And so it has come to past that from time to time I find my self teaching groups ‘coaching skills’. Sometimes this is groups of managers, sometimes fledging professional coaches, and sometimes people with post-graduate coaching degrees or similarly impressive credentials. And yet, for all these groups, one of the hardest challenges seems to be developing the skill of asking questions rather than more tempting options like: offering solutions, giving advice, sympathising, sharing their own experience, or in some other way failing to inquire.
Last year I ran an evening event I called a Learning Network Event. The purpose of the evening was to provide a space for those interested in positive psychology to share and learn from each other in a gently facilitated way. We used a world café process to stimulate conversation and to ensure cross-pollination amongst those present.
Forgiveness has an image problem. Asked to forgive people say: ‘but I can’t forget what they did’ or ‘I can’t imagine ever being friends again’ or ‘but I want them punished.’ These responses show a confusion between forgiveness, reconciliation, forgetting and justice.
I am dreaming of a lovely family Christmas, and I don’t mind if is white or grey. I do, nevertheless, mind whether it works out or not, as well as how humanly and psychologically messy it will end up being.
Last Christmas our teens decided to surprise us by setting up a casino in the living room, dressing up as croupiers, and getting the adults (that’s me, my husband, my husband’s ex and his best friend) to be the clients. As lavish, extravagant and original as that might sound, the enjoyment of the process was rather affected by the fact that in preparing the casino set-up, the teens did not check the rules of the proposed game and a few minutes into it started arguing over the way forward. In fact, at one point, the only way forward was to end the game.
Many people find meetings challenging. These five tips will help your meetings be more successful, enjoyable and productive.
You can purchase our E-booklet that will take you through preparing for and running a great meeting in a step-by-step way here
1. Start with something positive
How? Ask everyone a question like ‘What’s been your greatest success, big or small, since we last met?’ or, ‘Which of your achievements over the last month are you most proud of?’ or ‘Which of your staff do you feel most grateful too, and why?’
Why? Because sharing good news boosts mood (and shares resources) which enhances creativity and problem-solving abilities
1. Grow the strengths and resourcefulness of people
It’s all too easy to focus on how people aren’t equipped for the change: they don’t have the skills, the knowledge, the experience. How their existing strengths and resources (including their extended network) can help them answer the questions and engage with the challenge that the change poses, can be less obvious. By deliberately helping people recognize and access their existing strengths and resourcefulness we can increase their resilience, tenacity and confidence in the face of change, making the steep learning curve less daunting.
Engaged employees are a business imperative: they perform 20% better and give 57% more discretionary effort  Organizations with a high level of engagement have better quality, sales, income and turnover, profit, customer satisfaction, shareholder return, and business growth, and success.  It is estimated that currently only 19% of employees are highly engaged in their work, while active disengagement cost the UK economy between £37.2bn and £38.9bn a year .
Organizations often struggle to understand what creates engagement. Positive psychology research is revealing that employee engagement is primarily a psychological and social process. There are a number of steps organizations can take to increase engagement.
It is very easy for people to become demoralised or demotivated during change as work becomes harder (less familiar) and possibly less rewarding (we’re not yet skilled at it). At the same time there is often a sense of loss of past habits or pleasurable activities, and a disruption to rewarding relationships. At the same time the manager can be so distracted and pressurised with all the meetings and decisions to do with the change programme that they are less relaxed and more critical than usual. They may also be around less, removing a valuable source of positive feedback for people.
To counter-act this, to ensure that people maintain good morale, are motivated, effective and resilient, we need to concentrate on helping people maintain a positive emotional state and a belief in their ability to influence things happening in their world.
How do we make training stick? We know that investing in the human capital of our workforce by upping their skill level is vital to any organisation, but if you've ever sat through a boring training session - or when that brought back unpleasant memories of school - you know that there is high significant chance this time and money will be wasted. Here I list and explore seven tips to help your training sessions be impactful and enjoyable, for you and your trainees.
1. Step out of the expert role
Often we are asked to run a training session due to our expertise in an area. Strangely this can be a challenge as we encounter what is known as the ‘expert problem’. Essentially our own knowledge and skill are so integrated that we can’t easily separate out the elements to construct a good training path; and we have forgotten how new and challenging this all is to the novice. The danger is that we inadvertently overwhelm or confuse with our expert knowledge.
Over the past year we have assembled a range of card packs to support development activities from coaching to strategy development. In particular we have our own Positive Organisational Development Cards that condense the wisdom of positive psychology into questions and action suggestions across twenty themes, from leadership to positive emotions. We also have a selection of Strengths Cards suitable for groups across the organisation. And we have a range of other cards to enable work with Values, Behaviour, Expertise and Emotional Intelligence. While many have free downloadable pdf guides, all are highly versatile, easily portable and great value!
Increasingly being an effective manager is about helping others to be their best. People’s natural strengths are at the heart of great performance. While there are great psychometrics around to assess people’s strengths they aren’t always available, suitable, or affordable. A pack of strengths cards is portable, re-useable and infinitely applicable. Below are eight ways managers can use a pack of strengths card to enhance their effectiveness.
Save smart - make savings and improvements without the hidden costs
In the quest for ever great efficiencies, productivity and general cost saving, a few key questions can open up new avenues to improve performance and profitability.
Appreciative Inquiry and other co-creative methodologies are essentially divergent ways of working together; the emphasis is on the value of diversity and variety. Such ways of working can trigger a pressure to converge on a few key points very early in the process, indeed sometimes before the event has even begun. This pressure can be the expression of various different needs, for example:
Much research has now confirmed happiness has many benefits. One easy way to use positive psychology to bring these benefits into the work place is by opening a meeting with a ‘success round’. All too often in meetings we plunge straight into the business of the day. Starting the meeting by giving people a chance to share a recent success not only boost people’s mood in the moment, it also prepares them to engage more productively with what ever is to follow. As an added bonus, we learn lots about what makes our colleagues tick.
I used this recently with a group of managers as part of a workshop on positive and appreciative leadership. It is an effective way into the virtuous practices aspect of flourishing organizations and into the topic of authentic leadership. It could just as well be used as an exercise in individual executive coaching or development
A number of Appreciative Inquiry practitioners were having a conversation concerning the strong demand frequently experienced from commissioners and contractors for a highly convergent end to a discursive, divergent event.
We asked ourselves two questions: What was this request an expression of? and How could we meet it without compromising the spirit of our endeavours? Here are the high points of our discussion.
Cognitive research illuminates how our brains make decisions, and how they are different from computers. Compared to computers our brains are slow, noisy and imprecise. And, paradoxically perhaps, this makes them much more efficient than computers,
When people don’t comply with legal requirements organizations can face penalties and fines running into the thousands. To take just a few recent examples
In November last year a Greater London pizza manufacturer was fined £15,000 after failing to respond to warnings about an unsafe doorway.
Also in November Hertfordshire County Council accidentally faxed details of two cases it was dealing with to a member of the public and was fined £100,000 for breaching the Data Protection Act.
We all know rudeness is an unpleasant aspect of life, did you also know it has a cost attached? Two researchers, Porath and Erez, have spent years exploring the effect of rudeness on people at work, this is what they have found:
Between 1998 and 2005 the percentage of employees who reported experiencing rudeness once or more in a week doubled from almost 25% to almost 50%. Indeed in 2005 25% of employees reported experiencing rudeness at least once a day.
In any organisation there is always a variety of tools available to managers to influence staff towards desired behaviour. This has traditionally been seen as a choice between two general approaches: incentives and coercion, or, the carrot or stick approach.
Now there is a new alternative
This third method utilises the natural inertia of most people when confronted with the choice of accepting the status quo or changing things