5 Drivers of Human effort


I was lucky enough to attend a session with Professor Beverley Alimo-Metcalfe and wanted to share some of my notes.
5 Drivers of Human Effort

1. Meaning – work life must have purpose, managers need to help their employees understand the why in what they do.

2. Autonomy – Managers need to allow their employees the discretion to make decisions without having to gain their managers permission.

3. Mastery – competence builds confidence and research has shown that confident employees will be more ambitious in what they can achieve. This should be nurtured by effect reviews and support from their managers.

4. Appreciation – how often do managers geniuinely thank their employees for the effort they put in?

5. Social Support – managers need to build a culture where it is ok to say ‘I am not coping…I have messed up’ this needs to be followed up with support e.g. Talking through the stages of a task to identify where things went wrong so it becomes a learning experienced.
What are your thoughts? Let me know in the comments below.

Strength Based Development for Managers

Strengths based development is nothing new in sports coaching and development; you don’t train someone with a talent for sprinting, how to be a marathon runner. You identify what someone is good at then in the case of a sprinter you develop and coach them to get better in order to get quicker.

Yet as leaders in business, we have possibly all been managed by someone who will look at a development plan as an instrument to develop weaknesses! This flies in the face of research that shows that when you manage people who are using their strengths they will be up to 23% more productive, they are more likely to stay with the company and be true advocates for that company. If they are more productive and engaged they are less likely to be absent from work. All of these things have the potential to add to your bottom line.

If you don’t believe me, simply reflect on what percentage of your strengths you use at your work then think about what you could do at work if you used more of your strengths.

Ok, you say thats great in theory, but how do you do it?

Get to know your team

1. Use a Type indicator e.g. MBTI, DISC etc. They give an indication of how people like to communicate with the world, what energises them. They aren’t about skills you say, and you would be right, however, it will help you and your team enhance how you understand and communicate with each other, but also what gives them energy and energy at work is golddust!

2. Find out what their values are, not the companies. People are more and more looking at the purpose of their / their companies role over and above the ‘widgets’ they produce. This is especially true of Gen Y and they are if they are not already the future of your company. Help them link their values to working in your team.

3. Get everyone to do a SWOT analysis and do one for the team. Strengths, Weaknesses (what they are not good at but can do) Opportunities (strengths they haven’t as yet been able to utlise in the team) Threats (things they don’t like doing, arent that great at doing and developing these skills will be a waste of everybodies time)

4. Development plans – Concentrate on developing Strengths and Opportunities. Only develop anything under the other two headings if they are crucial to the role.

5. If you can allocate work according to strengths then do so in a fair way.

6. Review, reflect,give and receive feedback on a regular basis about how it is working.

It would be great to hear your thoughts on Strength based development, so feel free to comment.

Hope you have a fantastic weekend

Finally, as a tradition on my site I like to add a TED video.

Simon Sinek has a simple but powerful model for inspirational leadership all starting with a golden circle and the question “Why?”  His examples include Apple, Martin Luther King, and the Wright brothers

If you hire people just because they can do a job, they’ll work for your money. But if you hire people who believe what you believe, they’ll work for you with blood and sweat and tears.” (Simon Sinek)

It’s not about the coach


When running and observing coaching sessions I am asked ‘what would make me a better coach?’. In the majority of the situations I give the feedback… listen more, use silence more and stop asking leading questions which lead to the coach giving advice.

This usually happens as the coach is a leader or manager and they have an agenda, genuinely want to help or dare I say it… let their ego get in the way

Direct or Push style coaching can be useful if the coachee is inexperienced, however too much use of this style can result in:

  • Coach becoming a ‘knowledge crutch’ for the coachee; with the coach / manager being continually asked for advice when the coachee encounters challenges
  • If the advice doesn’t work out the coachee can blame the advice rather than the way it was put into practice
  • As coaches we cannot know all the answers so it puts pressure on us to be the expert

So to increase the effectiveness of your coaching try a few things


  • 70 / 30 or 80 /20 percentage of the coachee talking
  • Hold back on suggestions unless the coachee asks you directly for them
  • The coachee tends to have lots of ideas on how to improve, take time to explore these so they have a plan b or c if the plan a doesn’t work out
  • The coachee may have a reflective personality so let them think in silence, dont assume that you need to ask another question or offer an answer
  • Let them take responsibility, replace ‘we’ with ‘you’ e.g. what can you do to….?
  • If asked for feedback, reverse the question and ask them what they thought of their performance
  • At suitable stages in the session get the coachee to summarise the points coverred rather than you do it.


To identify what your style of coaching is, have a look at the coaching spectrum below and note down the techniques you currently use. Try using some of techniques you dont use when applicable.



If you have any questions or want to share your thoughts on coaching, feel free to use the comment box below.



Motivation in the workplace

Traditionally, many managers use the carrot and stick motivational techniques

‘do better or I’ll get someone else’

‘sell / do more and you’ll make a bonus’

Research has shown that incentive type rewards will only work in ‘mechanical’ type jobs as soon as rudimentry cognative processes are required monetary rewards actually get in the way.

If you want to help motivate people then you need to find out what really motivates them outwith monetary reward or benefits. Hetzberg referred to them as satisfiers.

So when you are having 1:1’s or team days take time to ask your team what these are and ask them about how you can help bring these into their work life.

Or if you are de-motivated at the moment do the exercise yourself and talk to your boss about how you can do this.

For a slightly different slant on motivation

Career analyst Dan Pink examines the puzzle of motivation, starting with a fact that social scientists know but most managers don’t: Traditional rewards aren’t always as effective as we think. Listen for illuminating stories — and maybe, a way forward.

For apple users (or if you fancy a change from the normal TED presentation) who can’t see TED videos on my blog try here on youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u6XAPnuFjJc

Let me know your thoughts on motivation, hope you have a great weekend 


Top 10 characteristics in a great boss?

I have been lucky enough to have some great managers in the last 21 years and I thought that I would capture what made them great bosses in a top 10, because by understanding what makes a great leader for me will ultimately help me be a better leader.

1. Took the time to get to know me and my motivations and aspirations and linked these to work I was asked to do

2. Treated people in the orgainisation as peers; everybodies job was important and contributed to the success as a whole from cleaners to CEO’s

3. Set down clear expectation around my role and targets and then gave me the autonomy and trust to go and do it, however, they were there if I needed support

4. Introduced me to their network. They always looked to work across departments in a collaborative way rather than view them as competition.

5. Encouraged discussion, feedback and new ideas

6. Forgive and forget – if I made a geniune mistake I received support to fix it and it was never cast up again.

7. They had my back and had little toleration for disfunctional behaviour against a member of their team

8. Encouraged me to develop myself

9. Helped me see the positive in situations and the value of positive thought in life

10. Let me know the big picture and what was my part in it

How do you rate yourself against this top 10?

What would you add to this list?

What would you take out?

I would love to hear your comments, hope you have a great day

Rework your development

I love reading books that inspire me and my most recent is rework. This book is aimed at businesses, however I wanted to write about how some of the controversial ideas could be adapted for your leadership development

The book has essentially 7 chapters (I am only going to look at a few in this post)

  1. Ignore the real world
  2. Planning is guessing
  3. Start making something
  4. Embrace constraints
  5. Make tiny decisions
  6. Underdo your competition
  7. Build an audience

Ignore the real world

Many of us unfortunately work in enviroments where the atmosphere is less than positive and new ideas are greeted with ‘that wont work in the real world’, however, if you look at the truly innovative ideas and products of the last 20 years they probably met with the same response.

Routine will severley damage you as a creative, thought leader. If you make the same noises at work as everyone else then be prepared to be seen as part of the group not a leader and individual

Planning is guessing

Now the book controversially advises against long term business plan and as a executive coach you may be surprised that I kind of agree when it comes to development. I have met people that have 5 year plans and that works out for them but it isn’t for everyone.

To test the theory ask yourself, am I where I wanted to be after the last 5 years? Has the business stuck to its long term plan?

Have a Vision of where you want to be eventually, however concentrate on what needs to be done now take action to meet to immediate needs, stay flexible so that you are open to unexpected opportunities.

We all change as people as we get older we should acknowledge this and change our plan as appropriate.

Start making something

Leaders hate problems and love solutions… so if your call to arms to change something in the workplace falls on deaf ears it is because you aren’t presenting solutions.

Start making the solution, this could be a short presentation, run a pilot using your ideas, putting an unofficial mentoring programme in place etc.

Then when you have the facts and can show success then people will be more open to your ideas. I am always amazed when there is a success then people start talking about how they were involved, when they weren’t that interested in the first place.

Embrace Constraints

Learning& development budgets are currently been slashed in spite of recent research showing that companies that spend on development have better productivity, but rather than dwell on this it is time to be more creative.

Development that costs nothing but a little time

  • Coaching, mentoring and shadowing – eitheir ask for it or put yourself forward to help other people
  • Challenge people to get involved in projects outwith their job role
  • Introduce ‘stretch’ concept into 1:1’s, talk about the added value you bring or challenge people to bring added value to their role
  • Access to the internet – you be amazed how much free stuff is on here e.g. follow a leadership blog! ;)
  • Give groups of employees time to work on anything apart from their existing role to come up with ideas that will increase efficiency, productivity,reduce costs,increase employee engagement etc (it worked at google)

Make Tiny Decisions

Sometimes wholesale change in your life can be overwhelming and it allows our inner critic to step in an scupper our motivation. Also if things go wrong on what you see as a massive goal it can become a source of embarassment, the critics in our reality have won.

So, make small changes in your life and stick to them and once it has become the norm add another before long you will have made a massive change.

Another tip is not to talk to much about the changes as it may lessen the energy of the idea, just keep doing it and you will start to hear people commenting on your positive change.

You can find more on rework here (I am in no way related to the authors or publishers, I just liked the book)



Please let me know what you think for or against this book

If your are thinking about buying a new book, here is a link to someone who read 200 and his thoughts.


Sunday Reflections

I always find sunday’s are good for reflection which I believe is an important part of being a leader as it allows us to take stock before we move on.

The above Modified Aristotle Bancale Venn Diagram By Dorothy Shapland was posted on Toforius facebook page. Wonderred what you thought?


Tofurious has a great facebook page and blog. He is a photographer however there is alot of business crossover and he is very knowledgable about using social media


Dorothy’s blog


Hope your weekend is going well