What is Broomhead Business Channel? Whiteboard animation video

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10 Simple Session Steps for busy Mentors

You may know that I am on a mission to increase the level of Business Skills in Birmingham’s Professional and Financial Services. Most people understand that an important aspect of every professional’s development is Mentoring. Whether that is as a Mentee or a Mentor. There are a variety of benefits for both parties.

My career path has been influenced by both formal and informal Mentors, as well as having the pleasure of Mentoring on a variety of schemes. Over the years my mentees have ranged from an individual convicted of a violent crime to accomplished Chairs of organisations. Most of my Mentoring has been on pro-bono schemes but organisations also hire me to Mentor carefully identified senior members of staff.

As we are all busy professionals would it be ok if I shared these 10 simple session steps that will help you get the most from your Mentoring?

These steps have been developed over the years drawing from my training and personal experiences of mentoring a variety of individuals, so I suggest using them and see how much it improves your sessions. Some people like to follow a system and other’s will dip in and out and try a few of the steps. That’s perfectly fine as the intention is to improve the overall experience for you.

1. Before the meeting

Phone or email a reminder about the session and a brief sentence on what you are going to be talking about. This ensures that you both remember and know if you need to bring anything specific with you.

2. Are you both feeling ok?

It might seem really obvious but before you start, check that as a Mentor you are in a good state of mind and ready to listen to your Mentee. Whatever is happening back at the office, leave it there. If you need to, then take a slightly different route to walk to the venue so you clear your head.
Once you are ready to start, check that the Mentee is in the appropriate state of mind for the mentoring. If they are not relaxed and/or motivated, this needs to be addressed.

3. Session Outcome

Agree between you the Outcome for the mentoring session. Also agree how long that you will be spending together and set the frame that it is ok to check “the watch” occasionally, so that you keep to time and don’t overrun.

Suggested Question:

Q “What’s the best result you could get from our session in the next 45 minutes?”

4. Review

Check in on the results of actions undertaken following your previous session together.
(NOTE: If it is your first session, then there is nothing to review).

5. Discussion including Goal Outcome

Facilitate some kind of discussion to create motivation and a plan, deal with any hindrances, and help create the next tangible steps for your Mentee.
As a clear, written Goal is essential to any successful completion of a project, I use my “Goal Outcome planning system” to create and review the Mentee’s objective. Use whatever Goal planning system that you have learnt and use.

6. Activity (Optional)

Give or offer the Mentee an activity to complete by an agreed time, such as the next session.

7. Time Notice

Give a 7 minute time warning before the end of the session. It doesn’t have to be exactly 7 minutes, but it needs to be enough time to ensure that you don’t leave the Mentee in the middle of some thought provoking ideas. It gives time to tie up any loose ends, and for the Mentee to make any notes or action points. It also gives time to do the last three steps.

8. Value gained by Mentee

This is important to understand from your Mentee, as sometimes while you are sitting there really listening and asking questions, you may not realise how beneficial it has been to them.
So ask them the value gained e.g.

“What have you gained of value from our session today?”

“How well have you met your session outcome?”

9. Value received by Mentor

Occasionally the Mentee may say that they “felt a bit guilty as they did all the talking and got so much out of it, but are not sure what the mentor gained?”. This is then the ideal time to reassure them of one or two insights or learning’s that you got during your session. This is also a helpful reminder for our own continuous personal development.

Suggested comments:

“I (Mentor) have got … XYZ… from our session.”

“Thank you. I value… XYZ… about what you’ve said.”

10. Any other business and close

Arrange the next session when you will both meet and diarise.

These ten steps are aimed at Mentors, however if you are a Mentee then feel free to print this out and take along to your next Mentoring session and share with your Mentor. Who knows, it may encourage them to raise their game even more.

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“12 Days of Christmas” for Business

12 Days of Christmas for Business Image by Matthew BroomheadYou know how the Christmas Carol “The 12 Days of Christmas” sounds? These days having 12 drummers drumming in the office would cause a bit of a health and safety concern and there is no need for 8 maids a-milking with our industrialised farming methods.

So what are twelve useful things to know in business? Here are my twelve that I have written for you. I’ll be the first to admit that some of these are a little convoluted, but one thing is for sure, it makes them more memorable. (I have included more than one idea in some days).

On the first day of Christmas I would share this with thee…

1: ONE Purpose

Know your WHY; the reason to be in business and the thing that will keep you going when you inevitably encounter challenges.

 On the second day of Christmas I would share this with thee…

2: TWO people in a Mentoring Relationship

It has been said that we don’t live long enough to learn everything ourselves so make sure you find Mentors. Whether formally or informally. Remember that no one person can give you all the answers you require, so learn from various mentors.

 On the third day of Christmas I would share this with thee…

3: THREE simple rules for Finance in Business

I heard these three from Hilary Devey:

  • Turnover is Vanity
  • Profit is Sanity
  • Cash is Reality.

 On the fourth day of Christmas I would share these with thee…

4: FOUR cardinal points on a compass

There are four cardinal points on a compass: North, South, East, West. Until we know where we are, and where we want to go, a compass is useless. Once you know your why and where you are aiming to go, then the tool of a compass becomes useful. It does not matter what tools we have at our disposal whether they are computers, the internet or production factories, what really matters is what we have decided to do with them.

FOUR seasons in a year

As we all know there are four seasons in a year: Spring, Summer, Autumn and Winter. The metaphor from the late Jim Rohn is simple and yet so powerful. You can’t have a harvest without planting in the spring. We also need to be aware that just because we plant in the spring doesn’t necessarily mean we will have a harvest. We all have Winters in our business careers, but understand that Spring always follows a Winter.

 On the fifth day of Christmas I would share these with thee…

5: FIVE is the number of the human being

The number five is apparently the number of the human being and symbolizes the four limbs and the head that controls the limbs. Take time to remember that our teams are more than “human resources”. They are human beings. Who we are “being” will influence how they are “being”. As we all know we can’t achieve anything significant without the help of others.

FIVE Senses

There are five senses that help make up our experience of our world : sight, hearing, taste, smell, touch. The other element that will determine our perception of our world is our philosophy (combination of our values and beliefs). Our philosophy has been influenced our entire lives by external factors. Many of us have still not discovered that we have a choice of what our future philosophy will be.

 On the sixth day of Christmas I would share this with thee…

6: SIX is the first “Perfect Number”

Six in early Greek mathematics was found to be the first “Perfect Number”. “Perfect numbers” are rare in mathematics.

In business there is no “perfect number”. Some of us think there is. For example, the number of social media followers; the number of Article views; the number of sales in a month.

We can’t achieve perfection, only progress. This is done by asking ourselves, “have I shown up and done my best today?” And then be grateful for whatever our answer is.

On the seventh day of Christmas I would share this with thee…

7: SEVEN days in a week

We all have exactly the same amount of time in a week as Richard Branson and Deborah Meaden. One week equates to 168 hours. How we spend it and how we prioritise will determine where we will be in five years time.

 On the eighth day of Christmas I would share this with thee…

8: EIGHT in China is lucky

Throughout different cultures and individual’s experiences “luck” has been attributed to many things. I’m led to believe that in China the Number 8 is a very lucky number. The opening ceremony of the 2008 Summer Olympics in China began on 8/8/2008 at 8 pm.

My thinking has definitely changed on this, but currently I believe that in business there is no such thing as luck. Lots of us get confused with opportunity mixed with preparation and action. They then say people were “just lucky”. If we prepare, see opportunities and take them, then it’s surprising how “lucky” we suddenly become.

 On the ninth day of Christmas I would share this with thee…

9:NINE” spoken aloud sounds similar to “Nein”

In the German language “nein” means “no“. Get comfortable hearing the word no, because if we are trying something significant for our followers and clients, then we will hear no rather a lot. One of the biggest influences on our progression in business will be our reaction to hearing the word no.

 On the tenth day of Christmas I would share this with thee…

10: TEN Bowling pins are arranged in the same shape as a tetrad

I have heard another keynote speaker use the metaphor that (in business) “we don’t want to be the best in Bowling”. 300 is the highest score you can ever achieve in bowling and people spend an inordinate amount of time trying to reach that. When it comes to business, is it vital to keep trying to be the best at something everyone else is doing? Sooner or later someone cheaper or better will come along. Perhaps instead we need to be striving to do things that only our organisations can do, therefore ensuring our long term value to the marketplace.

 On the eleventh day of Christmas I would share this with thee…

11: ELEVEN in British bingo calling has the nickname “legs”

Keep on metaphorically walking up your mountain as “you have to be in it to win it”. We can only finish a race if we keep going and cross the finish line. Once we have crossed the finish line then take a breather, assess what we learnt and then decide our next race. There’s the old saying “winners never quit and quitters never win”.

 On the twelfth day of Christmas I would share this with thee…

12: TWELVE books a year on your reading list

Reading an average of 10 pages a day equates to around one book a month. Some of the wealthiest people I know both in terms of money and time are ardent readers. I understand that some of us find reading difficult, so instead try listening to quality professional development audio during your commute.


So that is my 12 days of Christmas for Business. Yes, a few are a little convoluted, and no, it is not very seasonal apart from my image I created at the top. But I think you will agree that the messages are valuable.

I’m just curious, if you were mentoring a leader in business what would be in your 12 days?

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Why the phrase “Employee Engagement” shouldn’t exist

Employee Engagement Image Matt Broomhead

If you have read my Article “Why Change Management is an Oxymoron” then you will have discovered there are certain popular phrases in many business mid-managers’ lexicons. One such phrase is “Employee Engagement”. So to complement LinkedIn’s theme of #BeTheBoss let us explore this together.

Unlike the phrase “Change Management”, “Employee Engagement” is not an oxymoron. The phrase “Employee Engagement” shouldn’t actually exist. Please understand that I think it is great alliteration and for those of you that have attended my skills sessions or read my other articles, then you’ll probably know that I am partial to a little alliteration.

However, I would like to suggest there is something fundamentally mistaken with the phrase. I’d describe it as more than “The elephant in the room”. It is more like an African male Elephant squeezed into the “box room” of a three bed mid-sized semi-detached house.

The phrase “Employee Engagement” is like saying “a Fishing Fisher” or “a Driving Driver”. It seems to be stating the obvious and not something we should have to be telling people or “training/coaching” them to do. A bit like breathing. If I wrote an article on the benefits of taking your next breath, then you may wonder about the real value of taking the time to read it.

Why wouldn’t we be “engaging” with employees? We’re paying their salaries. Why else are they there? In fact, why on earth are you there if one of your top priorities is not to engage with them? It’s like a Fisher not fishing or a Farmer not farming.

As an aside, if you look online for a definition of “Employee”, then you’ll find “one employed by another usually for wages or salary and in a position below the executive level.

Isn’t it fascinating that in the definitions there are no initial references to output, results or achievement? Surely the primary purpose of an Employee is not to earn a wage. That is a by-product of the work that they produce, service they offer and value they add to the organisation.

Therefore I am suggesting the fundamental mistake with the phrase “Employee Engagement” is that all employees ought to be engaged. It is the core of their job role. The description should simply be “Employee”, because it should be presupposed that they are already engaged.

So why is “Employee Engagement” such a hot topic?

The real answer is “disengagement”. It has been said that around 80% of employees don’t like their jobs. If that is true then that is a serious amount of disengagement. It could be said that if an employee is not engaged, they are no longer an employee, but a liability and should be dealt with in an appropriate way.

Disengagement can happen for all sorts of reasons. Two examples are:

  • The employer hasn’t fully understood the person’s situation and why they are no longer “engaging” in their role.
  • The employer employees completely the wrong person in the first place with differing values. Maybe they thought the person might grow into the job. Perhaps they looked at what they had done for another employer instead of first checking what the person believed about their work; their clients and their honesty and ethics towards treating people.

What are the three reasons why we have a tendency to run into difficulties when employees become disengaged?

  1. The initial employment agreement is not clear when they start.
  2. The employment agreement is not updated regularly by both parties as the role inevitably changes over time.
  3. We don’t have a clear policy ourselves to deal with someone when they are breaching their agreement. Good companies will have a clear HR policy that is suitably tailored to the employees.

When disengagement occurs, unfortunately what sometimes arises is one party seems to take on a bullying stance. Either the employer starts stating “I’m your boss; You have to do what I say; You must do this or else” etc. Or just as challenging, the employee bully’s the employer with various tactics which tends to resort in mysterious sickness and they disappear for days or weeks.

In the vast majority of cases the cause is due to a lack of self-confidence from both parties:

  • The Employer because they’re not strong enough to deal with the employee; they feel guilty about the potential end result of the employee losing their income; and they have heard a few scare stories from employment tribunal lawyers.
  • The Employee having not taken responsibility for their own skill development, networks and alternative financial backup plan.

Ok. That was some of the difficulties that we may have experienced, but what are my suggestions for engaging with Employees?

The fundamentals to “Employee {engagement}“:

Listen to your Employees and talk to your Employees.

For the more astute, notice I didn’t write order, instruct or tell. I wrote talk.

Is that as easy as it sounds? Of course not. As with so many things it is simple, although not necessarily easy. But it’s useful to have something to aim for.

For those more advanced, let me put a little more meat on the bone by giving you seven ways to engage with the people in your team:

  1. As the leader of the organisation (whether you’re the chair of a committee or CEO of a FTSE 250) you have to have a clear vision and strategy of where you are taking the organisation and be able to articulate why you do what you do. What is your story that will resonate with them and inspire them to want to follow you down the path you’re taking the organisation. Most people want to be part of something that is bigger than themselves. Also remember to include in your communications the five fundamentals productive people need {see my article 5 fundamentals productive people want but rarely get – link at the end of this Article}.
  2. Listen to your team so you understand they are clear why they’re there and what their role is.
  3. Talk to them and express your vision and how you see it playing out.
  4. Develop a group of “ambassadors” that believe more passionately in what you want to achieve and use them as an influencing and feedback mechanism. These ambassadors can be from a variety of roles and teams. Their position/rank isn’t so important, but the one crucial criteria is that they are influencers within the organisation.
  5. Ask for your team’s ideas individually on how to implement as they may be better than yours.
  6. Continue to talk and listen to your team.
  7. Carry on talking and listening to your team.

You get the idea…

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Why “Change Management” is an Oxymoron

Change Management Image Matt BroomheadA phrase that seems to be popular in many business mid-managers’ lexicons is “Change Management”.

If we can spend a moment to take a step back from the challenges in our day to day jobs and explore this phrase with a slightly different angle, then you may agree with me that there really is no such thing.

Change management” is surely an oxymoron.

Instead of exploring the actual processes of Change Management which typically includes defining and implementing the deliverables; cost; time; risk etc, let’s look at the bigger picture and briefly explore why it is an oxymoron:

“Change” – Change is not easy. As I’ve discussed in my other Articles, most of us don’t like change. Our brains are wired to keep us safe and change usually appears (initially) to be unsafe.

Despite this the marketplace continues to evolve. According to McKinsey the average life span of a company on the S&P 500 stock market index in 1935 was 90 years. In 2010 it was 14 years. They predict half of those won’t be there in 2017, for a variety of reasons. This means a significant adjustment to the way we work and the old saying of a job for life with the same company.

“Management” – The term Management is a method from an old outdated industrial model that worked then and still does to a limited extent in certain parts of the world. It is defined as the process of dealing with or controlling things or people.

No-wonder many people find “Change Management” hard to define and understand. “Change” doesn’t come from monitoring and checking something (which are the primary skills of Management).

Persistent long term Change within an organisation only comes through inspiring someone to think and behave differently (which are the skills and qualities of Leadership).

Therefore if it is called anything, it should really be described as “Change Leadership”.

Ok Matt”, some people might be thinking, “that’s all well and good (and rather observant of you to notice), but that doesn’t actually help me and my organisation. The work environment is altering and our well defined Industrial-Age “inter-changeable” jobs are becoming harder to find. Today we need people to change more quickly and willingly.

Understood! So here are my Six P’s to Successful Consistent Change in an organisation:

Purpose : We need to know where we want the organisation to be and the value that it will offer. Before starting we also need to know where we currently are.

People : Do our teams have the necessary skills and attitude to see the change through.

Plan : We require a clear plan of how the change will be achieved including an acceptable level of contingency planning.

Produce : Once we have a good idea of where we are moving the organisation and how to do it, then the next stage is to take action. This is where a lot of us stumble.

Persistence : Depending on the size of the organisation and the level of change required, then to keep it going and progress, we need to ensure that the initial boost at the start is maintained throughout.

Personalities : This last element runs throughout all the other five parts. Who are the individuals (not just the MD) that will continue to drive the implementation by leading from the front and demonstrating the new behaviours, as opposed to just telling employees what they should or shouldn’t be doing.

As we all know change is inevitable. We can either have it forced on us or we can inspire the change. But one thing you cannot do is “Manage” change.

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