Author: Martin

Our New Online Learning Platform is Launching on Monday!

We are thrilled to announce that we’ll be launching our new online learning platform Evolve Online Learning on Monday.

We’ve been working on this for almost two years, and are really excited to hear what you think.


How it works

We’ve packed the platform with hundreds of hours of learning content, from microlearning courses on giving constructive feedback and prioritising your workload to longer personal development courses that will help you achieve big goals this year.

All of the courses are available to buy individually, but you’ll get the best value by signing up for a membership. Paid membership starts from £10 a month, and there’s a free version too – this will give you access to our monthly goal-setting check ins, blog posts and some free introductory content.

Get your first month’s membership free

To celebrate our launch, we’re offering a free month’s membership to everyone who signs up in March. 

You’ll get access to all of our Toolkit & Microlearning courses, on topics like:

  • Presenting & public speaking
  • Resilience 
  • Managing stress
  • Time management 

Keep an eye out for an email on Monday for the signup link.

Corporate membership

If you’d like to chat to us about an Evolve Online Learning membership for your organisation, get in touch

We can put together a tailored package of online learning content and in-person or online coaching and training, based on your business needs. Your team will get access to learning content they can complete at their own pace, alongside any other training you need.

Looking Back on 2021: What’s Next for Evolution?

The end of a year is a great time for reflection – looking back at what worked, what didn’t, what went well and what was difficult – and planning. As we come to the end of 2021, a year that provided us all with lots of challenges and opportunities, we’re spending some time looking back on the past year here at Evolution and looking forward to some exciting plans for the new year.

In March 2020, when the pandemic hit, we lost a year’s worth of booked in-person coaching and training, and made an instant pivot with the business: we moved everything online, and started building our first online academy, populated with videos and courses designed to help people deal with the challenges of the pandemic, working from home, and developing personal and professional skills. We ran our first webinar on resilience, which saw 100 attendees sign up – so we started a series of free webinars designed to support anyone who wanted help with building resilience, staying productive while working from home and managing remote teams, 

We carried out a survey in the summer of 2020 with the aim of gauging the response to and experience of flexible working: were people happier, more productive, with a better life balance? Overwhelmingly, despite the obvious challenges, the answer was yes. Responses showed that most people enjoyed the chance to reduce their commute, spend more time with their family or on their hobbies, and get daily chores done during work breaks so they had more time in the evening. Although working online came with some obstacles, overall respondents had adapted well to the new normal, and even noticed some benefits to video communication replacing face-to-face (like shorter and more efficient meetings). 

In the spring of 2021 we carried out a follow-up to that survey, to find out whether attitudes were the same a year in – and again, we found that they were. The trend for flexible working, for working and learning online, was here to stay, and we were geared up to support our clients, both businesses and individuals, in this new way of working.

We continued to add content to our online academy, and made plans for a new platform that would allow us to provide even more useful content, courses and support to anyone looking to get better at what they do, professionally or personally, in the new year (more on that in January).

We also rolled out our online academy to corporate clients, tailored to their individual business needs and goals as part of a package including coaching, face-to-face online courses and training days. Organisations can hand-pick the training their teams would benefit from, and make it available for staff to complete online at their own pace. The response to this has been overwhelmingly positive: we’ve heard from our clients that being able to tailor a programme of online training has been really useful, and it’s been great to add value to the coaching and training we offer our clients with online training that’s available for as many employees who need it.

“From the onset of the pandemic, Martin was quick to adapt to our new way of training delivery and shifted his services to us online, enabling our employees to participate in coaching, mental health support and training whilst working remotely from home. Martin has also delivered resilience training to our staff to support them professionally throughout this period of unprecedented change. The support from Evolution has significantly contributed towards our success in service delivery and staff engagement.” Karen Johnson, Head of People and Technology; Teign Housing

We’ve spent the last two years rigorously testing, researching and planning and we’re really excited to bring you something that will help you achieve your goals, and really become the best you you can be in 2022. If you’d like to receive updates about our plans for the new year, and get early access to the new platform, make sure you’re signed up to the Evolution newsletter. You can sign up here if you’re not already subscribed.

 

How I Learned to Love Zoom

I ran my first real life, in-the-same-room, face-to-face training since lockdown recently and I’ve been reflecting on the differences between what I did for 25 years pre-Covid and what I’ve been doing since March 2020:

What are the benefits (if any) of Zoom (I’m definitely a Zoom man) and how does it compare with real life face to face training delivery?

Firstly, I’d like to say that the thought of running an NLP course online pre-Covid was never anywhere near the surface of my mind.

Indeed, a couple of years ago, I had decided not to work with a coach who wanted to use Zoom (I had to Google it) or charge me a premium for her to see me in person. As a seasoned coach and trainer of many years standing, I could not countenance plying my trade online.

Then lockdown happened, the world changed, and I changed with it.

Having lost a year’s worth of work overnight, I realised I had to do something to earn money – so I ran my first webinar.

I watched a few first and learned what I was not going to do in my webinars. It helped me decide that what I wanted to do was to replicate my in-person training style as closely as possible.

It worked really well, so I used this philosophy when creating the content for all the online courses in our online academy.

It took some thought and planning (and a steep technical learning curve) and I have now delivered 93 days of training and hundreds of hours of coaching since April 2020.

So, what do I think?

I love it.  Zoom training has a few downsides and a lot of benefits.

On a personal (and environmental) level, I don’t have to fly all over Europe or spend hours driving across the UK.

Neither do the delegates – they can stop work, join the course, and get back to work as soon as the course finishes.  Of course, this could mean that they join the course distracted and get back to work without the valuable reflection time which helps them embed the learning. It’s up to the trainer (me) to help them focus at the start of the course and build in reflection activities at the end, or following the session.

I have recorded the content delivery on some courses at delegates’ request for them to review and reflect on following the course.  It would have been harder to do this in a room together and would have required planning and equipment, rather than a spur of the moment decision.

I have heard people say that Zoom, Teams, Webex and the others make it harder to read and interact with people’s body language.  I disagree; in fact it means that I can focus closely on one delegate’s facial expressions to see how they are getting on with the content – something that would look really strange in a room full of people.

It is sometimes harder at the start of a course to get people to engage, especially if they are used to being silent on Zoom in their own meetings.  I have to make sure everyone inputs something at the start of the course, and I put them into breakout rooms within a few minutes of starting the course, asking them to give feedback to the group afterwards so they have talked in a group and in the larger group at the very start of the course.

I’m keen on setting the ground rules about no other activities while on the call – no emails, no googling, no phone calls and no other activity that will take them away from focusing on the screen.

Lengthy time in an online session is tiring so, rather than a long coffee break, we break for 10 minutes every hour which helps people focus when they’re back on the course.

Using screen sharing means I can use PowerPoint, a whiteboard or video easily – it just needs preparation and planning time to make sure everything is there where and when I need it.

The chat function makes it easy for people to ask for what they need without interrupting the group and makes it easier for the trainer to check in with individuals without having to wait for a break.

Using the technology can really add value to the session – delegates annotating PowerPoint slides or using Jamboard to collect thoughts with virtual post it notes can create a near to real life experience.

So, there are potential problems which can be overcome with a little creativity and knowledge.  The technology can, of course, let you down and if anyone has a solution to Mirroring 360 disconnecting my iPad and not reconnecting without the old ‘turn it off and on again’ ploy, I’d be really happy to hear from you.

Pictures freezing due to broadband problems is an obvious one, but I’ve noticed this has happened less and less over the last year.

For me, the biggest downside is that it’s a lot harder to chat with delegates before the course starts, or during the beaks.  Delegates have the same problem, and I think there is a lot of benefit to those conversations which help to build rapport and understanding of each other at the start of a course.

I’m starting to run a lot more blended programmes, with a mix of online, self-study content, face-to-face online embedding sessions and some real life, in-the-same-room sessions.

So, what do the delegates think?

I’ve had very positive feedback from the courses I have delivered over the last 18 months.  In one case, I had started the course physically face-to-face for three sessions pre-lockdown, then changed to an online content, face-to-face online embedding model. This group had experienced both styles of delivery and were very happy with the online content/embedding approach. One delegate said “I was very sceptical about this approach when we started it but I found it really helpful and I’d like every course to be run like this in the future.”  As a cohort, they performed better in the final assessment than any other group over the last 25 years.

Is it here to stay?

For me and my clients it definitely is.  There may be a fully blended approach with some clients, some clients will use the online content/embedding sessions model, some will (and have) access the corporate membership option of the online academy and just use the online content, and some will utilise the ‘in the same room’ approach.

I think the key is, as it always has been for us, to focus on the outcomes then design and deliver an approach which works and has the best, least, impact (on work, cost and the planet).  The difference now is the technology is there to give us more choice, and delegates are more used to meeting in a virtual space.

What is Microlearning?

We’re always on the lookout for new ways to deliver learning in a way that’s useful to learners. Taking our courses online means that they can be watched in your own time, at your own pace, paused, rewound and even played back faster or slower. We’ve filled our online academy with a range of courses, varying in length and focus: our focused Toolkit courses will deliver skills in a specific area, and our longer and more involved Personal Development courses will help you set goals, change the way you think and make real changes in your life.

We’ve recently added a new Microlearning category to our online academy. Microlearning is an approach to learning that breaks down content into small, easily digestible units. If you’ve never come across microlearning before, read on: we’ll explain what it is, why it’s useful and how it can help you get where you want to be.

Browse our microlearning courses here, where you can find short, focused bite-sized courses on topics like giving feedback and prioritising your time. 

What is microlearning?

Microlearning courses are short, focused learning units that deliver only the necessary information on a particular topic. The concept of microlearning isn’t a new one, but it’s taken off in recent years as the popularity of smartphones has changed the way we consume information: it’s well-suited to learners with busy schedules and lots of distractions. Research shows that microlearning can be really effective when used in the right setting: a study in the Journal of Applied Psychology showed that microlearning was 17% more efficient in transferring knowledge than in a standard classroom learning. 

In a world where many of us access information in short bursts – on our commute, during a break from work, while waiting for a bus – short, focused courses are a great way to take advantage of those short breaks. It’s said we check our phones an average of 9 times an hour; if you often find yourself scrolling through social media or reading articles during a break, why not dedicate that time to a microlearning course?

What are the benefits of microlearning?

It’s a great option if you’re looking to learn a specific skill, or if you’re short on time. Microlearning modules are highly targeted and specific, so it’s easy to focus on what you’re learning: the goal is to deliver key information in a way that’s easily retained.

If you find it difficult to complete longer courses, a microlearning approach may be useful: if there’s something you’d like to learn, you could always start off with a microlearning module and move on to a longer course if you need more information.

What are the limitations of microlearning?

Although microlearning has become popular over the last few years, it’s not the answer to every learning objective. While it’s great for very focused topics, it’s not as well suited to more complex learning, or courses where accountability is required. If you’re looking to set goals and work towards achieving them, a microlearning course might help with one specific area, but it won’t encourage you to stay focused as you move towards your goals.

How can you use microlearning to achieve your goals effectively?

Whether you’re looking to get better at your job (for example by improving your communication or public speaking skills, or becoming more organised), looking to move in a new direction in your career or personal life, or just working to become a better version of yourself, it’s a good idea to combine learning approaches for the most effective outcome. 

Microlearning is a great way to make the most of short periods of time, where longer forms of learning aren’t an option. It’s also a great way to help you pick up specific skills or learn about a focused topic. If you’d like to learn more about that topic and how to integrate it into your routine, move on to a longer course that covers that same topic. Our microlearning courses are designed to lead into our longer courses; if there’s a topic that interests you, and you’re not sure where to go next, get in touch and we’ll be happy to point you in the right direction.

Have a look at our microlearning courses, and the rest of our online courses, in our online academy.

Flexible Working Survey 2.0: How Has the Pandemic Changed the Way We Work?

We recently carried out a follow-up survey to our first Flexible Working Survey in May 2020. The results of the first survey, taken just as the first lockdown was easing and only a few months into a period of quickly-implemented remote working, showed that the overall experience of flexible working had been positive. Respondents reported feeling more productive, more motivated, with an increased level of job satisfaction. We were interested to find out whether these attitudes to flexible and remote working had stayed positive, and whether businesses and individuals were planning to implement these changes long-term, now that they had had a whole year to get used to this new way of working.

You can read a summary of the results of the first survey here. To find out how the second survey results compared to the first one, read on.

In the first survey, respondents reported an overall positive experience of working from home:

  • 75% found that they were more productive working from home
  • 78% felt partially or completely satisfied with the new way of working
  • 63% felt more motivated to start their day, compared to their usual way of working

In our second survey, carried out in April 2021, responses reflected the same positive attitudes to flexible working:

  • 77% found that they were more productive working from home
  • 77% felt that their job satisfaction had increased as a result of working from home
  • 76% felt more motivated to start their day, compared to their usual way of working
  • 63% felt that overall, the experience of working from home had been positive

Dedicated work space 

In the quick transition to flexible working, lots of people ended up working in less-than-ideal spaces: at dining tables, on the sofa, or squeezed into a spare bedroom. We were interested to find out whether after almost a year of remote working, people’s work-from-home setups had changed: had people committed to a more permanent work space now that they had settled into flexible working?

The results showed unequivocally that this was the case: 

  • In our first survey, 76% of respondents had a dedicated work space where they could work at home
  • In our second survey, this number had increased to 92%

 

Are we still facing the same work-from-home challenges?

In our first survey, the biggest challenges reported were:

  • Social isolation (43% of respondents)
  • Finding communicating with coworkers more difficult (40%)
  • Difficulty staying motivated while working alone (36%)

In our follow-up survey, the most common challenges stayed the same, but the number of respondents experiencing them had decreased significantly. The biggest challenges reported in 2021 were:

  • Finding communicating with coworkers more difficult (21%)
  • Social isolation (20%)
  • Internet connectivity (13%)

It’s great that the number of people feeling isolated or having difficulty communicating with their team has decreased: likely a result of better working practice and better use of technology when it comes to staying in touch. However, it’s still important to address these concerns as we look at flexible working going forward: if flexible working is going to work long-term, we need to look at new ways of staying connected. A combination of office-based and remote working days could help address social isolation, and a concerted effort to keep the lines of communication open are a good place to start.

What are the benefits we get from remote or flexible working?

As with the challenges, the most commonly-reported benefits of remote working stayed roughly the same this time around. Less time commuting remained the most-reported benefit, closely followed by more time with family (20%), meetings becoming shorter and more effective, the ability to complete home maintenance tasks during breaks, and more time for hobbies and exercise.

Respondents also mentioned in our second survey that using digital tools more frequently resulted in better capability in using them, and that they saved money by commuting.

We added a new question to our second survey to gauge respondents’ attitudes to remote working one year in: ‘How do you feel about the changes to your working patterns over the last 12 months?’.

  • 39% felt that having the opportunity to try out flexible working was beneficial 
  • Just one respondent reported looking forward to returning to working exactly as they had before the pandemic. 

Will businesses be implementing flexible working long-term?

Of all the respondents surveyed in our follow-up, 58% would be offering employees the opportunity to work flexibly as a result of the pandemic, 12% already worked flexibly, and 8% were moving to remote working 100% of the time. 11% would be returning to working on-site full-time.

The results are clear: flexible working is here to stay

As with our first survey, our follow up strongly indicates that flexible working will become a part of the way we work long-term. The benefits are clear: workers and teams are still reporting increased job satisfaction, motivation and productivity, which is good news for employers and employees alike. Employees enjoy a better work/life balance and job satisfaction, and employers are rewarded with increased productivity and happy employees who work hard and stay loyal.

Of course, even after a year of adjusting to flexible working, employers must be prepared to implement structural changes and new processes to support this new way of working. Ensuring good communication, regular check-ins, and a shift from presenteeism to an output-based approach are essential. On the side of the individual, it’s important to maintain a healthy work/life balance, to manage time well, and to ensure the pressures of work don’t leach into personal time when you’re working and living in the same space.

If you’re a business implementing flexible working long-term, we can offer tailored support for your teams to include communication training, one-to-one coaching for businesses and strategy planning. Get in touch to find out more.

If you’re an individual looking for help with dealing with change, managing stress, time management or other useful topics, have a look at our online courses, which range from short 10-minute courses to longer, focused personal development programmes. We also offer business coaching, life coaching and couples or relationship coaching.

 

Feeling unmotivated and listless after a year of pandemic? That’s languishing

What is languishing and how can you deal with it?

Friends and clients I’ve been speaking to over the past few months have all been reporting similar feelings: a lack of motivation, difficulty concentrating, a lack of excitement for the future. It’s no surprise, considering the difficult and disruptive year we’ve all had. If you’ve been feeling the same, there’s a word for what you’re experiencing: languishing. A recent New York Times article by psychologist Adam Grant called languishing ‘the dominant emotion of 2021’. So what is languishing, and how can we deal with it?

 

What is languishing?

A study in the Journal of Health and Social Behaviour defines languishing as the absence of mental wellbeing; the mid-point on the spectrum between depression and flourishing. It’s a sense of stagnation, an inability to feel excited about things to come, often resulting in feelings of lethargy, indifference, lack of focus and low mood. 

The term languishing was originally coined by sociologist Cory Keyes, who observed that there were many people who weren’t depressed, but who also weren’t flourishing. His research suggests that those people suffering from languishing were more likely to experience anxiety or depression down the road; so while there’s nothing to panic about if you’re experiencing these feelings, it’s worth addressing them.

The knock-on effects of a global pandemic 

For many people, the past year has been filled with ups and downs: worries for the future, job changes, anxiety, grief and uncertainty. Experiencing so much turmoil in a short space of time leads to emotional burnout, when our fight-or-flight reactions have subsided but left in their place emotional exhaustion. If you’re experiencing these feelings, know you’re not alone – it’s completely normal to be feeling out of sorts after such a difficult year, and accepting and recognising those feelings can be really helpful.

Once you put a name to it, you can deal with it 

Acknowledging what you’re feeling is the first step – as we say in NLP, once you’re aware of something, you can influence it. It may be that you don’t want to change it, or you’re not ready to, and what you really want to do is lie on the sofa and watch TV; but at least by acknowledging your feelings, and choosing to rest instead of take action, you’re making an active choice rather than letting your exhaustion make them for you.

How to combat languishing 

In his New York Times article, Adam Grant suggests finding a state of “flow” is the best way to combat feelings of languishing. Flow is that state of focus and absorption when you’re immersed in a task, and your sense of time and self fade into the background. You might have experienced it when absorbed in a project at work, or when doing a puzzle, going for a run, watching a film or reading a good book. Flow takes us out of ourselves, and allows us to take satisfaction from an experience where our attention is fully focused.

Finding space to concentrate on something can be challenging if you’re working from home, looking after children or dealing with other distractions. The best way to find a state of flow is to create a setting where it can flourish, which requires setting boundaries. Give yourself a couple of hours in the morning or afternoon where you’re not checking emails, your phone is on silent, and whoever’s at home or at work knows not to disturb you. Avoid switching from task to task, and try to give yourself the space to concentrate on what you’re doing.

If you’re feeling directionless or uncertain about the future, try taking some time to make a plan for the year ahead. What do you want to get out of your life? What would you like to achieve and how will you get there? It might be helpful to think about coaching sessions, which can provide direction, help you set goals, and help you achieve them. 

To chat to us about coaching with Evolution, get in touch, or have a look at our online courses, which offer guidance on goal setting, managing your time, and managing stress.

What’s Different About the Business Practitioner Course in 2022?

Up until 2020, we always delivered our Business Practitioner course in-person, in groups of five to fifteen people. When the pandemic hit, we had to adapt quickly to a new way of working. For our in-person training and coaching, that meant taking everything online. While we were initially unsure of how well a programme based around communication, body language and building rapport would work online, we quickly found that there were lots of benefits to delivering the course online, and that we were receiving really positive feedback from our delegates.

We’ve moved the entire content of the course online, with the learning content for the course broken down into short modules. Each module focuses on a specific tool or technique. On the course, we’ll work through the modules one by one, with time between sessions for you to watch the videos and make notes. You’ll have access to the online content forever, so you can go back and review any of the modules at any time.

If you’re thinking about joining our upcoming Business Practitioner course in April, here are some of the changes we’ve made to the course this year that make this year’s Business Practitioner better than ever. 

Shorter, more frequent sessions mean you get more regular check-ins with the group.

The Business Practitioner course is built around business skills – communication, building rapport, selling and public speaking – but it’s also a personal development course that instigates real changes in many of our delegates’ lives. Your course cohort will become a support network, where you can share your goals, your achievements and your thoughts as you put the skills you learn on the course into practice. Now that we’re delivering the course online, we’ve broken our usual format (one day a month) into smaller chunks, so sessions are only two hours long, twice a month. This means that you check in more regularly with the group, and it’s easier to stay accountable. Less time in between sessions means you’re more likely to stay on track with your learning.

You get access to learning content for the whole course online, forever.

We’ve had lots of feedback from delegates who’ve told us that the option to go back and re-watch the learning content from the course has been really useful in helping them retain information. When you’re having a discussion or doing group work in a full-day in-person session, you often don’t have time to make notes on everything you’re learning, but the online content can be watched, rewound and paused whenever you like. You’ll also get audio recordings of each session, so you can review course material while you’re out for a walk.

“I found that watching the videos was a great help as I could pause and rewind any point that I hadn’t properly understood. All courses should have this facility.”

The new online format means you can learn at your own pace.

The new format of the course – where you watch and take notes on the ‘learning’ part of the session in your own time, then discuss during group sessions – means that you have time to absorb the information for each module at your own pace before it’s introduced in a group setting. You can make notes, read around the topic, and write down any questions you have before you explore the topic as a group.

Our first online Business Practitioner cohort was our best-performing group of delegates so far.

The last group to complete the Business Practitioner course in 2020 had the unique experience of beginning the course in-person, and completing it online. This allowed us to get some great feedback on the differences between the two formats – and we were surprised at how positive the feedback on the online course was. In addition to finding the online learning experience to be effective, this group was also the highest-performing cohort we’ve had so far, based on their course-end assessment.

If you’d like to join us on the course in March, you can book your place via Eventbrite. The course takes place over ten two-hour sessions, from March to June 2021. Payment plans are available on request; please get in touch to set one up.

Note to previous delegates: we’re offering all of the online Business Practitioner content (including video modules, audio files and PDF downloads) to previous delegates of the course for just £40. If you’d like to take advantage of this offer, drop us an email at info@evolution-development.com.

Coaching EAP: Support for Businesses Dealing With Change

Coaching support for businesses dealing with challenge or change 

In the last few months I’ve spoken to lots of managers who are struggling with how to manage their team in the ‘new normal’ at work. 

After making a quick switch to remote working in March, many businesses saw real benefits from flexible working, and are now making changes to the way they work long-term. It’s great to see businesses making the most of flexible working, but it’s not without its obstacles: managing a team remotely presents new challenges, managers and leaders are adapting to a new way of monitoring progress and productivity, and people at all levels are dealing with changes to their roles and the way they’re carried out.

Enter the Evolution Coaching EAP: a coaching support programme designed for businesses who would like to support their staff through periods of change or challenge.

What is an EAP?

An Employee Assistance Programme is a support programme offered to employees by an employer. The programme is funded by the employer, and provides guidance and support on wellbeing and mental health, financial issues, and other work and personal issues.

As part of the Evolution Coaching EAP, we provide one-to-one coaching support for anyone in a business who is dealing with challenge or change. It’s completely confidential and allows organisations to support their staff, for a happier, healthier and more productive workplace.

The Coaching EAP:

  • Ensures a consistency of availability of coaching support
  • Utilises a proven, semi-directive approach to ensure the coaching meets the clients’ needs
  • Is outcome focused
  • Is cost-effective
  • Is totally confidential
  • Is effective

Why coaching?

Coaching is a way for businesses to really support their employees; now more than ever, supporting the wellbeing of staff is essential, rather than optional, and as a result the use of EAPs has increased by 68% percent over the last 10 years. Many teams are now working remotely or flexibly, and this brings in new challenges: working from home can mean fewer opportunities to casually ‘check in’ with staff, and while some employees may thrive in a home-working setting, others may find it presents new challenges.

In the context of the coronavirus pandemic, coaching can be particularly useful for:

  • Managers finding it challenging to manage teams remotely 
  • Employees struggling financially due to the pandemic
  • Employees struggling with changes to their role
  • Anyone finding working from home difficult or stressful
  • Anyone dealing with change that’s affecting their wellbeing, whether that’s personal or at work

Coaching is a valuable part of a risk and absence management strategy, and can help identify problems staff are dealing with before they become serious.

How does it work?

Our Coaching EAP is a package of support purchased in blocks of hours per month. The purchased hours are then available for the use of anyone in the organisation: employees can self-refer, or staff can be referred by a manager or HR if they feel it would be beneficial. 

“I was referred to Martin following a traumatic event at work.  We had several sessions of online coaching/counselling.  Martin was professional yet approachable and I felt at ease talking about my experience and the effect it had on my work.  Martin listened well and gave me lots of suggestions and strategies to move forward.  He easily picked up at subsequent sessions showing he had listened to and remembered what had gone before.  Virtual sessions worked very well with Martin and would happily recommend his work to others.”

Kerry O’Leary, Plymouth Community Homes

If you’d like to chat to us about the Evolution Coaching EAP for your business, get in touch. We also offer other business support, such as strategic planning with our Navigator sessions, and Resilience and Civility training.

Be A Better Leader: How To Improve Your Leadership Skills

Good leadership is a skill that comes naturally for some, and less easily for others – but it can be taught. It comes down to good communication, an ability to really listen, being able to plan strategically and take decisive action, and the ability to get others on board with your plans. As we look towards a flexible and remote working future with many teams now split across multiple locations, good leadership is more important than ever to keep teams motivated, happy and productive.

Good leadership skills are essential for managers, directors, and business owners, but being a good leader will stand you in good stead in many other areas of your life. The communication skills that enable you to manage a team or direct a company will help you in your personal relationships: you’ll listen better and empathise more. Decisiveness and strategic planning will help you pin down and execute personal goals. Being able to guide a team through periods of change will in turn make you more able to weather change and disruption in your own life.

Leadership training forms a large part of the coaching we deliver here at Evolution (including our Navigator programme for businesses). Whether you’re looking to improve your leadership skills at work, or for your own personal development, here are our top six tips for becoming a better leader.

1. Communication is key. Being able to build rapport is a valuable skill: it’ll make people much more likely to see your point of view and get on board with your way of thinking. If you consistently find that people fail to deliver what you’re asking of them, it’s likely that you’re not communicating in the right way. 

2. Listen. Listening is just as important as speaking when it comes to communication. What does your team need? What would make them more productive? Do they feel supported? Everyone is different, and being able to understand individual needs and ways of communicating will help you get the best out of your team in the long run.

3. Model the behaviour of others. If there’s a colleague, a friend or a public figure whose leadership skills you really admire, work out what it is they do that makes them successful – and replicate that behaviour. If you find that tricky, try business coaching: a trained coach will have spent years studying and modelling behaviour that works, and will help you apply those skills to your own life.

4. Learn to manage change. Change is an inescapable part of business, and you can’t avoid it. Learning to guide your team or your business through periods of change is essential; if you can use change to develop, grow and evolve, you’ll thrive.

5. Have a clear vision. Good strategic planning will give you a clear plan for your business, so that you can provide clear direction to your team.

6. Spend time on your own personal development. Know your own strengths and weaknesses: where do you need support? Where could you improve? Working on your own goals will set a good example for your team, and it’ll make you a better leader in the long run. Being able to manage your time, be more resilient, and manage your stress levels will take the strain out of leadership and allow you to focus on the work that really matters.

If you’d like to develop your leadership skills even further, have a look at the courses available on our online academy. If you’re looking for business leadership training, get in touch to discuss how we can help.

Evolve or Die: How to Take Control of Change

The disruption of this year’s global pandemic has impacted businesses and individuals in just about every industry. Some have struggled to bounce back. Others have found ways to adapt, survive and even thrive in the ‘new normal’ we’ve found ourselves in.

The cold-water shock of the last few months has demonstrated a point I include in all of my coaching and training: change is constant. We can’t avoid it, and we can’t resist it. The best way to deal with change is to plan for it; to have a clear vision of where you want to go, what you need to get there, and what’ll happen when you do.

A few years ago I put together a book with Mark Peters (then MD of Pirate FM) called Evolve or Die: the Ultimate Self Help Book. It was designed to help individuals and businesses map out a path for change, so that they could move with the evolving world around them. Over the last few months I’ve revisited the book, and put together an online course to work alongside it: it’s designed to help you get the most out of the whole process, so you finish the course and book with a solid, actionable, realistic plan to get you where you want to be.

A good time for change

I work with lots of clients – both individuals and businesses – who have been making major changes to the way they operate as a result of the pandemic. Many people found that working more flexibly offered them a better quality of life, more productivity, and better job satisfaction, and they’re now making long-term changes to the way they work. As challenging as the last few months have been, this time has also been a period of reflection and reevaluation for many of us: what do we want our lives to look like? Are we working in a way that supports our goals and our values?

What you’ll get from the course

The Evolve or Die book is designed to be the ultimate self-help guide: you write your own story. Each section will ask you questions about what you’d like to achieve, where you want to go, and how you’re going to get there. The online course will walk you through each chapter, and provide guidance on how to fill out your book, to help you get the most out of the process. You’ll finish with a plan that’s specific to you and your goals, ready for you to put it into practice.

Who is this course for?

The course is for anyone who’s found themselves in a time of change: maybe you’d like to make changes to the way you work, or plan for some personal goals. You might be thinking of a career change, or perhaps you’d just like to prepare for the uncertainty that coronavirus has brought about. It can be used as a business planning tool, or for a specific, short-term objective.

You can take the course here. Registration costs £30 and includes a free copy of the Evolve or Die book.

If you’ve got questions about the course, feel free to get in touch. If you’re looking for more business-focused planning tools or training, have a look at our business coaching page. You can also view our other online courses here.

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