How to look ahead
and pull together?

Could I have said it better?

Not quite 15 minutes of fame. Radio advice to businesses.

Express FM is a long running and successful community radio station based in Portsmouth. Host Darren Gamblen interviewed me recently for his morning show. Time seemed to fly by.  I was a bit nervous as we started, but quickly relaxed into the format.  I don’t know exactly where the questions were going to go, so in answer to the question “Could I have said it better?” – I leave for you to judge.

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Increasing agility (Top 10 Business Challenges)

Following consultation with a number of top companies, the Insights Group recognised that increasing agility was one of the top ten problems they faced. Insights Discovery uses a four colour model, comprised of Cool Blue, Fiery Red, Earth Green and Sunshine Yellow energies, to describe people’s strengths, styles and team contributions. Everyone has all four energies, although no one is strong in all four, and the unique combination of these helps to determine why we think each and behave the way we do. Universities Human Resources defines organisational agility as the ability to manage continuous, rapid and sustainable change. In an article published in McKinsey Quarterly, Aghina, De Smet, and Weerda suggest that an agilecompany is both stable and dynamic. While this may seem like an irreconcilable paradox, these two elements are both essential to creating an agile business. A …

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Changes in Personnel due to people joining (Top 10 Business Challenges)

How you can make joiners keepers

When the Insights Group asked them, top businesses identified changes in personnel due to people joining as one of their top ten challenges. Insights Discovery® uses a four colour model, comprised of Cool Blue, Fiery Red, Earth Green and Sunshine Yellow energies, to describe people’s strengths, styles and team contributions. The unique combination of these helps to determine why we each think and behave the way we do. A 2012 Allied Workforce Mobility Survey found that just 77% of new hires were still employed one year after starting at a company, while other research indicates that as many as 40% of employees quit within their first six months.How can an understanding of the four colour energies help to address this issue?   A comprehensive induction process is essential to ensuring that the introduction of new staff is as disruption-free as possible …

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Do you want your team pulling together?

Our Autumn Advert on Express FM

“Based in the heart of Portsmouth, Express FM uses stereo FM radio to broaden horizons, unleash potential and raise aspirations for the benefits of the community. We encourage programmes that celebrate life in South East Hampshire, and our local voices play a fresh and upbeat musical mix, which can be heard 24 hours a day.”

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Cost Reduction (Top 10 Business Challenges)

A Team approach to Reducing Costs using Insights Discovery

When business is good, it’s easy to forget that by implementing year-round cost reduction strategies, you may avoid having to take more drastic measures in leaner economic times. These strategies could range from reducing personnel or buying cheaper office supplies to converting manual processes to electronic ones, or outsourcing payroll or recruitment. Given the wide range of possibilities to consider, it is not surprising that different employees may have different approaches to cost reduction, depending on the combination of colour energies they are strong in. Insights Discovery® uses a four colour model, comprised of Cool Blue, Fiery Red, Earth Green and Sunshine Yellow energies, to describe people’s strengths, styles and team contributions. The unique combination of these helps to determine why we each think and behave the way we do. On a good day, an individual that can use Fiery Red …

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Making organisational change (Top 10 Business Challenges)

The Insights Group surveyed several top companies and found that making organisational change was one of the top ten problems facing businesses today. So how does the Insights Discovery four-colour model help a business facing restructuring? Insights Discovery® uses a four colour model, comprised of Cool Blue, Fiery Red, Earth Green and Sunshine Yellow energies, to describe people’s strengths, styles and team contributions. The unique combination of these helps to determine why we each think and behave the way we do. Change. It’s not everybody’s favourite word or idea. For those of us who lead with Earth Green energy, in particular, it can be one of the things we fear the most. But change is inevitable and necessary. A famous quote commonly (yet disputably) attributed to Charles Darwin sums this up: “It is not the strongest of the species that survives, …

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Retaining talent (Top 10 Business Challenges)

Clients told the Insights Group that retaining talent was one of the top ten problems facing businesses.  So how does the Insights Discovery four colour model help to address this problem? Let’s look at some of the factors that contribute to retention. Insights Discovery® uses a four colour model, comprised of Cool Blue, Fiery Red, Earth Green and Sunshine Yellow energies, to describe people’s strengths, styles and team contributions. The unique combination of these helps to determine why we each think and behave the way we do. It is important that employees are able to do their job well. An individual for whom Cool Blue energy is dominant may be best equipped to ensure that staff have access to the resources and knowledge of company processes and procedures that they need in order to perform well in their role. In contrast …

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Increasing Profitability (Top 10 Business Challenges)

In a survey of top companies, The Insights Group found that increasing profitability was one of the top ten challenges facing businesses. So how does Insights Discovery help here? Insights Discovery® uses a four colour model, comprised of Cool Blue, Fiery Red, Earth Green and Sunshine Yellow energies, to describe people’s strengths, styles and team contributions. The unique combination of these helps to determine why we each think and behave the way we do. A person who leads with Sunshine Yellow energy might produce a fountain of ideas on how to make a business more profitable. They may hit upon the ideal solution, but it might take an individual who leads with Fiery Red energy to take the decisive step to identify this idea and drive it into action. While someone who has a preference for Fiery Red energy would probably …

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Top 10 Business Challenges

What is the biggest challenge that your business is currently facing?

In a survey of a range of businesses, the Insights Group identified the top 10 challenges that are common to businesses across a range of sizes and cultures.  So there is a pretty good chance that your biggest challenges can be found in this list below.  They are: Increasing Profitability Retaining Talent Making Organisational Change Cost Reduction Changes in Personnel – People Joining Increasing Agility Getting the Best Out of Our People Generating Revenue Changes in Personnel – People Leaving Productive Relationships In no particular order (where have we heard that before…) we are publishing a series of blogs considering one of these challenges and offering ideas on how the self-awareness offered by the Insights Discovery®  profile can be applied to each one.  As they are published, each one will be linked to the list above. Performance – Workplace Development is …

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Choosing my crew carefully

As much as we would all love to be good at everything in life, success often depends on realising that we are not! When boat sailing my small cruising catamaran, I often take to the water with those who possess additional skills or knowledge that I am sorely deficient in. It’s not the main reason I take them with me, but it helps!  My younger son, a marine engineer, has an ability to analyse a practical challenge, identify the problem and then fix it.  And we’re both happy to laugh at my ability to defer the difficult jobs until he arrives.  Mike, my crew for a weekend back in June, is retired and has a love of all things mechanical.  Tom, an equally-experienced sailor, is a semi-retired engineer and possible part-time contortionist who can turn his hand to most things; …

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Two tools for raising team effectiveness

Growing the job satisfaction

I was talking with someone from a small (two-person) team recently.  Working for a small charity, their responsibility was for fundraising a challenging amount of money for the year.  Dividing the work and opportunities evenly between them didn’t seem to be working and both were feeling stress levels rising. And then they were offered some psychometric profiling.  It clearly identified one person as being relatively introverted, focussed and with good attention to detail.  Her colleague could hardly have been more different.  Outgoing, bubby and extroverted, she drew her energy from meeting with people and found paperwork draining. What a revelation this understanding of each other brought!  Instead of dividing the work evenly, they split it by temperament. Our introvert spends more time researching, applying to trusts, completing the paperwork (yes, even her colleague’s paperwork!)  She feels a new freedom and no …

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Maintaining an Edge

Lessons from my sailing knife

Among the Twitter Feeds I follow are some related to Plymouth, ‘Britain’s Ocean City’.  I have family links to the area and it remains a favouritespot.  I even have a ‘country retreat’ which I keep nearby.  Lest you have visions of grandeur floating before your eyes, let me explain: It’s a small sailing catamaran, measuring 7mx3m, and there isn’t quite enough height in the cabin for me to stand upright. Something I learned years ago was the importance of keeping a sharp knife to hand when sailing. Ropes can get caught and on rare occasions, this can lead to danger unless rapidly cut. Because salt water is very corrosive, a stainless-steel blade is likely to outlast an ordinary steel blade – the downside being that stainless steel loses its edge more quickly.  So I keep a handy knife sharpener on board so that I can …

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Grammar School

A 'guest blog' from Emily

Ah, English grammar! The seemingly ever-changing world of sentence structure. You haven’t studied it since high school, but you speak English. It’s natural to know to place your commas and how to order clauses, right? Well, sometimes…. Believe me, I fully understand the perils of writing a blog article about grammar – you will all be searching through this with a fine-toothed comb, looking for mistakes (deliberate, of course!) So, let’s start with a disclaimer: Socrates is widely credited as saying that the only thing he knew for certain was that he knew nothing. Please also apply the aforementioned statement to this lowly writer and bear with me as I step gingerly into the minefield that is the English language. Many grammar guidelines are fluid and flexible. Sometimes, it genuinely doesn’t matter which punctuation mark you use. However, you could …

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Confidence to gain competence

How a Come Dine with Me experience identified a confidence gap

As a child, I recall eating my mother’s homemade Rabbit Pie. And it is a rabbit that I think of when I hear the words ‘Come Dine with Me’. Not because of Mum’s Rabbit Pie, but because of a training experience which, for a few moments, left me feeling like a rabbit caught in headlights… Over the years I often seen otherwise competent people struggling to take on a new concept or skill. I vividly remember one occasion when it happened to me: It was a small, three-day training course, during which each delegate would have three opportunities to deliver an ever-improving brief training session to their fellow students. In order to make up numbers, during these sessions I changed role from being the course facilitator to being one of the ‘guinea pigs’ for the delegates. I confess that until …

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About Ready to Boil?

Turning down the heat of work

With the 2018 UK summer heat wave set to continue into August, as much as we may be enjoying the sunshine, we’ve all felt hot and bothered at some point in the last few weeks. The climb in temperature can lead to frayed tempers and frazzled nerves. We all experience stress – at home, at work, driving…? So how can we make sure we don’t blow our lids and damage our work relationships? Stress at work Here are some things that may be causing your emotional temperature to rise and some possible cooling solutions: Travel/commuting – Do you need to find a different route to work? Or a different mode of transport? Would sitting reading on the train for 45 mins be less stressful than sitting in your car in rush-hour traffic? Or does the possibility of a late or …

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Waders for the men

During January 1994 heavy and prolonged rain on the south downs caused the River Lavant, which for much of the year trickles through Chichester, to become a torrent that could no longer pass in the culvert under the city centre.  Diversion of the river led to the the main coast road, the A27 being flooded.  The army was called in and in short order constructed a Bailey bridge over a flooded roundabout and restored east-west traffic.  The Army Benevolent Fund was the beneficiary as grateful motorists passing slowly over the temporary structure willingly filled collection buckets held by the bridge builders. An article appeared in the Independent John Adair in one of his books mentions one young officer at Sandhurst on whose annual report was written “Smith is not a born leader yet.”  What are the qualities the army was looking to inculcate …

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Eating Frogs

Putting an end to procrastination

Procrastination. Clearing the gutters, a phone call with an awkward relative, that not-entirely-positive performance review you have to conduct….. We all have one; that dreaded task you know you really need to complete, but, somehow, consistently works it’s way to the bottom of your ‘to-do’ list…. You don’t want to face it, but the longer you ignore “THE TASK”, it more looms there in the back of your mind, dominating your subconscious until you grit your teeth, tackle it head on, cross it off that list and breathe again! So how do you make yourself do it? Mark Twain put it like this: “Eat a live frog first thing in the morning and nothing worse will happen to you the rest of the day.” Yes, I know that sounds horrendously unpalatable, (not to mention the animal rights concerns!) but, in …

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Book Review: It’s Your Ship

Performance Management Techniques in Action

My brother, who works for a global and well known computer components company lent me his copy of It’s Your Ship: Management Techniques from the Best Damn Ship in the Navy, by former US Navy Captain D Michael Abrashoff. The book contains practical lessons from his experience of transforming the USS Benfold, previously one of the worst performing ships in the US Navy.  His management techniques provide a unique collection of best practice, which can be used with as much success in the business world as they have had in the military. As a read, I found it easy, practical, entertaining, although at times with a little too much focussed on the one ship example.  It’s not a weighty management tome, rather a fast moving motivating book to challenge managers at all levels on how to invest in top down …

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Performance Development Review

Taking the stress out of performance reviews

The words “performance review” can send shivers down the spines of employers and employees alike, but without regular evaluation, how do you know if your employees are doing the right thing? How do they? We’ve prepared a few simple hints to help take the stress out of the process: Keep it regular – Do you need to do annual performance reviews or would bi-annual or quarterly appraisals be more appropriate? Pick a time scale and stick to it. Prepare – The boy scout motto says it all – “be prepared!” Familiarise yourself with your employee’s performance record BEFORE the meeting. Make a note of targets that have been met and areas that require improvement. Give warning – Don’t ambush your employees! Give everyone a chance to prepare for their individual performance reviews and encourage them to keep a personal record …

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The art of interruption

Just how long does it take you to regain focus after an interruption?

I confess.  I do remember, once, that when an email arrived, I stopped what I was doing to look at it.  (I may have conveniently forgotten the 11,999 other occasions over the past 15 years when I’ve done the same thing.) A friend of mine discovered that when he needs to work on a specific project, or to respond to a large number of emails, that it is more effective to drive 15 minutes home from work, work uninterrupted for an hour, then drive back to the office – because interruptions are such an issue in his workplace. An interesting study conducted by Gloria Mark associate professor at the Donald Bren School of Information and Computer Sciences at the University of California, Irvine, and a leading expert on work found that it took 23 minutes and 15 seconds to return …

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Talking Talks Volumes

One call or ten text messages?

Do you recall those experiments with Tin Cans and String?  You remember, where you could hear the person at the other end almost more clearly without the can to your ear? Prior to our marriage, my then fiancée and I spent most of two years 700 miles apart.  As a student, I was skint, so we could only afford the long distance phone calls once each fortnight.  Before the popularisation of the home PC, initially we relied on letters to communicate.  While these had the great advantage of being there to read and re-read (and when you’re in love, re-reading is done a lot), the letter didn’t always convey the nuances that a conversation would communicate.  We decided to experiment with recording a cassette tape to each other once a week.  Once we had got over the initial hurdle of …

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Communication Barriers

Have you ever felt like your words are bouncing off a brick wall?

How is it possible for two people to walk away from a conversation with completely different ideas of what was discussed? We can be speaking the same language, but completely fail to communicate. But what is it that gets in the way? Here are just a few things that can prevent us from feeling as if we are all on the same page: Personality differences – If you are a lively, exuberant person, being met with a quiet response may seem like indifference, but is it just your colleague’s way of listening attentively? We tend to expect everyone to approach situations in the same way that we would, but remembering that we do not all think or react in the same way could help you to avoid unnecessary obstacles in the road to understanding. [Want to know more? See our …

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The Dos and Don’ts of Delegation

Delegation. It’s not a dirty word.

There just isn’t enough time in the day for you to do everything on your list. You know you need to pass some things on. But how do you go about it? Know your strengths and your team. I hate to break it to you, but no one is good at everything. We can’t all be proficient presenters as well as accomplished accountants. There may be a task that you feel like you are waging war with that a colleague or employee has a particular knack for. Is it something they could take on? Establish responsibility. Ultimately, if a task is yours to delegate, it’s also yours to sign off on and take responsibility for. However, there are levels of delegation to consider. Do you want every decision to be run past you or to just give a quick review …

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Creating an accountable organisaton

What is accountability and how does that translate into the workplace?

A basic definition of accountability is how an individual or organisation justifies their actions to others and takes responsibility for the outcomes. It sounds like a heavy, negative thing, but accountability builds trust and cooperation within the workplace and with clients. It can also help to stop an error in its tracks before it snowballs into something much bigger. We’ve boiled it down to a few basics to help set you off in the right direction. Be consistent – Don’t treat one employee, colleague or boss differently from others. Leave biases at the office door when you walk in. If you want people to be transparent, they have to know that they are on an equal footing with everyone else. Be open – Be ready to explain how you reached a decision. This helps others to understand the impact of …

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