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

OSR networking

In my previous career in the recruitment industry with Reed, Blue Arrow and Adecco, we were taught the importance of networking. This was in the days before LinkedIn, Twitter, or Facebook, so we had to do it the good old-fashioned way: go out and meet people! This involved running events, assisting clients (such as Astra Zeneca and Matalan) with 'Learning at Work Day' events, and speaking at as many events as possible. The important thing was to get your leaflets out and speak to as many people as you could, as well as collection loads of business cards (which all then needed to be followed up). This had to be undertaken within the first 3 days of meeting that person before they went off the boil. At this time, the word 'Business Development' was a dirty word!

Move forward 20 years, and professionals - including accountants and solicitors - now have business development as part of their remit.

As an SME, and having run my own consultancy for 17 years, you may well ask what networking has done for me, and whether or not I have any hints and tips to share. For me, there are 3 key things that I feel are important in relation to networking:


Decide what you are going to communicate. You have to ask yourself "what is my brand?" and "who are my audience?" before you launch yourself into any on or offline networking. At present, there are so many events that you could spend every day attending a different one. How will this benefit you or your business in the short and the long term? I often meet people at events who do not have a clear strategy as to what to communicate regarding their product or service. So clarify who you want to communicate to, what you want to communicate, and how you are going to do it.


You are now ready to make some connections. So, how are you going to do this? An obvious method is social media. There is so much choice nowadays; I find that Facebook is useful for long-term contacts that have been clients and are now friends. Twitter has proven successful for sharing my message, and LinkedIn for maintaining visibility and creating and reinforcing my brand. But I have found that, after the initial connection via social media, the face-to-face meetings are where you cement that connection and decide if you can do business together.

Netowrking isn't just about gaining business; you also give business to others when you meet them. One of my suppliers, Greenlight Computers, has taken care of my IT needs for the past 7 years, and this started from a networking event organised by the 'Federation of Small Businesses' (FSB). We met, connected, and have worked together ever since.

A good networker uses different communication styles to make their networking effective. With social media, look at the words you use and the tone of your communication. With face-to-face networking, look at the impact you make when walking into the room and put forward a compelling case to attract your fellow networkers to make contact with you. Don't do what one complete stranger did to me at a networking event: interrupt the conversation, invade someone else's personal space, thrust a business card into their hand, pitch your business, then move on to better prey without listening to a word from the other person.

Form an Alliance

This is about meeting someone, finding common ground, and getting them to commit to an ongoing relationship. Initially, just meet for coffee and explore the relationship, or - if they have a need - you can offer support; it could be 'I know someone whom I feel you should meet', or 'I am going to an event, would you like to come?' It is crucial that, at all stage, you remember the golden rule: 'Do not take and not give back'. There is nothing worse than the network grabber who asks for your help and takes it, but when you call them, they are never available. Then, when they want something, they give you a ring! Always give back, share, and try to help if you can.

Olive Strachan and others

If you would like to hear more about my knowledge of networking (spanning over 20 years) and how to make the most of your network, our next course, Networking for Business Success, will be hold 14th May at our offices at Regus, Peter House, Oxford Street, Manchester.

Tel: 0161 209 3950 // Email: olive@olivestrachan.com


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.


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!




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.

A fitting tribute - and one of my highlights for the end of the year - was at CIPD's volunteer role models event in London, where we celebrated the CIPD Volunteer PACE Awards, attributable to the CIPD values of being Purposeful, Agile, Collaborative and Expert (PACE). The awards recognise volunteers from the CIPD's regional branches and groups who go above and beyond their responsibilities to provide a valued service to members and local communities. It was also an inaugural event, recognising volunteers from organisations outside of the CIPD for the first time and serving as an opportunity to include the various networks.

Olive Strachan and Peter Cheese

Pictured: Olive Strachan with Peter Cheese, CEO of CIPD

The judging panel was chaired by Anna Kyprianou, Vice-President Membership and Professional Development for the CIPD.

Divided into three award sections, the accolades were:

  • Firstly, presenting certificates of volunteering to celebrate and acknowledge the numerous volunteers who have proven to be a fundamental part of the local regional offer, and a bedrock of volunteer activities.

  • Secondly, and furthermore, the CIPD recognised local leaders, who have led and developed their local committees throughout 2014.

  • Finally, the 'Showcase' awards recognised individuals who delivered something exceptional, and went above usual expectations in their volunteer activities. Also for the first time, external volunteers were recognised, as they too have a huge impact in areas of primary importance to the CIPD.

I was both delighted and honoured to be awarded a Showcase Volunteer Award, presented by the CEO of the CIPD Peter Cheese, alongside representatives of the Professional Speaking Association and the HRNet (part of the Cranfield Trust).

OSR logo

Part of my weekend I spent reflecting about my company - Olive Strachan Resources. As of this year, we have been established for over 16 years, and we have gone through many changes in that time. We have had ups and downs but at OSR we are proud of our achievements and being associated with providing learning solutions to organisations worldwide, offering tailored solutions that fit their needs. We are continually branching out, and our training courses in Europe are becoming more prominent and enhancing business skills all over the world.

During the last 10 years, OSR have empowered people with the knowledge they need to drive their organisations, providing first class Business Skills training in Bosnia, Germany, Belgium, Portugal, France, Switzerland and the Ukraine. It is always thrilling to know that you have successfully delivered training that others have benefited from and enjoyed.

Developing long term relationships

I truly believe that working in partnership with our customers helps to develop long-term relationships based on an understanding of requirements, culture, and business needs. The approach is simple: you need to be trustworthy, committed, and able to demonstrate an understanding of the business and organisational culture. Our participants in Europe are required to develop their ability to act with greater precision and credibility when communicating with other people and to develop powerful techniques that put ideas across in a dynamic, winning way.

Over the years, OSR has helped to identify with each business their organisational requirements to meet their goals and ultimately achieve their visions. Every individual has different situational needs but with one aim. At OSR, we recognised the need and developed modular, bite-size programmes that cover a variety of multi-session workshops, enabling individuals to pick and mix to meet their own personal and organisational goals. For example, in Herzegovina we delivered multi-session workshops including: Time Management, Change Management, Effective Writing Skills, Presentation Skills, and Diversity.


"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.

Olive Strachan the founder of OSR Global Training Providers has been named one of the top 100 most influential women in business by the Business Insider North West. 

Throughout the recession Olive has continued to expand her business Global OSR internationally and has successfully held the position of Branch Chair of Manchester CIPD - a very commendable accolade indeed. 

As a Global Entrepreneur, Growth Coach and HR Professional Olive sits comfortably amongst the other 99 women selected, all from different industries representing both the public and the private sector. Many high-profile and prestigious companies are represneted in the lineup, including the White Company, BBC, Trafford Council and The Cooperative Group.

This prestigious accolade is testament to OSR's global success, something which we are very proud of. The list was collated by a selective committee of prominent business people from throughout the region and every woman who was elected was chosen for her influence on the North West business and her contribution to the world of commerce. 

Olive is also a member of the Professional Speakers Association and her name can also be seen in the 'World Who's Who List of Influential Women'. 

Olive's success has been reported on Industry Today and Briefing Wire. This marks yet another fantastic achievement for Olive and OSR Global Training Providers. 

OSR logo with shadow

It is always good to know when you have done a good job. A simple thank you or well done usually suffices, but when you receive a written testimonial from a client, saying how they really appreciate your efforts, you feel wonderful and on top of the world.

I really enjoy what I do. I enjoy seeing people develop, and knowing that my training can improve their performance in the workplace. I enjoy instilling confidence and bringing people out of their shells, and to receive a written endorsement thanking me for my work and detailing how it has benefitted an individual is priceless.

I recently completed a training sessions for the Sales Champions for Campanile Hotels and the Louvre Hotel Group. I must say that all the delegates were fantastic, and each person had their own unique contribution to bring to the table. The training session proved to be very successful and everyone really enjoy the day - especially myself!

You can imagine my surprise when I received a beautiful bouquet of flowers at my office a couple of days after the session, along with a lovely thank you note. In addition, I also received the testimonial below to post onto the OSR website and to share on the OSR social media channels.

As I have mentioned, it is always good to get up in the morning and enjoy going to work, knowing that you are helping and supporting some individual or team to better themselves and improve their skills.

Over the 16 years OSR have been in business, we have trained 500 managers and delivered training in 20 countries. I have met some fabulous people and seen some fantastic sights, but when I receive a testimonial for doing what I love to do, it really is the best feeling and I wouldn't trade it for anything.

"Brilliant training as always! Having known and worked with Olive for 8 years now, each training session is success guaranteed. She is an exceptional character with a personality that brightens the room. Olive always makes the training very interesting and energetic, and she engages exceptionally well with all candidates. Olive is one of those very rare people, able to make her audience open up and get involved in the training. Next session is already scheduled with another team..."

Mark Aldridge, Louvre Hotels Group UK, Head of Operations - Northern Europe

When OSR received an invitation from the UK Trade & Investment to attend the ‘Caribbean Education & Trade Mission’ to Barbados and Trinidad we jumped at the chance! After visiting beautiful Barbados we embarked on the second leg of our journey to Trinidad where we were welcomed by Natalie Dookie; Head of Trade & Investment for UKTI Port of Spain and then Arthur Snell the British High Commissioner.

A hectic schedule proceeded with various presentations about ‘how to deliver business in Trinidad’ from the National Training agency, the university of the West Indies and the Ministry of Labour to name a few.

The next day we were all  involved in the ‘ meet the buyer event’ where we were able to display our products and services and meet and network with a variety of  local Education sector stakeholders for one to one discussions, meetings and company displays. Once again we came away feeling fully informed and with the impression that there is a great deal of potential in the Caribbean.

What have Olive Strachan Resources we gained from our Caribbean Trade Mission?

OSR  now have a clear picture of what is required to do business in the Caribbean; we also had some interest in forming partnerships with us.

OSR have made some excellent contacts some of who have become friends, thank you to Marquita Andrews from Pearson for taking us out for dinner and for making us feel so welcome.

OSR have made some potential business contacts

The lovely Veronica JnMarie from UK Trade and Investment in Barbados periodically sends us details of contracts that could be of interest to us.

Overall, the visit was a really exciting, informative journey and we visited some lovely places and met some fantastic people.


So what does the future hold for Olive Strachan Resources? Watch this space………………………. 

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