Why wait until 2016 to change?

Why Word Question Mark 3d Symbols Sphere Wonder ReasonSo many of us make New Year’s resolutions on the 1st of January only to have broken them within days and as a result feel we have failed.

Why then wait until January to change the way we do things, what is to stop us taking time out now away from the Christmas chaos to decide what we need to do differently in 2016?

So how do we approach this task in a way that will help what matters to happen? If this is going to work we will need to enter the New Year in a way that we haven’t before, let’s face it a part of us knows that we have been here before trying to do things different in a new year and nothing has changed, and nothing does change overnight.  But so long as we recognise first why we are doing what we are doing and what the benefits will be to us personally we will have a greater chance of achieving them.

All too often we consider ‘what’ we want to achieve and rush off with great enthusiasm, this gets crushed at the first hurdle and we get that feeling of failure. What is missing is the ‘why’ and clearly understanding ‘what is in it for us’ by getting clear on the why we want something to change will help us sustain momentum when we hit those inevitable hurdles. It will help us to remain focussed on the outcome we want and the difference that will make to us personally.

‘Why’ is a small word that makes the big difference when you have that clarity!

How can I become an exceptional manager?

BestManagementThis is a question I often get asked, there is no magic formula however there is one thing that is the stand out as a starting place – emotional intelligence.

People I talk to often say ‘but I am not really intelligent’, my response is emotional intelligence can be learned through everyday skills, you do not need a degree to have emotional intelligence.

Emotional intelligence is about recognising your own feelings and those of others, in order that you can motivate yourself. You need to manage your emotions within yourself and in your relationships.

So where to start:

Know yourself – understand how your emotions impact on your own performance and how your strengths and weaknesses impact on others, use this to guide your decision making. You need to be able to manage them, be resilient and avoid how you feel impacting on others. Be willing to admit when you are wrong.

Understand others – appreciate things from others perspectives, actively listen to them; understand their point of view and how they feel and accept that you will not always be right.

Build relationships – express care and concern to others, collaborate and develop genuine relationships. Don’t run away from conflict, resolve it quickly and keep your own feelings and emotions in check. When the going gets tough, don’t let others drag you down to their level.

Be inspirational – create a positive work environment, be flexible, understand and respond to other peoples ‘why’, have energy and be a person that others want to spend time with. Demonstrate courage and speak up when others are not.

Be authentic – be true to yourself, live out your intentions and high personal values and those of your organisation. Be accountable for your actions and those of your team. Be the best you can be every day.

In essence emotional intelligence is very much about treating others as you would wish to be treated yourself!

Good luck with becoming an exceptional manager.

Congratulations Nadiya – you won twice!

BakeOff4Viewed by many and loved by most
With Sue and Mel perfect hosts
Last night was a night of great anticipation
Great British Bake off loved by the nation 

For those who viewed our eyes saw many treats
We all remained firmly in our seats
With great admiration some would watch on
Others saying next year I could be the one 

For many they will have enjoyed the show
I too enjoyed it but looked on with L & D know
Many today have picked up on the Nadiya’s quote
For others it may have been a little remote

For Nadiya she has actually won twice
Which for me is something ever so nice?
She started the show with low self-belief
After each small victory you could see the relief 

Like Nadiya so many other people are held back
Because of the self-belief they lack
They need to know that they too can do it
Remove the boundaries that prevent them making it

So today as it is National Poetry Day
I am asking you all to help in some special way
If you know someone with low self-belief
Please be a giver and not a thief

Help them achieve small confidence building wins
Encourage them to do those little things
This will enable them to say ‘I am never going to put boundaries on myself ever again’
Who know they may go onto enjoy the same fame

Need an energy boost?

energy button on computer pc keyboard keyIt’s the time of the year when many of us are covering for other people’s holidays and trying to catch up before our own. Our energy levels are feeling low; do we reach for the chocolate bar, pour ourselves a fizzy drink or eat a high calorie ice cream?  All very appealing however they only provide a short term fix and longer term consequences.

Here’s my top 10 – they definitely work I know, because I regularly use them!

  1. Go outside get some fresh air for at least 20 minutes – your emails can wait and the change of scenery will make you more alert
  2. Sit up straight – consider your posture, are you sitting the correct distance from your key board and monitor
  3. Spray a citrus room spray around your work area – it is refreshing and energising
  4. Drink more water – there are so many studies to prove this is the right thing to do so why do people still not drink enough?!
  5. Do something that you find interesting – especially after lunch when we can all hit a low
  6. Breath – when we are concentrating or feel stressed we often hold our breath without realising – take some deep breaths, it gets the blood pumping and boosts your energy
  7. Find a reason to laugh – watch a funny video at lunch time, listen to a comedy pod cast – whatever makes you happy as when we laugh we do feel energised
  8. Avoid a large intake of carbohydrates at lunch time – this time of the year there are many reasons to be having more than your five a day
  9. Open the window – not always possible but if you can it’s a must
  10. Eat at regular intervals – it sustains your energy levels


What’s in it for me?

What Is in it for me Text written on notebook pageA term referred to often or should I say the acronym WIIFM is and in most cases in my opinion it is used as lip service.  A shame as used in the right context it gives clarity and allows us to be more content and happy!

When we ask ourselves ‘what’s in it for me’ all too often we overlook the fact that by doing so we are questioning and establishing our own levels of personal motivation.  It gives us the reason we are doing what we do, why we get up in the morning, why we do the job we do, why we complete specific projects and tasks.

It’s the real ‘why’ behind our decisions and the reason why some people achieve job satisfaction and others don’t.  So why then are so many people unhappy with their jobs?

In my opinion it is because we are not examining what is really in it for us. By reframing ‘why’ we are doing things we start to achieve more because it helps us to progress towards or away from a situation, barriers that were there before disappear because we are more focused, we become happier at work and home because we are achieving what we want to achieve.

It sounds really simple when you put it like this and that is because it is simple it just needs the time to think about it and make the mindset shift.

Definitely a worthwhile approach for ourselves, and others who appear unhappy and demotivated.

Do you hear what I hear?

dog on the phoneI am confident most of us would class ourselves as good listeners, interested in what others have to say and will happily give others our undivided attention.  However when was the last time someone was talking to you and you got distracted, by the time you re-enter the conversation you have missed the most relevant part?

I am sure we have all had these uncomfortable moments and whilst we may advocate these skills perhaps it is time to brush up on what active listening really means to ourselves and others.

Challenge yourself – are you really good at listening?  You may have got out of the habit because you are really busy if this is the case it will take some practise.  Concentrate really hard, focus on the words that are actually being said and to quote Stephen R. Covey ‘Most people do not listen with the intent to understand; they listen with the intent to reply’ avoid jumping ahead with the answer you will give.

Become more curious and open minded, accept that others may have a great idea that you could easily miss through a lack of attention. Try to see the world from their shoes – what they are saying is important to them, imagine yourself in their situation. Learn to learn from others stay ‘fully in the moment’.  After they finish talking to you let them know you were listening by mentioning the key points, ask for clarity where needed and get them to commit to next steps.

If you really actively listening it will result in you both hearing the same things and it will develop mutual trust and loyalty.

The cost to us of not telling the truth!


April the 30th is ‘National Honesty Day’ it was created in the early 1990s by M. Hirsh Goldberg, he chose the last day of April since the first of the month ‘April Fools’ celebrates falsehoods. The day is all about telling the truth, sharing opinions, thoughts and perspectives, anyone participating should be able to ask a question and the opposing person with knowledge of the day will answer truthfully.

Reading about this got me thinking about the impact of people not telling the truth in the workplace.  You will have experienced it yourself where you see people not delivering performance feedback, letting unacceptable behaviour go rather than addressing it or saying that everything is ok and then moaning behind the persons back.

I do not have any magical financial calculations however what I am convinced of is that if people told the truth about performance issues, unacceptable behaviour or how they were feeling we would most definitely all save ourselves the time and money it takes to resolve the things that are unsaid.  I do not think in most cases that it is people being deliberately dishonest perhaps its more about knowing how to do it in an unemotional way that ensures the message does not get lost in translation.

If you know anyone who maybe struggling to share the truth with others suggest they use the simple process of EEC it is relevant and useful for both constructive and good feedback which should also not be forgotten.









Hope this helps your people save themselves and your organisation time and money.

Avoid the Negative Impact of losing an hour…

change your clocksWith British Summer Time starting tomorrow for some there will be a bitter sweet feeling of the positive signs of spring vs. the loss of one hour of sleep or time.

Despite it being only an hour the new light-dark cycle perversely works against our body clock, our brain knows the time on the clock has changed however research tells us that getting less sunlight in the morning and more in the evening results in a short term lack of productivity.

You can avoid the negative impact of losing the hour by taking some simple steps:

  • 27th March go to bed 45 minutes earlier
  • Avoid alcohol this weekend!
  • Get out into the sunlight on the 28th to help your body clock reset
  • Avoid early morning activities on the 28th and 29th

Hope as a result your feelings about the change are purely positive!

Are your New Year’s resolutions a distant memory?

At the start of a year we all set out with good intentions and high expectations as we embark on our life changing resolutions.  Some of us stick with it and for those who do I congratulate you on your focus and determination.  For those who failed, that could be how you are feeling right now ‘a failure’ however ask yourself ‘did you just try to raise the bar too high?’

The most popular and failed resolutions are to get fit, lose weight and achieve better work life balance, all elements that contribute towards increased energy, happiness and well-being.

If your new year’s resolutions are a distant memory and you still have the desire to get fit, lose weight and achieve better work life balance here are just a few things you can do as a part of your daily routine to help yourself – you don’t need to buy new gym kit!

 Get fit:

  • Walk and Meet where possible get up from your desk and meet by walking and talking in the fresh air – it’s stimulating and adds to the meeting dynamic
  • Take the stairs at every possible opportunity take the stairs not the lift – it may be tough at the outset but it does get easier
  • Power walk take your trainers to work and power walk after your lunch for 15 minutes – no excuses everyone can take a break and the added bonus your energy levels will increase.

 Lose weight:

  • Keep an eating diary for just one week write down ‘everything’ you eat and drink – there is much research to back this up which found that you end up eating 15% less food that those who don’t
  • Make it skinny it is astounding how many calories are in fancy coffee, change your drinks to a ‘skinny’ version and you can drop as much as 160 calories and reduce saturated fat to zero
  • Hydration helps drink a glass of water before you eat – it helps to fill you up and increase your energy levels

 Achieve better work life balance:

  • Start the weekend early even if it means coming in early always go home on time on a Friday – spend the time with friends and family your weekend will also feel longer
  • Put your phone down at home or at work cleanse your mind and body.  Take a 5 minute break, put your phone down and look out of the window – it’s ‘you time’ a very liberating feeling and everything can wait for five minutes
  • Learn to say ‘No’ If you tend to say yes when you’re asked to do something extra, say you’ll get back to them, use that time to think about whether to say yes or no – If you want to say yes, fine, if you want to say no, say no and keep saying it and don’t justify your actions or give excuses.

And finally I read recently…’willpower is like a muscle, it needs to be exercised, practise five minutes of deep breathing daily to clear your mind and strengthen your resolve’. If nothing else use the five minutes to consider what you have just read and make a resolution that you can keep and will increase your well-being and happiness. 

If you only do one thing for your managers this year…

All too often people say to me, ‘if only our managers ‘managed’ their teams’… ‘If only our managers could get the best out of their teams’… ‘If only all of our teams were moving in the same direction.’

You would not be alone if you think that to solve all of these ‘if onlys’ you would need to apply a number of interventions.  However this is not the case so long as you get the right one.  If you only do one thing for your managers this year get them a bespoke ‘High Performance Teams’ model and engage them in the process.

We have our own bespoke model called Maze Teamdynamix© and we know it works.  There are others in the market place, however, make sure you go bespoke.  That way it will be aligned to your organisational values, measure behaviours and gives teams direction.  It should set out clearly how your teams should be behaving from ‘off track’ through to ‘high performance’ or in our case Teamdynamix© it will certainly help with the ‘if onlys’ and a lot more besides:

• Aligns team behaviours to your Values

• Drives teams to high performance 

• Constructive team conversations that would otherwise not happen

• Creates team ownership through shared actions 

• Team momentum through on-going progress reviews

• Team deliver on what matters to your organisation 

 Hope this helps you to make the biggest difference!