Choose your words carefully

Choose your words carefully – they can bless and encourage people or hurt them. And can be remembered for eternity…

How many times have careless words, thrown away by a colleague or manager, left you with a sour taste in your mouth?  Some of us even remember times from our childhood when a friend, peer or adult said something that left a deep impression on our memory.  In these days of the instant message, the quick email or tweet, it’s even easier to cast words into the world without much thought.

Yet we need to think carefully before speaking – none more so than in the pressure-charged atmosphere of the modern workplace, where urgency and sometimes overwhelm can leave us little time to think.  This applies to both the every day and also to the more obviously important conversations like appraisals and performance reviews or planning sessions.

If we get it right – our words can encourage, bless, positively challenge and motivate others.

If we get it wrong – at best it can create a mental ‘ouch!’  At worst, it can pierce the confidence of someone and create the conditions for a downward slide in motivation and performance.

So – in the heat of the moment when words are burning the tip of your tongue to be spoken – take a deep breath, bite your tongue and just play out in your head the words and the tone you were planning to use to test it for ‘sting’. Never release words in anger in the heat of the moment. And in planning for the bigger conversations – consider the outcome you want from the conversation – perhaps someone who is clear on what they do well and with a plan […]

By |July 31st, 2014|Management Development|0 Comments

“Life is 10% what happens to you and 90% how you react to it.”

“Life is 10% what happens to you and 90% how you react to it.” -Charles Swindoll

It’s easy to play the victim in today’s world – “They did this to me” or “Why does this always happen to me?” or “It’s not   my fault”. This mindset is self-limiting and disempowers you, and frankly leaves you feeling weak and helpless.

What would happen if you took full responsibility for everything that happens to and around you? If instead you asked questions like “What can I learn from this?” or “What can I do with this now it’s happened?” or “What’s my next step, now?” or even “How can I turn this around into something useful?”

Notice how liberating and empowering this new mindset can be. Sure, it’s okay to take a moment to express a frustration. Then get over it, move on and choose your new path forward. That’s how you create the life you want and feel more positive.

When I took responsibility, it changed my life.  Or more accurately, I changed my life, career and whole outlook.  I still have moments of weakness and indulgent self-pity – and mostly, after a very brief wallow, I get up, face forward and decide ‘What’s next?’

Try it out for yourself and let us know how you find it.

By |July 2nd, 2014|One to One Coaching|0 Comments

Race for Life – Cancer Research UK

It’s not everyday I say I’ll run a race. I really don’t enjoy running and am not yet very good at it (I can only run for around 3 minutes at a time as I write).  But Race for Life raises money for Cancer Research UK – and I’d say that brings some Humanity to Work.  And that’s what I’m here to do…..

So on 21st June I’ll be donning my trainers, pushing through some mental and physical barriers and running (mostly) the Race for Life.  I’m already learning a lot about myself as I do some training…. and I know there will be some lessons on the day.  Human beings are amazing, powerful beings. I know that the sea of humanity and encouragement will carry me a long way on the day.  And the thought that the money raised might help prevent one premature death from cancer…. well that makes the effort more than worth it.

If you’d like to sponsor me, you can find my page on

Bringing Humanity to Work.

Thank you.  Jo.

By |May 27th, 2014|One to One Coaching|0 Comments

Towards effective People Management & peak performance


How does your organisation prepare people for management responsibility? In a recent rough and ready online survey we conducted, we found that only 36% of people managers had received any formal management training before starting their first people management role.  Leaving the 64% majority to learn ‘on the job’, presumably.

That’s a pretty staggering statistic, if it proved to be representative of the general manager population.  Without training, we’re asking people to take on a completely new responsibility, with its own discrete skillset, without any preparation.  Like handing over the car keys to a complete novice and saying “Drive” or asking an incredible classroom teacher to take on the leadership and administrative responsibilities of a head teacher role.  It doesn’t make sense, does it? Essentially, there’s an assumption that ‘everyone knows how to do it’, and that’s a big risk to take with your organisation’s most precious resource: Its people.
As a manager, your job evolves from just being the ‘doer’ of a task to being responsible for managing these three key resources to achieve a goal: Money, time and people.  And you may still have to balance that with performing a specific role. Take the example of a copywriter in the marketing department of an organisation Phoenix has worked with.  Promoted to head of a small team, she not only needed to produce copy herself, she now needed to manage others to do the same, and support them in prioritising, communicating, developing in their roles. An entirely new skillset, and in many cases an undervalued change in role.

The problem is that many organisations just tack the management side of the role onto the existing role, perhaps not even understanding that there is a difference in skillset […]

By |March 24th, 2014|Management Development|2 Comments

“Let our New Year’s resolution be this: We will be there for one another as fellow members of humanity, in the finest sense of the word.” Goran Persson. Some food for thought from Phoenix, helping you to Bring Humanity to Work in 2014. Happy New Year

By |January 1st, 2014|One to One Coaching|0 Comments

Effective Goal Setting

It’s a New Year! Time to make those resolutions—or is it? 
Effective Goal Setting
New Year’s resolutions…they are a waste of time and I don’t make them! Why? “Resolutions” made at   a time when social pressure and an arbitrary date in the diary dictate that we “should” decide things, are doomed from the start. A controversial viewpoint, you may think? Well, let’s start with the facts:

–          Around 43% of people make New Year’s resolutions.

–          Of those, close to 4 in 10 have broken them by the end of January, while a further third only keep them up for six months.


I have a theory as to why. First, New Year’s resolutions are made using our conscious mind—the logical front brain part—which, like a captain of a ship, sets the direction for the crew. I’ll come back to the crew in a moment.

Secondly, most of the time New Year’s resolutions are not actually goals. How many of us set New Year’s resolutions like, “I’ll go to the gym three times a week,” or “I’ll give up smoking” or “I’ll create a better work-life balance”? These are not goals.

Why not? A goal is an outcome, not the thing or action you do to get the outcome.  Sometimes the actions themselves may not excite us, but a great goal should! So ask yourself why do you want to go to the gym three times a week? What will stopping smoking really do for you? Getting the right higher level goal can be a powerful motivator and push you through the actions you’ll need to take in order to succeed.

In the example—“I’ll create a better work-life balance”—what does a “better work-life balance” mean, specifically? To increase your chances of success, […]

By |June 13th, 2013|One to One Coaching|0 Comments

Real life learning: Volunteering and “step-changing” your organisation’s potential

As I landed and emerged from the plane, an onslaught of ‘new-ness’ hit me:  The nauseating stench  of diesel fuel, the thunder of flights landing and machinery running, the throngs of people bustling about their business, the sheer number of buildings and grey shapes looming in the early morning light, the colours from the advertising boards jarring at me from everywhere. And that was just the airport.  Waiting for a bus to take me to my destination, I was overwhelmed by the ‘bigness’ of it all, and the variety of people waiting alongside me for the bus.  The locals seemed unfriendly, making no eye contact and standing in silence, clutching their bags against unknown threats, the evident tourists trying to appear nonchalant and confident in this unknown land.  No one spoke, everyone hunched against the early morning cold.

I was filled with a sense of dread and horror at coming to this unfriendly, cold and grey place. What had I done? It was culture shock in the extreme – I was hit by a sense of displacement and unreality, shying away and almost cowering against the unfamiliarity of my new home.


And where had I come to?

London Heathrow, returning home from a three week trip to Namibia in Southern Africa, where I volunteered at a wildlife sanctuary in the open countryside and 40 degree heat.

The contrast between my simple life on a Namibian farm and Namibia’s colourful people, with Heathrow’s grey people and super technology, had shocked me into seeing the UK from a new perspective.

After 3 weeks of life in simple conditions (a permanent tent, with an outside shower and toilet block, little electricity, and a ‘shop’ that opened on the farm only twice a week […]

By |May 22nd, 2013|Leadership Development|0 Comments