Roller Coasters come in all shapes….

19 July saw the start of the first Growing Talent hybrid for ten fantastically talented, currently unemployed people keen to work.

Selected by one of the ‘Big 4’ organisations for permanent roles in their growing virtual business support teams, they commenced step one – the orientation and holistic week – virtual of course!

So what did we cover over this week?

Mondaycommunication – a vital area to get right in all areas of our lives – no matter what our social status is nor our seniority in the workplace. But how much time do we put into making sure we get this right? Have you considered the following?

  • Speaking – what is the aim of the conversation? what content will you cover? where and how are you going to hold this conversation? what are the possible outcomes of this conversation? have you considered your tone, clarity, volume and pace?
  • Listening – do you automatically listen without judgement? do you ensure there will be no interruptions nor distractions? Do you listen with empathy or sympathy – do you know the difference?
  • Reflect back – paraphrasing is essential to ensure you have understood what you have heard – get the evidence, don’t just assume.
  • Body Language – did you know non verbal cues make up the biggest part of communication?
  • What method is appropriate for the conversation you are going to have?
  • What types of conflict might you encounter?
  • What’s your conflict style? accommodating, avoidance, collaboration, competitive, compromise
  • You statements – also known as the communication destroyer. Do you know why?

There is more to communication than most think!

Tuesday – invest in yourself. Critical – not selfish. Airline safety talks ‘state put the oxygen mask on you BEFORE helping others’ That makes sense, so why not scheduling in some self care windows throughout the day? This section covered:

  • Stop avoiding fear
  • Mantra and personal values
  • Overcoming negative thoughts
  • Control your brain – stop letting it control you
  • Self care toolkit
  • Dealing with imposter syndrome
  • Nurture your soul

Wednesday – nurturing your body – a car only runs on the right fuel. So does your body. Fuel it mindfully!

  • Food fads – the power of marketing vs facts
  • Superfoods – really
  • Understanding sugar – in all it’s forms
  • Exercise
  • Social media – good, bad and ugly

ThursdayMoney talks! Sharing basic financial tips together. 3 little bottles – waste and recycling, why is it so important. Moving on. Encompassing…..

  • Managing debt
  • How to increase savings
  • Ways to increase income
  • Considering credit cards, debit cards and cash
  • Money mantras
  • How to apply for new roles uniquely

Friday – I-act – Managing and Promoting Positive Mental Health and Wellbeing

How to look after yourself and those around you. This accredited course delivers a solid understanding of what mental health and wellbeing is, over 50 tools for self care and evaluation, robust evidence reporting – amongst a whole lot more.

So what did the fabulous 10 participants feel about the week? Below are some of the feedback – anonymous in line with GDPR:

“The content was exciting and engaging – which surprised me. I was expecting it to be a bit boring because it’s delivered by Zoom”

“The journey book which accompanied the week was clear and helped me understand the course. I can refer to it ongoing.”

“This week was so worthwhile – it’s taught me how to be more professional”

“I’ve been implementing things I learned in my personal life such as delaying my response in conversations until I understand what’s been said. It’s easy to misunderstand people if you jump in too soon.”

“The contents of the week were fantastic, very informative and engaging with loads of tools to assist me going forward”

The accompanying book was significantly relevant”

“I found everything insightful and enlightening. There were a lot of topics. I especially liked mental health and how to engage with someone who might be struggling. I feel I can now demonstrate a lot more empathy. I also really enjoyed finance considering how much I wasn’t taught much about the topic at school.”

“I’m glad to have the accompanying book as I can go back and refresh my knowledge anytime.

“This is probably the best training course I have every attended. T/he contents cover life inside and outside work”

“The book will be extremely useful going forward. On the course it enabled everyone to read at their own pace.”

What were the thoughts on the trainer?

“I loved how Jane had everyone engaged and included in all of the topic areas. She allowed us to digress within reason, which helped explore the topic further but she was also able to control anything that was not relevant to our learning.”

“Jane’s style was inclusive, warm and welcoming. Everything was clear.”

“Jane is very interactive and gives off a very positive vibe. I really felt like my opinion was relevant when she asked questions and she’s always very impartial so we didn’t feel like we were being judged. It was a pleasure doing my training with her”

“Jane’s compassionate and a very good listener”

“”Jane’s style was nice and precise, she knows what she is talking about and is a confident lady who taught us in a respectful professional manner.”

For me, the week was a mutually positive experienced. When we see each other as humans, we can learn so much together. Essential for work and life – don’t you agree?

EI – Just a fad or a key business tool?

Businesses have undergone a a sea change – unforeseen and unplanned – due to the pandemic. The same sea change has happened to their employees.

What can help both business and employees flourish? – Emotional Intelligence (EI)

Wikipedia’s definition:

“EI is the ability to perceive, use, understand and manage emotions in ourselves and others. The term first appeared in 1964 but gained popularity in Emotional Intelligence by Daniel Goleman in 1995 – a best seller. Goleman defined EI as the array of skills and characteristics that drive leadership and performance”

Let’s think about that for a minute ‘an array of characteristics that drive leadership and performance’ – so how can we ignore EI. Isn’t now, more than ever, the time we need strong leadership and performance to ensure our businesses and employees flourish?

So, what can businesses do right now to grow the EI of their teams and ultimately businesses?

Adapt, change what you’ve done traditionally. Recognise EI as a real tool for your business’s survival and growth.

ISO45003 is the new international standards guidelines issued this summer. Global agreement focussing on EI. Everyone can’t be wrong!

We don’t know what the coming months will bring with the twists and turns of the pandemic but we do know from reflecting back over this time, we’re adaptable. With the aid of technology we can build EI virtually.

Empowering our employees to be as resilient, adaptable and strong for whatever the coming months bring and beyond.

Is now the right time for your business to consider EI training with accredited EI course and/or bespoke workshops on empowerment, resilience etc?

Take a look at the virtual workshops and courses I deliver on the home page of this website.

Can you afford not to take Emotional Intelligence seriously?

Ever had that sinking feeling because you’re missing something?

Something I’m trying to get better at is gardening. Like many others, growing up I never listened nor showed interest in grandparents trying to teach me about growing fruit, vegetables, herbs etc. For them, they learnt out of necessity – food was still scare for them growing up.

Looking back, I don’t doubt they also got a lot of calmness, wellbeing and resilience from their planting and of course harvesting even if these weren’t the primary reasons they gardened!!!!

For the last 20 plus years, the voices for environmental wellbeing, impact on the world of wrong types of food productions, water consumption etc has been a catalyst for many to embrace gardening. For some, it’s the mindfulness nurturing plants, tending soil etc. Others want to save on their food bill and /or teach their children where food comes from.

The arrival of lockdown saw many start tending their gardens, balconies and/or window sills as their previous routines had evaporated virtually overnight.

Whatever the reason, the joy of growing something, especially from seed, seems to lighten the spirit no matter the age or background. Like laughter, gardening seems to be a universal medicine.

Personally, I’ve never been that successful growing vegetables from seeds. Either I get a frail, shrivelled seedling that doesn’t mature or nothing at all.

The universal ‘go to’ now is the internet. YouTube is perfect for step by step guidance in many things from plumbing to gardening. Here I learned about a method to increase germination of seeds to help growth. Using a mixture of 1:10 hydrogen peroxide to water mix, dampen some kitchen towel and wrap the seeds in this before placing them into a plastic bag for two days. The film showed not all seeds would germinate but most would. It seemed worth a try. The only thing was no hydrogen peroxide. I had that sinking feeling. So I went with just water and it worked!

The reason for sharing this is to show just because you haven’t got all the ingredients for something, you can improvise and still get great results.

Don’t let any ‘sinking feeling’ deter you from trying.

Time to plan your Bank Holiday?

We all know innovation comes from free thinking. However, to implement that innovative idea, we need to have a plan of action in place.

That got me thinking. Would I have a more empowering bank holiday weekend if I made some targets I wanted to achieve and a plan to achieve them?

Only one way to find out!

The feature photo is my plan to sort out my garden this weekend and take the time at the end to enjoy it.

I expect to get the majority of this done – maybe not in the right order but does that really matter if the end goal is met?

For me, the end goal is to spend some time reflecting on what I’ve achieved and how amazing nature is within this world we live in of contradiction, unkindness, assumptions, pressure etc, nature just keeps going.

That for me is a key lesson. Accept the things we can’t change and just keep going – like nature.

How about you? Do you have a plan for this Bank Holiday?

Do you work in a Psychosocial safe environment?

Before answering that question we need to understand what Psychosocial means. International Standards have coined the phrase to cover mental and psychological health in the workplace. Psychosocial is core to their new standard – ISO45003 which is due to be released this summer.

A good starting point is to ask if we feel comfortable raising a concern. Will we be listened to?

To ensure their people and workplaces – even virtual ones – flourish, employers need to consider the psychosocial health of both. Risk assessing any hazards in the same way as assessing physical hazards under Occupational Health and Safety.

ISO45003 is an excellent framework for employers to follow., It’s a strong complement to the previous ISO45001.

For those not fluent in Health and Safety, HR or Occupational Health, it can be difficult to understand some of the language.

Asking the 10 points in the feature photo above will help you understand if you work in a psychosocially safe environment or not. Let’s take a closer look at each point:

  • On this team, I know what is expected of me. It’s critical to know what is expected of us in terms of our role – duties, shifts, training, deadlines etc as well as our behaviour – dress code, time keeping, following processes, interaction with team and customers. Clear communication is required to ensure expectations are understood. Employers need to communicate in a clear, inclusive way. If expectations are not clear we will not deliver and that will cause us the stress and anxiety of failing.

  • The company values outcomes more that outputs or inputs and no one has to ‘”look busy”. Outcomes – such as revenue earned, products sold, customer satisfaction etc matter more than targets of outputs met – amount of sales calls made for example. If the team focus on what truly matters to the business, they are safe to make decisions which can improve the outcomes even if they reduce outputs (targets) to get there.

  • If I make a mistake on this team, it is never held against me. A psychosocially safe workplace will never blame a team member for making a mistake when the intentions were good. By enabling mistakes to be made without fear of blame an organisation enables innovation which can a game changer against competitors. Key is to utilise systems and thinking to develop approaches to prevent mistakes before they happen and then work together when the do happen to resolve them quickly.

  • When something goes wrong, we work as a team to find the cause and solution together without blame. Relates to the point above. Simply put every failure is an opportunity to learn and improve. By being psychosocially safe, the entire team can learn and grow.
  • Every member of the team feels safe to bring up any problems or tough issues whether they are workplace or home based ranging from personal struggles, concerns about other team members – even senior management. Psychosocial safety is key to enable vulnerability to disclose and courage to raise these difficult subjects.

  • Members of the team never reject others for being different or having different views – therefore no one is left out or feels excluded. Evidence shows diversity, inclusion and respect in teams results in higher quality products and happier team members. Team members should be included in the process to make decisions to deliver results. This leads to team empowerment. This is especially crucial for remote/virtual workers.

  • It is safe for me to take a risk on this team – different to a mistake, a risk is about actions that might not work. In a psychosocial environment the framework is there for positive risk taking. This enables innovation ultimately delivering competitive business edge.

  • It is easy for me to ask my team for help – In psychosocially unsafe environments people hide their perceived vulnerabilities and don’t ask for help.

  • Nobody within my team would deliberately act in a way that undermines my efforts – In psychosocially unsafe environments, team members compete with each other to achieve their individual goals even undermining colleagues to get ahead. This counter-productive competition doesn’t exist in psychosocial safe environments.

  • My unique skills and talents are valued and utilised – In psychosocial safe environments team members are valued for being their true selves. This inclusion means individual assumptions (biases) about others are less likely to manifest.

After reading this, you will be able to evaluate whether or not you work in a psychosocial safe environment. You will also be able to recognise if you are a psychosocial safe colleague.

Change often starts with us.

Is your business Psychosocially ready?

Refreshing to see ISO (International Standards Organisation) have recognised the need to put mental and psychological health front and centre of business. The terms are interchangeable. For clarity, global agreement has been reached by ISO to use the term ‘psychosocial’ which you will see more and more over the coming months.

ISO’s new certification due for launch later this year – ISO45003 – is designed for businesses to ensure their workplaces are psychosocially healthy and is especially attractive to businesses already holding ISO45001.

Having read the advanced final framework of ISO45003 – ‘Occupational health and safety management – psychological health and safety at work – guidelines for managing psychological risks’ – it is clear any business, even micro, businesses can use ISO45003’s guidelines as a framework without applying for accreditation.

Throughout the global pandemic, businesses have risen to diverse challenges. Some have flourished without making many changes such as the logistics and IT sectors. Others have embraced agile working remotely. Some will return in full to their workplaces whilst others will have a blended mix.

One thing is certain for all. The need to ensure their workplaces and teams are psychosocially safe and robust is critical for their staff, profits and reputation to flourish.

Now is the time to put tools in place to aid this.

Growing Talent is a strong tool for employers looking for new talent in their business. The programme has a solid track history of revealing untapped talent, delivering diversity and inclusion to the business as well as personal empowerment and growth to that talent.

Growing Talent covers many of the areas highlights in ISO45003 – see below.

Recruiting through Growing Talent gets employers ahead of the game when it comes to the psychosocial health of their workplaces.

Why not at Growing Talent to your recruitment tool box?

Risk Assessment – for work only?

In the UK, legislation has long been in place to ensure health and safety at work. Risk assessments are carried out for all roles to enable any revealed risks to be addressed and their potential impact avoided.

The Health and Safety Executive introduced six pillars of for a healthy workplace environment:

  1. Identify potential hazards
  2. Assess the risks
  3. Control the risks
  4. Who is responsible
  5. Record the findings
  6. Review controls in place

The idea being if all these pillars were observed in the workplace, there would be no issues. The workplaces and teams would thrive.

That sounds logical to me. It also got me thinking. Why don’t we risk assess our personal lives in the same way?

The benefits of this would be to raise awareness of how we feel when we start to experience stress which in turn identifies our triggers helping us take action to reduce/remove any negative impact. After all we know what goes on at home follows us to work and vice versa.

Time to assess the risk in all areas of our life to make us healthier, more resilient and thriving instead of just surviving?

My risk assessment is in four parts:

  1. The traditional workplace risk assessment following HSE’s six pillars. Most of us will be used to this framework.
  2. Examines potential stress risk areas outside work
  3. Identify stress indicators unique to you
  4. Action planning for the potential risk areas revealed

Regularly examining and analysing our stress and resilience levels through this kind of exercise, adopting self care routines, non-negotiables – literally making ‘self’ a priority is a ‘no brainer’ isn’t it?

Time to get disruptive?

For the last, almost 20 years, I’ve had the honour of working with people from all backgrounds, diverse businesses and charities to nurture people with barriers into work.

In addition to my employment work, I also deliver accredited mental health first aider courses and proactive wellbeing courses.

I’ve been commissioned to design a variety of workshops from self and team empowerment to finding your purpose, managing fears, building resilience, identifying and creating your future path, elevator pitch, your personal branding and many more.

Throughout, I’ve used the thread of inclusivity, respect and humour to give ownership to delegates on their learning journey.

This week, I’ve dropped into various workshops on the Playful Creative Summit. Some speakers have been more inspiring than others. I’ve learned something new everyday.

The summit runs until Friday this week. Many of the speakers videos are free. Take a look if you are interested –

I composed the image below to provoke employers to consider how vibrant their learning and development platforms are and how better they could be.

There is no reason why the same tool could not be used for our personal lives.

What do you think? Time for us all to become a little more disruptive in how we do things?

One of the speakers used the term ‘become more pirate’ explaining pirates were ordinary people who had to be resourceful to make a life for themselves and take on the might of the world’s navy’s. Of course some tales of pirates are unlawful but all are resourceful. So I might just think of myself as a ‘disruptive pirate’ in my training programmes now!

Hidden Depths…

Do we ever really know everything about someone? Do we take the time to get to know them – or just accept the surface we see as all there is to them?

I’ve long thought we allow our assumptions about someone’s behaviour, actions, words etc to form perceptions about them without questioning what evidence we have to back this up. That doesn’t sound too fair does it?

Prince Philip is a case in point. How many formed an opinion about this individual without ever speaking to him? Taking what was reported by the press as fact? How would we feel if we were judged the same way?

As humans, we tend to judge others on their actions but ourselves on our intentions.

We make assumptions about others actions without considering what their intentions were. Does this sound fair? To me, it doesn’t. I’d hope people would check their perceptions of my intentions on any action I do was factually correct by asking me. Of course, those in the public eye can’t be approached to ask BUT we can check our thoughts and make sure we have evidence to back these thoughts up. If we don’t, shouldn’t we keep a non-judgemental open mind?

What has surprised me is the lack of coverage during Prince Philip’s lifetime of his achievements away from his ‘job’. Across different media since his death, we have learned a little more.

Amongst the nuggets of information revealed about him, was he painted and wrote 14 books. Trying to find a list of these books, I came across the 1984 publication of ‘Men Machines & Sacred Cows’ – hardback copies on Amazon for over £69 – a leap I suspect to what a copy would have cost prior to the prince’s death. This book is a collection of works focussing on science, technology and design.

The following exert is from Huffington Post’s coverage – and, for me, captures an insight to the character of Prince Philip especially his dry humour – in his own words from Men Machines & Sacred Cows…..

“Some optimists tend to assume that once you have learned the lesson that horses bite at one end and kick at the other, there is nothing further to worry about. No such luck, I’m afraid. 

“The horse is a great leveller and anyone who is concerned about his dignity would be well advised to keep away from horses.

“Apart from many other embarrassments there is, for instance, no more ridiculous sight than a horse performing its natural functions with someone in full dress uniform mounted on its back.”

According to a piece in the Sunday broadsheets, Prince Philip started a truffle farm on the Sandringham Estate in 2006 and was reportedly the first person to successfully grow French Perigord black truffles from British soil! Apparently, this is a big deal especially to truffle aficionados. It’s impressive to me trying to grow some chillis and squash indoors!

Various charities and individuals have spoken about how Prince Philip kept in touch with them, showing an interest in their progression long after his retirement from public life from Dame Floella Benjamin to Shakespeare’s Globe theatre shows me an integrity and empathy not shown in any press reporting prior to his death.

Talk about hidden depths.

So what thoughts has the death of Prince Philip exposed for me?

  1. Our perceptions about someone/something should be based on factual evidence not gossip, social media etc.
  2. If we can’t find the evidence to determine if our perceptions are correct, we should keep a neutral, open mind.
  3. Above all, it should be remembered everyone has hidden depths

The Power of Hope!

We’ve all had to find different things to do during #Covid19 to keep our minds active and our spirits positive. With the better weather just around the corner – hopefully – I’m trying my hand at growing some unique veg.

I’ve long admired James Wong – also known as Botonay Geek on Twitter – for his approachable attitude to gardening.

From my early memory of James on tv talking herbs to his regular #lockdown posts on Twitter about how anyone can garden even if they have zero space. He has a great system of growing plants in terrariums too. His innovative outlook and encouragement that ‘anyone’ can have a go – tempted me to buy some unique seeds from his brand:

Not only did the unique shape of these squash appeal to me but so did their seedless feature – no waste when cooking….. mind you – no propagating the seeds for next year either! Hang on – if these are seedless, how did I get this packet of seeds? Mmm sounds a deep thought. Maybe one to send to James’s Twitter page!

Hopefully my little Squash Tromboncino seedling above will grow and grow to the point of harvesting and eating some of this Italian squash with an artichoke flavour at some point this year. But if it doesn’t, the learning process will be worthwhile.

The power of hope is essential in all lives. Even if things don’t go 100% as planned/desired, the learning will be invaluable and another path will present itself.

Check out James @Botanygeek on Twitter for some inspiration. James is also generous answering any questions.

Here’s to hopeful growing to us all.

Website Built with

Up ↑