Olive Strachan North West Export Champion 2016
Inspiring Business North West
phone +44 (0) 161 509 2017

Staying Resilient

When I reflected last month on how I've kept a successful business running for 20 years, one of the points I mentioned was the importance of resilience. You could be the smartest start-up in town, but if you don't have the stamina and the strength to keep going through the hard times, you won't last very long.

Being alpha and feisty doesn't necessarily mean you are tenacious - even the quietest and gentlest of souls can play the resilience card and succeed where others fail. Here are 6 tips to help you build on that:

  1. Prepare for the worst and have a plan B. Try to lay the groundwork for recovery before you need to. For example, keep your skills up to date to stay in demand in the market, and try to save some money in case of job loss, illness, etc. Of course, tragedies and devastating events can disrupt even the best-laid plans, but developing the right mindset, including the ability to reframe negative events, will help you if disaster strikes.

  2. Stay focused on your goal. If things are rough, it's hard to remember the energy and enthusiasm that you had when you started out. Buy by having a clear mission and continuing to strive towards it in small ways, you will get there eventually. You don't have to move mountains every day to achieve your goal - you've just got to keep the finish line in sight.

  3. Laugh! Did you know that laughter boosts your immune system? And it allows your body to completely relax. Laughter also triggers the release of endorphins and makes you feel better. So in times of stress, create the space to laugh - it will help you gain perspective and de-stress you.

  4. Eat and drink right. Eating the right food affects your energy levels, your mood, your ability to concentrate, and your overall health. Drink plenty of water, make sure you're snacking on nuts (they help you concentrate), and try to get your five a day. This should help your performance during the good times and the bad.

  5. Exercise. Even if it's just finding the time to go for a few walks a week, exercise makes a huge difference to your mood, your sense of well being, your ability to think clearly, and your health. Find an exercise you enjoy and make it a priority in your diary.

  6. Turn off tech and spend more time connecting with nature. Studies show that we actually need weekends and nights off to disconnect and recuperate from the stresses of work. And according to research, just one hour interacting with nature improves memory performance and attention span by 20%. So try to spend at least part of your weekend with your phone off.

I hope these tips have been helpful - and do let me know your own ways of getting through stressful periods. I'd love to hear them.

Oliver Strach - 10 Business Lessons

1. Raise Your Profile

When I first opened my business, I needed to gain exposure in the business world, 20 years ago the best vehicle was the Manchester Evening News so I contacted the business desk and persuaded them to write about me.

2. Be Persistent & Tenacious

I rang the Manchester Evening News approximately 10 times, I felt that I had an interesting story to tell. I was one of the first female black training consultants in Manchester and I pushed my unique selling points. Finally, the newspaper sent a reporter to my office, resulting in a photo and a write up about my new business in the paper.

3. When Opportunity Knocks, Open the Door & Grasp It

In 2002 I was successful in pitching to train the volunteers for the commonwealth games in Manchester. It was a wonderful experience that I will never forget. I was even filmed by the BBC and appeared on local TV.

4. Don't Be Risk Averse

10 years ago, I was asked to send a proposal for a management training programme for 40 managers based in the Middle East. I wanted this piece of work, I love travelling and wanted to work globally. After a chat with the client on the phone I decided it would be worth meeting the client. I purchased a ticket to Egypt and arranged a face to face meeting. I won the contract and off the back of it ended up working in 20 countries.

5. Be Resilient

In the past 20 years I have navigated my business through a major recession. The most challenging part was having to make staff redundant and searching for new markets for my business. I had to remain curious, optimistic and motivated, keeping my energy levels up and believing in myself. It was difficult, but I am stronger for it.

6. Identify & Exploit Your Key Differentiator

We are all individuals and have something that makes us stand out from others. Mine is that I have a real passion for Learning and Development, when I stand in front of a group of people I give them my full focus using my skills, knowledge and personality to deliver a memorable, well researched and interactive session. This week one of my delegates said, ‘Being around you reminds me of summer’. Wow! That is powerful feedback.

7. Be Credible

I made the decision to change my career from recruitment to Learning and Development/HR in 1998, since then I have gained my Post Graduate Diploma in Human Resource Management and my Master’s Degree in Human Resource Management, and now I am just completing my ILM Level 7 Diploma in Executive Coaching and mentoring. I make my sessions interactive and fun but I have the knowledge and expertise required to back that up.

8. Volunteer Your Services

This benefits you and others. When I opened my business in 1998 I felt very lonely so I joined my local branch of the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development. This was the beginning of 20 years of volunteering culminating in me becoming the Branch Chair in Manchester. I am also an export Champion for the Department of Trade and investment and a mentor on the Entrepreneurial Spark for the NatWest.

9. Have a Social Media Presence

This is the only way to keep your brand current and relevant. From delivering webinars to posting regularly on Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter, this has helped in keeping my clients abreast of any developments and encourages new clients to contact me.

10. Cherish Your Clients

Treat them with tender loving care, my clients know that I will work tirelessly to meet their requirements as their success is my success. Over the past 20 years their support and concern for me has allowed me to sustain my business.

If you love your work, you do not work a day in your life! I love what I do - every day is an adventure and a pleasure. I still pinch myself because I can't believe how much joy I get from what I do. Here's to the next 20 years!

Olive Strachan with training awards

Career Coaching

For all the 20 years I've been coaching, I've always loved it. I get a deep sense of achievement from taking a client who feels like there's no way forward, and opening their eyes to their own potential and the opportunities that are available to them.

And it's a privilege to have clients open up to me and for me to see inspiring and talented individuals start to realise what they are capable of.

I think the best way to give you an idea of what coaching can do for you is if I give you some feedback from one of my clients:

'Olive coached me for four months this year and it has literally transformed my life.

I would really look forward to our weekly sessions where we'd focus on my works issues and aspirations. To have the attention and insight from a trained professional was a massive luxury and allowed me to not only improve my performance in my job, but it also gave me the confidence to aim higher and expect more for myself.

And being listened to each week was just glorious. At work I'm quite quiet and it's a very competitive and at times undermining environment. I flourished and grew with the attention and guidance that Olive gave me. I learned to trust my own instincts and my ability to make sound decisions and that confidence was quickly noticed and appreciated at work.

I feel so much more equipped to deal with difficult situations and people at work now. And I'm getting to work on really interesting projects because of my improved performance. I feel that I'm a much more respected member of the team now. It's a long way from where I was this time last year.'

If you'd like to find out more about the coaching I offer, do contact me - I'd be very happy to explain how it works.

With the start of Brexit, Theresa May and her team will have to hone their influencing and persuading skills, which after all, are the key tenets of any negotiation. In a change process or just in everyday work, leaders often come across situations where they need the support of people or groups around them.

One of the key skills of a Leader is the ability to influence others in order to get what they want. To do this effectively they need to be organised in the way they get you to think about the situation and plan their actions. Influencing is the process of gaining the support and commitment of others in achieving your goals.

Influence is about people not things – it comes to a person from another person and it develops through an awareness of what people think about that person and their ideas. What others think is partly to do with the impression a person makes, their manner and the way they speak.

Also, perceived power can give a type of influence, e.g. there is positional power – which is the power of authority or personal power – which is the power relationship building and interpersonal skills.

There are three stages to influencing:

A) Prepare the ground 

This is about building relationships and planning how to handle the situation. There are two sides to preparation, the first is about building relationships and gaining information. Effective relationships take time to develop. We need to invest in others so that they feel we can be trusted. It is also important to keep abreast of any issues which are coming up and could impact on a positive outcome.

The second part of preparing is specific to the situation. Always set yourself clear goals, it is not wise to go into an influencing situation without a clear idea of the outcomes or goals you wish to achieve.

Ask and answer the following two questions every time:

1. What do I want to be doing and feeling afterwards?

2. What do I want others to be doing and feeling afterwards?

You also need to think about how a person is likely to react to any suggestions you may make.

B) Managing the situation

During this phase, it is important to establish rapport to build confidence and trust, this is done by:

- Giving attention to the other person

- Maintaining eye contact

- Greeting people warmly

- Using people’s names

- Being aware of your body language

- Encouraging others to speak and avoid constantly interrupting them

Engaging skills

These are the behaviours which help us gain people’s interest; create empathy and common feelings about critical issues. Building trust and understanding between people includes the skills of: 

- Disclosing

- Listening

- Discovering

- Envisaging and empathising

C) Channelling skills, looking forward and concluding

When satisfactory agreement can’t be reached, highlight key points, summarise difficulties, suggest a way forward, seek reactions and agree how to proceed. It is important to summarise the agreement, decisions and actions, and check reactions and show appreciation.

9 Key Questions You Should Ask Yourself When You Are Preparing to Influence:

1. What do you want to achieve?

2. What are the range of things the other person could offer?

3. What would you be prepared to accept? (In other words, what is your fall-back position)

4. How will you approach the conversation? What tactics will you use?

5. What are the facts and figures behind the situation?

6. What objections may they come up with?

7. How will you overcome these objections?

8. When is the best time to influence?

9. Where will you influence?

If our Brexit negotiators follow a few of the hints and tips above, it should go a long way in helping to achieve a satisfactory agreement.  We wish good luck to Theresa May and her team!

I have just read a report by the World Economic Forum called 'The Future of Jobs – Employment Skills and Strategy for the Fourth Industrial Revolution'. As a Learning and Development professional, consultant and coach, part of my role is to prepare my clients for the future trends which could impact on their business, and the individuals that work in that business. This report together with the CIPD Megatrends report paints a picture of the future where changes in technology, emerging markets, the ageing population, together with a rise in robotics, mean that the jobs we hold dear may not exist in the future.  There may also be a shift in the skills required from technical expertise to interpersonal, soft skills.

The Future of Jobs report predicts that, by 2020, some of the core work-related skills will be overall social skills such as:

  • Persuasion
  • Emotional intelligence
  • The ability to teach others
  • Active listening

One of the most effective methods of preparing leaders, managers and individuals for the future is coaching. Coaching targets high performance and improvement at work, usually focusing on specific skills and goals. As an experienced coach, I see coaching particularly impacting on social interaction and confidence.

A great deal of my work involves delivering training to managers and leaders; so emotional intelligence, influencing and persuading skills are often neglected. Because of the years of austerity and ‘making do with less’, managers have had to focus on achieving goals by delivering on KPIs and aligning all efforts to the organisation's strategic objectives, ultimately ensuring that growth targets are met demonstrating return on investment (ROI). Sometimes, but not always, this can mean that the softer 'people' side of management is neglected.

Why coaching is an effective technique

  1. It focuses on improving performance and developing skills. The starting point is getting the person being coached to look objectively at all aspects of their present situation.  This includes looking at home life, personal life, friends, family etc. as often these impact on their ability to perform well at work.

  2. Personal issues may be discussed, but for business coaching, the emphasis is on performance at work. It is useful at the beginning of the relationship to use a profiling tool, which helps the coachee to better understand themselves and others. This often helps to clarify that the conflict they may be experiencing with others may be because of different personal values and beliefs.

  3. It provides people with feedback on both their strengths and their weaknesses. Working with a coach means that there can be a free and frank discussion, which helps to focus on how the person is perceived by others and their impact and presence.

  4. A good coach will work with you to achieve your goals, whether business or personal. They will sometimes hold you to account, allowing you to push out of your comfort zone to discover your true capabilities. Goals can become just written aspirations without a coach to keep you on track and provide support or challenge when necessary.

  5. The right coach can make the difference between success and failure. Coaching is a skilled activity, so it is important that the person doing the coaching has been trained to do so. Many organisations use internal coaches such as line managers - this can be a benefit or a liability depending on how committed they are to the coaching relationship. As an external coach, I am engaged specifically to coach a member of staff. Often, coaching is bolted onto a manager's job role with no training, so coaching becomes a chore that must be done.

Coaching is not the only way to develop the skills required for the future. In the Learning and Development profession, we recommend a blended learning soluton - this could include classroom, shadowing, a webinar, eBooks, etc. The possibilities are endless.

However, to achieve real behavioural change - particularly when focusing on the soft skills required to build strong relationships and influence others - I feel that at least one of the techniques used should be coaching.

To discuss your coaching requirements, please email info@olivestrachan.com or call +44 (0) 161 209 3950.

"Catch a man a fish

Feed him for a day

Teach him how to fish

And feed him for life"

For me, the unknown author of the above quote perfectly captured what coaching is all about: releasing the potential in someone.

Do you use coaching as a resource to cultivate and develop the employees in your organisation? At Olive Strachan Resources, I have coached and mentored people for many years, and I am a great believer in personal development and training. As part of my quest for continuous personal development, I too have embarked on the ILM Level 7 Diploma in Executive Coaching and Mentoring, an intensive and experiential programme which requires extensive practice and reading outside the formal tutorial workshops.

Historically, most of my coaching has taken place inside offices, which can sometimes - if you are in a confined space, having a one-to-one with another individual - can be a very intense and concentrated experience. The ILM focused on a contemporary programme that specialised in coaching but also utilised the environment to further enhance the coaching experience. This involved working with a coachee whislt walking around Lake Buttermere in Keswick. It was truly an amazing experience; the beauty and stillness of the surrounding environment and the sense of being at one with the elements allowed each person to reflect deeply, making use of mind, body, and spirit.

Here is another famous quote that I feel captures the essence of coaching - this one is from Ralph Waldo Emerson:

"What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters compared to what lies within us."

As the summer months approach, I am looking forward to the balmy summer weather, which will offer my coachees at Olive Strachan Resources the opportunity to leave the constraints of the office to embrace and experience the beauty of nature whilst discovering their full potential and finding exactly 'what lies within us'.

Tetramap

 

Tetramap® was created in New Zealand, and it offers structured training tools that improve communication and consolidate unity and effectiveness. It maps the complexity of nature into four basic elements: Earth, Air, Water and Fire. Then, using the power of metaphor, we apply the map to human behaviour. It helps us to choose a balanced, holistic perspective, whether to improve relationships, strengthen teamwork, clarify a corporate vision, or provide a framework for organisational development.

I have found TetraMap® to be an engaging model that lends itself to transforming team performance. In addition to my capacity as an HR/Learning & Development professional and coach, I have also been a certified TetraMap® Faciliatator for 11 years, and I have found that it works well when used in my reflective one-to-one coaching sessions.

OSR have delivered training in 20 countries, and we have worked internationally for 15 years. One of the criticisms that many delegates make is that some of the profiling tools do not lend themselves to diverse audiences. Whilst working with a coachee who could not understand why his manager was always seeking to build their brand externally and was always looking for recognition from wider stakeholders, we used one of the tools produced by TetraMap®: a booklet called 'Why are you like that?' Once we had completed the booklet together and discussed how the elements worked, it gave the delegate an insight into his manager's behaviour, thus reducing conflict in their relationship.

When utilising TetraMap®, I have often found that it works well with audiences from both the private and public sectors, promoting harmony and understanding amongst diverse groups. I have discovered that it works well with my 'Reflective and Contemporary Coaching', where we use the tool to promote self-awareness prior to our coaching session outside, allowing us to utilise the beauty of nature to broaden and deepen the coaching experience. This method allows the coachee to understand that the only limitation to achieving their goal is their own self-belief.

TetraMap® is a registered trademark of TetraMap International in New Zealand and other countries.

"What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters compared to what lies within us"
- Ralph Waldo Emerson

The above quote epitomises what coaching is all about: realising the potential in someone.

I have coached people for many years, and I am a great believer in personal development and training. I have recently embarked upon the ILM Level 7 Diploma in Executive Coaching and Mentoring as part of my quest for continuous development.

The Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) lists some characteristics of coaching in organisations that are generally agreed upon by most coaching professionals.

Coaching consists of a one-to-one, non-directive form of a development discussion and provides feedback to an individual on both weaknesses and strengths. Addressing a wide range of issues, they are usually specific and relatively short-term. Focusing on work-related issues rather than personal, coaching is both time-bound and a skilled activity.

Historically, most of the coaching at OSR has taken place inside offices. If you are in a confined space, having a one-to-one with an individual, it can be a very intense experience. The new reflective coaching approach concentrates on a contemporary programme that specialises in coaching but also utilises the environment to further enhance the coaching experience. The approach will also include Tetramap, the G.R.O.W. Model of Coaching, and a 360 degree feedback model.

At OSR, we will be offering coachees the opportunity to leave the constraints of the office and embrace and experience the beauty of nature, whilst discovering their full potential and finding exactly 'what lies within us'.

For further information on Olive Strachan Coaching Services, visit www.olivestrachan.co.uk.

I have been a certified TetraMap®  Facilitator for 10 years I have found it to be an engaging model that lends itself to transforming team performance but also works well when used in one to one coaching situations. TetraMap® was created in New Zealand and it offers structured training tools which improve communication and consolidates unity and effectiveness.  It Maps the complexity of nature into four basic Elements: Earth, Air, Water and Fire. Then, using the power of metaphor we apply the map to human behaviour.  It supports us to choose a balanced, holistic perspective; whether it is to improve relationships, strengthen teamwork clarify a corporate vision, or provide a framework for organisational development.

Having worked internationally for some years one of the criticisms that delegates make is that some of the profiling tools do not lend themselves to diverse audiences. Another criticism is that often after completing a personality profiling exercise they soon forget what the outcomes were and how it reflects on how they work with others.  Once when I was delivering a session using TetraMap® in Portugal, one of the delegates approached me and said ‘Ahh so we are all different, and it is ok to be different because ultimately we complement each other and our differences make us part of the whole!’  He got it!

Most recently I have utilised the ‘TetraMap®’booklet called ‘Why are you like that’ whilst working with a coachee who could not understand why his Manager was always seeking to build their brand externally and was always looking for recognition from wider stakeholders. Once we had completed the tool together and discussed how the elements worked and the key traits of each one it allowed him some insight into his Manager’s behaviour thus reducing conflict in their relationship.

As a HR/Learning and Development Professional and Coach - I have often found it works well with audiences from both the Private and Public Sectors promoting harmony and understanding amongst diverse groups. It also works well with my ‘Reflective Coaching’ we use the tool to promote self-awareness prior to our coaching session outside. Where we utilise the beauty of nature to broaden and deepen the coaching experience allowing the coachee to understand that the only limitation to achieving their goal is their own self-belief.

TetraMap® is a registered trademark of TetraMap International in New Zealand and other countries

If you've ever been to see a business coach or mentor, the session most likely took place in an office. There's nothing especially wrong with that, of course, but as any office worker will tell you, it can be quite a stifling, claustrophobic environment. That goes double in a one-on-one situation like mentoring; sitting in a room, face-to-face with your new business coach, can be quite and intense (and even unpleasant experience).

We at OSR love trying new approaches to our work, and we recently hit upon a new idea - namely, using the local environment to enhance the coaching experience. Receiving advice for your business is a far more edifying experience when you're walking around a lake or enjoying the sunshine, and now that the weather has (gradually) started to improve, this could be a great approach for OSR and its clients.

Read more about this approach on Industry Today.

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