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BOOM…and we’re back!  Hello 2021! 

Written by Michelle Mook on . Posted in Sunflower Diaries

Time to set amazing, challenging, and fun goals.  Whether they are business goals, personal goals, or team goals, take some time to really think about what it is you want to achieve this year.  We always have our annual goal setting session at the start of the year and are already feeling inspired and excited about what we want to achieve together.   

Why is it important to set goals? 

  • It gives you direction and a focus
  • It provides a sense of purpose
  • You will be motivated to achieve it 
  • You will gain a sense of achievement when you take each small step 
  • Each small success builds up your momentum 
  • Your self-belief about your capabilities will grow and who knows what that will lead too! 

How to set your goals 

  • Take some time to reflect on the year before – your successes, challenges and learnings and what will you take forward into 2021. 
  • Visualise the end of 2021. What would you have like to have achieved by that point? 
  • Capture your vision in picture form or words.
  • Think about all the different steps to achieve the goal(s).
  • Start to place these different steps on a timeline.
  • Check each milestone you place on the timeline is achievable and realistic (if they are not you may give up on your goals throughout the year, believing it’s not possible!). 
  • Look back at your goals – make sure they excite you. 
  • Place your goals somewhere where you can revisit them regularly – and hold yourself to account to deliver! 
If you would like help finding your direction, focus and goals, or holding you to account it may be worth considering coaching.  Working confidentially with a coach can help you establish your goals and how you can work towards achieving them.  Often the first step is the hardest, but when you work with someone else, through conversation, the answers you are looking for often appear in front of your eyes.  If you would like to find out more about coaching, contact us at info@pro-developemnt.co.uk..  Don’t forget about funding they you may be eligible for too.  Up to 40% if you are in the Leeds City Region.  Click here for more. 

Working as a team

Written by Michelle Mook on . Posted in Sunflower Diaries

It’s funny, we have worked as part of a team for as long as we can remember, but earlier this year we were out and about on the road so much, we felt we became a little disconnected. We didn’t see some people for a couple of weeks, we weren’t involved in office chat, we missed out on various pieces of communication, you know, those water cooler chats (actually, we don’t have a water cooler, we have a fridge with Prosecco in it as many of you know). We felt a bit like lone ships at times. Of course, we are lucky to have such a fantastic team, so we supported each other and those in the office, kept those out and about on the straight and narrow. What was interesting though was the fact we did not realise how disconnected we had become until lockdown.

In lock down, we were no longer out on the road. We were sat in our home offices and every morning we had a team chat. We can honestly say we have never felt as closely connected to each other as we did through lockdown. It made us realise that up to that point we hadn’t taken the time to connect on the same level, because we ‘got busy’! The first thing we did when we got back together in November was commit and agree to how we wanted it to be, because we recognised the power of us as a team.

• We have agreed to use the collaboration tools available to us, so if we’re not in the office when there is a meeting we simply dial in.

• We use WhatsApp as a social chat – so now we are all part of the office chat.

• We are working towards agreeing a company song (Kylie M is the top contender at the moment.

• When we are together we make sure we have time to walk down the farm track to check in on each other and also discuss work, share ideas and pick each other’s brains.

The message is simple. We all ‘get busy’, that will never change. Now let’s get ‘mindful’. Mindful of the fact that with the tools available to us, there are no excuse to harness the power of the team.

Our challenge to you

What are you going to do to harness your teams’ power?

If you would like support in harnessing the power of the team, please get in touch for a chat. Remember funding is available too if you are in Leeds city region. Contact the team.

Successful teams in a challenging year

Written by Michelle Mook on . Posted in Sunflower Diaries

As we approach the end of what has been a challenging and testing year, we look around physically or virtually and see the team who have helped us get through to this point. So, what are the elements that lead us to have a successful team, a team that supported each other through the highs and the lows of 2020 and still brought about amazing results?

Here are some of our thoughts….

• Recruit to the values – get the right people from the start

• Provide direction and clarity – get people focused on doing the right thing, at the right time

• Keep communication lines open

• Create a common goal and celebrate wins collectively

• Take time to understand people’s strengths and play to those strengths

• Help people to understand everyone’s contribution

• Be supportive and not judgemental when things don’t go to plan

• Have regular honest conversations

• Value the importance of connection – allowing for social interaction and to build trust

• Take the time, time to notice and time to check in with people

• Let them know what you value about them as a team member

• Have fun together

Maybe not all these elements were in play for you throughout 2020 so, as we head into 2021, think about what you can do to make 2021 an amazing year for you and your team.

If you think your team could do with some team building to rebuild some of the elements, get in touch with us to discuss how we can support you. Remember if you are in the Leeds City Region, you will likely qualify for 40% funding too.

Contact the team.

Time to reflect

Written by Michelle Mook on . Posted in Sunflower Diaries

Good grief, another year nearly over, and what a year! As we say every year, now is the time to reflect and this year, we probably have more to reflect on than ever.

It has been the year where many have re-evaluated what is important to them. Whether that be more family time, leisure time or maybe a change of career. It has been a year where we started to notice more. We noticed the blossom, the light of the moon, the birdsong which heightened as the sound of traffic dropped. It has been a year where our resilience has stood out alongside our vulnerability, and a year where we have realised that both have their place.

So, take a moment and reflect on your year. Think about the moments that made a difference, the things you have achieved despite the turbulence, uncertainty and chaos around us. Think about the challenges you have overcome, and the lessons learned along the way. We know that some of you have not stopped for breath this year. Now is the time.

Before you step into 2021, think about what you are going to continue with and what you are going to differently, what will you stop and what will you start. Make some commitments and write them down. Visual how you want 2021 to be and feel for you.

If you feel like you need any support to step into 2021 with renewed vigour and energy, you may wish to consider coaching. Our confidential 1:1 sessions will support you in working towards a goal you set. Funding is available for these sessions too if you are within the Leeds City Region. It might be just the tonic you need to set you on the right path for 2021.

For more information, contact the team.

York Press Business Personality of the Year winners join forces

Written by Michelle Mook on . Posted in Sunflower Diaries

Founder of Pro-Development, Michelle Mook has welcomed Tracey Flannery into the team at Pro-Development HQ and now their York Press Business Personality of the Year awards stand proud in the office side by side. The dynamic duo joined forces to continue to support local businesses and develop the local talent in the region. Tracey will be working with Michelle and the Pro-Development team on developing the business going forward and delivering the engaging and interactive sessions that they are so well known for.

Michelle Mook, Managing Director, said ‘We are absolutely delighted to welcome Tracey Flannery into our team this month. The last few months have been challenging but we have worked hard with our clients to move the majority of our support to online and it has made a big difference to everyone. We know that Tracey will just further strengthen our team and will help with the continued growth of Pro-Development. Tracey is a perfect fit for our team, we know that she is going to make an incredible difference both to the team and to our clients”.

Pro-Development have continued to grow as a business year on year and as they come into their 10th year of trading in 2021, are feeling positive about the future and helping their clients and other local businesses to develop and grow their own people and teams.

Tracey Said’ This feels like a positive step in my story, to add to my portfolio, and I’m excited to understand the business strategies, processes and systems and help promote the engaging and inspiring learning and development that continues to make Pro-Development a special jewel that Yorkshire has. Michelle and the team believe that if you want to grow your business, you need to Grow your People and it’s great to join a team where my values align and I believe in the vision. Our vision is to inspire you, your teams and individuals to improve how you work at every level through the engagement and development of your people.

Tracey Flannery won the prestigious Business Personality of the Year award in 2016 when she was Chief Executive Officer at York Science Park Ltd and has more recently enjoyed a portfolio career coaching and training amongst her other York roles. Michelle was awarded Business Personality of the Year in 2018, is Chair of York Professionals and a Regional Ambassador for Engage for Success who are a voluntary movement commissioned by the Government promoting employee engagement as a better way to work that benefits individual employees, teams and whole organisations.

Michelle added ‘The last few months have been really tough for our local business community and we are so proud to have accessed over £36K of funding for businesses in the region. The funding will be available until September 2021 and we hope to continue to access more funding as demand rises as businesses struggle to engage and develop their teams in the current climate.”

Pro-Development are well known locally for employee engagement expertise, the range of training programmes they provide and more recently partnering with the West Yorkshire Consortium of Colleges (WYCC) to provide funded programmes under their Higher Performing Workplaces project aimed at supporting all businesses in the Leeds City Region with 40% funding towards the cost of developing their people, teams or business from the European Social Fund (ESF).

Michelle shared that they are concerned that many businesses will lose key talent as people are now dealing with the aftermath of the changes and a lack of investment into people at this time will only exacerbate this. The funding is helping to make a big difference enabling businesses to invest at a time when cashflow, in some cases, is tight.

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 out more on their website www.pro-development.co.uk.

A New Chapter

Written by Michelle Mook on . Posted in Sunflower Diaries

A new chapter, a fresh start, another adventure…

We are all so excited here at Pro-Development and have some fantastic news that we wanted to share with you. After a few months of being in discussions, we are delighted that the super lovely and amazing Tracey Flannery has taken the step into joining our team. Many of you may know Tracey from her days of leading York Science Park and in the last couple of years, coaching and supporting local businesses. A perfect fit for our team, we know that she is going to make an incredible difference both to the team and to our clients and we are as giddy as kippers!!

We asked Tracey to share a few words about her experience and here are her thoughts so far:-

“I’ve always had a positive outlook and now more than ever it’s highlighted in my new adventure with Pro-Development. I’ve joined the amazing sunflower team and my role feels like it is going to fit like a glove. You know that feeling when you have found your groove, you appreciate what the team each bring to the whole, you align to the values and vision and time just passes by really quickly because you are so immersed in what you are doing. I’ve still a lot to learn from them all and also a lot to give and feed into the business as we develop in 2021 and beyond.

Feels like a great big positive step in my story, to add to my portfolio, and I’m excited to understand the business strategies, processes and systems and help promote the engaging and inspiring learning and development that continues to make Pro-Development a special jewel that Yorkshire has. Michelle and the team believe that if you want to grow your business, you need to Grow your People. Our vision is to inspire you, your teams and individuals to improve how you work at every level through the engagement and development of your people.

It’s an incredibly busy time for us as team members return to their old working patterns after furlough, everyone is trying to get back to the strategies and projects that were started in March that have been delayed or changed and the funding that we have available working alongside WYCC is very attractive to businesses who feel that now more than ever they need to invest in their people. Who wouldn’t want 40% funding towards their engagement and development programmes? Staff motivation, teamworking, engagement and wellbeing are at the top of the agenda with most businesses we are talking to.

Looking forward to getting to know the client base and continuing to build it – I’m working part-time and look forward to chatting through options for your business.”

Tracey has only been with us 3 weeks, but she is already making huge strides and is exuding our value of “Making a Difference”. We cannot wait for you all to meet her in the coming weeks and months ahead and we hope you all join us in wishing her a long and successful career with our lovely team. Anyone wanting to get in touch with Tracey can contact her on her email tracey.flannery@pro-development.co.uk or call 01904 628838.

Let there be light!

Written by Michelle Mook on . Posted in Sunflower Diaries

Pro-Development have had a big focus on wellbeing over the last few months, and at York Business Week we shared our wellbeing model. Click here to see the session delivered by Michelle. In this blog we wanted to hone into one aspect of our wellbeing model “creating the right environment” as one article grabbed our attention from the BBC, which highlighted a few areas we had overlooked. These being clutter, light and plants!

Working from home now, we can see pots in the sink, clothes on the bathroom floor, piles of work which gets moved back and forth from office to home, and a pile of ironing! The BBC have reported that “clutter can raise your level of cortisol” a stress hormone. That may be because clutter delivers conflicting stimuli to the brain, which then must work harder to filter out unhelpful signals”.

Generally, whilst at home we can put up with a lot of clutter. This article points out however that this is now our workplace. We had not quite thought of it in that way! Maybe we need to give more thought to our working environment at home and tidy areas we are going to work in. So, stop what you are doing and look around you right now – what’s your ‘workplace’ like? If it could do with a little work, take 10 minutes now to declutter and tidy. Next, sunlight triggers the brain to release the hormone serotonin. This helps you to feel calm and focussed, boosts your mood and reduces anxiety – sounds good to us! The article suggests using mirrors to bounce light around the place and working upstairs which apparently gets more light – who knew (now working upstairs which also means we get to see the clothes on the bathroom floor….swings and roundabouts!)

So, are you are getting enough light in your life? Where is your workspace? What can you do to bounce the light around?

The final one that struck a chord with us was plants. Now, we know being outdoors is good for us, it reduces stress, its calming and restful. We have been advocates and have written about this for years, but we had not thought about bringing a bit of the outdoors in. It’s obvious when you think about it! And, although we are not renowned for our ability to nurture plants (people is definitely our thing), we are working hard on this! Having a plant to look at allows you brain to have a break, and to focus on something undemanding, that has got to be good for us. The garden centres are open so let’s go buy some plants.

So, what’s the moral of the story? No matter how much we think we are looking after our wellbeing, there are always little tweaks and modifications we can take that will make a positive difference. If the wellbeing of you or your team is something you are wanting to focus on, get in touch with us to discuss the many ways we can support you. It might be a tweak or a more substantial intervention but the fantastic news is that there is currently funding available too, so maybe now is the right time!

Finally, thanks to the BBC for making us think 😊

Mama Mia!

Written by Michelle Mook on . Posted in Sunflower Diaries

Yes, here we go again, another lockdown but this time with a glimmer of hope of a vaccine! This made us think about how we can forget to look for the positives sometimes. The news of a lockdown has hit hard, a second blow, a blow which has floored some people!

So, let us take a moment to reframe and look for the positive.

• A vaccine is imminent – wahoo!

• The pets are ecstatic to have us home

• We have remote working nailed

• Funding has been made available to support team building

• Schools are open

• Training can continue and remember for those still furloughed

• We have more time to exercise

• Funding is available – in fact 40% towards the cost of training and development

• The roads are quieter

• Christmas is around the corner!

So, let’s look to the positive and re-energise. Then let us spend our energy supporting those who need it most. Take time to notice those around you, who need support, who need your time, who need a rest, who need positivity and who needs compassion.

We have all been on a bit of a journey with highs and lows – lets make sure we come out of this stronger, kinder, and happier.

If we can help you in any way let us know. Whether you need training, coaching, mentoring or an opportunity to do some team building, we can support you with funding. So yes, here we go again, but let’s go again with a spring in our step, sunshine in our hearts and funding in the pot!

You can contact us at info@pro-development.co.uk or call us for a chat 01904 628838.

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.