Olive Strachan North West Export Champion 2016
phone +44 (0) 161 209 3950

"A person without a sense of humour is like a wagon without springs, jolted by every pebble in the road." - Henry Ward Beecher

Humour in the workplace

Why I use humour in training

During my career, I have been fortunate enough to have worked for organisations who have invested in my development and sent me on many training courses. I always left home with a feeling of excitement, looking forward to meeting new people and learning something new, but often the way the training was delivered lacked humour, did not engage and I was often left wondering how soon it would be over.

The idea came to me that I could deliver factual, well researched, up to date content, but in a fun and engaging way. Hence the reason I opened my own training consultancy.

The benefits of using humour in learning

Research into neuroscience reveals that humour systematically activates the brain’s dopamine reward system.  Cognitive studies show that dopamine is important for both goal orientated motivation and long term memory. Also, research into Accelerated Learning Theory indicates that people retain information in a fun and relaxed atmosphere. Humour is beneficial in the following ways:

  1. It can break the ice and enhance the enjoyment of the learner
  2. It can build a sense of community amongst delegates
  3. It can establish rapport quickly
  4. It aids knowledge retention
  5. It helps keep enthusiasm at peak levels

Dr Richard Bandler in his interview for NLP LIFE, reveals why humour is important in learning and coaching, he says, “Humour is a tool that, as far as I’m concerned, shields you from the stupidity that’s rampant on the planet”.  He goes on to say that he tries to get people to look from a different point of view, which is what humour is really about.

Possible pitfalls

Humour must be appropriate – we want to make people laugh but not to offend them. Avoid jokes around religion, race, gender or weight.  Also cruel or inappropriate comments, sarcasm and too many jokes. There must be a balance between humour and instruction so that respect for the trainer/facilitator is maintained.

Humour and culture

Nik Peachey, a trainer for the British Council wrote an article called ‘Sense of Humour’, he talks about how by understanding a person’s humour it helps to understand their culture and language. One of his ideas which resonated with me was to get students to try to translate a joke from one language to another and observe cultural nuances as often jokes can mask some negative underlying prejudices.

My experience of laughter and learning

It has been nearly 20 years since I delivered my first training programme based on my ethos of making learning engaging with humourous content. This has had a big impact on our success. Content is tailored to the needs of the learner, we encourage high participation amongst our delegates and all of this is underpinned by current research and theories.

We do live in a politically correct age, and sometimes unintentionally a word or a phrase may cause offence. If you have strong reservations then don’t do it. As a trainer/facilitator we ask for and receive feedback from our delegates, but also, we can read body language and facial expressions which tell us if we have got it wrong. Having delivered training to audiences in over 20 countries, I have built many contacts and networks who use my services because I am authentic and provide a safe environment where learning is energising, memorable and fun.

5 Reasons Why Taking a Break Increases Your Resilience

We live in turbulent and uncertain times, and right now you can’t look at Twitter, turn on the radio, or watch the news without being informed of some conflict that is either happening or about to happen somewhere in the world. As a consultant, trainer and executive coach, it is vital that I not only keep abreast of what is happening in the UK (e.g. our impending general election) but also maintain a global perspective.

I spent the entire month of March in the Caribbean, visiting the beautiful Nature Island of Dominica. This visit had two purposes: we have plans to establish a consultancy in the Caribbean, but it was also a time to reflect and enjoy a beautiful natural environment of mountains, natural hot springs and tropical rainforests.

I am now back at my desk in Manchester and feeling reinvigorated and refreshed, with a clear focus. I have returned feeling that I have prioritised my values. My break has increased my wellbeing and benefited me, my business and the people in my life - here are 5 reasons why:

 

Dominica

 

1) It allows you to replenish your energy

I recently read a factsheet from the CIPD on developing resilience in times of change. It recommended energy mapping, which involves completing tasks to boost your energy in and your energy out to boost the resilience of others. Energy sources are: Spirit, Mind, Heart, Body and Soul.

I was able to work on all of these during my month-long holiday. We rented a house in Laplaine, a rural community that's not too far from where my mum lives with my sisters and nieces and nephews. The house had Wi-Fi, but we made a conscious effort not to use our phones or watch TV; every morning we work up to the sound of a cock crowing and a friend of my mum's delivering some fresh coconut water and fruit. We would then sit with our morning coffee looking at the deep blue ocean, which was just across the road from us. There is nothing like standing on a boulder with the Atlantic Ocean roaring towards you to demonstrate how insignificant we all are in the grand scheme of things. I was able to put business and life matters into perspective and clarify what was really important to me. 

 

2) It gives you a chance to spend time with people who care for you

In the world we live in, we sometimes feel that life is one big roller-coaster ride of activity - there are always more things to do, deadlines to meet, figures to improve upon. We are constantly being pushed to do more with less!

Make sure you spend time with people who love you and don't judge you. When you relax with friends over wholesome food in warm sunshine, your body relaxes and your sense of well-being increases. After feeling the warmth and affection of family and friends (and my mum's cooking!), I have come away renewed and feeling valued.

 

3) It allows you to connect with nature

I remember reading an article in the Guardian by Richard Louv in which he stated, "the more high-tech our lives become, the more nature we need". He went on to say that humans are hard-wired to love, and that we need exposure to the natural world. The same article discusses research by the University of Michigan, where researchers demonstrated that after just one hour spent interacting with nature, memory performance and attention span improved by 20%.

The delights of Dominica include visiting the Kalinago Territory. The Kalinago are the indigenous people of Dominica, and they live a simple, communal life, carrying on the many traditions of their ancestors. We spent a lovely day eating some beautifully-cooked local food and watching a carving demonstration, which was fascinating. Next came a visit to Scott's Head, a beautiful fishing village that's situated between the gentle, swaying Caribbean Sea and the scarily fierce and noisy Atlantic Ocean - all that separates them is a strip of land. We also went to Portsmouth, where we sat on the sand at Prince Rupert's Bay and swam in the warm sea while watching a beach wedding take place. We visited the amazing Trafalgar Falls, and I immersed myself in a natural sulphur bath at Wotten Waven, where the water coming from the ground and falling into the pool is as warm as a hot bath. All this while surrounded by Dominica's lush vegetation!

 

Waterfall

 

4) It inspires others

In the 18 years that I have worked for myself, I have coached many people and shared my experiences with a variety of acquaintances and friends. Since I returned from my break, many people have asked the question, 'how can you take a month off work?' But if I return refreshed, inspired, and infused with positive energy and a renewed sense of well-being, then I believe I can achieve a lot more! Sometimes, we need to take a step back to see a clearer picture.

 

5) It allows you to refocus on your goals

I am now at home, feeling gratitude for all I have but also with a clearer vision of what I need to focus on in my life - and what I need to let go of. I have made some immediate changes because, while taking the time out to reflect, I realised that some of my activities were not serving my purpose in life. Just those slight changes have already yielded positive results. As Tony Robbins says, "where focus goes, energy flows!"

 

Bath Tubs

Be sure to follow @OliveStrachan on Twitter!

Make 2017 the Best Year of Your Life

At the end of November 2016, I decided after a challenging year that it was time to invest in my own development. I managed to tick off an item on my 'bucket list' at the same time, as the event I was attending was GoPRO 2016 at the Las Vegas Convention Centre in Nevada. I have always wanted to visit Las Vegas and was able to board a small plane that had been specially cusotmised for sightseeing - we flew over the Mojave desert, the Hoover dam, and the Grand Canyon, where we stopped for a picnic lunch. It was an experience that I will never forget.

Most memorable of all was the experience of walking across the Skywalk, a horseshoe-shaped cantilever bridge with a glass walkway over the Grand Canyon. When you're out on the Skywalk, the rim of the Grand Canyon is 70 feet behind you and the opposite side is 3 miles in front of you. The bottom of the Canyon is 2 thousand feet beneath you - the moment I looked down is one I'll never forget!

After that amazing experience, I felt ready to tackle anything, and I arrived at the GoPRO event ready to absorb, learn and participate.

Olive Strachan at GoPRO 2016

The event featured an interesting array of speakers, including Eric Worre, John Addison, Mel Robbins, Sir Richard Branson, and Tony Robbins. I firmly believe that, in order to achieve success, you need to "model yourself on someone who is already doing what you want to achieve", so to be in the presence of these great speakers and successful entrepreneurs with 20,000 other people was extremely motivational. When I left the event after 3 days, I felt energised, positive, and focused, with a written plan for 2017.

So what did I learn at GoPRO 2016, and why have I already booked for next year's event? Let me share with you the 3 steps that form part of my strategy for success in 2017. The key themes running through the event's 3 days were developing mental toughness, managing your emotions, and having a strategy. Additionally, quite a few of the speakers focused on the question of whether you have an internal or external locus of control; this refers to the extent to which you believe that you have control over the events that influence your life. When you are dealing with a challenge in your life, do you feel that you have control over the outcome? Or do you believe that you are simply at the hands of outside forces?

If you believe that you have no control over what happens and that external variables are to blame, then you have what is known as an external locus of control.

River

 

Developing mental toughness

Mel Robbins, whose popular TED Talk named 'How to Stop Screwing Yourself Over' became world famous, advocates the '54321 - Go!' method. This is based around the power of 5-second decisions. Mel shared with us that she had experienced many years of depression, which impacted on her ability to function well. One day, she forced herself to act by using metacognition, in effect tricking her brain. Whenever she felt challenged or unable to do something, she used her 5 second rule, simply saying to herself, "5, 4, 3, 2, 1, go, action!" This method has helped her to overcome her fears and just keep going.

Richard Branson discussed the importance of taking risks. In his case, he has risked his life for the Virgin brand; his mental courage is underpinned by a strong belief in his company, a love of people, thriving on challenge, and seeing life as one big learning opportunity. A few other sayings that resonated with me were: "Weebles wobble but they don't fall down" (that is, life will serve us a few curve balls, but we can overcome these challenges); "Don't confuse disappointment with disaster" (we often overreact when things go wrong, but reflection and a calm appraisal of the situation can give some clarity); and Tony Robbins's observation that "Success leaves clues - unless you can handle failure, you can never have success".

 

Managing your emotions

John Addison discussed how important it is to manage our emotional response to crises. "What is up to us", he said, is the following:

  • Our emotions
  • Our judgement
  • Our creativity
  • Our attitudes
  • Our perspectives
  • Our desires
  • Our decisions
  • Our determination

"What is not up to us", he continued, is everything else! Successful entrepreneurs learn to manage the things listed above. Part of emotional management is being able to motivate yourself and having a powerful vision - one of the mantras of the GoPRO event was 'focus on the vision; wherever focus goes, energy flows!' People who are unable to motivate themselves must be happy with mediocrity.

Donna Johnson, a successul entrepreneur of 27 years, stressed how important it is to "Learn from the accelerated wisdom of people around you". You need to develop the strength to ignore the doubters, distractions and dream stealers.

 

Having a strategy

Whether you are using social media or other methods of marketing your business, it is important to:

  • Define your marketing strategy
  • Create your identity - describe who you are and craft your story
  • Write a page on why people should buy from you rather than from anyone else
  • Communicate your vision - walk the walk as well as talking the talk!
  • Invest in personal development (e.g. keep reading to increase your knowledge, attend networking events to make new contacts)
  • Create a plan of action and stick to it - be disciplined!

John Addison, who wrote the book Real Leadership, shared some of his hints and tips during the GoPRO event. He talked about 'attacking the day' - not meandering through, but having a purpose! Another pertinent saying of his was "I will do today what others don't, so I will have tomorrow what others won't". Some sacrifice is necessary to achieve our goals.

Olive Strachan

I came away from this event with my action plan for a successful 2017. I hope you find the information I have shared useful; if you have tried any of the above and found it useful, please feel free to contact me and share your success!

Follow Olive Strachan (@OliveStrachan) on Twitter for more insight and inspiration.

Has 2016 served you well from a business point of view? What would you like to happen in 2017?

New Year 2017

Over the forthcoming Christmas period, give yourself the gift of reflection and consider the possibility of a new challenge for the New Year!

Because I run my own business, I tend to use December as a month for reflecting and setting myself fresh goals going forward. When it comes to reflection, here are a few key things to think about:

1. Review your client relationships. I examine my list of clients and the work we have completed together, and review the feedback I have received. I ask myself the following questions:

  • Have I implemented any recommended changes?
  • Is this relationship a good one?
  • Do I need to move things forward in any way?
  • Should I book review meeting over coffee or lunch?

2. Review your product / service. We design and deliver training courses and provide consultancy and coaching. Each December, I ask myself: do we need to...

  • ...update?
  • ...change?
  • ...refine?
  • ...add new programmes?

3. Are your tools fit for purpose? Take a look at your resources (including equipment). Are contracts due for renewal? Do you need to update anything? This year, I am updating my latpop and software ready for next year; all transfers will take place over the holiday period, causing me minimum disruption in the process.

4. Tame the paperwork tiger! Have a mega 'filing and chucking' session - go through those magazines you were going to read and the files you were keeping 'just in case', and decide whether or not you need each item. Of course, the information you have to keep for legal reasons will have to be stored; I myself have 7 years' worth of accounts in my attic. But all the 'stuff' you are holding onto just causes clutter and can block creativity - so get rid of it!

5. What is your ROI (Return On Investment)? Examine your suppliers and other business relationships. I can get lazy sometimes and stick with the same supplier for years purely because I am comfortable - they know me well and understand my requirements, so why should I go to the trouble of starting again with somebody new? But step away from that mindset for a moment and ask yourself: are your suppliers delivering what you want and what your business needs? If not, it could be time to say goodbye. This can be hard, especially if you and the supplier have a long-standing business relationship that has moved into the realm of friendship. However, in these challenging times - we have been warned that there could be a rocky road ahead as we transition through the Brexit process - it's important to take ROI (Return On Investment) seriously. Ask yourself whether the relationship is beneftting you or your business; often, a fresh perspective can give your organisation that extra push it needs to move to the next level.

6. Are you a product of the product? I was always told that you need to dress like the person you want to be, so ask yourself: does your look reflect you and your business? Or is it time to invest in a completely new look? There is nothing like well-cut clothing that flatters you, whatever your shape.

7. Do you have the stamina to run a business? If you are not mentally and physically fit, you may be unable to put the necessary energy into your business. Take stock of your health this December - after trying every diet under the sun and various forms of exercise (including the gym and latterly a yoga class, where I fell asleep!), I have finally discovered the joy of walking. I love it! Fresh air the beauty of nature...you can go at your own pace, and there are many health benefits. To help me achieve my goal of 10,000 steps per day, I have asked my hubby to buy me a Fitbit for Christmas. As someone who is very goal-driven, I know that this will incentivise me to reach my target.

8. Have you lost your mojo? Feeling a little stale? Do something new! Set yourself a fresh challenge! After 18 years of running my own consultancy (Olive Strachan Resources), I have now opened a second business through which I represent a successful global health and wellness company. It is completely different, but uses some of the same skill sets; it is fun, a lot of it involves having parties and socialising with people, and it has given me a lot of joy and a brand new impetus. So look at adding something new to your list of accomplishments in 2017.

9. Spend some time with the people you love. For me, time spent with people - friends or family members - who genuinely want to be with me is a soothing balm to all the stresses that come with running a business. Laughing over a glass of Prosecco and a lovely meal always leaves me on a high. So get on the phone and arrange that meeting, go to that part, and generally kick back and enjoy yourself!

10. Take a break! Over the years, we have spent Christmas and New Year in the UK, the Caribbean, and Europe. Wherever you spend it, turn your phone off, stop emailing people, and allow yourself to recharge those batteries. For me, the ideal break is somewhere warm where I can push my toes into the sand, feel the heat of the sun, and run into the warm sea - utter bliss! When you return to work in the New Year, you will be ready to face anything. So give yourself the gift of time - time for yourself - because you deserve it!

Have a fabulous break, and I hope to catch up with you all in 2017!

By Olive Strachan Executive Coach, Staff Development Specialist

“The way you think about yourself determines your reality. You are not being hurt by the way people think about you. Many of those people are a reflection of how you think about yourself. 

“Shannon L. Alder”

Having confidence and self-belief in your abilities is part of the key to achieving your goals. With the present environment of uncertainty we need to refocus our efforts and keep our eye on the prize! By constantly reaffirming what we want and if necessary making adjustments there is no reason why success should not follow. 

Here are my 7 key tips to achieve your goals! 

1. Clarify what your goal is, often when working with managers or staff members there is concern and a sense of failure and lack of self-esteem due to non-achievement of goals. Most of the time it is not due to lack of ability or effort but because of ambiguity. With 1:1 Coaching part of the coaching conversation begins with establishing what the goal is and how realistic it is.

2. The next step is having a plan, having a plan is like putting co-ordinates into Google maps, you may hit the odd diversion but you know exactly where you want to go. Over the years I have coached many people who believe that planning everything stifles creativity and makes them boring. But there is something satisfying about committing something to paper and then seeing it come to fruition.

3. Confidence and self-belief – we all have that certain ‘Je ne sais quoi’ skill, something we are good at that we need to explore. Sit down and complete your own personal SWOT analysis. Or create your own trusted network of contacts who will give you constructive feedback. You need to create your own brand that reflects who you are which ultimately will give you confidence to be you!

4. Purpose - we all need a reason to get out of bed in the morning. I recently read an article about James Patterson the author in the Sunday Telegraph; he admitted that he had been rejected by 31 publishers before being published. He had a purpose and kept going until he achieved his goal. Tenacity and persistence win the day!

5. Resilience – The CIPD in their factsheet regarding ‘Developing resilience in Times of Change’ advise that to develop resilience we need to call upon and develop all our reserves of energy sources:

Soul

Body

Heart 

Mind 

Spirit

It recommends some deliberate activity daily in each of the 5 areas. Nourish each area by challenging yourself, e.g.  If you walk at lunch time (body) try walking faster or taking a different route.  Being able to bounce back in the face of adversity is essential when it comes to achieving our goals. There will be many obstacles along the way and that inner strength and ability to keep going is vital.

6. Tenacity - Make a commitment to yourself that you will not give up at the first hurdle or the second or third! Every challenge you face and overcome makes you a stronger, wiser more capable person.  After 18 years as a business owner there are not a lot of problems that I have not faced. After overcoming each one I felt added wisdom and a renewed sense of purpose. One thing that I have is an unshakeable belief in myself and what I want to achieve.  When I face adversity the song from Chumbawamba comes to mind ‘I get knocked down, but I get up again, you’re never going keep me down!’

7. Learn and adapt – having worked with many organisations and individuals over the years often there is no evaluation completed after a project or a piece of work and so the same mistake is repeated. Evaluating, reviewing and making appropriate changes ensures that we achieve our goals and can then celebrate our success.

Goals must be challenging, allowing us stretch and grow, inspiring us to keep moving forward.  This is reflected by the vision of one of my clients Louvre Hotel Group:

DO, DARE, DREAM

To fashion today’s hotel industry, to imagine the concepts of tomorrow, and to turn our sights towards emerging countries. Such are the stated ambitions of Louvre Hotels Group, a major worldwide player, forever driven by its challenger’s spirit.

An article by BBC business correspondent Jonty Bloom entitled 'Why the Productivity Gap?' states that "bad management alone accounts for a quarter of the difference between the productivity in the UK and that of our rivals"! One question we should ask ourselves is why are our managers falling behind, and have we invested in their development? Being a manager is an extremely challenging role, and without training, support and coaching, they can wreak havoc, resulting in high staff turnover, high sickness rates, conflict and stress.  Having worked as a manager for 30 years, here are my seven steps to being an effective people manager.

 

The definition of management is 'getting things done through people'. Our research shows that post-recession, due to the lack of investment in first line managers, the essential skills of building trust and developing a relationship with staff are the areas that managers find most challenging. As the old adage goes, people do not leave companies, they leave managers, so having managers who are competent when it comes to managing people is an essential tool for any organisation. So what are the essential steps?

 

1. Get the right mindset

 Run your department as a commercial business; understand your place in the organisation, where you fit in and your impact. Read the organisation's strategic plan, and establish how your department fits into this plan. Constantly review your job role and that of your team; often, after working at an organisation for a period of time, we can forget why we were employed in the first place. We tend to perform the parts of our job role we enjoy, not what we are being paid for.

 

2. Define and clarify a clear vision and values

 It is difficult to get employees to achieve goals and gain their commitment if they do not understand where the business is going and their place within it. Do you have a clear vision? What are the values that underpin this? Are you sharing it in a creative way? I recently met a HR Director at a networking event who shared with me his method of achieving this. He put together a festival involving the whole organisation; they had bunting everywhere around the office, for the auditory staff there was music (including karaoke) and for the kinaesthetic amongst them there were games and fun interactions. A key part of this event was getting all staff to take part in the festival, and each individual was given a list of values to choose from. The outcome was that they helped to shape company values. A clear winner was showing appreciation for each other and saying thank you!

 

3. Involve your team in the decision-making process

 We cannot always act on staff feedback, but we can listen and get their opinion. We have all experienced the situation where decisions are imposed on us without any rhyme or reason, leaving us feeling undervalued. The earlier example I gave about the staff involvement in setting the values means that they are more likely to get behind them and support them in the future e.g. for performance meetings et cetera. It also means that we all speak a common language: if I had a penny for each time I have delivered a training programme where the question 'what are your company values?' has been met with the reply 'to make money', I would be a very rich woman.

 

4. Understand what makes your staff tick!

 Whether you use Myers Briggs, the Thomas International DISC model or TetraMap, it is vital that you understand how your team work and how to get the best out of them. When I am coaching a manager who is having issues with getting the best from his/her team, I will often ask them to tell me about their team members: their good and bad points, their strengths and weaknesses, and how they motivate them. Often, they have a particular person they are close to but have not taken the time to have one to ones or delve a little deeper into their team's specific needs. A manager is like the conductor of an orchestra: how can you create harmony without knowledge? When this is brought up during training or coaching sessions, managers often say that they have no time to coach their staff or have one to one meetings. Ignore this at your peril; this lack of knowledge leads to underutilisation of staff, demotivation, and a lack of engagement.

 

5. Hold regular meetings

 Staff need an opportunity to share their thoughts and ideas and receive honest feedback. A meeting should not be the manager just imparting their opinions; if possible, rotate who chairs the meeting, allowing staff to set the agenda. This will give the manager a great insight into the employees' needs. The meeting need not be a long, drawn-out process; three key items on the agenda could be:

  • What have we achieved that we are proud of?
  • What do we need to be concerned about?
  • What do we need to focus on next?

 

6. Communicate and share information

 I do not advocate 'mushroom management' - keeping people in the dark to enhance the power of the manager. Staff are knowledgeable about what to expect from their managers, and they expect to be consulted, listened to, developed, and to receive appropriate praise and rewards. Once, when I was delivering a Customer Services programme, staff on the course had no idea regarding how they were perceived by their customers as the management had not shared with them that there had been an increase in customer complaints. So my training course was the first time they had seen figures and condensed feedback. When they arrived, they did not know why they were attending the training programme; when they left, they were fired up, determined to turn things around with a selection of solutions. Often, the solutions to organisational problems can be found if you communicate and share.

 

7. Sell it to them

It never ceases to amaze me when managers say: 'We have this new initiative, but all my team are against it. They just can’t see the benefit of implementing it!' I always ask: 'How did you sell it to them?' The manager usually replies: 'I just told them that it was happening and we had no choice as higher management said we had to do it.' Well surprise, surprise - negative delivery of the message gets a negative response! Managers often make things difficult for themselves by not preparing how to deliver bad news or change processes to their staff. In order to get everyone on-side, there has to be some time spent preparing what you are going to say and how you are going to say it, making sure it is motivational, with prepared answers for challenging questions.

 

If you have enjoyed these 7 key points for being an effective people manager and want to hear more, our next Effective People Manager course will be held on the 26th of May, at Peters House in Manchester.

http://www.olivestrachan.com/courses/the-effective-people-manager/88

Olive Strachan MSc, HRM, Chartered FCIPD,

CIPD Council Representative and HR Leader 

Managing Consultant, Global Executive Coach and Motivational Speaker

2015-16 Woman of Influence in the North West

OSR logo

Your personal presence is the experience people remember and the memory of you that they take away. For example, the inner 'you' creates the outer 'you', and how you feel inside and your wellbeing makes a huge difference to how you portray yourself to others. Our outer behaviour is driven by inner factors such as self-belief, confidence, purpose, likeability, authenticity, and a determination to succeed. It also includes Mind Space and elements relating to this, which are Functionality, Sociability, and Mental and Spiritual Wellbeing. One of the factors that impact on your health and how we feel inwardly and outwardly is stress. When we encounter stress, we have less 'get up and go'.

Our energy levels leave us feeling low, and with less energy, this in turn can affect the digestive system and our choice of food. Therefore, nutrition plays a key part in your wellbeing and how you manifest yourself to others. There are also 4 key areas that are crucial for health; these are All Day Energy, Enhanced Memory, Improved Sleep, and Balanced Mood.

Reflective Coaching can also help to eliminate the symptoms of stress and aid your persistent negative thoughts. Gradually over time you will re-train the way you approach yourself and find your inner confidence. Through nutrition and coaching, your memory and energy levels will increase and you will improve your concentration and cognition. In turn, these actions will help you to develop the inner and outer 'brand you'. Feeding the Brain is a combination of mind, body, and brain, and how we use nutrients and coaching to aid your all-round wellbeing.

Olive Strachan will be joining nutritionist Jeannette Jackson at UK Fast Campus, Birley Fields, Manchester, M15 5QJ on Wednesday July 22nd from 2pm - 4pm. This FREE event is open to managers, HR, OD and occupational health staff, To book, please email info@inspirecorporate.tv.

 

Feed your brain MCR



 

Performance Management Appraisals and Staff Reviews usually take place amongst many organisations at this time of year. At Packaging Automation Ltd a Global Engineering and Manufacturing Company based in the heart of Cheshire, this year they are fully equipped with the tools and techniques to maximise employee engagement.

Last year I delivered at bespoke training programme to the leadership, and management teams along with the employees that has enabled the organisation to understand the critical factors that influence both employee engagement and disengagement. The OSR delivery helped them to identify and address gaps in employee engagement across the team and aided them to go on and develop high trust relationships within and across the PA workforce.

Established 51 years ago in Wilmslow by the Grandfather ‘Arthur Penn’ the family run business has grown from strength to strength. Based on the sturdy foundations of integrity and vision PA are passionate about every aspect of their business and the ‘people’ are the lifeblood of the organisation. Customers are key and their clients include many ‘Blue Chip’ organisations. Although PA have agents who operate in Europe, Turkey, Dubai and Australia, they are proud to have their roots in Great Britain.

PA’s Commercial Director Sam Ashton, who is the granddaughter of founder Arthur Penn, is delighted with the implementation of the new Appraisal reviews and staff handbook designed and prepared by Olive Strachan.

Amongest the feedback we received from PA,Sam had added her comments;

‘The effect the OSR Employee Engagement programme has had on all the staff is truly rewarding and promising for the future’. ‘The Culture change is evident and everyone is more motivated, it has been an enriching experience for everyone involved.’

We had to ensure the OSR programme had to fit within the company’s ‘Orbit’ which is a long term planning tool PA use under the guidance of the ‘Growth Accelerator’ initiative. Employee Engagement was one of the Orbit goals and Continuous Improvement was another.

The programme was designed to link in with the other company objectives, it had to add value and encompass personal development and growth for every employee. The change had to develop from the factual elements to ensure they could identify the ‘soft skills’. Unusual in an engineering company that is adept at ‘shaping the world’ and not naturally aligned to ‘shaping the workforce’

As part of the OSR Programme, I interviewed a selection of staff before designing the programme and spent many days providing in depth training with the management teams and team leaders as well as every employee. I believe this approach has helped to motivate, presented opportunities and changed the perception of Appraisals within the workforce.

The feedback after the days of appraisal reviews following on from the OSR criteria and guidelines was enlightening and promising. The employees actually admitted enjoying the process and moving on it has helped the teams to engage, interact, and support one another.

Sam goes on to say …

”Olive Strachan is a hidden gem. She is vibrant, engaging and energetic in everything she does and her positivity radiates and influences everyone.”

“Anyone who needs help or advice with Employee Engagement needs Olive Strachan as she can add value to any organisation. The change in our employees’ performance has increased by over 95% since we adopted OSRs systems and procedures. I have no hesitation in recommending Olive and OSR if anyone requires support with their Appraisal systems.”

At Packaging Automation Ltd it is evident that they are successful in embracing change. They are confident in assessing performance against goals, the company is innovative, the leadership team are not averse to taking risks and they are passionate about putting their customers at the heart of everything they do.

http://www.pal.co.uk/

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Premiere Hotels Group celebrating

Recently, it was my great pleasure to attend a gala dinner with some of the fabulous people I had helped to train and coach over the last few months for the Louvre Hotels Group, comprising Campanile and Premiere Class Hotels.

I had received an invitation giving me the opportunity to celebrate the success of the Sales Champions at the company's Sales Champion's Black Tie Gala Dinner. These were the very people I had helped to coach and train over the latter months as part of the OSR Employee Engagment in Action Programme. I was so proud to see them receive the recognition and rewards they deserved for their hard work and commitment to the organisation. The World Class Service chain clearly demonstrated their Do, Dare, Dream philosophy, which I felt we had achieved successfully together.

The exact agenda for the evening was shrouded in security, but it was lovely to see everyone arriving to a champagne reception dressed in their most glamorous outfits - it was reminiscent of the Oscars!

As the person who had been involved in working with the organisation to design and deliver the Sales Champions training, I felt humbled and priveliged to be invited to one of their highlights of the year. As a Learning and Development consultant, you do not often get the opportunity to celebrate success with your clients.

I arrived at Campanile in Bradford (www.campanile-bradford-co.uk) and immediately recognised many familiar faces; Mark Aldridge, Head of Operations Europe, was at the forefront of the welcoming team. As a senior leader, he has an excellent relationship with his staff, and this was evident throughout the evening. Along with Mark was another senior leader: Xavier Douchy, Vice President of Operations Europe, who had flown in especially for the occasion. Their demonstrations of support and showing an interest in their employees with their presence never cease to amaze. Mark knows each employee individually and the laughter and cheers as each person was greeted and acknowledged resonated throughout the hotel.

It was certainly a night to remember, and there was an air of suspense and expectation in the room as the winners were announced. Each person received a rapturous applause as they were called to receive their award. I can honestly say that it felt as if everyone was a winner at Campanile, but the outstanding winners of the evening were as follows:

  • Best Sales Conversion: Selina Knott, Campanile Swindon
  • Being Most Proactive: Tracey Mann, Campanile Basildon
  • Outside Comfort Zone: Kevin McCoy, Campanile Doncaster
  • Largest Increase in Revenue: Kate Cook, Campanile Dartford
  • Individual Site Ownership: William Furie, Campanile Glasgow
  • Engagement of Team: Rafal Gawart, Campanile Leicester
  • Improvement in Guest Service: Emma Taylor, Campanile Bradford
  • Exceeding Guest Expectation: Tomasz Fecinski-Gawl, Campanile Manchester

And finally...

  • Sales Champion of the Year: Alexandra Brown, Campanile Milton Keynes

The pride and delight on each person's face was clear to see as each winner was recognised not only amongst their peers but by their managers and the senior leaders within the organisation. This sight was clearly a pleasure to behold.

Olive Strachan at the Louvre Hotels dinner

Noreen Gregory and Juliet Hayes - the managers responsible for ensuring that the Sales Champion initiative was successful - had taken care of everything, from the delicious food and wine to the excellent service and the fabulous awards and prizes that were of the highest quality, ensuring that each person felt delighted to be part of the great occasion.

The Gala Dinner and Ball was the culmination of a project which began a year ago with a vision that Mark Aldridge had regarding staff engagement and ownership. Together with his team (comprising Noreen Gregory, Juliet Hayes and Emmanuelle Le Roux), it was truly a vision regarding how to better engage his staff.

Louvre Hotels Group values

From the outset, we agreed that the 4 traits that engaged employees were:

Enthusiasm, Empowerment, Inspiration and Confidence

The vision was for each employee within the organisation to feel committed to a common purpose and to playing their part in achieving business goals. A jigsaw piece would be incorporated into the project, linking to key actions that needed to take place for success. The jigsaw would be a large floor graphic with each piece representing a key action. The other side of the jigsaw would contain an explanation as to what each action would mean.

Each hotel would be given a large wall jigsaw, which was empty at first; then, as the hotel achieved the goal/objective, they would receive the relevant piece to insert into each space. The jigsaw would be displayed in a prominent position so that each member of staff had a visual reminder of their achievements. The ultimate goal was for each hotel to eventually gain all the pieces and have a full jigsaw on display.

Prior to launching the initiative, OSR was commissioned to design and deliver the Sales Champion's trainig and, at the end of the training, the pieces of the jigsaw were given to hotels that were already exceeding expectations.

Delivering a training programme can start the journey, but to guarantee transfer of learning to the workplace, it is essential that we have 'buy-in' from the managers so that the messages are reinforced. Bearing this mind, Noreen Gregory and Juliet Hayes were there during the delivery of the programme and immediately after to discuss action plans.

Measurements were put in place to monitor success. Each hotel was allocated a Sales Champion, who was tasked with sharing and cascading the learning within their hotel and presenting back to their team the concept of The Sales Champaion. To support them, they had regular coaching with their managers, meetings, one-to-ones and teleconferences with each hotel sharing in the success!

It was clear to me that The Drivers for Employee Engagement were deployed and utilised with exemplary practice. These drivers are:

  • Relationship with direct manager
  • Belief in senior leadership
  • Pride in working for the organisation

It was a night I will always remember with very fond memories!

Trophy

A lot of people have spent a lot of money and invested a lot of effort into creating The Perfect Work Environment. This imagined utopia is a calm, peaceful place, where ideas roam free and everyone works at maximum productivity from dawn 'til dusk.

In all likelihood, The Perfect Work Environment doesn’t exist. There will always be problems to solve, conflicts to quash, and precious minutes wasted. However, that shouldn’t keep us from trying to achieve the best possible workplace; even if we never become ultra-efficient androids, we can still create a great working environment that encourages creativity and exudes positivity.

Rob Goffee and Gareth Jones recently wrote an article called Creating the Best Workplace on Earth, and while the content is packed with plenty of fresh, interesting ideas, it’s based around ideals that OSR have always believed in. Goffee and Jones come to the conclusion that a good working environment has to be authentic: in other words, there should plenty of honest communication to make sure that everybody knows what they’re working towards. Everybody at the company should feel like an important contributor to the cause; they should feel valued, influential, and free to express themselves.

There’s a lot more to it, of course, but the main takeaway from this article is that we should all be aiming to create work environments in which people feel meaningful. That means being honest with your employees, keeping them in the loop, and treasuring any input they might have. If someone feels like their work isn’t important, or that they’re not being given the freedom to develop and grow, they’re not going to stay put for very long.

If you’d like to bring your office a little closer to being The Perfect Work Environment, OSR offer a range of training courses that will help. Our Managing Workplace Problems course will help you to turn conflict into positive, productive exercise; the Effective Communicator training day will ensure that you are communicating clearly and authentically with your colleagues at all times. Email info@olivestrachan.com for more information.

Photo by Anne Burgess

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