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.

Well Well Well…being!

Written by Michelle Mook on . Posted in Sunflower Diaries

wellbeing 2019 Well what? Indeed, the term wellbeing is being discussed quite a lot at the moment, but we are finding that many businesses are struggling to understand where their focus should be and what to do in terms of a way forward? We also heard it said, “I got to this point without wellbeing, why do I need it now”? So, it would also appear some attitudes need challenging too!

When it comes to wellbeing, here at Pro-Development, we prefer a holistic approach. An approach that includes all aspects of self, such as sleep, nutrition (in fact, those of you who have been with us for a while will remember the healthy eating campaign we embarked on) mental health, work/life balance to name a few. Also being in a team of let’s say ‘women of a certain age’ we most certainly must consider our wellbeing and it goes further than having an office fan because we are either too hot or too cold!

So why has wellbeing suddenly become a ‘thing’? Well we don’t think it suddenly has – certainly we think it has been re-branded and may have been known by some as staff welfare in the past. Lots of the initiatives we see have been around for quite a while, for example employee assistance schemes, flexible working, and staff benefits such as gym memberships. However, the agenda is widening, for example, the menopause is now getting some air time and also our attitudes towards mental health have shifted significantly – it is no longer a taboo subject or masked as another illness. Ultimately, focussing on wellbeing makes business sense too. A happy, healthy and engaged workforce is a productive one – simple!

To help businesses get to grips with wellbeing and develop their strategies, we are running a half day event where we will bring together and share information on some of the areas of focus, listen to what other businesses are building into their strategies (and to what success) and share thoughts and ideas as a group. As a result, you should be in a really good position to shape a wellbeing strategy for your business.

Wellbeing isn’t a fad – it’s good business sense. To ensure your business and you are at the forefront with the right focus and approach contact us to find out more about our wellbeing workshop.

Work life balance

Written by Michelle Mook on . Posted in Sunflower Diaries

work life balance 2019 Well this is an interesting one? How do we achieve work life balance in a 24/7 society? Many workplaces now offer flexible working and workplace benefits which are there to increase our wellbeing and improve our experience of the world of work. However, how possible is it to have a work life balance with a smart phone that’s with you all the time?

You may work from home every now and again or work part time, so it could be argued that yes, you have a good work/life balance, but how often do you check your phone for emails outside of working hours, in your ‘life’ hours? When you check those emails how often do you get that sinking feeling that you need to act or, that you will be expected to act. Do you become distant from what is happening around you? Are you missing moments at home when you should be present? Do you miss your gym class to complete that piece of work? Does your mood change (for the worse)?

Flexible working is a good thing, if it doesn’t take over too much ‘life’ time. So, who is responsible for getting the balance right?

Answer these questions

• Who is expecting you to answer emails when they come in?

• Who is expecting you to take immediate action?

• Who is making you feel guilty for not responding or acting?

Likelihood is, it could be you who is putting the pressure on yourself.

So, our challenge to you is…

What’s getting in your way of a good work/life balance? Write down your findings.

If it is you, what are you going to do to make a difference?

When are you going to start making a difference?

If your work/life balance isn’t right, maybe consider come coaching to help drive some new behaviours. Click here to find out more or contact us

What to know more about work life balance, why not come along to our wellbeing strategy event to find out more please contact us.

Is Yoga in the workplace a good idea?

Written by Michelle Mook on . Posted in Sunflower Diaries

yoga april 2019 Our lovely Vicky who joined our team last year has had a passion for Yoga for many years now and which has become an important part of her life for so many reasons. Here, Vicky shares with us how it has helped her and why she feels it is so important for our wellbeing.

“My journey with Yoga has had a very significant and ultimately, positive impact on my life. It has helped with my mental health and my spiritual wellbeing. My body has changed in so many ways due to my regular practice. I feel blessed to have this in my life. Many companies are now beginning to understand the benefits that yoga can have.”

Interestingly, Personnel today wrote a really interesting article on this and quoted that Yoga is (according to – Mira Mehta (1994) : “A powerful antidote to the stresses of modern-day life, yoga is a practical philosophy that aims to unite the body, mind and spirit for health and fulfilment. A fit and supple body can be developed through the practice of postures that work on all the bodily systems, toning the muscles, stimulating the circulation and improving overall health. The benefits are not just physical: as the postures are mastered and techniques introduced for relaxation and breath control, you will find that yoga has the power to calm the mind, increase your concentration and give the ability to cope with tension.”

Clearly this can have a profound effect on employees and of course employee engagement because when employees feel calm in mind and healthy in body, this can support productivity in the workplace.

So where might a company begin in thinking about introducing a yoga programme for staff?

Here are a some reflections from the Pro-Development team:

– Build it into an overall wellbeing strategy. Yoga is great and can contribute to an employer’s wellbeing strategy, introducing yoga as part of something that is focused on wellbeing can really help engage staff to try it.

– Consider running sessions in work time. People often share that the biggest challenge to doing yoga is having enough time. Giving staff time to practice at work will really help them with this and also support them in feeling valued.

– Help people understand that yoga is for everyone. Most people think yoga requires you to be bendy and strong, this simply isn’t true. When Vicky started yoga she couldn’t touch her toes! Professional yoga instructors will always have a posture that ensures that participants feel comfortable in their practice.

– Don’t forget to share the benefits! There are so many and often people don’t realise just how beneficial yoga can be.

If you would like to find out more about how to create a wellbeing strategy, contact us about a wellbeing day we will be running where we will be offering some taster sessions in yoga as well as time to help you consider your wellbeing strategy.

Authentic Leadership

Written by Michelle Mook on . Posted in Sunflower Diaries

authentic leadership MIY March 2019 We had the pleasure of delivering a workshop on Authentic Leadership in partnership with Make it York last week and I thought I would share with you this fabulous flipchart which was pulled together by the group which captured many of the thoughts on what they think it takes to be an authentic leader.

We all agreed that to be a truly authentic leader of our life, our family and our colleagues takes focus, reflection and time and is a commitment to ourselves to learn and grow.

The lovely people who attended the session gave themselves the gift of a day to consider this important area and I was so impressed with all of them for their honesty, openness, willingness to share together and learn from each other! Great leaders in my book and all inspiring in their own way!

Thank you to each one of you for a superb day ❤️ and also for their amazing feedback. It was clear that they got a lot from the event and you can read their feedback on our testimonial page.

Let us ask you a few questions … answer honestly!

So, how many of the areas from the flipchart can you say you are demonstrating as a leader?

When was the last time you asked others for feedback on your leadership?

Which are your top 3 to focus on in 2019?

Are you Inspiring people to be their very best?

Are you building an environment of honesty and trust?

Are you communicating and leading your people towards achieving business goals?

If you or a colleague would like to be the very best Leader or Manager that you can possibly be, you may be interested in Pro-Development’s Leadership and Management Experiential Development Programme which has received huge acclaim. It has been described as both game changing and life changing. Click here for more information or contact us if you would like a chat.

The business of rugby – Part 2

Written by Michelle Mook on . Posted in Sunflower Diaries

legacy book 1 2019Last week we shared our tips for developing yourself and your team following reading a great book, Legacy by James Kerr all about how the All Blacks became one of the world’s most successful sporting teams! We were quite excited that much of what we read is how Pro-Development approach individual and team development.

This week, in part 2, we focus on the steps that leadership teams need to take to engage your teams and ensure they help them to be their most productive and become a winning team.

Leading through change and Responsibility

The need for a strategy for change is crucial. The ability to adapt to the environment and not just accept what is, sets your business and leaders apart from the rest. But then, taking people with you on the journey providing a clear sense of purpose, vision and values and deliberately handing over responsibility will create an engaged team who are able to adapt to the change around them.

Do you have an inspiring purpose, vision and values? Is everyone in your team connected to this?

Create the right Environment

Successful teams create a learning environment where people are encouraged to take risks and try things out. This is what empowers people to give their very best every day. The key is to support your teams to have honest and healthy conversations with each other and you.

Do you empower people and support risk taking?

Are your teams sharing feedback and helping each other to develop?

Rituals and stories

What rituals do you have? What’s your Haka??

Our approach to employee engagement help to establish if your vision and purpose are inspiring your teams and we can help you to understand if your environment and culture are bringing out the best in people. If you are interested in finding out more, why not come along to one of our monthly workshops on the 1st May or 18th June.

The business of rugby – part 1

Written by Michelle Mook on . Posted in Sunflower Diaries

legacy book 1 2019 Following a cheeky holiday at the start of the year, I had the opportunity to read a book I have been wanting to read for ages, and with the 6 Nations over the last few weeks, it felt timely to share some insights. What I found most exciting about Legacy by James Kerr was how much of what we do at Pro-Development was reflected in how the All Blacks became one of the world’s most successful sporting teams!

This week, in part 1, we share the areas that are all about developing yourself and your team and then next week, we focus on the steps that leadership teams need to take to engage your teams.

Knowing yourself

The key to great leaders and teams is knowing yourself, well. Having a strong sense of identify and respect for yourself creates great character and a level of authenticity that inspires others!

Do you and your team really know yourselves? Are you all authentic and inspiring to each other?


Then, all of you, aim high! Aspire to world class and be ambitious. Inspiring leaders and teams help each other to achieve things you didn’t even think were possible. But also, embrace the fear of failure – it’s not always a bad thing and use this to positive affect.

Are you all supporting each other to aim high? Do you talk about this in 1:1s and team meetings?


What gets in the way for many teams is a lack of resilience when things do get tough. Prepare yourself and your teams to be emotionally resilient. Make a long-term commitment to develop and train your teams to win. Give people the tools to control their attention and help them to notice the right things by being in the moment (mindfulness). Do you find your teams crumble under pressure? Are you developing emotional resilience? Our approach to our coaching and leadership programmes, are all based on these leadership lessons. If these have resonated with you, then call us and we would be happy to discuss how we could help.

Putting people first!

Written by Michelle Mook on . Posted in Sunflower Diaries

richard branson 2019 We were asked to speak at a CIPD event last month on employee engagement, a topic very close to our hearts and something of which we are truly passionate about. But let’s face it, this isn’t a new area and as someone pointed out, it’s something we’ve been talking about for over a decade. Their question was “why is engagement not improving?”. Great question, and one which raised a great discussion within the group.

Some of the thoughts from the group were that business owners and leaders do not have enough time to focus on this. They are too busy and not making time. Others, that business leaders do not see the importance and are more focussed on the bottom line of the business. One HR professional shared that he felt the issue was down to HR not challenging business leaders enough. That HR are often been asked to undertake and implement changes which were not in the interest of people and that without challenging this more, the problem is magnified.

Our thoughts from what we are finding discussing this topic, is that it is a mindset shift. The key is to help businesses understand the positive impact such an investment will have on both people and the bottom line. And that is the key, thinking of engagement as an investment not a cost. With the cost of replacing talent now being equated to 12-18 months of a person’s salary, an investment into employee engagement will often be a fraction of this and is something that will positively impact on everyone.

The great news is, we have been running lots of employee engagement/colleague surveys with businesses in Yorkshire and the Humber so there are many companies that are putting people first and are keen to understand what they can do to help make their business a great place to work. And here are the outcomes they are finding from running a survey with us:-

• Encouraging open and honest communication with their teams

• Building trust and engagement by listening to what their people have to say

• Showing that the business cares about their people and wants to make a difference to them

• Highlighting what their strengths are as a company and building on these

• Identifying the gaps and creating a plan to address these

• Supporting employee wellbeing and improved mental health

• Improving overall productivity and profit by identifying what is getting in the way

So, if you would like to know more about employee engagement, why not come along to one of our events on the 1st May or 18th June or click here to read more about our approach to employee engagement.


Written by Michelle Mook on . Posted in Sunflower Diaries

vlog 2019 We were talking the other day about Vlogging and agreed to write a blog. Then we laughed when we realised the irony “why don’t we just do a VLOG on VLOGGING”? Then it got us thinking, actually vlogging is changing the way we communicate with each other, particularly on social media, so why is it so popular and why does it appeal to such a wide audience?

Whilst we are no experts on it (in fact we have only just started vlogging recently ourselves) here is our take on it.

1 – You get to see a face of the company – the truth is we all want to make connections, and we can more easily make them when we can hear someone speak and see someone’s face and body language. For us it makes the person more human somehow.

2 – You can share more on a video – whether we are taking someone on a journey with us, showing something visual or simply doing some heart felt talking, you can share so much more on a video.

3 – It is pretty instant – we can get out thoughts and share our knowledge and its pretty instantaneous. We can also get some useful and quick feedback or help if we ask for it and our contacts can share the VLOG so we get further reach.

4 – It can help to build trust – we believe that VLOGs help viewers to build trust in either a brand or a person or both, it can be harder to do this in a BLOG.

So should we all be VLOGGING?

I appreciate that it might not be for everyone and it isn’t always easy to complete a VLOG if you get tongue tied or forget exactly what you want to say. But at Pro-Development we say give it a go, because we all know the benefit of making connections on a more personal level.

The Walkie Talkie Challenge

Written by Michelle Mook on . Posted in Sunflower Diaries

walking pic 2017

So, this month we are taking another group outside, walking and talking! See how the two rhyme, they were meant to be together. We’ve been talking for years now about the benefits of getting outside and having walking 1:1s and allowing for thinking time, but are you doing this?

Ummmm, our research would suggest not! Why ever not? We know we do our best thinking at 1.8 miles an hour, and believe us, that’s just a nice steady amble.

It would seem many of you are not convinced? So, this month we would like you to take the Pro-Development ‘walkie talkie challenge’. We want to see pics and hear from all of you that have broken away from the office, said no to the meeting room and got yourselves outside! Come on Yorkshire, we can do this!

If you think you or your team would benefit from a walking and talking team event, having honest conversations and breaking down barriers, get in touch and we can tell you all about the team events we run in our glorious countryside. Contact us at