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  1. This week, I've been to the Neurobusiness conference in Manchester, and it has given me lots of food for thought. Some things I need to reflect on and check out, whilst others are like finding a missing piece! One such session was about designing and implementing change, but change is what training is about so although the speaker (Gary Luffman) may have had large scale change in the forefront of his mind, I was focussing more on the small scale changes we try to bring about through training.

    It was comforting to hear to evidence-based research that backed up a lot of the practices we have learned to be 'good practice'. Things such as:

    • The need to repeat the 'new' behaviour many times if we want it to stick
    • The importance of really taking time to understand an individual's starting point
    • Focussing on the positives...what we should do, rather than the negatives, what we need to stop doing
    • Our brain can only process complex information and be productive for a certain amount of time before it needs a rest (and a change is as good as a rest), so we need to keep training sessions short and build in breaks. (Running sessions from 8-6 and have a working lunch really isn't going to work!)
    • Allowing people to identify their own training needs/objectives and define their own action plans means they are more likely to make a change.


    I was not aware that the brain is more active when we are standing up than sitting down...and I was pleased to finally have some justification for all the post-it note and flip chart exercises I write into courses.

    Neither did I know that properly thinking things through (in detail and step by step) is almost as useful as physical practice. Great news for those who hate role playing! Talking me through step by step what you would say and do in a particular situation is almost as good for your learning as showing me....It's all about creating patterns in the mind.

    I've said before that I'm a pragmatist. I don't care much for theories...I care for what works. That said, it was nice to understand a little more about WHY some of the things that work DO work. I realise that I'm cherry picking... I'm learning bit by bit, and as the old analogy states, the only way to eat and elephant is in small pieces... though why anyone would want to eat an elephant is beyond me!


  2. Being a new manager is scary. No two ways about it. Especialy if you have found yourself in a management position almost by accident. Even if it's something you've actively worked towards, actually being responsible for people, budgets and resources is scary. We can all comment, criticise and advise when we have no direct responsibility but when it's time to 'put our money where our mouth is' - it's quite different.

    I've been a manager twice in my career, and as my business grows, I find myself increasingly in a 'management' role. In all honesty, it's not something that comes easily to me. I'm not naturally good at it, but I like to think I'm competent. And that's because I apply the training I deliver.

    • Got a difficult decision to make? - Use the decision-making tools I tell others to use.
    • Struggling to get everything done? - Eisenhower my to-do list and find people who can help me out.
    • Managing a team? - Remember all the things I teach about the importance of regular communication (even though I worry about it being 'overkill' and taking up too much of everyone's time - including my own).
    • Got to have a 'difficult' conversation? - Plan what I'm going to say, and use the structures for effective feedback (don't hope the problem will go away!)
    • Got too much work? - Say no, politely but assertively.
    • Identify a problem? - Identify possible solutions and then take it to the stakeholders if it's their decision to make rather than mine.
    • And of course, the 'golden rule' - Do as you would be done by!


    Just because these things don't always come naturally to me, they sometimes feel awkward and forced. But that's the thing.... they FEEL awkward and forced to me. The people I'm working with or managing don't know how I feel. They only hear what I say and see what I do... and it isn't as bad as it feels.

    We all have to start somewhere, and we only get good at something by practising. At some point, there has to be a 'first time', and that's why I say to new managers go back to your training (and if you haven't had any) get some advice, take a moment to think about what you will do, then do it.

    It almost ceratinly won't be as bad as you expect, and you will probably do more good by being brave and dealing with the situation than if you just bury your head and wait for things to get sorted.

    As Yoda said "Do or Do Not - there is no Try".