Chris Croft's Personal Blog

May 30, 2013

Coaching – practical subjects to cover

Filed under: Lists, Managing People — Tags: , , , , , — chriscroft @ 3:05 pm

Here are some areas of management which I find people often need help with when I coach them:

Time: The five options when you’re too busy
The right way to delegate
Alternatives to delegation – when people aren’t quite ready to be trusted
How to monitor and control without interfering
Self organisation – what kind of lists work beset
Motivation- how good are you, really?
How can I motivate my team better so they work harder even when I’m not around
‘Monkeys’ (when your team give YOU work) and how to deal with them
Types of person and what motivates them
What to do if someone refuses to do a job
What to do if someone is OK but not really good enough
What should a manager be doing every day, every week and every month?
The four step process for telling people things they don’t want to hear
How to deal with hostile body language
Games players – spotting them and dealing with them
The management potato
The cost of quality (maybe it would be cheaper to do things better??)
How to fend off an over-demanding boss
Managing a boss who doesn’t give any praise
Putting a financial case in order to make change happen
Meetings – how to run a meeting well, and what to do if they are badly run by someone else


May 14, 2013

100 ways to learn

Filed under: Accredited Courses and Training, Lists, Managing People — Tags: , , , , , — chriscroft @ 4:29 pm

This list was compiled by my colleague Jeremy Hamilton, and it’s brilliant
Contact us for details of how these activities can be done, or even, if you want us to organise one of them!

Formal arranged events

1. Induction courses
2. Briefing sessions
3. Bite size training
4. Short courses
5. Workshops
6. Modular courses
7. Seminars
8. Conferences
9. Refresher sessions
10. Professional skill courses
11. Formal courses
12. Adult learning courses
13. Higher Education courses
14. Planning for retirement

On-the job activities

16. Personal development plans
17. Checklists
18. Manuals
19. On-line help
20. Floor walking
21. Time out
22. Reflective practice
23. On the job training sessions
24. Observation
25. Shadowing
26. Trial and error
27. Coaching
28. Supervision
29. Appraisal
30. Stand in
31. Delegation
32. Job enlargement
33 Role development

34. Re-training

35. Job-swops
36. Observation and feedback

37. Making mistakes
38. National Vocational Qualifications

Self development activities

39. Taking tests
40. Benchmarking
41. Coaching
42. Life coaching
43. Buddying
44. Co-counselling
45. Mentoring
46. Journals
47. Books and other publications
48. Web-browsing
49. TV programmes
50. Videos
51. Voluntary experience
52. Sabbaticals
53. Career breaks
54. e-learning
55. Distance learning
56. Open learning courses

57. Project based post graduate qualifications
58. Research
59. Projects
60. Networking
61. Visits
62. Interviewing

Work experience
63. Back to the floor
64. Secondment
65. Job rotation
66. Task share
67. Trainee posts
68. Development posts
69. Project posts
70. transfer
71. Temporary move
72. Acting up
73. Promotion

74. Work experience in a similar organisation
75. work experience abroad
76. Supporting others

Group or team activities

77. Project group
78. Working party
79. Quality circles
80. Team building exercises
81. Drama based activity
82. Team based learning
83. Problem solving processes
84 . Creative processes
85. Discussion groups
86. Support groups
87. Action learning sets
88. Project boards
89. Partnerships
90. Acting as an inspector
91. Peer reviewing
92. Monitoring/ user groups
93. Simulation exercises
94 Management games
95. Communities of interest
96. Professional networks
97. Local government networks – blogs
98. Service awaydays
99. Focus groups
99. Story telling
100. Succession planning

May 12, 2013

Top 15 Tips for Success

Filed under: Careers, Happiness, Lists — Tags: , , — chriscroft @ 12:51 pm

1) Be yourself. This may require courage & honesty. Believe in yourself. You can do anything you put your mind to. Strengthen this belief by saying to yourself “I can do it”. Instead of thinking “Why me?” – try the more empowering version “Why not me?”
2) You reap what you sow – make an effort to give everyone really excellent service in everything you do. Take every opportunity to go the extra mile.
3) Help others – as well as meaning that they will help you, it’ll make you happy.
4) Make it your ambition to be liked by everyone. A good way to do this is to be interested in them: ask questions, and be a great listener. Don’t talk about yourself more than 10% of the time.
5) Keep in touch with everyone you meet whom you like. Now may not be the time, but the time will come.
6) All success needs an efficient foundation. Get your time management sorted out – don’t waste time on things that bring you neither achievement nor enjoyment. Have lists of what you want to do, and do them.
7) Be reliable – always keep all your promises. Be easy to get hold of and easy to deal with. Be on time and have all work done on time.
8) Know where you’re going. Have goals for work & home which are clear, and excitingly big. Enjoy paying the price to achieve these goals. The journey is as important as the arrival. If you don’t enjoy paying the price, are you sure that the goals are the right ones for you?
9) Live in the future and in the present, not in the past.
10) Volunteer for challenges. Take every opportunity to try new things and come out of your comfort zone. Who knows where it will lead? At the very least you’ll learn something!
11) Set up a “mastermind group”. This is a group of positive people who help each other to think big.
12) Choose the people you associate with for their value. If you don’t get either enjoyment or learning or achievement from the relationship, end it.
13) Look after your health, especially exercise & sleep. A day (or a life!) is wasted if you are going through the motions because you are unfit or tired.
14) Read lots of books. All the knowledge in the world is in books. Self-development is vital since in the end all your success is going to be produced by you.
15) Be the best “You” that you possibly can – that’s what we are all best at, but practice still makes perfect!

Practical ideas for self development

Filed under: Accredited Courses and Training, Managing People — Tags: , — chriscroft @ 12:44 pm

Practical ideas for self development

Achieving Objectives
Write a list of your strategic objectives – ask your boss about these if necessary
Break each strategic objective down into the tasks that will be required in order to achieve it
Learn about project management – how to break a large task down, estimate the time required for each part, and produce a plan.
Monitor progress against your plan by colouring in a Gantt chart on your wall – is the coloured-in part (completed) keeping up with the “Today” line? This will allow you to spot problems in advance and forecast a new completion date

Building Motivation
Ask your staff how things could be improved – and do it
Ask staff what changes they would like to see in you – and do it
Think of something you can thank your staff for, as a team, and do it
Thank each of your staff frequently – “catch them doing something right” – make sure it is based on facts and behaviour rather than feelings
Have a weekly team meeting to discuss news and progress
Write everything down and remember to keep your promises
Coach staff / teach them new skills
Identify someone who you think is good at motivating staff and talk to them
Have lunch / do something sociable with your staff
Make sure to tell your boss when one of your team has done something exceptional

Commercial Awareness
Find out the costs of things – how much is an hour of someone’s time, a day of your office, each service interaction etc?
Make graphs (easy using Excel) of your finances – budgets and incomes, and put them on your wall – this will encourage you to think about them
Consider increasing the quality of what you do – what would it cost, and the extra cost be worth it?
Consider reducing the quality of what you do – how much would the saving be? Would it be worth doing?

Do something new – tomorrow, …or today
Identify someone who you think is good at it and talk to them
Before deciding on a plan, ask yourself “Are there any other ways I could do this job?”
Ask your team for suggestions on how things could be done differently – and don’t criticise their suggestions
Identify a habit or routine of yours – and try changing it
Identify some creative people who you can use as sounding boards
Visit a different type of organisation and see if their different ways spark off any new ideas for you

Developing Staff
Set your team’s next development review dates
Have all of your team had some self-development this year?
Make a skills matrix for your team – what are the skills you want, and who has got what? Gaps: who can be developed to fill this gap, and/or which gaps can form a development plan for each person?
For each person in your team ask yourself “What can I delegate to this person that will enrich (rather than enlarge!) their job?”
Consider taking someone from your team along to a meeting with you
Rotate jobs around the team
Ask your team what they can coach others in
Find out your team’s learning styles
Identify one area for each of your team members where you can coach them in a new skill
Ask your team what was the last bit of development that they did and what did they get out of it?
Identify someone who you think is good at it and talk to them

Focus on customers
Meet as many customers as possible, as often as possible. Once a year is not enough!
If possible, try being a customer once, or for a day, or at least spend time working with the customers (internal or external) so that you can see what your service looks like from their perspective (for example a programmer would spend a day in Accounts, using the system).
Spend a day “back to the shop floor” – for example a programmer would spend a day on the IT help desk.
Find out what your customers want by surveys or one-to-one discussions.
When making a change, ask yourself “It may be good for us internally, but will it also be good for the customers?” Go back to your office and look at the last thing you changed – was it done for you or the users?
Ask yourself “What is currently annoying customers most, and what can I do about it?” Even if it is not in your area you can call attention to it or campaign internally to get it put right.
How do you monitor customer-satisfaction? As well as doing a once-off survey, set up a system of routinely monitoring outgoing quality and monitoring customer perceptions of quality.

Influencing Others
Identify someone who you think is good at it and talk to them
Observe people in meetings – what tactics are they using and how effective are they?
Practice trying to understand people’s motivations by asking them why they made a particular decision or choice
Practice being a good listener – this means not starting to solve their problem or formulate a reply until after they have finished speaking. Try not talking about yourself at all, but asking them more questions. If asked about yourself, give a brief answer and then say “But what about you?”
Learn about body language and then observe it
Think about a situation when you successfully persuaded someone and review how you did it – what were the effective actions?
Think about a situation where you failed to influence someone – what did you do that hindered you, and what could you have done better?

Information & Technology
How much do you know about IT?
Consider going on a course to learn about the basics / the finer points of Word, Excel, Powerpoint, Internet searches, and any Harrow-specific systems

Managing Change
Make a list of the pros and cons of a controversial change.
Give the pros and cons scores and also weightings (how important is each factor) and multiply these – then add up the total. This won’t make the decision for you but t will help you to think about the issues.
Explain the reasons and the benefits of change to others – don’t assume they know these. But also be honest about the work to be done and the risks.
Before introducing anything new, ask as many people as possible- this takes time but implementation is much more likely to succeed.
When a change is forced upon you try to stay positive – ask yourself “What might be the benefits to me of this change?”
As with Project Management, divide a change task into parts, plan the time-scale, and monitor progress on a chart. Everyone involved will be able to see the progress made.

Managing Oneself
Keep a daily jobs to do list
Write everything down
Keep some of your diary free each day for jobs that will crop up – start to say no when your diary is nearly full
Have clear objectives, written down, for your work and your personal life
Book blocks of time into your diary when you will work on important tasks
Try to do some sort of self development every year
Ask your team and colleagues “How can I improve as a manager / colleague?”
Prioritise your work into:
– Small urgent tasks that I must do today
– Planning ahead-type tasks that are important – I must put some time aside in my diary for these
– Things that are not important but are fun – allow yourself a small amount of time only on these
– Crises – as well as dealing with them, ask yourself how you can avoid repeats

Managing People
Find out what everyone is doing, and what they think their priorities are.
Ask them to make a list of what they have achieved this week, tried to achieve, and what stopped them
Ask your staff what the barriers are, and try to remove these
Sit down once a week with each member of your team to review progress
Ask your team what standards they think you expect of them
Ask yourself “Are there any poor performance issues which are am avoiding confronting?”
Poor performers: discuss with them whether they are aware of it, and how can you help them to improve?
Poor performers: Talk to HR about it
Delegate more: is there anything that you are holding onto because you like it or because you are too fussy about it?
Delegate something that you haven’t delegated before – give up something!
What did you delegate last? Ask the person how you could have improved the way you delegated it?

Respecting Others
Practice being a good listener – this means not starting to solve their problem or formulate a reply until after they have finished speaking. Try not talking about yourself at all, but asking them more questions. If asked about yourself, give a brief answer and then say “But what about you?”
Ask yourself “What do I like about…..” and “What is their unique talent?” for every person who you work with.
Make a conscious effort to thank everyone you work with at least once a fortnight – find something they have done that is good.
Learn to really understand people who are very different to you by associating with them socially every now and then

Practice being a good listener – this means not starting to solve their problem or formulate a reply until after they have finished speaking. Try not talking about yourself at all, but asking them more questions. If asked about yourself, give a brief answer and then say “But what about you?”
Be concise – can you express your key message in only one sentence?
Use the Spelling & Grammar tool when using Word
Ask a friend to check your most recent document for jargon, passives, long sentences etc
Find an opportunity to give a presentation
Give a talk to your team on the department’s longer term plans
Tell your team about your work priorities

Create a free website or blog at