Putting people first!

Written by Michelle Mook on . Posted in Sunflower Diaries

richard branson 2019 We were asked to speak at a CIPD event last month on employee engagement, a topic very close to our hearts and something of which we are truly passionate about. But let’s face it, this isn’t a new area and as someone pointed out, it’s something we’ve been talking about for over a decade. Their question was “why is engagement not improving?”. Great question, and one which raised a great discussion within the group.

Some of the thoughts from the group were that business owners and leaders do not have enough time to focus on this. They are too busy and not making time. Others, that business leaders do not see the importance and are more focussed on the bottom line of the business. One HR professional shared that he felt the issue was down to HR not challenging business leaders enough. That HR are often been asked to undertake and implement changes which were not in the interest of people and that without challenging this more, the problem is magnified.

Our thoughts from what we are finding discussing this topic, is that it is a mindset shift. The key is to help businesses understand the positive impact such an investment will have on both people and the bottom line. And that is the key, thinking of engagement as an investment not a cost. With the cost of replacing talent now being equated to 12-18 months of a person’s salary, an investment into employee engagement will often be a fraction of this and is something that will positively impact on everyone.

The great news is, we have been running lots of employee engagement/colleague surveys with businesses in Yorkshire and the Humber so there are many companies that are putting people first and are keen to understand what they can do to help make their business a great place to work. And here are the outcomes they are finding from running a survey with us:-

• Encouraging open and honest communication with their teams

• Building trust and engagement by listening to what their people have to say

• Showing that the business cares about their people and wants to make a difference to them

• Highlighting what their strengths are as a company and building on these

• Identifying the gaps and creating a plan to address these

• Supporting employee wellbeing and improved mental health

• Improving overall productivity and profit by identifying what is getting in the way

So, if you would like to know more about employee engagement, why not come along to one of our events on the 1st May or 18th June or click here to read more about our approach to employee engagement.


Written by Michelle Mook on . Posted in Sunflower Diaries

vlog 2019 We were talking the other day about Vlogging and agreed to write a blog. Then we laughed when we realised the irony “why don’t we just do a VLOG on VLOGGING”? Then it got us thinking, actually vlogging is changing the way we communicate with each other, particularly on social media, so why is it so popular and why does it appeal to such a wide audience?

Whilst we are no experts on it (in fact we have only just started vlogging recently ourselves) here is our take on it.

1 – You get to see a face of the company – the truth is we all want to make connections, and we can more easily make them when we can hear someone speak and see someone’s face and body language. For us it makes the person more human somehow.

2 – You can share more on a video – whether we are taking someone on a journey with us, showing something visual or simply doing some heart felt talking, you can share so much more on a video.

3 – It is pretty instant – we can get out thoughts and share our knowledge and its pretty instantaneous. We can also get some useful and quick feedback or help if we ask for it and our contacts can share the VLOG so we get further reach.

4 – It can help to build trust – we believe that VLOGs help viewers to build trust in either a brand or a person or both, it can be harder to do this in a BLOG.

So should we all be VLOGGING?

I appreciate that it might not be for everyone and it isn’t always easy to complete a VLOG if you get tongue tied or forget exactly what you want to say. But at Pro-Development we say give it a go, because we all know the benefit of making connections on a more personal level.

The Walkie Talkie Challenge

Written by Michelle Mook on . Posted in Sunflower Diaries

walking pic 2017

So, this month we are taking another group outside, walking and talking! See how the two rhyme, they were meant to be together. We’ve been talking for years now about the benefits of getting outside and having walking 1:1s and allowing for thinking time, but are you doing this?

Ummmm, our research would suggest not! Why ever not? We know we do our best thinking at 1.8 miles an hour, and believe us, that’s just a nice steady amble.

It would seem many of you are not convinced? So, this month we would like you to take the Pro-Development ‘walkie talkie challenge’. We want to see pics and hear from all of you that have broken away from the office, said no to the meeting room and got yourselves outside! Come on Yorkshire, we can do this!

If you think you or your team would benefit from a walking and talking team event, having honest conversations and breaking down barriers, get in touch and we can tell you all about the team events we run in our glorious countryside. Contact us at info@pro-development.co.uk

Emails – Is it just me?

Written by Michelle Mook on . Posted in Sunflower Diaries

email or call Is there anybody else out their who spends ages composing an email, reads and re-reads and then hovers over the send button mustering up the courage to press the button? It is so difficult to send some emails knowing that the words we use can be interpreted in so many ways, often dependant on the mood of the receiver, the grammar and mis-use of grammar, the size of font and is it appropriate to use bold? Dare I underline? Red font means trouble, but what does blue font mean?

Why oh why are we reducing our use of the telephone? We used to use it before the advent of email and text and rarely hovered over the key pad. Is it time to bring the phone back into our lives more? Well we think so, not to replace email but to be used in conjunction with.

We often find that communication is an area that scores low on employee engagement surveys, and an over reliance on emails to communicate makes a regular appearance in the comments.

So, I would like to challenge you all today, to make a call where you would normally email. Note the difference it makes to the quality of the communication. If you find it has a positive impact, try and make a phone call part of your daily routine, just as email is. Email does have its place, no doubt, just leave a little room for a conversation … it’s good to talk!

If you would like to know more about Employee Engagement, click here. If you would like support with communication in your business, you could email us on info@pro-development.co.uk and don’t forget you can always pick up the phone and call us on 01904 628838 for a good old fashioned chat!

Respectful Feedback

Written by Michelle Mook on . Posted in Sunflower Diaries

treat people with respect Only the other day we were with a manager who said, “I just tell them as it is, they just want it straight, none of this softly, softly approach”. Our heart sank, but in the grips of despair, and working on our value of honesty, we decided to challenge this attitude.

No matter how ‘thick skinned’ you believe an individual to be, or how straight talking your team are, everybody deserves to have some quality and respectful 1:1 feedback. You just never know how people will react out of your sight. And we speak from experience as we often see the impact that very direct and personal feedback can have and how many people take this home at night and carry it around with them for a long time!

But let’s not get away from the importance of being honest. Too many people skirt around the edges of feedback and it is important to be honest with people. But do it in a considered way, with specific information that people can connect to, and in an environment where people can explore the feedback further without fear of colleagues listening in. We believe feedback should be done with RESPECT!

Our challenge to you…

In an Honest Conversations workshop we recently delivered, we asked 30 people to put their hand up if they had spent more than an hour thinking about a difficult conversation and then not had it. Everybody put their hand up! We also asked the same people to keep their hand up if they had spent more than an hour thinking about a positive conversation. Everyone put their hand down!

So, this week deliver some respectful feedback to your team members and remember feedback is positive as well as developmental!

If you or your team members would like support in delivering honest conversations, contact us at info@pro-development.co.uk also click here to see how else Pro-Development can support your business.


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


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


O Do you have regular team meetings?

O Do you have regular 1:1s?

O Do you read all your emails?


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?


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?


O Do you load the dishwasher?

O Is your desk tidy?

O Do you clean your food out of the fridge?


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!