Get out of your comfort zone!

Written by Michelle Mook on . Posted in Sunflower Diaries

comfort zone blog july 2019 Have you ever been pushed outside of your comfort zone? Can you remember how you felt? What you learned and how you developed as a result?

At Pro-Development we like to challenge people to step outside of their comfort zone, particularly in some of the leadership work that we do. Take our Management Development Programme that we have recently run. On this programme there is so much opportunity to step outside of your comfort zone with the experiential learning we do. On the last programme, everyone we spoke to stepped outside their comfort zone and experienced some real change as a result. Of course, it isn’t only the participants that go through this. Our very own Vicky Deighton had her own experience of stepping outside of her comfort zone when she abseiled, and gorge walked for the first time.

She explained that she had some strong emotions and wasn’t even sure if she was going to be able to do it. But afterwards she felt a real sense of accomplishment and courage. She also explained that there was one activity that she couldn’t do and that pushed her into her danger zone. This is a place beyond the learning zone where no real learning happens at all. It is important that as managers we can establish where our comfort zone, learning zone and danger zones start and stop. This is all part of raising our self-awareness to become stronger leaders.

Our leadership programme starts again in September and we are excited to be taking another cohort through this amazing journey of self-discovery. If you know anyone who might be ready to step outside of their comfort zone and raise their self-awareness with other like minded leaders, we are now taking applicants for the waiting list.

Don’t forget that we have the amazing 40% funding that many businesses will be eligible to receive from the European Social Fund via the WYCC Skills Service.

To find out more contact

WYCC_Skills Service_ESF

We’re all going on a summer holiday

Written by Michelle Mook on . Posted in Sunflower Diaries

summer holidays july 2019 Another poptastic tune. So, are you ready for a summer holiday? Is the holiday booked? Are you beach ready? Or are you one of those people who gets to the end of the annual leave years with weeks’ worth of holidays to cram in? We’ve talked about increasing self-awareness this month, and the more we take the time for ourselves, the time to reflect, the more self-aware we become and the more we will see.

Ultimately, we need to notice what’s going on for us in both our physical and physiological being. If you take the time you may notice the fatigue, headaches, grumpiness, rising tress levels. If you don’t notice these things, the minute you stop it’s very common to be struck with a mild illness for example an irritating cough. We hear people say “I’ve hit the wall” all too often!

When did you last take a break – and we mean a real break where you did not check emails?

Our challenge to you if you are going on a summer holiday this year

• Leave the last half day at work to sort out admin, make the final phone calls

• Put your out of office on

• If you have a separate works mobile – give your phone a holiday too!

• If you only have the one phone, make sure you cannot see incoming e-mail alerts on your mobile

• If you’re reading this blog saying “but this doesn’t work in reality”, then you are our target audience – so accept our challenge!

Enjoy your summer holiday, relax, restore your energy levels and come back firing on all cylinders, but don’t forget to keep looking after yourself and remember we can help with health and wellbeing so why not get in touch on 01904 628838 or


Written by Michelle Mook on . Posted in Sunflower Diaries

disc pic july 2019

We use a few profiling tools at Pro-Development, however at the moment there is certainly a front runner in terms of demand. This front runner is the DISC profiling tool. We like DiSC for its simplicity, we find some profiling tools can be more complex to decipher.

The simplicity however does not take anything away from the insights it brings. It’s value comes in increasing your self-awareness, how you react to other styles and how to increase your effectiveness with other styles. At it’s highest-level DiSC identities fours styles, key behaviours associated with these styles and how these styles interact.

The magic happens when we see DiSC brought to life with teams who have shared their profiles and preferred way of working. Through having honest conversations with each other they have explored how to adapt their style to get the best from each other and as a result their relationships are stronger and built on trust. The language used in DiSC is easily transferrable into the workplace and this means that the conversations continue outside of a facilitated session and become part of the business way of working. Now who wouldn’t want that!

And if you’re interested in how we have brought it to life, have a look at our last blog about “A DiSC Day at the Races – it’s a bit of fun on how our DiSC styles came to life!

If you would like to know more about DiSC and other profiling tools, contact us on 01904 628838 or

Celebrate good times, come on! (Let’s celebrate)

Written by Michelle Mook on . Posted in Sunflower Diaries

celebrate good times Another Disco classic with the feel-good factor. Before you go off on your holibobs take some time out to reflect. What have you and your team achieved in the first half of the year that has given the feel-good factor? What key deliverables have been achieved? What obstacles have been overcome? Which key learnings have been banked for future reference? Have people been brave and stepped out of their comfort zones? Have the businesses values been brought to life with great results?

So, come on… time to think about all these great, amazing things you and your team have achieved and make sure you stop and celebrate good times. Quite often we are too quick to move on to the next thing, pressured by time, concerned about lower production over the summer months as your team take time off – sound familiar?

There a numerous ways to celebrate – a summer BBQ perhaps? An outdoor team event (we have heard that some teams even go to the races!) Whatever method you choose to celebrate, make the time to highlight what you are celebrating and the impact the success has had on the business. It will also give you an opportunity to build on the success for the coming months too.

So, lets celebrate and share with us what you’ve been doing too! We work with lots of businesses with team events and we’d be happy to help.

Best of all, there is funding from the European Social Fund via the WYCC Skills Service for business in the Leeds City Region if your business is eligible which offers 40% towards the investment in the day! Read our recent blog to check if you are eligible and how to access the funding.

Call us on 01904 628838 or email for more.

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 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 or 01904 628838 We look forward to welcoming you on the event.

Investment = £50 + vat