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Goals. Values. Beliefs.

The personal development trifecta.

I create and commit to powerfully inspiring goals. I come to know – and align – to my values. And I choose to adopt empowering beliefs. And so: I can achieve anything.

Knowing – and aligning with – our values (those things most important to us) is one of the most powerful personal development steps we can take. And not least because:

Sometimes, our values play-out in negative ways.

Don’t think so? Here are some examples …


Perhaps I value a strong work ethic.

It’s played a big part of my success to date. I’ve worked hard. Harder than the other guy. I’ve stuck diligently to my project and had success as a result.

But now I notice I’ve come to associate success as only ever following significant hard work. And so I sidestep or overlook more direct routes to my goal because it can’t be success without the strife that must come beforehand. Because I’ve not yet earnt that success. Because I don’t deserve it.

And so I harbour the belief that success without strife is not success, not earnt, not deserved and not for me. Hmm.


Perhaps I value organisation.

And my highly-organised approach to work has me in total command of what I do. I’m known for it! But now I notice I can’t start anything unless everything is laid-out in advance. Unless everything is neat and tidy (even though I know that’s not how careers or businesses really happen). Unless everything is certain – which it never can be. Hmm.


Perhaps I value learning and knowledge.

What I have learnt and what I know have been huge factors in my success. I love putting my deep knowledge to work. And revelling in the spirit of continual learning and improvement. But now I notice I am incapacitated by my need to (over-) educate. And rather than getting into action with what I do know, I choose to stay stuck – although I hide it behind my latest learning project. Hmm.


Perhaps I value perfection.

And so my high-standards drive me forward and achieve amazing outputs. But now I notice I’m missing deadlines. And that nothing is ever good enough. Including me. Hmm.

What’s the lesson here?


Examine your values.

Think about how they are playing out: positively and negatively. And notice where those well-intentioned and positive values are harbouring beliefs that actually sit in conflict to your goals and objectives.

And from there: rewrite the story around those values. And how best you’ll choose to put them to work.

Some consumers are happier after an indulgent purchase if there is no good reason for it, according to research.

A team of marketing academics led by Francine Espinoza Petersen from ESMT Berlin business school conducted a number of studies examining the emotional responses and subsequent happiness levels of consumers.

They found that while previous research and lay theory suggest that having a reason to indulge will make for a happier customer, consumers with ‘low self-control’ are actually happier when they have no reason to indulge at all.


Customer satisfaction

One online study measured the predicted effect on happiness and the satisfaction with the purchase as a consequence of happiness.

The results showed that consumers with high levels of self-control were happier after indulging with a reason for doing so, while those identified as having low self-control were happier after indulging without reason.

Consumers with high levels of self-control tend to be more rational and disciplined, therefore valuing reasoned-indulgences. Consumers with low self-control, on the other hand, tend to be more relaxed and easy going, thus enjoying spontaneous indulgences.

“Our findings send a few clear messages to companies. Firstly, marketers should be aiming to communicate better based on personality types. If you are pushing a typical ‘because you are worth it’ message or something like Chrysler’s ‘luxury feels better earned’ tagline you may be alienating a sizeable portion of your potential consumer base who don’t identify with that message. If a brand is more likely to have low self-control, or frivolous, customers, promoting spontaneous indulgence, as with Lexus recent ‘dare to be spontaneous’ campaign, may be a more effective strategy.”

“In addition to this, because the happiness post-purchase influences the ongoing satisfaction of that purchase, targeting the consumer message more accurately could actually result in lower levels of consumer returns and an increase in positive word-of-mouth promotion.”


SOURCE: ResponseSource

Setting up and online business is an attractive prospect.


After all, ecommerce is a big market.

But it can be fraught with challenges.

Unfortunately, having a great idea and business plan isn’t enough to grow a successful online business.

So here are my top tips to get your started:


1. Know your target market


Knowing your target market is useful for web development and much more. Making the most of your marketing and advertising spend relies heavily on well-defined target markets. For example, you can use targeted advertising on Facebook across all of our target segments to understand which group has the most interest in actually buying.

Your customer segments also inform product sourcing. If you know that your main customer segment is mums with young children, you can find gifts for kids to appeal to that group.

Top Tip: Use available research to develop your customer segments and then test using digital advertising to quickly gain granular detail about each group.


2. Be user-friendly


Surprisingly, many ecommerce sites are difficult and frustrating to use. They seem to focus on design, branding and ‘cool’ functionality, rather than focusing on what’s important and useful for the customer.

For example, some sites really do make the ordering process so difficult that the customer abandons their basket.

The problem gets worse when you consider that most shopping is now completed on a mobile device. Resource-intensive plugins and a clunky user interface can make ordering personalised and customisable products slow and difficult while hogging data.

Top Tip: Develop a mobile-first website using lightweight plugins or native interfaces to provide a smooth, user-centric platform.



3. Use clear advertising


There is a lot to separate the good ads from the bad. Online advertising can be expensive, especially in the run-up to key shopping seasons, so it’s important to maximise your ROI.

Again, testing is important, but you need to start with clear ad copy and imagery. Stock photography and vague text will be quickly dismissed and your investment wasted.

Copy and imagery need to work together to quickly inform the customer: what the product is, who it’s for and the price. Of course, the product also needs to be in stock, so it’s important to link your ads to live stock info. Using this approach, we managed to achieve a conversion rate of 3.6% over the Christmas season on Facebook.

Top Tip: Take time to understand the possibilities around online ads. Each platform has different rules and options – the best ROI can be achieved by developing the right combination of settings, targeting, copy and video/imagery.


4. Photography and layout


Getting the photography right is just as important for your actual website. A lot of websites use images of products on a white background. While this does make it clear what the product is and what’s included, it doesn’t help sell the product.

Christmas for example: would you be more inspired by images of a gift against a white background, or of kids playing with the product in front of the Christmas tree? Lifestyle shots, where the product is being used in situ, activate the imagination and stir-up emotions. Customers are then better able to make the choice to purchase based on both rational and emotional reasoning.

Top Tip: Lifestyle shots sell the dream; white backgrounds can help sell the product. Use a combination of both for best effect, but always lead with the lifestyle shots.


5. Competitions drive traffic


Another way to driving traffic to your new website is by running regular competitions, especially on social media. For example, you can email customers asking them to share a picture of their purchase on Facebook and tag your page in order to win. Their friends will quickly become more aware of you and and are more likely to use your service and enter your competitions themselves, growing awareness exponentially for a relatively low cost.

Again, knowing your target audience and which segment you want to entice is particularly useful when selecting a prize. The prize needs to be relevant to people who have already purchased your products, but also attract those who haven’t used your website before. Alternatively, you could offer a voucher as the prize, attracting all of your target segments.

Top Tip: Make your competitions relevant and specific to the platform where it will run. Photos and videos work well on Facebook and Instagram, for example, whereas Twitter entries could be more text-based.


6. Partnerships and resellers


If you want to achieve rapid growth, it’s worth developing solid partnership with business partners and resellers.

Resellers, in particular, tend to have established brands and customer bases. By becoming their go-to supplier, you tap into their existing market, growing your sales volume dramatically.

The most important thing to remember is that resellers value is created through their brand, so they are very protective about it. As such, you need to help maintain or enhance their reputation by delivering outstanding service. Products and delivery need to be reliable and high-quality, while your team need to be flexible when responding to requests. If you can solve a partner’s challenges, they will love you for it!

 Top Tip: It can be especially helpful to invite resellers to come and see your products first-hand so they understand exactly what they’re selling and are reassured of the quality.


7. Customer service – keep it local


Many online businesses outsource customer support to somewhere cheap and rely solely on web chats and email to manage tickets.

This may be cheaper but it’s likely to frustrate your customers and partners if they can’t reach someone with the power to actually do something. In our sector, many customers have very short lead-times, so waiting on a reply to an email will cause anxiety around delivery times.

Local customer service may cost more, but customers will feel reassured that any issues will be resolved quickly and easily, and that they will receive their purchase in the expected time-frame.

 Top Tip: Don’t assume that everyone wants web-based help. Make your phone number prominent on your website and staff your phones to ensure quick, easy resolution to any customer issues. You’ll also get valuable feedback that you can use to improve your service.



About the author

Stuart MaclarenStuart Maclaren is the award-winning Managing Director of The YPP Group, a leading name in the UK wide-format print sector. Your Print Partner is a specialist digital print company producing flags, banners, exhibition displays and other promotional products. YPP is now launching an exciting new brand that will supply year-round high quality personalised printed gifts with late ordering and next-day delivery.

UK businesses have to wait more than five months for new joiners to train and get up to speed in their jobs, according to global research by Robert Half.


The study, which polled almost 5,000 CFOs in 14 countries, examined how traditional job roles are becoming more complex due to digital transformation initiatives.

CFOs in the UK report that the key skills for finance professionals are changing. With digital transformation a priority for many organisations, there is now more focus on skills such as data analysis (cited by 43% of CFOs), financial analysis (35%), and data forecasting (34%).

Finding the right people with these abilities is made even more challenging by the fact that businesses around the world are struggling to find qualified professionals. Almost all (93%) UK businesses find it challenging to attract qualified accounting and finance professionals. Globally, the issue is equally pronounced, with 94% of businesses also reporting similar challenges.

This shortage of skilled candidates places even greater pressure on organisations to ensure that they select the right candidate and train them effectively to do their job – especially given the cost of bad hire.

“Identifying the right candidate in this current war for talent means that businesses need to define what skills and qualities are required for a successful role, then focus primarily on these alongside cultural fit,” highlights Matt Weston, UK Managing Director at Robert Half. “Defining the skills that can be learnt will allow businesses to expand their candidate pool and identify talent with the potential for long-term success.”


Training new recruits

Earlier this year Robert Half UK revealed that nine in ten candidates would consider leaving a new job during their probationary period, potentially causing significant business disruption and cost.

“Two major factors that lead new employees to consider leaving a job early include poor management and a lack of proper onboarding – including effective on-the-job training and personal development initiatives. This can be a crucial factor in ensuring that businesses hold on to their most talented new hires,” added Weston. “Training is key to ensuring that employees are productive and feel they have an incentive to advance and grow with the company.”

However, while training and development are important factors in retaining employees – including tenured workers – a large proportion of companies still aren’t making this a priority.

“In today’s recruitment landscape, the importance of effective recruitment and retention strategies cannot be overlooked. As skilled professionals are now in the driver’s seat of their careers, recruitment responsibilities continue long after the contract is signed,” Weston concluded.


Most common training and development opportunities:

External training opportunities48%
Internal training opportunities52%
Encourage employee memberships to professionals organisations36%
Sponsor professional qualifications and training34%
Proactively work with industry bodies31%

*Responses do not total 100% as multiple responses permitted.



About Robert Half

Robert Half is the world’s first and largest specialised recruitment consultancy and member of the S&P 500. Founded in 1948, the company has over 300 offices worldwide providing temporary, interim and permanent recruitment solutions for accounting and finance, financial services, technology, creative and administrative professionals. For more than 20 years, Robert Half has been named to FORTUNE® magazine’s list of “Most Admired Companies” and offers workplace and job seeker resources at and



“Before we demand more of our data, we need to demand more of ourselves” – Nate Silver


There is always a crisis in marketing: from new consumer sophistication, to new channels; from new thinking (like Behavioural Economics) to delivering more accountable ROI in the boardroom. And for every crisis there arises a new White Knight: Day After Recall, Tracking, neuromarketing, NPS scores, channel neutrality and now….Big Data.

One of the unfortunate legacies of FW Taylor’s Scientific Management is what I have called the arithmocracy.

I use the term to describe a system that I find increasingly pernicious and prevalent, and not just in the domain of business: think of school league tables, the UK NHS service, or targets for other bodies such as the police force.

There are two variants to the definition:


1. The system of government whereby the pursuit of numerical solutions leads to runaway measurement at the expense of imagination, creativity and fulfilment.

2. A ruling class (cf. democracy, autocracy), which derives its power not through intelligence or merit but by means of its access to and control of numbers.


My worry is that in our era, which could be characterised as Data Rich Insight Poor (DRIP), the arrival and veneration of Big Data is helping those who put the anal into analysis at the expense of what we should all be working towards: the pursuit of transformative business insights and innovation via strategic and creative means.

Instead, it is fuelling the physics envy that much of marketing suffers from, and it is turning us all increasingly into slaves to the algorithm seeking safety in numbers.


From data to meaning 

So, I would like to see a new focus, not on Big Data but on a role that sees its goal as creating and managing meaning.

Let us all think of ourselves as being ‘meaning managers’.

Big Data will be one of the tools for creating meaning but no more.

I want to see Big Data takes its rightful place as part of an integrated theory. The main principles of this theory would be:

  • A shared theory and understanding of human behaviour and communication, which must underlie any attempt at deriving or analysing human behaviour.
  • Accepting that insight compresses information into attention, but that we must avoid the temptation of conflating Big Data with genuine insight and the false sense of “safety in numbers”.
  • Knowing when data [big or otherwise] is relevant and sufficient, and when data cannot contribute to genuinely non-incremental innovation, and the strategic and creative breakthroughs which precede it.

This means acknowledging the power of instinct, theory, understanding, observation and other ways of seeing that do not necessarily sit under the aegis of Big Data.

To separate the two terms more distinctly: data is to be collected, insight is to be connected.

Ensuring that the communication of insightment is conducted via storytelling as an antidote to the remorseless march of the arithmocracy.


Here are three ways to create insightment and fight against our innate analytical bias:


Cherish Failure


“Fallor ergo sum” [I am wrong, therefore I am] – St Augustine


We have become so driven by the need to succeed and so ready to punish failure (ask any football manager) that we have lost the essence of St Augustine’s words.

Etymology fans (who I hope will find plenty to enjoy in the book) will point out too that “errare” in Latin means ‘to wander’ (still visible in the word “erratic” and “aberrant”) with no hint of failure.

Scientists like Darwin and Vilfredo Pareto (signor 80/20) and modern screenwriters like Charlie (“Being John Malkovich”) Kaufman have all testified to the liberating power of failure and error.

So, we need to wander more, idly daydream while unconscious System 1 does its work of finding insight in its own serendipitous way.


Stay Naïve

Hemmed in by groupthink, frightened of going against the rest of our tribe/team/company, bouncing around the echo-chamber of our own frozen assumptions and conventions, we have to unthink (in every sense) how we liberate ourselves from the prison of logic and extend our cognitive diversity.

Much has been written by the likes of Professor Philip Tetlock, professor of political psychology at the University of Pennsylvania, on our over-reliance on (narrow) expertise and how it is a hindrance to genuine new thinking of all forms. There is a strong body of evidence from Tetlock that the accuracy of experts in all fields is disconcertingly mythical.

So, we need to resist the lure of being wholly Insider Thinkers and act like we are also seeing things as Outsiders, who make new connections, see new links and create genuinely disruptive ideas.


Embrace Serendipity

Of the six universal human emotions that scientists since Darwin and Paul Ekman have identified, surprise is perhaps the least appreciated.

The shock or twist of recognition means that it penetrates our conscious filters (what I call ‘attention spam’) and will create the emotional cue of ‘aha’, ‘eureka’ or Asimov’s ‘that’s funny’ without which any insightment is doomed to fail [and here I really do mean fail].

Examples include Sophocles’ Oedipus Rex, arguably literature’s first detective story, and Andrew Stanton, director and writer of Wall-E, Up and the various Toy Stories.

So let us encourage our unconscious system 1 to come into contact with what experts call ESIs- external serendipitous influences. We need to go out of our way to decompartmentalise and flood ourselves, or more accurately our unthinking System 1, with cross-cultural, inter-disciplinary randomness, serendipity, and spontaneity; to seek out the challenging, quirky and eclectic, maybe even the arcane and recondite.

Only then can we turn data into insight in a way that appeals to our innate curiosity and creativity.


About the author

Anthony TasgalTas is the author of The Inspiratorium: flitting between the poles of science and art, hedgehogs and foxes, quantum physics and etymology, philosophy and football, ancient history and artificial intelligence, this book is a web of connections, of jumps and leaps that will take you to different places and areas that will intrigue and inspire.

His previous book, The Storytelling Book was runner up in 2016’s Marketing Book of the Year and is already on a fourth reprint.


To hear more from Tas, check out Episode #97 of the LID Radio podcast.

The confidence gap between men and women is a myth, according to Laura Guillén, Professor of Organisational Behaviour at ESMT Berlin.


This is because women viewed as self-confident aren’t more likely to get ahead. For women, gaining influence at work is more closely tied to their warmth and caring than the appearance of self-confidence.

Ms Guillén’s research, in collaboration with Margarita May of IE Business School and Natalia Karelaia of INSEAD, examined high-performing workers in a male-dominated technology company that employs more than 4,000 people worldwide.

“Despite there being no visible confidence gap in the way high-performing men and women rated themselves, their reasons for gaining influence in the company showed a sharp gender disparity. Although men viewed as self-confident were more likely to get ahead, our research demonstrated that this was not the case for women, who were judged on their warmth, or how caring and social they seemed,” she explained.

“This means that popular messaging about how women must change themselves to appear more self-confident in order to be successful isn’t just false, but also dampens the gender-diversity of the workforce. It ignores that the responsibility of nurturing this diversity should fall with employers and places the onus on the female employees themselves to conform with lazy, masculine stereotypes.”


Confident vs caring

The research suggests women are expected to care for others on top of their workload, while men are held to a lower standard of key performance indicators.

Ms Guillén continued: “In order to get ahead, women are having to care for others while their male counterparts focus on their own objectives. Despite this prosocial quality not being listed on any job description, it appears to be the key performance indicator against which access, power and influence is granted to successful women.

“In order to combat this, HR departments should make sure that women and men are being evaluated against the same criteria in the hiring process and when being selected for promotions. Performance appraisals often contain nearly twice the amount of language about being warm for women than for men. These unconscious gender biases must be confronted so that talents and skills across organisations are rewarded fairly, regardless of gender.”

SOURCE: ResponseSource


Business and finance journalist, Matt Packer discusses key news stories with the Institute of Leadership & Management (ILM) head of research, policy & standards, Kate Cooper.


As Britain’s summer continues to shine, research from the TUC indicates that many employees are unlikely to feel the benefits at their leisure – as they are being denied their full holiday entitlements.

According to the Union’s findings, one in 12 workers are not receiving their full holiday allocations, meaning that they are losing out on a collective £3 billion of paid leave per year. The problem is affecting 9.2% of female workers and 7.2% of their male counterparts, with the sectors in which employees are most likely to lose out emerging as agriculture (14.9%), mining and quarrying (14.7%) and accommodation and food (13.9%).

Meanwhile, the industries with the highest numbers of staff losing out are retail (348,000), education (342,000) and health and social care (291,000).

Reasons that the TUC has ascribed to the issue are:

  • workers being set unrealistic workloads that do not allow them the time to take leave;
  • employers deliberately denying holiday requests and ‘managing out’ people’s leave, and
  • employers failing to keep up to date with the law.


Preventing burnout

In a statement, the TUC said: “Minimum holiday entitlements are a vital part of reducing overwork … People who work excessive hours are at risk of developing heart disease, stress, mental illness, strokes and diabetes, which also impacts on co-workers, friends and relatives. The TUC wants HMRC to be granted new powers to clamp down on employers who deny staff their statutory holiday entitlement. This would include the power to ensure that workers are fully compensated for missed holidays.”

TUC general secretary Frances O’Grady added: “We’re now in peak holiday season. But, while many workers are away enjoying time off with friends and family, millions are missing out. And that puts them at risk of burnout. Employers have no excuse for robbing staff of their well-earned leave. UK workers put in billions of hours of unpaid overtime as it is.”


Can’t get no satisfaction

What sorts of considerations should leaders factor in to ensure that their workers are able to use the full holiday benefits to which they are entitled?

Kate Cooper explains: “As management psychologist Frederick Hertzberg identified in his research of the late 1950s, holidays are a ‘hygiene factor’: they are an important part of what causes us not to be dissatisfied with our experience as workers. So organisations must have conditions of employment in place, and holidays are a vital part of that.

“If the terms and conditions are not correctly established to take that into account, then workers will be dissatisfied. That’s separate from – yet could tarnish – any intrinsic satisfaction that they may derive from carrying out the job itself. So we have known for 60 years now about the important role that holiday time plays – not just for workers’ wellbeing, but in terms of how they view their employers, too.”

Cooper points out: “Unlike sickness or accidents, one advantage that holidays present is that they can be planned well in advance. We know how many days we’re entitled to, and we have a general idea of how they could be distributed throughout the year. A common approach that employers tend to take is requiring staff to book holidays on a first-come-first-served basis. Under that sort of policy, some members of staff can be left out of the running when they try to book for a time of the year that is already heavily subscribed – but I really don’t think that ‘getting in first’ is an adequate benchmark for planning.


Forward planning

“Employers should take a range of other factors into account, too, so they consider holidays more ‘in the round’: how do we ensure that the work that needs to be done in ‘X’ part of the year is properly covered? How do we help staff to take their breaks at even, regular intervals, so that we don’t end up in situations where they’ve hardly taken any holidays during the year and must take them all in the run up to Christmas? How do we ensure that staff feel all the types of benefits that holidays can bring?” Cooper pointed out.

“The problem with planning staff holidays, of course, is that employers tend not to consider it an urgent matter. But it becomes urgent if it hasn’t been planned for – and that’s where organisations can run into the sorts of problems that Ryanair encountered last year. I think the issue that the TUC refers to of firms ‘managing out’ leave is likely to stem from the lack of planning that I’m talking about – bosses turning down requests because they look at the schedule and think ‘We won’t be able to cope.’”

She adds: “One aspect of this issue that leaders often overlook is the opportunities that holidays provide for succession planning: if a key decision maker wants to take a break at a specific time of the year, which more junior colleague is available to step up and have a go in the role until the individual returns? Just like maternity leave or parental leave, holidays open up terrific chances for employees to broaden their experience through training. As Herzberg indicated, if you want engaged, productive and satisfied staff, then eliminating areas that could cause dissatisfaction is crucial.”


For more on these topics, listen to Episode 9 of the ILM podcast in partnership with LID Radio:



About the authors


Matt Packer

Matt Packer is a business and finance journalist who provides expert comment for organisations such as CPA Global, Inemmo Leadership Development Consultancy, The Institute of Leadership & Management and the Chartered Management Institute.



Kate CooperKate Cooper is head of research, policy and standards at the Institute of Leadership & Management (ILM). She has appeared on BBC Television, BBC Radio 4, has a regular column in Dialogue magazine, is a key note speaker at conferences and provides expert commentary on a range of topics arising from the Institute’s research agenda.


Your attitude is a choice that you simply keep choosing.


At times though, you may feel like it isn’t a choice, just how you are at that particular moment.

But it is something you have chosen, fed by many influences; experience; fatigue (physical, mental and spiritual); hopes; fears; aspirations; disappointments; peers; siblings; parenting; habits; learned behaviour; and on and on.

Deep within you are the components and influencers of your attitude, and with that attitude you, in turn, influence your life experience. Possibly embedding, even more deeply, that particular set or range of attitudes (and thus perpetuating your life experience and the accompanying attitudes).

It needn’t be your ‘flipping attitude’, you have within you the power to ‘flip our attitude’!


Choosing to choose

It’s not about choosing an extreme euphoric stance irrespective of your current situation – sometimes turbulent conditions require an adapted inclination or attitude. It is about choosing the attitude based on conditions, your destination and the desire for a positive experience (every time!).

The late Dr. Wayne Dyer often stated: “If you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change.”

This means that the attitude you are wearing at any moment pre-determines how you experience everything that’s going on around you. We live in a time where problems seem to proliferate around the world, all the time. They are frequently reported, feasted upon and given massive airtime. We are experiencing a global obsession with complexities and bad news. Seven billion attitudes are at risk!


Get happy

Most people allow circumstances to influence and set their attitude, and so are hurled around by the winds of life and face imminent impact with the ground of reality!

Once you decide to own your attitude by deliberately choosing it, you’ll gain more control over your experience and more easily let go of those things that might derail you.

Although described very differently, we are all intent on happiness (or your own upgraded version of it). For this to be possible, it must inform or be our attitude, as perhaps the ultimate attitude.

Look for clues that your attitude is flipping and shifting in the direction of happiness:

  • Your heart is happy (from its calmness, to its beat and its warmth).
  • You smile more often.
  • The feelings you experience are enjoyable.
  • Your connection to the events and circumstances of your life are positive.


Sustainable choices

Change, of any nature, always feels better if it’s worth it, even more so if it is to be sustainable. Our effort and input require some kind of return on investment for our body and mind to make energy continually available.

So, celebrate the wins, big or small. And, when sh*t happens, because in life it does, remember, it’s not what happens in life that matters, it’s how you respond to it.


About the author

Simon Tyler is a speaker and business coach. Through working with hundreds of clients, he has become passionate about the power of attitude and its connection to confidence and performance. He works with individuals, teams and companies to positively change and boost attitudes, and enhance the impact they have. His pragmatic and stimulating words, rooted in simplicity, and his ability to connect with everyone he meets, means he is trusted by many organisations to influence positive change.







During their long journey across the skies, Canada geese, in their V-formation, have a clear goal and a sense of purpose.


Growing a business is also a journey that can be much more productive when everyone is working in a supportive environment. With this in place your team can adopt the vision of the business and can be actively engaged.

Just how engaged are the majority of us?

A recent survey by the Harvard Business Review showed that less than a quarter of business leaders are actively engaged. But those who are, are much more productive, actively find solutions to work challenges and have a real sense of belonging in their workplace.

More than a quarter are actively disengaged and the remaining 50%, the silent majority, don’t identify as either. They are just turning up and blending in. They represent huge untapped potential. By putting a little more time and effort into this group, you could turn it around and gain great business benefits.

Actively communicating with and engaging this group will reduce employee turnover, increase productivity, improve customer retention and therefore significantly increase profits.

To enhance engagement use the three Cs: communicate, collaborate, celebrate.



There is an increasing variety of communication tools available to teams. Many are time-saving, like texts, emails and conference calls. These are efficient and easy, though frequently result in miscommunications. Having an ‘old fashioned’ face-to-face chat over a cup of coffee is a wonderful way to connect with colleagues.

In one of my earlier roles, I had a boss, Alex – a tall fair-haired friendly Scottish chap who always took time out to chat with us individually. We would review progress from the previous week and look at goals for the coming week.

Alex would always finish by asking: “Karen, what do you need from me to reach your goals this week?” It was great knowing he was offering his support and it encouraged me to give him and the team my best.

Your Action

Schedule a one-on-one conversation with everyone reporting directly to you. The start of the week is an ideal time for this. Develop an interest in them as people. You might well find out about challenges they are facing personally and, for that week, know they may not be able to give you 100%. You can then organise support from other team members. Your empathy will be repaid in many ways. You can also take this time to review progress from the prior week and review priorities for the coming week.

I practice this weekly routine and end these meetings with the same question…. “What specifically do you need from me this week?”

With this sense of connection your team is likely to expend less energy and complete projects more quickly. This again translates to bottom line financial benefits.

The small amount of time you spend engaging with your team, building rapport and trust, will actually save time by eliminating complications down the road and increasing engagement.



Do you recall when a colleague or boss listened to your suggestions and took on board your ideas? It’s a great feeling when your recommendations are considered and even implemented.

Effective collaboration comes from each team member feeling engaged, as though they are an integral part of the success of the organisation.

Your Action

Develop a corporate culture of listening. Brainstorm with your team and you will uncover gems – this will ensure a high level of collaboration. When you encourage ‘idea sharing’ within your company, you empower employees to think outside of the box to generate new products and services for your organisation. They are also best equipped to come up with improvements on how they can be more efficient and effective. When teams have a sense of inclusiveness, each member has a vested interest in the success of the project and they collaborate.



When we are acknowledged and appreciated, we are more likely to help and co-operate with other team members.

 “Gratitude is not only the greatest of virtues, but the parent of all the others’Cicero (Roman philosopher)

Many companies do acknowledge and recognise employee achievements at the end of a project or with an ‘employee of the month’ award. But by then the good deed is well forgotten. I would recommend celebrating immediately and frequently. These small moments of thanks occur as informal, real-time exchanges of social praise and feedback, performed by employees and leaders alike.

Being acknowledged, even with micro-recognition, on a frequent basis triggers our intrinsic motivation and inspires us to work better, harder and more efficiently. This recognition happens ‘in-the-moment’ as a verbal appreciation of gratitude and helps employees to draw immediate connections between the noteworthy behaviours they performed and the positive lift they feel from the instant recognition.

Your Action

When I thank a team member, I use the power of three: (1) say thanks, (2) specifically mention what they did that’s worthy of praise and (3) explain how it is in line with the company’s vision and goals.

Catch team members doing good things and thank them for it. Celebrate even small achievements. Say, ‘thank you’ – two simple words that have an immediate impact. Saying it in front of others will magnify its impact.


Employee engagement supports business growth. Build the 3 Cs into your communication process and it will help you achieve a fully engaged team. A team in which everyone is committed to the business vision and feels part of it. This, in turn, will lead to a strong brand, greater customer loyalty and long-term profitability.



About the author

Karen O’Donnell is from Toastmasters International a not-for-profit organisation that has provided communication and leadership skills since 1924 through a worldwide network of clubs. There are more than 400 clubs and 10,000 members in the UK and Ireland. Members follow a structured educational programme to gain skills and confidence in public and impromptu speaking, chairing meetings and time management. To find your nearest club, visit


One of the reasons why we sometimes have such an overwhelming amount of things to do is that we don’t delegate enough.


Some of us find it easy to ask others for help and others do not.

Then there are those of us who just don’t realize that we could ask someone else to do the things we do not have time for.

It simply does not very often occur to me that some of the things on my to-do-list could just as well be on somebody else’s.

Receiving help is all about having faith and, yet, it is actually quite easy to get the help we need if we just ask for it. I find it hard to imagine a person who never likes to be of service to others – as long as there is time and space for completing their own tasks as well. Being asked to take over a task from someone can even feel like you are being recognized, that someone puts their faith in you to do something to the best of your ability.


Not everything, but at least something

If we get a reply along the lines of “I’m sorry, I can’t right now”, we might feel disappointed. Perhaps our colleagues are just as swamped with work at the moment and need to prioritize doing their own tasks first. Perhaps we could ask for help from someone on the ‘outside’ or get help with a task that does not concern the core of our project or task. Regardless what we can transfer from our own to-do-list to somebody else’s, even if it is just a small part of the puzzle, we will still feel relieved if our list is long and time is short.

If you, like I, rarely spontaneously think of asking others for help, you might find it useful to once in a while make an active and conscious attempt to figure out what you could ask for help with.

If you want to, try the following:

Simply look through your to-do-list and identify tasks that you do not necessarily have to do by yourself. If you find some, it does not mean that you have to ask others to do them, but you could.

When you find a suitable task, take a moment to think about who you could ask to do it instead of doing it yourself. If you cannot think of anyone, ask a colleague if they have any ideas.

Either ask the person for help right away, or formulate a to-do-task that entails doing so later, and you will at least have taken action towards getting some assistance.


More space for what matters most

If you actively search out the tasks others might help you with, you will have more time for what matters most – meaning, the tasks that to a greater extent contribute to the goals you are responsible for and that you need to do yourself. Because if truth be told, the time you spend on all those less important tasks is time you cannot spend on those that really matter. If it works out well when you finally asked for help, you will start thinking of things to delegate more often and spontaneously.


About the author

David StiernholmSUPER STRUCTUREDDavid Stiernholm is a trainer who teaches thousands of people every year in companies, government authorities, organizations and universities how to become more structured and attain a higher degree of personal efficiency.

He is also the author of Super Structured.

“Information overload”, “too much going on”, “full email inbox”, “too much on your plate”, “heavy workload”, “ASAP”, “piles that keep growing”, it has to get better soon… Yes, there are many ways to describe the chaotic life many of us lead at work. But, if we create a better structure at work, we will have more time for what matters most to us and to our business. Super Structured is based on a highly successful training program and is for anyone who wants to create a workday that runs smoother and with greater ease. In short chapters with useful advice and tips.