#cipdldshow – Purpose, Culture, Coaching and Leadership

Last week I was honoured and excited to be invited to be on the blog squad for the CIPD at their annual L&D show at the Olympia in London.

It’s the third year in a row that I’ve attended. The first of those I was blown away by some of the content I was hearing, the first insight for me into a big world outside of my day job where great stuff was happening in organisations with inclusive cultures based on the belief that everyone has talent, it’s just about unlocking it.

A year later and a lot had changed. I’d spent nearly that whole year getting clear on what was important to me about work, what I cared about, and connecting via Twitter with a load of fantastic HR and L&D pros who cared about similar things to me – although always with a twist or nuance to bring some fresh challenge.

So by the time #CIPDLDShow 2014 came around I had started my business and had my first opportunity to blog the L&D Show. However I left feeling less inspired than 2013. Maybe my expectations had been too high after the previous show, maybe it was too much ‘sage on the stage’ with not enough of the actual sage, and maybe I had shifted my learning during the year so that my frame of reference was different.

Whatever the situation, the show felt different again this year. There was a wealth of 30 minute sessions in the Exhibition Hall, where Julie Drybrough spent more time, and which she reflected weren’t hard-sell like they used to be, and that they were focussed, on message and providing great insights to their audiences. For free! There were Ignite presentation sessions with canapé-bite-sized injections of learning on a variety of topics. For free! There were of course the exhibitors’ stands with cake / chocolate / sweets / pens / oh, and some learning stuff. For free! And there was my own networking event to help people turn their learning into action while also connecting with some new people. For free!

With the opportunity to attend the seminar sessions and share them more widely I chose to spend my time there. At the end is a list of the ones I attended, so you know where my insights have come from. And here’s a link to Phil Wilcox’s post where he’s collating all the content together.

With my own passion and purpose in mind, you’ll notice a theme around where I went – coaching, leadership, culture, mindfulness, neuroscience.

OK so not every session did exactly what it said on the tin, but it was very much closer than last year, and the sessions felt real, rather than suggesting these organisations were untouchably polished and perfect. They were sharing their ‘we’ve done it, and got the T-shirt, and we’re still wearing it and adjusting it as we go’ stories. So yes, some “look-at-what-we’ve-done-isn’t-it-marvellous” – of course – why else would you have someone on a stage. But it was balanced by some great honesty about ‘and it’s not a destination’, ‘and we’ve not cracked that bit yet’, ‘and we’re not sure about this bit over here’.

Because no individual person is perfect, therefore how can we expect a collection of individuals to be perfect, finished, done?

And yet we do. Isn’t that fascinating?

So from these sessions, I’m going to pull together the common threads I heard which I hope will give some insight into what this could mean for where you work. Many of these examples are large organisations, and there are some which aren’t, but much of the success comes from conversations and human connections which we are all capable of.

To achieve what we want, rather than what we’ve got, requires us to make choices.


Get clear on this.

Why? Because people come to work for more than just money. I know what you’re thinking. You can point to people in your organisation who only come to work for the money.

So here’s my question back to you – do you have a purpose for your organisation?

What difference does your organisation make by existing in this world?

In what way does what you do matter?

When you find that purpose and share it, and start to live and breathe it, you might be surprised to find that money becomes less of a topic of conversation (as long as you’re paying at least minimum wage, and maybe even helping people out with how to manage their money).

So this fabulous session with Unilever was incredibly strong at showing how you can have a purpose beyond profit which is the anchor for everything you do, every decision you make, every supplier you work with. And which enables you to bring together ‘doing business’ and ‘doing the best for people’ in the same breath – “We win because we care” – is their subscript to their purpose of “We will make sustainable living commonplace in the UK and Ireland”.

So no longer are sustainability, employee wellbeing or CSR things you do, initiatives you implement, which sit over there to counteract what you do over here in the main business. They’re engrained and woven into everything you do so, to borrow from the Spice Girls, Two Become One!


Something which Unilever acknowledged is that, when people are connected to the purpose of the organisation, their resilience is greater.

There’s something in this about being focussed on achieving something bigger, rather than getting stuck in the day-to-day weeds of work. And that, even when those weeds get a bit tangled around you, the purpose – your purpose – is what helps you find a way out. Because to create this link of organisational purpose improving resilience, you as an employee need to also believe in that purpose. So as a business, if you want to attract and retain people who believe in what you believe in, you have to be clear and able to communicate that purpose to others.

Resilience was a topic that came up again later with Tesco who, in the VUCA world we live in – maybe especially in the VUCA world Tesco’s live in – people need to be able to manage themselves and their emotions, so they can make choices to balance work and life. This is especially true when you run a 24/7 operation which takes its toll on people physically and emotionally.

Different organisations are, and will, take different steps to enable resilience – and in fact wellbeing.

Some examples that came out were –

Unilever – a click, call or conversation away from support (which they’ve implemented for £40 a head)

Tesco – a positive psychology basis to their development programme, in partnership with Nuffield Health, and which has resonance with Steve Radcliffe’s Future, Engage, Deliver work (see image below of the Tesco Vitality Framework).

NHS Ambulance Service – using mindfulness, physical activity (even if just a short burst of 15-20 mins), being outdoors and music – all to develop helpful brain wiring.

One theme was that organisations are using evidence and academic research to choose what they do in this area. This is great! And one challenge over the coming years, I believe, will be keeping pace with the new insights coming from neuroscience and ensuring that it’s ‘proper’ validated insight. Knowing people who are more expert than me in this area means I can be guided to the helpful and away from the ‘Daily Mail’ neuroscience. Who do you know that could connect you to the good stuff?

At this point I feel the story naturally tips into coaching because of all the psychological disciplines, Positive Psychology is the most relevant to a professional coaching practice.


Based on what I know right now, coaching is the best form of development to achieve lasting, sustainable success and change.

But before I dive into what’s going on out there which confirms my belief, I want to be clear what this version of coaching is because coaching is (currently) an unregulated market where anybody can call themselves a coach and which can therefore cause some confusion for buyers of this service.

So when people say they’re a coach, they may use some initial coaching questions or a coaching approach, and then fairly quickly tip into consultancy, mentoring or training. And these may be what you need. And that’s not good or bad – your needs and your organisation’s needs are unique. Just be clear about what you need.

The coaching we’re talking about here is non-directive coaching where you draw insight from the person or people in front of you through skilful listening, sharing observations without judgement, and curious questioning – sounds simple, and yet the simplest things are so often the hardest.

The definition the BBC use is that of Myles Downey; “The art and science of facilitating the performance, learning and development of another”.

So “facilitating” that stuff, enabling it. Not enforcing or telling.

Because when we are enabled or facilitated to find our own way and our own solutions we grab hold of our decisions and actions with both hands and run with them – achieving that sense of empowerment, ownership and capability – which breeds confidence and resilience.

What’s clear is that an increasing number of organisations are recognising that the world is fast and constantly changing (VUCA if you will), emphasising the need to work smarter not harder (which Tesco picked up on) and that employees are looking for more from work than to come in, be told what and how to do their day job and go home.

And managers, given that context, are no longer able to be the heroic, all-controlling, all-seeing-eye. They will, and are, literally falling over, be it mentally or physically.

So bringing coaching into an organisation is a way to shift that manager-employee relationship into a more adult-adult place, away from the historical master-servant or parent-child.

Developing yourself as a coach involves developing your self-awareness and emotional intelligence because you can’t be at your best to enable others unless you know how to get yourself in the best place to do so – put your own oxygen mask on first.

There were four great examples of creating a coaching culture shared at the event. These came from the BBC, Visa, Freebridge Housing and BT.

Each of these are different sizes of business, with different contexts, different structures, different geographical spreads – we are all unique.

I’d invite you to read more of what they’re up to – both Ian Pettigrew and David Goddin bogged about both of these sessions, see the link to Phil’s collation post above – because these examples may give you some idea of the variety of approaches that can be taken.

But all having some common themes –

  • Senior team buy-in and role modelling
  • The importance of coaching ‘in the moment’ – as a living culture this can’t always be a sit down for 1 to 2 hours session
  • What they’ve created is sustainable and has created a momentum of its own.

And each had made a conscious choice for this to be a long-term, strategic culture change.

If coaching is to become part of the fabric of the organisation, in a similar way to the Purpose section above, it needs to be woven through everything – not popped over there by L&D as an extra thing to have, or a little initiative. It may be that that’s where it needs to start, to get some buy-in and for people to see the difference it can make – but be clear on your end point with this. To be truly successful, this will be a long-term journey which will ultimately encompass how you recruit, how you develop, how you performance manage, how you recognise and reward, how you promote – and in fact, from the BBC / Visa session, how you do many more things too –

  • Mentoring
  • Negotiation
  • Relationship/Stakeholder Management
  • Dealing with change
  • Seeing alternative perspectives

And if you want some ideas of where to measure success, those who’ve already seen results have been able to measure it through –

  • Colleagues having greater contextual understanding
  • Reduced silo working
  • Creation of headroom for managers so they can reflect, focus on future strategy, and form connections across the organisation
  • Reduced training costs
  • Increased work-based learning (70:20:10) and just-in-time support
  • Improved employee engagement
  • Improved retention
  • Increased performance
  • Faster individual development and promotion
  • Greater knowledge retention and cross-fertilisation of ideas
  • Feedback becomes more immediate, common, and natural
  • People are more creative and have more confidence

You may read some of those and see opportunities for numerical measurement.

And you may read some and think they’re a bit fluffy and hard to get your arms around.

But there is always an opportunity to measure the less tangible through asking people to rate these aspects on a 0 to 10 scale. Your initial reaction may be ‘but that’s just their opinion’ – and yes it is. And there’s not much else that matters when it comes to having a sense of where your culture is.

So if this kind of culture is something you want for your organisation, start by thinking what success looks like early on so you can decide what you need to measure now for a benchmark, and which you can re-measure as you progress.

Developing Leaders

I’ve realised that, for all I heard about leadership development over those two days, I’ve not yet written much about it here. That’s mostly because everything I’ve already written is the stuff you want to be developing leaders in – that is, if you want to develop an organisation that helps its people to be at their best, which will help the organisation to be at its best, and which will help achievement of the organisational purpose.

All things in life are a choice.

Just one additional element I’d put in the pot here is the idea of developing collective leadership.

This is something which Unilever are doing because there is increasing recognition that this approach drives greater success than individual or ‘as they need it’ leadership development.

The idea links back to Patrick Lencioni’s idea of your ‘home team’ being the one you’re in with your peers and leader and that it’s from being strong and connected here that you’re able to ‘lead out’ from that team. Rather than ‘report in’ by only focussing or caring about the team you’re responsible for. It’s a significant mindset shift for most.

This collective leadership approach across a level of leadership in an organisation enables reduction of silos as the team are connected to what each area of the business is up to, and can speak with one voice for where the business is and where it’s going. Something which, if missing, can cause concerns, frustration and confusion.

To achieve this success through collective leadership isn’t necessarily an easy path to take. One area which was given attention was the need for friction in a successful team, highlighted with the stones analogy from Steve Jobs, and which again links back to Patrick Lencioni with his 2nd dysfunction of teams being Fear of Conflict, or Artificial Harmony.

Nick referred to Prof Peter Hawkins’ model for systemic team coaching (pic below) as an anchor point for a team to check in against and for them to use as a guide for adjustment or activity.

Systemic Team Coaching

It would seem then that, just as coaching’s becoming more ‘mainstream’, team coaching is now becoming the future!  Something for next year’s show…..

So that’s my roundup of my #cipdldshow 2015 experience. I’m very conscious that even in this long post there is so much I’ve not been able to capture so please do take time to read some of what others have written.  I hope it’s been valuable to you and has wheted your appetite to learn more, do more, achieve more. Enjoy!

The sessions I attended – (A1) The Power of Purpose – building resilience and collective leadership to solve commercial challenges;  (B3) Professionalising Leadership to Create a High-Performance Culture; (C3) Identifying and Developing Tomorrow’s Leadership Skills to Drive Business Change; (D2) Applying Principles of Neuroscience and Behavioural Science to Maximise Learning Outcomes; (E2) Embedding Coaching Skills into Daily Conversations to Foster your Talent; (F2) The Role of L&D in Building Resilience in Employees; (G2) Using Neuroscience for Individuals and Teams to Realise their Full Potential; (H1) Maximising Organisational Performance by Building Greater Capability in Line Managers

This is me….www.wildfigsolutions.co.uk

WFS Tree


#FeedbackCarnival – The Curation!

Wow! What an amazing month April’s been for fabulous feelings and philosophies on feedback! 33 posts all together! Impressive stuff and a great wealth of insight has been created on a topic which is clearly an area of work that continues to need some attention so that we can improve.

Thank you to everyone who’s contributed. It’s only because of you that this curation is possible and able to benefit others with this same challenge.

It all started with a post I began to write  after a Pilates class…..

“Every week in my Pilates class there’s at least one of us that needs help to perfect a move.

> Sit right back, put all the weight into your heels so you can lift your toes. > Keep your hips facing forward and twist at the waist. > Lift your chest keeping your back in neutral.

And we adjust what we’re doing and then go “Oh! That’s how it’s meant to feel”.

And sometimes words aren’t enough and our instructor needs to come and show us one-to-one. Perhaps just visibly. Perhaps physically adjusting our bodies for us so we can really feel the difference.

We think we’re copying her when she stands at the front of the class. And yet sometimes we’re just not. Sometimes we’re really completely oblivious to how our own bodies are actually moving.

Timothy Gallwey talks about this in The Inner Game of Tennis. How he has to get players to stand somewhere that they can see their reflection so they can watch their swing. And then they see “Oh! I really am finishing too high”.

Because we really can be oblivious to what we’re actually doing compared to what we’re supposed to be doing – we all have Blind Spots.”

From those origins, the Feedback Carnival was born with this invitation for people to add their thoughts and observations; “Feedback would happen all the time if……”


So this post is my curation of all that insight to bring you some of the thinking that’s out there into one place.

A key point made by David Goddin in his post is that feedback benefits from being observations, not judgements, and so with this post my intention is to share the insights from all the contributions without judgement of whether they are right or wrong, good or bad. They are what they are and you will be able to read; debate with whoever will be helpful for you in that; and choose what is right for you – because some parts will be more helpful in some contexts than others. So while you read, I invite you to have your context and your purpose with feedback in your mind, and maybe start with a question.

What might help you?

What might help those around you?

What might help your organisation?

So, why should we care about feedback? What’s the purpose?

I think without exception, all the writers have believed that feedback is a helpful thing. Helpful for our personal development, and therefore helpful for those around us – and beyond – because it raises our awareness and so enables us to develop and improve what we do and how we do it, which improves ours and others performance, and therefore improves overall organisational results.

Peter Cook wrote a great example of how embracing feedback and doing something about it, coupled with persistence, got him the result he wanted for his career.

Heather Kinzie wrote about our fundamental human need of being wanted – or of receiving attention. This need for attention, which is very obvious in children, remains with us as we grow older, and feedback is one way in which we can meet this need in others. If someone’s given us feedback, they’ve seen us, they’ve noticed us, and they’ve cared enough to say something about it, and that has us feel OK – something Gemma Reucroft experienced when offering feedback to a colleague.

Kandy Woodfield acknowledges the purpose of feedback as providing a sense of belonging, a purpose, aspirational goals and trust in each other.

So the purpose of feedback isn’t just about that external results and performance stuff out there, it’s about the stuff that goes on inside each and every one of us every day. Perhaps if we took care of the internal stuff, the external would be more likely to take care of itself?

So what does that ‘helpful’ feedback place look like?

Many people acknowledge that feedback already happens all around us all the time, if we stop to notice it. However most of the content has focused on improving the ‘traditional’ work-based feedback situation. The place of ‘this is how you’re doing in your job’ or ‘this was the impact on me when you did that’.

As 70:20:10 learning strategies continue to be the focus for improved sustainability of learning, effective feedback will have to be central to that, given that it sits in the 70% of on-the-job learning, and in the 20% of coaching and mentoring, as well as in the 10% of classroom learning which  Rachel Burnham picked up on with some practical examples of making feedback part of a learning environment.

Jo Stephenson has a dream for how her future place of feedback will look “I’m dreaming of time when it’s common practice that feedback talk happens as standard, within the 1:1s I’m part of. It’s expected, it’s what we do here. We value it.”

Meg Peppin, Julie Drybrough and Gemma Reucroft all wrote about a place where feedback isn’t a separate ‘thing’ you ‘do’ it’s just part of the conversation between two or more people.

David Goddin agreed that the place to aim for is where feedback is given freely and with “care and respect”. Along similar lines to Ian Pettigrew who also wrote about great feedback being based in “truth and positive intent”, and Gemma talking about the intent being to give feedback with “care and compassion”.

This place isn’t one where feedback MUST be given all the time. Meg Peppin recognised this because in those places where license has been given for ‘feedback in the moment’ it can lead to careless, thoughtless throwing of words at the other person. It might make the giver feel better to get it off their chest, but it’s unlikely to be helpful to the receiver.

The latter is a place of feedback that resembles uncomfortable audio feedback (Tim Scott, Kate Griffiths-Lamb and Peter Cook), or clumsy, poorly wrapped gifts.

This helpful feedback place will also be positive. Sukh, Lisa, Gemma and Peter all identified the benefits, which are now being proven by neuroscience, of having positive feedback, or acknowledgement, as part of a helpful, resilient working environment. And there must still be balance because, as Peter also highlighted, with the positive can then come challenge. When we reach this place of high challenge, that has a foundation of high support, great things can happen.

What stops us then?

Well, so many things.

For starters, both Meg and Ben wrote about the word itself being a barrier! When people hear ‘let me give you some feedback’ they immediately believe that they’ve done something wrong. Perhaps a hangover from our previous (and still current) command and control leadership styles which instil a parent-child approach : ‘I’m in charge and now I’m telling you off because I’m not happy with how you’re performing/behaving’ culture. Something which, in Meg’s words is, “an attempt to mechanise, to simplify, to depersonalise what is most complex and challenging and beautiful and terrifying for us all”, the complexity of which is acknowledged in Phil Willcox’s post in which he dissects the conversation to show it for the complex interaction it really is.

Clare Haynes wrote about the belief that exists that we don’t have time to give feedback.  Usually when we say we don’t have time it really means that on some level, for some reason, we don’t want to or don’t feel capable of doing it.

Simon Heath wrote about fear which is alive and well in the workplace and which we know triggers our fight, flight or freeze response which Lisa Gill writes about in her second post. I wonder if we go through a mini Kubler-Ross change curve every time we receive some feedback, staying at certain points longer depending on who’s given the feedback, how they’ve done it and what else might be going on in our lives at the time?

Julie picked up on our potential for paralysis through a desire to ‘do it right’ – “to separate a category of conversation as “feedback” does all sorts of weird, distorting things to the dialogue. We get all tangled up: “I must give feedback. There are rules to how I do this.”

Part of Phil’s post included acknowledgement of the beliefs we hold that influence how we behave with others. These thoughts and beliefs will stop us giving feedback at all, or stop us giving it in a helpful way because we become so affected by what’s in our minds. It also affects us as the receiver. Our previous experiences will inform how we respond to feedback whether positive or developmental

And Sukh called out the fact that we even struggle to give positive feedback / praise / appreciation / acknowledgment. We’ll all have a different word that feels more comfortable for this type of feedback. Could this be the British ‘stiff upper lip’ culture or is it a business ‘we don’t do emotions here’ culture that stops us?

If all that stuff is stopping us, what can help us move forward?

Ben Eubank had the idea that it would be easier if we were all perfect! And although said in jest, we do sometimes behave as if we believe people should be perfect. Maybe getting real about that would actually be a good starting place.

Much of what Ben captured links to the context we operate in, which Jeremy Lewis also recognises, and that these constructs in work and the culture created can get in the way of feedback happening.

Andy Swann wrote about our need to just do it. Learn from our trust-ful personal relationships and just give the feedback.

Clare Haynes also identified the trust element as key to success and that giving – and receiving – feedback isn’t a one hit wonder. It’s something we need to practice, develop and keep doing just as we do with exercise – sadly one trip to the gym doesn’t keep us in shape for the rest of our lives!

Little and often is the order of the day.

The trust theme was continued by Meg, Amanda, Andy, Elen and Julie who are inviting us to spend time together, build trust, make feedback part of the conversation – “If we focus on the quality of conversation and relationship we have with each other, the feedback stuff kind of takes care of itself.”

Amanda Sterling has this great insight in her post – “Continual feedback doesn’t happen without trust. Trust doesn’t happen without vulnerability. Vulnerability doesn’t happen without safety.” and that foundation of safety won’t exist while fear continues to be present, to greater or lesser extents, at work.

David D’Souza provided a comprehensive list of ways forward, a lot of which centres around reducing our self-centred-ness – such as focussing more on growing others careers rather than our own, and focussing more on what the other person needs to hear for their benefit rather than our preoccupation with whether we’ll say it ‘right’. The latter being unhelpfully fuelled by the use of the word ‘feedback’ and the distinction of this conversation from any other conversation. A sentiment echoed by Julie who writes how things could be improved “if we were a little more thoughtful about the receiver and a little less preoccupied by what we have to say.”

This theme was picked up by others in that the context we operate in influences how we behave around this entity called feedback. Ian Pettigrew gives us a glimpse of how the Red Arrows, and other parts of the RAF, create a great feedback culture which involves ‘leaving your rank at the door’ and where they inquire into what’s happened with the purpose of really understanding it to improve – not to beat someone over the head with it.

So there’s a strong message about changing or reframing the intent behind feedback to enable it to be an easier thing, a more ‘everyday what we do’ thing. Something which Tony Jackson, Kate G-L and Kylie Telford all picked up on because your intent says as much about you as what it provides to the recipient.

Part of this new intent could be shown in the words you use. Perry Timms gives a great example where, instead of continuing to tell someone they’re not doing [insert task] well enough (in Perry’s example – the filing), why not become curious and focused on their strengths and their agenda – “If you could do anything about your lack of enthusiasm for filing what would it be?

And what about this positive stuff that we even struggle to share? Lisa Gill gives some neuroscience insight to help motivate us into this place. When we receive positive feedback, our brain response shows that we view it the same as a tangible reward so “if you make spotting excellence and giving feedback a habit, you’ll start to notice the positive feelings you get when you give this feedback, which will reinforce the habit. And not only that, you’ll probably find people start to give you more feedback. It’s a virtuous circle!”

And some practical ‘how to’ tips

Tony Jackson recognises the value of labelling what’s going on, what you’re intending to say, what you intend to achieve. This way you can clearly signal what your purpose is, as well as demonstrate leadership and emotional intelligence in your ability to recognise what’s going on – and to do something about it, e.g. ‘I notice you seem frustrated….’ Or ‘I’ve noticed I feel frustrated….’ As well as ‘Let’s talk about this to see what we can learn’.

Lisa Gill and Margaret Burnside both offer non-sandwich-based models to help shape the conversation. This can be valuable to people who need some stabilisers first before they can free wheel down the feedback street.

Paul Kaerger and Ben Eubank also give some broader tips. Paul focuses on preparing for and holding a more formal feedback conversation, and Ben introduces some contextual / cultural ideas to help feedback happen more often.

Andrew Jacobs reminds us that measuring the qualitative is as important as the quantitative and that ignoring it would be foolish. We can use 1 to 10 rating scales to help make what seems intangible into something more tangible and against which we can measure progress and recognise success. Which comes back to an idea at the start of this post about the fact that, if we can focus on giving the internal stuff attention, the external performance and results can largely take care of themselves.


– Entirely through my error I missed the post from Michelle Parry-Slater out of the original curation.  Now rectified.  Here’s her piece showing how feedback can work and how it can also get a bit tangled or ignored in action.

– The people of Brand Learning have actually had a Feedback Festival where for one day everyone gave others feedback.  Read their story to get a sense of the buzz and energy they created!

And what about the receiver in all of this?

As we’ve seen above, effective feedback that happens with relative ease is all about relationships and trust and of course there is always more than one person in a relationship.

So we must remember that as a receiver we may need to practice hearing what people think of us. Jo Stephenson has thrown herself into that experience and, as for the givers, this is something we need to maintain and practice regularly.  Although uncomfortable, it is embracing this discomfort that enables us to develop and stretch.

Kylie Telford acknowledges this need to sometimes mull, perhaps to go through our own personal change curve as mentioned previously. Let the new information sit with you, notice how it makes you feel and then choose what you will do that.

So as a receiver, listen to the advice of Steve Browne, take personal responsibility and start asking for it.

You can even provide feedback to yourself which Stuart Eglin guides us through. It might sound crazy but it’s a form of self-coaching and it works!

So there you have it.  Feedback continues to be something that we often easily brush off as a simple management skill.  What I believe this post shows is that there is a lot more to it than that – your attitude and your ability to build strong relationships are a critical part of success.

I’d love to know what you think, as I’m sure all the contributors do too.  So drop a note in the comments, share something on a tweet and, if nothing else, I hope this will be of value to you.

Thank you again to all the writers!

[Photo credit – http://scienceroll.com/2007/06/08/10-tips-for-how-to-use-web-20-in-medicine/%5D

This is me…..www.wildfigsolutions.co.uk

WFS Tree

#CIPDLDShow 2015 is nearly here!

Can you believe the 13th and 14th May are just around the corner when people who are interested in stuff to do with learning, developing, training, facilitating, coaching…. will be heading to the Olympia in London for another amazing two day Learning and Development event hosted by the CIPD, this year sponsored by the Open University.

I’m excited!  These events are always a great chance to hear what’s going on in the world of L&D, what’s going on in other organisations, as well as a chance to continue to learn about your personal professional career development.  This all happens……

> in the exhibition hall where there are free 30 minute taster sessions through the day

> in the seminars and workshops where case studies and experiences are shared in more detail

> and in the coffee areas and round the stands where you meet fascinating people with fascinating stories to tell.

I’m humbled and honoured to be invited by the CIPD to be part of the Blog Squad again this year – this is a bunch of us who love to write and share people stuff on Social Media, and who care about better work and working lives.  We’re responsible for tweeting and blogging from the event so that more people can benefit from what’s going on, and so that when you have two things at once that you want to go to, there’s a good chance someone else will be sharing stuff from the one you can’t make.

Of course we’re not exclusive in this social sharing stuff and last year there were more people than ever tweeting from the sessions. A great way to get the conversation bigger and broader.  More brains = better thinking = better results!

I’m especially looking forward to attending a load of stuff about leadership development with a sprinkling of neuroscience.  Employees continue to tell us we’re not developing our leaders well enough (about half don’t think they have a great boss).  And great leadership is difficult because it often goes against many of our natural engrained and learned tendencies, behaviours and habits.  Which is where neuroscience, and getting to the root of the challenge, is the place I love to play.  So I’m looking forward to hearing and sharing some of the latest thinking in how we help people to be great leaders more of the time.

If you can make it, what are you waiting for?  Register for free here.

I’m also running a free fringe event called Learn > Connect > Do for sole practitioners because it’s easy to go to these conferences, fill your head with stuff, and then not be sure what to do with it all when you get back to work.  A challenge made even harder when you might be the only one where you work who does this people stuff.  So this is a chance to share what you’ve learnt with others who have similar challenges so that you can grow your network and transfer your learning better to make a bigger difference.  Just click here to book.

If you can’t make it then maybe next year.  And in the meantime, this is the Blog Squad team who you can follow on twitter to see their tweets and blogs whenever it’s convenient for you.

And follow the #cipdldshow for tweets from many more people!

Happy learning!


Feedback would happen all the time if…. – by Margaret Burnside

I’m delighted to be hosting this piece for #FeedbackCarnival from Margaret Burnside.  Margaret works as People Development Director at ERAS Ltd with a focus on developing leaders, both locally in East Anglia and nationally.  Margaret has a passion for coaching and mentoring and here writes a practical guide to providing feedback to others in a way that is beneficial to the recipient.

Feedback would happen all the time if… we helped managers with structure and guidance

Giving feedback is a key management skill, yet, so many managers I meet worry about how to do it. Let’s face it – we don’t have many great role models out there, do we? Looking at some of the TV programmes with a ‘feedback’ element probably won’t help ….

Britain’s Got Talent has a great feature – if the judges don’t like someone’s performance they press a loud buzzer and a big red cross lights up, how well would that go down at work? To be fair, they do back it up with comments, ‘that was lousy’, ‘You have a dreadful singing voice’, ‘ I hated it…’ How helpful is that to the individual? How does it help them to improve?

The ‘X Factor’ works along similar lines, quite subjective – not always helpful even with the positive comments: ‘ I really love your voice’ ‘ You did really well tonight’ WHAT did the singer do that was good? We learn a lot from feedback about what we do well but it has to contain information about our behaviour or performance for it to be useful to us.

The reaction to positive feedback can often be one of embarrassment or discounting – “Oh, it was nothing” or “It wasn’t really me, it was a team effort”. As we are not used to receiving enough well delivered feedback we can be unsure about how best to respond to it. The more we give feedback the better others get at responding to it and appreciate it as it is intended. Behaviour breeds behaviour, feedback breeds feedback …

The Speaker

A series on BBC 2 – The Speaker, was looking for the Young Speaker of the Year and there were some amazingly confident 14-18 year olds on that programme. The judges and mentors were particularly good at giving helpful, constructive feedback. They clearly described what they liked or didn’t like, why it worked or didn’t work and if it didn’t what else the presenter could have done instead. So there’s a great structure for you …

What and Why for positive feedback and for things you’d like someone to do differently or better, use the What, Why, What structure. For example:

WHAT – you asked that customer some great open questions

WHY – that worked well because you were able to gather all the information needed in order to solve their problem.


WHAT – you did most of the talking in the last meeting

WHY – that didn’t work because you didn’t get any ideas from the team

WHAT – you could have done instead was ask questions and pause more …

This simple structure ensures the focus is on changeable or repeatable behaviour and actions rather than on personality.

> What tips would you give to encourage managers to be more confident in giving helpful, actionable feedback?