• Realistic (umm, that’s a biggy – our resolutions are quite often not realistic! I mean, losing 3 stones is achievable, but not very realistic!)

• Timebound (has a deadline)

Finally ask yourself

• Have I limited myself?

• What could get in my way?

• Am I excited by the goals?

• How can I make sure that I achieve my goals?

Right, we’re off and running (well cycling in my case – the exercise bike arrives tonight!) Good luck, keep focused and here’s to a brilliant 2019

Are you on Santa’s Naughty or Nice list?

Written by Michelle Mook on . Posted in Sunflower Diaries

naughy or nice pic 2018 Why not have a look at completing our naughty or nice questionnaire… tick the ones that are true

Communication

O Do you have regular team meetings?

O Do you have regular 1:1s?

O Do you read all your emails?

Performance

O Do you spend enough time thinking about your performance at work?

O Have you got a personal development plan?

O Are you working towards your career aspirations?

Feedback

O Are you always honest?

O Have you delivered all the feedback you should this year?

O Do you spend time thinking about and offering positive feedback?

Environment

O Do you load the dishwasher?

O Is your desk tidy?

O Do you clean your food out of the fridge?

Teamwork

O Do you share your sweets?

O Do you play to your strengths?

O Do you make tea and coffee for people regularly?

O Do you find time to have fun at work?

Did you know

All the things listed above are real issues that have been raised in our Employee Engagement reviews this year? As you can see, some of these things are easy to put right, but only if you know about them in the first place. If you don’t know what the issues are in your workplace, maybe you could consider undertaking an Employee Engagement Review in your business. Click here for more.

To find out which list you are on this year, tot up your score and see if you’re on the naughty or nice list for 2018.

Your scores

If you scored 5 or below you are on the “Naughty list”. Why not make 2019 the year to be nicer to yourself and others? Think about some of the actions you can take and make a commitment that will make a difference.

Score 5 – 10

Ummm. Room for improvement. You need to look after yourself and your career a bit more. You’re not on the naughty list… well, not yet anyway! What can you do to improve you score before the big day?

Over 10

Well done you are on the ‘Nice list’. Keep up the good work!

What we can learn about leadership from Santa!

Written by Michelle Mook on . Posted in Sunflower Diaries

santa and elves 2018 It’s a busy time of year for the big man, but we caught up with him recently to find out how he motivates the team to deliver, year on year on year. Here is a selection box of top tips…

Set a clear and understandable vision

“Our vision was revised about 2 years ago and now embraces the digital age, however it’s important to me that everybody is on board and understands the vision and how we can translate it into action. We had a launch of the revised vision back in 2016, however we ensure we bring the vision to life at every opportunity. I strongly believe every Elf could tell you how they contribute to the vision and why it’s important.”

Communicate regularly

“Communication has been so important for us and we don’t always get it right! In 2017 we had some Elf and safety issues with the hover boards, and this wasn’t communicated to the workshop and some faulty goods went out. I now communicate through regular team meetings and ensure everyone receives the message. Through regular 1:1s with the Elves, myself and the head Elves we check that the message has been received as intended, and there is an opportunity for the elves to ask questions to further their understanding”.

Always be honest

“I am always honest with the Elves” states Father Christmas. “I give regular feedback on performance and behaviours. What’s most important, I believe, is catching people doing things right and recognise those behaviours, so often this can be missed”

Trust your team

“You need to be able to trust your team. In 2017 I caught the terrible bug that was going around. I really had to put my trust in the team that they would have everything ready and they did (of course). I never doubted it, I think sometimes I need to let go a bit more and just leave them to get on with it!”

Be authentic

“Finally, be yourself”, says Father Christmas. “I always make sure I am myself, so people know that when I give my hearty laugh its genuine, and that’s important because it builds trust. I am also not afraid to celebrate what is unique about me and I dare to be different. Let’s be honest, there are not many men of my stature that would wear a red coat but that’s me, it reflects who I am and its authentic!

If you would like to spend 2019 working on being an authentic and inspiring leader why not treat yourself to our Leadership Programme. Click here to check out our video of previous delegates and their experience.

Michelle’s a winner at the York Press Awards

Written by Michelle Mook on . Posted in Sunflower Diaries

The Press Business Awards 2018. Picture by David Harrison. What a night! We are so proud that our Michelle scooped a key award last week at the Press Awards winning “Business Personality of the Year”.

The award was in recognition of the journey Michelle has been on since setting up the business in 2011.

And what a journey it has been too. In early 2011, Michelle was working in a large corporate and after some soul searching, realised that two of her core values, “Making a Difference” and “Having Fun” were not being realised and she needed to do something quite different to achieve this. So, in the summer of 2011, after spending a leadership day with horses (there’s another story!) she created a vision and took her passion and set up Pro-Development. From working in the back of her garage in Wilberfoss, Michelle is now running a successful business with a team of 5 supporting the growth of over 60 SMEs in Yorkshire and the Humber.

The judges said “It was a really tough category this year as all the finalists had different personalities and all inspiring in their own right. They said awarding the title to Michelle is a testament to the true grit and determination she has shown to start a business from scratch and her passion has been a driving force”.

The presenter of the award shared “The judges felt Michelle has an infection personality and we can all clearly see that and the award is also in recognition for the work she does more widely outside of the business to support the local community including recently becoming the new Chair of York Professionals.

Collecting the award, Michelle had a standing ovation and the presenter said “We’ve had some responses in this room over the years but never one quite like that”! He then went onto to ask Michelle about why she felt she was such a popular choice. She said: “Well it has certainly been a journey but one of the things I have loved about setting up and building the business is all the amazing people I have met along the way. My team are incredible and a lot of the people in the room today have supported me on the journey, clients who are in the room who have also won awards and many people who have become good friends. I am very lucky”.

Congratulations Michelle

Experience is the best teacher

Written by Michelle Mook on . Posted in Sunflower Diaries

learn I must Ever wondered about the best learning experience you ever had? I’ve been chatting with Vicky Deighton this week about this and she shared her best learning experience.

“I remember the first time I got into a light aircraft, it was a sunny day in August and I had decided to try and overcome my fear of flying. I was driving past an airfield and heard the buzz of the light aircraft, I pulled over and thought ‘I’m going to give it a go’.

I clearly remember the feeling as I got into the aircraft, it was a 2 seater little iddy biddy thing and this young chap sat next to me, the instructor, exuded confidence as we taxied out. We got airborne and I recall just looking around me thinking ‘I want to get out’. Two weeks later and I am back and this time I decided to try another flying school and a different instructor. This guy gave me control and told me I was ‘going to do the take-off’. As soon as we were airborne, he gave me control again and I just remember thinking ‘I love this’. What was the difference between the two experiences? Well there was nothing technically wrong with the first one, apart from I didn’t get a chance to try it. The second experience was completely hands on, I got a chance to try nearly all of the techniques, I was completely stretched outside of my comfort zone and when I landed I was exhilarated.

This learning experience that I had was completely experiential – that is I got to physically try out some of the techniques in a real-life situation. You may have heard of experiential learning before, according to Kolb we learn through experiencing, reflecting, analysing and testing and it’s this kind of learning that is likely to stick.”

Vicky’s conversation got me thinking more about our approach to experiential learning. At Pro-Development our Management Development Programme takes experiential learning to the next stage. Not only do our participants get to experience really life changing practical exercises that are completely unique, they then get to explore how these unique experiences apply to their leadership style and how they show up in their behaviours.

Imagine spending a day with Horses – these beautiful animals have a unique way of reading us and our intentions and they respond accordingly. Or perhaps you have spent the day with like minded people in the cookery school, preparing a menu with other team members. What does this have to do with leadership you might ask? This is where the experiential learning comes in, because as we raise our self-awareness, we observe how our behaviour unfolds, and this helps us to connect with how our thoughts, emotions and behaviours show up at work.

As for the comfort zone thing, it is these experiences that take us into a situation and or environment that stretches us outside our comfort zone. This is such a gift because it is when we are stretched a little, that our comfort zone expands.

At Pro-Development we feel very blessed to be able to offer this programme to our clients, and we know they are having some life changing experiences. If you are interested in finding out about how this amazing programme may be able to support you or someone you know, get in touch we would love to talk to you about it. Our video also gives a good overview of what to expect.

Values and a horse called Opus changed my life

Written by Michelle Mook on . Posted in Sunflower Diaries

Michelle & Opus nuzzling This was the statement that headed up the entry for York Press Business Awards “Business Personality of the Year” and which resulted in me being shortlisted down to 3! I’ve been overwhelmed by the messages I have received in the last few days since the award was announced and just wanted to put together a few words about my journey that has led me to be writing this blog tonight!

About 8 years ago, I found myself disengaged from the organisation I worked for and was unhappy both in my work life and my home life. A dear friend gave me the opportunity to spend a leadership day working with horses in Warwick. I was intrigued. I went. The learnings from that day changed my life forever!

I made a bold decision which had some significant consequences. I had always wanted to set up my own business but felt trapped and needed to do something about it. So, I decided my passion and determination would be enough to make it work, and in 2011, I did it!

Pro-Development saved my life

Again, another bold statement, but setting up Pro-Development was the scariest but most thrilling step I’d made in my career. I felt more alive than I had in many years. I spent time creating a vision and purpose and quickly established that I wanted to work with SMEs in Yorkshire, helping to support their growth through focusing on the engagement and development of their people. I was excited! Six months in, I became a single mum! Not part of the plan, but my husband no longer wanted to be part of the journey I was taking and it was clear our values were not aligned. A very tough time but it certainly gave me a renewed focus on making the business work! I networked! And networked some more! I love Yorkshire and quickly made some amazing connections and friends along the way. I have been inspired by the generosity of time and kindness from others who have been a part of my journey. Within a year, I had grown the business enough to ensure that Pro-Development could bring on board a wonderful colleague I had worked with previously. Sue was very keen to get involved, and so Pro-Development became the dynamic duo.

The power of Networking

Networking was one of the things that kept me sane in the early days. Meeting other like-minded people, the help and advice, the connections, the partnerships and friends I made. The benefits for me were endless. And, guess what, it did win me business! Apart from the client we won through our kids at school (yes, honestly, our biggest client came about through the children asking for and swapping business cards in the playground), we have secured some of our best clients through people we have met at networking. And, best of all, I get the opportunity to give back to others and spend time with them, understanding and helping them to achieve their goals and make the connections they need. The icing on the cake? Being approached by York Professionals to join their Board of Directors earlier this year and then last month being asked to take on the Chair. What an honour and privilege to be part of such a fantastic team of people who work so hard to raise the profile of professionals in and around York. Love it!

Employee Engagement is the key

Whilst working in a previous organisation I had become interested in employee engagement and also became involved in the work of Engage for Success. So, for the last few years, I have run workshops, volunteering my time to help raise this important issue and bring it to the attention of local business owners. Last year alone, over 150 businesses attended our workshops and left with action plans for how they were going to make their business a great place to work. This year, the team challenged me to reach over 200 businesses and to speak at 20 different events. Becoming a speaker was certainly never part of my plan and was something I felt very uncomfortable doing, but the challenge was set. I overcame my demons, and now have done over 20 speaking events this year. I am even starting to love doing them!

How have I achieved this?

Since I’ve started speaking at events, a number of people have come up to me afterwards saying they have been inspired to do something different and asked what inspired me. People inspire me. Since setting up the business I have been delighted at the amazing people who have come into both my personal and work life. I know that I am at my best when I am surrounded with inspiring people. My team inspire me, with their ideas, their work ethic, their honesty and commitment. My children inspire me, every day and keep me grounded. A boss I worked for in my 20s inspired me, he saw potential in me and encouraged me to undertake my degree despite leaving school after my GCSEs with the no big aspirations or career plans. People are where I get my energy for life and the determination to make a difference to other people and businesses.

The future

Is exciting! Pro-Development continues to grow; moving from the back of the garage to our lovely office near Fulford; tripling our amazing team; adding new systems and processes; creating new products and services; working with more fantastic clients; and lots of inspiring partners. My life has changed beyond all recognition over the last 7 years: long may it continue!

Lack of investment in developing managers and leaders

Written by Michelle Mook on . Posted in Sunflower Diaries

leadership oct 18 We are rapidly approaching the end of another year and yet we are still seeing a lack of investment in management and leadership skills in many SMEs. We often hear managers and leaders say they have had no formal development in this area and many just assumed the role because they were good at their job, however they are unsure of what expectations are placed upon them in a leadership role.

The Employer skills survey 2017 found that in terms of people or personal skill found to be lacking, management and leadership skills contributed to more than half of all skills gaps (53%).

Evidence suggests that best-practice management development can result in a 23% increase in organisational performance and significantly improve levels of employee engagement (source Dept BIS). Investing in your leaders and manager then would seem to have some very tangible business benefits.

Are you considering investing in your leadership and management capability? If so, we would encourage you talk to us about our experiential approach to learning that is creating transformational and embedded change in the businesses we work with. We don’t just talk about the leadership theory, we step into it and experience it. Click here to view our video of delegates who have experienced our Management Development Programme and if you would like to know more, email us at info@pro-development.co.uk