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6 Ways To Raise Your Leadership Game This Week

Think that becoming a better leader involves attending intensive courses, gaining years and years of experience, or getting your head stuck into a textbook? Well, not necessarily. These things can all have their place, but it’s very possible to raise your game this week, by making just a few manageable changes.

If you’re ready to step up to the challenge, then read on. We’re going to look at six practical game-changers that you can get to work with right away.

Say No

It’s all too easy to fall into the trap of chasing every opportunity that comes your way. But it’s impossible to do everything and sustain a successful business. It’s all about carefully constructing what your role will involve. If in doubt, ask yourself what your priorities need to be right now to get you to where you want to be.

Delegate One Task From Your Agenda

Being a business owner involves knowing when you need to hand things over. You just can’t manage everything on your own. Many people struggle with this though, and hesitate when it comes to handing over to someone else. Do yourself a favour this week and pass a task on to your team. It’s vital that you aren’t the only person within your company that can do any one thing.

Forget About Work For One Evening

Taking work home is often a necessity. You can talk about work-life balance all day long, but there’s no denying that sacrifices have to be made on the road to success. If you have absolutely zero distinction between your business and personal lives though, you’re going to reach serious burnout sooner rather than later. Take the evening off. Read a book. Watch TV. Do absolutely nothing. You might be surprised by what this teaches you.

Do That Thing That You’ve Been Putting Off

It’s human nature to avoid the tasks that you dread. In certain situations though, this can seriously hold you back as a leader. Perhaps you know that you need to have a difficult conversation with a team member, but you haven’t quite managed to make yourself just do it. This week, get it out the way.

Turn Your Routine On Its Head

Routine can be a wonderful thing, but it’s worth considering whether you’ve fallen into the trap of just doing certain things because they’re what you’ve always done. Shake things up to avoid getting stuck in a rut. If you can get into the habit of experimenting with this, you’re likely to make big discoveries in terms of your motivation and productivity.

Leave Some Unplanned Time In Your Diary

If you take a look back over your schedule from the past few weeks, you’ll probably notice a trend. Most of your time is earmarked for certain events, such as meetings, networking, and so on. It’s wise to be organised, but don’t forget the value of having some regular unplanned time in your diary, so you can focus on handling issues in the moment.

Being a leader can be massively rewarding, but it can be a tough job all the same. If you want some extra help on the people front, we can support you through your goals, and ensure that you reach your full potential.

Drop us a line at to find out more or sign up here for free tools and guidance.

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P.s – For more reading on giving your own leadership style a bit of a kickstart , then download our new eBook: Leadership 101: The Ultimate Guide to Being an Inspirational Leader.

Photo by Jay Malone

“But We’ve Always Done It This Way”: HR Habits Which Could Be Costing You Dearly

We all know that bad habits in our personal lives can lead to issues: from trying to ditch the cigarettes/ chocolate/ alcohol through to taking up a healthier diet, most of us have experienced a time when we recognised that changes had to be made for our greater good.

But have you ever stopped to think about the HR habits that could be having a seriously negative impact on your business? Like many less than favourable behaviours, we sometimes don’t realise that they’re a problem until they’ve spiraled out of control. So here, we identify a few bad HR habits that you might be committing & what to do to .

Carrying Out Annual Reviews On An Annual Basis

Hang on a sec – why exactly is this a bad habit?? Shouldn’t you be making sure that performance discussions do take place?? Of course you should. But if they’re only happening once a year, then you’re missing a trick. Managing and improving performance needs to be built into your everyday working practices. If it’s not, then you can’t realistically expect to improve productivity.

Getting Stuck In The Filing Cabinet

You don’t need us to tell you that the world of business is moving faster than ever before. You’re probably using online tactics when it comes to your sales and marketing, for example, but what about HR? It could be time to ditch the notion that HR lives in the filing cabinet, and bring your business up to speed. Online systems with good security are as secure as any filing cabinets and will often save you time and hassle with your HR Admin.

Thinking That Training And Learning Are One And The Same

There’s no denying that training can be expensive. Send a few employees to a conference, book in some places on an external course, or bring in a professional trainer for a couple of days, and your bill will be hefty. Sometimes, formal training is essential and/or advisable: when you’re rolling out new software, when your team require a recognised qualification etc. But what’s arguably much more important is ongoing learning within the workplace. Nurturing your talent isn’t a one-off event – it’s about what happens in your business on a day-to-day basis. So get to it with those lunch and learn sessions, involve all the team in what they can all learn from each other and challenge your team to show what they’ve learnt on an on-going basis.

Hogging All The Decision Making

As the boss you may be thinking: but that’s what I’m here for! Obviously there are some key decisions that only you and your top team should be making, but imagine how much time you would free up in your life if others around you came up with a range of solutions to the things which had been stopping you from sleeping for most of the previous night, gave you ideas for your next product or sorted out problems they had about the office move between themselves…. Allowing and encouraging your team to make decisions (or at least contribute to them by involving them) inspires trust and confidence which can pay you back massive returns in terms of loyalty and engagement, not to mention the innovation which can come from a varied viewpoint.

Bad habits are often deeply engraved into a business’s culture, but that doesn’t mean that you should just ignore them and hope for the best. Tackling these issues head-on is the only option.

Need a little help for working out your next steps? Get in touch today at

Photo Credit: BadHabit by jadawin42

An Employers’ Guide To Strategically Managing Employee Wellbeing

If you take a look around at business priorities, you’re likely to find that many leaders are paying lip service to improving wellbeing amongst their staff.

It’s fairly easy to roll out some quick wins, like introducing healthier options on display in the kitchen, and organising lunchtime walks, and it’s true that these things can be successful. But if you want to make deep changes that will have long-term benefits, you need to think about how you can update your overall strategies and company culture for the better.

And here’s the thing. Putting health and wellbeing on your agenda isn’t just something that’s ‘nice to do’. It makes good business sense. From attracting and keeping the right people, through to making sure that you’re staff are motivated and productive, the benefits can be plentiful.

So let’s take a look at some of the areas that you need to be addressing on with your leadership team.

Focus on prevention rather than cure

Poor health and wellbeing isn’t something that can be effectively managed by sticking an Elastoplast over the problem. If you’re serious about creating a healthier and happier workforce, then you need to start right at the very beginning. How can you help your workers to reduce the risk of common illnesses, ailments, and conditions?

There are many options here, though it’s worth noting that it’s often about taking a long-term view, rather than just dipping your toes into some quick-fix tactics. You may be able to organise annual wellness visits, for example, and give staff the option to be screened and vaccinated.

Engage via education

Sure, you can roll out provisions that will make it easier for your staff to eat well, get their five-a-day, exercise more, and so on. But if you want to make long-lasting changes that are truly embraced, you’re going to have to go much deeper.

It’s important that your staff understand what you’re doing, and what the benefits are likely to be, for themselves as individuals, for the wider team, and for the business and its future potential. The only answer here is education. Inform your staff, get them involved, and ensure they have a vested interest in the success of your wellbeing initiatives. Consider, for example, whether your staff know what their BMI is, and how they can make better decisions in the supermarket.

Recognise that it’s not just an HR issue

You might think that employee wellbeing is the concern of the HR team. If you don’t have in-house provisions for this, you might think that the only option is to bring in a consultant. It’s true that some external help could make a big difference for you, but it’s vital that you look at the bigger picture.

Wellbeing concerns everyone in your workforce, from the business owners through to the new temporary recruit. It’s also an issue that needs to be tackled by each business function. When it comes down to it, every leader will have to play their role. You may need marketing and communications support to ensure that it’s well received. The finance team will have a vested interest in ensuring that projects are delivered within budgetary constraints. If you want to maximise your chances of success, you’re going to have to consider wellbeing as a business-wide issue.

Overall business strategy can be a hard thing to do, especially when existing ways of doing things are already engrained into company culture. Sometimes though, it’s worth going the extra mile.

Do you want to take the opportunity to discuss your options with an experienced HR professional? If so, we want to help. Contact us at

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SME Recruitment: 15 Tips To Help You Find ‘The One’

Hiring a new team member is one of the most important decisions you will make and hiring the wrong person could cost your company £££’s. Increase your chances of making your next hire a great match for your small business, by following these hiring tips.

1. Write A Great Job Description

Or at the very least an outline of what the job entail and the type of person that you are looking for. How can you know if you’ve found what you’re looking for in a candidate, if you haven’t clearly defined it? A job description doesn’t need to be a 3 page document and don’t fall into the mistake of making your job description too prescriptive as this will only make your search harder in the long run. Write about what skills the successful candidate will need, will they need a degree or qualification? What type of experience should they be able to demonstrate? Write down the main duties and the skills needed, just doing this will clarify your own thinking.  

2. Look At Your Internal Talent

The quickest way to create a demotivated workforce is to not promote from within. Before you look externally you should advertise the role to your current employees to see if there is anybody internally who is interested in applying.  

3. Do Your Benchmarking

Your entire recruitment experience will be a frustrating exercise if you are wildly out of the range on pay as you simply won’t attract the right candidates. An easy way to check you’re in the right salary range when advertising is to check out salary surveys online (some of the larger agencies publish data for free) and to look advertised positions on job boards to get a gauge of what other companies are paying.

4. Be Specific With Your Marketing

When you are keen to attract the best mix of candidates it can be tempting to advertise anywhere and everywhere but quantity doesn’t mean quality. Advertising without direction encourages passive job seekers to apply on a whim, making more work for you and giving you a slimmer chance of finding your ideal candidate. Work out who you are trying to attract and base your advertising around that.

5. Don’t Be Afraid To Use Social Media When Recruiting

In today’s world you can find out a lot about a candidate but checking their social media presence and you shouldn’t be afraid to do this. After all you wouldn’t want to discover, belatedly, that your shiny new hire makes snide remarks about customers on Twitter? (Remember that your customers read social media, too!)

6. Don’t Wing The Interview Process

Make sure you have a structure in place when it comes to interviewing. Is there any testing involved? Will you give a tour? Who will do the interviewing and in what order? Will you have second interviews? Prepare by re-reviewing the candidate’s resume just before starting the interview. Jot down interview questions so you don’t forget something important. Having a candidate arrive for interview when you are not fully prepared will only lead to added stress and give the impression that as a business you are unorganised. Petrina Alexander’s excellent post ‘The 10 Interview Questions You Need To Be Asking’ will definitely help you here. 

7. Break The Mould!

How often have you interviewed a candidate and thought ‘that person reminds me of me!’? This, the experts say, is not the right person for your company. You may call yourself your harshest critic, but when he or she is right across from you, you’re more likely to be a little biased. Check out Jamie Trentham’s article ‘Is Cognitive Bias Making You Hire The Wrong Guy?’ for more on this.

8. Don’t Always Trust Your First Impressions

Some potential employees may seem perfect on paper or during the interview, only to turn out to be a complete disaster later on. Employers frequently view candidates in terms of whether or not they like them, as opposed to matching their strengths with the responsibilities of the position. Of course you will never know for sure how a new employee will perform once hired but you can mitigate the risk of a bad hire by not factoring first impressions into your decision and going with your gut feel. Try a different approach: If you like someone off the bat, look for reasons they aren’t right for the job. If you dislike someone, look for reasons why they are right for the job. It will help to give you a more rounded view.

9. Don’t’ Forget To Sell The Advantages Of Being A Small Business

Sometimes it may feel like you can’t compete with larger employers but that’s not the case. Softer benefits like flexible hours or a friendly environment can make a difference to candidates so make sure that you  emphasize every advantage of your business

10. But Whatever You Do Don’t Sugarcoat The Job

Yes you should ‘sell’ your company but don’t exaggerate or be frugal with the truth when discussing the roles and its challenges.For example if you are a company that doesn’t have lots of policies and procedures then don’t say that you do. Some people aren’t comfortable in an unstructured environment and longer term it will just mean that you’re not the right fit for one another.

11. Involve Your Employees

The final hiring decision is yours, but you’d be wise to consider input from key team members. Others may spot things you missed. Besides, existing employees may resist a new hire they feel was forced on them with no input.

12. “Slow To Hire, Quick To Fire” Is A Great Mentality To Have  

As your company grows, there are always going to be holes that you need to fill. Whatever you do don’t rush to hire out of a feeling of desperation. In the long run it’s better to go with temporary help or limp along short-handed until you are confident you’ve found the right person. One of the worst mistakes you can make is to pick someone who may not be the best quality or cultural match because you’re desperate to fill the void.

13. Don’t Ignore Your Previous Hiring Mistakes

We’ve all made them. So, the last employee didn’t work out, they won’t be the first and they certainly won’t be the last but what they do offer you is the opportunity to figure out what went wrong before hiring again. Was the last person not up to the job?  Does the next person you hire need to have more experience? Or was the problem that they couldn’t get along with the rest of the team? If so, you might want to emphasise the need to be team player when you next recruit. Whatever happened, don’t be afraid to identify it and avoid repeating the same hiring mistakes next time around.

14. Ask For Referrals From Employees

Get the team engaged in the company’s future from the get-go. Employees who refer a new hire feel invested in that person’s success. That said don’t always assume that they will be the perfect candidate. It may be tempting to hire family members and friends, especially in a small start-up setting, but, a close relationship with a person doesn’t automatically qualify them as a good employee.  You still need to hold a structured interview process to make sure they are the right fit for you.

15. Make Sure You Induct New Employees Properly

You’ve already spent valuable time and money searching for the right candidate.  Don’t ruin all that hard work by not preparing for your new employees first days in the business. Take the time to induct them properly.  Introduce him or her around and don’t overwhelm them with paperwork the first day.  Recruiting doesn’t end with the offer being made and accepted, it’s vital to plan your new starter’s initial journey so take the time to make sure that you get it right.  First impressions are important after all. Fleur Winter wrote a great piece on this ‘Your New Starter Checklist: How To Ensure Newbies Are Set Up For Success’

P.S. Every day is school day so they say… If you fancy some tips on how to hone your leadership skills do go ahead download our free eBook: Leadership 101: The Ultimate Guide to Being an Inspirational Leader.


Photo Credit: ‘Odd one out’ by Kevin Pack

HR Hacks: Your 90 Day Plan for Employee Magic

So, you’ve wrestled your way through the first Quarter: the team are doing okay; customers seem to be happy; all going well-ish. But you still feel that there’s something more that you could be doing. That the team could pull more out of the bag than what you’ve done so far. That there’s still a little left to give…..

And it’s understandable. There’s a lot to get done and only a certain amount of hours in the day. The targets are stretching but you’ve made some really promising progress so far. You just need to inject a little bit of pizzazz to help things along.

We all feel like that occasionally. After all, we’re human. We get tired. So here are top tips for kickstarting your team again, to get them revved up and raring to go towards the middle of the year:

  1. Remind the team of the Vision: you know the one I mean. ‘Why’ you are all here in the first place. ‘Why’ it’s important to them that you hit those goals. ‘Why’ the company is in existence. Without this connection to the purpose, they could be working for anyone….
  2. Spend time giving a little feedback: it’s one of the best (and cheapest) ways to help someone grow. Raise their self awareness by praising the things they have done a great job on.
  3. Listen to what the team have got to say: they may seem tired, grumpy, lazy or any other seven dwarves, but you can bet they’ll be feeling motivated after some time spent with their leader and the given the opportunity to have their say.
  4. Hold a 30-day Check-inmeet with all the team, communicate what progress has been made and what a difference this has made.
  5. Allow trust to flourish & go easy on the micromanagement: it’s tempting when things aren’t going as we like to jump in and start holding meetings every day to see how you’ve progressed, but If you set out clearly what you are looking for your team to deliver, give them support to do so, then allow them some breathing space to do just that, without their diaries being clogged up by meetings and their autonomy jeopardised.
  6. Add a little extra incentive: we’ve all read that the evidence for complex bonus structures and remuneration packages driving motivation is not present ( even decreasing it in certain areas..) however incentives which are offered for a simple and easy to understand and achievable task are a different kettle of fish all together. So offer a meal out, front row tickets to the Donmar or whatever floats the particular boat of your team to get them focussed on a short term competition.
  7. Hold a 60-day Check-In: reward any progress which has been made (publicly and privately) to reinforce the behaviour you want to see
  8. Wheel in your best client : have one of your customers/ clients come in to talk to the team about what a difference your product/ service has made to their business. Get’s straight to the point of ‘Why’ they’re here and helps instil a sense of pride.
  9. Give them a break: It doesn’t have to be an expenses trip to Dubai; but a Friday afternoon/ early evening jaunt to somewhere local to get a bit of downtime will be something to look forward to for all
  10. Cut yourself some slack: With all this focus on other’s it’s easy to forgo the progress you have made, so re-visit where you were this time last year and give yourself a pat on the back.

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Photocredit: Magic Button by GoCredit