Wednesday, 22 December 2010

Management Training and Development - if the hat fits ...

Its been nearly a year since I first joined the team at Developing People. Looking back over the year with my manager recently, it was quite a surprise to us both to see how much things have changed and developed since I first arrived here.

Mark noted on my first interview form that I seemed “very shy and reserved”. He was not wrong on that, but the one thing that I was absolutely and vociferously adamant about, even as a terribly nervous interviewee, was that I was not ever EVER going to indulge in anything that could be vaguely considered to resemble the area of sales or marketing. Point blank. End of story.

Fast forward to a week ago, when I sat down to a review of my progress. 90% of my current objectives are based around the Online Marketing Strategy for the business, and I even sat there and pleaded to be allowed to take total responsibility for the marketing strategy, and asked to increase my hours to enable me to do this! It afforded us both a wry smile to see what a journey I had been on, and indeed how much the business had adjusted to both require and accommodate this change in myself.

It is not enough in today’s fast-paced business world to recruit someone who will simply ‘fit the job’ … and leave them to it. The hat that may fit so perfectly to begin with may not fit for long, because businesses and organisations have to continually change, develop and ‘move with the times’. It is essential, therefore, that their staff need to be developed to enable them to ‘move with the times’ as well.

So what should you do as an employer to ensure that the hat remains a good fit for all the members of your staff?

Here is Developing People’s guide to making the most out of your team:

• Make training and development and issue at Board level. The Board should be able to clearly articulate the strategy of the business and where it is going, and therefore define the types of skills, behaviours and people the business will need in the future.

• Do you know who the potential leaders of the business in the next 5, 10 or 15 years are? Has the business a mechanism to identify the leaders of tomorrow? What leadership training and development is being provided to support your in-house talent?

• Be clear with your managers and staff about what it is they need to learn. Don’t just assume that they should work on their weaknesses, but ask what is it that will add the greatest value to their performance?

• Provide ‘on the job’ opportunities for your talent to flourish. Generally people will raise their performance to what is being requested of them. If you never ask someone to step outside their comfort zone, then neither you or they will ever find out what they are capable of achieving!

• Don’t assume that management training alone is the answer to all you development needs. Provide a range of options to help managers and staff learn. Would they benefit from coaching, mentoring, project work or a secondment?

• Job adverts often state that candidates must be ‘self starters’. However you won’t get that from conventional management training. Management Training should really be about an individual’s ‘development’, and therefore provide opportunities for self direction and self learning.

• Ensure that there is a business case for any management training and development. It is important that the organisation is clear about the objectives of any management training and development. Ultimately you should ask yourself, ‘What is it that I want to see happening differently with this person or group of people?’ In this way it is possible to monitor the impact of training on individual performance and of course also on the company's bottom line. You will get much greater support from the Board if there is a clear business case!

Ultimately the competitive edge of your business resides with the abilities of your staff, managers and leaders in the business. Surely, management training and development is far too an important business issue to be left to chance?

To plan your Management Training and Development for 2011, contact Developing People Limited. You can telephone us on 0845 409 2346, or send an email to

Monday, 20 December 2010

How to make Leadership and Personal Development a priority

7 years ago, I worked for one of the major consulting firms who made leadership and personal development a priority. The firm recognised the impact that investing in their consultant’s and manager’s development was a win – win for the firm, as it not only equipped us with the necessary skills but it was also a great motivational tool, and the firm understood that in a people business, the motivation, commitment and engagement of their staff was key. The more committed their staff were, the better the performance of the firm

From a personal perspective, there were a number of interesting lessons that I learned from the investment I received in my personal and leadership development.

Firstly the firm was clear about linking both leadership and personal development to a business need, whether it was around helping the business to grow, winning business at better margins or improved service delivery.

Generally, the firm’s partners and senior managers were committed to leadership and personal development. Most of them modelled the behaviours they expected from their staff. Many also lead on specific leadership and personal development programmes, and acted as mentors for others.

The firm offered a range of modular programmes that allowed managers and staff to ‘buy into’ when they had an identified need. In addition, for more senior managers who had specific development needs, 1 to 1 coaching was offered as an alternative.

Because many of the programmes were a modular format, it allowed us to plan our development during times that were slightly less busy. However, it was not acceptable to miss any training because you had other work commitments. Anyone who did was severely reprimanded!

Finally, my line manager always followed up with me on what development actions I had undertaken and how I had used them to benefit myself and the firm. The firm also looked across the business to ensure that it was getting value for money from its investment too.

The key lesson for me was that if you want to make leadership and personal development a priority then you have to demonstrate its importance. Too many organisations talk about their people being the most important asset but in reality they don’t take leadership and personal development seriously enough.

Friday, 10 December 2010

Management Training – Classroom Learning v Mobile Learning

by Lucy Cadman

I love gadgets.

There, I said it. I am a self-confessed gadget-fan. If it has a screen, buttons and some form of power supply, then I am right there with it.

Today is the day when I collect my new Blackberry smartphone from the shop. I’ve never had a Blackberry before, and to say that I am in a state of great excitement right now would be the understatement of the year. There has truly never been a morning at work that has ever before passed so slowly!

The SALVO Global “4th Annual Global Learning Summit 2011” will be held in February 2011 in Singapore. A wide range of senior executives from leading organisations will present their take on the latest learning strategies and required blend of learning methodologies that are necessary to overcome the challenges and requirement of learning needs in the light of a recovering economy.

Training departments need to respond to these challenges by adopting new approaches and developing new skill sets themselves. The wide loss of jobs during the previous year has forced people to ‘reinvent’ & ‘redefine’ their professional capability. Constant lookout for new methods, ideas, concepts are brought to the way the work is done, to keep each organization from getting stale and falling behind its competitors.

The Salvo Global summit will bring together learning and talent leaders from a variety of industries to discuss pressing concerns and successes about how learning drives business. The event promises to be highly interactive, providing opportunity to engage with practitioners who are advancing business results through leading learning strategies and practices.

Many companies in the UK think of a “classroom” environment when thinking of Management Development training. They picture their staff sitting in a room, listening to a trainer giving a presentation on the skills they need to acquire to be more successful and productive. They picture a whiteboard, or a flipchart pad, or at the very most, a set of Powerpoint slides being projected onto the wall. And unless the trainer is hugely dynamic, they picture the training remaining in the room and not being implemented into the day to day running of the business.

Is it any wonder that companies are therefore reluctant to invest money and time in training and developing their managers and leaders, and likewise that their leaders are reluctant to attend?

If companies want to see a succession of young, enthusiastic and capable managers and leaders progressing through their ranks to top executive positions, they need to look at possibilities for learning that go far beyond the whiteboard in the classroom.

Back in 1990 Tim Bernes-Lee created a language for use on the World Wide Web (WWW) called HTML (HyperText Markup Language). A year later WWW first became available to the public, and by 1995 there were 16 million (0.4% of population) users worldwide. By 2000 this figure had risen to 361 million users (or 5.8%) and a decade later there are 1,966 million users - or 28.7% of the world's population.

Who knew a 'radical' idea first proposed and dismissed back in 1945 would form such an integral part of the personal and professional lives of over a quarter of the world's population just over half a century later?!

Electronic and mobile learning is the way forward. The possibilities are huge … and probably 90% of them haven’t actually been discovered yet! Online learning seminars provide an interactive means of learning without taking an entire day out of the office to attend a presentation in person, distance and e-learning solutions provide the opportunity to study at the delegate’s own pace and at a time that suits them – a lark can work at 5am, or a night owl can work at midnight if they chose. Mobile learning solutions can be constant companions, and can serve as a fun reminder of learning tips and techniques as well as an important performance aid. Shortly there will be more smartphones than ordinary mobile phones in the UK, and it is something that more traditional training development companies, and indeed the companies who need their assistance, need to catch on to if they want to stay with the times.

Hopefully the next time that I view this Blog article, it will be from my new Blackberry! Watch this space …!

Friday, 3 December 2010

Leadership Development - Leading and Presenting

by Mark Evenden @ Developing People Limited

Being a leader requires you to be able stand on your feet, command attention and deliver your message to small or large groups of people. While it sounds straight forward enough, presenting is often cited as one the most dreaded tasks leader has to undertake and it can often provide many challenges, one of which I can vividly remember!

I was taught that it is important to remember that when presenting you are giving a ‘performance’. You need to capture your audience’s attention and hold it – audiences can be easily distracted by things that are outside of your control and so you need to be aware of them and manage them as best as you can.

I was asked to present at a company conference to an audience of consisting 35 senior managers and directors. While the presentation itself was fairly straight forward, the room that had been hired was not. The room was in a local hotel that was used as a bar/club by the hotel in the evenings, it didn’t have any natural daylight and had various shelves placed around the edges of the room, presumably for people to place their drinks on.

One of the shelves proved to be my undoing. The room was long but quite narrow. As I was sat at the back of the room, I had to walk up a narrow gap between the seated audience and a number of these shelves. As I got to the front I turned slightly and inadvertently caught my trousers on one of the shelves. I immediately heard a loud rip as a hole the size of a large orange appeared at the back of my left trouser leg.

No one really noticed what happened but I was now in a dilemma – do I admit to the designer tear in my trousers or do I just carry on as if nothing had happened?

If I simply carried on, people would have noticed that I had a hole in my trousers. They wouldn’t have been interested in what I was saying, instead they would be thinking about how it had happened, and possibly why I hadn’t changed my trousers before I did my presentation.

However, I needed people to listen to what I had to say so I decided to them about my embarrassing mishap. It caused a real stir, most people found it hugely amusing but by telling everyone achieved two things. Firstly, as I had dealt with the unfortunate incident I had their attention, and secondly I had a good deal of empathy from many of them, both of which led to the presentation being a great success.

As I stated above, when presenting you need to capture your audience’s attention and hold it. Audiences can be easily distracted by events that are outside of your control, and in my experience it best to deal with the incident upfront, as this will keep the audience’s attention focused on you and what you have to say.

Developing People Limited offer bespoke Training Courses on Presentation Skills. For more information, please telephone 0845 409 2346, or send an email to

Friday, 26 November 2010

Management Development - What Makes an Amazing Managing Director?

by Lucy Cadman @ Developing People Ltd

I have worked with a number of different Managing Director’s over time. They range from brilliant to mediocre, from amazing to frankly quite awful.

At one end of the scale, a particular gentleman ruled the office with a rod of iron – he expected respect without giving any out, he kept clients waiting half an hour whilst he finished reading his newspaper with his feet on the desk, he had no plan for the long term future of the business, and despite him begrudging us buying a jar of coffee or box of teabags, the business was in so much debt that it ultimately ended up being taken over.

In the middle of the scale, I worked for a lovely man who had great plans for the business, who was astute in all aspects of financial control, and who was absolutely revered in his field of expertise. However, he lived in a whirlwind of pressure, stress, incredibly long hours and absolute exhaustion due to the fact that he had no concept whatsoever of delegating efficiently. The stress could make him unapproachable to staff, and often made for a nervous working environment. Sadly the pressure got the better of him in the end, and he passed away at a very young age due to a heart attack.

At the top end of the scale, I work for a fantastic MD who is able to lead the business forward, manage the budget, innovate new ideas, inspire the staff, instil total confidence in the clients, manage his workload effectively, delegate with great confidence, and all this whilst remaining cheerful, calm and approachable at all times. Amazing!

So, to be amazing at a job, it is first necessary to understand exactly what it entails, and what is expected.

The role of Managing Director is the ultimate leadership role. Those who make a success of this role need to have the ability to manage everything – they will demonstrate superb management, leadership and motivational skills, be highly organised, have excellent time management skills, be able to delegate, and have a sharp commercial and strategic brain. A Managing Director also needs to be an excellent ambassador for the company, and have a long term vision of where the company is going. Managing Directors tend to be highly qualified, often with a Business Degree and a recognised management qualification.

The Managing Director leads the company and develops the corporate culture for the entire organisation. They are responsible to everyone – the clients, the staff, the Board and the Shareholders. Other responsibilities include egal responsibility for the company’s affairs, control of the budget, managing the company’s assets and resources, and ensuring they deliver sustainable levels of profitability and growth over time. The Managing Director is responsible for both day to day plans and running of the company, and making strategic plans for the long term future.

No wonder it is a stressful and highly pressured top level job!

Is there a person in the world who can achieve everything listed above (and more!) without a little bit of assistance along the way? You would need to be Superman (or Superwoman!) if so!

Management Development, Training and Coaching can help a Managing Director to truly find their feet in their role. From hints and tips on how to manage email and phone calls effectively through to the art of delegation, from strategic business plans through to controlling the budget, from people skills through to the creation of new cultures, Developing People Limited can help your Managing Director to truly be at the top of their game – all day, every day.

If you would like more information on our Management Development and Managing Training or Management Coaching programmes, please email us or telephone us on 0845 409 2346.

Monday, 22 November 2010

Leadership Development - Managing Company Changes, Mergers and Acquisitions Effectively

by Lucy Cadman @ Developing People Limited

The last few years have brought about an unprecedented number of changes for many companies, including merging with or being acquired by other companies as well as internal restructuring. However, many companies have found that their performance post-change, post-merger or post-acquisition declines, and that the organisation struggles to return to previous performance levels.

In the current climate, organisations are experiencing increasing pressure to improve productivity and reduce costs as ever tougher market demands are being placed on them. These pressures are causing organisations to fundamentally rethink how they operate and as a consequence what they need to see differently from their managers and staff to survive.

One of the reasons that can bring about a drop in organisational performance during a merger or an acquisition is that there are unresolved cultural differences between the two organisations. This can lead to confusion and frustration and result in employees becoming de-motivated.

A clash of cultures can be overcome but it requires strong leadership and collaboration between the management teams and HR to ensure that a common set of goals are in place and communicated to employees. This may also mean ‘changing the mindsets’ of employees as cultural changes may also require behavioural changes.
No matter how clear the imperative for change might be, for it to be successful there are a number of prerequisites that need to be in place. For example:

1) There should be a clear vision for change and everyone must understand what it means for them personally (e.g. will they have a job after the change). This should include key milestones and targets for the change journey.

2) Senior managers demonstrate their commitment to the change by regularly ‘walking the talk’.

3) Managers and staff understand what is expected of them and are clear about what they need to deliver, for example changes to working practice, increased productivity etc.

4) The way that managers and staff are measured and managed is congruent with the changes needed.

5) People are involved in the change and can help shape the outcomes within their areas of responsibility.

6) There are regular two way communications. Individuals are listened to and their expectations are managed effectively.

7) Managers have the skills, capability and confidence to manage the reaction to the change both in themselves and their team.

8) Everyone is encouraged to behave in line with the changes and consequential actions are taken if they don’t.

9) Individuals have the personal capacity to implement the changes as well as doing their ‘day job’.

10) The changes needed to existing people and business policies, procedures and measures are clear and known.

To address these issues, it is vital that the organisation identifies and plans the key interventions that are needed to ensure the implementation of the planned change is successful.

A key aspect of this that is often overlooked is the ability of managers to lead change and staff to absorb it. Managers and staff therefore need to be given the appropriate training and development to enable them to develop their confidence, skills and behaviour and adapt to their new roles. In this way managers and staff will be given the right tools to make the necessary changes and ensure that the changes required by the organisation are successfully delivered and maintained.

Leadership skills are therefore a critical element of any management training programme. Historically many companies have not put any onus on leadership training and often management executives have found themselves lacking in the necessary skills to manage and motivate their teams, let alone effectively communicate and guide employees during the merger and acquisition process. By providing them with the relevant training will give managers the necessary skills to help their teams quickly feel they are part of the new company and culture.

At Developing People Limited, we are skilled in developing your leaders and managers to deal with change effectively. Have a look at the Leadership Development page on our website for more information, or you can send an email to us, or phone us on 0845 409 2346.

Leadership flaws – which ones do you exhibit?

by Mark Evenden @ Developing People Limited

Great leaders are not successful simply because they are in the right place at the right time. They succeed because they play to their strengths, and they work hard at maximising them. Effective leaders are very conscious of their strengths and know how to deploy them for their own advantage and for the benefit of their Organisation. This mean that they can repeat their performance as a leader in any new role they find themselves in or different organisation they work for.

However, all leaders also have weaknesses. These weaknesses can inhibit a leaders’ success or in extreme cases they can be their downfall, if they are not aware of them. I remember a number of years ago I had a new boss. He was a guy from the ‘centre’, young and keen and the business promoted him to a director role. They wanted to give him experience of an operational role with a view to moving him into a more senior position within the group in due course.

While my new boss was keen and clearly wanted to do the best for the business, he was very unaware of the impact his behaviour had on others. For example he would:

• Grill me about my budgeted overspend and expect me to come up with an urgent plan to correct the situation. On investigation I discovered that he had shifted a large spend onto my budget to make another part of the business appear more successful than it actually was!
• Not listen to me or other people properly - he was not interested in other people’s views, just his own.
• Claim that people were the organisation’s most important asset, but not give time for them.
• Be insensitive to people’s needs and also be indiscrete
• Be overly critical about other people in public.

Great leaders are very self aware and understand their flaws and work hard to minimise the impact of their flaws on others. Sadly my new boss didn’t’ understand this concept - he thought that he already knew what he needed to. Interestingly he often complained about not getting as much engagement and commitment from his staff as he wanted, and he couldn’t understand why people didn’t respect or trust him. Perhaps if he was courageous enough to ‘look in the mirror’ he would have seen his flaws and done something about them.

Here at Developing People Ltd, we specialise in helping your leaders to maximise their strengths. Have a look at our Leadership Development page for more information, or telephone us on 0845 409 2346.

Monday, 15 November 2010

Giving Feedback

by Mark Evenden @ Developing People Ltd

Giving feedback can often be fraught with difficulties. You may worry about how the other person will react to your feedback, whether they will believe it, ignore it or possibly get angry, upset or even aggressive.

I remember many years ago working for a consulting firm when my boss asked me for some feedback about a colleague. A couple of months before I had an issue with this colleague as they hadn’t undertaken a final check on a report that subsequently went to a client with a number of mistakes in it causing me a little embarrassment.
I hadn’t said anything to this colleague at the time but as my boss wanted some feedback I explained what had happened. The following week my colleague came to me - they had just had their annual appraisal with our their boss and they were very angry with me.

They accused me of going behind their back and causing trouble – they said that they did not know anything about the mistakes in the report and if it was true then why didn’t they speak to them first?

In hindsight, they had every right to be angry - first of all they weren’t prepared to defend / explain themselves in their appraisal, and secondly I didn’t own the feedback I wanted to give, but did it through a third person instead - our boss.

This was an important lesson for me, and over the years I have picked up other tips to give feedback more effectively too:

1. Remember feedback should not always be about things that someone has done badly - it should also be used to reinforce things that have gone well too.

2. Always give feedback when it is fresh – in your mind and the other person’s. It is a waste of time referring to something that happened 3 months ago, as the other person will probably have forgotten about it and will wonder why you haven’t discussed it before.

3. Prepare what you will say in advance; think through what you will say and how you will say it.

4. Own the feedback you are going to give – don’t give it through a third person. If you have an issue with someone then you should discuss it with them first.

5. When giving feedback ask for the views of the other person first by asking open questions – “tell me about how you think your presentation went’. It may be that they already know what you are about to tell them.

6. Give feedback on what you observed. Make sure you are specific about the details, when, where, how often etc.

7. Own the feedback you give – “I saw, I heard, I observed …”, and stick to the facts and don’t be judgemental ( ‘you are too slow, careless, short tall etc!’), and don’t be vague ( ‘that report was great!’).

8. Discuss the impact their behaviour/actions had on others. For example - ‘The impact of you not turning up on time to the focus group meeting was that the meeting finished later than planned.’

9. Talk to them about the consequences of their actions. ‘The consequence of you turning up late was that our consumers felt we were very unprofessional.’

10. Finally agree with the other person what actions are needed, and what the resulting outcomes will be.

These are tips that I have learned over the years and I hope they help you too.

For more help on Giving and Receiving Feedback, please see our Training Course, or call us on 0845 409 2346 for more information.

Monday, 1 November 2010

Management Development - Crucial Conversations

by Lucy Cadman @ Developing People Ltd

Have you ever had to have a crucial conversation? One where you know you are going to meet with an opposing opinion? One where the stakes are high because it is such an important topic to you? One where you just know that emotions are likely to get out of hand? One that you know will be challenging, frustrating, frightening or annoying – or even all four? One that will have a long term impact on your life?

I once had to tell my boss, after two very unhappy months in a new job, why I was handing in my resignation and going to a different firm. The fear factor about having to hold this conversation with him nearly made me turn down the amazing new opportunity I had been offered, and stick with the stressful and unproductive situation I was currently in! To begin with, I felt bold and confident, and was all prepared to tell him exactly why I was leaving, and what the faults were with the way he ran the office that made it so unbearable to be there. By the time I actually got in to the meeting with him, I meekly handed him a resignation letter, and spent the next half hour trying not to cry as he went through a barrage of emotions from outright anger at my audacity through to emotional pleading for me to stay. I never actually told him why I was leaving in the end, but I was inwardly furious with myself for vehemently shaking my head when he did his “puppy dog eyes” and asked me “Is it me? Did I do something wrong?” …!!

Human nature is to run away from tough situations. We are good at being ostriches, and “burying our heads in the sand” rather than having a difficult conversation.

Breaking bad or difficult news to an employee is something that Managers are called on to do from time to time, but most of us are masters at avoiding this kind of difficult conversation, or even worse, at handling it badly when we do attempt it.

Here are some tips on how to tackle this kind of crucial conversation head on and deal with it effectively, instead of running away or getting it wrong :

1. Be prepared
Make sure you have all the up to date information before you go into the meeting. This could be very useful if the person has questions or concerns.

2. Use a private area
Many times delivering difficult news can cause people to display strong emotions. It is important to preserve their dignity during and after the meeting.

3. Start by listening
Start by asking a few open-ended questions which allows you to build rapport. Use paraphrasing and empathy which demonstrates you are actively listening.

4. Explore perception
Ask the person about their perception of the problem. How do they think they are performing? Further explore their answers.

5. Define reality
Be open and honest when delivering the bad news. Use language that reflects how the person perceives the problem and also use empathetic statements that show you understand how they are feeling.

6. Offer to help
If you can help the person’s situation in any way, offer this help. This may help the person move on and may soften the blow.

Communicating difficult news (or holding any other number of crucial conversations) is never easy, but the structure above can make the meeting go smoother. By practicing this structure in a training environment managers can become more familiar and more comfortable in delivering difficult news.

Management Training and Development can help your managers to handle a variety of situations in a more productive way. For more information on our Management Development and Training services, please visit our website at, or contact Developing People Limited by email or by telephone on 0845 409 2346.

Friday, 22 October 2010

A Question of Integrity

by Mark Evenden @ Developing People Limited

Many years ago, I was a management trainee with the National Coal Board. As with many other nationalised industries at the time, they offered excellent management training and a good grounding for future mine managers.

After completing my statutory basic training and close personal supervision, I worked in various roles from underground logistics to work study. My mentor was our Colliery Manager, who was a strong character and claimed to lead from the front. He expected all those in management roles to lead by example.

Working in a mine has a number of inherent dangers, and there were strict rules governing personal health and safety. One example concerned the plethora of conveyor belts which transported coal from the face via various belts to a drift, and eventually to the surface.

Some of the belts were designated “man riding” belts with properly constructed stations for safe access and egress. However, it was prohibited to ride any other belt, including the one which took the coal to the surface via the drift. One day, I was with a ventilation engineer checking air flows at various points in the drift. We noticed two cap lamps which appeared to be on the conveyor, which was strictly prohibited. Two people were indeed riding the belt – one was the Colliery Manager and the other was the Chief Union Official.

This was an abject lesson for me in how not to lead by example. Firstly, how could a Colliery Manager who was responsible for the health and safety of his staff discipline them for breaching health and safety rules when he did it himself? Secondly, how could a Union Official whose union campaigned forcefully to improve the safety and welfare of miners be prepared to risk his own safety and collude with his Colliery Manager?

Neither of them fully understood the consequences of their actions. Interestingly, the mine had a number of incidents of breaches in health and safety (including riding on prohibited conveyor belts). I wonder if the Colliery Manager and Senior Union Official ever understood the root causes of these problems?

Monday, 18 October 2010

The Benefits of Bespoke Management Development

by Lucy Cadman @ Developing People Limited

A couple of years ago, I worked in the Finance Department of a very large travel organisation. Whilst I was there, I attended a standard “Team Development Course”, with the intention of … guess what … developing our team to work more closely together. It was a generic open training course, and none of us were particularly enthusiastic about attending. As it turned out, the only things that we really learned were the name of our Manager’s pet frog, and the fact that another colleague had once driven an articulated lorry. We also learned that eating fish and chips in the middle of the day lead to sleepiness rather than productivity in the afternoon. Vital information for building a team within a specific business environment … NOT!

Management training is a vital process in the development of a manager, as the skills need to lead, motivate and get the best out of staff are very different from the technical skills required to simply perform a job to a high standard. Many organisations chose to send their managers on generic open training programmes, or sometimes to colleges or business schools to develop their management skills. There is an ease to simply sending a manager out of the office to a structured course for a day or two, and particularly in the current economic climate, the lower budget required for this on-tap kind of training is appealing.

However, there are a number of important issues to be considered using this style of approach.

Firstly, the manager concerned must accept the course as given, and therefore accept the fact that it may or may not meet their specific learning needs at that point in their development.

Secondly, generic management training courses do not take into account the culture, climate and needs of the organisation as an individual company.

Finally, most people learn best when they use materials and approaches that are relevant to their work. For example, discussing how to manage the performance and get the best out of a team of bus drivers will be very different from a team of creative magazine editors.

The ultimate consequence of the above is that the manager does not make the most of their learning and therefore that the organisation doesn’t get the required return on their investment.

To avoid this, an organisation needs to use management training firms with the expertise to develop tailored solutions. They need trainers who can work alongside the organisation’s own internal experts to develop the programmes. This ensures that the materials are prepared in a style, format and language that is 100% appropriate to the business, and that case studies, role plays and exercises are made relevant to the organisation by using realistic workplace examples.

The most effective training programmes are therefore the ones that are developed in collaboration between the organisation and their training partner. Indeed, it is often beneficial that programmes are delivered in partnership too, with the organisation itself delivering certain aspects of the programme. By ‘creating your own’ management training and development programme, organisations can ensure that their managers receive the development that is really needed and the organisation benefits fully from their investment.

Developing People Limited provides bespoke Management Development and Training. We work closely with your organisation at all stages of the process to ensure that the training delivered is right for your people and your business, and that you maximise both your staff and your investment through our training. If you would like more information on our Management Development and Training, or on any of our other bespoke services, please visit our webpage. You can also telephone us on 0845 409 2346, or email us at .

Friday, 8 October 2010

Surviving Your Success as a Leader

by Lucy Cadman @ Developing People Limited

I have been enjoying the hobby of Ballroom and Latin dancing for the last few years. I remember the aches and pains in the early weeks – a short lesson that was relatively gentle compared to the standard I dance at these days used to leave me with crippling muscle aches and cracking joints for several days afterwards. I pressed on for further physical fitness and greater technical ability, all the while thinking to myself “If I can just get to *this* standard, then it will all be so much easier”. Having now achieved a standard of passing several exams, winning various medals and being fit enough to dance for three or four hours a day several days a week, has it got any easier? Has it heck!! I now spend all my time trying to maintain the level of fitness that I have achieved, as well as constantly hungering for more technical skill. It never gets easier – but it does remain enjoyable and fulfilling.

After the months and years spent working hard to be successful in leadership, you have made it to the peak – well done! But being a successful leader can be as difficult to maintain as physical fitness and stamina. Success can mean that you take a big step towards stress and burnout, because the pressure of being a high achiever drives us to try even harder to achieve more.

Here are a few ideas to help maintain balance and survive your own success.

1. Learn to relax. Give yourself a break and take time out to relax and enjoy your success – you deserve it! Make sure that you are not at the office late into the evening every day, and when you have a holiday, then make sure you really do take a holiday – that means no mobile phone, laptop or any other device that helps you to be tracked down!

2. Know your limitations. It’s important to remember that success doesn’t mean perfection. Everyone has strengths and weaknesses, and trying to be good at everything can water down your impact. Play to your strengths, and don’t get hung up on your weaknesses.

3. Don’t be paralysed by indecision. Decisions lead to consequences and action, but not making decisions will lead to inactivity and organisation paralysis. It is better to make a poor decision that needs to be revised than to make no decision at all.

4. Give yourself a pat on the back. Leading a team can be a lonely experience and so it’s important to validate yourself. Note down your achievements and read them through to yourself whenever you can to reinforce successful behaviour.

5. Learn to fail. At some point you will take a “fall” – this is an inevitable part of life, both professionally and personally. The key to falling is how you deal with it - learn from it, move on, and retain confidence in your abilities.

6. Be a mentor. Establish yourself as a coach or mentor to others. Some may be jealous of your success as a leader, but helping them to achieve their own targets will reduce their negativity towards you.

7. Don’t micro manage. Your success as a leader will not last if you over control your team’s tasks. It is vital to trust other people to do what you used to do. Delegate to your team, and then give them freedom and space to achieve their goals.

8. Have a laugh. A sense of humour is very important, particularly in difficult or stressful times. Being able to smile lifts others and shows your self deprecating style.

Maintaining success as a leader is difficult, but it is totally achievable by following these few simple tips. If you would like to find out how Developing People can help you to develop and maintain your leadership skills, please email us or telephone us on 0845 409 2346.

Friday, 24 September 2010

Priority Management - Improve Your Effectiveness

by Lucy Cadman @ Developing People Ltd

Earlier this month, for the first time since I started working at Developing People Limited, I started to feel rather like I was drowning under a sea of paperwork and never-ending tasks, for which I did not have enough hours in the week, let alone in a day. It took a couple of quite serious mishaps with relatively simple tasks to make me sit back and decide to find a better way to deal with things that would result in everything being completed correctly and on time without me bouncing about the office rather like a tightly coiled spring.

Do you find that your working days get longer and you end up working weekends and evenings just to keep up? Is there never enough time in the day to complete all your tasks? Are you constantly asking your boss for an extension of time, or even worse, brushing tasks under the carpet and hoping they will be forgotten? If so, you need to read on to find out how to manage your priorities better, and in turn how to improve your effectiveness.

Try this simple experiment. Take some large stones, several handfuls of gravel and several handfuls of sand. Now put them into a small bucket in this order – sand first, followed by gravel and then the stones. What happens? The sand fills up the bottom of the bucket, the gravel fills up the next part, and not all the stones fit in at the top. But what if you placed the stones in first, followed by the gravel and then the sand? The gravel and sand fall into and fill in the gaps around the stones and hey presto - you have managed to fit everything into one small bucket!

This very simple visual experiment demonstrates the power of priority management. Do the important priorities (ie. the big stones) first and then the smaller ones (ie. the sand and the gravel) can be fitted in around them during the working day or week. Do it the other way round and you will find yourself constantly working extra hours just to catch up on the “important stuff”.

So how should you decide on what your priorities are?

The first suggestion is something called the Pareto rule. Pareto was an Italian economist who identified that 80% of the wealth in Italy was produced and owned by 20% of the population. This 80:20 rule applies to many other situations for example, 80% of profits often come from just 20% of a company’s products or services, and 80% of the worlds pollution is caused by 20% of the world’s population. Using Pareto’s rule you can identify what your important priorities are and where you should focus - what 20% of your priorities or activities will give you 80% of the results you want?

The second suggestion is the concept of “important” and “urgent” – do you know the difference? Draw four boxes as two rows and two columns. Along the bottom of the boxes, write “important” and an arrow pointing to the right. Up the left side of the boxes, write “urgent” and an arrow pointing upwards. Split your tasks into these four boxes in the following way. The top right box is for tasks that are both urgent AND important. The top left box is for tasks that are urgent but not important. The bottom right box is for tasks that are important but not urgent, and the bottom left box is for tasks that are neither urgent nor important. Tasks which are urgent and important must be completed first. Tasks which are urgent but not important come next. Important but not urgent tasks are in third place, and tasks which are neither important or urgent should be delegated or scrubbed off your list altogether (and believe me, that can feel remarkably refreshing and theraputic, if you are sure you are scrubbing out the right tasks!)!

Getting your priorities right will ensure that you are more effective at what you do, and more accomplished in achieving your tasks. It will lead to a calmer and more efficient working environment, and you will reap the reward of being able to leave your job behind when you go home on time at the end of the working day every day. I have left the office on time every day for the last two weeks, and been a nice mummy rather than what my children none-too-fondly call a “growly bear mummy” into the bargain. It’s a much better way of life!

For more information on how Developing People Limited can help maximise your Priority Management skills, please see our training course on Personal Effectiveness and Priority Management. You can also contact us on 0845 409 2346 or by email to to discuss the needs of your business or organisation.

Friday, 17 September 2010

Management Development in a Recession

by Lucy Cadman @ Developing People Limited

I am very fortunate that my own career has never yet been affected by redundancy, but sadly at the age of 43, my husband has proved not quite so lucky – tomorrow is his last day of work at what has been his job for the last four and a half years. Unfortunately his own redundancy (along with the twenty or so colleagues leaving with him tomorrow) is just the first part of a three-part wave of redundancies in the business scheduled for the next three months, so many others will shortly be facing the same fears around trying to find new employment.

With news of a “double dip” recession, more short time working, further redundancies and unfortunate business closures, it is not surprising that many employees – staff, managers and leaders alike - have become nervous about what the future holds for them. It is understandable that this will cause some people to become distracted and therefore not completely focused on what needs to be achieved. A potential consequence of this is that they become less productive, less creative and take fewer risks, which is obviously not what a business needs in the current climate. It becomes an ever-decreasing cycle of less productivity, poorer results and potential job losses, and it is hard to see a way towards breaking the cycle.

It is even more important now than ever before, therefore, that managers are trained not just to recognise the ‘mood’ of their staff, but that they are also given the skills and capability to influence the motivation and morale of their staff in a positive way. There is no doubt about the fact that some business will have to restructure and make staff redundant, but the way managers handle this sensitive and emotive issue can have a big impact not just on those who leave, but also on the morale and commitment of the staff who remain.

It would be an understatement to say that my husband has not had a good experience from his managers surrounding the news of his redundancy. Thankfully he does have an opportunity to retrain, but the news was not given sensitively or kindly, and he has recently learned that there will be no management staff in the office on his last day at work to wish him well after four and a half years of 3am starts. He feels unappreciated, uncared for, and would not jump to the front of the queue to recommend his current employer to anyone else considering embarking on a career with them.

One of the key characteristics of how successful organisations perform after any such restructuring is how the employees who remain feel that their colleagues who left the business were treated. Organisations whose staff felt that their redundant colleagues were treated poorly often subsequently struggle with low levels of employee motivation and productivity for a while after the restructure. Treating people ‘unfairly’ can range from a number of things. For example, redundant staff may have experienced:

* No sensitivity in breaking the new of forthcoming redundancy
* No apparent logic to who is made redundant and who is not
* Little or no support to find a new job.
* No opportunities for retraining.
* Redundancy payments handled incorrectly.
* Broken promises from managers.
* Leaving the organisation’s premises with out any recognition or thank you from their manager.

It is important therefore that managers are given the appropriate management training and support to help them deal with the consequences of a business restructure. For example they need to be able to:

* Give appropriate time, attention and sympathetic support to affected staff.
* Help staff to focus on the future and not dwell on the past.
* Give practical and useful advice and guidance about how to find a new job.
* Demonstrate independence and not collude with staff.

Management training and development can therefore play a vital role in a successful restructure. Cutting back on training costs will only worsen the situation, but investing in training will help managers deal with the effects of redundancies sympathetically and appropriately, and it will also enable them to keep an eye on the mood and motivation of their staff who remain. After all, you want staff who leave the business to be prepared to recommend it to potential employees in the future, as well as needing to maintain the productivity and commitment of those who remain, if the business is to have a hope of riding out the current recession and moving forwards into a successful future.

Monday, 13 September 2010

Talent Management - Talent Retention

by Mark Evenden @ Developing People Ltd

Is talent retention a serious issue for your organisation? Many organisations suffer each time a talented manager or member of staff leaves, as they often take with them valuable knowledge and expertise, and leave a void which can be time consuming and expensive to fill.

But why do some organisations struggle to keep their talent, and why do talented people become disillusioned and leave?

My own personal experiences have led me to a number of conclusions. Many years ago I worked for one of the UK’s largest nationalised industries which employed hundreds of thousand of people. While the organisation had many strengths, nepotism was rife, and those that got on the most were relatives and/or close friends of more senior personnel within the organisation. While I was there I witnessed numerous well qualified and talented individuals be ‘sidelined’ and not given the career opportunities they deserved.

In other organisations, I have seen talented individuals and their managers in ‘competition’ with each other. They both try and climb what appears to them as the same ladder in the organisation, and feel their personal career interests are in direct conflict. The line manager is usually the one with the power and I have seen them resort to ‘blocking behaviour’, which prevents the talented individual from progressing. The consequence of which is that they quickly became disillusioned and left.

Another main reason why talent leaves is because they become “turned off” by their line manager. A number of years ago I experienced a boss who was a ‘do what I tell you to’ manager. He wasn’t empowering, and didn’t like the idea of me (or anyone else in his team), demonstrating a great deal of initiative. However, talented individuals want opportunities to stretch and prove themselves, but some managers can perceive that giving their staff stretch opportunities to learn and develop is just too risky. They like to keep tight control as they are ultimately responsible for what their staff deliver, they do not want to risk their own reputation or career because a particular person has failed to deliver. However, the consequence of this is that the talented individual feels that they are not stretched, they become frustrated and leave. Which is exactly what I and a number of my colleagues did.

So how can businesses prevent talent from leaving? How can they prevent nepotism, blocking behaviour and over control from managers? The key is to have a visible talent management programme that is owned by senior managers where these issues can be highlighted and dealt with. In addition, businesses must provide their managers with the necessary skills to manage their talent appropriately and help them to understand the benefits of developing talent, for themselves, their team and ultimately the business’ success.

Wednesday, 8 September 2010

Management Development - What are the benefits of the development of managers?

by Lucy Cadman

A couple of years ago, I had to attend a management development and team building event run by a previous company that I worked for. We spent two hours eating fish and chips, and awkwardly asking each other for three random facts about our lives that no one else would know. At the end we had to report back on the random facts, much to the embarrassment of everyone present, especially those who had shared a little more information about themselves than was truly professional. We were all left wondering what on earth was the point of the training, and how it had impacted on our performance in any way – sadly, if not understandably, everyone came to the conclusion that the training had been a waste of time and had achieved absolutely nothing.

When thinking about the benefits of investing into the development of managers within a business, it is necessary to first consider the answers to a further two questions :

1) What is the business or organization striving to achieve?
2) How do the managers need to think and act for the business to achieve these goals?

Management development can only help to improve the performance of a business if the development activities are directed in the right way and are aimed at achieving a measurable change. For example, the outcomes required from the development activities may be around:

• Developing managers to have more impact and influence with the intention of leading to increasing sales revenue.
• Improving the performance management skills of managers to in turn improve the productivity of staff to increase capacity and / or reduce costs.

It is also good to remember that there are a range of less tangible business benefits associated with management development activities - for example, investment in training and development is often seen by employees as a sign of being valued by the company, as well helping to create a positive business and professional image. Businesses that are seen to invest in staff development will not only find it easier to recruit quality personnel, but will also enjoy much lower rates of staff turnover.

However, it is important to recognize that individual development is not just about “going on a course”. While training courses will enable a manager to address a specific skills gap, there are other alternatives to consider - for example:

• Secondments into other roles within other teams or departments to improve business understanding and team focus.
• Coaching.
• Mentoring
• Project work
• Research
• Networking
• Reading
This list is by no means exhaustive!

Whatever the reason for investing in management development, the impact on individual performance and the impact on the company's bottom line should always both be kept in mind, measured and regularly evaluated to ensure that the investment is worthwhile and that the full benefits have been gained.

Friday, 27 August 2010

Have you ever been an Ostrich Leader?

by Mark Evenden

I am often intrigued why senior leaders in organisations remain silent when even the uninitiated can see that the situation desperately needs them to take a lead and speak out. This is sometimes referred to as "ostrich style leadership" after the widespread (but untrue) belief that ostriches bury their heads in the sand when faced with danger.

I am not sure whether it is because they think that if they say and do nothing that they will be less responsible for what happens, or whether it is a product of indecision or possibly even fear. As with all animals, we humans are very instinctive and when faced with a crisis we tend to produce a ‘fight or flight’ response. Freezing up under pressure is a manifestation of the fright response, and it is precisely at these crucial times that we need leaders to fill that void and provide clarity and direction to enable others to override their instincts.

Sadly I believe too many leaders don’t like to take this responsibility.

I can remember many years ago when it was announced that the business I worked for was to be closed down. This was a massive shock for the employees, their families and the local community. Many of our staff had never had another job, some had sons and daughters who worked there too, and for them their whole world was collapsing around them.

However, it was clear to me that I had a vital role to play amongst this chaos. In the short term we had customers who had placed orders with us and their business relied on us fulfilling these orders. In addition, all of our staff still had an important future, albeit a new and different one, perhaps working for a different organisation, working for themselves or taking the option of early retirement. It was my leadership responsibility to help our staff to see a positive future for themselves and to enable them to realise it.

The results of all this speak for themselves. Over 75% of redundant staff (excluding those who took early retirement) had found new employment within 3 months of the site closing. In addition, we did not loose any customers or have any service or production issues during this period, which was a great credit to all the staff who worked there.

For me this was an important lesson to learn early in my career. Leadership is not a position, but an act of taking responsibility for a situation - especially a tough one.

Would you like to see greater leadership qualities within your own business? Our Leadership Development training can help you. Click here to email us for more information, or phone us on 0845 409 2346.

Friday, 20 August 2010

Developing Leadership and Strategic Thinking

by Lucy Cadman

I sometimes suffer from what I fondly (or usually not so fondly) term as “Woolly Brain Syndrome”. I know what I want to achieve, and I know what I want to see my company achieve … but sometimes I just can’t figure out a logical thought progression to develop substantive plans to help these ideas to become a reality.

Would you like to improve your own strategic thinking skills? If so, try out some of the following development ideas listed below:

* Read the business pages of a quality newspaper such as The Times, Financial Times, and Telegraph etc. Alternatively subscribe to the Harvard Business Review. Learn about strategies and actions that other organisations have taken to improve their performance. Determine which ones of these would work well within your organisation.

* Prepare a ‘strategic perspective’ for your business / function. Conduct some research - what will the likely key trends and changes be in the next 3-5 years? Look at things such as changes in technology, applications, competition, legislation, demographics, etc. What opportunities and threats are provided?

* Research your major competitors and develop a detailed profile of each competitor. What can you learn from them?

* Analyse the needs of your customers. What is it they need and want in your products applications and services, both now and in the future?

* Challenge the assumptions and beliefs that you have about your business – which ones are obsolete or restrictive? Which ones should you change? For example, the internet has challenged the belief that you can only purchase music on a CD / Tape, and the digital watch challenged the belief that all watches had to have hands to tell the time.

* Volunteer to work on a cross functional business / organisation improvement project.

*Learn to play chess.

* Discuss with a trusted colleague or manager your ability to strategize and see the ‘bigger picture’. Identify any weaknesses or blind spots. Discus ideas to force yourself to move away from details to the ‘bigger picture’ to gain a broader prospective.

* Seek someone who could act as a mentor (either internally or externally) and who could guide you through a strategic planning process.

* Discuss with your manager your ability to make sound judgements and business decisions. What feedback can they give you about your effectiveness? What decisions could you have made differently?

* Identify the most important decision that you have to make in the next 3-6 months. Discuss with your manager or colleague the key steps to making the decision and likely information you will need. Start gathering the relevant information.

This list is not meant to be exhaustive, but if it is put into practise the suggestions will help you to improve your strategic thinking and leadership capability, and will help you to avoid being a sufferer of “Woolly Brain Syndrome”!

If you require further help in developing your Leadership Skills or your Strategic Thinking skills, Developing People Ltd can help you. Please visit our website for more information, or call us on 0845 409 2346.

Friday, 6 August 2010

Team Development – Internal or External Focus?

by Lucy Cadman

I found working as a sole trader from home could be a rather a lonely existence. I used to come into contact with many clients daily – either replying to their emails, chatting to them on forums, answering their telephone calls, or meeting them in person at their homes or whilst doing demonstrations at various events throughout the UK. But whilst I loved my customers (and indeed, I loved being loved by them), it was still lonely. I had no team around me to share either my problems or my ambitions. If something went wrong, I fixed it myself. If something needed doing, I did it myself. If a goal needed achieving, I achieved it myself. All very self-satifying … but none the less, very lonely. To thrive, a business needs good teams within it, and for me, the two are irrevocably interlinked.

Managers who wish to improve the performance of their teams often tend to focus on the team’s ‘internal workings’. They focus on subjects such as clarifying the team’s goals and roles, building spirit and motivation, providing focused agendas and agreeing rules for decision making. However, a book written by Deborah Ancona (Professor at MIT Sloan School of Management) and Henrik Bresman (INSEAD) states that these attributes alone are not enough to ensure that a team is successful.

The authors have harnessed decades of their research and documented their findings in their book X-Teams: How to Build Teams That Lead Innovate and Succeed. While Ancona and Bresman recognize the importance of the ‘internal workings’ of a team, they also saw that the most successful teams (which they dub the X-Teams) had team spirit, but that they also projected ‘upwards and outwards’ from the team. They established co-operative relationships, sought out key information from other teams and outside sources, communicated the team's mission to key stakeholders and actively pursued support from management. The poorest-performing teams, on the other hand, just focused on their own inner workings and relationships.

While the phrase ‘X-Team’ is relatively new, the idea that successful teams need to go outside themselves is less so. Margerison and McCann identified that all successful teams at some time in their life have to interact with others external to themselves. Margerison and McCann’s specifically identified two activities in their Types of Work Model relating to this issue:

• Advising - involves the team gathering information from others and disseminating it to the rest of the team so that it can be used effectively.
• Promoting - which means selling the ‘benefits’ of the team and what the team does not only to key stakeholders, but also to those who will be responsible for making things work further down the line, both internally and externally to the organisation.

So what are the implications for managers who wish to develop their own teams? Clearly the traditional ‘internal’ focus of goals, roles, team behaviours and team ways of working are a vital basis for building a team. However, this is only half of the solution. Managers also need to identify and build relationships with others both internal and external to the organisation. Managers should challenge themselves and their team by asking: Who does the team need support from? Who else has a stake in what our team does? Who might need to know about what we are doing? By doing this, as researchers have identified, managers can cultivate the type of environment that will make their teams more successful.

Would your Managers benefit from Management Development Training to help them integrate both internal and external working methods into their teams? If so, please contact Developing People Limited on 0845 409 2346 for more information.

Friday, 30 July 2010

Management Development - Cutting Unauthorised Absences

by Lucy Cadman

Have you ever had that Monday morning feeling? The weekend has been too good and you don’t want it to come to an end, or you have over-indulged in one too many pints, and you can’t face the office. Or how about that Friday feeling, when the weekend can’t come soon enough, and you really really can’t be bothered to do a day’s work before it happens? Maybe you’ve even had that holiday feeling, where you’ve still got a million things to wash and pack, and could do with an extra couple of days to do it all in before you leave on your vacation. What’s the easy answer? Call in sick, and pretend that you are dying of some inhumane form of contagious disease that has rendered you completely incapable of moving from your bed, when in actual fact you are right as the proverbial rain and you are in reality taking the proverbial “P”.

Acceptable? NO!!

According to a survey undertaken by CHH, employers are losing ground when it comes to keeping workers on the job. Unscheduled absenteeism rates have risen to their highest level since 1999, and what continues to be of most concern is that almost two out of three employees who don’t show up for work aren’t actually physically ill.

It is estimated that employee absenteeism costs the UK economy around £12 billion per year. On average, this equates to around 8.5 days per employee at an average cost to the business of £600 per employee. Of course, these are not the only costs incurred by an organisation - other factors to take into account are disruption and lost work as other employees try to cover for their absent colleagues.

“Monday Morning Syndrome” (as described above) often starts with occasional lateness or absences which, if left unmentioned over time, can increase and become more regular. Trigger factors can also include:

• Problems concerning motivation.
• Quality of management and leadership.
• Working relationships.
• Working environment.
• Ergonomic factors.
• Health and safety issues.
• Job role.
• Lack of training and career development.
• Policies and procedures.
• Other factors outside of work e.g. personal or family problems.

If employees know that absence will be noticed and follow up on upon return, they are less likely to take time off without very good reason. From a Manager’s point of view therefore, it is essential to have measures in place which will reduce or prevent unauthorised absences. Some of these measures include:

• Regular monitoring of individual absence or attendance records.
• Clear procedures which are brief and understood by all employees e.g. ensuring that people ring in by a certain time if they are going to be late or absent.
• Hold ‘Return to Work’ interviews – informal discussion with the employee on the day after they have returned to work.
• A rule concerning absences immediately taken before periods of holiday.
• Taking disciplinary action against regular absenteeism. Whilst this course of action should always be very carefully considered, it may be necessary.

Developing People can help equip the Managers in your company to deal effectively with absenteeism, as well as many other Management Training and Development issues. Please call us on 0845 409 2346 for more information, or see our Management Development information on this website.

Friday, 23 July 2010

The Benefits of Investment in Management Training and Development

by Lucy Cadman

A week or so ago, I was lucky enough to attend a fantastic training course run by Business Link West Midlands, featuring Susan Hallam of Hallam Internet as the trainer. Susan was bright, knowledgeable, approachable, engaging and downright funny, and as such, I came away not only feeling like I had learned a massive amount that I wanted to dash back to the office and put into practise, but that I had also had a really enjoyable time.

Have you ever wondered why the Management Development programme your organisation invested in didn’t deliver what was expected?

Have you personally ever attended a development programme or training course, but didn’t get out of it what you had hoped?

Have you ever delivered a Management Development programme, and found that your delegates were disinterested, unmotivated and disengaged?

Some of the answers to these questions can be found in recent research that has tried to explain how people learn and develop - in other words, how we come to know what we know, and how we change our behaviour and performance in response to our development. Many years of research have identified a number of common practices that are vital to ensuring individuals benefit from their own development.

Whether you have a role in the organising or the delivering of Management Training, it is worth bearing these eight points in mind:

1) Make the learning relevant.
We remember things better when they relate to us, and we are more likely to take in what we are being told when we can apply it to our own work or home lives. It is therefore essential that abstract concepts or models are made personally relevant using practical examples and case studies that relate directly to the business in which we work.

2) Make sure the learning can be applied immediately.
We forget things that we don’t regularly practice. Conversely, we quickly embed our learning when we can use it regularly. Give solutions and recommendations that your delegates are going to want to go back to their office and use straight away

3) Keep the learning interactive.
This sounds simple, but sometimes trainers are unaware of how much they "talk at" rather than "discuss with” their participants. Ensure learning sessions are participative, and include creative ways of involving the participants through exercises and discussions.

4) Limit the use of film/DVD.
Few things are more passive than watching television. Of course, there are excellent resources available in this medium, many of which can be very helpful. It is just important to make sure this does not become the primary means of communication.

5) Regularly review.
Review each section of training before moving on to the next one, and provide a complete summary of the entire session at the end. Spend the first five minutes of every session reviewing what occurred in the previous one. This technique can help tie important themes together and promote integration of the training program as a whole, as well as providing the links back to the workplace.

6) Space out management training sessions.
Very little is learned by cramming things in. Make sure that after a training session the participants have an appropriate amount of time to put into practice what they have learned before embarking on the next piece of learning.

7) Encourage participants to read around the subject.
Provide additional reading materials, books, articles internet sites etc to enable the participants to further their development. E-Learning is an excellent resource to engage the delegates before and after training takes place, as can the use of a community such as an online forum, where delegates are able to talk to others who have undergone the same training, and who may be able to share experiences about applying what they have learned in their workplace.

8) Ensure participants are held to account.
Provide feedback forms for the delegates, and encourage their return. Assess the responses given, and make any necessary changes to the programme to ensure further delegate satisfaction, understanding, and ultimately learning in the future.

Finally, it is important to recognise that development is an investment and that an organisation has the right to expect a return on that investment. Managers must therefore hold their staff to account. How have their staff applied their learning? How has it improved their performance? When I returned from my training course a week ago, I produced an 8 page document detailing for my boss and my colleagues everything that I had been learned, which was useful not only in sharing the knowledge, but in keeping it fresh in my own mind. My boss would (rightly) have expected nothing less. In my experience, managers who show a genuine interest in their staff and their development will invariably get the most from their investment.

Tuesday, 20 July 2010

Management Development - How to Be An Effective Manager

by Lucy Cadman @ Developing People

I know I go on about it a lot when writing my blogs, but I really am lucky to be managed at work by such an effective manager. My boss is capable of seeing that every job gets completed effectively by the right person, that all problems are addressed and resolved swiftly, and that the working environment is a happy and productive one.

To be an effective manager like this, it is important to recognise the good habits that belong to the areas of personal effectiveness and priority management. It is equally as important to recognise that the opposite of these good habits are the bad habits that can sneak up on us all sometimes, and start to make us ineffective almost without us realising!

Here are five steps towards being an effective manager:

1. Use a diary, and plan your work schedule
It may sound simple and obvious, but using a diary effectively can have a massive impact on how you utilise your time. It is no help to your effectiveness to complete one task and then spend the next half hour deciding what to do next! A previous boss of mine taught me how to use a diary, and her words still ring in my ears ten years later – “Action every single item in your diary for today, either by crossing it off as completed or by bringing it forward to another day, but do not ever let anything vanish from your diary unless the task is totally complete and requires no further follow up at all”.

She showed me that a diary is not just for out of office appointments, but can be used to plan the tasks of each day and week to use your time to maximum effect, and to help you keep clear time for priorities, including those which sometimes crop up unexpectedly. It also helps to ensure that your “important but not urgent” tasks still see the light of day. Remember - If you don’t have a plan for where you want to be … don’t be surprised if you arrive somewhere you don’t want to be!

2. Maintain a clear environment
One of my colleagues works from home, and every time she visits the office, she never fails to exclaim in surprise at the tidiness of my desk. I am not sure whether her surprise is based around the fact that I can manage to maintain such a tidy environment, or whether it has some roots in astonishment that I have managed to train my boss to be almost (well, nearly … maybe not quite!) as tidy and organised as I am – a skill for which he has in all honesty never previously been renowned!

An effective manager operates a “clear desk” policy. Make sure that everything you need regularly is easy to find and close to hand, and that things which are not needed so often are towards the back of your desk or filed away in draws. Have an In Tray, an Out Tray, and ensure that your Out Tray is empty at the end of each day. Do not leave your desk covered in papers at the end of each day, as you will find it surprisingly unattractive to return to the next morning, and you will waste valuable time in sorting out yesterday’s work today. Efficient administration and filing systems are invaluable.

3. Delegate efficiently
Delegation does not simply mean “ordering someone else to do it”. When used effectively, it is a key tool for an effective manager. My boss is the King of Delegation as he is not only able to pick the right person for the right task, but he can also assign tasks without any air of “offloading” them, and even more importantly, he then has the capability to take his hands off the task entirely instead of trying to tinker with the results in advance of them being presented – something that as a control freak, I must confess I aspire to being able to do.

Delegation is about entrusting responsibility and authority to others, who then become responsible to you for their results. It gives more time for you to spend on important priorities, increases your own effectiveness and impact, develops others and equips them to solve their own problems, enables decisions to be made nearer the “front line”, and promotes involvement and motivation amongst your staff. Management is about getting things done through others – it is not about doing everything yourself!

4. Remove all interruptions
The two biggest distractions preventing people from getting immersed in their work are emails and the telephone. As a bit of a technical “geek”, I am all too easily distracted by the sight or sound of an email arriving in my inbox. I could quite cheerfully tell the phone to go to … erm, somewhere lovely for a permanent holiday … but I cannot resist the allure of sneaking a peak at every email when it arrives. My boss is the opposite – he finds it harder to resist the phone, but is capable of showing great self-restraint in only checking his emails two or three times a day at the most. Between us, we make a combination of good practise!

Turn off the “ding” sound when you receive an email so that you are not tempted to look straight away and break your concentration – set aside time at the beginning, middle and end of each day for reading and replying to emails, and do not look at them at any other point. Likewise with the telephone – batch outgoing calls together rather than making them randomly throughout the day, and where possible, turn your telephone to voicemail and collect messages at stipulated points throughout the day. Operate a “stand up” policy when colleagues enter your workspace – if you remain standing whilst they are talking, they will get the message that you mean to be brisk and brief so that you can get back to the task you were completing.

5. Do not accept responsibility for the problems of your staff
For a kind and caring manager, this can be a tricky one, but you do yourself and your staff no favours by taking over responsibility of their problems. This can be a fine line to walk between showing concern and support without overstepping the bounds of professionalism, but having experienced the boss who phoned me a week after I had undergone major surgery to ask why I wasn’t back in the office at one end of the scale, through to the boss who was quite prone to shed a tear with me if things were tough at the other end of the scale, I can vouch for the fact that the middle line is actually the best place to be from an employee’s point of view.

Help your staff by all means, but the moment you let their problem become your problem, you will have one more problem than you had before – if you do this for ten staff every week, you will have gained over 100 problems in the space of three months! Instead, meet with them at an appointed time, and help them to resolve the issues themselves – you will be one problem lighter, and they will feel a sense of achievement for having ultimately dealt with things themselves.

Keep these five tips in mind, and you will be well on your way to be an effective manager with a good work/life balance, who achieves great results and motivates their workforce to even better things each day.

Friday, 2 July 2010

An Abject Lesson in Leading by Example

by Mark Evenden @ Developing People Ltd

Leading by example is an interesting topic, because for many of us we often want to “tell” people (family, friends, work colleagues, etc) something and then expect them to get on with it. We may not feel the need to do the things we have asked of others (for example, we might insist our child keeps their room tidy when the rest of our house looks like a bomb site), but we just expect others to do as they are told. However, our behaviour has a direct impact on the people we interact with, and I will give you a simple example of this.

I have had an interesting first season as the Manager of a girls football team. I had no previous football coaching experience, and so the club assigned me an experienced coach to support me and help me learn the ropes. Initially this was very helpful because I could not make every game due to work commitments.

However, I found out that when I was away, the said “experienced coach” had become very frustrated with one of the league referees. Instead of hiding his frustrations, he made them known to all, and made comments in front of the girls (and their parents) such as “We lost because the other team had an extra player”. His behaviour started to cause angst amongst the team and the parents, and it because a regular discussion point whenever that particular referee was in charge.

The team played really well, and reached the final of the local league cup. However, guess who the match referee was and guess what the outcome of the final was?

Yes, we lost the game - not because the other team were better than us, but because in the minds of the girls and of the parents, we were playing against a team of 12, and therefore we would never ever win.

This is an abject lesson in leading by example. The behaviour of the “experienced” coach affected the team and how they played. Sadly, he still couldn’t see it – his only comment was a hollowly triumphant “See?? I *told* you we wouldn’t win with that referee” !!!

Sometimes (or perhaps often), football coaching has nothing to do with football, but it does have a lot to do with setting an appropriate example.

Monday, 28 June 2010

Management Training - Can you teach an old dog new tricks?

by Lucy Cadman

Whenever the subject turns to anything technological in our Team Business Meetings at Developing People, I usually end up having to stifle a smile or two at the reluctance and the disinterest of our more mature team members. The response can be anywhere from a mumbled “Do we really need that?” through to “Can you say that again, as I really don’t understand it”, and usually finishing off with a grudging “Well, I suppose we must move with the times – but YOU can deal with it all!” (with the latter comment always being aimed at and embraced by myself – the 33 year old “wet behind the ears” member of the team!).

During 2009, the High Court upheld the decision that it was legal for the Default Retirement Age of 65 (introduced by the Government in 2006) to remain in place. As the Law currently stands, a British employer can therefore dismiss a member of staff without redundancy payments on their 65th birthday, as long as the employer sticks to the correct procedure for the dismissal. Employees have the right to request to continue working, but the employer can refuse this without giving any reason for the decision. An employer can currently also refuse to employ anyone over the age of 65.

However, the new Liberal Democrat-Conservative Coalition announced in June 2010 that they want to scrap the current default retirement age of 65, and that they plan to bring in an increase to this age – the state pension age for men is now due to rise from 65 to 66 in 2016, and up to 68 by 2046. Women are scheduled to move to a state pension age of 66 a few years after the increase for men. Steve Webb (Liberal Democrats Pensions Minister) says pensionable age should be a better reflection of life expectancy, which is currently 77 years for men and 81 years for women in the UK.

With this in mind, is it justifiable that some employers are still seemingly reluctant to offer Management Training and Development opportunities to their older employers in the age ranges of 50’s and 60’s? Is this a wise investment, or is it too late to be of benefit to either the employer or the employee? Do older employees respond as well to Management Training activities as their younger counterparts?

There is still a strong case for including older employees in management training events :

* They may still have the need, and they definitely still have the responsibility.
* They are likely to be just as motivated to grow and to perform on average and in general as their younger colleagues - indeed some may be even more strongly motivated!
* A "one team" approach is better than a divisive approach
* It could be strongly demotivational not to include them.
* Including older managers gives them and the other participants the benefit from their knowledge, experience and wisdom.
* They often set a good example to their younger peers - and any cynical responses are much more driven by individual attitude differences than by age.

There are many reasons to ensure that you include your older managers in management training that outweigh any concerns about less return on your investment or that they may "know it all already" - after all, they may still be working for you in years to come well into their 70's!

Mr M – long may your time with us continue, and we will get you addressing the masses on Twitter yet …!!!

Friday, 25 June 2010

Management Training - Improving Your Networking Skills

by Lucy Cadman @ Developing People

I freely admit that I probably spend way too much time on the internet. It seems to be one of those things that is just like Marmite – you either love it or you hate it. And my relationship with the internet is definitely a love affair.

In third place, I would say, is reading and replying to emails. They are such a quick and easy way to keep in touch, especially with those who don’t live locally, or indeed who are from another country altogether. You can cram so much into one single email that you couldn’t probably fit into an expensive international phone call, although I must admit that I ought to get off my sofa and walk round to see my friend who lives in the next street as opposed to emailing her!

Second place is likely to go to using forums. With a number of fairly diverse hobbies (ranging from Ballroom Dancing via Classic Car ownership through to the keeping of several Tarantulas, and all manner of things in between!), I am often on the search for information, supplies, and the company of like-minded people. Forums provide a wealth of information at the touch of just a few buttons, and it is pretty easy to get absorbed into the community feel of such sites.

Without a doubt, in top place is Facebook, and other similar networking sites such as LinkedIn. I can misplace hours at a time keeping up with what friends all over the world have been doing, and keeping everyone up to date with my latest dancing injury, my newest car purchase, or the hiding place of my most recently escaped Tarantula. I can relay news to a couple of hundred friends, old and new, again at the touch of just a few buttons.

In today’s technological times, social and professional networking sites are a quick and easy way to give you access to a large network of people via your computer. Here are five top tips to help you use the internet successfully for networking purposes:

1. Don’t mix business and pleasure. Be careful about the way you use your business networking sites (for example, LinkedIn) as opposed to the way you use your social networking sites (for example, Facebook). If possible, keep business and pleasure completely separate online – don’t invite professional contacts to link with you on social networking sites, and vice versa. The last thing you really want is your professional contacts to be reading all about how you got a bit tipsy at the weekend, or your poorly dog needing to be taken to the vets!!
2. Take the time to look up old contacts. By adding just one contact to your online network, you will often gain access to hundreds more people who are interested in a similar vein of work, or who have professional skills that may be useful to you. Take the time and trouble to look up people you haven’t contacted in a while, and make use not only of their skills, but also of the skills of the people they network with.
3. Be careful how you come across. Remember that the written word does not have the advantage of body language to emphasize its true meaning. Words can easily be misunderstood across a computer screen, so if in doubt, leave it out!
4. Think what your legacy will be. Where as the spoken word is gone the moment it has been said, the written word has a much more lasting legacy. Never type anything out in temper, as it may be difficult to retract it, by which point the damage is already done. Be polite, courteous and professional at all times.
5. Beware of addiction! Networking sites can be incredibly time-consuming. Whilst they are a very important and useful resource, stay aware of how much time you spend using them, and don’t let this become proportionally imbalanced to the amount of work you generate from networking in this way.

One of these days, I will take my own advice on that last point … promise!

Monday, 14 June 2010

How to evaluate the impact of Leadership Training and Development

by Mark Evenden

At Developing People, we understand the importance of measuring the impact that a leadership training and development programme has on an organisation, as the “acid test” of any investment whether in leadership development or new product or service, is the results it produces.

The key to the evaluation of a leadership development programme is to be clear at the design stage what the organisation is expecting to achieve as a result of its investment. For example, does the organisation wish to:

* Increase profits?
* Increase productivity of staff?
* Reduced mistakes/quality problems?
* Increased sales or market share?
* Reduce staff turnover?

By setting out the outcomes expected form the leadership development programme different ‘levels’ of evaluation can subsequently be made.

1) Organisation – The highest level of evaluation can be assessed via the organisation’s own metrics (e.g. profitability, sales growth, market share etc). However, there needs to be a clear line of sight between these measures and others that link to them.
2) Team. The first link is at the team or departmental level. What impact does the programme need to have on team performance, and targets? These may be for example, improved levels of customer satisfaction (increasing sales), improved product margins through better negotiation (increasing profitability), reduced absence rates and staff turnover Reducing costs).
3) Individual. The next link in the evaluation is individual performance and behaviour. How do leaders need to behave and what skills do they need in order to increase motivation and engagement to provide better customer service (for example)? This can be measured through achievement of personal as well as observations on behaviour via 360 feedback appraisals.

By providing a clear line of sight linking individual behaviour, through team behaviour and on to organisational outcomes, an the impact a leadership development programme has had can be readily assessed and evaluated.

Tuesday, 1 June 2010

Leadership Development - Leadership and the Sigmoid Curve

by Mark Evenden at Developing People

Charles Handy in his book the Empty Raincoat discussed a concept called the Sigmoid Curve, and its implications for organisations. In essence, Handy was explaining that all organisations have life cycles that are fairly predictable, and can be expressed in terms of S-shaped curves, like a product life cycle. The curves show how organisations form and start to grow, before eventually reaching a peak and starting to decline.

At Developing People, we believe that careers follow similar patterns. In the beginning of your career you learn a great deal, mature in your role, and then potentially move on if you feel you have either “outgrown” your role, or if you feel you have stagnated, got bored, and are just going through the motions of doing your job, with the consequential decline in performance.

What therefore are the implications of this for us as Leaders? One paradox is that leaders need to “re-invent” themselves before their leadership style becomes stale and less effective. Clearly this takes a certain amount of courage and foresight, because why should a leader change what they do when it is all working just fine, and they are successful?

Leaders therefore need to continually learn, develop and re-invent themselves if they are to be capable of continually challenging their organisations and leading them to greater performance.

The skills and behaviours that a leader has may have been successful in the past, but that is no guarantee that it will enable them to be successful in the future when they face organisational challenges and opportunities that they have not encountered before.

Marcel Proust once said “the real act of discovery consists not in finding new lands, but in seeing with new eyes”. Leadership development programmes, leadership team development interventions and external coaching support can all help a leader to develop new perspectives and to see things with “new eyes”.

Would you like to challenge yourself as a leader, or would you like as an employee to see your company challenge its leaders in this way? Take a look at the Leadership Development page of the Developing People website for more information on what we can do to help.

Wednesday, 26 May 2010

Leadership and Talent Management - Follow the Leader?

by Lucy Cadman at Developing People

Before settling down to life at Developing People at the grand old age of 33, I had previously had a grand total of 12 (yes, twelve!) jobs since leaving University. It doesn’t take the world’s greatest mathematician to work out that in the 12 years since I graduated at the age of 21, that equates to an average of one job per year. Add in the fact that I was at home with my young family for 4 of those 12 years, and the statistics become too embarrassing to calculate! I’m not even going to mention the fact that absolutely none of my jobs have ever been in the subject area within which I graduated …

So why the massive turnover rate? What was so dissatisfying about my previous roles, and what makes me so sure that I will be at Developing People for the long term?

The 12 roles I have previously held are so amazingly diverse that you couldn’t begin to imagine they have all belonged to the same person. There have been three legal roles, two accounting roles, one teaching role, one equine role, one electronics role, one publishing role and three businesses of my own – one selling baby items, one making dance dresses, and one making dog coats. If you add in my occasional dalliances into life as a wedding saxophonist, a music teacher, a driving instructor and a Tarantula breeder, the list goes from the sublime to the ridiculous!

Law, accounting and teaching were all areas that I enjoyed very much, but at which I actually possessed very little obvious talent. My mistakes were ready, my successes were few, and my leaders were constantly irate with me – instead of giving any time and effort to what I *could* do, I felt as though they were constantly berating me for what I *couldn’t* do. In my work with horses, I was constantly taken for granted – whilst I loved the beautiful animals, their owners were a whole different ball game! I would regularly put in ten hour days and often sixty or more hours in a week for no recompense whatsoever, whether it be a surprise day off, a bit of extra pay or even just a simple “thank you”. Working in electronics turned out to be rather a let down – the company had massive ideas and ambition, but no one was actually capable of leading it into realising its potential. Whilst I had some happy times at the publishing company, again the leadership there was fatally flawed – given that the company was a Christian charity, the fact that the boss was a regular moonlighter did nothing for the morale of the rest of the staff. And probably the least said about me running my own businesses the better – let’s just say that I lack the discipline to produce the required output when working for myself from home.

It is a sad fact that all the companies I have worked for previously had lacked good Leadership and equally as importantly, good Talent Management skills. If I had received the right encouragement, training, appreciation and had leaders that I could aspire to be like, then I don’t doubt that my previous role count would be a quarter of what it actually stands at.

Talent management is concerned with the long term success of a business by ensuring that it has the right people in place to fulfil all the necessary roles in the future. It minimises the risk to the long term future of the business or organisation by ensuring that there is a pipeline of people with the right skills, experience and behaviours to fulfil key positions in the future.

As we stand in May 2010, the job market is currently on a steady increase after the economic downfall that the UK has faced in recent months. However, whilst this is a good thing in some ways, it brings its difficulties in other ways, as the talented members of an organisation’s staff become harder to retain. Businesses face their staff being “poached” – leaders, team members and all. If they want to retain their staff, they need to do something positive and proactive about encouraging and developing them.

Whilst remuneration is a key influence, other factors such as strong leadership, the potential for job advancement, new career paths and training and development programmes for high potential individuals will all act as significant motivation for employees.

So back to the second part of my original question – how can I be so sure that I will stay at Developing People for the long term?

I am now in the job of my dreams. From my thorough but gentle induction plan through to the regular reviews where I get chance to both give and receive feedback, from a relaxed and fun yet so very productive working atmosphere through to fantastic colleagues and leaders who are always ready to help, support and encourage, from challenging yet stress-free work through to ever increasing opportunities for advancement, and from feeling like a valued team player to having the space and time to manage my own workload in my own way – I feel like I have landed on my feet ten times over. This is down to flawless Leadership and impeccable Talent Management within the company.

Would you like your employees to feel this way about your company? Or as an employee, do you want your boss to make you feel like you couldn’t possibly ever leave and move on? If so, take a look at the Talent Management section of the Developing People website for some ideas on how we can help this to happen.