Busting Urban Myths – Empathy is a state of mind

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How to turn off the flashing notification light on your phone

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For Android users the simplest method is to select Settings->My Device->LED indicator and untick Notification.  On the most recent Android update you can do cleverer options, but this will work.

For Blackberry users the suggested route is Profiles->Select the active profile and Edit->Select Messages>Turn off the repeat LED notification

The best route for most phones is to type into Google “Turn off LED notification on [your phone]….” .

Why have we suddenly delved into phone advice?  Because it is very difficult to be attentive to the current person in front of you, focus on the current task, set aside your phone during family time and so on when an electronic device is saying “read me, read me” in the corner of your eye.  As managers and leaders we have to be attentive.  We should all be working on difficult important stuff and we will find that difficult if we are endlessly distracted.

The flashing notification light is telling you nothing – nothing at all.

Let’s assume you receive 100 emails per day (I know you receive more, but let’s go with this) over the course of a 10 hour day.  You are receiving 10 emails an hour or one every 6 minutes.  So, what is that flashing red light telling you?  There is always something unread.  There is always something in your inbox.  Turn it off and take control of when you review email (and texts).

Be attentive to the person or task at hand.




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360 degree feedback – What’s the environmental cost?

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We hear much today about what the environmental cost is around manufacturing, flying, food production, etc – It struck me that there is a parallel here to 360 degree feedback which provides a glimpse of the ‘environmental cost’ of our own behaviour.

It has become clear that it is not enough for companies to make vast profits for shareholders whilst dumping toxic waste in nearby rivers; the ‘What’ was being achieved but the ‘How’ was creating terrible fallout.

As employees,  it is often the case that whilst people are achieving their goals or targets, how they go about it can come at a cost to their immediate environment; the office, their colleagues, their family, etc.

360 degree feedback provides the ideal opportunity for respondents to indicate what the fallout is of certain behaviours they see as that person goes about achieving the ‘What’.

The ‘How’ becomes important, because without succeeding in both areas, you cannot have a sustainable model for success.


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Free Webinar – Building Resilience in Individuals & Organisations

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Friday 26th June@1pm BST


The word resilience has shifted from being a scientific term to describe the ability of materials to withstand shock, to a skill required of individuals and organisations if they are to deal with the demands of pressure and change.

Organisations in all sectors are now looking to build resilience in individuals, in order that the organisation can continue to adapt and thrive.

In this one-hour webinar, John Rice of Bowland Solutions, and Dr. Carole Pemberton, author of a newly published book on resilience, share insights on this crucial topic which you will be able to apply in your own context based on research and practical experience.


Find out what Carole’s new book ‘Resilience: A Practical Guide for Coaches’ is all about. from Geoff Stevens on Vimeo.


Eventbrite - Building resilience in individuals and organisations


By the end of this webinar we will answer these questions:

  • What is resilience? How far is it genetic or acquired?
  • How do you distinguish resilience from ‘burnout’?
  • How do you rate against the key qualities of resilience?
  • What is link between individual and organisational resilience?
  • What actually works in resilience training?


Who is this webinar for?

This webinar is designed for HR and L & D professionals who need to consider how best resilience needs can be met at an individual and organisational level.


Join the webinar if:

  • Resilience is a topic on your organisation’s agenda.
  • There is a need to continue delivering under pressure
  • Staff, at any level, are struggling to adapt quickly enough to change
  • You are wanting to provide resilience support but are unsure how best to address the need


Dr Carole Pemberton

Dr Carole Pemberton is an executive coach with a particular interest in resilience based on her experience of working with senior leaders, and discovering that no one is immune from losing resilience, regardless of their mental toughness. The challenge is to help people recover quickly so that they continue to perform.

Carole is Visiting Professor at Ulster University Business School, a Fellow of the CIPD and the Career Development Institute.

She is the author of the newly published Resilience: A Practical Guide for Coaches (McGraw Hill).


Eventbrite - Building resilience in individuals and organisations

We hope you can join us on Friday 26th June at 1pm BST.

John Rice & Dr. Carole Pemberton

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The power of a target – Nat’s swimming a mile in Lake Windermere

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This weekend one of our team, Nat, will be swimming a mile in Lake Windermere in “The Great North Swim, Lake Windermere”.  From what she’s been telling us, she will be swimming front crawl the whole way.  Up until the middle of March Nat would have described herself as a “breast stroke, head out of the water” swimmer.  But, she had signed up to this swim.  From that target, she has taken lessons in the full front crawl stroke, learnt about open water swimming, got the right kit, practiced in local reservoirs, and is ready for the challenge.  When we were all together on Monday she was quietly confident.

Without the target of the event, if Nat had said “I’m going to learn to swim in open water”, I wonder if she would have got there.  The aim would have lacked a specificity and some timeliness (this isn’t a lesson in SMART but it does apply sometimes!).  It wouldn’t have nagged away at her and focused the mind when training wasn’t high on the list of desirable activities.

On Monday, Nat added to the target with a time she wanted to swim the mile in.  This was treated with some amusement from others in the team who recognised the slippery slope of finding yourself having to repeat events in order to achieve an arbitrary time or beat a previous best.  But it was interesting that in such a short time she’d gone from wondering if she could do it to wondering how fast she could do it.

To the non-swimmers among us, swimming a mile sounds incredible, swimming it front crawl sounds unbearable, and swimming it in open water sounds fanciful.  But I think we were all a little inspired on Monday at how Nat had in a matter of weeks gone to describing breaststroke as her “rest stroke” and confidently anticipating swimming an open water front-crawl mile in Lake Windermere.

Targets are powerful.

Good luck Nat!



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Stumbling across the truth with 360 degree feedback

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I heard this quotation recently which is attributed to Winston Churchill:

“Men occasionally stumble over the truth, but most of them pick themselves up & hurry off as if nothing ever happened.”

It struck me how such an event can happen in the context of 360 degree feedback; a recipient of 360 can be faced with multiple ‘truths’ which are unveiled in their 360 report – they discover something new about themselves; a behaviour of theirs observed by others but perhaps not noticed by themselves, a realisation of the impact they have on others, be that positive or negative.

It is in that moment, which may be in the face-to-face debrief around their report, that the real opportunity presents itself – the opportunity to reflect on that ‘truth’, look it into it, assimilate it into their world view, and consider how it might be useful to them in how they fulfil their role in the future.

Without providing recipients the time, space and support to reflect on their 360 feedback, as offered in a debrief, then there is every chance that they will hurry off as if nothing happened.


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Build on what is already working in your performance appraisal process

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Another day, another article saying we should scrap performance appraisals…. It’s time to kill the performance review .  The article actually focusses on problems with performance grades but that wouldn’t be as interesting a title I guess!  Anyway, here’s my point.  When working with individuals who are struggling with some aspect of their role or performance we build from their strengths.  We certainly don’t suggest they just give up.  The same applies to performance reviews and other organisational processes.  Endlessly scrapping initiatives and replacing them with something else leads to cynicism.

Is it a good idea to discuss how things are going, set some goals/plans for the future, discuss training or other support that may achieve those goals, look at where the company is going and the broader themes for the coming period?  Yes, it is…well that is a performance review.  Now, you may or not believe in performance related pay.  Not for me to say – if you do want to use it then you’ll need some measures of success.  Your organisational culture might like numbers/grades etc.  OK, fine – it can be problematic but people have made it work.  Let’s see how we can make it work for you.

Before we throw away performance management or even the annual review, let’s write down what is good, what does work, what we want to retain.  Then look at the parts that are less useful or problematic – do we need them, can we improve them.  Is it the system or the skills of the people involved that is causing the problem – and so on.  Having an annual review doesn’t stop you from discussing how things are going on a regular, informal basis … in fact you’re going to find the annual review difficult if you haven’t been doing that.

Our clients often approach us through some disillusionment with their performance appraisal process … it may be they want an improved system, it may be completion rates are dropping, or it may be people are overwhelmed with the process.  When we meet the people involved…the appraisees…they rarely if ever want the process to be scrapped.  What they do want is for it to be real, for there to a meaningful conversation about their aspirations, current performance, and goals, and for it to be a simple and fair process.


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Busting Urban Myths – Meaningful Conversations

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