As a Supervisor/Manager are you afraid to give feedback?

Are you afraid of giving feedback to under performing team members because you are concerned with how they will react? You are not alone! Many managers who attend our Leadership and Management Skills Courses have booked places to help them address these fears and become more confident in handling specific individuals in their teams.

Best practice in giving feedback includes:

1. Prepare for the conversation ensuring you are clear about what needs to change
2. Getting into the habit of making it a continuous learning process by providing regular feedback
3. Be timely about negative feedback normally within a couple of days
4. Provide them with the opportunity to respond to your observations/situation – they might have a good reason for their actions/behaviour. Remember you might not have all the facts! Influencing you flow both ways on getting a clearer view so be open minded to the facts before making hasty decisions on who is right and wrong.
5. Be specific about what has been done or not done avoiding the ‘You’ language. ‘I’ frame the feedback so they can only come back at you rather the ‘We’ approach.
6. Ask open questions to collect information to enable you to make an inform decisions on ‘what next?’
7. Be clear how their behaviour/actions have affected others – includes internal (colleagues) and external customers
8. Agree what the future looks like and keep the actions SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Time-bound)
9. Using a coaching feedback style with open questions to get them to identify the solution(s)
10. Reinforce improvements and/or provide more coaching to maintain momentum
11. Be reflective on how the feedback went and how you can be even more effective next time

If you need help in developing and advancing your feedback skills then join us on one of our Leadership and Management Courses – click here for more details

or call us on 01423 861122 or email us at

Employees suffering in silence with mental health issues

Two-thirds (62%) of the 20,000 people surveyed by Business in the Community (BITC) said they had experienced mental ill-health caused by work. Nearly a quarter (24%) of UK workers have experienced symptoms of work-related mental ill-health in the past month.

There is more pressure to deliver more with less resources, testing the most effective team members and leaders. Skilled team leaders will be able to recognise the signs early, take the appropriate actions and provide the right support, with the ultimate aim of reducing the risk, and to authentically show how they and the business care for team members.

If you would like to know more about our supervisors course then please click here for more details.

Or call us on 01423 861122 or email us at

Do you need to fire a member of staff?

If you’ve ever had to fire someone, my guess is you didn’t enjoy doing it. I am also guessing they didn’t enjoy it much either.

However, it is perfectly possible to fire a poor performing individual and for them to thank you.

According to Sue Ingram, author of ‘Fire Well – How to fire staff so they thank you’ this is achieved, not by the words that are used, but by the intent behind the words. The same words can be delivered with contempt or concern – creating very different results.

The aim is to hold a positive intention during the conversation, but with some individuals, particularly those that are practiced at being negative or difficult, this can be very challenging. So how do you do it?

1) How do you want the individual concerned to behave? Professional, respectful, honest and willing to listen with an open mind seeking positive solutions? If so then you must first act in this manner. Fail and you give permission for the individual to match whatever your behaviour becomes.

2) Have the sole objective of the conversations to achieve the best outcome for the individual; that they become both personally fulfilled and successful at their work; be that with you or elsewhere. This in turn will also be the right outcome for your organisation.

3) Balance any negative feedback with positive. Often, when people receive negative feedback, they expand it to affect everything always; that they are, and always will be, useless. This leaves them with no energy to improve or confidence to resign. Give them the hard message but also make them aware of their natural talents, your appreciation for what they do well and with a feeling of resilience.

In summary, at all times recognise, respect and speak to the human being behind the failure. Do everything possible to move them into a job role where they will succeed, even if that means firing them. Maintain this as your outcome and you have greatly increased the possibility of being thanked as you walk them out of the door.

If you feel you need help managing staff, dealing with poor performing staff, or you need to improve your HR knowledge and skills – check out our range of training courses including:

Management Development Programme
Coaching and Mentoring Skills for Managers
Employment Law and People Management Skills
How to effectively handle disciplinaries and grievances

This time next year Rodney, we’ll be Millionaires!

Most business owners are not Derek Trotter, but many share Del Boy’s ambition when they start out; they see themselves at the helm of a multi-million pound business, perhaps even a multi-billion pound business.

But here’s the harsh reality: statistically, only 4% of business owners ever reach the £1million mark, and only 10% of £1million businesses ever reach the £10million mark (that’s 0.4% of all business owners).

So what’s getting in the way of 2.5 million UK businesses punching through that £1million barrier?

Multi-award-winning business coach Shweta Jhajharia puts it down to something called the Complexity Ceiling.

“The first year of the life of a business is the most critical,” says Shweta. “The start-up year defines whether a business has any survival potential and whether it has the potential to reach the £1million mark.”

Shweta points out that no formal education or qualification is required to starting a business. On one hand, that’s great. Anyone can do it. On the other hand, the ease with which people can start their own business can lead many people to assume that what they already know will see them through. However, it most cases, new business owners discover they have a lot to learn, and much of their first year is spent finding their feet.

And if a business makes this kind of start, it builds the pillars that support the ceiling it will eventually hit. “A business reaches this ceiling when it becomes trapped in what is sometimes called the Hindu Rate of Growth,” explains Shweta. “That’s an average growth rate of around 3% each year, which, most of the time, is just enough to keep pace with inflation. If a £500,000-size business grows at 3% every year, how long will it take to cross the £1million mark? The answer, despite the magic of compounding, is 24 years! Many business owners will have already looked at succession or retirement before those 24 years are up.”

For a business to reach the £1million mark before its owner starts yearning for more time on the golf course, it needs to employ new systems to allow growth to happen. “But because of the way many businesses operated as a start-up, further improvement and growth is too complex for them to handle and pursue,” says Shweta. “What allowed many entrepreneurs to run a successful small business simply cannot support larger, more complex teams and issues.”
So what can someone with a great business idea do to ensure their start-up makes the best possible start?

The advice from Shweta is simple: find out what you don’t know: “For example, a key skill is mastering the language of numbers. Profit, Sales, Cash Flow, Receivables, Assets, Equity, ROI, Average Value Sale, Conversion Rate. These are all numbers that the professional business person must be fluent in. It’s not enough just to understand these numbers, they need to be leveraged for every decision in the business. In marketing, sales, team management and leadership there are key metrics to measure, estimate and average in order to evaluate the probability of effects and justify decisions and calculated risks that will lead to sustainable growth.”

But how does a fledgling entrepreneur find out what they don’t know? They ask. Mike Smith from Ripley Training says “one of the most efficient way is to access training like Finance for Non-Financial Managers, Leadership and Sales and Marketing to help you to develop and enhance your skills and knowledge. Accessing external training and follow up coaching can give you a clearer view on your business and how you plan for the future. If time is on your side, you could also combine this approach with joining a local chamber or networking group and learn from your peers.”

Whichever route you choose, here’s to this time next year …

Stop important tasks falling through the cracks

Whether you are a sole trader or manage a team of dozens, you need to ensure that the work that needs doing gets done – correctly and on time.

So how do you prevent the important (and even the not-so-important) tasks falling through the cracks?

Mike Smith from Ripley Training recommends:

1) Delegate to your team

Share the load with your team and stretch your team members with new challenges – motivate your team members to new heights. It can actually be that simple if you are willing to let go and show trust in your team.

2) Recognise the tasks you `like’ doing that do not maximise your skills

Recognise the `like’ jobs you have not delegated so they passed across to your team members.

3) Consider who is the best person to take on the role – skilled in this area or someone your wish to challenge/develop

Before you start recruit, ensure you outline the essential and desirable attributes of the ideal person.

4) Ensure you plan to delegate the work by a specific date

These are a few simple steps to ensure you’re in touch with your team:

1. Define with the outcome in mind
2. Set clear deadline(s) for everything you delegate
3. Ensure the team member has understood the task by asking them to summarise back to you
4. Agree regular touch points with the person to ensure the work is progressing
5. Utilising technology, use either an online project management tool or a spreadsheet that can be updated by the person and viewed by yourself to get updates on progress

5) Records everything you have agreed

Many managers hold too information in their heads. It is very important to have a system to note what you have agreed with your team members including dates for completion. This information should be used in the touch points and/or one to one meetings to review progress.

By applying these tips you will ensure team members have clear expectations when it comes to addressing important/urgent work in the business. Although that doesn’t guarantee there won’t be any problems, it does mean that you’ll spot them sooner and have more time to deal with them.

Need help in getting it right then join us on our Effective Leadership and Management Skills or our Effective Time Management Skills Courses.

5 Ways NLP increases productivity in the workplace

Neuro-Linguistic Programming describes the process of how we perceive the outside world or external influences and how we communicate this perception through the language we use. In the workplace NLP can be used as a tool to completely change individuals and hugely increase productivity.

By understanding the ways in which an individual or team interprets the world around them, you can change the way they think, speak and behave towards it. NLP aims to reverse negative attitudes and habits in the workplace to give individuals control over how they react and feel towards future events. So, how can you use NLP to increase the productivity of your team?

1. Set Objectives

The simplest way of implementing a form of NLP in your work environment is to make sure everyone is working towards goals. By setting objectives you are giving your team a direction and something to work for. If employees feel they are expected to achieve these firm objectives they will naturally work harder to make sure they do. They will also automatically be taking more responsibility over their role and the work they do.

This increases productivity on an individual level. Incentives for successfully achieving objectives can also be specified in order to motivate staff to succeed and thrive in the work environment.

2. Boost Staff Morale

NLP is a great way to make employees more engaged and content in the workplace and NLP training is a valuable investment. Committed and engaged employees will perform better than other employees in the business – what are you doing to maintain commitment and engagement in your business? Learning NLP techniques through tailored training courses and coaching will enable team members to reach high levels of performance by over coming barriers in the workplace.

Staff morale is an ongoing factor that a team leader or manager considers. Treating employees with respect, listening to their ideas and making them feel included on a daily basis will keep their self-esteem and confidence high.

3. Better Communication

Internal communications and client relationships are vital for a productive and efficient working environment. Making people aware of how they come across when interacting with others is a key aspect of using NLP to improve communication. NLP will help to identify adverse behaviours such as body language. Body language such as avoiding eye contact or slouching shoulders is generally a subconscious behaviour.

Once the negative behaviour has been recognised, the individual can work to change and improve. As the individual becomes more self-aware, they also become more aware of other people. Effective communication requires an understanding to others’ thought processes as well as an awareness of yourself. See yourself in the way that you would like others to see you.

4. Learning and Development

NLP is all about bringing together an individual’s innermost skills and highlighting their hidden, concealed ability. NLP unlocks the potential for a wealth of knowledge. Employees will be eager to learn and advance in their own professional development. This enables employees to take control of their own career and requires them to be proactive about doing so. A proactive, engaged and progressing team will be highly motivated and productive.

NLP helps the individual to improve in their job role by taking a highly performing team member and using their behaviour and work ethic as a model for others to adopt. You could have a team that is as strong as your strongest employee. This would have a huge impact on productivity as well as give your business a competitive edge.

5. Changing Behaviour

The main objective of NLP is to reverse negative behaviours and habits. How an individual interprets their workplace has little to do with the actual working environment and more to do with the individual. Employees have completely different experiences at work, even though the work environment is the same for everyone. NLP makes employees aware that the problems they face at work are usually internal, not external. Making employees self-aware of their attitudes and behaviours is the first step towards a positive change.

Ripley Training

If you would like to find out more about how NLP can increase and improve your business then our Introduction to NLP course is right for you. Alternatively, if you would like to study NLP in more depth then you should take a look at our INLPTA Diploma in NLP course.

We provide a range of high quality and accessible training to suit your business’ needs. Get in touch today.

Why Experience is Overrated in the Workplace

When hiring new employees it’s easy to overlook candidates who are short of experience in the workplace, but are you making a huge mistake? All you need to do is look to entrepreneurs like Mark Zuckerberg and Richard Branson. Even with a lack of experience these individuals created business empires at a young age. So, why do people overestimate the importance of experience on business or career success?

Not all experience is good experience.

Trying to measure the level of an individual’s experience is more difficult than it sounds. Imagine you are hiring a new member of staff. The time in a position or knowledge and skills learned on the job does not mean that an individual has suitable experience. Their working experience could be outdated, irrelevant or specific to their previous role.

Make sure you can distinguish individuals with negative experience from those with positive experience – this is key to hiring the right person. Be wary of hiring someone just because they have spent a lot of time within a company. You do not know whether this time was productive or beneficial. As well as this, ensure that any previous experience is relevant. An employee doesn’t necessarily have to have similar experience; more importantly is the transferable skills they have learned that they can carry into their new position.

Innovation distinguishes between a leader and a follower.

In recent years, the idea of ‘intrapreneurship’ has really taken off. This is the notion of possessing strong entrepreneurial qualities and utilising these skills within a large company. Employers are increasingly seeking innovative and natural leaders in a bid to modernise their business. According to Forbes, over 40% of millennial employees are very interested in working in an environment where this behaviour is encouraged and not constrained.

The younger, less experienced ‘millennial employee’ is more likely to possess these attributes. According to the Huffington Post young employees have a different set of challenges and fewer boundaries in today’s workplace. Individuals with little experience have no expectations and can therefore adapt to big changes. They can also offer a completely fresh perspective and be shaped to fit their precise role. In some cases, a lack of direct experience is actually a hug asset.

Working does not make success.

Just because an individual has got many years of working experience under their belt does not mean they are successful. A great example of this is by thinking of some of history’s greatest entrepreneurs. Steve Jobs and Bill Gates both started up while they were still at University. We don’t even need to say how successful they became. On the other hand, some white collar workers work for years and years in the same role without progressing.

Experience is not a key indicator of success or performance in the workplace. If you are conducting interviews, you may want to consider interviewing individuals of a range of work experience and skill level.

Ripley Training

If you would like to develop your leadership skills we have a range of courses to suit your needs. Our Navigating Through Change course will help you if you want to apply changes within your own organisation.

We can create 121 Coaching sessions or In-House Training courses to suit your needs. If you would like to enquire about a specific course then please call us today on 01423 861 222.

How traditional brands can remain relevant in the digital world

Technological change has transformed consumer’s lives and the way we do business. In the past decade alone, there has been the most rapid change since the industrial revolution of the 18th century. And if you work in marketing, you need to ensure that you look into the future and anticipate change in order to keep your brand relevant.

According to leading digital business strategist, Brian Solis, we’re now in the age of “Digital Darwinism”; which he basically describes as the “evolution of technology, business models and society”, which makes the customer experience more intangible. So what does this actually mean?

Digital Transformation

The days when a company could establish its brand, sit back and wait for the customers to come knocking on the door are long gone. Your brand is no longer defined by what it says but also what it does; the World Wide Web has become your online shop window and your business portfolio, accessible to everyone, globally, twenty four hours a day, seven days a week.

In this rapidly changing technological market, it is important for companies to recognise the importance of adapting their brand to meet the requirements of their customers and stay relevant. The goalposts are constantly shifting; nothing remains the same for too long. This means that brands must capitialise on the full digital toolkit of website design, social media, content marketing, SEO and so on; to portray their businesses in the best way possible and effectively cater to their customers.

More traditional brands such as B2B organisations and those involved in manufacturing or engineering, for example, may question the extent to which their company brand should have a digital presence. There could be some confusion over the benefits of this, or perhaps some reluctance to change. In order to make a seamless transition into the digital era, we recommend you consider the following:

1) Know your customers (and your competitors!)

Take time to routinely research your market. This can happen quarterly or monthly if necessary. Review, update and refresh your market knowledge to stay ahead of your competition and better anticipate customer needs. Never ‘rest on your laurels’ as the old adage goes. Your target audience may have grown and evolved; so don’t make mis-informed decisions – customer needs are ever-changing. Use the web to research customers. Sites like LinkedIn offer a massive opportunity to research target customers by name, location, job title, industry and so on. You can also speak directly to your customers via Twitter for a more personable approach with your brand.

2) Plan ahead

As we’ve emphasised above; it’s important to take precautions to stay one step ahead. Complacency runs the risk of your brand being ignored for something more relevant. Create actionable marketing plans with schedules, timings and key tasks. Schedule social media content and plan content for your blog every month in advance. All of these are great ways to boost your content marketing activity and drive visitors to your website whilst also entertaining/educating your audience at the same time, to highlight your brand’s credibility.

Websites for more ‘traditional’ companies don’t just have to be functional. Stand out from the crowd with a magnificent eye-catching design that’s visually pleasing as well as functional! This could mean the difference between a new customer and a missed opportunity.

3) Be innovative

Companies that have been around a while are sitting on a goldmine of opportunity: the opportunity to rediscover what your brand is all about, its heritage and core values. This doesn’t involve steering away from what made you successful in the first place, but instead regaining the spotlight and becoming front page news by doing something different and being at the cutting edge. By rediscovering your brand story, you have something interesting to tell and it’s a great way to not only engage customers and prospects; but your employees too.

4) Don’t be afraid to take risks

Risk aversion is certainly important in business. But how do you know if a decision was ever the right one if you never make it? The answer is, you won’t! What made you relevant before may no longer resonate with your target audiences, who today, are more tech savvy than ever.

Keep an open mind and consider all options with a fresh perspective. Today’s digital environment is rapidly expanding and exciting. Social media offers a host of possibilities for engagement and increased brand awareness.

Making the digital transition

Change can seem daunting or even unnecessary. But we’re not suggesting change for the sake of it. Use digital technologies that you have at your disposal and make improvements to all areas – they can be small or huge, it’s up to you. But consider your website, social media and the content you produce all as key opportunity to attract and win new business. After all, losing relevance is dangerous in a world where customers constantly alter their views and opinions through a continuous flow of communication.

The brand benefits of transitioning to the digital world are vast; from increasing customer conversions and loyalty; through to creating a more engaged and empowered workforce, and increasing your overall competitive advantage.

Experience, insight and instinct should help to provide you with the courage you require to make the right decision, and if you’re considering a corporate change project and need a step in the right direction, consider Leading Change – a leadership development course from Ripley Training, designed to explore the impact of change and the approaches that can be taken to successfully manage its impact. Our Sales and Marketing courses are also a great way to learn key skills in sales and marketing, to help you develop and learn about new technologies in marketing.

To find out more, why not give us a call on 01423 861 122? Or fill in our short contact form - we’d love to help you!

How to Create Inspiring Internal Communications

Internal communications as a function and discipline within organisations is moving further and further up the agenda for senior managers. Today’s execs know that internal communications are important, and understand that engaging their people is more crucial than ever – yet more difficult to achieve in the current economic climate. Continue reading