Have you got a high performing workplace?

Written by Michelle Mook on . Posted in Sunflower Diaries

High Performing teams slide We all want to work in a high performing workplace don’t we, but what does that mean? And as a business owner/ manager what can we do to ensure that our workplace is indeed high performing?

It all starts with the most valuable asset any company has, which of course, is its people and enabling them to feel engaged. But what does employee engagement really mean?

There are many definitions, but we define it as: A workplace approach designed to ensure that employees are committed to their company’s goals and values, motivated to contribute to success and able at the same time to enhance their own sense of wellbeing.

It’s about establishing mutual respect in the workplace for what people can do and be, unlocking people’s potential at work and understanding the measurable benefits of doing so for the individual and for the organisation. This of course will only happen if organisations have strong and authentic values and their people genuinely feel respected, involved, heard, well led and valued by those they work for and with.

Get it right and outcomes include lower accident rates, higher productivity, fewer conflicts, lower numbers leaving and reduced sickness rates. There are also indications that higher levels of engagement are strongly related to higher levels of innovation and advocacy of your products, services and business.

Sounds good in theory but how can we put it into practice?

Well this is where we come in and we are delighted to announce that we have been successfully awarded a contract from WYCC to deliver under their ESF funded Higher Performing Workplaces Project This will be a package of support designed for SMEs based within the Leeds City Region; who employ fewer than 250 full time equivalent staff with an annual turnover not exceeding €50 million.

Empowering Leaders

This looks at developing the skills of managers and leaders. Developing personal management capability; making effective use of information in decision-making operations and the development of the skills in managing people and driving performance through a range of bespoke programmes: –

• Our 7-month experiential leadership programmes which utilises learning activities using the outdoors and one to one coaching sessions.

• Our 6-month classroom based manager programme which is supported with action learning groups

• Our 1-day People Fundamentals programme for new or emerging managers

• A 4-month programme of coaching

Innovative Working Practices

A bespoke programme starting with the organisations business goals, vision, values and outcomes. Our employee engagement programmes are developed to ensure that it best suits the business, learning outcomes and leadership needs: –

• Assessment tool to identify business engagement levels

• Training sessions and workshops

• Coaching / Mentoring

• Action Learning sets

All programmes will receive 40% funding from the European Social Fund (ESF) for businesses. Employers contribute 60% of the total cost of the business support. Funding is available throughout 2020.

If you are interested in accessing the funding, just get in touch and we will check your eligibility and help you understand what solutions will best fit your needs. Call us on 01904 628838

Get the right people and then let them know you care

Written by Michelle Mook on . Posted in Sunflower Diaries

welcome17 It’s always a little daunting and stressful starting a new job no matter how excited and confident you are. There are always those feelings of doubt … will I be good enough? Can I do the job? Will they like me? Will I like them? And we were very conscious of this when the week before Christmas, we welcomed Helen at Pro- Development. And although we are sure she still had all those feelings, we worked to make sure she was made to feel welcome from the start and she tells us that she did!

It’s the little things that make the difference and prevent some of those fears in the initial stages. Even before she started, we invited Helen to join us at our staff Christmas party which was a great way to get to know our small but perfectly formed team, in a social environment without the pressures of work. And now 8 weeks on it feels like she has been with us forever.

It wasn’t just luck that we found someone who was a good match for our team with the skills and knowledge we required as we do put a lot of time and effort into the recruitment process, starting with the well written advert, then onto the interview process in which Pro–Development’s vision and values where at the forefront as well as our client’s needs and requirements and we recruited with these in mind.

We always run an assessment event as part of our process which involved all the candidates working together and delivering a mock action plan for a business that had got issues keeping their best employees and asking each candidate to design an event to support employee development.

Helen is currently going through our comprehensive induction and learning the established processes and systems and we know she is really enjoying meeting new companies and getting “stuck in” to our experimental learning programmes, (axe throwing and fire walking last week at that was just in the office!).

As managers it’s important that from the off we make people feel welcome, valued and part of the team and a good induction process really helps with this. We know, from experience of working with our clients, that they can often lose their talent in the first few weeks due to a poor start or lack of induction.

Here’s some other ideas to include in an induction programme:

• Have plenty of communication before the person starts – send them a welcome gift or a picture of their desk showing you are ready for them

• Then, from day one, make sure their desk, computer and facilities are all ready

• Create an induction plan that includes Day 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, Week 2, 3, 4, Month 2, 3, 4, 5 and 6 (remember it usually takes at least 6 months for someone to be fully productive)

• Introduce key members of staff

• Make time to explain the organisations culture, way of working hours, lunch breaks etc

• Cover any legal requirements (Health and Safety)

• Introduction to terms and conditions (for example, holiday entitlement, how to make expense claims, etc.)

• Make plans to shadow established employees

• Provide a guided tour of the building

• Set-up of payroll details and any other requirements (for example P45 or P60)

• Plan in specific job-role training

• If possible, assign a buddy to every new starter

• Keep checking in with them regularly in the first few months

If you would like help with your employee engagement to ensure that both new starters and your existing team know you care and that they are happy, productive and engaged, please do get in touch. We can also help you design and run an assessment centre too to ensure you get the right person for the role and your company. To find out more call us on 01904 628838.


Written by Michelle Mook on . Posted in Sunflower Diaries

michelle david rugby 2020 Watching England win their game on Saturday at Murrayfield in the wind, rain and cold, got us thinking about what it takes to overcome adversity and keep a winning mindset when things aren’t going to plan.

We are doing more and more of our team and leadership development work outdoors now, as people are seeing the benefit of experiential learning over classroom based learning. Sometimes it can feel like the weather is against us, but our motto has always been “no such thing as bad weather, only the wrong clothes!” The key is, what you do when it rains or things don’t go according to plan, how you respond and the attitude you take makes all the difference to a positive outcome.

Stood in the stadium on Saturday, watching England battle it out against Scotland, the elements and a lot of booing from the Scottish fans, highlighted again that there is real parallel with sports and business. Early last year, we wrote about the book Legacy where we shared what we are learned from reading about the All Blacks and how they rose to become a world class team.

So, how do you train your team to change, to recover when things don’t go your way? How do you coach your team to be resilient when the plan goes wrong? Here’s our top tops for overcoming adversity:

• Have a strategy for change. The ability to adapt is what will set you apart. Then, take people with you whenever you change direction – communicate regularly and clearly.

• Provide a clear sense of purpose, direction, vision and values to help keep the team engaged and bought into the team – having this helps people to manoeuvre through adversity.

• Create an environment where people can take risks and try things out without fear of blame.

• Help your team to have a strong sense of identify and respect for themselves and others and encourage them to be authentic and real.

• Prepare yourself and your team to be emotionally resilient – commit to developing them, help them to push out of their comfort zone to get true learnings and provide them with the right tools to help them keep a positive mindset.

We are always here to help people and teams going through adversity, whether it is through some 1:1 coaching, team building or some leadership development. Working with you we can help to understand your challenges and will support you in whatever way we can.

If you would like to have a chat please get in touch.

Wearing the mask

Written by Michelle Mook on . Posted in Sunflower Diaries

suit of armor We often talk about the importance of being authentic, of being yourself and not worrying too much about what other people think of you. We say this because we speak from experience, we know what it’s like to wear a work mask or a ‘suit of armor’ , something you do to protect yourself from others and make you feel like you are more worthy of your position at work.

However wearing the work mask or the armor is tiring; it’s like a weight upon you, and when you get home and you take your armor off, you’re shattered, you have no energy for yourself, for your leisure time, for your family time. We learnt to take our armor and work masks off when we first came to Pro-Development. It was a brave move because we weren’t sure how people would find us, how they would react to our true selves. However, the response has just been fantastic and now nine years on, we are so more comfortable with who we are.

We recognise through our work that there are many people out there wearing a work mask or armor, we meet them on a day-to-day basis in our coaching session, on our training events and through the engagement work we do. When we come across people in a mask we are compelled to help so if any of the above strikes a chord with you, here are a few steps that you can take to start removing the mask or armor.

• Take time out to understand what’s important to you

• Reflects and act on your thoughts

• Ask friends and family what they value about you and why

• Listen and act on their response

• Do something that makes you feel more like you at work. For example, we wore clothes we felt more ourselves in. An ex colleague of ours stopped straightening her hair. It doesn’t matter what, as long as you know

• Ask a colleague you trust to observe and give you some feedback on the changes you make and the impact it has

• Keep going, you might not always get it right first time, but learn and grow until you find your authentic professional self

If you would like help from us on removing your mask, get in touch.

Are you getting enough Zzzzzzzz?

Written by Michelle Mook on . Posted in Sunflower Diaries

sleep pic Today, with busy schedules, it can be difficult to sleep and to have quality sleep. Sleep is something that we all need to ensure that our bodies have time to rejuvenate and ideally to then feel refreshed when you wake up in the morning!

There are a lot of common myths about sleep and some tips on how to improve this for yourself:

1) We need an average of 7hrs sleep per night – this is not necessarily true, it depends on your age and circumstance and how much sleep you need to feel refreshed

2) Keep your bedroom just for sleeping – this associates your brain to know that is where you rest

3) Go to sleep at the same time every night to create a routine

4) Avoid bright lights ie from your phone when you are in bed or watching television before you go to bed

5) Ensure the temperature of your room is comfortable

6) If you find that you think a lot before you go to sleep, then try writing down everything you are thinking about. Just the transference of thought to paper can alleviate the worry or act as a to do list of tasks that you can do the next day!

7) Try to make sure that you do not have stimulants before you go to bed ie nicotine, caffeine and alcohol. Caffeine can stay in your body for 4-6hrs and acts as a stimulant. Energy drinks and chocolate also has caffeine as does tea!

8) Use black out blinds to ensure your room is dark and if this is not possible use an eye mask

9) If you are not asleep within 30mins then get out of bed, do something non stimulating like reading a dull book then go back to bed when you feel tired again

10) Keep repeating these tips every night and this will create a routine

Most of all try and ensure you get enough sleep so that you feel refreshed to face the day ahead. We all know about the spiral of feeling over tired, then overreacting to stressful situations which then have negative consequences onto other individuals. Lack of sleep also impacts motivation and concentration at work.

If you’ve got any great tips for getting a good nights sleep then please let us know alternatively if you would like to have a chat with us then please get in touch at info@pro-development.co.uk.

It’s time for some Self Care

Written by Michelle Mook on . Posted in Sunflower Diaries

self care So, Christmas is now out of the way, presents have been opened, meals have been eaten and Christmas Jumpers have had their day out. Now is the time for a new year and plans for your future but also some Self Care. What can you do to look after yourself that you can start creating good habits now that will serve you through the year and the future? It takes 66 days to create a positive habit which has a stronger chance of sticking! Here are some ideas of things that you can do for self-care and to improve quality time:

• Doing exercise – this does not have to be hitting the gym, just anything that increases your heart rate for 30minutes per day

• Meditation/ Yoga – some time in the morning even it is just for 10 minutes focussing on what you want to focus on for that day and getting your mind to be focussed on the task at hand.

• Family time at mealtimes – no phones at the table and engaging in conversation at least once per week to have that time to connect.

• Having a relaxing bath/ face masks etc (men, this is fun for you to try too!)

• Go for a walk on your own and be in touch with nature.

• Read a book.

In Today’s society, we are contactable on a 24hr/7days per week basis and it can be difficult to find the time to fit some self care in however we all have the same hours in the day, it is just how we prioritise this? Is it possible to wake up slightly earlier before the rest of the home wakes and do something for yourself? Are there things in the day that are not needed to be done or are wasting time? Can you listen to a self-development cd/audio book on the way to work?

We have calendars full of appointments for work and for our personal time, can we make an appointment for our self and honour this too?

At Pro-Development we love to support teams and individuals with their productivity. To hear more about how we might be able to help you, contact us on info@pro-development.co.uk or call us on 01904 628 838

New Year…Instead of a New You, Bring out the Best Version of your Self!

Written by Michelle Mook on . Posted in Sunflower Diaries

2020 goals 2 First, Happy New Year to you all. We hope your tummy’s are full and you spent some quality time with loved ones.

So as the new year begins, have you thought about what you would like to achieve for this coming year. Have you noticed that you set the same resolutions every year? Statistically the most common resolutions tend to be:-

• Lose Weight (we know because it’s always on ours!!)

• Exercise more (that too!)

• Save money

• Live life to the fullest etc…

These are great, however, how do you ensure they actually happen? One way is to get really clear about what you want from the year, be specific and visualise what this is going to look like. We can do this by having or creating a vision for the future in any way that makes sense to you.

Vision Board – For those artists amongst you, create your own board and find pictures in magazines and add this to the board of all the things you would like to achieve in the year.

Electronic Vision Board – Otherwise you can copy and paste pictures into a Word Document or use Pinterest to create your own private board. Some people use photographs and have them on an electronic photo frame. The important thing is to be clear about what it is you want and perhaps how your life would be different once you have received it. Being clear, allows your brain to look for the opportunity for this to happen and therefore manifest this into your life.

Whichever way you choose to set goals for the year ahead, make sure you have them somewhere you can see them every day. That way when you come to the end of 2020, you can look back at your vision board / goals and see what you have achieved and what you are still working towards. Having them as a point of reference throughout the year will keep you on track!

Perhaps one of your goals for the coming year is to develop yourself professionally or improve employee engagement within your company. At Pro-Development we love to support teams and individuals with their productivity. To hear more about how we might be able to help you, contact us on info@pro-development.co.uk or call us on 01904 628 838

Celebrate Success – but how?

Written by Michelle Mook on . Posted in Sunflower Diaries

firework pic for dec log Should Auld Acquaintance be forgot

and never brought to mind

Should Auld Acquaintance be forgot

and days of Auld Lang Syne

The clock strikes 12 and another year has passed, where has the year gone? Time is such an interesting thing isn’t it? There is not enough of it, or there is too much depending on how you are feeling. What will you be thinking about as the clock strikes 12? Will you be thinking about the year past or the year ahead? Will you feel sad or excited? Will you wish you’d done some stuff, or think about all the stuff you might yet wish to do?

A great way to move forward into 2020 is to find a way to celebrate success from 2019. Why? Because according to Tony Robbins (inspirational speaker and well worth a listen):-

“As you celebrate your success, it creates a deeper hunger to build an even stronger base and pull yourself to even greater victory and triumph. In addition, you will raise your standards for what is possible and develop the rituals and habits necessary to make this sustainable success a part of who you are”.

So how do you celebrate success? Here are some thoughts from the team at Pro-Development:

• When taking some personal time for self-reflection, often our natural response is to think about what we haven’t achieved, but self-reflection time can really help us connect with our why and our purpose.

• Sleep on it – ever heard this phrase used? Well sleeping on it is a useful thing to do whether you are thinking about your success or have a problem. Our subconscious can often help us in the dream state and can give us direction or important messages.

• Spend time with people you care about and share with them your success. That might be simply enjoying their company or sharing a treat together. Being with people we genuinely care about whilst sharing success can really remind us about why we are on the journey we are on.

What do you do to celebrate success? Or is this something you need to put on your list for 2020?

We love working with teams to help them realise their potential and celebrating their success. If you are interested in finding out more about how we work and the kind of work we do, please get in touch, we would love to tell you more. You can contact us on info@pro-development.co.uk or on 01904 628838.

5 Christmas ideas to build your team

Written by Michelle Mook on . Posted in Sunflower Diaries

the office pic Christmas time seems to bring out the festive spirit in most of us… but when many people are out having fun, should we try to bring some Christmas spirit into the office?

It can be great for team morale and engagement to create a sense of the season, even if you have a few people that may be less up for a bit Christmas team fun. There is no doubt that making an effort can give a feeling of a great place to work. So how do we bring that feeling of Christmas into the office?

Well at Pro-Development we are all for a bit of fun and here are some of our thoughts on building a bit of team spirit:

1. Do a bit of Christmas decorating – you don’t have to go crazy, but a bit of tinsel and a lovely Christmas tree with some lights can really make the workspace feel great.

2. Buy a gift for your colleagues – again if you have a big office this can feel like a bit of a hassle. But Secret Santa means that everyone can get a fun gift with a maximum value that won’t break the bank.

3. Take some time out with colleagues – perhaps it is a Christmas meal or maybe just a lunch together (you could even do this in the office) but taking some time out to keep building those all important relationships is a great idea at this time.

4. Do something together for your community, maybe it’s a charity that you support where you could get involved together, really getting into the spirit.

5. Send a Christmas message – sounds simple doesn’t it but a really well thought out Christmas message in a card can mean a lot to people. Perhaps it includes what you have valued most about that person this year.

Of course, we must remember that Christmas can be a difficult time for some, perhaps they are grieving a loss, or have another really good reason for not wanting to get involved. It is at these times that our compassion can really make a difference for them, which might just be respecting their wishes. We hope that you have a peaceful and relaxing Christmas time and come back in 2020 feeling refreshed.

And, if you don’t get around to making some time to build the team in 2019, then don’t forget, that for eligible businesses, we can get 40% towards the cost of any team building event both indoors and outdoors before March 2020. If you want to know more, contact us on 01904 628838 to speak to us, we would love to hear from you.

Winter Solstice – a time for reflection

Written by Michelle Mook on . Posted in Sunflower Diaries

loveheart hands God rest ye merry gentlemen let nothing you dismay…… ahem and god rest ye merry gentlewomen too… the truth is Christmas for many is certainly not a time for rest … nor do we give ourselves time!

For most of us preparing for Christmas becomes hectic. Shopping, wrapping and social events and of course preparing for family. By the 21st of December we are at the shortest, darkest day of the year. It is called Winter Solstice which is derived from the Latin words for “sun” and “to stand.” Even though the days begin to get a little lighter, after a few days beyond this period, it still feels like the sun is barley moving, but changes are happening.

Winter solstice can be a great time for reflection, but we can resist turning inwards as we get distracted by the festivities.

But this is a time for nourishment, and we are not just talking about food, but nourishment for our soul.

So how can we gift ourselves with this? Here are a few thoughts from the Pro-Development team:

• It is a time for self-forgiveness and kindness – we can be hard on ourselves throughout the year, so finding a way to be kind and forgiving, not just to others but to the most important person, you, is key.

• Celebrate success – remember and make a note of all the successes in the last year. Think about them and celebrate what you did well, it is often tempting to think of things we could have done better, but don’t forget the good.

• What do you need? Ask yourself what you really need in the coming year. This might be to do with your career, your personal wellbeing or something else. Make a note of them and think about how you can create space to bring this into your life in 2020.

At Pro-Development we have worked with the most amazing clients, creating space just like this for leaders and individuals alike. To hear how we might be able to support you in 2020 please get in touch on info@pro-development.co.uk or 01904 628838