Launching our ‘Getting the Most out of Coaching’ Series

It’s been quite some time since I posted to my blog on a regular basis and so much has changed in that short time!  We’ve weathered a little more of the economic storm that doesn’t seem to be abating, hosted a successful olympics and I got married and moved house in a month!

To coincide with moving home, I also moved my blog to sit within our new WordPress website and plan to start writing on a regular basis about Talent Management topics including resourcing, coaching, development and no doubt being a working mum will crop in there too.  If there’s anything you’d like to hear about then please do shout, otherwise I’ll choose the theme.

This month, I plan to talk about Getting the Most out of Coaching for those of you who’re looking to get a Coach or more out of the Coaching relationship you have.  Watch this space!

Thanks for this image


When, What and How to Recruit?

It’s heartening to see and hear all the tales of growing businesses and recruitment in times when our news is so perpetuated with very different headlines.  And recruitment is on the cards for some businesses that I’ve been speaking to of late.  What’s striking, is that no matter the size of the business, the same questions remain – When is the best time to recruit?  What am I recruiting for specifically?  And how do I find the person I’m recruiting for?

There’s no really easy answer to these questions as each business’s situation is different, however try using the following questions to help shape your next steps:

  • Can the business sustain a new recruit?  Is there enough work/capital to pay wages?
  • Can the business accommodate the new recruit?  Where will they sit?  What resources will they need?
  • What tasks need to/could be undertaken by a new recruit that the existing team/resources can’t accommodate?  Could these be undertaken by a 3rd party rather than a recruit?
  • How much work is there that is required?  5 days a week/part time/ full time/ flexible hours?
  • What skills are required to undertake the tasks?  Do the skills to do the work exist in the company already?
  • How will the new recruit be recruited and welcomed into the business?
  • What sort of a person will suit the business?
  • Do you know anyone who does this work at the moment?  Can your network help you find the person/s?
  • How much time and money do you want to spend on finding the new recruit?

These are starting points to help shape the recruitment of your next team member.  If you’d like to discuss this in more detail and for a free initial consultation, get in touch with Michelle today on 07786 622344.  


Sunday Ruminations…

I find myself drawn back to my blog for the first time in many many months!  It’s a very cold and snowy February day.  The Rugby’s on, my 7 month old daughter and her father are asleep on the sofa and a roast is cooking in the oven.  Bliss!

So what’s pulled me back and detracted me from indulging in a lazy Sunday afternoon.  Well I guess you could say it’s that Sunday feeling because like many of you, I’m sitting here wondering what this weeks work will hold as I begin the slow process of returning to work from maternity leave…  It’s a very strange experience after several wonderful months learning how to be a brilliant mummy to Amelie, and it’s got me thinking about all sorts of things.  The issue of time management, confidence, balance and finding work again…  Essentially the topics that crop up time and time again for so many of my coaching clients.  How ironic!

So whilst I chew the cud and ruminate on the importance of this, I’ll take some of my own advice and enjoy the moment.  More soon.

Have a good week.


It’s been so long…

…I’ve almost forgotten how to post onto my blog!

First things first, an apology for my silence for what WordPress tells me has been 155 days since I last posted!!!  Has it really been that long?  How time flies!

I wanted to share my news with you, which I hope may help explain why I’ve been somewhat absent.  In around 8 weeks there will be a new member to the team, as I’m over 7 months pregnant.

Suffice to say Maternity and Paternity laws have become topic of the month in our household and I’ve already started a list of intended articles to write for times to come.  Meanwhile, sporadic posting is likely to continue for the forseeable future…

5 ways to ace that interview

Pepsi Max Job Ad

Ok so this might very well seem obvious to some, however, working in recruitment, I’m often amazed at how people seem to miss the basic things that will help them succeed at interview!

So here goes…My 5 ways to ace that interview!

1) Turn up on time (not too early not too late)

How you present yourself is key to how the interviewer perceives you.  You’ve one chance to be on time – something you’ll be expected to do regularly when you work for the company – so make sure you’re on time.  If you’re early, walk round the block, visit the ladies/gentlemen’s or go for a coffee, before you’re called up to your interviewer.  Being about 5-10 minutes early is fine.

2) Have a copy of your CV to hand

This is really important if you have either filled in an application form online or an agency is representing you as again, it’ll help the interviewer see how you present yourself both on paper and in preparation for the interview.  Also, and you may find this shocking, I once had an agency candidate come to an interview based on the incorrect CV – it was totally unrecognisable to them bar their name at the top!  Fortunately they had a copy of their CV so we were able to carry on!  This is an extreme but accurate reminder of taking responsiblity for how you present yourself.

3) Research the company and evidence this where you can

We have so many tools available to us to find out about a business before we turn up on the door – their website, Linked In, the internet, other people we know.  Make sure you find out as much as you can about the business before you show up, aside from what they do!  When were they founded?  Where are they based?  What’s their business strategy?  Who works with/for them?

4) Address your interviewer by name and know who they are/what they do

Forgetful when it comes to names – now’s not the time to forget who you’re meeting.  But if you do get interviewnervitis and forget the details, how about you write the interviewers name down in folder/notepad and take it with you in the interview.  This can help remind you of who you’re speaking to and also is quite helpful if you’ve a list of questions prepared to ask on the same page.  Also, just as it’s important to know about the company you’re interviewing with, it’s equally important to know who is interviewing you.  Google them – check them out on Linked In….  Knowing who you’re meeting with can be really helpful to build that all important rapport.

5) Be prepared for questions

Before the interview, find out what sort it is going to be?  If its competency based then check out the job description to figure out what sort of things they’re going to want to know about what you’ve done in the past.  If it’s a situational interview then go through your CV with a fine tooth comb!  If there’s anything on it that you feel remotely concerned about (people usually over-embellish their interests/hobbies section for instance) then delete it.  If you’re uncomfortable about being asked particular questions – why are you interested in this job?  Why did you leave X employer?  etc etc, be prepared for those questions to be asked and have an answer.

To get a really competitive advantage, you could also take a look at our Essential Guide to Interview where we give advice to interviewers on what to do.

So there we have it.  My 5 sure ways to ace that interview.  What are you waiting for!  Go be amazing and ace that interview!

If you need interview help, career coaching or a friendly ear to talk to before you go for that job, get in touch today.  We offer career coaching, CV re-writing and key interview support via our sister brand Change Paths.

Social Media at Work – What should a Social Media Policy contain?

In todays technology-framed times more and more people and businesses are embracing Social Media and using it for a variety of things.  Be it contributing to industry debates, research, marketing, networking or resourcing, the way we are choosing to communicate with each other has shifted once again.  Sites such as Linked In, WordPress,Twitter, Facebook etc have created a permanent space on many people’s web-browers favourites lists and are growing in followers by the day.

In light of this shift, organsations now need to consider the impact of this Social Networking revolution and how it could impact their business.  It’s important that staff are clear on what is appropriate in the use of Social Media at work as distinct from generic internet usage.

With this in mind here are some questions to help guide you towards what your social media policy might need to contain:

1)    What purposes are you happy for your staff to use Social Media sites at work?

2)    Who is able to speak on behalf of your company?

3)    What sort of comments are you happy for your staff to make about your business?

4)    Who owns the content of what your staff write on Social Media sites such as Linked In, Blogs, Facebook etc?

5)    When networking, who’s the relationship between the staff member or your organisation?

6)    What happens if the staff member spells things incorrectly, or mis-quotes/mis-represents something?

7)    How do you know what your staff are saying about your business?

8)    How and when do you monitor Social Media usage amongst your staff?

9)    What happens when a member of staff joins/leaves?

10) If you have a company account on one of these sites, who has the log in details?  Who has access?

11) How and who will handle responses to comments?

12)  What happens if a member of staff says something defamatory, libelous etc?

13)  What sites are your staff allowed to access and what sort of things are they allowed to look at (this will link into your internet usage policy)

14)  How much time should be spent on these sites whilst the individual is at work?

Of course your Social Media policy relates to people’s use of Social Media at work, so whilst you’re concerned with what an individual is saying about your business, keep in mind privacy laws.

If you’d like more information or to discuss this in further detail, please get in touch with Michelle Fischer on 01202 853647.

Alternatively, read what Mashable has to say about the subject here:

For examples of business’s Social Media Policies:


It’s been over a month since my last post and I’m staggered by the continued activity on my blog and the number of hits! Perhaps it’s the geek in me!

Either way, apologies for my silence, I’ve been exploring the world of in-house recruitment and have been somewhat sidetracked. I shall be back with more posts on Talent Management Matters soon. Meanwhile, enjoy the Halloween season!

Redundancy – Simple Do’s and Don’ts

Today I’d like to look at some simple do’s and don’ts when it comes to Redundancy, for businesses who are facing times of change and possibly downsizing.

It’s a sad sign of the times that most of us have been personally affected by redundancy of late.  Either as a person having been/being made redundant, or someone who is making redundancies.  From conversations with clients within and without, how well these go is often a measure of how well a business is prepared for these situations.  To this end I was inspired to start compiling a simple list of Do’s and Don’ts


  • Adhere to your redundancy or management of change policy (if you have one). It provides a consistent process to handle what can be a very emotional situation.  If you don’t have one, make sure you’re clear on the process you’ll follow.
  • Check your employees’ contracts – especially if you have employees who have transferred to you under TUPE. Does anyone have any contractual enhanced terms or variances to your standard contracts?
  • Check which, if any, affected employees are covered by any union recognition agreements.
  • Remember that consultation requirements differ depending on the number of employees who may be made redundant. Follow the collective consultation procedures for 20+ redundancies.
  • Ensure that your consultation is meaningful – extend your timescale if necessary. Stress that no decisions have been made yet and encourage the employees to put forward any suggestions or comments.
  • Document everything in writing – it’s your defence to show that you consulted properly, considered alternatives and followed the right procedures.
  • If directors are likely to be made redundant, makes sure you check your articles of association.
  • Be sure to train those involved with handling the redundancy conversations have had suitable training and support on how to have difficult conversations.  Prepare them for the typical scenarios they might face.
  • Ensure your selection criteria are objective and free from discrimination. If attendance is a criteria, ensure that maternity/adoption/paternity related absences are discounted.
  • Consider your selection criteria very carefully – if you don’t have data to backup your views, then try to involve more than one person in the rating of staff. As with interviewing, subjective criteria will not stand up in tribunal – be careful to avoid personal judgements (like “strong communicator” or “poor team player” unless you can objectively justify these.
  • Attempt to find an alternative scheme for apprentices to transfer to if redundancies are inevitable.
  • Write to each individual to invite him/her to every consultation meeting.
  • You may wish to offer the chance to be accompanied by a colleague or union representative at all consultation meetings.
  • Remember to consult with those absent from work due to illness, holiday, maternity/paternity/adoption etc.
  • Document all meetings fully.
  • Consider offering outplacement support to all staff affected.
  • Ensure that you offer work trials to “at risk” employees even though you may think the employee lacks the correct skills.
  • Consult with those not “at risk” – some may put themselves forward for voluntary redundancy or suggest job-shares, transfer to part-time working etc.
  • Offer all suitable alternatives to those at risk – even if at lower pay and status than their current roles. Ensure you provide full details of all suitable vacancies, including salary details.
  • Continue to pay benefits such as car allowances during the notice period.
  • Support those who remain after a redundancy process has been completed.


  • Forget that it is the role that is being made redundant, not the person.
  • Pretend that a role is redundant to ease the process of dismissing an unsatisfactory performer.
  • Dismiss on grounds of redundancy if you are going to replace in that role.
  • Go down the redundancy route without first considering other options eg capping overtime, changing working methods, modifying hours, natural wastage etc.
  • Make false promises. Never say that there will be no further redundancies after these cuts – you have no way of knowing this.
  • Rush through the consultation process to try and save money – you may not do so in the long run!
  • Under-estimate the emotional response of someone under threat of redundancy. Expect to have to adjourn meetings and reconvene if employees are too distressed to contribute to the discussions.
  • Assume that you have to have “LIFO” (last in, first out) as your selection criteria. This may be indirectly discriminatory on grounds of age but also tribunals will accept that you want to retain those with key skills and performance.
  • Include apprentices in your selection criteria unless the entire section/business is closing down.
  • Delay commencing redundancy consultation if you are aware that it is going to happen.
  • Ignore any suggestions the employees may make as to ways of avoiding compulsory redundancies.
  • Think you know which jobs the “at risk” employees would not be interested in. Ask them for their thoughts. Make available all job vacancies for consideration, even if you think they may not be interested.
  • Grant garden leave unless it is contained in the employment contract and the employee has officially been served his/her notice.
  • Serve notice of redundancy until the consultation period and process is complete.
  • Refuse staff who are under notice of redundancy, and who have at least two years’ service, reasonable paid time off to attend interviews or secure alternative work.
  • Delay in making any redundancy payments.
  • Discuss compromise agreements too early in the process.
  • Forget that in redundancy situations, even where the person has volunteered for redundancy, you are still dismissing someone.

If you’re facing change or handling the aftermath and need some impartial advice, please get in touch with Creative Leadership today on 01202 853647

So if “All the world’s a stage…” what about Age Discrimination?

All the world’s a Stage,

And all the men and women merely players;

They have their exits and their entrances;

And one man in his time plays many parts,

His acts being seven ages…”

As You Like It – 2/7

So if  “All the world’s a stage” what about Age Discrimination?

This question is one I’ve been mulling over a lot recently and particularly when talking to my coaching clients in the work I do.

It’s a fact**, and despite what a multitude of HR professionals/business leaders might tell you, we are all affected by the different stages that we’re at in life and the issues and challenges we face.

Here are some basics:

Figure 1. Adult Life Stages
Stage Key Issues Self-Image Goal Focus Relationships Community
Autonomy / Tentative Choices

(18 – 26)

Autonomy vs. Dependence

Tentative vs. Lasting Choices

Developing sense of personhood as separate from parents and childhood peer groups Defining self as an individual and establishing an initial life style Testing out new relationships (e.g., love interests, peer groups, and friends) Realigning focus from family of origin to new peers and groups
Young Adult


Turmoil vs. Certainty

Settling Down vs. Keeping Things Open

Questioning sense of self and who/what we want to become Re-assessing initial life style and making more permanent choices/ commitments Sorting out and deciding which relationships will become more permanent Re-thinking and evaluating commitments and connections
Making Commitments


Master vs. Apprentice

Permanent vs. Tentative Choices

Firming up/establishing a more permanent sense of self and who/what we want to become Deciding a life direction and defining/ aggressively pursuing a dream of what we want to accomplish in life Making more permanent commitments to love relationships, friends, and peers Establishing more permanent connections and community ties/ responsibilities
Mid-Life Transition


Resolving Key Polarities

Immortality vs. Mortality

Constructive vs. Destructive

Nurturing vs. Aggressive

Re-examining realities of projected ego and image vs. true self and struggling to define/accept true self Questioning the dream whether or not it was achieved and developing a more mature sense of what is really important Recognizing/ acknowledging one’s own negative, as well as positive, impact on relationships and correcting course for deeper, more authentic connections Disengaging from group and cultural pressures/norms to re-evaluate and restructure priorities
Leaving a


Contribution vs. Personal Benefit

Other vs. Self Centered

Social vs. Independent Accomplishments

Letting go of earlier inaccurate ego images and accepting oneself as a worthwhile being with weaknesses as well as strengths Making the best of the time one has left to help others and leave a positive legacy Settling into more realistic and rewarding relationships based on recognizing/ forgiving each other’s imperfections as human and helping each other grow Re-engagement on a deeper, more objective, less driven and more productive, level with family, friends, and society
Spiritual Denouement

(66 and beyond)

Hope vs. Despair

Survival of Spirit vs. Mortality

Surrender vs. Control

Accepting self as dependent on a wisdom greater than one’s own, recognizing that wisdom as benevolent, and submitting one’s self and life to that wisdom’s will Tying things up and completing the development of the person/spiritual being we want to become Accepting others and recognizing/ respecting humankind’s diversity as part of a greater wisdom’s plan Recognizing that life is only part of a larger, more enduring spiritual community and helping others understand that

Click here if you can’t view the above which was taken from

Of course, we are complex animals and often we weave our way through this path moving backwards and forwards between “ages”. Sometimes meandering back and re-working earlier stages and the choices we made, as we face unpredictable situations, achievements, traumas, and fluctuating career, family, or interpersonal situations.  But generally, it’s fair to say that we all recognise these stages.  We’ve all been through them.

And my point is this, to be better leaders and managers of your people.  In order to really understand them, it’s key to understand where they are in life, what’s driving them and what they are facing in their different life stages.  It’s about kicking the concept of Age Discrimination into touch – or at least putting it into some perspective.

So where are you right now in your life?  What challenges are you facing in or out of work that you’ve reflected on differently by thinking about your life in stages?  This is powerful stuff and something that so many of us put to one side.  I look forward to your your views.

Using this for Coaching Work

Some of you may like to consider using this in your own coaching or coaching work.  Here’s an idea of how:

  • Consider which Life Stage best outlines where you are today – pick the closest one for each column or more than one if that’s appropriate
  • What does that tell you about the choices you have in your life?
  • What values or beliefs do you have that are helping you stay where you are?
  • What values or beliefs do you have that will help you with your next stage?
  • How does thinking about your life like this help you?
  • What three (or more) things will you do now?

**For a more in-depth understanding of this area of social research, try googling the writings of Erikson, Levinson, Groeschel, Fowler to name a few…

To make you smile – A 5 minute Management Lesson

I got sent this (slightly risque – sorry!) email today and felt I had to share its humourous wisdom…especially on a sunny Monday!

A 5 minute Management Lesson

Lesson 1 :

A priest offered a Nun a lift.  She got in and crossed her legs, revealing a little of her leg… The priest, glancing over, nearly had an accident.

After controlling the car, he stealthily slid his hand up her leg… The nun said, ‘Father, remember Psalm 129?’

The priest removed his hand.  But, changing gears, he let his hand slide up her leg again.   The nun once again said, ‘Father, remember Psalm 129?’

The priest apologized ‘Sorry sister but the flesh is weak.’  Arriving at the convent, the  nun sighed heavily and went on her  way.

On his arrival at the church, the priest rushed to look up Psalm 129.  It said, ‘Go forth and seek, further up, you will find glory.’

Moral of the story:

  • If you are  not well informed in your job, you might miss a great  opportunity.

Lesson 2:

A sales rep, an  administration clerk, and the manager are walking to  lunch when they find an antique oil lamp.

They rub it and a Genie comes out.  The Genie says, ‘I’ll give each of you just one wish.’

‘Me first! Me first!’ says the admin clerk..  ‘I want to be in the Bahamas ,  driving a speedboat, without a care in the world.’   Poof! She’s gone.

‘Me next! Me next!’ says the sales rep. ‘I want to be in Hawaii, relaxing on the beach with my personal masseuse, an endless supply of Pina Coladas, and the love of my life.’  Poof! He’s gone.

‘OK, you’re up,’ the Genie says to the manager.  The manager says, ‘I want those two back in the office after lunch.’

Moral of the story:

  • Always let your boss have the first say.

Lesson 3:

An eagle was sitting on a tree resting, doing nothing.

A small rabbit saw the eagle and asked him, ‘Can I also sit like you and do nothing?’   The eagle answered: ‘Sure, why not.’

So, the rabbit sat on the ground below the eagle and rested. All of a sudden, a fox appeared, jumped on the rabbit and ate it.

Moral of the story:

  • To be sitting and doing nothing, you must be sitting very, very high up.

Lesson 4:

A turkey was chatting with a bull.  ‘I would love to be able to get to the top of that tree’ sighed the turkey, ‘but I haven’t got the energy’

‘Well, why don’t you nibble on some of my droppings?’ replied the bull.  It’s full of nutrients.’

The turkey pecked at a lump of dung, and found it actually gave him enough strength to reach the lowest branch of the tree.

The next day, after eating some more dung, he reached the second branch..

Finally after a fourth night, the turkey was proudly perched at the top of the tree.

He was promptly spotted by a farmer, who shot him out of the tree.

Moral of the story:

  • Bull s**t  might get you to the top, but it won’t keep you there…

Lesson 5

A little bird was flying  south for the winter.  It was so cold the bird froze and fell to the ground into a large field.

While he was lying there, a cow came by and dropped some dung on  him.

As the frozen bird lay there in the pile of cow dung, he began to realize how warm he was.

The dung was actually thawing him out!

He lay there all warm and happy, and soon began to sing for joy.  A passing cat heard the bird singing and came to investigate.

Following the sound, the cat discovered the bird under the pile of cow dung, and promptly dug him out and ate him.

Moral of the story:

  • Not everyone who s**ts on you is your enemy.
  • Not everyone who gets you out of s**t is your friend.
  • And when you’re in deep s**t, it’s best to keep your mouth shut!

Wishing you a great week!