Posts Tagged ‘learning and development’

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!

The Advantages Of A Calm Approach

Written by Michelle Mook on . Posted in Sunflower Diaries

breathe pictureIt’s been another great weekend for British sport with Geraint Thomas winning the Tour de France and Lewis Hamilton the Hungarian Grand Prix. Followers of Formula One may have detected that Hamilton appears more calm and measured than he has in earlier seasons. In a recent interview (Beyond the Grid, F1 website) he talked about the impact of the highs and lows of F1 racing. In the early years this caused him to have extreme highs and lows of emotion. He has learned that the calmer he can be when racing, the better it will be for him. He refers to the calm approach of Serena Williams and Muhammad Ali and suggests that it’s like shooting at a target, but you are moving around; if you can breathe and calm it down you will be much more likely to hit the target.

This reminded us of a recent management development cohort. One of the delegates was an experienced shot but when he was trying to hit the target, adrenalin was taking control of his body and hindering his performance. He was able to relate this to other areas of his work life and we worked with him to help calm down his automatic, adrenalin filled response. This has helped him to be calmer and more measured in his approach.

The outcomes from our management development programme are much wider than a traditional leadership programme because of our unique mix of theory, experiential activities and coaching.

Do you have any managers/leaders who would benefit from developing and fine tuning their leadership skills?

Click here for more information.

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.

Questions

• 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.

Challenge

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 info@pro-development.co.uk

Managing the Transition

Written by Michelle Mook on . Posted in Sunflower Diaries

leadershipOver the last few months we have come across numerous managers who have struggled with their transition to manager. This isn’t the first time we have written about this; however the issue of transition doesn’t ever seem to go away.

For some reason, when we get promoted up the leadership ladder we have a tendency to focus on the technical aspects of the role and we step up to provide support and guidance on getting the job done. However, we don’t afford ourselves the same luxury to allow time for ourselves to lead the team and have conversations with team members on a 1:1 basis to help them develop and grow.

So why is this? We asked some managers why they didn’t afford the time and here is what they told us:

“I still have my own work to do as well as managing the team, I need to complete my tasks.”

“I never seem to have the time.”

“It’s never really been explained to me what is expected of me.”

“I didn’t realise there was so much to it”.

“The team are alright, they just get on with it. They know what they are doing”

However, let us not forget that 62% of people leave their job because of their manager, so it is important to give this important role the time and focus it deserves.

Challenge Yourself

Have you / your managers received any management development?

Are you / your managers finding the time to lead?

Are you delegating tasks to have more time?

What can you do that will make a difference to you and your team?

We have a number of solutions that can help your transition through management and leadership which include leadership programmes and coaching. If you would like to discuss your requirements and how we can support you / your businesses then why not get in touch.

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: Danielle.gourlay@diana-award.org.uk.

Do you spend time working outdoors?

Written by Michelle Mook on . Posted in Sunflower Diaries

autumn picDo you hold meetings outside? We told you about a recent study from the University of Warwick demonstrating that happy and engaged staff are 12 percent more productive. One aspect of the study we love is the reported importance of spending time outdoors when we’re working. This can improve self-esteem and mood, help concentration, and increase creative thinking. A lot of our development activities include an outdoor element so it’s great to have academic backing for what we’ve found with our delegates. We spent a day in the beautiful grounds of Hazelwood Castle with our lovely management development cohort. Using a range of fun and creative activities they were developing skills in managing performance, holding honest conversations, dealing with underperformance, and managing talent. Our programme provides our delegates with the opportunity to practice lead and learn through a range of experiential activities, many of them outdoors. Click here to read more about our management development programme. Try holding your next one to ones whilst walking outside. It’s amazing how this encourages creative thinking and honesty. Let us know how you get on…

Is Employee Engagement in your sights?

Written by Michelle Mook on . Posted in Sunflower Diaries

ee pic blog sept 17 The link between employee engagement and productivity means that it’s a hot topic. As a result, it’s been in the news recently with an article in the Guardian discussing a recent study from the University of Warwick. This revealed that happy and engaged staff are 12 percent more productive and that low employee engagement is costing the UK £340 billion a year in lost productivity.

So how do we measure Employee Engagement? The CIPD believe that a single metric is too simplistic and rather than a single score, a range of relevant metrics are more enlightening and actionable. We agree which is why we measure against 10 themes and recommend employee interviews as well as an online questionnaire to ensure we have a balance of qualitative and quantitative research. This enables us to develop as full a picture as possible in order to identify specific areas for improvement. Increasing your employee engagement scores will help to increase productivity and ultimately profit. Come along to our employee engagement workshop on the 22nd November and you’ll leave with an action plan to start improving employee engagement in your workplace. Click here to book your place.

Look out for more from the study next week when we’ll tell you about the benefits of working outdoors.

What part can we all play to increase productivity?

Written by Michelle Mook on . Posted in Sunflower Diaries

productivity

A recent report by the BBC noted that the productivity of UK workers has dropped back to pre-financial crisis levels. The Office for National Statistics stated that hourly output fell 0.5% in the first three months of the year, and Economists have warned that the UK’s productivity continues to lag behind its major trading partners such as the US, France and Germany.

Ian Brinkley, acting chief economist at the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development stated that “Unless more is done to tackle the nation’s low productivity, people’s wages and living standards will continue to fall and the UK will be ill-equipped to compete once we do leave the EU.” Other economists, however, have said productivity – which is output divided by hours spent producing it – has partly fallen because there are record numbers of people in work.

Whatever the reason, we need to think about what part we can all play in increasing productivity and we strongly believe that having an engaged workforce is a crucial factor to business success. Just imagine if people in your business wanted to and could give their best each day. What difference would that make to the energy, the enthusiasm, the creativity, the effort they each put in? What difference would that make to you?

The good news is, you don’t just have to imagine as we have seen many of our clients take positive steps which have made a difference for their and people and their business. “With Pro-Development, our business has seen and experienced a totally different approach and a very positive level of results, both financially and in the progress of the business. Pro-Development have worked with our teams in their unique way with a programme of activity to support our employee engagement. Pro-Development’s programmes and continuing developments at all levels of the business, including directors, has given a new perspective to people’s approach to business life within our group of companies. Without doubt, any business wanting to grow and develop should have no reservation in working with Pro-Development, and I would strongly encourage you to at least have a look at how they can help you”. Roger Bodill | Chairman, RB Associates

We believe a good starting point is to give employees a voice, to listen to them, to understand what’s working for them and what’s getting in their way. However, this is only valuable if people are open and honest, and leaders are brave enough to listen (and we mean really listen) to what people have to say. This is where we can help, our employee engagement surveys provide a means for confidential and anonymous feedback, and our analysis of the results are presented back in an honest and balanced manner, providing real insight.

However, there is little point on gathering insight if you don’t take action on the results, and this is where, in our experience, many companies fall down. At Pro-Development, we work closely with businesses to identify actions and act as a conscience to ensure key actions are delivered to drive up employee engagement.

Ultimately, the research is out there, it’s a fact that an engaged workforce can drive up productivity on average by 5% and profit on average by 12%. And, let’s face it, who wouldn’t want to see an increase like that on their bottom line? We are here to help you and love making a difference so if you would like to increase your productivity and have a highly engaged workforce, why not come along to our next workshop.

If you would like to join us at our next workshop to find out what you can do to bring the best out in your teams, increase productivity and sales which links directly to your bottom line then choose a date below and book a place. We have had such great feedback about our workshops that we know that it will be a great few hours invested!

The next available workshop dates are 13th September and 11th October 2017 from 10am-12noon followed by a light lunch with the chance to network and it will be held at our offices at Forest Farm Business Park, Fulford, YORK, YO19 4RH. All just for £25 + VAT to cover room hire and lunch. See you there!