Welcome Sophie


Delighted that Sophie has joined our Associate team and is off and running with courses in May and June already booked and has undertaken some mediation sessions this month for a Kent based client.

Sophie’s background is in HR and organisational workforce culture.

She was the winner of the Personnel Today Award in 2015 for Excellence in Employee Engagement, a finalist for the Personnel 2014 award for Excellence in L&D and received a highly commended award in 2015 by the Campaign for Learning, for the design and delivery of Learning at Work Week.

She has also led 2 organisations through Investors in People accreditation, both starting from Core and both achieving Silver in a 3 year period.

We’re delighted to welcome her into the Athelbrae family and look forward to a long and fruitful association.




Tailoring to your requirements

We were delighted to have received such positive feedback from a group of managers on a recent 8 module programme for management development.

Mandy, the trainer, worked hard with them to both address their long term development goals, but also importantly, flexed the sessions to allow for discussion and debate around key issues that arose during the programme.

This allows for them to share experiences (good and bad) and as a management team, they learn to support each other at different times when challenges arise.

The key to this is to be flexible to the demands of the individual clients and this starts with the proposal discussions, through to the planning and development of the course materials, the training itself, and just as importantly, the mid delivery reviews and end of programme assessment and meeting.  It should be a whole package.

The majority of management programmes the world over contain, in the main, very similar themes and topics for modules.  However to have an “off the shelf” offering, means that yes, they get the theoretical training, but if they cannot relate that to their day to day issues and the demands of the particular industry they are in, that is all it is – a theoretical learning, that frankly they can receive from reading any good management book.

If you are wanting something that truly reflects the industry challenges that your managers face, is flexible and adaptable throughout the programme and provides solid guidance and support from start to finish, demand nothing less from your training provider than an ongoing relationship to allow them to really understand what you need and how they propose to meet your requirements.

We are proud at Athelbrae Ltd to have clients who value our relationship based approach.  If you would like to discuss any form of staff development, please do call or email us.

Management programme [MR]


Thanks to Business Bunker for support

Big thanks to Amanda Flanders and Business Bunker Xtra radio this morning for a shout-out for daughter Francesca, who is raising funds for Diabetes UK doing the Challenge 22 swim.


If you want to get your event publicised, or information about your business or product, this is a great medium for reaching a wide audience.

Both the Business Bunker on Tuesday’s  with Paul Andrews and the Bunker Xtra show on Fridays with Amanda provide huge support for a whole range of businesses and sponsorship packages are available if this is an area your business may be looking to invest in.

Kate enjoyed being on the show at the end of January and seeing how it all works behind the scenes.  Can thoroughly recommend for any business in the region.




Lessons from Lego



Over Christmas there was an interesting programme on the story of Lego which looked at the history of the company and how it has evolved over 80+ years.  In some instances there was a planned strategy and in others, decisions made almost cost them the business.

So what can be learned from their story?

1932 – Lego was ahead of the curve with other toys of the time and since in being able to provide inventive play using bricks that could be used in a multitude of ways =  Excel in your core business and have a good base product

1962 – The introduction of the rubberised “wheel” meant that suddenly the possibility of building something that moved opened up a whole new option for inventive play – and left its competitors who had static playbricks were left standing, literally! = Keep evolving

1969 –  the launch of Duplo – the lego brick for the younger generation who were able to engage with the product at an early age and by the time they graduated to the smaller bricks, were loyal customers = build on your customer base

1975 – English becomes the official Corporate language – a sensible move as this year saw the American procurement market established = do what’s right for your business particularly in long term planning

1977 – Lego Technic – for the loyal older customer who wanted a challenge for more complex builds = evolve, build on your customer base, do what’s right in the long term…..oh wait, haven’t we heard this before?

1982 – Celebrating 50 years of business with all staff =  recognising your valuable assets and making your teams feel valued and part of the business.

1996 – Legoland Windsor opens = moving into new markets and expansion

1998 – New brand statement – “Just Imagine” = don’t get stuck in a rut and grasp opportunities to adapt and flex your message

2000 – in talks with Steven Spielberg about a Lego Film – BUT also posts a DKK 1 Billion deficit – something needs to be done to halt the financial slide! = Not everyone gets it right all the time. Be brave and tackle the root cause of the problems

2004 – Jørgen Vig Knudstorp as new CEO of the company – the first CEO not to be a member of the family =   The ability to look take a long hard look at what’s not going right and put in place corrective measures.  How hard must that conversation have been with family members?

2005 – The new CEO implements a 5 year strategy plan – undoubtedly difficult decisions and meetings to be held to halt the slide and re-focus on what is great about the company and return to its roots of first class imaginative play for all ages = What is the core business?

2005/6 – The LEGOLAND parks are sold to Merlin Entertainments. The parent company of the LEGO Group – KIRKBI – buys a share of Merlin Entertainments. Today KIRKBI owns approx. one third of Merlin. The LEGO Group posts a profit again. The company is back on track = Difficult decisions aren’t the end of the world

2013 – The strong growth continues and the LEGO Group presents very satisfactory annual results. In less than10 years, the company has quadrupled its revenue = you need to allow time for changes to be implemented and take effect.  Knee-jerk solutions are not solutions!

2016 – planned changes in leadership succession planning is in place and starts to take effect =  succession planning for all roles is essential to provide a stable and smooth transition helps to ease the organisation and market worries about change.

If you would like to discuss any support for staff development as part of your strategy, Key account management for those valued customers, help with the finances, team building, or any other lessons from LEGO, please do contact us and Keith will be delighted to come out and have a chat about how Athelbrae can help.  01892 832059 or email kate@athelbrae.co.uk or keith@athelbrae.co.uk



Julia is busy today with Tenterden client and their new team on Customer Service Excellence.

Great to see lots of ideas coming out and focusing on how to ensure that they stand out from their competition.

And the reason for the toys – people all learn differently and some find the process of “fiddling” with things really helps to get the creative juices flowing.

Course notes and manuals are all available, but important to remember that there are those who find pictures get the message across,  so great that Julia can draw!

Attention, Impact & Understanding



How often do you find yourself watching a TV programme or listening to a radio broadcast and not really engaging with the content?  There are certain programmes that you DEFINITELY tune yourself into – for me, it’s anything historical, animal/environmental related or cookery.  Poldark, Blue Planet II, White Princess or Bake Off and the tablet and phone are left to one side and an enthusiastic hour or two of escapism and interest is driving the agenda.

However, there are other programmes and series that sometimes are just “background noise”.  TV soaps, First Dates,  Eastenders…all entertaining but not thought provoking.   It might be a habit to always have the Archers omnibus on a Sunday morning.  You’re listening but also having a conversation with the kids, cooking the dinner, ironing, thinking about that difficult issue at work.

Sometimes the same can be said for training.  Mandatory training events are often the ones that people disengage from because they know “they have to do it”.  But a recent conversation was had with a member of staff who had to attend Fraud training.  Yes, it was mandatory but the delivery was done in an engaging, entertaining and informative way and the delegates continued to buzz with what they’d learned for some long time afterwards, sharing the stories and what they had taken from the session.

If your staff don’t feel that the time they spend in the training room, or indeed on Webinars, online learning or distance learning isn’t either relevant to them,  they will quickly disengage and metaphorically (or in some cases actually) start looking at their tablets and phones and not engage with the discussions or the learning.

Your training provider needs to provide:-

ATTENTION – they need to get the attention of your staff from the outset.  Yes, they need to be entertaining, but the reality is,  relevant and challenging questions get people’s attention and help them to start thinking in a focused way.  There’s should be no opportunity to start thinking about “other stuff” when you’re in the training room.

IMPACT – simply put, how will this workshop/programme/training make a difference to my working day, career progression?   Everyone attending should be able to have an action plan of what they’ll implement, change or resolve as a result of the training.  If they’re struggling to identify 3 simple changes, they’ve not been engaged sufficiently to commit to the process.

UNDERSTANDING – In order to really understand the content and impact of training, full attention, commitment and willingness to learn or change needs to be part of the delegate toolbox.  They should be encouraged by the facilitator to demonstrate their understanding of what has been discussed and challenged to find methods of implementing the learning back in the workplace.

We tend to think of education as only being that which we learn in school, college or University.

But how many of us in the last week have paid attention to the impact of plastics in the oceans from watching Blue Planet II, really understanding the consequences of our throw away cultures?

We learn when we are engaged in the subject matter –  ask yourselves,  if you’re training provider is only providing an entertaining and fun day out of the office?  If  they are it’s a disservice to your business and your staff.

Resolution for 2018 – Be more Blue Planet II and less First Dates!