Patience is a virtue

This week we received a broadband hub upgrade, twice as fast as the previous unit, delivering 200mb speed. Impressive as that may sound, it crystallised my thinking on the speed in which we live our day-to-day lives. Outside, the traffic starts earlier and earlier, the speed at which people drive down the road certainly increases in the peak periods, as people hurry to get to work and mothers (no doubt balancing the multiple roles of mother, employee, partner, etc.) rush to get the kids to school or drop-off point before getting into work on time and then to get to the shop, pick the kids up, and maybe go onto another job later in the afternoon.
I see this same rushing to complete, multiple meeting days, pressure to make instant decisions and quick analysis of results in the working environment on a regular basis. The other week I saw a post from a senior police officer on Twitter “Reminded of the need to create time to stop and think and allow others that time too. It leads to better decision making”. So I am interested to explore if the deadlines and expectations that we seem to be treating as givens or even as rules are both beneficial and supportive to a) good decision making and b) wellbeing. The answer, I fear, may well be not!

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Is There Life On Mars

Man’s fascination with trying to find life on other planets continues, following the latest satellite images, scientists have for the first time confirmed liquid water flowing on the surface of present-day Mars, a finding that will add to speculation that life, if it ever arose there, could persist.
So roll on the clock say a few thousand years from now and I wonder what life from another time dimension, coming across planet earth may find? And if we are no longer in existence what legacy we leave behind? Will these visitors, if it is to be believed we cannot be the only form of civilisation in existence, be able to piece together not only how we evolved, but understand our purpose?

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Could Our Driving Behaviours Reflect Our Values

I was wondering as I drove down the M5 the other day, why there are so many accidents on the roads? This was prompted as I watched a few other motorists complete manoeuvres that seemed, at best, risky and resulted in cars around them having to alter their course or speed in response.
Then I was sat in the hotel the other night reading a newspaper and spotted an article about road traffic accidents in the UK and contributing factors, this report highlighted the increase of accidents related to the use of electronic devices while driving!
My instinct tells me that whilst driving for most people is an unconsciously competent act, the decisions that they are taking whilst behind the wheel, are almost certainly honouring their inner Values, after all; our behaviours always align with the values we hold, whether conscious or more likely, unconscious.

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Becoming a Compassionate Leader

A study completed by Christina Boedker from the Australian School For Business has uncovered a “positive link between productivity and compassionate leadership.”
She studied more than 5600 people across 77 organizations, and found the single greatest influence on profitability and productivity was the ability of a leader to be Compassionate.

Why might that be? Probably because when we feel leadership with compassion we feel genuinely valued and as a result we give discretionary effort without reserve.

Leadership development starts with a leader wanting to be more effective and willing to look at themselves honestly and uncompromisingly, both from the outside-in and from the inside-out. Development is self-driven, the best at achieving this are those without ego who genuinely appreciate the opportunity they have to lead and value more than performance and profit. This is not to say they are not focused or understand that area of responsibility; it just means they achieve it a different way.

At the beginning of the year, I was privileged to experience mBIT, multiple Brain Integration Techniques, when I completed my mBIT coach certification; this further enhanced my understanding how leaders can make better decisions when they fully integrate their multiple brains.

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Employee Engagement Part 4

In the first instalment of this blog on employee engagement we took 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.

Over a quarter of those employees, 27% in the survey, reported they perceived a lack of voice in the organisation in which they work. That’s huge non-engagement within a workforce. If over a quarter of your employees felt their views weren’t worth putting across; how much missed opportunity for correcting recurring mistakes, or innovative solutions are being missed and that’s just stating two obvious ones. The interesting point here is it’s a perception and perceptions can be changed, that’s the good news. But how could this perception come about in the first place? Could it be because there is a lack of communication between management and employees? Could it be there is a ‘tell and do’ culture not ‘challenge and involve’? It could be for a number of reasons, all primarily centred upon a lack of two-way communication and a willingness to demonstrate a belief that employees often have answers to recurring issues and challenges they face and are not constrained by known imposed barriers in their thinking, unlike some management.
What we can do is help start the engagement process through listening groups, compile common themes and threads to help leaders understand a different perspective, start action learning sets composed of diverse groups from around the organisation in order to generate solutions and to bring the organisation closer together. We can influence leaders to implement employee involvement schemes like encouraging attendance at various meetings in order to broaden their knowledge of the business, back-to-the-floor sessions for managers to reconnect with the day to day running of the business and experience for themselves the outcomes of their decision making.

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

Improving Employee Engagement Part 3

In the first installment of this blog on employee engagement we took 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.

Often misunderstood; the term Performance Management is not all about tackling poor performance! It encompasses the whole performance spectrum. Cited by 38% of those involved in the survey as a reason for poor employee engagement was poor performance management. Organisations that have poor performance management are those who not only fail to set and communicate clear expectations of employee behaviours, standards of work, productivity etc., with clear ways of measuring and improvement processes to follow in the event of unacceptable performance; they are also the ones who fail to acknowledge good and great performance, probably do not have recognition and reward programs, may well have a culture of ‘well that’s what they get paid to do’.

So let’s look at these two sides of the performance spectrum. We are more comfortable knowing what is expected of us than trying to guess it. Good standards are achieved when in the first instance, clear and reasonable expectations are agreed and communicated. Standards do deteriorate without them, as employees may unconsciously try and find the lower limit of acceptability. This situation can be awkward for managers who may also be unsure when to take a stance and make an intervention, with employees often upset at the challenge or the complete lack of consistency, potentially leading to accusations of bullying or harassment and the possibility of future action at an employment tribunal. A lack of clear expectation leads to disengagement and disillusionment for positive high performing employees, who struggle to keep high levels of motivation when they see standards not upheld around them. Altogether a poor state of affairs.
What we can do is work with organisations to design or improve their existing Skills and Behaviours frameworks and then incorporate them into their job specifications/ descriptions. We can deliver training with line managers on how best to communicate expectations, deal with performance matters, conduct successful appraisal meetings with their team members, helping them to identify development opportunities and implement plans to meet expectations.

On the other side of the spectrum, if we fail to recognise good and great performance, we fail to grasp the opportunity to inspire; not only the employee demonstrating high levels of achievement, but also the opportunity to inspire others. Everyone likes to be a part of success and the most successful organisations are ones whose culture recognises achievement and celebrates success. Often this culture starts with recognising small green shoots, it’s about keeping an eye out to catch people doing it right and then recognising that in an authentic and sincere way.
When we miss that opportunity to acknowledge not just performance, but participation, challenge, innovation etc., we risk extinguishing the flames of passion and engagement. One of the most interesting stories I came across on this subject was of a manager, who without budget to reward good performance, bought a ‘Bart Simpson’ figure and dyno taped ‘ for going above and beyond the call of duty’ to the base. This was duly presented to an employee the next week, who had done more than they had needed to, ensuring a customer was satisfied following a complaint. To much laughter and applause, along with a heartfelt thank you from the manager; the figure found a prominent home on the low dividing wall in the office by the employees desk. Hasten to say, there was much competition to have the ‘Bart Simpson award’ as it became known on your desk. No monetary value, but a representation of ‘I have been recognised and I am proud to display it’.
So what we can do is, influence cultures, be change agents and start each time we go into a business by being appreciative of what people are already doing as they go about their job. We can help organisations develop appreciative programmes; include success stories and achievements by colleagues in briefings, team meetings and in staff magazines and newsletters. We can demonstrate though our behaviours that appreciation and recognition help gain employee trust and improve engagement levels.

Improving Employee Engagement Part 2

In the first installment of this blog on employee engagement we took 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.

Linked to the manager relationship, is the issue of lack of career development opportunity cited by 39% of those participating as a reason for poor employee engagement. The line manager with poor people skills and unacceptable behaviours is most unlikely to be a nurturing, encouraging individual. We all have a better level of wellbeing when we are involved and part of the story. We all have skills, knowledge & expertise, the secret is if those are recognised, honed & channelled.
What we can do is to work with organisations to develop an extensive people plan that fully reflects business needs, identifies people’s aspirations and matches latent potential to training and development programmes. A critical component of a great people plan is in communicating the opportunity messages and celebrating success, the completion of training, the awards won, the promotions achieved etc.

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

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The Power of Reflection

Doesn’t time fly! How often do you hear yourself saying that? How often do you find yourself squeezing a pint into a half pint glass?
Increasingly we are trying to do more and more, whether that is in work or in our private lives, our aspirations have increased, our resources greater; our time… fixed!
At work we may be competing in a global market or working with decreased budgets as public expenditure is put under pressure, yet our customers and service users have increasing expectations and it would seem, less tolerance of other-than-instant service or response. From where and how this culture of Instantism has developed is interesting, one of the main drivers has been the development of the web, and mobile technology utilising it. We are so much more connected! Always available, always able to see what is going on remotely from us. This has brought great opportunity, created financial wealth, raised aspiration and nothing wrong in any of those, but I wonder if what these may have facilitated is an increased focus on the external world and as a consequence, less attention on the inner world.
Achieving balance is a universal rule! Without it, the consequences can be and often are profound and they may not appear in the short term, but over time, the pressure builds up for a correction. Think of it like the game Buckaroo; you keep loading the mule with items until all of a sudden, the mule bucks to throw off all the items to return to an unloaded state. We don’t need or have to wait for a big correction, a bit like an aeroplane crossing from London to New York, if we regularly check in, keep track of where we are and what is going on, we can make almost imperceptible adjustments to our course to ensure we get to our destination safely and on time.
So how often do you check in with yourself in your busy life? How often are you making the time to pause and reflect? Ancient wisdom and traditions make this time and space, it helps to keep us grounded and in touch with ourselves, attend to what is going on, evaluate and make adjustments. We benefit from making time for ourselves, not to do yet another thing, but to pause and reflect.

Beliefs Underpin Behaviours

Behaviours are visible, the actions we take in support of the things that we believe.
Beliefs have a powerful and direct influence in all that we do, let me give you an example. If you believed that it is solely the council’s responsibility to keep the public park clean and tidy and free from litter, cigarette butts, other rubbish etc. and with the litter bins emptied regularly; you might not be too worried about discarding your half-eaten kebab and polystyrene tray on the ground on your way home from a night out if the bin you just passed was full up! If, however, you believed that we all have a moral duty to look after our environment and that by doing our bit, we maintain and promote public spaces as nice places to go, always clean and tidy and a safe place to take our children; we are more than likely to keep hold of the rest of our unwanted kebab, take it home and place it in our own bin. We might even be compelled to pick up someone else’s dropped litter whilst walking in the park!
A belief is something that we know to be true! The distinction here is we know it to be true at that moment because nothing has yet come along to prove otherwise. An example would be, as children we may have a belief in Father Christmas, we know that to be true, we have evidence, mince pies and a drink are gone on Christmas morning and presents are left as we have been told they would be. Then one day another child from school breaks the news that no, he doesn’t exist, it’s been your parents all along. New information and belief change occurs; we have updated what we know to be true.
If you want to alter another person’s behaviour, then you first have to find out what it is that they believe that underpins the behaviours being demonstrated and then seek to change the belief, the result is that a new and different behaviour is generated.
So is this the reason why most attempts by one person to alter the behaviour of another fail, because they tackle the undesired behaviour, by pointing out it’s wrong, or telling the other person why they shouldn’t be doing it, or maybe what the consequences of the behaviour are to others. The interesting point here is, this only works if the other person goes away after you point out the behaviour is unacceptable to you, thinks about what you have said and decides to agree with you. All that assumes they are prepared to reflect, understand the relationship between beliefs and behaviours, realise that what they had believed was in fact incorrect, and change their belief.
A much more successful way is to find out what it is the person believes to be true in the context and to provide new and compelling evidence to the contrary. The rest, as they say, is history!