“Here’s my resignation” – A true story


The phone rang, and a tired sounding woman said she’d been given my number as someone who maybe able to help. I asked what the problem was. She told me her Resignation lettercompany had a neglected team of trainers; the training manager had left six months ago, and they had struggled to recruit a replacement. They wanted someone to come and work with them full time to cover the role. I told her that I had commitments 2 or 3 days a week, so couldn’t help. As quick as a flash, the woman replied that they would take the remaining days. Continue reading

Psychopaths in the Workplace

suit manGuest post by Jeremy Renals

First published in the journal of Oxford Business College

Pros and Cons: Psychopaths in the business environment

This feature investigates what  psychopaths in the workplace are like, how to spot them, and how psychopaths can be bad or good for a business organisation.

It also raises questions about a possible contagious effect of the psychopathic mind set.

 The common view of the psychopath is that of an axe wielding murderer, wild eyed and drooling, and irredeemably dangerous. Continue reading

What Managers Want From Training Days




I was speaking with a client recently about what managers want, and  the old chestnut of ‘not being able to please all the people all of the time’ came up. This is never truer than in the training  room.

I’ll spare you from a description of all the ever moving hoops that trainers jump through to attempt  to do the impossible pleasing thing (Have you covered every learning style? Personality type? Level of ability? Is it brain friendly? Experiential? Enough theory? Too much? Stickability? etc). Continue reading

So you don’t do small talk? Maybe you should

Small talkSo you don’t do small talk? You have no need for inconsequential trivia? I’m sure you’d rather deal in the important stuff of life.

I hear this quite often. I’m sure the perpetrators don’t intend to take the moral high ground, yet it feels like that sometimes.
 Let me tell you this: If you have no interest in my small stuff, I won’t be trusting you with my big stuff. Continue reading

Being asked for help? Here’s six ways you can respond

help 1People coming to us for advice is a normal part of life. They might be asking questions, wanting solutions or guidance on how to sort something out. Have you ever thought about the ways you can respond?

One thing is for sure – there is not a ‘one size fits all’ way of responding to them. We all have our own favourite strategies we’ve learnt over the years, possibly picked up from watching others or learning from training. Some of the time our usual methods work, Continue reading

What does success look like?

                                                                                     ISuccess was asked recently to run a couple of sessions for HR students  on success in organisations.  I asked them to identify ‘What good looks like’ in their own companies – always a useful exercise, as we are usually much better at pointing out the short comings than recognising the good!

Unsurprisingly they quickly identified that people play a major part, both in productivity and in the culture of making a happy workplace. We then thought about how we can build on and maximise what is going right.

Continue reading

Mindfulness and Frogs

It’s been a long while since I read ‘Eat that Frog’, Brian Tracy’s famous book on time management. It advises us to do the one thing we’ve been dreading or putting off, reckoning that things can only get easier once we’ve done that.  It is a policy I often use, but maybe not regularly enough – like many good ideas, they gradually slip away from our Spring Developmentconsciousness until we need that sharp reminder. Mine came last week.

Since last August, I’ve had ‘Get ITIN’ on my job list.  An ITIN is an identification number that you need from the IRS (the USA’s HMRC) if you sell ebooks, which means you can escape paying 30% tax. It’s not hugely important as we’re talking very small amounts of money, but it is one of those things you need to do to keep your house in order. Continue reading

Creativity vs. Decision Making

Decision makingI married a creative genius, who constantly comes up with all kinds of ideas, sometimes practical, sometimes not. He just doesn’t see the boundaries that most of us are hidebound by, so his imagination roams unfettered.  At times, I really appreciate his ability to see things in a different light, in ways that I would not have thought of in a million years.  At other times it drives me nuts.

To him, it must seem like I’m an inconsistent, irrational woman. Continue reading

Are you sure you want to give that feedback?

Thinking 2We all have to give feedback from time to time – or do we? In my experience, it’s common to feel that you ‘have’ to tell someone something that has come to your attention. What is a lot less common, is taking the time to think what will be gained from giving the feedback. Yes, I know Ken Blanchard said that ‘feedback is the breakfast of champions’, and that we need it to learn, grow, and sort out our personal development – but that doesn’t mean that giving it is always a good thing.

My challenge to you is to see if there is another – or even better – way of getting your message across other than telling the other person something about themselves.

Continue reading

The Perils of Meeting and Greeting

I was asked these questions about meeting and greeting by a journalist recently, so I thought I’d share my responses here.

Why do people often mis-judge a greeting (going for a handshake when the other person goes in to kiss)?

tennis handshakeThere are so many variations on greetings these days that it is impossible to get it right every time, no matter how well educated or travelled you are.   Continue reading

Harvesting People Skills – How have you grown?

Reaping what you sow

 applesSeptember is a lovely month. Somehow it combines new beginnings (we never forget the new school year!) with abundance and fruitfulness – the harvest that feeds us for the rest of the year. We may be a long way past school age, but you don’t need me to tell you that learning continues – in fact many would say that the pace increases as time goes on, Continue reading

People Development in small companies

When it comes to learning and development, the small business owner or manager often isn’t sure where to begin when it comes to people development. Why should they be expected to know? They have a different area of expertise, yet feel they have to cover every area in the business, including how to make sure that their people develop skills so that company can grow successfully. It i a common problem.

What is the answer?

It needn’t be painful to get the wheels rolling –  it’s just a question of finding someone you trust who does have the right expertise to help you work out the best way of making sure your people are equipped for maximum productivity.

Here are some ideas to help you make sure that your people grow as the business does.

People Development

By Julie Cooper

Author of Face to Face in the Workplace

“If you deal with people you need this book” Buy your copy  here


Great advice if you are new to management

Lucy is just moving into her first management position. It can be daunting making that step, especially if you are managing a team that were previously your colleagues. It can be hard to know how  and when to modify your behaviour, and how to motivate your team while ensuring they respect your new position.

Here are a few tips to help her make the move successfully, plus the top mistake that new managers make!

 Advice for new managers

My lovely interviewer is Jess Green of Pink Chilli Virtual Assistance www.pinkchilliva.co.uk

By Julie Cooper

Author of Face to Face in the Workplace

“If you deal with people you need this book” Buy your copy  here


Why Managers Must Ask Great Questions. Do you know how?

What makes a good question? When do we use them? Why does it matter?

I believe that a lack of questioning skills is one of the most important skills shortages in managers today. Decision making, productivity and relationships are all affected by our ability to ask great questions at the right time.

I’m interviewed here by Jess Green, Digital Diva www.jessgreen.co.uk.  We are talking about the skills managers need to be effective.

Why managers must ask great questions

If you have any management questions, please ask and we’ll try to cover them.

By Julie Cooper

Author of Face to Face in the Workplace

“If you deal with people you need this book” Buy your copy  here



Do you scare people?

Bitten off anyone’s head today?do you scare people

A survey out recently says that almost half of workers feel ‘actively threatened’ by their boss (reported by CIPD and HR Management magazine) .   The professions with the highest level of offenders were the Civil Service, doctors, scientists and retail. No doubt they all have harassment policies, so should we be surprised that staff feel threatened?  Continue reading

Managers, Careers Advisers and Plumbers…

Career path


Several years ago,  I paid to have a Telegraph pole removed from my driveway. The workman knocked on the door and asked me if I wanted it cut up or left in one piece. I replied that it would be lovely if he could cut it into a couple of chairs and a table for the garden. Strangely enough, he declined. I was only joking but I was reminded of it by an article in the press yesterday. It seems that often others ask us to do things that are outside our job role or skills set.

Continue reading

Do you recognise The Dark Triad?

The Dark TriadDo you have impossible people to deal with?

Some people just can’t be helped….

And yet we persist in trying. We drain our energy, banging our head against the wall – and the biggest tragedy is that others, who would flourish with some encouragement ,are neglected because The Impossible One has emptied our tank of  empathy and resourcefulness. Continue reading

Do me a favour!

ReciprocationReciprocation is a fascinating topic because we so rarely give it conscious thought.  Do you expect others to return any favour you do them?  Are you pleasantly surprised when someone does?  Be honest, is it sometimes your main motivation for helping others? Continue reading

Handling Conflict

Handling conflictHow much time do you spend dealing with conflict in the workplace? A CBI reports say that it takes 20% of a leader’s time, – which is 370 million working days!  Then there is the cost of stress and resignations on top… Does it have to be this way? Some clashes are inevitable – we need some to challenge stale thinking and provoke progress – but how much time could we save by handling conflicts more effectively? Continue reading

33 Ways to Grow Your Creativity

creativityThis is a bit of a departure for me - I usually write about  interactions between people, not creativity -but sometimes we need give ourselves a bit of a talking to; we get stale, stuck or just need to find a fresh approach.

I love running courses on creativity and generating ideas, especially seeing participants explore new ways of thinking. I wrote this  in response to something I read about ideas to promote creativity, and wanted to add my own thoughts. Then I decided to take my own advice and play with it – it’s still a work in progress, but it was fun to do. Enjoy! Continue reading

Collaboration – How can it help my business?

collaboration At our mastermind group, we recently discussed collaboration. We all agreed that collaboration is a good thing for business, but were maybe a little foggy on exactly how it can help us. We were also concerned that there may be pitfalls to be aware of– some of us had come across situations where we needed to extract ourselves from a collaborative project, for various reasons. Continue reading

The best gift for your staff – appreciation

Heart wreathIt‘s the season of good will, so let’s capitalise on the lovely festive spirit. Much as you may want to give your colleagues huge bonuses and generous gifts, it may not be possible – business has been tough for us all this year, and we all need to spend wisely.

Fortunately, things other than presents and bonuses can be longer lasting, and appreciated more. Here are Three Top Tips that will motivate and inspire your team more than tinsel and turkey: Continue reading

How to coach your best people

Tips and Strategies for Advisers, cCaches and MentorsOne indicator of a good manager is the way they develop individuals in their team.  They always seem to have both the time and the inclination to help Topi* improve his skills and problem solving ability, knowing how to coach. How do they do it? In addition to recognising the benefits of investing in people,

  • They  take advantage of opportunities for coaching conversations
  • They understand the coaching process
  • They have a good repertoire of coaching questions Continue reading

Bringing in change

Bringing in changeThis is Bircham Windmill – it’s beautiful, you can understand why people have fought to preserve it. But we know that beauty and heritage isn’t sufficient to meet the demands of our needs today – change is constant.

You could argue that updating technology is a piece of cake compared to getting your staff on board with the new! People don’t always respond well to change, they find it challenging and often resist it. Continue reading

Do you do Return to Work Interviews?

Do you have a member of staff coming  back after a period of sickness? Have you thought about return to work interviews?  It can be nerve wracking for them to return to work; All kinds of concerns might be bubbling below the surface.Will they be able to catch up? Will things have changed? Will their health hold up? will their colleagues be supportive if their productivity is slow at first?

Continue reading

How to have a top notch appraisal

AppraisalsIf you manage staff, no doubt you are responsible for carrying out their annual appraisals. Does it fill you with dread or glee? This should be a golden opportunity to have a meaningful, motivating conversation, and yet all too often this gets lost in a quagmire of paperwork, a dull trawl over the same old ground, and confusion about what good objectives look like. Continue reading

Ten Ways to Say No

Say No



We all know that sometimes, saying no is the right thing to do, if we are to manage our time and priorities well. Yet often, we still well, stutter and mumble, which gets interpreted as a yes. Is it time to try a fresh approach?

First of all, analyse why you find it hard. After that, work out your usual approach – and try a new one. Go on, I dare you! Continue reading

Asking for a pay rise?

MoneyAsking for a pay rise can be one of the trickiest meetings we have at work, so here is some food for thought before you take the plunge – and then some advice on how to have that conversation.

Be objective

Know what the role is worth. Remember it is the role that commands the salary, not you. Your skills and experience should be a  good match for the job, but if you take a role that doesn’t use them, you can’t expect to be paid for them.

Do some research to find out what similar jobs pay, using job ads and job profiles, such as those  here that give guideline wages. You will come up with a range; your next step is to honestly weigh up where you think you fit with in the band. If your supervise others,  have oodles of experience and above average productivity, you may well deserve pay nearer the top of the band.

Continue reading

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