Improving Employee Engagement part 1

Here is an extract from a recent employee engagement survey conducted by Changeboard in partnership with Oracle. The results are real food for thought, leading us to the question, what can we do about it? Each week we will look at the major blockers to employee engagement, with solutions that will lead to great improvements when implemented.

The majority (60%) of organisations are not happy with the current levels of employee engagement. There are many different reasons for low employee engagement. The most common is due to leadership behaviours, put forward by 45% of people. “The organisation currently has no competency framework or values in place, so leadership behaviours have a big negative effect on engagement,” asserted one individual. But the line manager/employee relationship is also prominent (42%), as is a lack of career development opportunities (39%), poor performance management (38%) and a perceived lack of voice (27%). Other anecdotal responses also referenced issues such as conflict between senior management and employees, a lack of work/life balance and the impact of substantial funding cuts, reorganisations and job losses.

Isn’t it shocking that 45% of workers participating responded that their low engagement was as a direct result of Leadership behaviours. There are so many organisations that first fail to identify the behaviours they want their leaders to demonstrate consistently and secondly, fail to build effective skills and behaviour frameworks that underpin quality leadership in their business.
What we can do is to assist businesses both identify and work in partnership with leaders to put together the framework, whilst building their understanding of What we are doing, Why we are doing it , How it will be a benefit for them and their employees.
We can support leaders through coaching to help explore their own leadership behaviour challenges, identify where and why some situations are more challenging than others and to increase their own self-awareness.

Reveal Solutions are Leadership and Management Development specialists, designing and delivering bespoke learning interventions that improve employee performance, wellbeing and engagement.

Face to Face Training Counts

Getting the balance between online learning and face-to-face training is important, employers need to weigh up not only the cost savings and ease of delivery through online LMS’s, but also to what extent the learner can become disenfranchised by not feeling they are at the centre of the training.
Employees often feel less valued if all the training provided comes in the form of on line learning delivered through the company’s LMS?
There is no doubt that some forms of training can be very effectively delivered on an LMS platform and with the advancements in interactive technology, the latest generations of LMS are far more engaging, incorporating multi-channel media. What is not so easy to achieve is harnessing the special dynamic that a knowledgeable, enthusiastic and engaging trainer brings to learning in a face-to-face environment.
People don’t tend to remember their encounter with the LMS in quite the same way and the learning is likely procedural and matter of fact; it would be, it’s pre-programmed. Unlike a responsive trainer, who works with the learners present; weaving in stories, examples, analogies that fit application of skill with the specific context.
We often describe what we do as ‘bespoke’ training, training that leverages that special relationship in the room between the trainer and the learners. Yes it will be more expensive, and yes it will take a little more organisation getting people away from their jobs and together as a group; however the learning is far more impactful, challenging, engaging & rewarding to be involved in. It results in new behaviours, increases employee engagement, which leads to improvements in innovation, process & productivity. We must be prepared not just to measure the simplistic or short term return on investment, but also to consider the synergistic growth, wellbeing and happiness of our people.

The Art Of Engagement

I wonder how many times you have wondered what those who work for you do in their free time.
What is amazing is the number and varied activities people are involved in outside work, secretaries, chairpersons, treasurers, committee members, volunteer organisers, stewards, governors, and then there are technical and creative skills people also volunteer in support of activities that bring them pleasure to be involved with. WOW
Oh then there is going to work! All too often their participation and commitment is limited to the managers’ or owners’ own limiting beliefs.
So what happens when we both project a greater expectation, and involve our people with the belief that they have far greater resources than we had previously imagined. They don’t report to work simply to collect a wage; they come full of anticipation, eager to succeed, up for the challenges each day brings and have purpose.
How we are as leaders, owners, and managers can be measured by the engagement of those that work in the organisation…note I said in not for!
Whatever business we are in, we are in the people business.
Through the years, many of us will have faced both the challenge of disengaged staff and witnessed great effort and resources being directed at improving productivity, through investment in new kit, implementation of lean principles, improvement in efficiency through work flow analysis with impressive results, often in high single digit percentages or even low double digit improvements. Yet the biggest sustainable change is when our people choose to release their discretionary effort!
Going back to activities outside of work, it has always struck me how self-sacrificing people are when it comes to supporting things that are important to them, when they get a buzz from making a difference or feel good about being involved. As leaders, we have the ability, should we choose, to create the conditions for engagement. In my opinion, it boils down to our own values and beliefs, how secure we are and how comfortable in letting go of control and how much we can allow ourselves to change for the benefit of others.

What’s in an Appraisal

We all like to know how we are doing and its human nature to want to belong.
So why do so many managers and staff, feel demotivated and quite frankly unmotivated when it comes to having an appraisal meeting?

Well could it be a number of common things? Managers feel under pressure to get through the workload possibly trying to more with less resources, could there be pressure to meet KPI’s and there is that potential of a bonus if the numbers come in! To have to spend valuable time in order to satisfy the HR managers desire to complete the appraisals on time could be being viewed as taking me away from the real job!
Members of staff may have previously had poor experiences of it being a rather one sided affair, it’s been all about let me tell you what I think and what you need to improve! Maybe it’s been such an innocuous process in the past that its relevance is in doubt, bit of a tick box exercise!
Well whatever the reason, countless surveys report the same stats, on ineffectiveness of the appraisal process and that’s a big shame. Now I am not advocating that it is only at appraisal time that a manager should acknowledge a member of staffs contribution, achievements look to identify development opportunities and set some objectives. More I am an advocate of supporting managers understand and believe that their people are the most important asset they have, they certainly believed that when they offered them a job in the first place, but all too often the creeping of complacency sets in, if I had a pound for the number of times I have heard a manger say ‘ye they are good but they know that anyway’ or ‘dam so and so, has just handed in their notice because they have another job, what am I going to do now they potentially leave in a week or a month’. I believe that line managers should be appraising and communicating daily, weekly as they go about their business, having said all that, there is a place to formally review, agree and record the period just completed, when it’s done with the right intent and delivered with compassion, creativity and courage, it is a massive engagement tool that rewards a person’s efforts and achievements, identifies their potential and sets out to support them develop to the ever changing needs of the organisation successfully.
Many managers struggle to deliver an engaging appraisal meeting. They often are under prepared, having rushed their side of an appraisal form and spending much of that time thinking of what improvements can be made in the various competencies. So preparation is key, compiling evidence as the period progresses not at the end, thinking about what the appraisee might want to get from the meeting, being more open about some of their short comings and being prepared to act on that realisation.
Often the appraising manager takes it upon themselves to tell the appraisee what they are doing wrong, an approach that is likely to get the back up of the member of staff being appraised, simply exploring through open questions being gentle in the approach often yields insights from the member of staff. Can you remember a time when you have acknowledged by yourself something that could be improved? I guess it was a lot easier to then start thinking of how you would close that gap than if someone had pointed it out to you!

Catch people doing things right! You know what you focus on increases, if you look for the error, the poor judgement call then that’s what you will find, it’s not where you find the continuous improvement culture, don’t wait until an appraisal to acknowledge what’s good and great, do that ongoing as described above, make sure they are references in the appraisal, affirmation touches the heart in toughest of characters.
Be specific when appraising both skills and behaviours. Behaviours are so important, has the organisation identified what behaviours lead to success? Are the behaviours demonstrating supporting the culture the organisation wants? Some organisations do not include behaviours in the appraisal process, this I find interesting and I believe counterproductive, its usually not skill or even knowledge in a job role that prevents highly coherent and productive teams from forming its usually attitude and behaviour that have been unattended to, not challenged and accepted.
Managers often lack skill in delivering and receiving feedback themselves. Being aware or various feedback models, knowing which may be best in which situation is easily learnt, feedback delivered unskillfully often shuts the door rather than facilitate the tentative opening that can lead to both personal and organisational gains.
Agreeing the development opportunity is only the first step, making sure the intervention is a fit for that person is critical in gaining their commitment and trust. Often statements like ‘ attend training course’ is written in the development field, I think managers need to be more creative, find out how a person best learns, what they are comfortable with, what support they would find useful from the line manager and be brave enough to challenge to use what’s best and right for a person to bridge the gap.
Finally we have to be smarter in the way we both set and schedule objectives, ‘ongoing, never works and neither does ’in x weeks’. We want to set up for success, be fair, supportive and realistic in our plans.
So what is in an appraisal? Well hopefully a conversation that two people want to have, a meeting attended with positive intent, one that is open and informative, that results in continued enthusiasm, commitment, ongoing engagement and a shared sense of purpose.
How? Well you have to want to be interested in your people! Have a good process and have access to good support resources.
Successful Appraisal Coaching Cards are available from
They are suitable for all sizes of business, if you would like support in developing an appraisal process for your organisation including skills and behaviours frameworks call us NOW 07968 102578 or e mail

Ask the right Appraisal Questions

Ask the right Appraisal Questions

Better Appraisals

Better Appraisals

Potentially Misunderstanding the Power of Courtesy

This morning, being a leisurely Sunday morning, a BBC News online article caught my attention; ‘A Point of View: The Underrated Power of Courtesy’.   I appreciated the author’s intelligent questioning and reflexive approach to her exploration of how courtesy and discourtesy show up in our society, how we respond to them, choose to accept them or even not notice them when all around us.  The piece certainly got me thinking and reflecting.

As you may know from previous posts, the emergent and developing field of mBraining draws from cutting edge neuroscience and also ancient wisdom traditions to demonstrate how we have multiple brains (scientists define a brain as a complex adaptive neural structure), each with their own specialist competencies.  Broadly, our Heart serves us best in expressing emotions, experiencing our values and how we relate and connect to others.  Our Head’s prime functions are cognitive perception, thinking and making meaning.  Our Gut brain (the earliest to form in embryological terms) exists primarily to mobilise us to action, to decide what is part of me (that is both metaphorically and literally) at core identity level and to keep us safe.

In mBraining, we differentiate between when one of our intelligences is doing its own prime function effectively or not and also when any of them is attempting to do another’s ‘job’, which is inappropriate and can lead to a lack of congruence, alignment, or effectiveness.  Just imagine a brain surgeon trying to substitute for an orchestral conductor; she is clearly extremely intelligent and capable, but is competent in a totally different field, for a different purpose.  So, whilst reading this article, I started ruminating upon which brain courtesy comes from and if we may misunderstand its power by seeking it in another place.

I love language and often go back to a dictionary to catalyse such explorations and so, was delighted to find that the dictionary definition for courtesy is two-fold; 1) polite behaviour and 2) a willingness and generosity in providing something neededBehaviour is a form of action, mobilisation and is therefore derived from the gut brain and both the emphasis that it is polite behaviour and the second clause of the definition focus on the contribution from the heart brain.  Politeness is defined by our values – what is deemed to be important, right and wrong – and values live in our heart.  Notice next time someone you’re listening to refers to something dear to them…where does their hand go?…most often and naturally to their chest / heart area.  Then, the willingness and generosity are also driven by our heart’s intelligence and leadership development has identified the multitude of benefits of developing our Emotional Intelligence in recent years.  mBraining acknowledges the role of the electromagnetic field generated by the heart in building and maintaining rapport, called entrainment, which scientifically explains why we feel drawn to certain people (or otherwise) because we just have a feeling.

Reading the article, I noticed that whilst I agreed logically with almost all of the content, something wasn’t sitting well for me and I have learned that’s often a sign for me to reflect further and to check in with my different intelligences to learn more and for wiser decision making.  Then it occurred to me that society seems to use courtesy as a theoretical concept, a principle … a function of the logical, rational head brain.  In other words, we may be trying to get our inner brain surgeon to conduct an emotive and moving symphony – it doesn’t compute, because acting courteously is how we do what we do according to what we value and feel.  In the article, the writer talks about losing a dear friend who she remembers as the epitome of courteous; “when (Gill) met you, he assumed you were worth defending and respecting and cheering on. He took that risk.”  Heart and gut – acting courageously upon what is truly held to be important.  The (grammatically-incorrect) verb of courtesy-ing, therefore, arises from the highest expressions of our heart (Compassion) and gut (Courage) resonating in unison and yes, our head is of course needed to provide the Creativity and finesse of which words or vehicle to best use in each situation, but we misunderstand the power of courtesy if we do not bring it from our heart and gut.

So, I am feeling a call to action this morning, to seek out opportunities to act (gut) upon compassion (heart) in order to be more courteous.  Courtesy may not yet be as fashionable as it once was, but perhaps we deeply feel it is time to bring about a heartfelt resurgence!

If you are intrigued by how mBraining can offer wiser decision-making in your leadership and life, how you will benefit from the congruence of all your intelligences working in alignment and what more influence you can build; please email or pick up the phone 07790885086 to find out more about our mBIT (multiple Brain Integration Techniques) Coach Certification and other training programmes, our products or coaching.  We look forward to having a conversation with you.

How is our mental health

I start this blog with a question.  How is your mental health, that of your friends and family and the people you employ?

A staggering 1 in 4 people in the UK will suffer with some form of mental health issue in their lifetime. Next time you are out and about, notice those around you.  Unfortunately, a lot display classic signs and behaviours that indicate an underlying issue.

Could it be that people and organisations are fixated on the wrong things? Could it be that pressure to compare and benchmark against others and other organisations is accelerating the decline of our own health?

What makes people happy? Well there certainly isn’t one universal answer, but I suspect that a lot of people are trying to be happy by achieving what others want them to achieve, having what others have and achieving this through short term activities and actions.

We are and have always been at our most powerful when we are with others, communities, groups, tribes, teams etc. Human beings are naturally communal and the point I am going to suggest is that we are losing touch with that. Mental illness is nigh-on non-existent in some tribes and remote groups in the world, yet has found its way into other cultures as they have been exposed to the “I must be better and/or beat someone else or organisation” culture.

So where is all this conjecture leading, you may ask? Well, we have a responsibility in the workplace to engage with others, to encourage everyone’s involvement and to respect diversity. We also must consider leadership and if we are leading, to be willing to look at our leadership style. There is, in my opinion, a need for empowering leadership and a duty to provide clear vision, values and beliefs of the organisation. That’s what provides purpose and leads to fulfilment when we are part of group that achieves the vision, overcomes the obstacles and finds solutions together. Wages are a given and provide security, while employee benefits only provide short term hits of the feel good factor.

So how is your community, group, tribe or team? Which do you belong to and more importantly, in which are you active? For if we are not active, we are not members, we are voyeurs and likely to be merely taking from it when it suits us! Too many of us can fall victim to that route, yet it is our choice.

So be active, take part. Work collectively and have fulfilment from being with others and achieving something to the common good of all.  Rather than just looking after our own interests; this way,  we are more likely to remain mentally healthier and to facilitate the opportunity for others to be mentally and emotionally resilient also.

Developing Good Leadership

There has been much written on the subject of leadership over the years; authors include well-recognised captains of industry, military personnel and leading training professionals amongst others. At the heart of everything they write, is the desire to help and inspire others to be better leaders and to be able to learn from the articles published.

Like many before me, having bought several of these books and read many online articles; I wonder if I am achieving the same level of success in my leadership as the authors have demonstrated. Clearly I want to, I would not buy the books if I didn’t believe that I would learn from reading them, but is this increase in awareness and additional information the key to my improvement?

I was thinking earlier today, if I read about Jack Welch “CEO of the Century” and I understand both the leadership messages and use the specific examples to inform me of techniques used; will I become a version of Jack Welch? Clearly the answer is ‘no’. Certainly, the new or additional information I have as a consequence of reading will not hurt and will in some way improve my chances of replicating his successes, but I feel there is a lot more to it than that.

The other day I was facilitating a 360 deg feedback for a manager in an organisation with which we are currently working. They were really engaged in the process and keen to identify how they could improve. What was interesting (and frequently is) was the manager’s areas of interest in the feedback; mainly concerned with the doing and achieving in the present job role. I have found this occurs frequently; managers keen to get on and improve their management ability but believing that it is about what you know about a job and techniques that is important and the probable source of their development need.

Let’s look for a moment at a potential succession planning route in an organisation. An individual joins the organisation and does a good job, that often means their work rate is very acceptable, they demonstrate good knowledge of the job and they have a ‘can do’ attitude. They achieve a promotion, perhaps to a supervisory or managerial position. As well as being part of the team doing the task, they now have responsibility to achieve team targets and objectives. The required skill set is already starting to change. What they know is important, but their ability in other areas is more important to their success. What influences their ability?

Is it that people focus on using the knowledge skill set of the job as a manager, the how I would do it or have done it in the past as a way of informing them as to others should do it now. The longer we are ‘off the tools’ so-to-speak, the less relevant our knowledge becomes. It appears that many managers driven by the desire to do well and achieve, are both promoted because of how well they did in ‘the execution of a job themselves’ and also because of the belief within the organisation, ‘if they could have more of the same’ i.e. more people like the promoted person; the organisation will flourish even more! Yet how is this achieved?

By the identification and development of leaders?

We may, on our leadership journey be acquiring further techniques and models learnt from others, read from books or from the provision of leadership and management development training. What may be at least equally important if not more so, is the becoming aware of our own values and beliefs towards others: the very components that create our attitude. Is it the right attitude? And is it resonant with the attitudes we recognise in successful leaders?

Could it be that leadership success is more attributable to attitude than knowledge, that a common factor found in truly great leaders is a willingness to find solutions and a desire to establish and maintain quality relationships in the process of doing so? If this is the case, is it also more important to model their beliefs and values as well as the techniques they use in order to replicate their success?

If you are interested in how to model success in your organisation, including values and beliefs, we have the ultimate modelling course later this year.

Dr Wyatt Woodsmall PhD will be delivering an Advanced Behavioural Modelling workshop with Reveal Solutions here in Gloucester 13-16th Sept 2012 BOOK NOW

Wyatt Woodsmall to deliver Advanced Behavoural Modeling training in the UK later this year

What a start to the year!
I am yet again honoured and extremely excited to be able to confirm that the man himself, DR Wyatt Woodsmall Phd has agreed to join Reveal Solutions and deliver module 1 of our NLP Master Practitioner training this Autumn 2012.

Wyatt will be delivering Advanced Behavioural Modelling and will provide a unique opportunity for delegates to be taught by the master himself.

Not only can you book on to probably the best NLP Master Practitioner course being run this year in the UK with not 1 but 2 internationally recognized exemplars delivering training sessions, but there is also the opportunity be able to book each, or both, of these two workshops separately through our website

We believe that these workshops are going to prove very popular and will be limited to a capped number of places, this is to ensure the best interactive learning experience for each delegate. If you would like to register your interest, please send an e mail with your details to Priority booking will be given to those registered first

My first blog of the year entitled 2 weeks in and 50 to go covered the subject of what will the year hold for you?

Achievement is driven by making it happen! We set out to get both of these two wonderful trainers involved in delivering an exceptional NLP Master Practitioner training this year in the UK and now its happening. My invitation is make what you want happen for you.

Servant Leadership

We are in the global marketplace, where the constant challenge is how you do more for less and quicker than you have done before, where customer expectation is fuelled by the power of immediate knowledge gained through the internet.

Our biggest challenge is not just to grow our businesses, but to hold onto the customers we currently have. We must not just meet their expectations or even surpass them. We must understand and meet their unknown future needs to generate demand for our product or service.
It is easier to understand what to change when you are leading the change. Its much more difficult to convince others of the need to change when you are following or catching someone else up, because often, as you draw alongside, they unveil the next new product or offer a more competitive way of delivering a service.

Paternalistically-structured organisations cannot and will not survive. Why? Because the fundamental principles on which they are built no longer exist.
Change takes place at enormous pace, , driven by technology and our ever-increasing expectation of what is possible. Whether you work in banking or in manufacturing, retail or service provision, public or private sector; what we do and the way we are doing it changes constantly.

Paternalistic organisations make decisions at the top. What they do, when & where they do it, & how they do it…and all theoretically for the benefit of the follower, for the customer who is being told what they can have, when and where they can get it & what they have to do to have it! And it worked for that period in time when both the individual and society both expected and accepted being ‘told’.

In the same way that, as consumers, we recognise we have become empowered; so we also seek empowerment in the workplace. Universally accepted is the understanding that money is only a short-term motivator, what we actually seek is fulfilment, to have purpose, be involved and to belong. Stephen Covey refers to these as “universal principles that have governed, and always will govern, all enduring success, especially those principles that give ‘air’ and ‘life’ and creative power to the human spirit that produces value in markets, organizations, families, and, most significantly, individual’s lives.”

In order to facilitate that purpose, generate fulfilment; the way in which we lead has to be different and organisations need to be different, they need to be flexible, to be able to not simply react to customers, but to understand them and work with them. To do just that, organisations and leaders within those organisations have to recognise and engage, to trust and empower those that work for them. Coaching, not instructing; facilitating and nurturing, encouraging and developing their people. Servant leadership begins with the true personal motivation to serve others, to have shared goals and to encourage and support self-management. Ask yourself, ‘what else can I do to best support my team to do their job to the best of their ability?’

Servant Leadership is a principle, a value, and one that, when honoured, delivers results and relationships far beyond peoples’ expectations. Those who act as Servant Leaders will achieve disproportionately more and are and will be recognised as doing so for the betterment of the many.


What is change management

What is change management?
Organisational change is something many of us will experience in our careers, often more than once, yet many managers find themselves tasked with managing business continuity whilst change is taking place, yet have received little change management training or have little experience in managing change. This may sound familiar.
Leading and managing change in an organisation is critical if the change is to be achieved within timescales, budget and with a committed and engaged workforce. Often change programmes confuse and distract people from their everyday work; productivity becomes affected with uncertainty regarding the future becoming the preoccupation of many.

Good training for managers is essential. Senior managers must be able to communicate the strategic vision clearly, be able to explain the purpose and gain the commitment of middle managers quickly. Middle managers are often the key to successful change programmes, they face more questions from their colleagues and team members and are under mixed pressures of implementation, dealing with their own uncertainties and emotions, finding solutions to unexpected problems during changes and acting as a conduit between those they manage and those they report to.

Investment in change management training to create leaders with more tools in their managerial and leadership toolbox, goes a long way to improve the quality of the experience many have when going through change in the workplace.

Good change management training should ensure that delegates develop
• A comprehensive understanding of change management strategy
• Be aware of the principles of successful change programmes
• Have knowledge of models of change management
• Strategic vision
• Tactical panning for improved implementation of change
• An exploration of Emotional Intelligence EI and be able to put it into practice
• Increased self awareness of how they cope and deal with change
• Coaching skills for use in the workplace
• Advanced communication skills of effective leadership