The Beginner’s Guide to Management

If you’re new to managing people, or you’ve been doing it for a while without much formal training, then the next workshop I’m running will be ideal for you.

Here are a few of the things you need to do as a manager:

  • Learn the principles of team building and how to get the best out of your team members
  • Understand the behaviours of different personality types and how people work together
  • Find out how to motivate and develop people
  • Practice the art of delegation
  • Learn the best practice for managing performance
  • Carry out a successful appraisal meeting
  • Learn how to give useful feedback
  • Be prepared for “that difficult conversation.”

When you can do all this, you’ll be a great manager, with a really productive team!

If all this sounds rather daunting, don’t worry. I’m running a workshop that will cover all this and more. It will give you the management skills you need and refresh and update the skills you already have.

The two day workshop will be held on 28 January and 11 February 2014 at Wargrave Cricket Pavilion, RG10 8BG. Places are limited, so click here to book your place.

Can You Serve an Unfair Dismissal Claim While on ‘Garden Leave’?

‘Garden leave’ is a period of time after you’ve been asked to leave your job or you’ve been made redundant, when your employer carries on paying you, but when they don’t want you to continue coming to work. During this time, you’re still employed so you can’t take another job with a different employer.

So can you serve an unfair dismissal claim while on garden leave? Can you appeal against being asked to leave your job?

To serve an unfair dismissal claim, you need to complete the form ET1 to send to the employment tribunal. You can only submit this form after you have been dismissed and worked your notice. ‘Garden leave’ is notice without having to do the work you’re being paid for. If you’re thinking about a tribunal application then you must do this within three months of your termination date. If you’re on ‘garden leave’ then you are still employed, even though you’re not working. This means that if you want to make a claim for unfair dismissal, you can’t do it during a period of garden leave – you have to wait until you actually finish working for that employer and they are no longer paying you.

Your contract of employment will tell you what else you can and can’t do while on garden leave and what your employer will expect from you during that time.

In addition, if you were employed after 6 April 2012, you need to have worked for the company for two years, to be able to claim unfair dismissal. If you started work before 6 April 2012 you have to have completed one year’s service to be able to claim unfair dismissal. (This means that at the time of writing this blog in March 2013, no one will actually be able to claim that they have been unfairly dismissed until 6 April 2014.)

There is more information on all this, including a short video that explains it all, on my website. Click here to watch the video.

Why Bother with Staff Appraisals?

Why do appraisals? Because you don’t know if you don’t ask! Basically a conversation, appraisals are great way to help you get the best out of your employees and see your business grow. Useful for finding out information and giving feedback, appraisals are also a great opportunity for employees to reflect on their goals, objectives and contributions.

What can you find out?

  • There may be expertise or knowledge within your team that you didn’t know about
  • Some employees may not be happy with their role, have misconceptions about their jobs and abilities, or how they are doing in their role ? maybe they are struggling
  • You may find out that there are gaps in their knowledge
  • Maybe they are really happy and performing well!

So what?

This knowledge allows you to sort out problems and make sure that individuals are the right people for the right jobs. Appraisals can help you make changes to your business, such as:

  • If someone is more suited to a different role, re-structuring will make a more effective use of your resources
  • You can organise training that is needed to increase efficiency
  • You may need to change work patterns, recruit or provide different equipment or tools.

Getting your employees’ views allows you to find out what they need and gives them a sense of being in control of their job. Without talking to the people you work with, you remain oblivious to problems that may be hindering productivity, motivation and ultimately the success of your business.

What you can tell them?

An appraisal is your chance to say ‘well done’ and ask questions that identify why an individual may not be performing at their best. Money is not always the best way to reward people for good work; recognition and praise often work better as they encourage loyalty and focus. Individuals who have received positive feedback about their work are more likely to give 110%. It’s a win-win situation.

When are you next carrying out appraisals with your staff? What preparation will you be doing?

For more tips on appraisals, click here to watch a short video on my website.

Getting the Best from Your Staff – Some Ideas from our Latest Workshop

At the end of November 2012 we ran another of our very popular workshops, where we focused on how to get the best from your staff. After a short talk on issues to be considered, we opened up the floor to the delegates, to give them a chance to ask specific questions about their businesses and their staff.

Here are some of the topics that came up in the discussions, along with some of the solutions that were proposed.

Top tips for getting the best from your staff:

  • Appraisals are very effective for learning where your members of staff are at with their jobs. It gives you both a chance to talk about what’s expected and how people are performing against those expectations. Not carrying out regular appraisals can allow small issues to grow into major problems, if they’re not dealt with promptly.
  • Job Chats are a more informal way of talking to members of staff about how things are going. You might have a job chat over a cup of coffee rather than in a meeting or with agenda. You can do them more frequently than appraisals and they are a great way of picking up small issues that need to be discussed.
  • There are many ways of rewarding your staff that don’t involve money. Reward them by making them feel part of your business; if they can see how they have an influence on the growth of the business, they will get a great sense of achievement and feel important and needed.

And here are some of the topics we discussed:

Question: “One of my staff members works hard during office hours and takes work home, so we don’t mind if he’s a bit late in the morning. Another member of staff doesn’t seem to work as hard and is checked when he’s late. He’s complained about this. What can I do to keep both of them happy and working hard?”

Answer: “Talk to the second staff member to explain why you’re more flexible with his colleague. He may not be aware how hard his colleague is working or that he takes work home with him.”


An idea: “We introduced an efficiency percentage report for our staff, based on the speed of finishing a project, completing it properly and the size of the project. The report is great for showing who is doing what within the business. Some staff didn’t like the idea when we introduced it, until we realised that they’re the ones who aren’t very busy. They’re finishing a project and not letting me know that they need more work to be getting on with! Now we know who is working efficiently, we can work on improving that across the whole business.”


An issue: “A couple of members of staff asked me if they could work late and do some overtime and I agreed. I’m not often in the office and at the end of the first week, my general manager asked why they were working late. When I explained, he told me that these two members of staff were always late in the morning! Did they ask me instead of their manager because they knew what I’d say?”

A solution: Make sure you’re clear about what you agree with your staff and find out why they want to change their hours. Consider all the angles and speak to their managers before making a decision.

We’ll be running another workshop in the spring which you can attend if you have any issues to discuss. If you have anything you need help with now, please do get in touch by calling 0118 940 3032 or emailing

What’s the Best Way to Deal with Underperforming Staff?

In a recent blog post I introduced you to Heather, who was receiving poor performance feedback. Click here to read about Heather . Did you have any solutions for her?

Here are our suggestions.

While Heather has a lot of experience developing training courses, she’s not getting good feedback from delivering them. The cause of this could be that she:

  • Only likes writing courses and not the delivery
  • Has been given the delivery, when it wasn’t originally part of her job
  • She doesn’t have the confidence in delivery of the information when asked questioned
  • She thinks she’s being challenged when someone asks her a question.

How can we help Heather?

First it is important to acknowledge Heather’s strengths – her knowledge and ability to write training courses. Then we need to find out what she thinks about the feedback she’s getting and how she feels about the delivery of the courses. Does she enjoy that part of the job? If so, we can help her build up her confidence. Has she had any training in presentation skills? If not and she wants to continue with the delivery, we can look at the right training to help her.

In situations like this, it’s important to hear all the sides of the story, before rushing to any conclusions or imposing a solution. Work with your members of staff to find the best outcome for both of you.

How do you deal with issues of under performance in your business? Leave a comment here to share your views and ideas.

What’s the Best Way to Deal with Underperforming Staff?

Heather works in the training department of a large IT organisation. She is responsible for designing and delivering interpersonal skills training, including communication skills, networking, and new management training classes.

Heather has excellent knowledge of how to design a training class. She includes behaviour modelling and practice into all her classes. She has also done research on what good communication consists of, how to network and what new managers need to know to be successful.

Sounds good so far!

However, people who attend Heather’s training classes often give her low ratings, saying that she has a hard time answering specific question. They say that she doesn’t seem approachable after the classes or when individuals want to ask questions.

What do you think may be causing Heather’s under performance?

How do you think a manager should address the problem of poor performance?

We’ll give you our opinion on this blog in a few week’s time. Leave a comment here to give us your suggestions!

How to Be a Great Boss

It can be tough at the top. Here are some top tips to improve your personal success as well as the success of the people working for you.

  • Lead by example. Provide guidance and support and set the benchmark for team cohesiveness and performance.
  • Understand yourself and work on bettering yourself. What are the things you do well and what can you improve? How effective is your management style? By investing time in developing your individual skills you will drive your business forward and reap the rewards in terms of how successfully you lead your team.
  • Be a good all-rounder and play to all your strengths. Technical skills are important but so are soft skills such as people management skills. Do not neglect one in favour of the other.
  • Learn to delegate effectively. You can’t do it all! By relinquishing responsibility to others you are not only ensuring that your efforts are always directed to best effect but also that the people around you feel empowered to make decisions and improve the business.
  • Build a team that can work without you. A team that falls apart when you are on leave or away from the office is not good business.
  • Maintain boundaries: Whilst it is good to develop a good personal relationship with your colleagues, you must establish appropriate boundaries. This will be important during times when you have to make tough decisions that may not always be welcome by others.

What do you do to make sure that you’re a good boss? Share your tips (or mistakes!) with us by leaving a comment here.

How Do You Get More From Your Staff? Part Two

In a recent blog we looked at the importance of managing performance as a way of getting more from your staff, without dramatically increasing your costs.

Here are some top tips you can actually put into action, to get more from your people:

  • Provide a stimulating working environment that encourages members of staff to contribute to the progress of your business.
  • Encourage your staff to reach their full potential by providing opportunities to develop their skills through training and development, as well as coaching in the soft skills needed to be an excellent team member.
  • Carry out formal performance reviews on a regular basis, setting clear objectives and achievable targets; don’t wait for annual appraisals.
  • Build good relationships by providing regular informal feedback and guidance; allow your staff to air their concerns within an environment of trust and honesty.
  • Deal with issues as soon as they arise – don’t wait for them to become problems.
  • Offer a clear career path, to encourage employees to be the best they can be and stay with you for the long term.

How do you get more from your people? What have you done that has worked – or not worked? Leave a reply below.

If you still have questions about how to improve the performance of your team, come to our next workshop on 22 November 2012 near Henley. Places are free but limited, so click here for full details.

When Can You Use Feedback in Your Business?

Giving regular feedback to your employees is essential if you want them to stay focused and motivated and if you want to prevent small issues turning into something bigger. If you leave it until the annual appraisal, you may find that your staff aren’t as happy or committed as you thought they might be.

Here are some ideas on how to give regular feedback.

Day to day praise. At the end of each day, think of a way of thanking your members of staff as they leave.

Making it personal. Treat each person as an individual and give them their own feedback, even if they are part of a team.

Do it as soon as possible. Feedback has a much greater effect if you can deliver it just after the event, whether you are giving positive or negative feedback.

Negative reactions.  Be prepared for them if you’re giving negative feedback about something that needs to be improved.

Formal feedback. Avoid giving formal, negative feedback in public; take the person aside and speak to them personally. Positive feedback in public can be highly motivating.

Feedback from your employees. Always listen to what they have to say. It’s not just about you giving feedback to them, as they may have something really useful to contribute.

Regular feedback is essential as it maintains dialogue between the boss and your staff. Used well, it can boost performance of individuals, teams and businesses.

How do you give feedback? Leave a reply to share your tips.

How Do You Get More From Your Staff?

The key to getting the best, and more, from your staff is through performance management. What is this and how can it benefit your business?

Performance management is a strategic and integrated approach to increasing the effectiveness of your business by improving the performance of the people who work for you. Put simply, the better the people you employ and the better the investment you make in them, the easier it will be get the best from them and to ask more from them, when you need it.

Research shows that a high proportion of businesses struggle with underperforming members of staff. They spend too much time dealing with issues of absence, sickness, poor attitudes and behaviour, failure to meet objectives and poor standards of work. Then they look to solve them through formal disciplinary procedures. Reacting to issues can be time consuming and costly, as well as very negative. Managing performance focuses on the more positive, preventative aspects of working with people.

Good performance management is about regularly assessing the performance of every individual in your team, providing regular feedback, guidance and support to reinforce good performance and highlight areas for improvement before they become a major issue.

You should also make sure that you have proper disciplinary procedures in place to deal with poor performance. In next week’s blog we’ll share some tips which, if you follow, you will only need disciplinary procedures as a last resort, when informal and positive measures have not worked.

Learn how to get more from your people at our next workshop, in November 2012 at Hennerton Golf Club, in Wargrave, near Henley. This is your chance to really get to grips with improving performance, ask all the questions you have and get some professional support. Places are free but limited. Click here to book online.