Author Archive

An eery unease in the team

Written by Michelle Mook on . Posted in Sunflower Diaries

Have you felt it? Many have… and as teams now come back together its proving to be a bumpy ride for some and with furlough coming to an end on Halloween there may be more unease and bumps to come.

Here is an insight into the kind of things we are finding:

People have lost sight of their team purpose and vision and therefore are on different paths.

Normal working practices and the working environment have evolved, people have evolved with it to various degrees and others have not for several reasons.

A lack of communication has caused a disconnect from the business and the leaders

A reliance on email communication has meant some messages have been misinterpreted and misunderstood.

Working from home has been challenging for some and loved by others. Not everyone wants to return to how things used to be.

Subgroups have formed with their own norms and practices, whilst these divisions are not personal, they can create a them and us culture if not tackled.

People have questioned why they do what they do. They are processing career choices and often whilst doing this, the team member withdraws slightly from the team.

Fear not though! Swift intervention can settle the unease. Make sure your team members are having 1:1s to surface thoughts and feeling which will help to explain the behaviours you are seeing.

If you feel you and your team would benefit from further intervention speak to us about our on-line team development programmes. We are running several of these for businesses around the region and beyond! These sessions are approximately 1 ½-2 hours long and can run over a number a weeks/months dependant on your business requirement. We are already finding they are making a huge difference and are providing a good opportunity to bring the team together, talk openly about the last few months, undertake some learning and share successes and challenges along the way. What’s more, you may qualify for funding.

Contact us at info@pro-development.co.uk for more info

It’s a little bit frightening

Written by Michelle Mook on . Posted in Sunflower Diaries

Like most people, six months ago we moved over to having a more virtual presence. At the time it was very VERY scary. What if the connection didn’t hold up? What if our computer crashed? How awful it would be to see you own face on screen! (Argghhhh – Scream in horror)

We really had to step up and face our fears, even though every single inch of us wanted to run away. Upon reflection, how bad was it? Honestly if you could see us now. We are more than happy to be on screen, even without make-up! We have adopted a news reader approach to business wear with tabletop dressing – smart on top, joggers on bottom! Well not quite, but you know what we mean! We have totally adapted to our new environment, but more than that we are thriving.

So, what does this tell us about ourselves, because this technology has been around for years. We have had to admit to ourselves that we have maybe stayed in our comfort zone, and remaining in there has made us blinkered to new tools and technology that could have transformed some of our work earlier.

It made us realise that although we do often step out of our comfort zones and into the “Learning Zone” and encourage others to do the same, when we feel it’s a step too far for us or them, we can sometimes reach for the blinkers or not push enough. Now don’t get us wrong, sometimes it can be a step too far into the “Danger Zone” and we need to listen to what our bodies are telling us, but sometimes it’s just a step further than normal, and just pushes us into the learning.

We guess that’s been our learn. We have categorised some change as ‘danger’ and we need to really be challenging ourselves to understand if it really is danger or are we running away. Yes, it can be a little bit frightening, but who wants to live life in fear and miss out on new opportunities!

If you need challenging or support in stepping out of your comfort zone, why not get in touch and look at how we can help you to step into your learning zone at info@pro-development.co.uk.

Don’t be scared….to speak up

Written by Michelle Mook on . Posted in Sunflower Diaries

We are supporting and coaching many individuals whose personal wellbeing has suffered over recent months. Believe us, we have felt this too – we have shared over the last few months personal blogs from the team about how they have been impacted. The constant barrage of restrictions and the impact of those restriction on friends and family, on the business and the team. Then of course in addition is the health worry, the isolation of loved ones, the guilty feeling not being able to visit or give someone a hug when they need it most.

It’s great that some people are facing up to their wellbeing issues and seeking help. However, we are picking up that people are holding back on how they are feeling for too long, as if it’s a weakness, something that they will be judged on and maybe labelled with!

Where does this come from and why do we do this to ourselves? We believe to speak up about how you are feeling is to be respected, it takes courage to allow yourself to be vulnerable. When you do, you often hear other say “me too”. So please, if your wellbeing has been impacted, talk to someone, or contact us.

If you are in the Leeds City Region, we can provide funded mentoring to support employed individuals in SMEs in response to the current climate with the aim to help build skills to cope with the volatile and complex challenges we all currently face. Whether just a one-off session or up to 6 session, click here for more.

Also here are some hints and tips to get you focused on your wellbeing. So, don’t be scared, be honest with yourself and make a start today.

• Disclose some things that are bothering you to a trusted friend/colleague

• Create a calm environment – maybe declutter, put a plant on your desk even!

• Have regular breaks… including a lunch break

• Resist the sugary snacks, eat healthily

• Keep hydrated

• Write to do lists for the next day

• Try the Headspace app or Insight Timer – we’re loving a bit of calm and meditation at the moment!

• Warm bath (not hot)

• Create a calm bedtime routine

• Read a book

• Listening to music

• Go for a walk

These are just a few suggestions. Which one will you choose?

If you would like any support around your own wellbeing, or would like to explore the funded mentoring, please contact us at info@pro-development.co.uk

Integrity

Written by Michelle Mook on . Posted in Sunflower Diaries

Although there is no ‘one size fits all’ approach employee engagement, four common themes have emerged. Taken together, they include many of the key elements that go to make successful employee engagement. They are:

1. Strategic Narrative

2. Engaging managers

3. Employee Voice

4. Integrity

In a series of Videos Michelle Mook has contributed her thoughts and expertise alongside other regional ambassadors and leaders of Employee Engagement through the engage for success movement.

This time the experts focus on Integrity – Click hear to view the video. Or read this blog to gain a quick insight into the discussion.

Trust in the UK government and media is at all-time low. Trust and integrity is key to help us drive through todays challenges. Integrity is critical for organisations, and there is a huge reputational risk for getting this wrong that will live with you forever. Reputationally, behaving in a proper way has never been more important. It is not just about your internal integrity; it is about your brand too.

A human skill is seeing through insincerity. People can see who we really are and so its incredibly important that we have thought deeply about how our values are manifested in our behaviours. There is an opportunity to look at the values you set as an organisation and the behaviours you attached to those.

It can take 20 years to build a reputation, but we can lose it in 5 mins. There has never been a more important time to build trust and there are many examples of organisations surviving challenges intact because they went through with integrity. Now is the time we need to do this because we want to avoid survivor syndrome, for example leaders may expect morale to be high in those who have retained their jobs , which it won’t be if decisions have been handled badly.

Showing integrity is about wellbeing too. Do not say “we care about your wellbeing”, show that you mean it. It may not have shown before, so it needs to be genuine.

The #inittogether has been prevalent. Some people have really demonstrated this. Sometimes going through tough time does make us stronger, and there is an opportunity to build momentum but let us not forget to celebrate success.

Culture is evolving through the pandemic and we need to consider this in line with our CSR. For example, changes to our Health and Safety commitments as a business – how we greet each other (no handshakes), wearing masks. There is a level of social integrity that will change how companies act and think, communicate, and commit to. I hope there are fundamental changes that are better for society that businesses commit to.

Communicate honesty have integrity that if there are changes that need to happen be open, don’t make promises you can’t keep, and include people on the journey.

Interesting in finding our more?

If you would like help in building trust and integrity in your business or relationships, contact us on info@pro-development.co.uk

Click here to see what we offer and how we can support your business

WHAT PART ARE ENGAGING MANAGERS PLAYING IN YOUR BUSINESS RIGHT NOW?

Written by Michelle Mook on . Posted in Sunflower Diaries

Although there is no ‘one size fits all’ approach employee engagement, four common themes have emerged. Taken together, they include many of the key elements that go to make successful employee engagement. They are:

1. Strategic Narrative

2. Engaging managers

3. Employee Voice

4. Integrity

In a series of Videos Michelle Mook has contributed her thoughts and expertise alongside other regional ambassadors and leaders of Employee Engagement through the engage for success movement.

This time the experts focus on Engaging ManagersClick hear to view the video. Or read this blog to gain a quick insight into the discussion.

Being Human

We work with Human beings not human resources! Make sure managers are keeping in touch with the team, coaching the team and showing the team that you care whether furloughed or working virtually.

Manage expectations

Make sure people know what is expected of them but be realistic of what we can expect from team members too. Everyone is facing different challenges and on their own emotional journey so managers expectations will have to adapt to this.

Supporting managers

Managers may need help to move forward themselves. They are on their own emotional journey whilst, at the same time, managing others. They may need support, so they are able to support others. Managers are critical, make sure they are OK. Make sure managers are given the time to focus on their team as engaging with individuals virtually does take time!

Demonstrate empathy

Try to understand the dynamic of every member of the team, for example are they home schooling, shielding, caring for others? No longer can you treat team members the same. Managers need to step into the shoes of others and build trust. However not every manager is equipped with these skills so again, they may need support to develop these skills.

Not being afraid to try

Having a zoom call simply to say ‘hi’ to a team member, or having an empathic conversation is a challenge for some. Do not be afraid to try, you are doing it with the right intention.

People manager/Technical manager

Is it time to consider something different and try a new management model? Let your technical managers focus on what they are good at and have someone with people manager responsibilities and skill set to check in and manage the team.

Sense of team

This may be getting lost through remote working. Bringing people back together can create some conflict as differing experience and emotions collide. We need to consider how we can continue to build on the sense of team in a virtual world/new world. How do we encourage all team members to turn on their cameras to avoid speaking to the ‘black wall’? It is imperative we bring teams together to share ideas and innovate to move us forward.

Future of work

Finally, think about the future of work. Manager’s skills set are transitioning as we move into a more virtual workplace. Physical boundaries are removed meaning managers may be able to be located anywhere, widening the talent pool enabling the best talent to be recruited. What does this mean for career paths and job security? Food for thought!

Interested in discussing this with us?

If you or your managers require any support contact us on info@pro-development.co.uk Click to see how we can support your leaders and manager development through on-line , classroom and experiential events.

WHY IS EMPLOYEE VOICE KEY TO ENGAGEMENT OF YOUR PEOPLE AT THIS TIME?

Written by Michelle Mook on . Posted in Sunflower Diaries

Although there is no ‘one size fits all’ approach employee engagement, four common themes have emerged. Taken together, they include many of the key elements that go to make successful employee engagement. They are:

1. Strategic Narrative

2. Engaging managers

3. Employee Voice

4. Integrity

In a series of Videos Michelle Mook has contributed her thoughts and expertise alongside other regional ambassadors and leaders of Employee Engagement through the engage for success movement.

This time the experts focus on Employee voiceClick hear to view the video. Or read this blog to gain a quick insight into the discussion.

Health and wellbeing

Its important to ask how people are feeling about things. Life has been very different; people have been working differently – do we need to do things differently? For example, working from home – love it or loathe it, we need to think about people’s individual needs as we adapt our ways of working.

Provide a Forum

It is important to check in with people and talk openly and honesty about how people are feeling. Let people know it is OK to not be OK. This is true for managers and leaders too. It Is OK to show some vulnerability. Keep the connection with the team and the space to keep talking.

Diversity and Inclusion

Make sure ALL voices are heard. Make sure you are inclusive and listen to those that may not voice their thoughts openly.

Trust and Safety

To express your voice, people need trust and safety. If you are tired and worn out, or worried about your job, it should be safe to say so. If the psychological safety need is not met, people are more likely to say, “I’m fine”. Embrace technology

Provide a voice using technology to undertake surveys to enable feedback on how people are feeling. Use platforms to their fullest for example, MS Teams is not only great for meetings, it is helpful sometimes to keep connected all day long enabling regular interaction.

Listen and Act

Be prepared to listen to the employee voice. Get feedback, understand how things are done now and be open to change. We must listen and then make sure we act.

A strategic approach

The feedback received form the employee voice requires a strategic response, not a quick reaction. Consider how HR and communication can be more strategic to support this. Roles in your organisation may need to evolve to enable a more strategic approach.

Collective Voice

The employee voice is not just individual voices. Your business may have a collective voice, for example trade unions, employee committees or councils. Make sure you build this relationship and listen to their collective voice.

Respect

Our reaction to feedback is critical. We must listen and respect what we hear. If we don’t, we will kill off feedback.

Interested in getting the view of your teams?

We offer a wide range of employee engagement programmes to enable you to gather the voice of your team with our confidential, bespoke and supportive approach. If you or your managers require any support contact us on info@pro-development.co.uk Click to see how we can support your employee engagement and employee voice.

HOW STRATEGIC NARRATIVE CAN HELP YOU AND YOUR BUSINESS RIGHT NOW

Written by Michelle Mook on . Posted in Sunflower Diaries

Although there is no ‘one size fits all’ approach employee engagement, four common themes have emerged. Taken together, they include many of the key elements that go to make successful employee engagement. They are:

1. Strategic Narrative

2. Engaging managers

3. Employee Voice

4. Integrity

In a series of Videos Michelle Mook has contributed her thoughts and expertise alongside other regional ambassadors and leaders of Employee Engagement through the engage for success movement.

This time the experts focus on Strategic NarrativeClick hear to view the video. Or read this blog to gain a quick insight into the discussion.

Common story

It is critical to keep a common story of how you are approaching the situation and ensure this is cascaded throughout the business. Keep the story front and centre, in uncertainty this is key. Keeping a common story in the minds of people including those working remotely is fundamental to build and maintain trust.

Visible and Open Leadership

It may be impossible to provide certainty to the team, be visible and communicate what you can. Leaders are used to having a lot of the answers, but its ok in these uncertain times to share when you don’t have all the answers. Balance this message with what you do know. For example, we will be ok for the next six months, but I am not sure what the market will be in the future.

Trust

Do not breach trust, it is precious and very difficult to get back.

Regular messaging

Repeat and change the message as needed. Provide regular and constant messaging so you are building on your story.

Passion

Remind people of the vision and your passion. This will spark energy and excitement.

Remote working

Find new ways of telling the story. Remote working can bring about ambiguity with all those missed water cooler informal chats. How can this be done differently?

Share how people contribute

If the story has changed, help people see how they contribute to the new story. Let them know how their role has changed and how their input fits with the new strategy.

Cascade

Ensure your cascade process is working. Often the story gets blocked and does not filter through. People then do not live and breathe the story.

Story confusion and fatigue

Beware of mixed messaging, keep the story clear and consistent to avoid any confusion. Story fatigue can also set in, where people stop listening. Think about how you can get the balance right.

Interesting in finding our more?

If you would like help in defining your story and delivering it in an engaging way contact us on info@pro-development.co.uk

Click here to see what we offer and how we can support your business

PRO-DEVELOPMENT OFFERS FUNDED TRAINING TO BUSINESSES TO SUPPORT HIGH PERFORMING WORKPLACES

Written by Michelle Mook on . Posted in Sunflower Diaries

FUNDED support is being offered to help businesses tackle challenges posed by the coronavirus and invest in developing their staff.

York-based Pro-Development is a training partner with the West Yorkshire Consortium of Colleges, and launched its Higher Performing Workplaces project in April to help businesses grow by developing internal talent.

Pro-Development, who have been supporting local businesses for the last nine years, are a local training partner with the West Yorkshire Consortium of Colleges (WYCC) who launched their Higher Performing Workplaces project in April 2020 aimed at supporting SMEs in the Leeds City Region to grow through developing internal talent with an extensive range of training programmes with 40% funding towards the cost from the European Social Fund (ESF).

Michelle Mook, who founded Pro-Development, employee engagement and development specialists, believes many businesses could lose key talent in the aftermath of recent changes without any investment in people.

She said participating employers were seeing more engagement in their business, and the training was helping to address some of the conflict that had arisen through virtual working and the furlough scheme.

She said: “The employee engagement projects which attract 40% funding are really helping businesses to understand what is working at the moment and where they may have some challenges and together, we are helping to build action plans that will help them towards becoming a higher performing workplace.

“That along with the empowering leaders projects which includes our unique 7-month outdoor experiential programme and a mentoring programme, both again which are eligible for 40% funding, are providing the time, support, training and skills development which is helping leaders, managers and individuals to develop and ensure they are bringing out the best in their teams and each other.”

One of their long-standing valued clients, Drivespeed Group based in York, employ a team of talented professionals and, like many other businesses, have been concerned about the wellbeing and engagement of their people through the crisis. Having taken advantage of the funding, it has enabled them to undertake an employee engagement project and a place for one of their Managers on their Empowering Leaders programme. Michelle Wallis, their Finance Director said “receiving the funding grant towards training with Pro Development has ensured we are able to keep up valued training, which is especially needed in these current times. Keeping staff motivated and trained has ensured our business will move forward stronger than ever before. In addition, it has not only saved us in actual costs but also long-term staff retention, which is our biggest and most valued asset.”

Pro-Development have helped several companies in the last few weeks to make changes and can already see the difference it is making. Another of their clients, Mollan & Co, an Accountancy practice in York, were also keen to create a high performing team.

Managing Director, Rob Mollan, said “Access to the help and funding made the decision to get assistance developing our team a no brainer. All teams need nurturing to get the best but unfortunately the pressure of the day to day business can mean this is something that can be neglected. Knowing that a happy functional team means we can do the best for our clients we appointed Pro-Development to run a team building day which was a big success. We found that getting someone from outside the business was a positive allowing people to be more open in discussing the issues and opportunities. We will defiantly be using Pro-Development again to help rebuild the team spirit after so many weeks of remote working during lockdown.”

Pro-Development are also pleased to announce that they will also be one of just 3 providers in the region offering fully funded Back in Business Peer to Peer Group sessions starting in September to help SME businesses work together and support each other with the current challenging environment over the coming weeks.

Joanne Patrickson, Project Director at the West Yorkshire Consortium of Colleges said, “These sessions will allow individuals to connect with like-minded business people from across our region to share experiences and ideas to get back on the road to business growth.

“We’re giving SMEs the opportunity to solve issues with their peers and action-plan to take their business forward in a changing economy, at no cost to them. Each session will be facilitated by a highly qualified coach, who will support and encourage solution-based discussions.”

Anyone interested in finding our more about the funded programmes should contact them by emailing info@pro-development.co.uk and they will check eligibility and share the range of opportunities available. You can also find our more on their website www.pro-development.co.uk.

Flourishing

Written by Michelle Mook on . Posted in Sunflower Diaries

So….what’s going right?

Now there is a question. What is going right for you now? It’s very easy to focus on all the negative things that are happening, yet we can overlook some of the positives that are happening, the things that make us flourish. So, we have thought about the positive things that have happened to Pro-Development throughout the pandemic. This can feel awkward, and it’s not to say it hasn’t been hard because of course, it has and still is….BUT some things have gone right and here are a few.

• We have had some of the best conversations as a team
• We have gained some new clients
• We have gained access to funding pots for our clients
• We have tidied the office (well, Michelle did – LOL)
• We have developed our processes
• We have developed as individuals, taking the time to learn new things
• We have developed our offerings and are now providing online services
• We have had fun with our virtual team nights in/out as opposed to out/out
• We have had a haircut (well some of us!)


Our challenge to you.

1. We challenge you to capture 3 things each day this week of things that are going right.

2. Note the difference this makes to your mood.

3. If you feel a positive difference, set the same challenge to your work colleagues.

If you feel you would benefit from some coaching and mentoring to help move from a negative to a positive mindset contact us on info@pro-development.co.uk. Click here to find out more about our coaching and we also are excited to be able to offer funded mentoring through the West Yorkshire Consortium of Colleges.

Fabulous and Fantastic

Written by Michelle Mook on . Posted in Sunflower Diaries

In a few weeks we will be starting a new Management Development Programme with 6 leaders/ managers who are looking to develop their skills and confidence in this area, which is fantastic.

We are really excited about this, and here’s why?

This is a clear message to us that, although many of us have been through difficult times, there are opportunities out there – how fabulous is that! We all just need to keep going and keep believing and keep working together. Together we are formidable!

Secondly, this demonstrates that some businesses are really seeing the importance of having strong leadership as we start to reintegrate and move into recovery. Leaders/managers will need to have a strong sense of self, a high degree of emotional intelligence and a skill set that can compassionately and respectfully lead and manage some new types of conversations and situations that are likely to emerge. In fact, we are already seeing challenges coming through including team conflict, working arrangements, and social distancing not being respected in the workplace.

The issue we have seen in many businesses is that the leaders/managers are often promoted into positions due to their technical excellence, sometimes we have seen it where the manager position goes to the person who has been there the longest. This is nothing new but the road to recovery is! Businesses will need talented, emotionally intelligent leaders to re-motivate and engage individuals and teams that have been impacted in recent months.

Our next programme starting in September is nearly full, and we would like to thank those businesses for supporting us. This means that in turn, we can support our local suppliers which is just fantastic. However, it’s not too late and there are still a couple of places left if you’re interested.

If you would like fabulous leaders/managers and feel your leaders/ managers would benefit from some support as we move forward, please contact us on info@pro-development.co.uk. We have lots of options ranging from on-line events to our fantastic 7 month experiential programme. Fabulous news too, 40% funding is available for eligible SMEs in the Leeds City Region through the West Yorkshire Consortium of Colleges. Click here to find out more.