Author Archive

Weighing the pig won’t make it fatter, but feeding it will

July 28, 2014

How top companies are changing their approach to sales

When the influential management analyst Dan Pink conducted a poll for his latest book To Sell Is Human, he found that the most common word associated with salespeople is ‘pushy’ – no surprises there. But this cliché of sales as the domain of ruthless hustlers is as tired as it is tenacious. Fuelled by new research and innovative thinking, the UK’s best sales teams aren’t just driving the bottom line, they’re taking a lead role in generating customer advocacy and loyalty, not to mention boosting employee engagement. They’re game-changing the industry.

Unfortunately, the majority of businesses are still struggling with outdated sales mindsets, and change can be particularly scary when times are tough.

The days of ‘hooking’ the client, fielding objections, and constantly pushing to close are over. Thanks to social media, customers are unprecedentedly informed and empowered; recent research from the Sales Executive Council finds that most buyers are 60% of the way down their decision-making cycle before they even talk to a salesperson. Distrust in big business has skyrocketed, and regulatory changes are causing massive upheaval.

Weigh the pig

Stop weighing the pig

Doing more of the same – selling faster and harder, to bigger targets and shorter deadlines – will not lead to different outcomes. Instead, leaders need to help salespeople redefine who they are, what they do, and how they do it. It’s not easy, but it’s urgently important, and the results will speak for themselves.

Let’s begin by examining the ‘who’. When it comes to personal sales styles, it’s time to give pushiness the shove. A study published by Adam Grant last year in the journal Psychological Science found that ‘ambiverts’ – people who are equal parts extroverted and introverted – perform best. Dan Pink’s essential ABC of sales traits are Atunement (an ability to connect and understand needs), Buoyancy (an ability to bounce back) and Clarity (being clear what you’re offering). The Challenger Sale, a new book by the Corporate Executive Board, outlines five typical sales personalities – the Lone Wolf, the Problem Solver, the Hard Worker, the Relationship Builder and the Challenger. Experiments reveal that it is the Challenger, the commercially savvy, far-sighted and well-researched self-starter, who really moves the dial.

So emotional intelligence, sensitivity to context and a sophisticated perspective are the personal qualities that win out, but the way in which organisations frame the function of sales itself is equally important.

Earlier this year, Bryan Kramer, CEO of PureMatter, popularised the concept of H2H (Human-to-Human) sales and marketing, in which he advocated discarding the concepts of B2B, B2C and D2C in favour of a connection between equals: “Human beings are innately complex yet strive for simplicity. Our challenge as humans is to find, understand and explain the complex in its most simplistic form […] Find the commonality in our humanity, and speak the language we’ve all been waiting for.”

This includes understanding that salespeople are not just there to sign off order forms. Research from the Corporate Executive Board finds that a good sales experience accounts for 53% of what drives long-term loyalty, so although price will always be important, focusing on value at the expense of service can be a false economy.

Of course, these new mindsets will only take hold if they’re embedded in a whole ecosystem of suitable management, process and reward. Encouraging advisors to provide authentic experiences rather than setting restrictive sales targets, coaching Challenger skills, and tweaking recruitment criteria are all part of the mix.

In his previous book Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us, Pink suggested that 80% of the workforce is motivated by a sense of purpose, autonomy and mastery more than they are financial gain, so leaders also need to balance a fair and transparent pay structure with the sort of flexible, empowering culture seen in young hero companies such as Innocent and Netflix. Sometimes this involves getting rid of people who cannot or will not adapt. Netflix is as ruthless with ‘dead wood’ as it is supportive of bright stars, so if you followed this approach, your own Lone Wolves will gradually have to be rooted out.

It’s challenging stuff, particularly for large, established companies operating in sectors such as energy, finance and telecoms. Thankfully, there are leaders out there proving that it absolutely can be done.

A leading energy company has 15,000 people in their energy sales channel, 4,000 in their homecare channel, and 500 in field sales. A few years ago, they hired a brilliant new sales director who believed that current perception of the energy sector begged a whole new channel approach, and called on Blue Sky to help. Starting with the 1,200 people in their outbound channel, we helped them remove the frontline sales-per-hour target, instead encouraging salespeople to focus on having a great conversation with the customer, building the brand and being genuinely helpful. If customers didn’t wish to make a sale at that time, they were given a number to call back on later if they changed their mind, rather than being pushed to confirm a sale straight away.

The results? Sales per hour stayed largely the same, and from an engagement perspective, the workforce was far more motivated. Plus, thanks to the ‘call back’ mechanic, they saw a significant increase in the volume of inbound calls – which had double the conversion of the conversations on the outbound line.

“Selling, I’ve grown to understand,” says Dan Pink, “is more urgent, more important, and, in its own sweet way, more beautiful than we realise.” Sales leaders need to stop selling themselves short. H2H makes for better results – but it’s also a sales approach of which we can all be proud.

Sally Earnshaw - Blue Sky Performance ImprovementSally@bluesky




The Peak End Rule – how do you leave your customers on a high?

June 25, 2014

Neil ShackletonHave you ever watched a film and as it plays find yourself thinking, “wow, what an amazing special effect, I wonder how they did that” or “NO, don’t go in the house, he’s in there with a knife!” Did you know that Hollywood craft every single moment of their movies to an exact formula, that every incident, special effect, twist in the tale is laid out to the exact same page number, every time? Check out

Those that are genius at it like Steven Spielberg are able to craft an amazing movie experience with a great ending to leave us exiting the movie theatre on a high. But think about those movies you saw that didn’t have a great ending. What did you say about them when asked…. “it was ok but the ending was rubbish, so don’t bother seeing it!”? Probably 95% was great but that last 5% wasn’t good enough to really win you over, and promote the movie to a friend. Relate that to the customer experience you deliver in your business. Are you carefully crafting that journey for them, ready to send them out on a high, so they promote your business to a friend?

To help you, you need to understand The Peak End Rule and the different ways in which it works. In his book “Thinking Fast and Slow”, Daniel Kahneman says that we judge any experience we have in life by two things – how they were at the peak or peaks of the experience and whether it got better or worse at the end. He calls this The Peak End Rule. If a movie has great special effects or an amazing fight scene but the ending just wasn’t strong enough to leave you on a high, you probably won’t tell your friends to go see it. Relate that to the customer experiences you are creating. You may have a great welcome, ask great questions or offer amazing solutions, but how much thought did you give to how you closed the transaction or in fact, where the customer is on their whole journey with you? Sometimes, by that point we are just happy that we gave the customer what they wanted as we limp out with a “bye, thanks for using us!” but if Spielberg did that, you know what you would say about his movie.

But there’s more. Understanding the journey the person has come on is also important. Daniel also states that if the ending is strong enough, it has the power to wash away any pain the customer may have felt along that journey. “WHAT!” I hear you say. YES. Let me explain…

The Peak End Rule in action

So, a friend of mine went to get a tattoo, his first and rather than choosing something simple as a first, oh no, he had to go big. He chose to have a huge tattoo over his left side. Now they say tattooing over your rib cage is possibly the most painful experience you could ever have whilst getting a tattoo, but that is where he wanted it.

Here is the journey. So the first peak is deciding he is actually going to do it, he is euphoric about it. The second peak is deciding the design he is going to have. It includes an intricate Celtic Knot design, interwoven with pictures of his children. There is a bit of a low when he finds out how much it is going to cost but he hits a peak when he actually raises the money to have it done. So far, three peaks, right?

He is 15 mins into having the tattoo done when he has to ask the artist to stop. He is in so much pain and it is about to continue for the next four and a half hours! During this time he is in agony, he is crying, I think he even called for his mother at one point (which we still tease him about), but here is the surprising twist. The minute it is finished you would think that he would say “never again”, but no. He stands looking at it in the mirror in total awe, turns his body to show the now untouched side and says, “think I will get this side done as well!”. “WHAT!” I hear you shout, “is he insane?” but actually, he just got hit by The Peak End Rule.

Remember, when the ending is strong enough, it does have the power to wash away the pain, which in this case, he had only just experienced. A bit like a mother holding her newly born baby – the pain was worth it. The minute he saw how fabulous the tattoo looked, he was ready for another one.

Let’s put all of this in the context of your customer. Firstly, you have a product you sell, let’s say it’s broadband as that probably resonates with most of us and let’s put it in some simplistic terms to scope the journey.

You just bought a new house – peak
You choose the Broadband provider and you are really happy with the deal and speed you are going to get – peak
The router arrives when it should and service goes live without a hitch – peak
Then one day, the Broadband just won’t work and you can’t figure out why – low

What happens next is often the key deciding factor on how the customer feels about the provider they chose. If the customer calls up and the company is really easy to do business with, then it is a peak for the customer and they are happy to continue. They may even promote your business because they get that it will go wrong sometimes, but you were so great in fixing it and made it so effortless for them, they are happy to stay. Peak

BUT, if you create a difficult experience for them at this point, full of hurdles and broken promises to call back and a total lack of acknowledgement of the pain they are going through, then this is when they want to leave you. You created a poor ending. Get it?

Creating a Peak Ending

You can take The Peak End Rule into any customer interaction you have by ensuring that you leave the customer on a high. It is the way you leave them that will have the lasting effect and to illustrate it, I am going to leave you with a short story I stole from a colleague of mine.

So my colleague orders his groceries online regularly and as usual, a guy brings them to the door and leaves. No big deal, that is what we expect, but one day a different guy turns up. This guy offers to carry the groceries through to the kitchen, passing the young daughter who is trying to learn guitar. On the way out, the delivery guy stops and shows the daughter two great little guitar chords and on the back of a receipt he has in his pocket, writes a visual depiction of the chords so she won’t forget them. WOW, what a way to leave. The daughter is delighted she learned two new chords and my colleague is stunned to say the least. TA DA! The Peak End Rule. Guess what, he tells EVERYONE to get their groceries from that store.

So are you ready for your high after RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK or are you churning out SCREAM 58?

Written by Neil Shackleton, Associate Consultant at Blue Sky

How accountable are you?

March 17, 2014

The Accountability Ladder is a tool we use a lot at Blue Sky; it’s part of the company lexicon and used to help us understand why we’re not achieving everything we’d like to at work and at home. So, how does it work? Well, a recent conversation with my nine year old nephew explains it rather well:

“Hey Vincent, is everything ok, you’re looking a bit worried?”
“I’ve got a bit of a problem, I’ve not done my school project”
“So how come you haven’t done it?”
“Well, I didn’t know it needed doing.”
“Hmmm, but if you didn’t know it needed doing, how come you’re telling me about it?”
“Well, I guess I did know that it needed doing…”

In this short exchange, young Vincent is already on the shifting sands of perspective. So how does the tale fit with the tool?

Well, the Accountability Ladder describes the eight levels of accountability that allow us to step back, evaluate and really look at the choices we make and how we handle different situations. The top four rungs describe accountable behaviours (things that happen because of you) and the bottom four describe victim behaviours (things that happen to you). The more time you can spend towards the top of the ladder, the more opportunities you can open up for yourself and your team and the more attainable your goals will be. 

So, although I wouldn’t want to say that a young nine year old is a victim or displaying victim behaviours, in the sense of the model, Vincent was just not taking accountability. What he was trying to do was hold on to being right about being wrong; his own very good reason not to change. Indeed, in his own mind, an entirely adequate reason for his lack of effort or his lack of success. Our conversation didn’t stop there:

“When you said you didn’t know, but you did know, what’s the real reason you haven’t done it?” I asked.
“Well, I never really had it explained to me, the teacher didn’t make it clear,” so he moved to a place of blaming someone else.
“Ok, what didn’t the teacher make clear?”
“Well, she didn’t make it clear… well, actually she did make it clear”.

Even at this point, Vincent’s fertile imagination continued to justify his inaction:
“We’ve just been so busy this holiday” (still at the bottom of the ladder…. someone else’s fault for taking him out and showing him a good time).
He then moved up the ladder to excuses.
“Well I can’t do it now because there’s only three days left so it’s pointless, it’s not worth me doing it”.

So here he’s kind of saying there’s maybe something I could have done, but at this point I’m still right in not having to do it, if it was my fault before, I’m still ok because there’s no time left.

He then went on to say: “Well, with a bit of luck, some of the other kids won’t have done it either.”

So Vincent is now on the wait and hope rung and what he’s really doing is saying: “These are all the reasons I haven’t done it: I didn’t know about it, other people should have explained it to me, I can’t do it now because I don’t have time and with a bit of luck, other people won’t have done it either.”

In a work context, we’ve all sent a wait and hope email; the kind where our response is non-committal or pushes the responsibility away… the kind where you press send, sit back, sigh in relief and cross fingers that it won’t come back.

So when we choose the “I didn’t know” and “blame others” excuses, or “I can’t” and “wait and hope”, the chances are we’re stuck. So next time you find yourself thinking “I can’t talk to that person because they’re just so aggressive” (blame others) or “I haven’t got the time” (excuse) or “well at some point they are bound to realise what they are doing wrong” (wait and hope), the chances are that you’re on one of those bottom rungs of the ladder.

So when Vincent said: “My dad will kill me if I don’t do it”, he was acknowledging reality and in doing so, he moved up the ladder. He realised that actually, if he was the only child in that room that hadn’t done the project, the teacher was going to hold him to account. He then moved into owning it.

In fact, he was like the cat who got the cream when he turned round and said:
“Do you know what? I bet in three days I could make it look as if I’ve worked on it all holiday”.

He had started to find a solution and make a plan, “I could use google maps”, “can I borrow your camera, Uncle Guy? You could drive me around and I could take some photos around the local area”. And then he moved into making it happen.

The Accountability Ladder doesn’t necessarily mean you get the output that you want, or that you’re able to solve things. What it does mean is that irrespective of whether or not things turn out in your favour, you can hand on heart, look anyone in the eye and say “I was accountable for my decision”.

If you think of a relationship with any one person where it’s not as good as it should be and you want to change it, then you need to own it, become the solution and make it happen. At Blue Sky we talk about Conscious Choice, which is about making the decision to actually act from the top of the ladder.

Where do you sit?

Guy Bloom - Blue Sky Performance Improvement  Guy@bluesky

Speak no evil…

November 26, 2013

Felix Harrison is one of several twenty-somethings who belong to my family of ‘surrogate children’ – having had none of my own, I’m blessed with wonderful (but usually, virtual) relationships with my friends’ kids.  Most of the time, I know more about their comings and goings than their parents do because I keep up with their blogs, Twitter feed and Facebook…and they keep up with mine!

Right now, Felix is in his second month of teaching English in Japan. He’s been keeping a wonderful blog – Check it out – I’m sure he’d be thrilled. This weekend, he wrote a heartfelt piece about the difficulties of communicating without the benefit of the spoken word. ‘Aha!’ I thought.  ‘I can give him some comfort by introducing him to Mehrabian’s theory of communication’ and proceeded to search the web for nuggets of wisdom.

Instead of reassuring him that ‘words account for only about 7 per cent of human communication. 38 per cent is to do with tone of voice and over half (55 per cent) to do with how we look and act when we talk’ I came across a YouTube animated video which apparently blows Albert’s theory out of the window! Not really true – Mehrabian’s theory only applies when people are talking about their feelings or attitudes. So, in fact, Felix is still doing everything right – conveying his feelings towards the cool girl that’s grabbed his attention through nods, smiles and eye contact…whilst still trying to learn the right words to say in Japanese. Can’t wait for the next instalment, Felixsan.

There’s a lesson for all of us Brits abroad – shouting loudly in English will never compensate for a smile, a wink and learning a few words of the local language beyond ‘two beers please’

Carla-MarchCarla March

Communication – the key to building trust

October 16, 2013

Lydia HewettI’ve worked with many household names, usually when they are trying to change their working culture to move in a new strategic direction and in my experience the companies that do this successfully do it openly, honestly and in an adult way. In other words they trust their employees and management team to create shared goals and together agree how they are going to get there. Sounds easy doesn’t it? In reality it’s a brave and often avoided move, as Stephen Covey says in ‘The Speed of Trust’:

“Trust is the least understood and most neglected variable of our time.”

Unless a company has always had an open and honest culture with trust at the core, then creating trust is a challenge. It means getting everyone talking, getting everything out in the open – believe me, when you start asking people to talk about what’s good and bad about their work place, they rarely hold back!

For management teams this sudden honesty can be terrifying, all sorts of issues they thought had disappeared rise to the surface, but this bravery is always rewarded. As Covey says:

“How we do what we do makes all the difference.”

The brave organisation spends time getting past issues out into the open, talking through the proposed changes and taking time to explain the reason behind them. Crucially they’ll also listen to and value the opinions and issues they hear back. Your people are the most important resource and they know detailed aspects of your company that as a manager you will not. By trusting their judgement and ideas, you engage them in the process of change, you talk through issues that if ignored become barriers to successful transformation, and you get a range of invaluable ideas that help the change be a long term, lasting success.

It’s an adult process and a hugely motivating thing to be involved with. I’ve lost count of the number of times people from all levels of an organisation have told me after a session that this is the first time they feel their voice has been heard, or the first time they really understand where their company is headed and what’s expected of them – it’s powerful stuff.

The key to generating trust is to keep your courage, yes, you’ll have to come through some difficult conversations and face up to some issues that it would be easier to ignore. In reality it’s a spring clean, by getting your house in order and everything into the open, you create strong relationships based on shared trust and common goals to work towards a shared future, I for one want to be part of an organisation that operates on these terms.

Lydia Hewett

About Lydia:

Lydia started out in-house, recruiting staff, managing employee communications and developing HR policies for a FTSE 100 business as it went through a complex demerger.

She moved into her first consulting role in ad agency JWT’s employee communications arm, principally working on NHS change projects. A move to PwC was followed by five years in their consulting arm. Here she worked for various household names as well as for smaller organisations, specialising in employee engagement, culture change and communications.

She is CIPD qualified and has coached managers, designed communications strategies, implemented corporate restructuring programmes and managed complex global change processes.

The six steps to rebuilding trust

October 1, 2013

Part Three in a series of three articles on rebuilding organisational trust and drive employee engagement

We come to the third article in the series. Now that we understand the importance and elements of trust, I’d like to share six clear steps to rebuilding it. You’ve been sharing some brilliant trust anecdotes and ideas of your own on our social media presences on Twitter #DoTrust and our LinkedIn page Blue Sky Performance Improvement – so please keep them coming! In the meantime, I want to begin with a story of my own…

website-team-trust-imageUSAA is an American insurance business originally set up to sell insurance solely to service men and women. A few years ago, when a large number of service personnel were off fighting in Afghanistan, USAA decided to send thousands of cheques for car insurance back to their customers abroad. Amazing, yes; but what’s more amazing is that over 2,500 of those cheques were then sent back in turn, from customers who explained that “we just want to know that you’re there.”

Today, that business outstrips every other US financial services business in terms of trust, and has grown to become the biggest insurance business in the States.

Here are my six steps for becoming as trustworthy as USAA:

  • Do the maths

Let’s start with the bottom line. How many of you would buy a car from a dodgy second hand salesman? Or a pension from a company going bust? Customers simply won’t buy from a company they don’t trust.

Trust brings a massive internal saving too. High trust organisations are more efficient. People are honest about their struggles and get the support they need. Tough conversations are had, decisions are made, and meetings actually work.

Internally, costs go down. Externally, sales go up. Here are some startling stats:

  • There are 53% less sick days in organisations with high trust
  • People are 87% less likely to leave an organisation with high trust
  • Out of a survey of 300,000 leaders in over 60 countries, 89% of people put ‘honesty’ as the main trait they wanted to see in their leaders
  • The relationship with your boss is cited as the number one reason people leave an organisation
  • The CIPD quarterly report found that only 36% of employees trust senior leaders and 58% had adopted a ‘not bothered’ attitude for work

In short, trust is not a soft issue. It directly affects your financial success.

  • Engage leaders intellectually and emotionally

The most important element of rebuilding trust in any organisation is to engage senior leaders. They must actively promote trust, or it’s all simply rhetoric.

Use the figures from the analysis above to get them to sit up and listen. Once you’ve engaged them intellectually, dig deeper into some of the feedback generated from focus groups and surveys to stir their emotions too. When they read comments like ‘senior leaders make decisions to serve themselves not the business or the customers’ they start to take the issue personally.

  • Share the raw facts

When working with our clients we use an organisational trust survey alongside trust focus groups in which anyone can get involved. The output from that allows us to break trust down into 13 behaviours and rate an organisation against them.

Part of my job is to sit in board meetings and coach in the moment. One day I was sitting in a meeting when a decision was taken to merge two divisions. This would have a massive impact on employees, so it was decided not share the news until a plan could be formed. As we were walking down the corridor, the director bumped into a member of his team. He then proceeded to outline word for word the decision that had just been made. Neither of them blinked. This was ‘normal’ behaviour, and I needed to help the company face up to what was happening.

Taking a long, hard, honest look at where you are is an essential basis for change.

  • Create role models and evangelists

Knowing something isn’t enough. I know eating chocolate doesn’t do much for my thighs but it doesn’t change my behaviour. Outside help is required.

Start with your senior leaders, using team coaching to truly embed the commitment and skill to create change. What does a truly trustworthy dialogue look like? How do we deal with difficult issues and still retain trust? What do we do for leaders with great character but low competence, or vice versa? Senior teams need to become role models and start communicating the importance of trust at every opportunity.

  • Spread the word, spread the skill

Run trust workshops and start with volunteers. Take them from all over the organisation and mix them up to create your initial champions. No matter what their seniority or role, these people need to start holding others accountable for their behaviour, in a supportive not accusatory way.

There’s a story that gets repeated in Blue Sky quite regularly. When our office manager Charlie first started at the business, we held a meeting to talk about our own trust culture. When I did something which she felt didn’t reflect our values, she called me into the front room and said ‘I want to give you some feedback.”  Despite her nerves, we had a chat that has cemented a now-unshakeable relationship, 14 years on. Basically, act like Charlie.

Don’t sit on your laurels

Finally, use your own trust survey as an on-going KPI. It takes six minutes to complete and it gives you a consistent register of where you rate on character, competence and trust behaviours. If you want to go forward to build a developmental programme, this helps you identify exactly what needs to change.

Don’t forget to let us know your own experiences and thoughts. You can share your own stories on twitter #DoTrust or through our LinkedIn page and of course your own blogs and social presences.

Elke Edwards - Blue Sky Performance Improvement Elkeatbluesky

Schools not out forever!

July 4, 2013

I am Eloise Welch and I am a GCSE student in year 10. I have been lucky enough to do a week’s work experience with Blue Sky. I have gained an insight into how business’ work and the skills you need. One subject I do at school is psychology.

One of the topics we do in psychology is memory and how the memory works. A theory that has been proven is that if you teach someone something you are trying to learn, you are more likely to remember it. An example of this is when I am trying to revise my school subjects e.g. PE, I talk to my mum about the bones and muscles I have to learn, basically teaching her the information.

I think this results in the information sticking in your head because you have to really think about what you are saying when explaining it to someone else. This is relevant to Blue Sky because it forms part of their Embedded Learning Methodology and helps clients to learn, to make sure that they understand and remember the information.

I love psychology and was really pleased to see a connection between what I am learning at school and how Blue Sky use this as part of their work. Maybe there isn’t such a difference between school and work after all.

Happy Smile - Energise - Blue Sky Performance Improvement

Show Trust to Build Trust

November 21, 2012

“The best way to find out if you can trust somebody is to trust them.” Ernest Hemingway.

What does it take for you to trust me? You probably have to be able to rely on me, and to know that I will do what I say I will do. Building trust requires telling the truth and being transparent. What is the benefit of trust? When we have trust in the relationship we can work together effectively and combine both of our resources to create something bigger than we could do by ourselves. So what happens when there is no trust in a relationship? You could say that without it, little or no relationship is possible. It’s almost impossible to work effectively together without mutual respect. Much time and energy is wasted in second guessing, and speculating on the other person’s motives and intentions.

Building trust is a process that begins when one party is willing to risk being the first to ante up, being the first to show vulnerability, and being the first to let go of control. If you are a leader, the first to trust has to be you. If you, as a leader, show a willingness to trust others, your team members will be more likely to trust you. To build trust in your organisation:

  • Share information about you, who you are and what you believe in
  • Admit mistakes, none of us are perfect and people will forgive you if they see you trying to aspire to the high standards you set. We are only human and showing you are fallible will show your human face
  • Acknowledge the need for personal development
  • Seek feedback, and treat it as a gift
  • Take feedback to the source, avoid ‘corridor conversations’
  • Listen carefully to what others have to say and sometimes not saying
  • Invite interested parties to important meetings
  • Share information that is useful
  • Celebrate other people’s successes, make sure the team or individuals get the recognition for their work…don’t take credit for other people’s good work or when things go wrong, don’t let them take the fall
  • Encourage people to contribute
  • Show you are willing to change your mind when others have a good idea
  • Avoid talking negatively about others
  • Say ”we trust them” and mean it

Trustworthiness is in the eye of the beholder. To build trust your team must see that you have their best interests at heart. It means that you don’t want to see them get hurt, be embarrassed, feel harassed or suffer. You want them to be happy, fulfil their potential and succeed. This may seem like a risk….but it is one worth taking.

Some handy tips:

  • Be authentic. If there is something you are not saying and covering up, there is a good chance the other person will know you are doing that – it will leak out in your body language and tone of voice. They might not be able to put their finger on it or explain exactly why they don’t believe you are being truthful, but they will have an instinctive, intuitive feeling that they cannot trust you.
  • Don’t gossip or speculate on someone else’s motivations and intentions.  Don’t have the conversation with someone else, have the conversation with the person…take it back to the source. Show openness and consistency in your behaviour, and demonstrate a strong moral ethic.
  • If trust has been broken it can be recovered. You need to apologise for your side of where the trust got lost, be open and honest and sincerely regretful for the part you played in the relationship break down. Then explain that you are committed to this not happening again and what you will personally do in the future to avoid the situation happening again.
  • Write down a list of all your key relationships at work. Rate on a scale of 1-10 what the level of trust is like. This will help you identify which relationships you could work on.
  • Spend some time with people you might not as readily trust. Get to know them a little. Disclose some information about yourself, open up a little. This is a good way to show someone that you trust them.

To be trusted is a greater compliment than being loved.George MacDonald.





12 days of Christmas

December 12, 2011

We asked the team at Blue Sky “what is the one great thing you would like to do over the festive period?” The results below show a variety of responses – from the thoughtful and caring to the downright frivolous. We hope they give you some ideas for how to spend your holidays. Merry Christmas!

Celebrate - 12 Days of Christmas - Blue Sky Performance Improvement

  1.  “Visit the Christmas markets on the South Bank – the atmosphere is amazing and there is the whole of London, beautifully decorated and lit for you to explore afterwards” – Charlie Darling, Performance Improvement Partner
  2.  “Watching my little Nephew destroy the wrapping on his first proper Christmas presents foloewed by enjoying a day for food, drink and games with the family” – Ben Wardell, Online Marketing Executive
  3.  “I’m going to see my 83 year old neighbour Jean, drink too much wine with her and enjoy an evening of great conversation and amazing stories about her life”– Robin Mar, Director of B2B Sales
  4.  “My ideal day would include spending the day in the spa at the Intercontinental Hotel in Berchtesgaden in Bavaria, followed by dinner in their Michelin starred restaurant and an evening walk down in to town to soak up the atmosphere there.” – Colin Stebbing, Principal Consultant
  5.  “I would love to get all my family together. We are a big family and sadly are now spread all over the world and we never get to see each other all under one roof. So – everyone together (28 of us) and to have a Christmas day like when we were kids…A fantastic lunch, lots of wine, chocolate, laughter, present unwrapping, more laughter and it goes on in to the evening…drunknness, games etc.. To forget about all the rubbish going on in the outside world and to focus on what we have and how lucky we are to be part of such a great family who get along so well…” – Sam Schuchter, Key Account Project Manager
  6.  “I am off to Australia to visit friends and family and get some much needed sunshine!”– Laura Crawford, Manager, Coaching Services
  7.  “If I can, I will be going to the Winchester Christmas Wonderland with my friends where there is an ice rink, Christmas market stalls and food and drink stalls.” – Katherine Marsh, Sales Support Executive
  8.  “I’ll be getting a group of people to go on a very long walk and end up in a lovely cosy pub for a late lunch with lots of red wine.”– Elke Anderson, Director of Executive Coaching
  9.  “We’ll be doing the normal family stuff – Santa, walks in snow with family, naked snow angels… just the usual..!” – Andy Moorhouse, Principal Consultant
  10.  “If I could do one thing this Christmas, it would be ice skating at Somerset House and drinking mulled wine while walking through London – Camden especially” –Lynn Van Rensburg, Performance Improvement Partner
  11.  “Christmas is about two things for me; celebrating the birth of Christ and spending time with the family. So if I had to say one great thing do over Christmas, it would be spending truly connected, in the moment, time with my family.  The joy of giving defiantly outweighs the joy of receiving!”– Sean Spurgin, Principal Consultant
  12.  “I’ll be going skiing. I love it. My year never feels complete without a winter ski trip. So we’re going to Morzine, Portes du Soleil for the amazing views, great skiing and awesome bars. Then I’ll be watching ‘Planes, Trains and Automobiles’ – a great Christmas film! – Lewis Young, Client Services Coordinator

What will you be doing for yours? we’d love to hear

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Blue Sky Performance Improvement

Stick the ‘book’ in

December 12, 2011

Are you stuck for a good book to buy this Christmas? Here are our suggestions – a random selection of fiction and business that has inspired and entertained us – hopefully something for everyone:

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  1. “I really enjoyed ‘Onward’ – the story of Starbucks’ drive to reinvent themselves” – Colin Stebbing, Principal Consultant
  2. “I know it should be a best selling marketing book but it would have to be Catch 22, Joseph Heller, I read it with my daughter again and forgot how amazing and funny and twisted it is.” – Briege Kearney, Director of Marketing
  3. “Who moved my Blackberry – Lucy Kellaway. It may be old but hilarious. A great easy read that is written in email format through conversation – a definite recommendation!” – Sam Schuchter, Key Account Project Manager
  4. “The Biology Of Belief – Bruce Lipton. Gives some really interesting thoughts around the link between mind and body the effects it has on our personal life and our collective lives as a species. I found it very useful when challenging culture and individual behaviour” – Guy Bloom, Principal Consultant
  5. “The Alchemist by Paul Choello. It’s actually the second time I’ve read it.  The first time it changed the way I looked at the world.  The second time it reminded me to look again.  It’s really absorbing and inspiring.” – Charlie Darling, Performance Improvement Partner
  6. “The Naked Trader – Robbie’s Trading Diary – Robbie Burns.” – Adam Archer
  7. “Great House by Nicole Krauss – an absolutely brilliant piece of fiction about a number of Jewish people living disconnected lives but all connected in some unconscious way. A really absorbing thought provoking read.” Elke Anderson, Director of Executive Coaching
  8. “Logo Design Love – a guide to creating iconic brand identities – David Airey” Katherine Marsh, Sales Support Executive
  9. “Value Merchants. Written by three Ivy League university professors, this is essential reading for any sales leader who wants to transform their sales force from information providers into value creators.  It is not a page-turner, in the nicest possible sense.  Block out some time to get serious and dive into the valuable real-world insights and case studies.” – Andy Moorhouse, Principal Consultant
  10. “A Prisoner of Birth – Jeffrey Archer” – Lynn Van Rensburg, Performance Improvement Partner
  11. “Michael MacIntyre – it was funny and open – I love real life stories.” – Sandie Crawford, Assistant Financial Controller
  12. “For pleasure – Naive Super by Erlund Loe – a little gem of a novel, beautifully simple, slightly strange and a story that I suspect many people can relate to about a young man searching for some meaning in his life. For more pleasure and enlightenment – Get Some Headspace by Andy Puddicombe – having tried a number of times to create space and discipline in my life to meditate I found this book quite an inspiration. Written by an ex Buddhist monk this is full of stories and anecdotes, many from his own life that are in parts funny, sad and enlightening.  He explores the reasons, mindset and approach to meditation as well as the actual process.” – Robin Mar, Director of B2B Sales
  13. “One Summer’s Grace by Libby Purves – the story of a couple who sailed around Britain in 3 months. Libby Purves brings to life the rhythm of life on a boat and working with the elements in a way that makes you really think you were there.” Amy Rashbrooke, Marketing Campaign Manager
  14. “One of my favourite reads of this year was True North, by Bill George. A truly inspirational leadership book that explores leadership of self and others. Some key elements included in the book are:
    • Leadership is about what makes you different; there is no perfect model of a leader. You can use authentic leadership to become a market leading organisation; it’s about high performance, not about being ‘nice’ for the sake of it.
    • Stop trying to act like a leader; think ‘leadership’ not ‘leader’
    • There are five dimensions of authentic leadership: Purpose; Practising solid values; Heart; Relationships; Self-discipline.
    • Engage people’s hearts and minds behind the organisation’s purpose, rather than behind an individual leader.

    I would recommend it as must read to all levels of leaders. His follow up book, Great by Choice is another must read!” – Sean Spurgin, Principal Consultant

  15. “The people next door – Christopher Ransom. Great read, not christmassy at all, a little dark to be honest, however great plot, superb characters and an awesome twist!” – Lewis Young, Client Services Coordinator

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Blue Sky Performance Improvement