Decision Making – Use Your BRAIN

Decisions can be tough sometimes. In today’s fast paced world we’re often put under pressure to make very quick decisions. We may even put ourselves under this pressure, mainly when we’ve got a lot to do and not a great deal of time to do it.

Taking time to make decisions may feel like you’re wasting time. We may even be worried about what others think of us if we can’t make decisions.

Here’s the thing though. Taking a little time before action to make a decision can save so much time further down the line.

Now, I’m not saying take days and days here. Even just a few moments of reflection can be enough. A few minutes to think over things before committing to a decision. Give yourself the chance to make the right decision first time and not having to loop back and make corrections later.

Here’s a neat way to think through decisions – use your BRAIN:

Benefits – What are the benefits of the options you have or taking the path you are about to embark on?

Risks – Similar to the above but look at the likely risks

Alternatives – Are there any other alternatives to the option you are looking at or to the options you already have?

Information – What other information do you need to help make the right decision? Do you still have questions? If so, tray and get the information or the answer (not having this is a likely risk)

Nothing – What happens if you do nothing? Do you really need to take any action at all or maybe action isn’t required right now but maybe a little later.

Take a few minutes, use your BRAIN and make the right decisions not quick decisions.

Don’t Be Haunted by Your Skills Gaps

It’s Halloween!

The UK is still marching on towards Brexit and for many of us we’re still a little uncertain of what that will eventually look like. One thing is for sure, businesses will still exist in some shape or form and change is probably going to be required.

There’s no guarantee of this of course, but it’s still good to begin to think about your own future or that of your business.

If a business needs to change or to grab any opportunities presented by Brexit then it will more than likely want to do that quickly.  For this to happen they will need people with the necessary skills to hit the ground running.

Many people say that there is never a great time to get new skills.  We believe that it’s always a great time.

It doesn’t need to training courses either.  You can get lots of new skills from reading books, reading blogs and articles online, coaching, mentoring and of course training.

The trick is to find out what your skills gaps are first of all before starting any development activities.  What you need is a personal development plan.

Our training partner Revolution Learning and Development Ltd has put together a guide that will help you to build a great personal development plan, along with lots of ideas about where to go to get the skills you want or need.  Best of all, it’s completely FREE.

To get the tools, just complete the form here.

Use the tools to identify the skills you need, complete the personal development planning exercises and build a personal development plan.

It’s usually a good idea to talk to your manager or a friend and have them help you with this. If you are a business, then help your staff out with their planning.

You may already have a personal development plan as part of your appraisal or performance management process. If that’s the case you can use the guide to ensure that your personal development plan is still relevant. You can also have a second pan that looks at your career development rather than developing into your current role.

Revolution Learning and Development Ltd can support your personal development plans by offering a range of training courses. These re run across the UK or we can come to your place of work and deliver an in-house course for group of people. You can see a list of the courses that we deliver by clicking here.

We also offer one to one coaching and our blog holds lots of articles with useful hints and tips.

Don’t get left behind. Don’t be haunted by your skills gaps. Get your personal development plan in order now.

Team Management Roles – PAEI Model

To create a successful business you need a good management team.

Having a good mix of managers leads to greater success as you can draw on different skills and behaviours to get tasks done.

But how do you create a successful management team? It’s a difficult question to answer as we all view each other and behaviours differently.

Effective management teams work well together. They are able to solve problems together, motivate teams together and drive performance and the business forward. But they also have some key individual roles to fill.

Filling these roles can be challenging. But a good start is to define what these individual roles are.

Management expert and founder of the Adizes Institute Dr. Ichack Adizes developed a model that had helped businesses around the world develop management teams. This model is the PAEI model.

The model highlights four management roles that businesses need to be successful. The four roles in the PAEI model are:

Producer – This person holds responsibility for the product or service that the business offers. They ensure the business goals and objectives are met and ensure that the product or service delivers what it is expected to.

Producers are results orientated and work incredibly hard to get these results.

Administrator – This person has a focus on how tasks are done. They are process driven and look at the way things are done. They look at processes, rules, policies and procedures. They take a logical and analytical approach to their role. They take their time to ensure things are done correctly.

Added to that, Administrators are great at developing policies and processes that the business requires.

Entrepreneur – These are the ideas people. Incredibly creative and great at producing ideas to solve problems in the business.

Often optimistic, they look at the bigger picture and imagine the vision rather than the practicality of getting there.

They can also spot potential threats to the business and even though they are somewhat disorganised and illogical in their thinking they add lots of value to the tea.

Integrator – This person is relationship driven and works hard to bring people together. They create a harmonious environment and are very empathetic.

They work methodically and focus on the process and people rather than the overall result.

They ensure that everyone is listened to and they listen to everyone.

There is a link here to personality profiling. Certainly the roles above are also described in Jungian types.

To ensure the PAEI model works well, the business needs to ensure that a mix of all 4 roles make up the management team.

The difficulty is though, if there is a close link to personality (Jungian types) this will suggest that we can all demonstrate the behaviours of each role. But, there will be one that we feel more comfortable demonstrating and will work more naturally in.

When recruiting managers, look at the individuals working style rather than their personality style. This is where you will begin to understand more about their preferred style and approach and are more likely to learn more about them and their behaviour.

Learn more about Leadership and Management Skills by attending a Leadership Skills Training Course. Take a look at Revolution Learning and Development Ltd and their range of Leadership Skills Training Courses here.


Teamwork – Lessons From Geese

Geese demonstrate some great examples of teamwork. They show some simple but highly effective teamwork principles that we can use in both our business and personal life.

Geese work well as a team to achieve a common goal. They work together to help and support each other and these principles provide the basis of a highly effective team.

They show us 5 principles or lessons for effective teamwork.

Here are the 5 lessons:

Leeson 1 – When geese fly they fly in a V formation. As each goose flaps its wings it provides uplift for the geese that are behind making git easier for them to fly longer distances.

This shows us that people who have a common goal and a sense of belonging get reach their goals faster and easier because they are all providing help and support to each other.

Lesson 2 – When a goose falls out of formation it feels the drag as it is no longer feeling the benefit of the lift described in lesson one. It work shard to get back into the formation to get the full benefit once again and rejoin the group.

This shows that if we try to fly alone we won’t feel the support of the rest of the team. If we do fall out of formation we should do all we can to get back.

Lesson 3 – When the lead goose gets tired it moves to the back of the formation and another goose takes over the lead.

This shows us that good teams understand that it pays to take turns at the harder tasks and sharing the lead.

Lesson 4 – The geese following the lead honk to encourage those in front to maintain the speed and work rate.

This shows us that a team needs to encourage each other to achieve and keep going. Our ‘honking’ should be useful though and not something that discourages or damages the team.

Lesson 5 – If a goose gets sick or wounded, two geese drop out of the formation and follow the bird to the ground. They do this to provide protection. They stay with that member until they are well enough to fly again or dies. They then head out on their own or join another formation or catch up with their own flock.

This shows us that a team stands by each other. They support the ‘weaker members’ and stand by them through difficult times. They help people to get back on their feet.

Does your team perform as well as geese?

How To Be More Positive

Having a positive attitude can have an amazing impact on your life, your work and the relationships we have with others.

But, what is attitude? It’s defined at ‘a settled way of thinking or feeling about something‘. This means that it’s a choice rather than something natural. Then, the more we think that way the more it becomes an unconscious choice.

Making more conscious choices about things or about your attitude toward things means you begin to feel less negative. You need to take control of your decisions and you can see the impact of this by taking a look at a model called Betaris Box.

It’s a very famous model often looked at in Assertiveness Skills Courses and in counselling. It’s such a simple approach but can have a profound affect.

Betari’s Box works on the understanding that we all have the ability to choose an attitude. Imagine waking up first thing on a morning, we very quickly fall into the routine we normally carry out. Unconsciously we probably begin making decisions about how our day will go based on our experience of the previous day, in other words we unconsciously choose an attitude.

The Betaris Box model describes that actually we have the ability to choose this attitude consciously. If we actually give it thought we can begin to choose what kind of attitude we want to demonstrate.

You might say ‘Yeah but, that’s fine but what about when you walk out the door and it’s raining or someone cuts me up at a roundabout, that ruins my day’. It does, but…..

If we have the ability to choose an attitude, then we have the ability to choose how we respond to these situations.n If we don’t we make an unconscious choice and then this affects how we feel for the rest of the day.

The Betaris Box model is simple:

My Attitude -> Affects -> My Behaviour -> Affects -> Your Attitude -> Affects -> Your Behaviour -> Affects -> My Attitude and so on.

In other words the attitude you take will affect the behaviour you demonstrate. When others see that behaviour, they then choose their attitude towards you (and probably how they will feel for the rest of the day after that) and how they will then in turn reposnd through their behaviour.

If we take time to choose the attitude we want to demonstrate, we can control the behaviour we display.

However, the model is a cycle. We could be making a really good choice to have a great attitude, but at the same day someone else might be choosing to have a bad day. If you meet them, they could influence your attitude and behaviour very quickly and you begin to copy their behaviour.

If we again make a conscience decision to choose how we react to them, we begin to take control of how we feel about everything. I use a quote ‘You choose to behave like that…..I choose to behave like this’. In other words, its a conscience decision in how to react. Very much like an Assertive approach, engaging your brain.

Now, it’s not just other people that can influence your attitude. Any situation could cause this. Situations can also have the same affect. We make the same decisions when we are faced with situations and if we take just a few seconds to stop and think.

We might normally go off the wall at these things. Our behaviour will be influenced by our attitude we take towards these, and actually can completely change how we live our lives and the relationships we have. Remember, the behaviour we demonstrate will change other peoples attitudes toward you.

If you follow the model, it’s similar to dealing with people. Think ‘It’s happened, I can’t change it, what am I going to do to get on with things’.

In other words, it’s about being more proactive and looking forward instead of looking back and thinking why?

Some life events might take longer to break that cycle, but most of the day to day things we can confidently tackle and actually begin to have an influence the way we live our lives.

A great film to watch about this is called FISH! Quite expensive, but great if you can get to see it.

So, choose your attitude NOW!!!!!!

Want to know more? Then why not attend an assertiveness skills training course. Look no further than our training and development partner Revolution Learning and Development Ltd. Take a look at their assertiveness skills training programmes here.

People Are Not Mushrooms – Don’t Keep Them In The Dark

I’m no keen gardener but I know that mushrooms like to be kept in dark damp conditions. If they get too much sunlight or are allowed to dry out then they simply don’t grow.

People on the other hand don’t grow that well when they are kept in the dark, so why do many organisations do just that when it comes to their people.

Many organisations don’t communicate all that well with their people, keeping them in the dark. If people don’t know what’s going in the the organisation they find it hard to grow or perform.

So, why do they get it so badly wrong and what can organisations do to improve?

No Communication Strategy

Some organisations haven’t sat down and thought about why, what, when, who and how they will communicate. If this is the case, communication comes very last minute and people are expected to react. A lot of head scratching goes on when things are not changing as quickly as they thought it would and worse still productivity drops.

The organisation should have a clear strategy of communication that includes:

Why – Why they should communicate to their staff? The answer to this question should be straight forward.

What – What will they communicate? This should include things such as up and coming changes, vision, targets, goals, objectives, success stories, lessons learnt and pretty much everything else people need in order to feel bought into the organisation.

When – When will they communicate? Once the messages that need to go out are defined, when will they communicate it. For example, communicating a change on the day it happens isn’t going to work. This should be planned in well in advance and in stages leading up to an event. If it’s goals and objectives etc, again this communicated in advance to people have to time to think about how they will achieve what’s expected.

Who – Who needs to receive the messages from the ‘what’ question above? – Does everyone need to hear the message or just a small group of people. It should be defined which messages go to who and and what level of detail.

How – How will those messages be delivered? Identify all of the communication channels available and pick the one best suited for the message and the audience. For example, if a detailed amount of information needs to go to a specific group then face to face may be better, but if a brief update needs to go to another then a newsletter or briefing document would be suitable.

Heavy Reliance on One Method

In this digital age, we tend to rely heavily on email, simply because it’s quick and easy. But, email isn’t always the best method of getting a message across.

By identifying all of the channels available to the business, they can then work out the best method to get a message across. Talking to people is time consuming, but so is fixing problems when things are mis-communicated by email.

Top Down Communication

This is where the management team pass messages down the hierarchy of the business and expect people to act. But, those people in that structure have a voice and actually may have some good ideas.

People working on the ground have the best view of the ground and will know what the issues are. A good communication strategy will include a process of two way communication where people on the ground have the ability to feed back up the hierarchy so their ideas are heard and if warranted acted upon.

It can be extremely frustrating and de-motivational if people have ideas but there is no forum or process for them do be listened to.

So, the challenge for organisations is simple – don’t grow flowers that need to be out in the open to prosper as you would mushrooms.

If you would like to know more about building an effective communication strategy or communicating more effectively with people then why not attend a Communication Skills Training Course?

Our training and development partner Revolution Learning and Development Ltd delivers a communication skills workshop that covers all of the above points. See their Communication Skills Overview for more.

Are You Making These Communication Mistakes?

Mistakes when communicating can be costly. If people don’t understand the message you won’t get the outcomes you were looking for. Poor communication can be de-motivational and also have an impact on your credibility.

Poor communication doesn’t just apply to written messages. Of course if you send an email with a lot of spelling mistakes in it then this will look really bad, but you also need to consider how effectively you communicate on a face to face basis.

Have a look at the points below and see if you are making these communication mistakes:

Not Adapting Your Style – There isn’t a one size fits all approach to communication. People take on board information differently. People expect different levels of details and different styles of approach. You need to consider the people or person you are communicating to and adapt your style to meet their needs.

Not Checking Your Work – Not checking and double checking your emails or other written documents for spelling and grammatical errors not only makes you look unprofessional, it also makes it difficult to understand the message. Be sure to check your message before sending it.

Not Thinking About the Purpose – Before you communicate you need to consider the objective of your communication – what do you want the person to know or do as a result of your communication. By thinking about the objective of the message you can think about what needs to go into the message to ensure you get the point across. You also need to check that the message has been understood – don’t just assume it has.

Not Choosing the Right Method – You should think about the best method of communication to get your message across. For example, email isn’t the best method of delivering bad news, face to face isn’t always the best option to deliver lots of detail. Although face to face should be seen as the main method of communication, you should think about how best to get the message across.

Not Having the Conversation – Avoiding conversations because you think its going to be difficult isn’t going to make the problem go away. The longer you leave it the harder the conversation becomes. Plan out what you want to say, rehearse it and deliver it. Don’t put it off.

Speaking Before You Think – If someone is delivering a difficult message to you or demonstrating negative behaviours whilst communicating to you, don’t just react. Your gut reaction may not be the best reaction and may fuel further negative behaviours. Be assertive, take a few seconds to think and ‘engage your brain’. Quickly consider the best way to respond. Normally the best think to do is remain calm and controlled regardless of how bad the behaviour of the other person.

Not Listening – Yes what you have to say is important, but so is what the other person has to say. If you think that your message is the most important this may stop you from listening effectively. Not listening means you can’t have an effective conversation. Also consider your other barriers to listening.

Communicating effectively doesn’t happen by itself. It takes time, concentration and practice. If you want more ideas or help communicating effectively then why not attend a Communication Skills Training Courses. We recommend our Training and Development partner Revolution Learning and Development Ltd.

They’ve got these courses across the UK. Take a look at their Communication Skills Training Course page here. You also may like to look at their Assertiveness Skills Training Course that will help you to communicate more confidently.


5 Whys – A Problem Solving Technique

The 5 Whys is a question asking technique used to determine the root cause of a problem.

The 5 in the title suggests it should take no more than 5 questions to get to the root cause of the problem.

Developed by the founder of Toyota Sakichi Toyoda, the 5 Whys Technique is used in problem solving, trouble shooting and improving processes.

It may not solve the problem by itself but may guide you to an alternative path to follow, for example using a cause and effect diagram (Ishikawa diagram) or other problem solving tool to fix the problem.

The technique is designed to guide you to the root of the problem.

Here’s how to use the 5 Whys Technique.

Start with the problem and ask a ‘why’ question about the problem. The next ‘why’ question you ask should then follow on from the answer to the first question. Here’s an example:

The vehicle will not start. (the problem)

  1. Why? – The battery is dead. (first why)
  2. Why? – The alternator is not functioning. (second why)
  3. Why? – The alternator belt has broken. (third why)
  4. Why? – The alternator belt was well beyond its useful service life and not replaced. (fourth why)
  5. Why? – The vehicle was not maintained according to the recommended service schedule. (fifth why, a root cause)

You could possibly take this to a 6th or 7th why, but 5 is usually enough to get to the root of the problem.

It’s important to understand that typically the 5th why doesn’t point to a solution – it points to processes. This answer doesn’t tell you how to fix the problem, only what caused it.

This is where some other problem solving tool will come in useful to determine why the root cause existed. So in the above example, the process of servicing the vehicle failed and this is then what needs to be corrected. A cause and effect diagram can then help you to determine which part of the process failed and what corrective actions need to be taken to correct this for future.

There has been some criticism of the tool in that its too basic or doesn’t fix the problem. But when time is short and you need to get to the root cause quickly then the technique is incredibly useful.

Example taken from Wikipedia

Plan-Do-Check-Act (PDCA)

Plan-Do-Check-Act (PDCA) is a step by step process management method used for the continuous improvement of products and processes.

Also known as the Deming Cycle or the Shewhart Cycle, Plan-Do-Check-Act is a four step process that helps review current processes and identify improvements that can be made. Although the cycle won’t do these things alone, it works as a check that new ideas you are about to implement work first time. It’s a process to follow when you need to make a change.

Developed by W Edwards Deming who believed having clearly defined, repeatable processes in areas such as quality management and process control used this approach.

The cycle can be used in many areas such as implementing continuous improvement, improvements to processes in the business, a controlled approach to finding the best of a range of solutions to implement, saving time during change and many other areas.

Plan-Do-Check-Act comes with 4 stages, named after its title:


Plan – Identifying and analysing the problem. Here you need to identify exactly what the problem is. You can use a range of problem solving tools such as cause and effect diagrams (Ishikawa Diagram) or drill down to get from big chunks of information to more detailed information.

Set objectives that you now want to achieve and map the process that is causing the problem. You can learn more about Process Mapping on a Training Course. Take a look at Revolution Learning and Development Ltd and their Process Mapping Training Course.

Do – This is where you will begin to consider the things that you can do to solve the issue. You could brainstorm a range of solutions that could fix the problem then go through a process of reviewing each one until you agree on the best solution. Tools such as impact analysis, brainstorming, Hurson’s Productive Thinking Model and Appreciative Inquiry can work well here.

Once you have agreed the solution, think about running a test on a controlled group to ensure your solution will deliver the results you require before rolling out to the wider group.

Check – This is where you will measure the results of the test you conducted to ensure it will meet the objectives you set in stage one. You can also repeat the Do and Check stages, making small tweaks and changes to test if different variations of the solution will deliver better results. Once you are happy that the objectives can be delivered you can then move on.

Act – Once you know that your solution can deliver the objectives you can begin to roll it out on a larger scale to the wider group. This should be carefully planned. After roll-out you may want to repeat the cycle to look for further improvements that can be made.



Mintzberg’s Management Roles

Mintzberg’s Management Roles describes the different roles a manager or leader has.

Managers and leaders have to carry out lots of different tasks. This means they have lots or roles to carry out.

You may find yourself dealing with conflict in the team, having to motivate team members to be more productive, negotiating with senior managers, attending meetings or problem solving.

Throughout the course of the day there are probably multiple different tasks you need to carry out, and each one of those tasks requires a different approach to ensure its completed quickly and effectively.

To describe what the different parts of a leader or managers role is, Henry Mintzberg said in his book “Mintzberg on Management: Inside our Strange World of Organizations'” that a manager or leader has 10 primary roles or behaviours. These categorise the different roles or functions that a leader or manager has. These are called Mintzberg’s Management Roles.

The 10 Management roles are split into 3 different categories:

  • Interpersonal – Conversations between 2 or more people
  • Informational – Communicating information out to other
  • Decisional – Power and confidence to make decisions

The 10 Management roles then fall into these 3 categories. The 10 roles are:


  • Figurehead – Role modelling the right behaviours that the team should demonstrate. The team will look to the manager or leader of a lead on how to act and behave in the business
  • Leader – Providing leadership to the team or other people in the business. This is where you set, monitor and manage performance standards
  • Liaison – Communicating in the team and outside of the team. This is about getting to know people in the business and building an effective network


  • Monitor – Observing and overseeing the team, checking performance standards are being met. Looking out for and learning about changes in the business and the industry it sits in to communicate to the team
  • Disseminator – Communicating useful and relevant information to the team
  • Spokesperson – Communicating information about the team and the business to people outside


  • Entrepreneur – Creating necessary change in the team and the business. Looking for issues, developing creative ideas to solve them and implementing change successful
  • Disturbance Handler – Cleaning blockages. The leader has a responsibility to facilitate conversations when people disagree or can’t find a way forward
  • Resource Allocator – Delegating the right jobs to the people with he right skills and interest for the tasks that need to be completed. This might be providing the right money to projects and the right people to tasks
  • Negotiator – Getting involved in negotiations with the team, business and outside parties

The idea behind the model is to think about how much time you spend in each area. We may be guilty of being very comfortable in just a handful of them and neglect the others.

Consider which roles you are good at and which roles need some development. Consider the skills required for each role you need to work on and look at how to develop those skills more. Apply the to develop confidence in those areas and monitor the results. Look for ways to constantly evolve and develop further.

For more ideas on Leadership and Management techniques why not take a Leadership and Management training course. Look no further than our training and development partner Revolution Learning and Development. You can learn more on their Leadership and Management training courses page here.