Managing a divided workforce

Written by Michelle Mook on . Posted in Sunflower Diaries

A year ago many of us didn’t even know what a furlough scheme was and now it has proved to be a lifesaver for many business but it has come with some difficult decisions and had some unexpected impacts on morale and team dynamics.

  • Employees who have not been furloughed have had very high workloads, often taking on accountability that previously wasn’t theirs.
  • Employees who were/are furloughed might have felt/feel helpless and less valuable.
  • Furloughed people may be worried that they would be/will be first in the line for any potential job cuts.
  • There may be resentment or frustration towards those who have still been involved in the business and know what’s going on.
  • There may be resentment towards those who had/are having ‘time off’ whilst being paid to stay at home.

All of this and more needs handling carefully and has the potential to cause tension and conflict leading to impacts on engagement and productivity.  As Employee Engagement specialists, we are always big on team engagement but now more than ever it’s crucial that you focus on engagement. Here’s some ideas:

  • Communication is everything – do your best to reassure and make people feel valued.
  • Build in time for extra team meetings, huddles, catch ups and give people the opportunity to ask questions and share concerns.
  • Avoid small problems becoming a bigger issue – deal with them, open and honest conversations are key. We deliver lots on this so give us a shout if your team could do with an update and some practice.
  • How about a re-onboarding strategy? Get your team involved in what’s needed.
  • Develop handover plans so all know and understand their responsibilities, especially any changes.
  • Prioritise time with furloughed staff to bring them back up to speed, be sensitive and flexible and make sure they know they are integral to the business.
  • Spend time with none furloughed staff to re-distribute the right parts of their workload.
  • Communicating both short and long term goals to provide clarity will be important.
  • Reassure your people they will always be treated fairly
  • Team building sessions and activities – we can help! We have a 10-session programme with each 2-hour session running every 2/3 weeks​ and it has been very impactful. Each session combines development and action learning to create a sense of team and support for your Managers or your team. ​
  • Buddy up furloughed and non-furlough team members
  • Rewards and recognition will be important, especially if you can find a way to honour your non-furloughed people.
  • Lastly, a great opportunity to ditch obsolete working practices and embrace better ways of working. Empower your team to get them talking and working together on re-designing their work practices and solve problems.

Remember that emotional support might be needed, there’s been a lot going on and many people might be struggling. There is always a friendly ear here if you want to chat through any development, engagement or training issues.

There are plenty of opportunities for funded development and engagement work too. Keep an eye out for what’s available and coming up in your area. Businesses in the Leeds City Region can access 40% funding towards the training investment with us at Pro-Development.   Click here for more information



Job Description – Learning and Development Administrator

Written by Michelle Mook on . Posted in Sunflower Diaries

Job Description – Learning and Development Administrator

Founded 10 years ago, our vision at Pro-Development (UK) Limited is to inspire teams and individuals to improve how they work at every level through the engagement and development of their people. It is important to us that any work we do with our clients has a clear and focused outcome that adds value and makes a difference. Our values of Honesty and Integrity, Making a Difference, Working as a Team, Creativity and Fun guarantee that clients will have a great experience which focuses on achieving results for everyone.

Success continues, and as we implement plans for growth, we are seeking an exceptional Learning and Development Administrator to join our team.

Key Responsibilities and Tasks
• You will be tasked with supporting the business via a range of administrative duties. This is a hands-on role with opportunity to be involved in many areas of a small business.
• You will be required to provide a high quality and reliable service and will be expected to respond to our lovely clients in a polite, calm and professional manner.
• Welcome all visitors and answer the telephone, dealing with queries where possible.
• Diary scheduling and supporting our fantastic Learning and Development Consultants and associates with resources, materials and a myriad of arrangements.
• Ordering lunches, booking venues and suppliers, materials and recording purchases.
• Processing bookings, checklists and funding forms for various funding bodies and keeping excellent records and compliance documents.
• Following processes and procedures always with an eye on improvement opportunities.
• Having the ability to manipulate data from various sources and consolidate reports within Excel using formulas, formatting and database management.
• Providing, producing and updating training documentation which includes training presentations, setting up online tools and modifying materials.
• Maintaining the cleanliness and presentation of the Office so we have a lovely place to work.
• Printing, scanning, copying, filing, everything associated with running a small office.

Key Skills & Experience
Ideally the post holder should possess the following attributes;
• Be responsible, honest and reliable with excellent attention to detail.
• A proven track record in the provision of administration support in a busy office, including multi-tasking and meeting deadlines.
• Strong verbal and written communication along with interpersonal skills and comfortable dealing with client requests.
• Ability to self-manage a busy workload and prioritise own tasks to achieve objectives.
• Strong IT skills with ability and willingness to learn new systems and processes, whilst highlighting potential improvements to current processes.
• Proficient in Microsoft Office including Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and Outlook and other systems such as Capsule, WordPress, Zoom and MS Teams.
• Good numeric skills and understanding of working in a small business.
• Be resilient and solution-focused able to utilise knowledge to effectively problem-solve with a practical ‘hands on’ approach.
• Have an interest in building client relationships, promoting the business and contributing to social media and web marketing.
• Be supportive of our team and our clients and whilst doing all this also being positive and with a preference for keeping things fun and friendly.
• Be interested in developing people, the psychology of people and having a positive impact on what our clients achieve.

Likely full-time although can be a bit flexible, salary around £18K

An initial 2-hour Assessment Centre will be held on the 18th March 11.30-2pm.

Please call Tracey Flannery for an initial chat and send your CV to

01904 628838.

All you need is Love, altogether now!

Written by Michelle Mook on . Posted in Sunflower Diaries

Love is one of the most highly contemplated and argued concepts.

If you google using the word love in business you will find this, “Using the word love adds no value, fails to engage prospects and moves you no closer to getting what you want.”

In a sales email we can understand how you could be turned off (no pun intended) and some people use the word very discriminately, for instance, only with their family. Maybe, in attempts to be business-like, we have over-professionalised our behaviours to the detriment of us all as humans.

There has been much research exploring love in the context of leadership. What might happen if we put love at the heart of our business practice? Coupling the word “love” with leadership can feel uncomfortable, but love is central to leadership. As an emotion and as a behaviour. Even in the most severe and extreme environments, like armed conflict, love has the strongest place. Lieutenant Colonel Joe Ricciardi stood before his battalion of 1,000 soldiers deployed with clearing roads of IEDs in Afghanistan and gave them one simple message “You need to love one another”! Ricciardi went on to do a PhD on this topic and found that a team member who feels loved by his boss is significantly more likely to see his boss as a good leader. He defined love as intimacy, passion, and commitment.

If you are interested in understanding more about love as a deeply human exploration of leadership that is people-focused but continues to drive business, have a read of Dr Tracy Kite’s book Love To Lead.

At Pro-Development we use love a lot and we are not sorry! We love what we do, love working with our fabulous clients and love delivering impact in a fun and engaging way. We believe most of today’s leaders would agree that demonstrating love for employees, customers and a company’s products is important. To us, it’s about caring deeply and strongly. If we are to discuss business from the human view, we can’t not talk about love.

Of course, we need to consider the varieties of love which are appropriate and beneficial in the workplace. For us, it is about love forming the basis of mutually respectful relationships and enabling human beings to care what happens to them, other people and the world around them. If we can translate this into the workplace, we can also expect more trusting relationships, collaborative working and teams who behave more responsibly and with more accountability. We want businesses to be the best they can be, connected, loyal to organisational values and confident in growth potential.

You can spot a team where love is missing, whether you are courageous enough to call it that or not. In the case of our clients, love means providing them with innovative, quality products and services that offer real value. It is about being honest and open but always with love in our heart to help them to achieve all they deserve. And it also means striving to provide the very highest levels of customer service and working in partnership with them and their culture.

For us love means genuinely caring about your people, their happiness and well-being, supporting them and applauding them when they achieve. As a leader, you have the ability to inspire your people and build a culture that gets them excited and fully engaged in their work. You can help your employees learn new skills, take on new responsibilities, and grow and we can help support you with just that.

We also LOVE funding and the team at West Yorkshire Consortium of Colleges because working in partnership, we can offer 40% towards your investment in making your business a high performing workplace if you are based in the Leeds City Region. Whether that’s engagement projects, team building, coaching or full-on development programmes that are in your 2021 plan, talk to us about the funding you could receive.

You can contact us by emailing or calling us on 01904 628838.

Zoom, just one look and then my heart went Boom

Written by Michelle Mook on . Posted in Sunflower Diaries, Uncategorized

Well, we have all been busy Zooming (and MS Teaming) over these last few months adapting to our new environment, and we are becoming quite accustomed to this way of working.  We now have on-line team events and an on-line management programme and yet are often asked if they are as effective!

To be honest, although we had confidence in the content of the programmes, we were not sure how participative delegates would be in a virtual environment!  Well, we need not have worried, because on every single programme interaction has been brilliant.  There has maybe been the odd one or two people who were slightly more reserved but then, that is no different from face-to-face events so in the main, we have been really impressed.  We have also had some people who have shared that they have felt more able to be honest than if they were face-to-face!  We are certainly seeing a lot of honesty at these sessions.

We have set ourselves high standards to ensure the programmes have the vibrancy and experiential aspects of our face-to-face events and to us, that has contributed to their success.  Sessions are short, about a couple of hours, and run about every three weeks, allowing time for delegates to try new techniques and embed learning before coming back to the next session to share their reflections.

To us we have found Zoom and MS Teams a fantastic platform for learning and development.   Is Zoom and MS Teams the future?  For us, yes, they certainly have their place, and open up a whole new way of making learning more accessible, particularly for SMEs.  Do they replace face-to-face learning?  NEVER – whilst we embrace the new ways and really value the flexibility on-line learning brings… you never forget your first love 😉

To find out about our online programme click here

Look out soon for a video testimonial and hear what one of our clients has to say about their experience of our online team development programme.

Are you being an authentic leader?

Written by Michelle Mook on . Posted in Sunflower Diaries, Uncategorized

Do you love the skin you are in? Do you embrace your qualities and traits, those things that make you unique? Now of course we may have qualities and traits that we need to tone down a bit, after all, nobody is perfect😉. However are you being true to yourself and being a truly authentic leader?

Quite often the answer to the question is no. So, let’s just remind ourselves what an authentic leader is. We love Goffee and Jones descriptions which identifies 4 lovely characteristics.

An authentic leader is one who:

  Listens to Intuition An Authentic leader relies on and listens to their intuition. They listen and trust their instinct and use this to work out how and when to act. We all have the ‘gut feeling’, but do you listen to yours? Maybe it’s time to give it a bit more of your attention!

One- off Authentic leaders make the most of what is unique about them and are happy to reveal their differences rather than hide them and morph into a poor replica of somebody else.

Vulnerability An authentic leader is comfortable exposing some vulnerability, able to reveal they are not perfect, not always the expert. By doing so people tend to trust them more and in turn, reveal their vulnerability too. How refreshing and liberating this is, to not have to pretend to be everything to everyone.

Empathetically Tough! Authentic leaders lead with tough empathy. This is about giving people what they need, not what they want, and this is done with good intention and a kind heart.

  So, to be an authentic leader, embrace the ‘LOVE’ of self and everything that makes you so special.

If you would like to know more about becoming an Authentic Leader is may be worth exploring our Management Development Programme, and remember funding may be available so ask us for more details. You can contact us at or give us a call on 01904 628838.

Are your Team ready for 2021?

Written by Michelle Mook on . Posted in Sunflower Diaries

  Last year really highlighted the importance of team.  Many of us pulled together, some of us drifted apart.  We all faced our individual challenges and so when we came back together it didn’t always gel.  Sometimes a lack of empathy, time, motivation and energy got in the way.

Never fear, Pro-Development is here!  We recognised this as a potential barrier to high performance and pulled together a range of interventions to get the team back on top form.  We also recognised that we are not all ready to be face to face, but we did not let that get in the way!

We have run team events for many years now for numerous businesses, but like everyone else we have needed to be innovative to work around restrictions.  As a result, we developed one-off on-line team events (as well as doing outdoor face to face where we can) and a pick and mix selection of online modules to help you build an online programme for the team which is aligned to individual and business needs.  That said, all the programmes start with the same focus……vision, values and connection.

Teams require a re-focus on their joint vision which may have changed (most have in some way).  Getting everyone focussed on the same vision and direction will help them pull together. Through the programme, teams get an opportunity to think about where they want to be and how it will feel.

We then take time to hear from each and every team member who share a little bit about themselves; what’s important to them, where are their strengths, how the rest of the team can get the best out of them.  Some people can feel uncomfortable at the thought of sharing, but we can honestly say, each team we have worked with has found this experience to be extremely powerful in rebuilding team trust and connection.

When you have a team who trust each other, understand each other, are focused on the same vision and are able to have honest and open conversations you are on the path to high performance.

And let us assure you, these sessions are not webinars … these sessions are interactive, engaging and fun and we wouldn’t have it any other way.

What’s more 40% funding is available if you are in the Leeds City Region.  So if you’re sat there with a team who have not quite clicked and something is hindering high performance why not get in touch for a chat.  Give us a call on 01904 628838 or email for more information.

Blue Monday…gets a red card!

Written by Michelle Mook on . Posted in Sunflower Diaries

Oh, its back…blue Monday – did you feel it?  Did it get to you?  Well Blue Monday hit the top ten in the charts in 1983 (before we were born… obviously!).  So, to combat blue Mondays, here’s our top ten to knock it off the top spot!  

Our top ten tips!

  1. Make sure you are having your 1:1s with people so they feel valued and respected.
  2. Find out what motivates each team member. What gives them a buzz at work?
  3. Treat people as individuals – what motivates one could easily demotivate another.
  4. Provide meaningful work, let people understand how their contribution fits with the bigger picture.
  5. Catch people doing things right and provide regular feedback.
  6. Provide the resources to enable people to do their job.
  7. Provide opportunities for individuals to develop and grow.
  8. Ask people for their ideas and opinions.
  9. Surprise them with small acts of kindness (like chocolate …. just saying 😉)
  10. Engage with Brew Monday instead of Blue Monday.
  Samaritans Brew Monday is turning Blue Monday on its head and into something positive by encouraging people to get together over a warming virtual cuppa.  So the Samaritans are encouraging us to contacts a friend, family member or colleague for a virtual cuppa and a chat. It doesn’t have to be a Monday or a cup of tea, just taking time to really listen to another person could help them work through what’s on their mind. ​ Because now more than ever, sharing a cuppa is more than a drink – it’s about checking in and staying connected.  You can use this opportunity to fundraise too.  Click here for more information.

Connected, engaged and motivated teams

How connected engaged and motivated are your team?  Do you know?  Could you guess?  Why not consider an employee engagement survey to really understand how your team are feeling and find out what’s working well and not so well.  This really could make Blue Monday a thing of the past.   If you would like to find out more contact us at   Funding is available for this too, even more reasons not to be blue! You are probably eligible to 40% funding, its open to SMEs, Large, Public sector and Charities. Just give us a call to start the conversation 01904 628838.

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  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.