Wellbeing: what’s not working?

Last night a group of coaches, HR pros and leaders gathered in the pretty town of Castle Donnington to talk about wellbeing and explore what’s not working, why are the figures going up, what is needed? All facilitated by Debbie Leafe using Nancy Kline’s Thinking Environment.

The group

In the context of the work I do with clients – reconnecting them to their innate ability for connection, clarity and calm – this session was important to me, both to give our delegates an experience of those innate qualities on the day, but also for them to explore what wellbeing really means and what really needs to happen. read more

A theme for LearnConnectDo 2019

On 14th March this year it’s the first LearnConnectDo event of 2019 as these events run into their 4th year now!  Wow.

“These are always thought-provoking and useful sessions!”

CH, previous delegate.

Huge thanks to everyone who has attended, facilitated and helped us along the way – including PKF Cooper Parry who kindly sponsor us by letting us use their amazing workspace for every event.  read more

Emotional intelligence made easy

Think of a time when you were in flow. Either on your own, or in a group or team. One of those times when things just seemed to happen really naturally and easily. When you didn’t have to put much effort in and yet you were making great progress, or getting great results.

Now compare that to the definition of emotional intelligence:

“the capability of individuals to recognize their own emotions and those of others, discern between different feelings and label them appropriately, use emotional information to guide thinking and behavior, and manage and/or adjust emotions to adapt to environments or achieve one’s goal(s)”

When you were in flow, to what extent were you doing any of the things in that definition?

My guess would be not very much, if at all, and certainly not consciously. Not with intellectual effort.

This is because when we’re in our natural state, we don’t need strategies and tactics. We don’t need breathing and centring, or visualisations of the best version of us, or mantras about listening to understand not to reply.

And this is because, in our natural “flow state”, we aren’t paying attention to the thinking going on in our heads. We’re not grabbing hold of thoughts and believing them. We’re not analysing why someone’s said what they said, or why we ourselves are getting frustrated by something, and crucially we’re not trying to manage ourselves out of an emotional response we think we shouldn’t be having in that moment. We’re keeping our intellectual, egoic, personal thinking out of the way and we’re accessing a much deeper space of wisdom and intuition.

Why aren’t we in flow more?

For years we’ve been teaching people (me included until recently) that we need to intellectually manage what’s going on for us emotionally. That we need to use our brain muscle to fix ourselves, that we need to practice and repeat to build new habits and new neural pathways, all so we can be better versions of ourselves more of the time because we’ve been led to believe there’s some version of us which is not good enough and not acceptable to society right now.

The trouble is, the application of our intellectual capabilities to these emotional management tasks, takes valuable energy away from our ability to generate fresh new thoughts and ideas in any moment, from our ability to listen and hear others, from our ability to connect and collaborate.

Remember that flow state? All those things just happened naturally there because you weren’t stuck, caught, or getting tangled in your thinking. And I’m not saying that in flow everything is about positivity and full agreement, with permanent grins on everyone’s faces – but you and others will have felt able to express any frustration or concerns without it seeming like a big deal. In fact the complete opposite. Any such insights will have been gratefully received and discussed, leading to an even better way forward.

So if we’re not “managing” our state through emotional intelligence tactics, how do we get to this state of flow more of the time?

We understand how our human system really works.

What we’ve been doing with emotional intelligence is explore:

the “what” – the content of our thoughts, labelling the emotions we’re feeling,

and

the “why” – what’s triggered you to get to that response. Often then examined to be re-framed or replaced with a more helpful thought.

This different approach understands the “how” of our underlying system. Think of making a car go. There is no benefit in commenting on the shape or design of the bodywork (the “what”). And there’s also no benefit in polishing the paintwork to a high shine to make it look nicer (the “why”). Neither of these approaches is going to get the car going. You must first understand “how” all the parts of the engine work and fit together to make the thing move forward.

The exact same here.

So how does our system work?

There are two areas where we can see the system working the way it always has and always will.

  • Everything works inside-out. Everything you’ve experienced, ever, in your whole life has been experienced through your thoughts. There is no other way. Nothing on the outside can “do” anything to you or “make” you feel anything. It’s all seen through the movie projector of our experience. “We’re the writer, the director, the producer – and in fact the audience”*.
  • Our system rights itself. Without intervention from us, our thinking moves on, our feelings change and we move to a different state. Automatically. In fact, I might go so far as to use the new word I recently learnt “automagically”! We “think” we’re so clever and we’ve been taught all our lives to be clever: in education, by parents, and in work. The message we’ve received is that intellectual capabilities are THE most important capability we have. And it’s not that intellectual is unimportant, but it’s the fact that this is not all there is. In emphasising our intellectual, we’ve denied and hidden the rest of what makes us whole; the true source of our brilliance and innate wisdom. We’ve been so busy fixing ourselves to be better we forgot that we didn’t need fixing in the first place.
  • read more

    Racing with square wheels

    I was with a Board team last week who were talking about change. How it takes courage and can be hard because we’re having to lose something of us to adopt something new or move to something different.

    This is true but only when we attach to our personal thoughts

    When we attach to our personal thoughts it’s like putting square wheels on a racing car. We clunk along. Sometimes stopping all together, unable to move forward. Certainly not able to quickly change direction when needed.  But we believe in these wheels, we created them. Even if “horrible” or “negative” there’s a familiarity about them that brings comfort. We know where we are. We’ve adapted ourselves to drive with these wheels, forgetting how things used to be before we had them.

    Then we start to consider maybe this isn’t ideal. Maybe I would benefit from a smoother ride. Normally we start working hard to change the wheels. Intellectually analysing how they were fitted, what they are made of. But some of the bolts seem stuck. Or maybe there’s a square wheel we subconsciously like the look of so we find a justifiable reason not to change it.

    Now we’re driving with 2 square and 2 round wheels. Better but not exactly a smooth ride. Then you meet someone who glides on round wheels. You’re fascinated & slightly freaked out by their difference. It reminds you of glimmers in your life when you’ve glided, when smooth wheels suddenly appeared and for that short while you enjoyed it! Thinking it must have been what you were doing at the time that created that feeling, you repeat the activity, repeating the external conditions to create the smooth-ride magic as often as you can.

    Maybe you didn’t realise that you brushed off the truth of what was going on because it seemed so simple and we all know simple doesn’t win kudos prizes.

    The truth is that round wheels are our natural state. Round wheels are what we are born with. We just acquired the square as we grew up & blindly followed the square-creating rules of the world. Once we really see the truth of how the square are created, moment-to-moment, and what they really mean, then our attachment to them drops away with a natural ease and we slip into the round. The natural place we fall back to. Our innate state of clarity, wisdom and wellbeing. From here we glide round the corners, speed along the straights and rediscover a life of richness and fulfilment. All the while connected to our innate brilliance.

    If you’re curious to learn more, this is what we’re going to be exploring through LearnConnctDo this year. The thread that’s going to weave through all the sessions.

    We’re starting on 14th March* with an introduction to the psychological understanding that underpins this smooth-wheel place. The Eventbrite will be up very soon on this page – if you don’t want to miss it jump on the mailing list by getting in touch with me here. As last year, all ticket profits will be going to Twenty:Twenty as we continue our partnership with this wonderful charity.  Thank you to PKF for continuing to host us so we can maximise how much we donate.

    *3-6pm at PKF Cooper Parry’s East Mids offices (near East Mids Airport).

    How do you create a community?

    On 13th September Cat Hase and I ran a Street Wisdom for September’s Learn > Connect > Do event, and welcomed an inquisitive bunch of wanderers to the PKF Cooper Parry offices up here in the East Mids.  You can *see some of them there in the photo 😉 (*courtesy of Cat’s creative skills and in the absence of us thinking to take photos!)  Thanks to these wonderful people buying tickets to find wisdom in the streets, we’ve now upped our total donated to Twenty:Twenty to £325 so far this year – more than last year’s total already!  We’re delighted!!

    As well as that great news, I wanted to share about the experience of one of the delegates because it led to learning and insight for me too.  This is the kind of brilliance that comes from Street Wisdom and I didn’t even wander!

    Jonny, Head of Fundraising at Twenty:Twenty, brought the question – how do you create a community?  Clearly an important question for his job, and for many in the world of work whatever the sector.

    His first thoughts as he began his quest were “well, an airport runway, how am I going to find inspiration here?’.  And of course he did, because our mind is a wonderful thing and Street Wisdom is an amazing tool to access it.

    This seemingly dead-end question led to a realisation that the runway is in fact itself a creator of community.  All the people who visit the airport, who work there, who transport people there, who work in the businesses that are only there because of their proximity to the airport.  These people are all part of that airport community.  They might all have different individual, small-group or large-group purposes to be there but they’re all connected by that central tarmac object.  All part of that community.

    Later that night, or the next morning, I can’t quite remember….I had a realisation too…..multiply that up.  Take it bigger.  Take the earth.

    We might all have our individual, small-group or large-group purposes here but we are all connected.  We are all together, living our purposes, connected by this shared central earth-shaped object.  All part of this community.  And not just humans – plants, creatures, weather, water, mountains…..  All connected.

    What does this change for you?

    Mapping the Employee Experience : #EX at #LearnConnectDo

    I’m delighted to host this post from Lara Plaxton who’s co-facilitating the next Learn > Connect > Do on 14th June with Garry Turner.

    Employee Experience is a new concept in the world of work so if you want to be ahead of the game and learn more: read on and book on!

    Over to Lara…

    In preparation for this month’s Learn > Connect > Do session, it came to light that whilst there’s lots of information out there on Employee Experience, it’s often quite theoretical and not practical. In our session, we will run an interactive workshop where we’ll consider the employee experience, map out journeys, create personas and run a design-thinking exercise to find solutions to some of the pain points in your workplaces. So ahead of this, we thought we’d share some thoughts on how to understand employee experience better through mapping journeys.

    Firstly, before we approach employee experience its important to point out that this should not be viewed in isolation. Systems thinking is an approach to ‘seeing’ things in a holistic way to understand how everything is connected and interdependent on each other within a system. If we view an organisation as a system, then we start to become interested in the various components that make up that system – the stakeholders, processes, technology etc. It makes us think differently. A useful model in this respect is the Service Profit Chain Model:


    https://hbr.org/2008/07/putting-the-service-profit-chain-to-work

    This annotated version of the chain highlights both employee and customer satisfaction as the focus areas of both Employee and Customer Experience because these are the points where an emotional response is experienced and so these are critical components in the chain.  Their connection and interdependency with each other means they mustn’t be designed in isolation or without consideration of how they impact each other.

    If you fundamentally believe in this chain as a route to success then you’re off to a strong start when it comes to Employee Experience.

    Employee Experience is often confused with employee engagement or as an extension of the employee lifecycle but Employee Experience has User Experience at its core and, with the influence of Customer Experience which established itself first, we can define Employee Experience as the emotional connection between employees and the organisation from the first touchpoint with an organisation – before even thinking of applying for a role – through to the post-employment relationship. Employee Engagement on the other hand is a symptom of what your Employee Experience is like.

    So, how do you go about understanding the Employee Experience in your organisation? There are various methods ranging from mapping journeys to developing personas through to analysing the emotional connection at every interaction. This includes human, digital, environmental, cultural and structural interactions where ‘moments of truth’ may occur or ‘pain points’ are highlighted that allow for deeper understanding of how someone feels at that point given their critical nature.

    Here is an example of a Customer Experience journey which represents a useful way of documenting the various touchpoints, how the user thinks and feels at that point through to ideas for improvement.


    https://www.visual-paradigm.com/guide/customer-experience/what-is-customer-journey-mapping/

    This example is useful because it doesn’t just map out the touchpoints, it also includes how people think and feel which can be understood  through feedback surveys but also through behavioural analytics.  This insight then then forms the basis for idea generation – best done through collaboration from various departments and stakeholders to create potential solutions.

    It can be helpful to map out the full employee journey at a high-level and it is also important to break this down into specific activities / transactions such as recruitment, onboarding, training etc so you can analyse the emotional responses of users as they go through these experiences. That specific activity must then be viewed within the context of the whole experience – and then within the wider system so you can consider how it might impact the Customer Experience. Constantly diving down into the detail and coming back up to the macro view to test the interdependencies and connections.

    Developing personas (creating a fictional character of a ‘type’ of user) is a valuable tool in appreciating the various perspectives of an experience and to differentiate or personalise the experience for different users.

    With the theory and context from this post as a backdrop, we’re looking forward to getting into the practical realities of the Employee Experiences of the Learn > Connect > Do delegates’ workplaces, using these mapping exercises and running a mini-hack to create innovative solutions.  we can’t wait!

    If you’ve not already, book here!  And we look forward to seeing you there!!.

     

    Self Care for People Professionals @ Learn > Connect > Do

    Today’s post is brought to you by Janice Keyes.  Janice is a wonderful, dedicated HR professional and coach who’s bringing her self care expertise (learned through her own challenges with bringing balance to life!) to Learn > Connect > Do next Thursday (15th March).  All profits from these events go to Twenty:Twenty and when you join us you

    LEARN new things,

    CONNECT with like minded people,

    and then go DO something different to make work better!

    We’re excited that PKF Cooper Parry are hosting the event at their amazing East Mids offices (check out the image at the end!) and we’d love to see you there.  Click here if you already know you want to book.  And read on if you’d like to know more…..

    P.S. Please make sure you check out the great boat metaphor for self care at the end!

    Now, over to Janice…..

    I have a little self-care graphic that I keep visible by my desk. It’s a simple hand-drawn graphic that serves as a reminder on those busy days of the things that keep me healthy. It prompts a bit of structure around my self-care and reminds me to keep it high on my agenda. And as you’d expect, the more I engage with activities that nourish my soul, the more rewards I reap. Not only in that short-term joyous time of connection with whatever it is I’m doing but for the long-term too as I continually reinforce those behaviours. Reminding my brain and body what it feels like to be nourished with those feel-good vibes on a regular basis.

    And why am I telling you this?

    Because hands up! I haven’t always been great at self-care. I know that self-care can be difficult. And so if, by any chance, I can enable your journey to greater self-care to be a little less time-consuming than my own then I’m happy to share my ideas.

    So what makes self-care so difficult in the first place?

    We live in a forever changing world, where we’re moving at a pace we, perhaps as humans, have never moved at before, constantly driving forward to keep up, take new stuff in and change. Our minds are constantly stimulated. Our mental health continually pushed to its limit whilst we strive to live our lives to their fullest. And with that we are continually challenged to keep everything in check (work and life) AND to deal with whatever has cropped up.

    So its no wonder when we live in the world we do that life or work can sometimes ‘get in the way’ and can knock your self-care routine off-balance.

    But here’s the thing…

    There is ALWAYS going to be something that will get in the way. The experience of life is not one that is always in balance as much as we’d like it to be.

    And these days we perhaps find that it’s unusual to get a ‘steady’ moment in work or in life… That is, unless we create one ourselves!

    And so to create one we will….

    On Thursday 16th March, I’ll be facilitating a session on self-care at the quarterly LearnConnectDo gathering. Learn > Connect > Do was founded by Helen Amery who is passionate about making work better. So if you care about making work better too by being better connected to your own self-care and if you have ‘people’ as the core focus of your work : HR, L&D, OD, coaching, leadership and management, then we’d love to have you along.

    I appreciate that it can sometimes be difficult to figure out which meeting, activity or event is the most important for you to attend in any day. It seems we’re forever prioritising. But let’s not forget that “Learning self-care is like building your own lifeboat, plank by plank. Once you’ve got your boat, you’ll still be rocked by the waves of life, but you’ll have a feeling of safety, and a stability that means you can pick other people up on your way.” (Nadia Narain & Katia Narain Philllips)

    So if you are ready to build the next plank in your own lifeboat to get to that feeling of safety and stability, book on here

    We look forward to seeing you!

    PKF Cooper Parry Offices, East Mids – this is where we’ll be on the 15th!

     

     

    Diversity and Inclusion comes to Learn > Connect > Do

    It’s going to be big!! On 30th November Learn > Connect > Do is back with something a bit different. It’s our Christmas event – nice and early to avoid bumping into the partying and quality time with friends and family – and we’re bringing you four – yes four!! – experts to join our learning conversation about Diversity and Inclusion.  If you already know you need this learning jump straight to the booking page on Eventbrite!

    (Thanks to Gabriella Driver for sharing this great image from the recent CRF Conference.)

    On the back of National Inclusion Week (#NIW2017) last week, and research conducted by PM Insight, this is an essential topic for organisations to engage with. Whether you believe we live in a VUCA world or not, creativity and innovation are essential in work and those qualities will only come through bringing and genuinely including different perspectives and approaches into the workplace’s thinking.

    LEARN

    So in November we’re inviting four experts to come and share their knowledge and experience on some of the hot topics in the world of Diversity:

    > Disadvantaged young people

    > LGBT

    > Menopause

    > Mental Health

    Make sure you read about Joanna, Sean, Deborah and Karen at the end of the post.

    At Learn > Connect > Do we believe in an adult approach to learning and we like to do things informally so, for this event, the experts will be available around the room much like a conference exhibition hall – but without any hard sell! So you’ll get to choose which experts you spend your time with – whether that’s 1, 2, 3 or all 4 of them. It’ll be about relaxed conversations – learning, asking and exchanging ideas.

    CONNECT

    But this event isn’t just about gaining knowledge. We’re also going to explore the barriers to diversity – what stops us when it comes to Inclusion. As a species, we’ve been scared of difference in others for many years – just check out this video if you need evidence for that (thanks to Janice Keyes for the vid). And recent events prove this fear is still prevalent all around us. So we’ll be talking about this barrier and any others you encounter, understanding them and sharing ideas together for how to overcome them.

    DO

    If we keep doing the same things we’ll keep getting the same results. This is a chance for you to choose to do things differently, to make work better.

    It’s going to be a bumper event with mince pies and, of course, chocoloate included! And as usual, all profits will be going to TwentyTwenty so they can continue to do their great work. All this for less than £27!

    We’d love to see you there!

     

    Book here now!

    Email me to go on the mailing list for this and future events.

    For now, here’s an introduction to our experts…..

    Disadvantaged Young People – Joanna Burrows from TwentyTwenty

    To represent the perspective of young people from disadvantaged backgrounds, Joanna Burrows from TwentyTwenty (Learn > Connect > Do’s charity partner) will be joining us. TwentyTwenty is an award-winning employment support charity specialising in supporting and empowering disadvantaged 11-24 year olds who are disengaged from education or not in education, employment or training (NEET). We break cycles of hopelessness, worklessness and dependency in the most deprived areas of the East Midlands, operating through Lifeskills Centres in Loughborough, Leicester and Derby.

    We aim to consistently put the right people, places and opportunities around each young person, to counterbalance some of their persistently difficult home, educational and social experiences. We support young people to develop self-belief and motivation, achieve in education, learn work-ready skills and attitudes and find and keep a good job.

     

    LGBT – Sean Russell from Get Out Stay Out

    Sean Russell is passionate about LGBT and enabling employment. He’s the founder of the website:

    www.getoutstayout.org.uk read more

    Creating Coaching Cultures : #LearnConnectDo June 17

    After a slight delay because of the fabulous #CIPDNAP17 last Friday and Saturday, here’s a peak at what we did at Learn > Connect > Do on Thursday 8th June.

    We had a small and perfectly formed group on the day – a great mix of in-house and freelance people, and it was fantastic to have Olivia from Twenty:Twenty there – her first event since we began our partnership this year, and which resulted in some opportunities for Twenty:Twenty to get involved with delegates’ businesses, supporting disadvantaged young people into work 🙂 – hooray!

     

    So our topic for June was creating coaching cultures and, after everything that’s been going on recently, our food theme was hearts.

    There are two learning parts to the LEARN of Learn > Connect > Do : the topic and the facilitation approach. For facilitation this time we worked as a group round some flipcharts – each flipchart had its own question, a different colour pen and a different location in the room to help with recall of the content afterwards. We had a focused and rich conversation, keeping ourselves to 10 minutes per question so that we could cover all the priority aspects, and which allowed time in pairs at the end for more personalised coaching / mentoring / planning.

    Which meetings where you work could benefit from this kind of approach?   Sometimes discussion around a meeting table isn’t what we need.

    And so to the topic : creating coaching cultures.

    Why would we want a coaching culture? : We created a sense of the kind of organisation that can be created through coaching cultures. A few of the aspects that seemed critical to this discussion were that

  • The organisation can be agile because everyone knows what they’re responsible for and feels confident and empowered to act.
  • Everyone does the job they’re hired to do – there’s clarity of responsibilities, managers and leaders stay in the space they’re intended to occupy by not taking on responsibility for doing the work that really belongs to their team.
  • Being able to listen and ask solution-focused questions is a skill that’s at the foundation of nearly every management conversation – absence, career, performance, disciplinary…. It’s also a skill for talking to customers whether in sales or customer service, and it’s a skill that colleagues can use with each other – and take out of work to their personal lives.
  • read more

    #cipdnap17 : It’s all about community

    The CIPD Northern Area Partnership Event is back on 9th and 10th June with a focus this year on Enhancing the Employee Experience.  The thing I love most about NAP is the sense of community it creates, and so the purpose of this post is, yes, to tell you about what I’m up to at NAP this year, and it’s also to tell you about all the many, many ways you can connect with the fantastic HR and L&D community both online and in real life to extend your learning.

    So first, what I’m doing at NAP this year……I’m running a reflection session during the lunchtime fringe on both days – this is to provide time for delegates to pause, process and reflect together on what’s been heard.

    Conferences are a great way to learn because you get so much content in such a short space of time.  And conferences are a dreadful way to learn, because you get so much content in such a short space of time!

    And so the point of these sessions is to prevent you leaving with a head full of stuff and no idea what to do with any of it.  Which can often result in nothing being done at all.

    The sessions will be informal and interactive with delegates listening, asking and sharing in small groups for as long as is useful to them.  Pressure well and truly off!

    If you’re joining on either or both days I really look forward to seeing you there!

    Now to the wider community which, if you’re not tapping into, please please do!  There are so many great, and many free, chances to connect with others in the HR and L&D space to take time to reflect more often.  If we don’t stop to get perspective and think then we’ll keep doing the same stuff and expecting different results.

    So, places you can go for more….. (and please tell me what I’ve missed and I’ll get it added on).

    On Twitter

    #LDNights – Tuesdays at 8pm (from @LnDConnect)

    #HRHour – Thursdays at 8pm (from @HR_Hour)

    #LDInsight – Fridays at 8am (from @LnDConnect)

    Regular-ish Meet-ups

    Connecting HR (@ConnectingHR on Twitter) – usually drinks and chats in nice bars with fellow professionals – now established in Manchester, York, Leeds, Bradford and the North East

    LnD CoWork (#LnDcowork) – for anyone around the L&D space that feels they’d benefit from working in a different environment, with different people – either just to work knowing people are on hand if you want advice, or to get input and ideas, or generally catch up – now established in Manchester and London, Leeds recently launched and Birmingham is on it’s way!  Website here.

    Regular Learning Events

    Learn > Connect > Do – my event! For people pros who care about making work better to share and learn in a fun & informal way with profits going to charity.  It runs quarterly near Leicester.  Next one is 8th June about coaching cultures. Follow me @wildfigsolns or #LearnConnectDo or go to the website here.

    Facilitation Shindig – “A gathering space for change practitioners who facilitate team and group conversations to share ideas, experiences and learning.”  Next one is 6th July with the theme of “Outside”. @Shindiggery1 #facilitationShindig and website here.

    CIPD Annual Conference – check out the fab free fringe sessions Doug Shaw and Meg Peppin run (similar to what I’m doing for NAP)

    Less Regular Learning Events

    LnD Connect Unconferences – where the delegates decide the agenda – no speakers on stage, no sales pitches, just professionals learning together to explore shared challenges.  These mostly run in Manchester and London but sometimes in the Midlands and the York/Leeds area. Follow @LnDConnect for latest news.

    Street Wisdom – using the streets as a source of inspiration – check out @Street_Wisdom or sign up on their website for when the next ones are running.

    Art of Innovation – run by Doug Shaw with more info here

    Meg Peppin is also cooking up something else!  She says to follow her to be the first to hear more…..!

    Calendar of L&D Events

    Check out this great resource from Fiona McBride: an L&D Calendar of events for conferences and things.

     

    And there are lots of general chats and questions asked on Twitter from the broad and varied community on there.

    So much to choose from – why not experiment and give something a try!