A DiSC day at the races

Written by Michelle Mook on . Posted in Sunflower Diaries

team july 2019 races One hot sunny day in July the Pro-Development team stepped into the limo and drove to the races (well, when we say Limo, it was the X46 from Pocklington) with our tummies full of sugar free, dairy free, gluten free food. Pre-loaded with champagne we tottered into the races for a fun team day out!

With not a dominant style amongst us we dithered about … which horse to back? What time to leave? How to get home? If only we could be more decisive … what could go wrong?

Michelle in her ‘I’ style got overly excited jumping up and down on the spot, clapping her hands and shouting, “can we bet now, can we bet now.” Vicky’s optimism shone through (also an ‘I) “we’ve got this” & “today’s the day” you heard her cry at every race, as she kissed the tote ticket in a dramatic and expressive manner!

Sue, being an ‘S’ style was feeling unsure, she normally attended Yoga on a Friday and this change had unsettled her slightly. The team recognised this and gave her the time she needed (at the bar) to become accustomed to her new environment.

Meanwhile the overly cautious and analytical ‘S’ style Kath cast her eyes over the ‘Racing Post’. Her trained eye deliberating on the statistics. Luckily, she had conducted research earlier in the week so was well informed and in a position to make deliberate choices.

Steph, with her predominate ‘S’ style looked on the team with pride. Her nurturing ways had paid off, we hadn’t drunk too much or become too rowdy – she would make sure we got home ok. She had kept the harmony in the team, her work was done.

At the end of the last race, Vicky and Michelle said goodbye to all the new friends they had made, Kath counted up her winnings, which were as projected, and Sue and Steph expressed their sincere appreciation to York Racecourse for providing them with a great team day out!

If you would like to know more about DiSC Profiling, then please get in touch.

Clear Desk Policy

Written by Michelle Mook on . Posted in Sunflower Diaries

clear desk policy Clear Desk Policies are nothing new, in fact they have been around for many years and there are varying different opinions about them.

Some people really see the value of having one and believe they benefit teamwork, whilst others believe that they put too much pressure on teams to comply.

So, before we consider the benefits, lets clarify what a CDP – ‘clear desk policy’ is.

According to Cleverisim.com the policy requirements generally call for ‘the employee to clear the desk and surrounding area at the end of the day from clutter and papers’.

Clearly there are some real benefits to being able to do this that Pro-Development can think of like: It keeps the office looking smart and tidy and if clears secure data from a place where it might be easily accessed. But are there any team benefits from everyone committing to this?

We think there might be and here are some thoughts from us.

1) Productivity Improvement

Productivity can improve when we keep to a clear desk policy. Simply put we can find things more easily (assuming we have a good system for filing things away both digitally and paper based). It also encourages us to improve our digital storage and rely more on this rather than paper.

2) Time Saving

When we can find stuff easily it improves our time management. We have lost count of the times we have had to recreate documents if we have misplaced them. Definitely a time waster for a busy workforce.

3) Reduces Stress in the Workplace

We can often feel stressed when our environment feels messy, having a clear desk and a tidy workspace can really contribute to a sense of wellbeing. This a bit like having a house that feels energetically well set out a bit like Feng Shui. However this only applies if we know where we are putting things in the first place.

So a clear desk can definitely have some benefits to creating a productive and happy team. What are your thoughts? Do you have a clear desk policy? Let us know what your experiences are.

Playing Your Part

Written by Michelle Mook on . Posted in Sunflower Diaries

all the worlds a stage All the world’s a stage,

And all the men and women merely players,

They have their exits and their entrances,

And one man in his time plays many parts.

William Shakespeare

Have you ever thought about the role you play in a team? Do you think members play a role or do they simply act out the traits of their personality and work behaviours?

At Pro-Development we think William Shakespeare may have had a point when he said ‘all the world is a stage’. It is true that we take on many different parts both in and out of work. Team leader, Friend, Accountant, Inner Critic, Team Member, Planner, Visionary… The list goes on.

Then of course there are our natural personality traits that underpin our behaviour at work. So when we are playing a particular role, the way we may react and respond to certain situations will probably differ.

For example, someone with a more assertive personality may demonstrate very different skills in the role of team leader to someone with a more empathic and collaborative approach. Does this make either of the team leaders more effective or better than the other? We don’t think so. At Pro-Development we recognise that everyone can bring different strengths to each role that they play. The key of course is to have awareness of our strengths and understand what our ‘go to behaviours are’. That way, whichever role we are playing, we will still be the best we can be and be an effective team member.

Occasionally there may be days when we play more than one part, maybe even several parts! For example when we need to play a part of a Leader, and we also find ourselves being a Critic as well. This can make life and work challenging, and at these times we need to stay authentic and true to ourselves. There is nothing worse than feeling that we can’t do that. So how do we play our part and stay authentic and true to our self?

A couple of thoughts from us:

• Be Self Aware

• Build on your strengths and know your limitations

• Know your core values and stay true to them

• Develop your leadership skills (remember there is 40% funding through the WYCC Skills Service for businesses in the Leeds City Region to help with this until March 2020!

When we do this we can then we can effectively play our part. We would love to hear what you think about this. Let us know how you stay authentic and true to yourself and play your part in your team. We would love to hear your thoughts.

What are you doing as a team?

Written by Michelle Mook on . Posted in Sunflower Diaries

team hands The word team is used a lot in so many businesses we come across. Most people, if you ask them, will tell you, that they enjoy working as part of a team. But when we think of being in a team, are we really a team or just a group of people that work together and happen to have the same manager? At Pro-Development we think there is a big difference.

We have worked in teams that feel more like a collective of people that have the same manager and the mood and output of that team was not effective. So, what are the magic ingredients that make a team a team?

Here are a few thoughts from the Pro-Development team:

TRUST – First of all (you may have heard us say this before), real teams have trust. Not just a basic trust in each other, but trust at a deep level. It’s the kind of trust that means the team members have each other’s back even when times get tough.

HONEST CONVERSATIONS – Teams that are really working together are not afraid of feedback even if that feedback is challenging, because they know that feedback will support them in the trust building process. At Pro-Development we call this the courage to have honest conversations, because it is these honest conversations that support us to work effectively with conflict.

PLAY TO STRENGTHS – In great teams we have worked in, every team member goes out of their way to know their team members. That includes strengths, opportunities for development, blinds spots and personality traits. When we know our team members in this way we can always make sure we play to the teams strengths to get the best possible outcomes. We know this isn’t an exhaustive list, there are so many things that could go in this blog and we are sure you have some thoughts of your own.

So, the question is … are you a team or a collective of people? If you are a team, what are you doing as a team that helps you to be successful?

Great news too, if you are an SME in the Leeds City Region, you may be eligible for 40% european funding through the WYCC for training and team building. If you need any help with building your teams and are interested in the funding, then please contact us.


Written by Michelle Mook on . Posted in Sunflower Diaries

girl cuddling herself

“My religion is very simple, my religion is kindness” Dalai Lama”

When Vicky in our team first started her kindness and compassion journey a Buddhist monk asked her to think about the ways in which kindness can flow. She thought for a while and then told him ‘well it is something we give to others or perhaps something that others give to us’. He asked her if there was any other way that kindness could flow, and at that time she couldn’t think of anything. Then he finally said to her ‘we can be kind to ourselves’, and that was the start of her kindness and compassion journey.

Through her practice of kindness and compassion, it is this element that she has found most challenging and continually reminds herself “may I be kind to myself”.

When we look closely at how kind we are to ourselves, it can be really quite eye opening. One of her favourite authors Kristen Neff said that in order to demonstrate this we “should treat ourselves as we would treat our best friend” and this includes thought, word and deed.

So how can we be more kind to ourselves? Here are a couple of ideas from Pro-Development:

1 – Choose compassion over criticism

Have you ever listened to your inner critic? Vicky’s inner critic voice is loud and it often fails to recognise all the good in favour of the one small thing she didn’t do. Remind yourself that we are allowed to make mistakes and there maybe days when we don’t feel our best, compassion says that it is ok.

2 – Take care of your body

Our body is the most amazing power tool and is very intuitive, it tells us when it needs something whether that is food, hydration or even through illness. Yet often we ignore what our body is trying to tell us. Take some time to really tune into your body and listen to its signals, this can be done through meditation, certain kinds of exercise, or tuning into the bodies responses.:

We would love to hear your thoughts and reflections on Kindness and Self Kindness, let us know what works for you.

Here comes the sun

Written by Michelle Mook on . Posted in Sunflower Diaries

sue and ruby Here at Pro Development Towers, we do love to see the sun. It makes such a difference to the working day. We get out more, go for walking meetings, sit in the courtyard to take telephone calls and we enjoy a stroll with Ruby the dog at lunch.

To do this though takes discipline. It would be far easier to stay sat at our desks ploughing through the work, coming up for caffeine every few hours.

Breaking off from your work can feel quite stressful, anxiety sets in because we have so much to do, and taking 30 mins off is classed as a luxury.

We have to remind ourselves to take these breaks, to get outside and to give ourselves time to breathe. We are almost institutionalised to thinking we must stay at our desks and crack on, and we’re not quite sure where this comes from? Breaking this habit is hard but we must try.

There are many benefits to taking a break, getting outside and enjoying a bit of sunshine. Here are some of the personal benefits we feel.

• Headaches reduce

• Mood lifts

• Thinking becomes easier

• Conversations happen that wouldn’t otherwise

• Re-plan our approach to work

• Sense of feeling empowered and free

• Issues are placed back into perspective

• Have a bit of fun

• Bring that freshness and lightness back into the office

So we challenge you to do the same!

We are running a workplace wellbeing strategy event on the 11th June at Sandburn Hall, York where you can consider some different ways to help define what makes a great wellbeing strategy within a business.

Key outcomes of this event include:

• Define what makes a great wellbeing strategy

• Plan your approach to create and implement a wellbeing strategy

• Share best practice on what works and what doesn’t

• Explore and experience a variety of wellbeing strategy initiatives

• Create an action plan

To reserve your place on this wellbeing event, please contact steph.edwards@pro-development.co.uk or 01904 628838 We look forward to welcoming you on the event.

Investment = £50 + vat

Funding for you and your team

Written by Michelle Mook on . Posted in Sunflower Diaries

good news Great news! Funding for training is now available through The Skills Service for eligible SME businesses in the region. You may qualify for 40% funding from the European Social Fund towards training you and your team. How great is that! We’ve already accessed this training for some local business for our Management Development Programme, short courses and team events.

To be eligible for 40% ESF funding towards the cost of training the business must:

• Be an SME based within the Leeds City Region. This includes the following districts – Bradford, Calderdale, Craven, Harrogate, Kirklees, Leeds, Selby, Wakefield and York. This can include Private Limited Companies, Partnerships and LLPs, Sole Proprietors, Self Employed and Registered Charities.

• Employ fewer than 250 full time equivalent staff and have an annual turnover not exceeding €50 million.

• Put forward participants who work for the company based within the Leeds City Region and are aged 18 years or over.

• Operate in the following sectors – Creative and Digital, Finance and Business, Hospitality and Tourism, Low Carbon and Construction, Manufacturing and Engineering, Retail*, Health and Social Care* or Medical Technology.

• Contribute 60% of the total cost of the training.

• Not be employers in the following sectors/areas: Hair and Beauty, Voluntary Sector, Public Sector including NHS and Hospitals.

This provides a fantastic opportunity to support local business development and growth, and we would love to be part of your journey. If you would like to know more click here or give us a call on 01904 628838.

Funding is from the European Social Fund via the WYCC Skills Service.

WYCC_Skills Service_ESF

How refreshing!

Written by Michelle Mook on . Posted in Sunflower Diaries

employee engagement may 2019 Well we all know how refreshing a lovely glass of wine can be, however how refreshing was this employer’s attitude when a fine wine was served by mistake.

Let us explain. In the news recently there was a story where an employee in a restaurant served the wrong bottle of wine worth £4,500. The customer had ordered a £260 bottle. Just imagine how you would feel if you were that waiter/waitress! Mortified no doubt, indeed they were. However, the employer shared on social media this lovely message:

“to the customer who accidently got given a bottle of Chateau Le Pin Pomeral 2001, which is £4500 on our menu last night – hope you enjoyed your evening! To the member of staff who accidently gave it away, chin up! One-off mistakes happen and we love you anyway”

We would imagine employee engagement in this company must be extremely high. This response suggests they have a fantastic culture built on trust and learning rather than blame. Now we are not suggesting that people aren’t held accountable, indeed when there are consistent areas of underperformance an honest conversation needs to be had. We do however support the notion that people do not come to work to intentionally make mistakes, generally something in the system or process has led them to the wrong decision or outcome. So next time something happens in your workplace, stop for a moment and consider, how would I feel if this were me? What was the situation that caused this mistake to happen, and finally how can we all learn from it so it doesn’t happen again!

If you are interested in the subject of Employee Engagement and you would like to find out more then please click here or contact us to have a chat.

Can you afford to lose good people?

Written by Michelle Mook on . Posted in Sunflower Diaries

I quit We all know how hard it can be when you lose a key member of the team. When you lose talent, it impacts in so many ways.

• There is a sadness that comes from losing the day to day contact with someone who often has become a friend.

• People are often unsettled by the change and start to query their own career and whether its time for them to move on too.

• Then of course there is the increased workload and frustration that can bring.

• Loss of knowledge is a massive risk and can slow down what was a slick and efficient process.

• Someone in the business needs to find time to recruit and finding the right person is not easy – ask any recruiter!

• Once the person has been selected, they require a full induction, not just a tick list of things to show someone in the first week. We mean a 6-month induction programme to support people in their new role.

• Oh and of course, someone in the business will need to design and manage the induction process and the list goes on!

The true cost of losing an employee has been estimated by the Hayes Group to cost between 12 – 18 months of a person’s salary. With the current average salary, you could be looking at a financial loss of anywhere between £25k – £39k! Staggering isn’t it? So here are some questions for you:

• Can you afford to lose good people?

• Do you know if one of your best people is considering leaving?

• Are you doing everything to ensure that people want to stay?

• Do you know what is motivating and engaging your teams to ensure they are giving their best?

These are difficult questions, but focussing on employee engagement will help you to answer them. Gaining insight into employee engagement in your business means you are well informed about employees views and feelings and this enables you to focus your energy (and resources) on doing the right things, and those ‘right things’ will probably make the difference and be enough to retain your talent.

If you would like to find out more come along to one of our Employee Engagement sessions. Click Here for more details.

Shaping Your future!

Written by Michelle Mook on . Posted in Sunflower Diaries

shape your future 2019 Learning at Work Week 2019 takes place from 13th to 19th May and the national theme this year is ‘Shaping the Future’ and has three strands: Future Open, Future Ready, Future Active!

Now we often invest time in shaping the future of others. Simply by listening to people, providing opportunities for them to grow, providing support when needed, perhaps a shoulder to cry on, helping others identify personal strategies to move forward and providing feedback on performance so that people can understand what they are doing well and where they need to develop.

However, do we invest as much time in shaping our own futures?

We suspect not, so why not use learning at work week to think about you and your future.

Here’s a few hints and tips to get you started:

• Stop the constant ‘doing’ and take some time out to stop, reflect and think! Book some time out in the diary this week for ‘you time’.

• Broaden your perspective of how you could develop at work – think outside the box. What excites you about the business, sparks passion in your work and provides the right amount of challenge?

• Be open to new learning experiences. Step out of your comfort zone, try something new. You don’t know what you don’t know!

• Read around a topic that can help you be even better at what you do. What’s the latest thinking in your field? Can you introduce some new thinking into your work?

• Develop your resilience – How can you react differently to change? Change is the future so we might as well be prepared.

• Practice a bit of self-care to rest and repair. Get your energy levels back to a high so you embrace your future with gusto!

The Learning at Work Week website offers resources, themed activity ideas, inspiration, promotional materials and planning workshops to help you design a brilliant Learning at Work Week and bring the theme to life, not only for others but for you too – so go on, invest time in shaping your future, because you’re worth it!

If you would like any help or support with the above, contact us here at Pro-Development as we can help via coaching or working with your teams to support change, building resilience or identifying career paths.