Author Archives: Chris Mooney

Chris Mooney

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[FREE WEBINAR REPLAY] Let’s Talk About Stress (and how to manage it)
19 May

[FREE WEBINAR REPLAY] Let’s Talk About Stress (and how to manage it)

right trax stress webinar

With around one in four of us in the UK experiencing a mental health issue each year, watch our webinar so that we can keep talking about stress and how to manage it.

 

Stress Awareness Month was in April and Mental Health Awareness Week has now been and gone. We’re lucky that we get the opportunity to help so many great people with managing stress at work through our interpersonal skills development, but we want to do our bit to keep the momentum and the debate going.

 

For those of you who don’t know me, I have a bit of a pet peeve when I’m in the steam room at my gym and people have the audacity to talk in there(!). I’m not talking about considerate hushed tones…I’m not totally unreasonable…but when it’s a loud conversation that we’re all forced to listen into.

 

I was in there recently, on my own at first which was bliss. Then two men came in and – you guessed it – they started their conversation.

 

‘Oh great’, I thought. Here we go, my bet is on football (which, each to their own but is probably at the end of the list of things I’d pick).

 

But no.

 

One of them began to talk about how low he had been feeling last year. So much so that he felt he had to cut himself off from his circle of friends until he had, as he put it, ‘sorted out what was going on in his head.’

 

The other man listened and showed concern and told him how he’d noticed things from his point of view and how he wished his friend had opened up sooner so that they could help him.

 

I left them to it at that point. It wasn’t that I felt awkward listening – after all, I have ears and they clearly didn’t have an issue with me hearing them, and why should they?

 

But I did come away thinking how great it was. I couldn’t remember the last time I heard such an open and honest conversation between two friends about something so important and life-changing.

 

Isn’t that a sorry state of affairs though? That I couldn’t remember the last time. We need to talk about this issue so much more than we do right now.

 

With the World Health Organisation labelling stress the health epidemic of the 21st century and a recent estimate of £6.5billion cost to the UK economy each year from work-related stress, it’s an issue that needs to be talked about.

 

There are lots of great resources and helplines out there to support, and another we recently became aware of is a guide to UK-based Free Mental Health Helplines by Cassiobury Court. The range of support available can be daunting, and so this great guide helps to demystify the helplines so that we can select the one most appropriate for our needs.

 

Find out some more detail of what we cover here or you can watch the webinar straight away by clicking ‘Watch Now!’ below.

Please note: the webinar room opens a couple of minutes before we begin, to allow everyone to enter and get settled. Please leave the webinar running in the background and you will see the chat stream progress, then you will hear our audio when the webinar begins.

How Feedback Unfolds
03 May

How Feedback Unfolds

We provide lots of teams with development. One thing we hear over and over is that they don’t take the time to give each other feedback, so why not try this approach, whether you have an Insights Discovery® profile or not!
 

Insights Discovery Feedback

Courtesy of Insights®

 

Check out how we can support you with personality profiling and get in touch to find out how we can develop your people and your business!

Could Your LinkedIn Profile Use a Spring Clean?
12 Apr

Could Your LinkedIn Profile Use a Spring Clean?

We work with many people to provide outplacement support and career coaching, which leads to us reviewing a lot of LinkedIn profiles which are becoming just as viewed by employers as the traditional CV.
 

When was the last time you reviewed your LinkedIn profile to make sure it’s really working for you? Gone are the days when the sole need for this was to secure your next position; millions of us across the globe now use LinkedIn on a daily basis for to seek new ideas and opinions, network and help others.

 

That said, if you are looking for your next move, it pays to make sure your profile really sells you in the best way, and that doesn’t mean it simply existing to be a carbon copy of the content on your CV. You can significantly multiply your profile views, connection requests and messages by taking some simple steps, such as having a great profile picture, a good balance of interpersonal skills / technical expertise and optimised keywords.

 

We love this ‘cheat sheet’ from Leisure Jobs. Even though LinkedIn significantly updated their interface in January 2017, much of the cheat sheet still holds true. Click the image below and put some time aside to work your way through your LinkedIn profile to give it the spring clean that it deserves!

 

Ultimate LinkedIn Cheap Sheet

Get in touch to find out how we can support your people and your business!

Why We Need Creativity & Innovation in the Workplace
07 Mar

Why We Need Creativity & Innovation in the Workplace

creativity employee training and development

With workplaces needing to cut costs and often cut headcount, people need to think differently – and that means getting creative like never before.

 

With the majority of organisations needing to become more efficient and ultimately do more with less, many rush into this without revising old ways of working.  This in turn often leads to stressed employees, missed deadlines, unhappy customers (internal and external), and a wholly unhappy place to be.  We’ve seen many high profile cases of companies going into or almost going into liquidation (HMV, Jessops, Blockbusters, Republic), proving that now more than ever, businesses must keep up to date with changing trends and constantly challenge the way things are done to not only stay current, but profitable too.

 

So how often do we actually stop to think about how to challenge old ways of doing things?  We are all guilty of complaining about there not being enough hours in the day, never enough time to do what is required of us just to keep our heads above water, so the easiest option is of course to just do what we’ve always done.  Getting creative doesn’t have to take a lot of time, it’s simply about considering other ways of doing things.  Sure, it might be that once you have considered other options that the best solution is what you would have done anyway, but if you don’t go through the process you’d never know.

 

Many people consider themselves uncreative.  This can trace right back to childhood, when we were told we couldn’t draw, or our talents lay elsewhere.  Or perhaps as adulthood loomed we put away those childish things and grew up; considering a sensible job, paying the rent / mortgage and other such commitments as the final nails in our creative coffin.  If this sounds like you, consider two things:

 

  1. When was the last time you did something seriously creative?  Either at work or at home, it doesn’t matter.  If you struggle to think of something then it’s not surprising that you feel uncreative.  Creativity is like a muscle, it needs constant exercise or else it withers away.  Classical pianists don’t just become great at playing the piano overnight, it takes constant time and focus (but you’ll be glad to know you don’t need to flex your creative muscle for quite as many hours a day to be great at getting creative!).
  2. Don’t be tempted to think of creativity as blue sky and beanbags.  It’s easy for us to think about what creativity looks like outside of work (arts & crafts, dressmaking, cops & robbers, doctors & nurses!), however when it comes to work creativity can take many forms.  We each have our own unique preferences when it comes to getting the creative juices flowing.  Some people will prefer to think through options themselves whilst others will thrive on the energy of a group discussion.  You may also prefer structured and methodical ways of coming up with new ideas or more abstract methods.  Either way it’s important to identify your own preferred approach, so take some time to identify this.

 

There are a myriad of different tools and techniques out there that can help you to get creative.  Below we offer one for generating new ideas (it’s probably the best known of the lot but that doesn’t mean it’s always used the way it should be!), and one for whittling down your long list of creative options into your few possibles to proceed with.

 

Generating new ideas: Try ‘Brainstorming’

Whoa there!  Before you skip past this bit thinking you know about brainstorming, please read on!  This is arguably the granddaddy of creative thinking tools, but with fame comes mis-use and abuse.  A good brainstorm can be done with groups of people over short or longer time periods depending on what’s being ‘stormed’.  It works because people trigger each others thinking which leads onto constantly new and different or associated ideas and it allows people to think big rather than be restricted…but therein lies the problem with brainstorming.  How many of us have been sat in one of these when each and every suggestion has been subjected to analysis-paralysis or shot down because “that wouldn’t work” or “we’ve tried that before”?

 

So…here are some simple steps to help you to have a successful brainstorm:

  • Have some help – whether it’s a facilitator or a neutral party, try and have someone who can keep things on track and bring everyone back to that big thinking when the debate heats up.
  • What are you brainstorming – make sure everyone is clear on what it is you are trying to generate ideas for.
  • Collect all ideas – capture everything that is offered and spend no time filtering or analysing…that comes later.  This bit is all about quantity over quality.
  • “If you have nothing nice to say…” – by far the hardest part of most brainstorms: keeping a lid on critical evaluation.  Introducing critique at this stage will only stop people from contributing.
  • Brief the ‘rules’ – because brainstorming has been around for so long, most people think it’s easy (which of course it is!)…but you might need to walk through some or all of these steps with your group before you begin, so that everyone is on the same page.

 

Distilling your creative ideas:  Try ‘Negative Selection’

So you’ve gotten creative on how to market your new widget, and you have a list of ideas as long as the combined length of arms in your department.  Maybe a 100 foot plasma billboard suspended above The Thames won’t work, but perhaps it might…!  Essentially, what you are doing here is whittling your list into your no’s and maybe’s, just like you would do when you were considering which breed of dog to adopt or what kind of car to buy.  Be careful not to label the whacky and inventive ideas with a ‘no’ just because they’re whacky and inventive; you could always keep it in the ‘maybe’ pile and come back to it later, or consider if there is a simpler alternative of the idea.  You want to end with a shortlist that has a number of workable and unique ideas, not just a pile of logical, sensible and totally uninspiring ones.

 

So, challenge yourself and your business today.  Think big and think differently…the world is changing and we all need to change with it or get left behind.

 

At Right Trax Training we can help your managers, teams and business to be more creative. Find out more about our employee training and development and get in touch to discuss how we can help.

Are Managers to Blame for Disengaged Employees?
22 Feb

Are Managers to Blame for Disengaged Employees?

disengaged employees

Managers who don’t know how to meet the engagement needs of their team become a barrier to employee, team and company performance’, suggests a recent Gallup poll.

 

The global poll found that disengaged employees outnumber engaged employees by almost 2:1 (24% vs. 13% respectively), so can we then presume that on a worldwide scale, more people find their working lives dissatisfying rather than delightful?

 

An engaged team is naturally the more preferable option, delivering better results across the board in terms of higher employee retention, customer satisfaction ratings and of course profitability to name but a few benefits.

 

Are managers to blame?

 

In a way. But it’s a tricky one.

 

We can’t levy all of the blame at the manager’s doorstep. Whilst it is undeniable that they have a huge amount of collective influence, we must also consider the impact of organisational culture and the infrastructure in place to support them to be able to effectively manage and lead their teams.

 

After all, if a manager is brought into a company that has little or no concern for their people, should we then be surprised if the manager adopts a similar style? This lack of concern can be seen in many ways such as ignoring suggestions, telling not asking or the mis-match between corporate values and behaviour demonstrated, particularly from senior leaders.

 

Let’s be clear: there is a big difference between a manager who actively chooses not to engage their team and one who is not supported to work in such a way. The former must always be performance managed, but we mustn’t paint all managers with the same brush.

 

‘Appropriately trained and aligned managers are vital to the execution of the company’s mission and to the development and engagement of employees.’

Brian Fielkow

 

disengaged employee
The way forward?

 

There are a huge number of factors that can impact employee engagement levels, but to see a significant increase a few of the top areas to focus on include:

  • As mentioned, organisational culture, including strategy, mission, purpose and values must be aligned to provide a unified direction, and this must be driven from the top.
  • People (not just managers) must feel empowered rather than micromanaged.
  • People (particularly managers) must be invested in and supported, both on-the-job and in the long-term through management and leadership development and training.

 

Coming next week: Part two of our look at the importance of developing Emotional Intelligence as an interpersonal skill.

 

Get in touch to find out how we can help to develop your people and your business. Learn more about our management training.

How to Empower Your Team
08 Feb

How to Empower Your Team

How to Empower Your Team

Being a manager often means that your achievements depend largely on the achievements of your team. It stands to reason then that the more empowered they are, the bigger the benefits for you, them and the business.

 

What is ‘Empowerment’?

Not to be confused with delegating tasks or responsibilities, ‘empowerment’ involves giving the authority or power to do something, which can lead to people becoming stronger and more confident.

 

Why bother?

Just think back to a time when you have felt empowered – either in your personal or professional life. Motivation is high, ambition is a driving force and morale and mindset are focused. Now multiply this impact within a team, a department, an organisation and empowerment suddenly becomes a huge differentiator.

 

Incredible change happens in your life when you decide to take control of what you do have power over, instead of craving control over what you don’t.

Steve Maraboli

 

What are the Influencing factors?

You may be thinking ‘This all sounds great, but my organisation doesn’t allow me to empower my people!’, and you may be right; to a degree. Sure, the culture may not be perfect and the top-down influence of the leadership team may leave a lot to be desired, but don’t underestimate the individual impact that you can make as a people manager!

 

Identify the blockers and barriers, then work out which you can address and influence yourself. We see a lot of managers espousing the virtues of empowerment, however they refuse to relinquish control for various reasons such as fear of failure – a valid risk – but consider the benefits of a controlled risk, and if things do go wrong, what can be learned for next time?

 

Where to start?

Here are our top 5 tips to get you started!

1. Build Trust (over time)

Developing a sense of empowerment within your team will take time; there is no silver bullet and it won’t happen overnight. Spend time with people and support them both professionally and personally (where appropriate). Ask questions and really listen to what they have to say. Learn what makes each person tick and tune in to how they each communicate and adapt your style accordingly to build relationships with trust as the foundation.

2. Give Them Boundaries

We should all know where the boundaries and parameters are. What do you expect people to get on with, without permission or input from you and where should they check-in? Build up and extend the boundaries gradually and generously.

3. Believe In Them and Provide Challenge

As trust builds and boundaries are established, you must also demonstrate a belief in people and their abilities. This is an excellent time to highlight the importance of coaching and feedback to pinpoint all the strengths that can be leveraged and what can be built on and developed going forward. Create an open and constructive environment for progression and challenge, and encourage people to challenge you back.

4. Invest in People and Their Development

You need to speculate to accumulate! Invest both money and time in formal and informal development. Think about 70:20:10; how can people develop on-the-job, from others and formally? Yes, it may be easier for you to take charge and control in the short-term (“If you want something done right, do it yourself!”), however it doesn’t help you or the team in the long-term. We all know and appreciate this, but often don’t act upon it.

5. Remember the Interpersonal / Soft Skills

Following on from number four, it’s all too easy to focus on the technical training needs of your team and overlook the importance of interpersonal skills. When you’re deciding on where to invest in, consider a rounded approach and provide development in key areas such as communication, presentation skills and resilience (to name but a few!).

Good luck empowering your team!

 

Get in touch to find out how we can help to empower your people and your business. Learn more about our interpersonal skills workshops.

Two Minute Tips VLOG: How to Develop a Growth Mindset
28 Jan

Two Minute Tips VLOG: How to Develop a Growth Mindset

Growth Mindset employee training and development
A ‘growth mindset’ describes an underlying belief that we can have about learning and our development. When we believe that we can improve, we begin to understand that effort and commitment allows this to happen. Take two minutes to watch our vlog on how to develop this important attribute.
 

 

 

 

Find out more about our employee training and development and get in touch to discuss how we can help your people and your business to develop a growth mindset.

Why We Must Adapt and Change
11 Jan

Why We Must Adapt and Change

management training

‘Adapt or die.’ We hear it time and time again, directed at businesses in danger of extinction, but how often do we look at our own need to change in order to survive?

 

We can all reel off a list of organisations who did indeed ‘die’, as well as some who have brought it back from the brink or who are still clinging on to the edge, for now at least. What we hear less about is our individual and personal need to adapt. Sure, we may make the right noises about changing to become more effective and some of us will do it and enjoy it, but how many of us carry on blithely stuck in our comfortable ruts on autopilot?

screen-shot-2017-01-06-at-11-17-19

 

The lessons from high profile examples of failing to adapt are important because each of these businesses employed many people who individually or collectively failed to do just that. Perhaps one of the most common examples being the video rental company Blockbuster. They successfully made the transition from VHS to DVD but failed to recognise how popular streaming services would be. The result: they got left behind and have long since been out of the race. In fact, Blockbuster was offered the chance to buy Netflix in 2000 for a snip at $50 million, considering the $41 billion it is worth at the time of writing. The reason? It was seen as a “very small niche business.”

 

Some seem to be taking notice and learning from the mistakes of others, with Kodak emerging from bankruptcy in 2013 to look at new technological ideas to survive and Sega, once a dominating gaming and software force to be reckoned with, admitting that they made the wrong decisions for 20 years.

 

dead

This link between organisations needing to adapt and our own need to change makes complete sense. As the demand for new ways of working, creative ideas and management training forces business to adapt to compete and stay ahead, so too must we develop our own skillset to stay not just current, but ahead of the curve.

 

“It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent, but the one most responsive to change.”

Charles Darwin, 1809

 

The beginning of a new year is the perfect time to consider: how do you need to change and adapt? Switch off autopilot for a second, lift your head and re-evaluate the big questions that you may not have even asked yourself yet. There’s no doubt that 2016 was a shaky year for many of us, so do yourself a favour and get yourself ready for 2017 and beyond.

 

At Right Trax Training, we are passionate about helping your people to adapt and change. Find out more about the management training that we offer or get in touch to talk about how we can help.

Two Minute Tips VLOG: Looking Back on the Year
19 Dec

Two Minute Tips VLOG: Looking Back on the Year

rtt vlogFinishing off our series on how to build trust, we take a look at the final key element: competence…and we can’t build competence without taking the time to look back on the year and consider what we want from next year!
 

 

Get in touch to find out how we can help your people and your business to develop their competence.