Demonstrating leadership

The Parks Department of Canada sent this email to their staff at the start of the pandemic in 2020 – we would all like to think that we said the same to our people ….maybe some did, but there will be a large proportion who didn’t.

However as we start to see a relaxation of some restrictions, we can revisit this and ensure that we put our people first.

  • you are not working from home, you are at your home during a crisis trying to work
  • your personal physical, mental and emotional health is far more important than anything else right now
  • you should not try to compensate for lost productivity by working longer hours 
  • you will be kind to yourself and not judge how you are coping based on how others are coping 
  • you will be kind to others and not judge how they are coping based on how you are coping
  • your team’s success will not be measured in the same way it was when things were normal

Reminiscing about Athelbrae

We were contacted via our website this week by Trevor Booth who is writing an article on the shipyard in Cheshire where the Athelbrae was the largest vessel ever built there. He wanted to know if he could use the bronze ship’s nameplate in the article that many of you will have seen on our course notes.

We had promised to look out some further information for him from the handwritten notes of the sea trials, conducted in 1956 by Kate’s father, John Nicholson, before he took the “Brae” over the Atlantic to her new home in the West Indies.

We are very grateful to Trevor for sharing some pictures of the Athelbrae under construction which you can now view via our FAQ page of the website. FAQ’s (athelbrae.co.uk)

It has also been an opportunity to reminisce going through all the documents we have on file including the passbooks from his career at sea (apparently he was considered conscientious and sober!) together detailed information on his time in a lifeboat, aged 19, in 1942 after being torpedoed in the North Atlantic whilst serving as an apprentice on the Athel Knight.

The last time Capt John Nicholson wore his uniform in July 1988

World Book Day 2021

This year for World Book Day we asked our Trainers to send us their “good read” recommendations, whether this be business focused, wellbeing, coaching, sales or inspirational.

Louise:

Transitions: Making Sense of Life’s Changes by William Bridges

“A thought provoking and helpful book when navigating any change in life that helps guide the reader through coping with the inevitable changes in life – whether welcomed or not.”

Jacqui:

Why Men Don’t Listen and Women Can’t Read Map by Alan and Barbara Pease

“My reasons are that they used brain scans to show how men and women’s brains are wired differently and how they react to the same situation. Explains a lot and is fascinating, and I use this in training that it’s good to have differences. And it’s very funny when read with your partner…”

Jean:

The GO- GIVER by Bob Burg and John David Mann

“Not a fan of massive books with small type so this is a quick and easy read, told in the style of a story about a guy called Joe chasing business success. In many ways, it’s like a parable about what true success really is and how to achieve it. I read this in one day on holiday and loved it!”

BLINK by Malcom Gladwell

“From the very first story about ‘the statue that didn’t look right’, this book ‘had’ me. I literally couldn’t put it down! For someone who is a self-confessed perfectionist and hideously risk-averse, this was a really inspiring and challenging read about what would happen if we started to truly trust our gut instincts. Awesome … and I’m still working on it!”

Kate:

Emma and I by Sheila Hocken 

“An autobiography that details her growing up as a blind child, her relationship with her chocolate Labrador guide dog, Emma, and then regaining her sight as a young woman through surgery. Hocken and Emma go through many different obstacles together, both sad and happy.  An inspirational read about resilience, acceptance, loyalty and overcoming adversity.” 

Zahoor:

Power of Your Subconscious Mind by Joseph Murphy

“I found this book inspiring on so many levels. One thing we often see/hear is how people end up where they are. We often don’t know that we make things happen, even if we think we don’t. Our subconscious is extremely powerful because it is the driver of our behaviour (our habits) which mean we get certain results. Unfortunately, many of our habits have been formed (through certain experiences) when we were young, like during our teenage years. And too many adults keep those habits even when they aren’t serving us. However, we do have the power of choice and can change those habits in adult life if we choose to. This book highlights, in a nice way, how we can take control of that process.  I believe this is one of those books that will stand the test of time and will be talked about as a classic, if it already isn’t.”

Ellie:

The Happiness Advantage by Shawn Achor

“Really good for understanding how much happiness benefits especially in the work place.”

Character Strengths Matter: How to live a full life by Polly and Britton

“Brilliant for a positive approach to developing employees rather than looking for weaknesses which is demoralising.”

Permission to Feel by Marc Brackett

“Normalising emotions, especially childhood development.”

Anything written by Brene Brown

Letting Go by David Hawkins

“wow. Just wow!”

Steve:

Oh, the Places You’ll Go! by Dr Seuss.

“Read the first 6 or so pages at the beginning of a leadership workshop and it captures people’s imagination, creates a ‘fun’ culture for the workshop and a good foundation to refer to regularly.”

7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey

“Should be on everybody’s list”

101 Hints and Tips for Amazing Presentations by Steve Torjussen

“a best seller on Amazon by yours truly!”

Helen

The Boy, The Mole, The Fox and The Horse by Charlie Mackesy

“Not sure what you’d classify it as other than lovely!”

Close to the Wind by Pete Goss

“Relates to resilience”

Elaine

7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey

“Good to dip into and useful strategies such as 5 levels of listening, circle of influence and concern and think win win.  Always make great discussion starters and useful for action planning.”

Mandy

Youtube – Your Body Language Shapes Who You Are by Amy Cuddy

Sarah A

Sapiens: History of Mankind by Yuval Noah Harari

“Deep”

Revolting Rhymes by Roald Dahl

“Maybe one for kids but great stuff”

Fran

The Gruffalo by Julia Donaldson

That’s Not My Duck by Fiona Watt & Rachel Wells

Sign & Singalong – Incey Wincey Spider (BSL) by Annie Kubler

Sing & Singalong – Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star (BSL) by Annie Kubler

“While the majority of my reading is currently with my 2 year old, these books represent wellbeing ensuring we have daily one on one time together before he goes to bed”

Keith

In the Morning I’ll Be Gone – (plus others in the Detective Duffy series) by Adrian McKinty

“Crime novels set in Northern Ireland during “the troubles”.  All are a good read and give an insightful look into the conflict from an author who has experienced challenges and disappointment at one time causing him to quit writing.”

Leanne

Time to Think by Nancy Kline

“Her encouragement and guidance of how important it is to listen is key, especially now: ‘the quality of your attention determines the quality of the other people’s thinking.’  It’s powerful stuff”

Stuart

The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck by Mark Manson

“A very provoking modern look at a counterintuitive approach to living a good life”

Sun Tza The Art of War for Executives by Donald G Krause

“Takes Sun Tzu’s thinking, planning and strategy’s and reframes them into modern business and life”

Hilary

The Book of Joy by the Dalai Llama and Desmond Tutu

The Happiness Track by Emma Seppala

Simon

How To Be F*cking Awesome by Dan Meredith

“Gives you a right kick up the backside”

Denise

Who Moved My Cheese by Dr Spencer Johnson

“Short and thought provoking”

Jemma

Our Iceberg is Melting by John Kotter

“This is great at dealing with change”

Relentless by Eddie Hearn

“Colourful language but is all about being resilient”

Legal commentary on the importance of up to date training

This article on the HR Director site highlights the legal requirement for employers to ensure that training is up to date and relevant.

Set around a harassment case, it makes clear the responsibility sits with the employer organisation to invest and provide suitable training for staff.

As so often is the case, sending employees on a “course” after the event in order to address an ongoing issue, is a bit like trying to retrieve that horse bolting down the road with the gate swinging behind it!

Many training events and courses around management and personal development build on-going knowledge, but some, like Equality, Diversity and Inclusion, Employment Law, Health and Safety, GDPR, Board Governance, need to be revisited at regular intervals to ensure everyone knows the rules and regulations.

Using the defence that training has been given in the past is no defence at all, if the training content has become out of date or been updated.

Can an employer rely on the ‘reasonable steps’ defence to harassment where it provided training to the perpetrator of harassment and other employees? | theHRD (thehrdirector.com)

Being a friend vs Being a Manager

The most common enquiry we have regarding management training is for those who are trying to balance the demands of the role especially when they are friends with their subordinates.

It’s a difficult balancing act and one that was well demonstrated in January by new football Manager, Wayne Rooney.  Having moved from being a player/coach to the role of Manager he was asked about enforcing the “no hugging” rule and setting an example to fans.

His response was that he understood the need for the rule and he was advising his players to adhere to it – BUT he understood how excited they get scoring a goal, so he wouldn’t be penalising them if they broke the rule!

It’s a classic example of a manager wanting to be friends and remain one of the team, whilst still being in a position of authority.

At some point you have to get off the fence and accept that some decisions, taken for the right reasons, are not always popular with the staff and as a Manager you have to weather the storm of moans and groans. 

Others can challenge your authority, pushing the boundaries to see just how far they can get away with ignoring what they are being asked to do.

Having tools and techniques to know how to remain friendly within the confines of your operational role is something we cover in all our Management training programmes.

To discuss how best to support your inexperienced Managers in their development, do contact fran@athelbrae.co.uk for more information.

Reflections on the past, inform our future too

Today is the 30th birthday of our eldest, Adam. Not sure how that works when you still think of yourself as 21, but there’s no escaping the fact that we’re getting on in years and the next generation is maturing too!

An abiding memory of our first night home from hospital was listening to the start of the first Gulf War, with the radio on in the early hours, hearing the RAF bombers leaving on Operation Desert Storm to expel Iraqi troops from Kuwait, with naval and aerial bombardment which continued for 5 weeks.

I well remember thinking “what world have we brought this baby in to?” and the worry that he’d have to face challenges that we couldn’t protect him from forever.

Perhaps this is a natural part of becoming a new parent, realising that you’re responsible for another human being (at least until they’re teenagers and know everything anyway), and that there are things beyond your control that may affect their long term health and happiness. Never has this been more noticeable than in the current crisis.

Who would have thought that 30 years on (and with his own little baby just passing her 3 month birthday) that we’d be asking the same questions with pandemics, political unrest and humanity’s hopes being pinned on a vaccine?

The opportunity to take time reflecting on our past can be both a positive and negative experience.

Looking back now, I wish someone had told us not to stress that for a while all he’d eat was Crunchy Nut cornflakes and he’d still grow up healthy, and become a qualified Personal Trainer with an interest in nutrition; or that just because he had a love of art and creative skills in design and technology, that didn’t mean his parents’ expectation for him to be an architect was the path he’d choose, but he’d still use those talents to build his new baby an integrated bedroom storage unit from scratch!

As parents and grandparents, aunts, uncles, godparents and the like, we can become paralysed by our own aspirations for our young charges whilst worrying about all the things we cannot protect them from. In reality, the sooner we accept they’re individuals in their own right, with the ability to make their own decisions, mistakes and successes, the more we can support them.

They will face challenges and change throughout their lives – whether that’s having to be home-schooled during a pandemic, or facing action if they go into the military.

Today’s reflections on that momentous day 30 years ago gives an opportunity to see a true picture of life’s ups and downs – the great times and the testing times and especially in the current climate where we can’t celebrate together as a family, it reminds us that better times will return and there is much to look forward to in the future.

Free Webinar on GDPR changes with Brexit agreement

Now we have some information on the Brexit agreement, there are some new guidelines on protecting both our personal and business data.

We are running 2 free webinar sessions in February. These 60 minute sessions delivered by our Data/GDPR specialist Andy, he’ll outline what you need to do (if anything) and what the changes to our place within Europe means to previous agreements and contracts.

To book your FREE place, contact fran@athelbrae.co.uk.

9th February

9.00 – 10.00 am

1.00 – 2.00 pm

Free webinar via Zoom

Reverse Advent Calendar – Year 4

The arrival of December means starting our Reverse Advent Calendar. This is something we began four years ago having taken the decision to forego Corporate Christmas Cards and put the funds towards supporting the local community in a more practical way.

It doesn’t mean we can’t wish our clients a very happy festive season, but be honest, how many of those cards that arrive from early December do your team actually even read?

Putting a different item in the box every day from the Paddock Wood Foodstore list means that families are able to feed themselves and have a respite from the daily worries of putting food on the table and enjoy some Christmas cheer.

We deliver well before the 24th December to enable the support teams to get the produce out to all the families on their books and we often put in some additional items for the family pets and something for the youngsters to enjoy too.

This year, our own Elf on the Shelf, two year old grandson Connor, has been helping put items in the basket (we avoided giving him the tins as stuff was added with some force!). He’ll help with the delivery too and learn that this time of the year is about giving to others, particularly those in need.


There’s some Christmas goodies as well as everyday essentials and some items that we don’t necessarily think of when we think about foodbanks. Having products for hygiene and nappies etc for babies and young children is as imperative as produce to cook, so we always make sure there’s a selection from the list supplied by the foodstore to help replenish their stock. That might be shampoo, toothpaste, showergel or razors.

We’ve been delighted over the years to see clients take up this idea, sometimes with departments having their own boxes so there are multiple donations, and our local Paddock Wood fruit and veg distribution centre always contributes to the boxes in the run up to Christmas so there’s fresh produce for Christmas dinner available too.

Look out for our daily postings on our Linkedin and Twitter (www.linkedin.com/company/athelbrae-ltd @AthelbraeLtd) pages to see how the basket fills over the course of the month.

The value of expertise and experience.

I saw this on Facebook and thought it described the value of expertise and experience.

A customer asked me how much it cost to make a table….
I answered him: £1500
He said: That’s expensive for this small job?
I asked: How much do you think it should cost you?
He answers me: £800 maximum… it’s a pretty simple job right? !”For £800 I invite you to do it yourself.

But…. I don’t know how to.

For £800 I’ll teach you how to. So besides saving you £700, you’ll get the knowledge for the next time you want to make something

It seemed right to him and he agreed.

But to get started: you need tools: A table saw, a planer, a top, dormants, etc…

But I don’t have all this equipment and I can’t buy all of these for one job.

Well then for another £250 more I’ll rent my stuff to you so you can do it.

Okay, he says.

Okay! Tuesday I’m waiting for you to start doing this work

But I can’t on Tuesday I only have time today.

I’m sorry, but I’m only available Tuesday to teach you and lend you my stuff. Other days are busy with other customers.

Okay! That means I’m going to have to sacrifice my Tuesday, give up a day at work.

I forgot. To do your job yourself, you also have to pay for the nonproductive factors.

That is? What is this?”

Bureaucratic, tax, vat, security, insurance, fuel etc.

Oh no!… But to accomplish these tasks, I’m going to spend more money and waste a lot of time!

Do you have them? Could you get it to me before?”

Okay!

I’ll get you all the material you need. Truck loading is done Monday evening or Tuesday morning you’ll have to come by 6 to load the truck. Don’t forget to avoid traffic jams and be on time

At 6??? Nope! Too early for me! I’m used to getting up later.

You know, I’ve been thinking. You’d better just get the job done. I’d rather pay you the £1500. If I had to do it, it wouldn’t be perfect and it would cost me a lot more.
When you pay for a job, especially handcrafted, you pay not only for the material used, but also:

Knowledge

Experience

Study

Tools

Services

Time to go

punctuality

Accountability

Professionalism

Accuracy

Guaranteed

Patents

Sacrifices

Safety and security

Payment of tax obligations
No one can denigrate other people’s work by judging prices.
Only by knowing all the elements necessary for the production of a certain work can you estimate the actual cost.
I did not write this dialogue, but am sharing it to support craftsmen, trades and entrepreneurs.

Unconscious bias

Have you had a mid-life crisis?

You know, buying a sports car or Norton motorbike before you’re too “old” to enjoy it or having a tattoo that you were always forbidden to have as a teenager. We joke that Keith’s was less dramatic – aged 39 he decided to get an ear piercing! Not that radical or as expensive as a sports car or permanent as a tattoo, but it was a staple of his appearance for several years.

What was interesting was how people’s reactions to him changed – even those who had known him for years (including his mother in law!). Delegates on his courses would say at the end of a training day, that they were surprised to see a “booted and suited” Director with an earring – and let’s be honest, it was a simple stud….he shunned the potential flamboyant pearl drops! At the same time, the kids friends felt it highlighted he was “cooler” than they imagined.

Fundamentally he hadn’t changed his views, his beliefs or his abilities – it was a cosmetic change only.

It is a simple example of Unconscious bias.

Unconscious biases are social stereotypes about certain groups of people that individuals form outside their own conscious awareness. Everyone holds unconscious beliefs about various social and identity groups.

The “gut feel” that you have when recruiting a new member of staff is a classic example of unconscious bias.

Diversity and inclusion tend to focus on the obvious discrimination – colour, sex, race, creed, physical disability – it is easier to tackle those who are showing evidence of being racist, bullying or homophobic and organisations have policies in place to rightly confront and challenge this behaviour.

But understanding how someone’s belief system impacts on their decision making process is a tougher task. If you unconsciously think everyone with a tattoo is either a sailor or a criminal, you may not share these thoughts with your nearest and dearest – never mind your colleagues – and unconsciously you may not even know it impacts your decision making process.

This was highlighted yesterday with the resignation of Greg Clark as Chairman of the Football Association, whose testimony to the Culture, Sport and Media Select Committee demonstrated the unconscious bias that exists within the hierarchy of the FA towards black, gay, and female footballers.

Opening up the conversations and having an honest, frank and informative discussion without the fear of saying or doing the wrong thing, is the way forward.

Dealing with the unconscious bias can only be rooted out and effectively understand by consciously undertaking tough conversations.

Learn more about the scientific and emotional evidence for unconscious bias by Valerie Alexander – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GP-cqFLS8Q4