How do I manage my mates?



In our 30 years of training this is the question that keeps the majority of new managers awake at night!  For staff who have been promoted into their first supervisory or management role, the skills required in becoming an effective manager are very different from their expertise in “doing” the job.

Imagine, having a Friday night drink with your colleagues in the local bar and then on Tuesday morning, having to have a difficult conversation with one of them about being consistently late over the last few weeks?

That isn’t an easy conversation for an experienced manager, but when you are new to the role, knowing how to handle the situation is daunting.

A recent evaluation from one delegate highlighted just how useful the “Smelly Pete” exercise is –   telling a member of staff they have a personal hygiene problem is again a test that many of us would fail, but when needs tackling it falls to their supervisor or manager.

So often we hear that when new supervisors and managers are faced with these difficult discussions, they revert back to what they know best – doing the practical aspects of their job, and hoping the need to manage the situation will just go away.

Sometimes the challenge is how to motivate and provide feedback  – what fires up one member of staff will demoralise another.

Getting on top of your time management when you’re being pulled 5 different ways often means that things fall through the net or get overlooked until there’s a crisis.

The good news is that these new managers are not alone!  Whatever industry, sector, or size of organisation, all newly appointed managers and supervisors face these questions.

Our Getting to Grips with Management programme provides practical support for your staff – short training events (3 hours in duration) over 8 modules held every two weeks, enabling them to get back in the workplace by lunchtime and start using the learning 

They have ongoing support from Keith, our MD and Director of Training who delivers the programme and can call on him for advice and support in between the sessions either via email, telephone or Skype.

Working with other delegates who are all facing the same challenges provides confidence and as the programme progresses, sharing experiences and successes enables the individual managers to develop within their role.

We recognise that return on investment is important to your business and have listened to what works best for organisations – your manager comes back fired up and ready to put the learning into practise, having received the equivalent of 8 separate courses over the duration of the programme.  The targeted, intensive, practical modules means you see an impact immediately and the ongoing support throughout the programme ensures you have a confident member of your management team.

The next programme is being held at Chilston Park in Lenham, just off  the M20 and only an hour  from just about anywhere in Kent.   The first module is on 23rd January 2019 & course notes and materials are provided for each module and the delegates receive a certificate of attendance on completion of the programme.

The cost for the whole 8 modules is £1040 + VAT and charities receive a standard 10% discount.


Meet the Trainer -Jean Crew


Jean’s experience working as part of the internal training division for one of the most successful local media groups in the UK,  she has a wealth of expertise when it comes to sales and sales training.

Jean is highly professional with an engaging delivery style that learners naturally respond to. Intuitive and a great communicator, she is always clear and prepared in her methods whilst creating a structured and comfortable learning experience and environment.

She is skilled at understanding the needs of both the learner and the business allowing her to develop and execute relevant training.

She specialises in all aspects of Sales & Business Skills Development as well supervisory management, customer care and change management. In addition she provides bespoke training consultation, course conception and creation, course delivery and learner evaluation.

Often to be found delivering a variety of courses in different parts of the globe, she has worked with Athelbrae for a number of years, particularly in presentation and sales training for our UK clients.

Mental Wellbeing -applicable to every age

There has been a swath of reporting over the summer months regarding mental health awareness focusing on young children and teenagers, teachers, homeless, the military, high street staff whose jobs are under threat, athletes….the list is endless.  Why?  Because we all have the ability to experience poor mental health at different times in our lives and how we respond to it, and how others respond to it, can define the recovery time and whether it is an acute episode or becomes a chronic one.

It is an unfortunate truth that more often than not you’ll hear someone say “in my day, we just got on with it” or “never did us any harm”………….but maybe the response needs to be “how do you know it did no harm?”  We used to amputate limbs in the 1800s without anaesthetic, but doesn’t mean we’d advocate it now as fortunately we have developed our understanding and skills to handle this more effectively and compassionately. 

How many of us have enjoyed a relaxing summer away either from work or in a different location and commented on a “different pace of life”?  Those precious few hours, days or weeks that we can stop and recharge our batteries.  We often think this is about our physical health, but physical and mental well being go hand in hand.

CIPD research identified an increase in staff reporting suffering from mental health issues with 42% confirming they have experienced mental health issues in the last 36 months.

When someone has a physical restriction, like a back problem, migraine, or broken leg we are able to proactively help them and it is rare that someone feels awkward in asking if they are OK, need anything or how the problem came about.

The same cannot be said for those who suffer with mental ill health – the problem is often that we are unsure whether this is a long term problem; a transient reaction to particular stresses at that moment in time, whether we are the root cause of the problem, or if it is a chronic condition that flares unexpectedly at unknown times.

Our reaction to others’ mental well being invariably hinders our ability to just be kind, compassionate and caring….something we all have the capacity to do naturally as humans. 

Recognising our own and others need to mental health and fitness is not a weakness – in fact it is anything but. 

As we return to work after the summer break, perhaps we should all set ourselves a task of stepping up to the plate in recognising our own wellbeing and that of others.


Meet the Trainer – Steve Torjussen


We are very fortunate at Athelbrae Ltd to have Steve on board as one of our Associates and his professionalism and humour are valued by clients and delegates alike.

With a unique blend of business and training experience gained within the finance, banking and motor industries, Steve has an invaluable understanding of personal and business dynamics and a genuine talent for creating training and coaching.

An Award winning trainer, Steve’s focus is absolute devotion to the well-being, growth and success of clients (the individuals in his care as well as the organisation as a whole).

Delegates are engaged and challenged in equal measure enabling them to develop new skills in a supportive environment leaving the training room buzzing with confidence and a desire to start using the newly acquired talents to their own benefit and that of their employers.

He strongly believes that there is an enormous, passive and underdeveloped potential both within organisations and ourselves that needs liberating and energising.

Steve’s passion is for

  • the quality of the material that is delivered
  • for the people he is working with, and
  • for the business results that will be delivered to the client

His experience has been gained within the sales and marketing environment as a new business Sales Executive, Account Manager of existing accounts, a Sales Manager within a Branch and Area as well as a Regional Manager. This highly successful experience has been transformed into measurable learning and development at all levels returning quantifiable results time and time again.

Training and Coaching Programmes that have been developed and delivered include Strategic Marketing, Sales Skills (introductory and advanced levels), Telesales (inbound and outbound), Negotiation Skills, Account Management, Relationship Building, Customer Service, Personal Impact, Leadership, Coaching, Change Management and Time Management.



Being practical about exam requirements


All students now must have GCSE English and Maths

With the A level results out yesterday, there has been much in the press about vocational training schemes vs University etc.  This is an annual debate and discussion around exam time.

In recent years, it has been enforced for Schools and colleges that all students, regardless of their career path, must have English and Maths GCSE qualifications and therefore if they return to school or college for further studies, but without these as “passed” exams, they’ll resit them until they pass.

Being competent in English and Maths in order to go into the world of work is definitely a reasonable expectation.

BUT having a piece of paper that identifies you can write about Thomas Hardy, classify figures of speech, oxymorons and hyperbole,  or elaborate on polynomials or congruent triangles is perhaps not the most important thing in every section of the world of work.  Speaking to many organisatons, being able to communicate with colleagues and clients, the ability to problem solve or be a team player says more about the individual than the number of A* in their locker.

Changing our thinking on what we really need them to demonstrate

Maybe therefore the time has come to have an alternative means of measuring knowledge for these students.  Yes you want to be confident they can use good English to email customers; you want to ensure that it isn’t all “text” speak: you want to know that  they can work out percentage discounts; you want them to understand the basics of profit and loss…….but this is not what is measured by GCSE/A level examinations.

For these individuals, making it compulsory to attempt (on numerous occasions) something for which they have already been identified as a major stumbling block in their education, seems a waste of everyone’s time and effort.

It identifies them as persistent “failures” rather than giving them the confidence and ability to express what they do know, rather than what they don’t.

Let us hope that someone in office sees sense and thinks outside the box of examination criteria as a measure of success.


Meet the Trainer


Meet Janice, our Associate who specialises in Employment Law, HR issues and Discipline and Grievance. She is experienced in working with large and small organisations across a variety of industries in the private and voluntary sectors.

The courses delivered by Janice are always well received because she makes the complicated simple, doesn’t use jargon and understands the difficulties faced by staff and employers in what can sometimes be fraught and difficult discussions.

To talk through any support you would like for your business from an HR and employment perspective, call 01892 832059 or email

Key account management – the penalties of getting it wrong!

A local business near to us has been highly successful over a number of years.  It is a salon that has expanded to provide a range of services.  It started off as a “nail” bar, added tanning, and in more recent times has ventured into the world of hair removal, massage, make-up, pedicures and are now an Elemis franchisee.  Newer premises were leased 3 years ago and it’s always been a lesson in cross selling watching the staff casually drop into conversations about the next appointment, Mother’s day offer, holiday package on tanning etc.

Sadly though, they are losing customers.

It’s not always about the price.

And more importantly, those people who readily refer others to their services are now actively encouraging people to go elsewhere.  So what’s caused this downturn?

They increased their prices in early December….the first time in over 4 years, so that’s quite reasonable. What was a bit more of a shocker was the percentage increase of 30% overnight.

Now this may well be considered very justified, given that it was the first increase in 48 months….and let’s not forget, business is business, not charity!

What they forgot though was the power of communication.  In the preceding weeks, when sitting with clients, they’d had the opportunity to discuss the reasons for the increase, and indeed why they’d held their prices for so long.  Instead a small notice was placed by the cash desk and unsuspecting regular clients were hit with an extra hike…all just before the Christmas holidays.

There were grumblings – and lots of them, not only in the shop itself, but interestingly it radiated out to those regular clients and became a topic of conversation at social events, with many saying “I’ll be going somewhere else”.  It wasn’t so much about the price increase, because let’s face it, it’s a luxury that can easily be dropped from someone’s monthly outgoings.

What irked customers was:

  •       the lack of communication about the fact it was coming
  •       the timing –  many had budgeted for that little luxury in the run up to Christmas       and office parties, and to find they were forking out more, just made them mad
  •       the customer experience has also noticeably suffered.  Due to the increased           popularity in recent years, they haven’t invested in more staff, hence the same number of people are now doing a variety of jobs whilst still trying to provide a customer focused service. With fewer people doing more work, conversations with clients are disjointed and the opportunity to up-sell and cross-sell other services is lost.

Key account management whatever your business is a skill.  It is not just about looking after your big accounts.

As our trainer, Mandy says in her Key Account Management course – “Key account management is a strategic business approach with the objective of ensuring long-term and sustainable business partnerships with strategically important customers.  It has to be an integral part of your overall business strategy”

Whatever business decision you are making, if it affects your customers and they are going to notice changes, be that price increases, new premises or change of personnel, remember to engage with them.

They’re your most precious asset in positively marketing your business for free, or conversely, if they find you lacking, they’ll not hesitate to share their stories with others and persuade them to go elsewhere.