Personal Evaluation – Good or Bad Thing?

Traditionally, this has been carried out as an annual appraisal.  Usually, these are looked on with trepidation.  The build-up to the day, the 1-2-1 meeting and ultimate judgement on your performance.  Hopefully, it goes well…………. If it doesn’t you end up deflated.


As a trainer, I’m evaluated by every participant on every course.  This can be hundreds of evaluations on me every year!   Part of my business is encouraging the unemployed into work.  Supporting them as they overcome issues and doubts along the way.


Often, I’ve very lucky to get thank you gifts once people have gone into work and received their first salary.  This endorses my performance evaluation as it’s often a month or two after completion.  It’s really humbling to know I make a profound difference to people who I know will go on and support others.


Flowers & chocolates above from Unity & Co – aka Zara & Nabiha Growing Talent 13……..


In addition to Growing Talent, the employment programme I devised and run sponsored by PwC, I’m a Mental Health First Aid Instructor and Wellbeing Instructor.  Participants evaluate each course as well which is shared with hiring clients.


On reflection, I believe it’s much better to not wait until an annual appraisal to find out what others think of you professionally but ask along the way – ‘how am I doing?’, ‘is there something I could do better?’.


Giving ourselves the opportunity to reflect on what we do right and what we need to improve, make us much better human beings and work colleagues.




The Belfast Experience!

My first visit to Belfast – home of Titanic came on 26 July 2017 ready for delivering a MHFALite course the following day.


It was a ‘first’ for quiet a few things.  The first time I used the automatic bag drop – with a little help from the assistant!  A great idea but I wasn’t convinced until I saw my case role off the singular baggage carousel at George Best Belfast City Airport – phew, what a relief.


The next first was staying in a global brand hotel where the ‘exclusive’ experience I was expecting didn’t come to fruition.  The room was very dark with no central light.  Great if you want to work at the desk with the desk spotlight but not if, like me, preference is to sprawl on the bed with laptop, books, pens etc!  Stuffiness eventually prompted me to check out the air con – which was so noisy.  This was quickly turned off and the small window opened.  Unfortunately this overlooked the metro line and main road!  After deciding to have a cup of tea – I tried fishing the large hair out of the cup – it was a crack!  Unfortunately there were several guests who decided to have a late conversation in the corridor outside my room on the way back from the bar at midnight!!!  It seemed I’d only got to sleep when the alarm clock went off!  Good job I know how to manage stress from the training I deliver on Mental Health First Aid courses!  Breakfast was a vast improvement even if the placemat was stained!


MHFA Lite is a three hour course to raise awareness of mental health conditions.  It’s a light touch course.  With a room full of managers from this global financial client, what would their reaction be – did they learn anything?……


‘Learning that different conditions manifest themselves in different ways and how having a conversation can help highlight issues’.

‘Coping strategies to suggest to others and use myself.  I have a much better awareness of the different types of mental health problems and most importantly the scale we are all on.’

‘Being mindful of my own well-being.  There is so much help available – I hadn’t realised.  Being aware of changes in others’

‘Even though I’ve done these sort of workshops before, it refreshed and added to my knowledge’

‘Listening unconditionally and being aware of small changes’

‘I feel like I could listen and provide suitable signposting’

‘It’s important to always ask even if only a small change is noticed’


As an Instructor it’s always great to see the learning gained from the evaluations – part of which is about the Instructor’s delivery and knowledge!  So what were the thoughts on me….. I’m glad to say a full house of top scores!


‘Really really enjoyable course.  Not only excellent from a line manager’s perspective but also for my own personal experience – fantastic trainer’


‘Instructor was very informative with lots of examples’


‘Very confident Instructor who encouraged participation.  An enjoyable course, well delivered’.


‘A straight talking Instructor’

So overall………..


‘A very useful course, thank you!’

‘Excellent course – useful inside and outside work’.


For me, the last comment is the most important.  Mental Health affects us and those closest to us both at home and work.







MHFA Lite – Introduction to Mental Health

This is a three-hour workshop comprising a foundation of knowledge on the area of Mental Health First Aid.


Key areas covered in this comprehensive course include:


  • Language & Stigma
  • What is Mental Health?
  • Some common Mental Health issues
  • Supporting people in distress
  • Personal wellbeing


The 17 delegates were from all levels of staff at a global professional services Firm based close to London Bridge.


Interaction flowed as knowledge was shared through the Graffiti Wall, Stress Container, personal experience films and colleague discussion.


It’s always a ‘wait with baited breath’ moment until the evaluation forms have been analysed to see how well the course and me, the instructor, were received……


Firstly a few thoughts on the course:

‘Amazing course, felt very emotional during the training.  Feeling more optimistic about how to approach mental health and well being’

‘A good course  which brought home the importance of caring for yourself whilst caring for others’

‘Fantastic training’


& The Instructor:

”Well delivered, good level of audience participation’

‘Clear and approachable, created a comfortable environment for questions’

‘Passionate & easy to follow’

Rated  very good (top mark) by 12 of the 17 and Good (second highest) by the remaining 5.


I look forward to the next course on 9 June 2017


Get in touch for more information on mental health & wellbeing training available…..




So what does Mental Health Awareness Week mean?  It’s a great idea to get people talking about mental health.  After all, the mind is just another part of the body so why do we treat it differently to physical health?


There are so many buzz words/phrases around including ‘Take 10 At 10’ and ‘Green Light To Talk’ –  will these ideas really make a difference for the other 51 weeks of the year?


I guess the answer is really down to us individuals.  Are we going to be mindful of our own wellbeing as well as those around us both at home and work or are we reverting back to ‘ignore it and it’ll go aware’?  It’s a choice we all have.


But where did the negativity come from?  Try making a list of neutral words to describe mental ill-health and another one for negative words.  I bet your list for negative words is a lot longer than the neutral one.  We only have to think back to our childhoods at primary school and the awful names we called each other seem to still trip off the tongue.


When we look to the media, historically they have been offensive towards those suffering with mental health issues and supportive to physical issues.  Headlines from when Frank Bruno was sectioned caused outraged.  Yet the same newspaper published headlines supporting Kylie Minogue’s breast cancer fight!  Why treat a physical condition any differently to a mental health one?


Wouldn’t it be great if we could shake off the negativity we grew up with, not be afraid of ‘what ifs’ – ‘what if I ask xxx if they’re ok?’ ‘what if I call xxx to see how they’re doing whilst off work’… we can easily talk ourselves out of not caring because of ‘what ifs’.  Maybe we need to look at this a different way.  What if we do nothing? What world do we create?  What if the next person you hear of as being mentally unwell is someone you know?  What if it’s you?


Let’s get talking about mental health everyday.  Make it part of our DNA both at work – in team meetings etc and at home with family and friends.  What an amazing mentally healthy world we could create if we stopped being fearful and trusted our instinct to help.


Go on – you have the Green Light to Talk………. and to Listen!



The Baker’s Dozen Evaluation – Adult Mental Health First Aider Training

Last week saw the delivery of MHFAEngland’s latest version of their 2-day Adult training programme in Mental Health which qualifies delegates to be First Aiders in this critical area.


The robust manual – heavy but yet of interesting facts, figures, resources takes the fear out of the subject.  The interactive sections – Graffiti Wall, Anxiety Face, Stress Container and Depression T-Shirt were well received.  The films brought home the key points.


So, what did the 13 managers from the private sector think of giving up two days to do this course?


Almost an even split on the question ‘As a result of the training, I am less likely to judge people with mental health issues negatively’ – 7 strongly agreed.  The 6 remaining Agreed.  So – some hearts and minds were definitely changed!


‘As a result of this training, I am more likely to consider mental health and mental ill health a normal part of everyday life’ – bigger shift here – 10 strongly agreed and remaining three agreed.


‘How would you rate the MHFA course’? – 100% rated it top marks with’ Very Good’.


As the Instructor – I’m very pleased to see 100% of the delegates gave me top marks  of ‘Very Good’!


Some general comments included:



‘Really well delivered course.  Feel like I’ve learnt plenty to take away and implement’

‘The course and its delivery was excellent – thank you’.

‘Extremely useful – sharing tools and giving confidence’

‘Excellent course.   I would like to see it rolled out to all managers’


If you have a business and want to upskill your employees in the field of mental health, why not get in touch to discuss how?

Theresa May & Mental Health

An encouraging interview with Sophie Ridge of Sky News and the PM was aired yesterday morning.


Initially, I felt a bit unenthused at the start of the interview.  Sophie seemed fixated on the single market.  She asked three times about if we were leaving the single market in favour of securing our borders.


This illustrated to me the blinkered, reporting some journalists fixate on to get ‘the story’.  Three times Theresa May explained there is no opportunity to stay in the single market as we’ve voted to leave.  The negotiations will bring a different relationship. Still Sophie persisted before moving on to other topics.


This is where my interest was renewed.


The PM is highlighting mental health resources especially for children – which is fantastic news.  She recognises the biggest issue is stigma.  If people felt able to talk about their issues there is proven evidence they don’t deteriorate and get help quickly.


The PM is making a speech 9.1.17 – it will be interesting to see what she says on this.


Mental Health is  core component of Growing Talent.  We strongly believe in training participants as First Aiders.  Indeed everyone on Growing Talent complete the two-day standard global course.  There are many reasons for this – a key one is to remove the stigma associated with Mental Health.  I’m glad the Government is finally catching up!


Let’s get talking!



Mental Health – Be Prepared……………………….

I’ve written previously about IAPTs – Improving Access to Psychological Therapies – a great resource for self referral with mental health issues- big or small.


I’ve used the local IAPT – SLAM – for several Growing Talent Associates with great results.  Not only did those involved get the right support but grew in confidence in all areas – true empowerment!


Now the NHS has an excellent service.  Just put your postcode – home or/and work into the home page and a list of Mental Health specialist organisations in that area will be shown.


The information on the website includes the organisation, location, ratings of users and whether you can self-refer or not.  If you can, you can click on the link shown and refer immediately via the on-line form.


Why not use the website to get some local organisations that can help for both work and home and keep the contact details in your mobile – best to be prepared!


Refreshing to see some real investment in the Mental Health arena.  Let’s see more!



Green Light To Talk Mental Health!

Inspiring step by one of my clients today.  Leading the way to encourage businesses to talk openly about mental health issues with staff at all levels.


Will others follow?  All great changes started with a small step. This is mental health awareness week so it makes sense to do something fitting.


But wouldn’t it be much better if we wore green ribbons all of the time to signify we are comfortable having a conversation on Mental Health?


It almost seems we are only giving permission to speak up about mental health on a set date!  Which is crazy.


We all know someone who is struggling with a mental health issue.  Lets start a conversation, and keep talking/listening/signposting.  Remember to be mindful of your own wellbeing as well.


Take very good care of your mental health.

‘So rare – people were laughing and joking together…………….’

I love it when employers I work with are impressed and surprised by the work I do.  This week has been full-on diversity of tasks.

On Monday we had the initial assessments for the next round of Growing Talent – over 45 attendees met with managers from global and national employers.  The five tasks included:

  • Sell yourself on Google – 2 minute sales pitch
  • Follow a process – with a hidden trick!
  • Sell a famous person into a job
  • Debate a contentious issue giving a conclusion as a team
  • Truth & vision – pick one true attribute and one power you would like

Ice was broken.  I’m not sure who was more nervous at the start, the unemployed attendees or the employers!  Great to hear things like ‘that was fun’, ‘I’ve never witnessed anything like this at any assessment day – everyone laughing and joking together’.

I’ve always found it strange in the 20+ years I’ve spent in recruitment and we still cling to recruiting staff in the same way.  We never find out their personality, skills or potential until we’ve employed them.  Growing Talent enables each side to know the other before an employment offer is made delivering commitment and longevity.

Yesterday was spent delivering a 3 hour power house workshop to a national front of house hospitality organisation.  A room full of managers with their minds on their increasing in-trays back at the office.  The core ‘want’ in the room was to learn more about the delicate subject of mental health.  How to approach and support staff and when to escalate to HR/Occupational Health.

Stress levels almost increased for me when I discovered the screen had a HDMI cable not the old style pin connector.  Luckily an old connector was found.  Note to self – upgrade equipment!!!

The room was hot and small – not a great combination for training.  However, the time flew by.  Conversation flowed as did the interaction and contribution of all managers.

At the end of the session, I was really pleased to see all evaluations had been marked ‘good’ – the top score!  Some additional comments:

‘I thought the content was really good and I feel more confident on this issue.’

‘I learnt how to talk to staff about mental health in the workplace’

‘Really informative, definitely makes you look at things differently’.

‘Really good – loved the group exercises’

The end of my week will be focussed on Growing Talent with the Employers Selection on Friday.

Across the pond…………….

Looking forward to a transatlantic Skype in January with Mental Health professionals in Washington looking to enhance their offering to the corporate market.

It’s so important to remember in mental health and well being training that ‘one size does not fit all’.  Each organisation will have different needs to ensure their workforce are happy, healthy and able to support each other.

What fits the public sector won’t fit the private sector.  Then of course there are all the SMEs, charities, non-profit etc.

As we see people as individuals and respect their individual resilience in coping with life/work events, we should see businesses the same way.  Their cultures and resources will all be different as well.

A great instructor will always listen to the core needs of the organisation and deliver a course to meet these areas, An essential consideration is to remove the stigma/embarrassment by making each element of the course interactive with case studies, quizs, discussions and a little bit of artwork!

Breaking perceptions.  Getting Managers to be people first.  Discussing and agreeing potential easy changes the workplace can introduce such as making mental health the subject of team talks, ensuring staff understand confidentiality will be observed in those initial conversations rather than escalation to a full blown HR investigation is key to making the workplace healthier and happier for all at all levels.

For business minds out there – a healthy workplace is a productive one.  Remember there is no health without positive mental health.