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.

Stakeholder Analysis – The Power/Interest Grid

Whether you are working on a project, leading a team or trying to get a new idea past the board you will need to work with stakeholders.

Stakeholder management is a key skill of the modern day manager and is used to get people on board with your ideas.

Knowing who to get on board, who to approach and who to invest your energy in building strong relationships is where Stakeholder Analysis becomes useful.

Working with the right people means you can use their opinions and input to gain agreement from others. It can help you to get more resources for your project and other ideas.

Staying in touch with your stakeholders maintains relationships to ensure you get the support that you need for your ideas. You can gather feedback, tips and ideas from others making it easier to influence them.

To conduct a stakeholder analysis you will first need to understand who your stakeholders are. Once you have done that you can start to work out who the most important stakeholders are.

Think of internal and external people. Write them in a list. Capture their name and job titles. You might also want to think about links between them i.e. do they know each other and if so how.

Then prioritise them. To do this you can use a tool called The Power/Interest Grid.

Here’s what it looks like:

Screen Shot 2016-02-12 at 22.05.48

Here’s what is means and how to use it:

The grid used 2 axis – Power and Interest:

Power – How much influence do they have over your project/idea. Can the help to move it forward or could they stop it in its tracks

Interest – How much interest do they have in your project/idea? Will it be beneficial to them for example?

High Power/High Interest – You will need to fully engage with these people and make a great effort to satisfy them. Keep the relationship you have with them strong

High Power/Low Interest – Work here to keep these people satisfied, but not too much though – you don’t want them to become fed up of your message

Low Power/High Interest – Keep these people updated and in the loop. Talk to them about what’s going on in the business etc.

Low Power/Low Interest – Keep an eye on these people, but don’t annoy them with lots of un-necessary communication.

You will need to think about your stakeholders and learn about them.

Think about how your work, idea or project will will benefit them, what is important to them, what will they want to know and not want to know, how well do they currently know you (do you have credibility), what will they worry about, who else are they connected to.

Find out as much as you can as this will help with a strategy to build better relationships with them.

Relationships are the first steps in good influencing, but knowing who to invest time and energy in building good relationships with is the first part of that.

Want to know more? Check out our Training and Development Partner Revolution Learning and Development Ltd. They can help with workshops and courses that can help with Influencing, Commercial Awareness and Communication Skills.

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?

Using OODA Loops – Effective Decision Making

Originally developed by John Boyd, a former US Airforce Colonel, OODA Loops were originally used for decision making in air combat.

Boyd used the model to compare US aircraft to those in the Soviet Union to determine how best to improve the aircraft in the US. OODA loops were used to make decisions on how best to make these improvements.

Being successful in business often means being proactive. Being one step ahead of everyone else being fully prepared for what the competition might do next.

Strategies need to be constantly reviewed and update, and understanding how best to do that requires careful planning, strategic thinking and clear decision making.

Just like comparing US aircraft with those in the Soviet Union, OODA loops can be used to look at how to compare policies, procedures, products, services and everything else business to look at the nest way of making improvements. OODA Loops help us to make more effective decisions.

Here’s how it works.

OODA Loops look at a four step decision making loop. It provides an easy way to make quick and effective decision making. More importantly, helps you to to do this proactively.

OODA stands for:

Observe – Using as many sources of information as possible to collect data and information. Think about:

  • What’s happening in my current world
  • What has a direct and indirect impact on me, my team or my business
  • What might have an impact later
  • Am I right and how can i prove it

Orient – look at and analyse the information that has been gathered and compare it to the current situation and see if improvements can be made.

Use the information to create a mental image of the circumstances. Be aware of how your perceptions, past experience and other forces may blur your image and impact on how you view what you have gathered.

Decide – Consider if action is required and a change or changes need to be made. Look at the likely benefits of what you think you should do. Consider creating a vision and figure out the likely return on investment of your actions.

Act – Act on and carry out the actions you have decided to do. Use careful planning techniques to ensure actions run smoothly.

You can then carry on repeating the cycle, observing the results of your actions. Check whether you have achieved the results you wanted to achieve and making revisions if needed.

Key points in the process are Observing and Orient. These are really key points ins effective decision making. Decisions can’t be made effectively these two points are not carried out correctly.

Take time to ensure you have gathered all of the facts and that you clearly understand whether there is a clear purpose or need to make changes. Be sure to consider what the objective of any change is and whether there is a good enough return on investment.

OODA Loops can also work well along side the Plan-Do-Check-Act approach.


Effective Time Management Behaviours

We all use a range of Time Management Tools in our everyday work, but is it the tools that actually help us to manage time or is it something else?

If you think about it, the term Time Management is a misnomer – we can’t actually manage time, but can manage ourselves around the time we have available to us.

How many times have you heard, or used the cry ‘I wish there was more hours in the day’? More than once I bet. But, we immerse ourselves in tools to try and manage time but still sometimes we get nowhere. Which of these do you use or tried:

  • Outlook Calendar
  • Diary
  • To-Do Lists
  • Plans
  • Using filters on your mailbox
  • Covey’s Urgent Important Matrix

There are to name but a few.

But, the key to successful time management is two fold. Yes there are the tools, but equally if not more important is the attitude we show towards time.

If we take a negative view of it, it instantly begins to mess up our plans. The more negative we feel, the less demotivated we are which leads to procrastination and a real lack of drive to get things done.

So, aside from the lengthy to do lists and packed diaries, what else should we do to manage time more effectively?

We need to re-frame thinking towards time.

For example, you may find yourself sat in a car during working hours and you call it ‘A waste of time’. Because we think like this, sitting in the car becomes a negative thing. But, what if you called it ‘Me Time’, or what about ‘Thinking Time’?

Just by changing the name of something re-frames how we think about time. So, calling it me time or thinking time changes the way we view it and makes us feel different about that time – hopefully better.

Same goes for saying ‘I never have enough time’. Say it enough and you will believe it. Once that belief sets in, it becomes very de-motivational. Thinking ‘I have lot’s to do, what am I going to do to make the time available’ puts you in a different mindset, one of which you are beginning to commit to making time.

Making more time seems an impossible task, when actually it can be quite easy. When was the last time you sat down and looked at how much time you were wasting, or how much of your time other people are taking.

We can quite easily get sucked into saying ‘yes’ to everything or taking on too much responsibility. Because yes is so much easier than saying no, we tend to say it more.

Saying no shouldn’t be a hard thing to do – if you know how. Just ensure that when you do say no, you have a reason or evidence to back up your reason for saying no.

So, don’t just focus on Time Management Tools and hope they will fix all of your problems. Take a step back and consider your attitude towards time. If your attitude is all wrong, then what’s the point in using the tools in the first place?

Want to find out more about time management? You could attend a time management course. Look no further that our training and development partner Revolution Learning and Development.

Their Time Management Workshop focuses on all of the points above – The Tools, Attitude, Dealing with people stealing your time and How to Say No. Take a look at their Time Management Training Course details here.

Dealing With Non-Assertive People

In an ideal world everyone would be assertive. Everyone would be confident enough to tell us exactly what they want, exactly how they feel and exactly what they need – but this isn’t the case.

We often think that some of us are passive and some of us are aggressive. The truth is we are all both.

So, why aren’t we all assertive? Simple, being assertive isn’t a natural position to be in. It’s a skill that needs to be learnt, developed and practiced. It’s a mindset that needs to be switched on when required.

We might think that someone is being assertive, but we need to be sure that is the truth and not just our perceptions fogging our view. We may easily confuse assertiveness with aggression.

In a world where everyone is unique and different it’s useful to know how to deal with other people that are passive and aggressive and how we can remain assertive.

Why Are People Not Assertive?

This could be for a number of different reasons.

  • Lack of confidence or self esteem
  • Past experiences where we were made to feel aggressive or passive
  • Our personality
  • The job that we do
  • Stress or other health issues

Dealing With Aggressive People

The thing to understand here is that the person demonstrating the behaviour probably isn’t aware they are being aggressive. The likelihood is that their response is an emotional one and as far as they are concerned their behaviour is justified.

It may also be that they have a deep rigid belief that this is the best way to communicate when they want something done.

Here are a few quick tips to deal with aggressive people:

Maintain self control. If you respond aggressively you fan the flames. Take a look at our post on Betaris Box that looks more at this.

You could also use a technique called Fogging. This is where your response to an aggressive approach isn’t a one that is argumentative. For example:

Other Person: ‘Where have you been, you’re an hour late. You’ve let me down again. You’re always letting me down. I’m getting incredibly annoyed with you’

Fogging Response: ‘Yes, I’m a bit later than expected and I can see why that has annoyed you’

Other Person: ‘You’re damn right I’m annoyed. I’ve been waiting for you for ages. You should think more about other people’

Fogging Response: ‘Yes, I was worried that I might have left you waiting.’

The point here is to not argue with the point but to agree with it. The other person is probably expecting an argumentative or defensive response then stands down when it doesn’t come.

Linked to the above, take a mental step back before responding. Be sure you are about to respond in the right way and not emotionally.

Show empathy for their situation. Use statements such as:

I understand why you would be frustrated by that’, or

‘I understand why you would feel angry by this’.

But, avoid ‘I understand how you feel’. Because, do you really?

Dealing With Passive People

Similar to aggressive people, it’s good to understand why people are passive. This is usually linked to past experience or confidence.

Here are some tips for dealing with passive people:

Show you are interested in what they have to say. The trick is to make them feel more confident about speaking. If you show you are genuinely interested then they will want to continue talking. If you don’t you give them a reason to stop.

Think about your body language. Is it open and inviting? Does it show you are interested? On the same point, show you are listening.

Encourage them into the conversation. Ask open questions and invite them in. Allow them to use their voice in the space you are in. Make then feel like it’s OK to talk. Thank them for their input, let them see that it is valued.

Don’t get frustrated. If you do don’t show it. You need to be patient.

If you would like to find out more about dealing with passive and aggressive behaviours or becoming more assertive yourself, then why not attend an Assertiveness Skills training course. Look no further that our training and development partner Revolution Learning and Development. Take a look at their Assertiveness Skills Training Courses here.


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.