Why its important to have engaged employees!

Written by Michelle Mook on . Posted in Sunflower Diaries

We’ve been doing lots of Employee Engagement work recently with a varied range of clients in and around Yorkshire who have been getting some great insights to help them build their business. Alongside this, Michelle is speaking at a few events and conferences in the coming months.

happy smily head So, why is it important to consider how engaged your employees actually are?

For a start, if your employees are engaged they’ll be happier, healthier and more fulfilled. But equally great, you could also see a 12% increase in profit alone not to mention the increase in staff retention and 5% increase in productivity. We could go on!

Did you know? It can cost 12-18 months’ salary to replace an employee (Source: HayGroup, How to stop your talent taking flight, September 2013).

This might seem like an excessively high figure, but take time to consider the following, often hidden costs:

  • Recruitment, on boarding and training costs
  • Time spent on the exit process
  • Juggling workload and temp costs
  • Loss of expertise and productivity
  • Managing turnover
  • Quality problems and customer dissatisfaction

Here are some of our top tips from working with lots of different clients to help get you started….
  • Start with engaged people, recruit well
  • Create and share a vision for the future, one that is understood and resonates with all
  • Set clear expectations, and provide regular honest feedback
  • Are you developing your managers to bring out the best in their teams?
  • Rewards and Recognition, make the time to recognise what your staff are doing and say thanks!
  • Be Trustworthy, honour your commitments and trust others
  • Work/Life Balance, understand different needs of your people and try to be flexible
engaged-workplace Click this link to read more about our approach to measuring Employee Engagement in your business

If you’d like to know more, Michelle will be speaking at the following events:-

South York Networking Meet Up, York – 28th April 2016 4pm

Meet new contacts and understand more about Employee Engagement

Book your place here lnkd.in/ewJbNcp

The Business Network, York – 15th June 2016 Workshop 11.00- 12 noon

Engaging your people will increase your profits

Conference in London – end of June/early July

Details to follow, watch this space!

Learning at Work Week 16 – 22 May 2016

Written by Michelle Mook on . Posted in Sunflower Diaries

poster 2016 Learning at Work Week is an annual awareness campaign organised by the Campaign for Learning since 1999. You can take part in as a learner, company, or learning provider. Last year, thousands of organisations took part including large corporations, SMEs, public sector organisations and government departments. It has a different theme each year, this year it is CONNECT!

Learning at Work Week aims to put the spotlight on the importance and benefits of learning and development. It promotes an inclusive approach and supports the extension of opportunities to learn to all employees, especially those who may not currently participate for reasons that may range from personal barriers to historic organisational structures that focus development on particular staff.

Just some of the benefits of taking part:
  • Changing attitudes to learning and work
  • Greater awareness of opportunities to learn
  • Greater employee engagement
  • Informing business & learning and development strategies
  • Collating feedback, ideas and perspectives that inform future planning
  • Opportunities to discover and recognise internal talent
  • Greater recognition and valuing of different ways to learn in the workplace
  • Highlighting business priorities, agendas and addressing change
  • Addressing workplace silos and bridging information gaps

Learning at Work Week offers an opportunity to run a branded learning campaign in your workplace linked to a national event. Each year, thousands of organisations take part in the Week and run vibrant campaigns and activities which engage employees across their businesses in development and promote positive messages about learning. Learning at Work Week is not prescriptive in terms of what your company should do and how you should mark it, but provides a clear framework and ideas for planning events and activities that fit your particular context and goals and is explicitly linked to your business objectives and/or opportunities and the needs of your employees. This ensures that your Learning at Work Week activities can be built on after the event.

Are you ready?

If you want to get involved in this great opportunity, Pro-Development can help your business by providing a whole range of sessions, workshops, training, coaching or development support and if we can help, please call us to discuss in further detail.

Here are some links to the Learning at Work website, to help you understand more about it and how it can help you in your business.

Click here for more information about Learning at work week 2016

Book of inspiration – to help you plan your Learning at Work week

On the move ….

Written by Michelle Mook on . Posted in Sunflower Diaries

We’ve moved!!! We’re very excited to announce that we’ve moved into new offices at Forest Farm Business Park.

Yes, we made this bold decision after years of being cooped up in an extremely small office with a very large printer that took up far too much of our valuable space! It was so bad that we even had to resort to travelling to Spain to have our AGM in March as we didn’t have a big enough office or meeting room to house us all!! Ha ha!

We wanted to find somewhere that was convenient and easy to get to, but also a bit rural with a nice feel to it. So, we chose Forest Farm Business Park which ticked all our boxes. Its big enough for us to grow but not too big to overwhelm us! purple kettle

Steph has been busy sourcing and buying furniture and lots of purple accessories for us so we’re all fully branded with our company colour scheme. We even have a purple kettle and toaster!! Essential items to keep us going!

Our ‘move in’ day was interesting, exciting and stressful at the same time! Lots of heavy lifting, Michelle using power tools (OMG!), wrong printer being delivered, working on laptops sitting on the floor, meeting our new office neighbours, lots of coffee and tea, celebratory chocolates and cakes (essential!).

office people workingWe’ve had lots of good wishes from clients, friends and family so thank you to you all. We received a Betty’s hamper which was a lovely surprise, so thanks to Karen, Monica and their team at Partners.

If anyone would like to come and visit us, please don’t hesitate to pop in for a cup of tea, we’d love to see you, the kettle is usually on!

Fun in the sun!

Written by Michelle Mook on . Posted in Sunflower Diaries

Just a little update on our team trip to Murcia in Spain.

We had a fantastic time recharging our batteries and celebrating over 4 years of business! We managed one fairly lengthy team meeting but once that was done, we pretty much had a ban on “work talk” and concentrated on sunning ourselves with the odd Gin and Tonic thrown in for good measure, as expected Gordon came with us 😉

We pampered ourselves, laughed a lot, danced, shopped, sunbathed, read and talked! We even all managed to go for a sunny run around the lovely La Torre Golf Resort. What more could we ask for!?

Our apologies go to the tree that we pole danced, the people with whom we tried to hold conversations whilst under the influence of Gordon 😉 and to LA Torre resort for disrupting the peace and generally lowering the tone of the neighbourhood! Beware….we’ll be back!

As you can see by the photo the sun was shining for the latest corporate Pro-Development photo shoot!

Pro-Development at La Torre

Dealing with Change

Written by Michelle Mook on . Posted in Sunflower Diaries

The Four Stages of Change

Here we describe the four stages most people go through as they adjust to change.

Stage 1 – Shock or Denial

When first faced with the change, people’s initial reaction may be shock or denial, even if the change has been planned in advance and is known about, people still need to take time to adjust. An example may be when someone is faced with redundancy, at first they might go into denial thinking it may never happen to them, it will be ‘someone else’. road to change

This is a critical stage for communication. Communicate often and make sure that people know where to go for more information if they need it, and ensure that you answer any questions that come up.

Stage 2 – Anger, Fear

Once the reality of the change starts to hit, the negatively may creep in. Using our example of redundancy again, you may then become angry … you’ve worked there 20 years of your life, how could they do this to you? How DARE they do this to you! How will you pay you mortgage – they don’t care! This is a stressful and unpleasant stage.

For the organisation, this stage is dangerous. If this stage is badly managed, it can be damaging to everyone and needs careful planning and preparation. If you are responsible for change, you should prepare for this stage by carefully considering the impacts and objections that people may have. As the reaction to change can be personal and emotional, it is often impossible to pre-empt everything, so make sure that you listen and watch carefully during this stage.

building the new

Stage 3 – Acceptance

Once you realise the change is happening to you, eventually you move into acceptance and start to process what this means. At this stage people stop focusing on what they have lost, they start to let go, and accept the changes. They begin exploring what the changes mean, of what’s good and not so good, and start looking at how they should adapt.

As the person managing the changes, you can lay good foundations for this stage by making sure that people are well trained, and have an understanding of what benefits the changes will bring. Be aware that this stage is vital for learning and acceptance, and that it takes time. Don’t expect people to be 100% productive during this time, try to build in the contingency time so that people can learn and explore without too much pressure.

Stage 4 – Future Plans

Finally, having accepted the change, you start thinking about all the new possibilities and become excited about the future and what lays ahead. If the change is an organisational one and you are the one managing the change, this is where you’ll finally start to see the benefits, when your team becomes more productive and efficient because of the change.

Don’t forget to celebrate the success with everyone who has contributed, if its appropriate. By celebrating the achievement, you can establish a track record of success, which will make things easier the next time a change is needed in your organisation.

Being an Authentic Leader

Written by Michelle Mook on . Posted in Sunflower Diaries

authentic stamp Just take a minute yourself and think….why should anyone be led by you?

Umm…not easy is it!

It’s quite a difficult question to answer and one we ask people on our Management Development Programme quite often! However to help people find their answer we introduce the theory of Authentic Leadership developed by Goffee and Jones. Here’s what Goffee and Jones have to say:

Selectively show your weaknesses

Nobody wants a perfect leader – they don’t appear to need help. Besides…who’s perfect? We often hear leaders saying “one day I’m going to get rumbled”! What is wrong with showing you’re human?

Become a sensor

What do you hear, see, feel? What is this information telling you? Use your intuition and trust your instincts. To do this, you need to hone your ability to be present, listen and understand what is happening, what is being said but also what is not being said. It’s about collecting and interpreting subtle clues, detecting what’s going on without others spelling it out.

Practice Tough empathy

empathy This is about respecting the individual whist balancing respect for the task at hand. Leaders empathize fiercely with their followers and care intensely/even passionately about their peoples work. They’re also empathetically tough. This means giving people not necessarily what they want, but what they need to achieve their best. This could include giving feedback and making tough calls.

Dare to be different

Capitalizing on what’s unique about YOU. Doing this, lets you signal your separateness as a leader but also motivates others to perform better encouraging people to take risks and be different.

Distinguish yourself through qualities like imagination, expertise, adventure.

Goffee and Jones still believe leaders need vision, energy, authority and strategic direction, but to be a truly inspirational leader you should – Be yourself – more -with skill. Our Management Development Programme focusses on being authentic, so if you want to be yourself, more, with skill why not book on the programme today. It could be your game changer!

Are your Employees Engaged and Motivated?

Written by Michelle Mook on . Posted in Sunflower Diaries

We do a lot of work with businesses who contacted us because they were worried about losing some of their most talented people.

Recruiting the right people with the right attitude, values and skills is extremely difficult and the costs associated with replacing people has been said to cost between 12-18 months’ salary!


So, here’s some questions for you:-
  • Do you know if one of your best people is considering leaving?
  • Are you doing everything you can to ensure that people want to stay in your business?
  • Do you know what is motivating and engaging your teams to ensure they are giving their best?
  • Do you know what is getting in the way of people doing their best work?

These are difficult questions to answer, and the holy grail of employee engagement and staff morale can feel a mystery at times! Employee engagement is not about specific skills or individual talents. It is more than mere job satisfaction, and greater than simple motivation. Engagement is not something you can demand; it is something both you and your employee must contribute to.  Managers have a key role to play here and yet worryingly, 62% of employee’s leave their job as a result of their manager. Real, tangible economic benefits to engaging your employees are very clear:-
  • Increased retention
  • Reduced sickness
  • Greater customer satisfaction
  • Higher levels of creativity and innovation
  • Improved productivity
  • Optimum business performance
So what are the reasons why people decide to leave? Could these be some of the reasons?
  1. Lack of recognition for their achievements How many of us forget to give recognition to someone who has done a great job? Usually because we’re too busy and forget that it’s the right thing to do!  In a recent survey for a client, feeling valued and recognised was identified as the most significant area that needed to improve.
  2. Insufficient compensation and benefits This may or may not be in your control but it is worth reviewing regularly and ensuring that you are offering people competitive packages to help retain them.  Lots of our clients are finding it isn’t about salary either, it can be about flexible working or perhaps holidays.
  3. Infrequent growth and development opportunities You may not be aware, unless you ask, that your people want to progress and develop in their current role or into another role in your organisation.  Many of our surveys highlight that people do not have access to appropriate training and development.
Pro-Development can help with all these things, we can work with you and offer solutions to help you retain a great motivated team of people who are engaged in your business.  We are always happy to come in and have a chat about any of your concerns or challenges and share some of our ideas and experience of helping to raise employee engagement in your business.

Here’s what one of our clients said:-

Having been a sceptic of using external business advisers and personal developers, even though throughout my career I have been exposed to such individuals with many levels, and degrees of both interest and success, I have had to re-think my views. With Pro-Development our business has seen and experienced a totally different approach and a very positive level of results, both financially and in the progress of the business. Pro-Development have worked with our teams in their unique way with a programme of activity to support our employee engagement including events and training across a variety of job specs. They have the ability to work with both people who have sometimes to be cajoled to take part as well as those who are willing, with an enormous amount of success. Pro-Development’s programmes and continuing developments at all levels of the business, including directors, has given a new perspective to people’s approach to business life within our group of companies, even if I say the business had a solid work ethic and ethos before life with Pro-Development. Dare I say, even I have been exposed to Michelle’s and Sue’s ideas and methods which I feel have helped to build a solid workforce. Without doubt, any business wanting to grow and develop should have no reservation in working with Pro-Development, and I would strongly encourage you to at least have a look at how they can help you.   Roger Bodill, Chairman, DriveSpeed Group

Setting Goals

Written by Michelle Mook on . Posted in Sunflower Diaries

Have you thought about setting your goals for 2016 yet? goals for 2016

Is it one of those things you know you should do but never get around to?

Well it’s time to break the habit and write something down as according to a study done at Dominican University, those who wrote down their goals accomplished significantly more than those who did not!

So how do you start?

Think about

  • Your biggest learning in the last 12 months.
  • What are you going to do differently in 2016?
  • What you want to achieve next in 2016?
  • What do you want to be saying about your achievements in December?

Challenge for you!

Once you’ve reflected, take some time out to write down some personal SMART goals for 2016.

Then ask yourself …
  • Have I limited myself?
  • What could get in my way?
  • Am I excited by the goals?
  • How can I make sure that I achieve my goals?

Quote It’s a dream until you write it down, and then it’s a goal. -Anonymous

Leadership through horses

Written by Michelle Mook on . Posted in Sunflower Diaries

Bringing out the best in your team

“There is something about the outside of a horse that is good for the inside of a man”. – Winston Churchill

We’ve just had an amazing day working with some brilliant team members. Let us introduce them……

horses from leadership


Why horses?

Because your ability to lead others is put to the test! A horse can weigh more than 500 kilos and speaks in a foreign tongue, and unless you can attract and hold his interest, he may not be very interested in interacting with you. Believe us, they will also provide you with immediate, honest feedback on how you are doing!

The Directors on our Management Development Programme were certainly put to the test. They found it frustrating, rewarding, surprising and thought provoking! And it paid off, as by the end of the day they all influenced and motivated a horse (team member) to follow them by choice. What an achievement!

leading a horse






So what did our Directors learn from the team?

  • Take the time to build trust and build relationships
    • How often do you take the time to connect with people?
  • Be focused and set a clear direction
    • Do you know where you are heading?
  • Be purposeful
    • Does lack of confidence, hesitancy or indecision get in your way?
  • Keep things interesting
    • How are you engaging the team?
    • If something is not working, do you try something different?
  • Different situations require different levels of energy
    • Is using too much energy startling the team or draining you?
    • Is too little energy slowing the pace?
  • Be present and observe what’s happening
    • When did you last observe the team?
  • Step back
    • When things aren’t going as planned, do you come out of the detail?
  • Give people space
    • Are you overpowering, over focusing or micro-managing them
  • Strike the right balance between task and relationships
    • Are you so focused on the task that you forget about the people?
  • Communicate
    • It’s not just what you say, its often about non-verbal communication

Partnering with horses is an effective and impacting method to develop communication skills, increase self-awareness, inspire teamwork, collaboration and trust through genuine leadership. All attributes which are readily transferable to the workplace.

Celebrate your success!

Written by Michelle Mook on . Posted in Sunflower Diaries

time to celebrate          

As the year draws to a close its time to reflect on all that you have achieved and celebrate your success, but how many times do we forget the latter?

At Pro-Development we believe one of the most important parts of goal-setting is celebrating success. Taking the time to celebrate success, no matter how big or small the achievement helps to motivate the team, builds individuals confidence in their ability, builds customer confidence in the business, encourages continuous improvement along with creativity and innovation. It also says a lot about what a great employer you are. So celebrating success is good for people and good for business too. So go celebrate in style.
  1. Write down your success and put it where it can be seen every day
  2. Reflect on the key factors that helped you to get to success
  3. Recognise all those who contributed
  4. Thank everyone involved
  5. Accept and enjoy the compliments
  6. Share the news with those close to you such as friends, family and colleagues
  7. Share the news wider via twitter, blogs, newsletters, emails. You may just inspire someone!
  8. Cross it off your list of goals
  9. Treat yourself to something lovely
  10. Have some fun!
And there’s no better time to have fun than Christmas, so happy Christmas to you all.

prodev christmas do