You Made Me Feel ……….

Consider the statements “you made me angry”,“you made me upset”.

In my last tip I suggested that we shouldn’t put off sharing difficult feedback on the grounds that it might upset or anger the recipient. I have had a number of emails asking if I can explain a little bit more about this. One writer was concerned that I was advocating a manager becoming a robot and losing sight of the potential human and emotional impact.

Let me try and explain with a story. One day quite a few years ago I was walking my two small children to primary school. It had been raining heavily overnight and the roads and pavements were very wet. A Tesco van drove through a large puddle and soaked the three of us on the pavement. My response was to get very angry, wave my fist at the departing van and shout some colourful language. My daughter’s response was to burst into tears and lament her wet shoes and summer dress. My son on the other hand chose to laugh his head off and jump up and down in the nearest puddle.

My point is that we all chose our responses; to shout angrily, to cry and to laugh. The driver did not ‘make us’ do this. In fact he was probably completely unaware of our existence or our predicament. The drenching was certainly his fault (he caused the event) but having the ability to control our emotions is not in his power. On another day I might have laughed or cried or even better chose to control my anger and focus more on my children’s welfare.

Let’s come back to any difficult conversation. Once you recognise that actually you can’t ‘make’ someone angry or upset then there goes one big reason to avoid giving the feedback. You can now concentrate on delivering the message as best you can.

Any what if the person still cries or gets angry?

Well that might be the focus of my next tip.

Learning from the past, present and future

When working with groups of managers I find I make plenty of references to the past, present and future in relation to their on-going development. Typically the past is in the form of sharing management theory and perceived best practice based on research and of course my own experiences as a manager. Working out how this knowledge is relevant and how to apply the learning back in the workplace is all about the present but with very much with an eye to the future. The questions that managers tend to ask is “how can this help my team and I perform better now?” and “what skills do I need to progress over the next 2-5 years?”

There is of course no simple answer to these questions and any answers will be different for different managers. I do however believe there is a key skill that is required and which links back to my theme of past, present and future. That skill is the ability to reflect.

In relation to the past it is the ability to stop what you are doing, stop thinking about problems, stop working at 100 mph and to take some time to reflect. To reflect upon the past in the sense of reminding yourself of what you are trying to achieve (both in work and personally), what are your core values, what makes you tick, what approaches to people and situations work and more importantly what tends not to work.

In relation to the present it is the ability to reflect upon the here and now and what is really most important right now. Take the learning from the past and check that it is still fit for purpose. If it is keep doing it, if it is not do it differently (may need further reflection) and if you don’t know seek feedback from trusted friends and colleagues.

In relation to the future it is the ability to recognise that we are the result of our pasts and that our choices in the present will shape our future. If we have no idea where we are trying to get to we are reflecting with little purpose and whilst we will get somewhere it may not be to our liking!

These thoughts were prompted by a visit this weekend back to my home town which happens to be Wareham in Dorset. I spent a nostalgic few hours walking the ancient town walls and imagining the Saxons preparing to defend themselves from marauding Vikings. I also remembered myself as a kid cycling along those walls to school without a thought for anything other than looking forward to cycling home again. I also visited the cemetery and placed some flowers at my Dad’s grave and thought fondly of the times we had spent playing snooker in the British Legion on a Sunday afternoon. I have teenagers of my own now and it struck me how much I have learned from my parents in the way I have tried to bring up my children. I found that this reflecting upon the past and how it has shaped me today was a very positive experience and reminded me that I should take my own advice more often.

This week I find myself heading off to work in Dubai. In terms of contrast Wareham and Dubai are like chalk and cheese. One old the other new. One familiar and the other a novelty. One static and restricted by its geography the other growing exponentially. I have always wanted to expand my horizons and so I will approach the ‘futuristic’ aspects of Dubai without losing sight of some of the important lessons that my Dad and the sleepy old town of Wareham have taught me.


Team Types in Action

I introduced Belbin’s team types to a group this week and maybe because of that session my ME preference was more finely tuned than usual. ME stands for ‘Monitor Evaluator’ and is that person with a quality focus who is good at spotting mistakes before they become disasters.

I received a package of slidepacks for a workshop in 2 weeks time and usually I wouldn’t unwrap the materials until much nearer the day. However, on this occasion the weight of the parcel just seemed wrong, far heavier than expected for a dozen 24 page sets. Thank goodness I looked. Every set had been double printed and in the wrong format with the wrong page numbers.

Happily a quick call to the printers confirmed their mistake (the first in 3 years) and a reprint and delivery was scheduled for next week.

My challenge now is to summon up a bit more of one of my lower team type preferences and to finish writing up some coaching notes by G&T O’clock!

My lower preference team type is CF………………… ‘Completer Finisher’ of course.

Training That Is Creative, Imaginative and Wise

You will have noticed some recent changes to our company website including our brand new Reality Business logos (including recently added festive edition!).

reality business training logo





I was therefore very interested to read an article recently that suggests that when designing a logo for your business, it’s important to take into account the way people interpret colour. It’s the right time to ask, what kind of emotion do I want my brand to convey? Continue reading

Double Figures

It is quite hard to believe that a little over 10 years ago in 2003 Tim Fuller and I sat down and had a chat about going into business together. We had both recently been made redundant from the leadership roles in the central IT division of Barclays and had in the past ‘joked’ about setting up a training and development company.