For the latest thinking,
commentary and analysis to
support you and your organisation.

For the latest thinking,
commentary and analysis to
support you and your organisation.

Find Focus & Feel Good – Moving Meetings

Stanford University behavioural and learning scientists, Marily Oppezzo and Daniel Schwartz discovered a huge upswing in creative-thinking when walking compared to sitting. I’ve long been a fan of moving meetings, often by myself – yes, I know that sounds oxymoronic – to problem-solve and think about the bigger picture of the business. This thinking tool took on new meaning in 2014 when Rocky, our now nearly six year-old whippet came into our lives, and I had to find diary space to walk him without losing work time. These Monday Morning Moving Meetings with Myself, as I call them, have been fixed in my diary ever since and lately have been crucial in identifying my focus areas for the week ahead during Covid-19 enforced work from home. “Stanford researchers have found a HUGE upswing in creative thinking when walking compared to sitting.” In recent weeks we’ve heard many coachees talk about exercise reducing and sleep worsening as they attempt to combine 1.5-2 jobs into a day meant for one (1.5 jobs = childcare split with a partner plus a substantial full-time paid role or two jobs if there’s no partner at home to share the load). This is in stark contrast to child-free professionals or those whose kids are now teens+ who are glowing from Yoga with Adrienne, outdoor running and culinary creativity in place of frazzling-commutes. The stress many of our coachees are experiencing is palpable and easily detected over the phone (we offer coachees a choice and many opt… Read More »

Covid-19: A Psychologist on Play, Purpose & Potential

Play, Purpose and Potential for Motivation & Performance whilst working remotely: a guide for line managers. Play, purpose and potential are three positive motivators identified by Lindsay McGregor and Neel Doshi (ex-McKinsey & Co and co-authors of Primed to Perform) that often lead to increased work performance but are most at risk whilst we’re working remotely. See their piece in Harvard Business Review. So what can people managers do about it? Read on for our nine practical suggestions for stimulating play, reinforcing purpose and nurturing potential. Play (the motive that most boosts performance) Give your team an audacious goal. “Imagine if this time next year we could say we’d achieve X, what would have happened to get us there?” This could kick-off as a 45 minute group brainstorming challenge over virtual afternoon tea (everyone to bake/buy own scones, jam and cream). Have a fun problem-solving task running in the background such as how to celebrate the return to work on a budget of £500. Invite people to add pictures, films and notes to a shared folder. Put a playful provocation in the post to your team. [Post coming soon sharing something that went in the post from our CEO to everyone in the team]. And remember to ask your team for ideas on how to inject playfulness into how you’re working. You don’t have to have all the answers. Keep your clients and customers alive in your team’s mind. You might ask each team member to dig out some customer… Read More »

Covid-19: A Psychologist’s 1-10 for leading a productive and healthy WFH team

Through our work conversations and coaching practice since social distancing began we’ve caught more than a whiff of mistrust and micromanagement in the air. Our founder, coaching psychologist Jessica Chivers, shares her 10 psychology-based tips to help people managers be productive and healthy, and facilitate the same in their teams. Regular 1:1s Continue to have regular 1:1s. It’s important team members know they have individual focus time with you. Some research from the 80s suggests a fortnightly cadence is optimal but you might want to switch to weekly and make them shorter. If you’re not getting them with your leader, send her/him a nudge with calendar invites. 2 minutes talk time Have a daily team call. Each team member, including you, has 2 minutes talk time: 1 minute to reflect on what went well yesterday and 1 minute to outline today’s priorities. 3 key things Develop a habit of identifying 3 significant tasks/outcomes to focus on each day. At the end of the day reflect on, and write down, 3 key things that went well and why[i]. The first helps you know when to stop for the day. The second helps you draw a line under the working day and go into ‘home time’ feeling relaxed and positive. The 4 quadrants of the Johari Window The Johari Window[ii] is a simple and useful tool for illustrating and improving self-awareness and mutual understanding between individuals in a group. Now more than ever your team are likely to be encouraged by you… Read More »

COVID-19 Working from home with children

A number of coachees and clients have been asking us for help around how best to plan a working day when you are caring for for children. We know there will be a big difference between what an employee with two children aged 11+ and a furloughed spouse at home can reasonably do in a day compared to a single father with a primary school child. We have created a 1 Day @ A Time FOCUS PLANNER (there are a few pdf versions below) to help you think about and plan the day ahead. If you have young children and you’re co-parenting use the two-column version (shown in picture) to plan each day together to avoid overlap/ensure there’s always one person ‘on-call’. Then the other person is free to focus, go into flow and get their work done. If you have older children you might stick it up where they can see so they know when you are focussed and when you can be interrupted. How to use the 1 Day @ A Time FOCUS PLANNER As a bare minimum we suggest: Identifying the THREE MOST SIGNIFICANT THINGS you want to get done today. WHEN EXACTLY you are going to focus on each one. HIGHLIGHTING the time slots you will be working on each of the three most significant things. Even if you have the whole day available (e.g. older children and/or a partner who is available to take care of them all day) we think writing down three key… Read More »

Mindful Business Charter

As a psychologist I know that making a public commitment to taking a particular action increases the likelihood that we’ll do it. We feel uncomfortable with incongruity and not following through undermines our credibility. So too with organisations and that’s why employers signing workplace charters is an important step towards culture change. The Mindful Business Charter, developed by Barclays, Pinsent Masons and Addleshaw Goddard, celebrated it’s first birthday last week and has four principles: openness and respect smart meetings and mailings respecting rest periods mindful delegation. I applaud all who sign such charters because the decision has often come at the end of much internal debate, many challenging conversations and the creation of new processes and policies. One can’t hang a sign outside saying “we believe in this” if everything inside the organisation says the opposite. No no no, employees will be quick to tell the world – in one way or another – that their organisation is hoodwinking us. It’s significant that this charter began as a project straddling two different professions where both can be each other’s biggest client. What often gets in the way of sensible working practices is the belief that “the client” needs something immediately/yesterday and we must deliver now, to the highest standard,  irrespective of the toll it takes on the individuals managing the relationship. At the time of writing over 20 organisations have signed the MBC. All but one (Network Rail) it appears, are law firms or financial services companies. There isn’t, as… Read More »


 “They’re just hasn’t been the take-up we thought there would be,” is what I hear most often when I ask clients and HR practitioners about Shared Parental Leave. What if employers invited expectant fathers to tell them they are expecting a baby? How might this affect the take-up of Shared Parental Leave? “A voluntary ‘DADB1’ form alongside the ‘MATB1’ form women are given by the NHS to pass to their employers?” I quipped in a LinkedIn article If employers REALLY want more men to take SPL, here’s how in March 2017. 18 months later and we’re calling upon the Government to introduce a “DADB1” form alongside the “MATB1” form pregnant women are issued by their midwife to verify their pregnancy. The DADB1 form is for expectant fathers to hand to their employer to kickstart discussions about, and preparation for, Shared Parental Leave. The DADB1 form is a simple, pragmatic step towards growing the number of men taking SPL by kickstarting early conversations between expectant fathers and their employers. Read and sign the petition – your support counts. We need 10,000 supporters. Why? Watch this short film. Researchers have indicated that increasing the numbers of men taking SPL is likely to be a lever in closing the UK’s gender pay gap. Shared Parental Leave was introduced in the UK April 2015. Around 285,000 qualify for SPL every year yet the take-up could be as low as 2% (source: The Government launched a “Share the joy” campaign in February 2018 to promote… Read More »

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