Lack of investment in developing managers and leaders

Written by Michelle Mook on . Posted in Sunflower Diaries

leadership oct 18 We are rapidly approaching the end of another year and yet we are still seeing a lack of investment in management and leadership skills in many SMEs. We often hear managers and leaders say they have had no formal development in this area and many just assumed the role because they were good at their job, however they are unsure of what expectations are placed upon them in a leadership role.

The Employer skills survey 2017 found that in terms of people or personal skill found to be lacking, management and leadership skills contributed to more than half of all skills gaps (53%).

Evidence suggests that best-practice management development can result in a 23% increase in organisational performance and significantly improve levels of employee engagement (source Dept BIS). Investing in your leaders and manager then would seem to have some very tangible business benefits.

Are you considering investing in your leadership and management capability? If so, we would encourage you talk to us about our experiential approach to learning that is creating transformational and embedded change in the businesses we work with. We don’t just talk about the leadership theory, we step into it and experience it. Click here to view our video of delegates who have experienced our Management Development Programme and if you would like to know more, email us at

Deadening and Demoralising?

Written by Michelle Mook on . Posted in Sunflower Diaries

demotivated person at desk oct newsletter “People are reporting that they find work a mixture of crushing, deadening and/or demoralising. Their workload is often heavy and relentless and there is little or no support.” – Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development.

Is this you?

What is interesting is that we can be the cause of this, for example, we place unrealistic expectations on ourselves, we over promise or manage others in a way that is demotivating i.e. not giving recognition, going through the motions at appraisal, not listening (need we go on!). What then happens if that these behaviours become our new norm. Sound familiar?

Unfortunately, these new norms that we create consequences on employee engagement levels and worryingly, in 2018 UK engagement levels are in decline! That’s not good for the you, your business and the UK economy.

So, what can you do?

• Start to notice your habits and norms that have been formed.

• Do your habits and norms need challenging?

• Challenge others in their daily practices.

• What new norms have they developed that are having a detrimental impact?

• Take time out to listen to people – really listen!

• Have more honest conversations.

• Be brave and call it when it’s all too much.

• Be present and notice the signs of deadening and demoralising actions in others and take positive action.

If you are interested in finding out the levels of employee engagement in your business, why not contact us for a conversation about how we can work with you to take positive action, injecting new life and increasing the va va voom!

A new job…frightening and scary or spookily good?

Written by Michelle Mook on . Posted in Sunflower Diaries

woman scared 0ct 18 If you would have asked me last year where I would see myself in a year’s time, my answer would certainly not have been ‘employed’.

As a business owner of 8.5 years, I considered myself ‘unemployable’ and thought that my attitudes and values would only really fit with working for myself. Fast forward a year and I can now tell you I have just completed my first month working for Pro-Development and find I am employed and enjoying it.

If I am honest, it was more that 1 year ago that I realised something was missing from my working life. It wasn’t the work as I had the pleasure to work with many fantastic clients. Nor was it the business associates, again I have worked with a number of people who have made a big impact in my life. No, it was this feeling of being part of something bigger… it was something I couldn’t put my finger on, but later I worked out that it was being part of a team. I hadn’t realised just how much missing this could impact on my work and more importantly my motivation, I am sure many business owners out their can resonate with this.

So I decided to put explore my options and through some great connections found the opportunity. After an assessment centre and a number of meetings I was offered the position and was so delighted… and scared too. The emotions I experienced before I started were a real mix, excitement, anticipation and happiness that I would be in a team again and working on some exciting projects. Also worry and concern that I had done the right thing in closing my business. A hotch potch of emotions which felt like they were a contradiction and I am still processing some of them 3 weeks later.

When I now reflect on my decision and it feels like a good one and here’s why:

1. Effective Team Relationships

I mentioned before that when I worked for myself something was missing. It wasn’t always like that, but I noticed that when I was no longer in any kind of partnership, it really hit home. Let’s be honest, it can be a bit lonely working on your own, and for me that was definitely the case. I get energised by mixing with and working with others, in fact I get some of my best ideas by talking out thoughts with someone else. Already I have noticed the benefits of being part of the Pro-Development team and feel like I am building some great relationships.

2. Learning New Things

As a facilitator and coach, I always want to make sure I am working with the right tools and techniques to ensure that my client gets the best outcomes. I think it has been easy to just work with the tools and methodologies I know, rather than trying something new. Since I have been working with Michelle, Sue, Kath and Steph I am already learning new things and this is exciting me, it means I get to try this out with my clients and get a little stretched out of my comfort zone.

3. Further Reach

Whilst I have worked with a number of wonderful clients, there is no doubt that Pro-Development have some amazing clients and have a great reach. I often reflected that I wanted to reach further and help more fabulous people have their light bulb moment. I realise now that I can definitely do that in this team and again this is very motivating for me.

4. More Structure

I am really pleased to have a little more structure in my working life now. Whilst I don’t want the regiment of a strict 9 – 5 that I had in my corporate life, when I worked on my own I found that I wasn’t always as structured as I needed. Don’t get me wrong, one of the reasons that I liked the idea of Pro-Development was their flexible working approach and I now fell like I have a good balance.

5. Motivation

I have noticed that my motivations levels are up, and it feels nice to be part of something bigger than myself. The last 4 weeks has gone so quickly, and I am looking forward to what is to come. I also find that I have more space to think about this, rather than worrying about other business-related stuff. So you might ask – has it been a bit scary getting a new job with the awesome Pro-Development team? Yes, I think it has, but scary isn’t always a bad thing is it? Scary means taking a chance, making a change, being accountable and ultimately trying something new. As Eleanor Roosevelt said ‘Do one thing that scares you every day, those small things that make us uncomfortable help us build courage’. Life means change and this is one change that I am so glad I made.

Is a lack of focus on employee engagement impacting on increased mental ill health?

Written by Michelle Mook on . Posted in Sunflower Diaries

engaged-workplace I was talking with a prospective client this week who are concerned at the increase they are seeing in sickness due to Mental ill health. It was interesting as they had mixed thoughts as they wondered whether it was good that people were now feeling able to say that their sickness is due to mental ill health. Regardless, it was a big concern to them! And quite right too. With Mental Health Awareness day yesterday, it highlighted again the importance of this to our businesses. We’ve been discussing this quite a bit at work here and with our existing clients.

The Mental Health foundation share “For many of us, work is a major part of our lives. It is where we spend much of our time, where we get our income and often where we make our friends. Having a fulfilling job can be good for your mental health and general wellbeing.” A recent article in the guardian shared research that showed that of the people they were working with who were suffering from mental ill health, around 87% of them were not happy at work!

At Pro-Development we’re working really hard to help local businesses with this issue through our employee engagement work. We know that in the businesses that we work with who are actively working on their employee engagement and looking at ways to engage and develop their people, they have a happy and healthy workforce.

So what are you doing?

Do you know how engaged people are in your business and if people have a good sense of wellbeing at your workplace?

Are you doing enough to engage your people and in the right areas?

To find out more about our approach to employee engagement, click here. Or, why not come along to our next workshop on the morning of the 17th October, by clicking here to book your place. Just £30 + VAT + booking fee for the morning including refreshments followed by a light lunch.or more information and to book your place.

One of our clients who we have worked with now for 5 years has recently achieved a whopping 96% engagement score in their business and their team LOVE working for them. What difference would it make to your workplace if you could improve your employee engagement?

Being authentic at work

Written by Michelle Mook on . Posted in Sunflower Diaries

authentic pic 2018 Here’s a question we get asked a lot – How can you remain authentic when you act differently at work than at home?

We call this difference between home and work as being your “professional self”. By this we mean staying true to your values and what is important to you at work, however, how you communicate and interact with people is slightly different than you would in your personal life, less familiar maybe. For example, at work how you make your decisions, prioritise work and rationalise things remain true to your values. You then pay more consideration in how to communicate this is a way that will help to influence the outcome, by adapting your style to suit the audience. At home, we perhaps wouldn’t consider how we communicated our message quite so much (or maybe we should!)

We see this as very different to people who put on a façade, a mask, some people even say they put on armour to become the person they need to be at work. Quite often in these situations people are not living to their values, having to make decisions and take actions or behave in ways that are not aligned to self and perhaps more aligned to the culture and the values of the organisation, this then impacts on authenticity.

Our challenge to you:

• Are you being true to your values at work?

• How does your professional self show?

• If you put on a façade or wear amour at work, consider what you can do to bring more of your professional self?

Our Management Development Programme helps leaders and managers become truly inspirational and authentic leaders. Our next programme starts in the Autumn so if you think this is something that would benefits you, your managers and your business, click here for further details or contact us at

Being vulnerable

Written by Michelle Mook on . Posted in Sunflower Diaries

vulnerability 2018 Have you ever shown your vulnerability at work? Yikes it’s a scary thought! However, when people share their vulnerability, it tends to break down barriers, shows a more human side and people are more likely to trust you and connect with you.

Showing a vulnerability demonstrates honesty and openness and displays trust in one another. Now let’s put a little bit of context around this. We are not talking about you declaring to the world you can’t do your job, that is perhaps making you a little too vulnerable! We are talking about a level of vulnerability that says, “do you know what, I am aware that XYZ isn’t my strong point, but I am working on it”. Your reaction to this is likely be one of support or encouragement (one would imagine).

We have personal experience of working with someone who showed not one inch of vulnerability. It was fascinating to watch the group interact with this infallible person. They actively started to sabotage him to affect his performance! Why? Because they could not connect with him and he became an outsider to the group and the groups goals.

If you show some vulnerability, particularly as a leader, it is highly likely that you will encourage others to do the same (provided there are no detrimental consequences to doing so). When the whole team can operate in this manner then the trust you have within the team will be a real strength for you to draw upon to and help your team become a high performing one.

Questions for you…

• Are you aware of your strengths and your areas of development?

• Have you shared these with others and shown your vulnerabilities?

• Is a lack of trust affecting your team’s performance?

We have a range of tools that can help you develop in this area from Disc 363 which provides you with feedback on your strengths and development areas through to employee engagement surveys that can identify trust levels in your organisation. If you would like to explore this area further why not call us on 01904 628838 for a chat.


Written by Michelle Mook on . Posted in Sunflower Diaries

Wow, what a whirlwind it’s been, and I can’t believe I am already 3 months in.

I joined Pro-Development in June, in a supporting role to assist with back end functions to help free up our learning & development consultants to get on with what they do best. Having not started a “new job” in over 13 years the thought of being in a new environment was quite daunting. A key thing for me was understanding and knowing I had the full support of both my Manager and my team right from the off and that, I can say, I certainly had.

It’s so important for any new starter to understand exactly what their role is and what’s expected of them, and to be given the opportunity to ask as many questions as necessary (even if you do feel you are bugging the heck out of everyone!!!) to enable you to perform your tasks, not just to the best of your ability but to ensure you meet the expectations of your employer.

So, for me it’s all about clear guidelines, goals and regular communication and reviews – not just in the early days but ongoing – long may it continue.

Exciting News – we are looking to grow our team

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

Recruiting-Now-12-v2 Learning and Development Consultant

Salary is negotiable

Based in York, North Yorkshire

Job Details

At Pro-Development, we love to help businesses in Yorkshire and the Humber to create a great place to work by engaging and developing their people and teams. That also includes us – we are a small but perfectly formed team and are looking for that special someone who can help to build on what already is a fantastic team. We are also a growing team who are building a significant client base working with clients around Yorkshire and the Humber developing bespoke solutions from employee engagement projects to leadership and management development along with training, team building and coaching. We love what we do and are looking for someone who loves working in these areas.

We have an opportunity for a full or part-time Learning and Development Consultant – someone who is an experienced and confident leadership and management development professional who holds a coaching qualification to help deliver our amazing 7-month experiential leadership development programme. The successful candidate will also enjoy designing, building and delivering interactive and fun training, meeting clients and coaching. This could be in an array of personal development topics such as communication skills, delivering great appraisals and holding honest conversations, from assertiveness skills to time management or managing conflict to building strong relationships.

Most importantly, like us, you must have a passion for developing people and be keen to work with and support a team of other like-minded people.

Alongside this, you should be confident at working with senior leaders as you will also help support our employee engagement projects. We will provide training in both the in-house bespoke staff survey tool we use along with the reporting processes we have in place. However, your coaching skills will come in useful here when interviewing team members and it would also be helpful if you enjoyed analysing data and finding solutions that will help businesses bring out the best in their people.

Most of all, you will genuinely care about making a difference and delivering exceptional customer service, creating a positive and professional impression and building long term relationships with our clients. You should also have a sense of fun as this an important part of everything we do in our team.

So, if you would like to be part of our team at Pro-Development and have previously been in learning and development, we would love to speak to you.

Please do give us a ring on 01904 628838 or if it’s easier, drop us an email on

We look forward to meeting you soon!

The Advantages Of A Calm Approach

Written by Michelle Mook on . Posted in Sunflower Diaries

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

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

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

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

Click here for more information.

Why Should Anyone be Led by Gareth Southgate?

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

football 2018 It’s been reported that businesses are clamouring to secure the services of Gareth Southgate to share his views on leadership, with offers of £100k plus for speaking events. We wrote last month about Gareth Southgate’s ability to hold honest conversations, but what other leadership qualities does he demonstrate, and what can we learn from him?

Here at Pro-Development we regularly ask leaders, ‘why should anyone be led by you?’. This can be a scary question, but in the same way that Gareth Southgate needed the England team to follow him, we need our people to follow us. Goffee and Jones carried out extensive research in this area and found that, in addition to vision and energy, leaders need 4 other qualities. What are they, and how do you and Southgate measure up?

First, inspirational leaders selectively show their weaknesses. Following the semi-final defeat, Southgate admitted that the England team are not in the top 4-5 in the world yet. He has been very honest about the weaknesses of the team as a whole and the work they still need to do together without singling anyone out for praise or criticism, it’s all about the team.

Inspirational leaders dare to be different, Southgate openly hugged his players, demonstrating that he really cares for them as people. He doesn’t stand on the touchline and shout at his players, he speaks quietly and trusts his players to execute his plans, very different from the shouty, aggressive approach of some ‘old style’ football managers.

Leaders who are inspirational demonstrate ‘tough empathy’. They empathise and care intensely about their people and the work they do. Southgate released Fabian Delph mid-tournament so that he could attend the birth of his third child. Tough empathy can include having the courage to let people go in a sensitive way, he was not afraid to drop experienced players such as Wayne Rooney. Inspirational leaders also rely heavily on intuition and collect and interpret soft data. Southgate consoled the Colombian player Uribe after his missed penalty. In his team’s moment of triumph, and his personal redemption, Southgate displayed an understanding and empathy that is often lacking in football.

To what extent do you selectively show your weaknesses, dare to be different, demonstrate ‘tough empathy’ and use your intuition? If you need help in developing as a leader or manager, our management development programme and coaching will help you to develop and grow your unique abilities as a leader.