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.

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