The Management Blog

Tips & advice to help you improve your performance


Management Blog


Exercises To Improve Communication Skills

whisperWe do many communication exercises on our courses, and delegates like them because they are fun, easy to assimilate and transfer into the workplace, and give them an opportunity to improve this important skill in a safe environment.

Here are some exercises we use. Take a look and see if you and your team would benefit from trying them out: Learn More

Demotivated Team? Don’t Try And Change Them, Change The Environment

On a recent course, a delegate was asking what he could do if the team he had were not responding to his motivational efforts.

He had tried lots of things like giving praise and recognition, helping his team to see the importance of their roles, but nothing was working.

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How Not To Regret A Hiring Decision

Have you ever regretted taking on a new person? According to research by, only 4% of business owners claim never to have regretted hiring a new staff member.

The main reason for it was underperformance.

Just 4% of employers have never regretted their decision to hire a new member of staff, research by shows. Other common reasons were exaggerated qualifications and experience on CVs, not being good at the job, a negative attitude and poor timekeeping.

Now, the latest CBI/Harvey Nash Employment Trends survey has found that a higher number of employers are planning to take on staff over the next six months, compared to the previous six months.

So, how do you deal with this dilemma? What can you do to ensure the best chance of taking on the right person?

1 Recruit to the business needs

Have close collaboration between HR and the functional area that you’re hiring into and spend time thinking about what the business really needs. The time invested will help you to make the right decisions.”

2 Be person-specific

When resources are tight, how do you deal with high volumes of applications? Have a crystal-clear job spec and an uncompromising selection process. Ensure that you know exactly what you want, put it in writing in your ad and keep it close in mind when checking applications.

3 Keep an open mind

The best person may not be from your field or even your industry. There are managers out there who have excellent life experience, though not too much specific experience. But take into account what can and what can’t be trained into people. It’s much harder to train attitude than skill-sets

4 Have a proper process

Harvard Business Review, surveyed 50 chief executives of global companies. They found hiring practices to be disturbingly vague . . . relying heavily on subjective personal preferences or on largely unquestioned organisational traditions often based on false assumptions. Good, competency-based interview questions — as opposed to CVs — will test for attitude and commercial acumen, now ranked above technical ability by many senior recruiters.

5 Communicate the message

Tapping into top talent is still tough. You have got to have a good proposition and communicate it in order to get through to the right people. Recruiters cannot expect to pick up a bargain at a high level. There are always skills that you need to pay a premium for.

If you find you’re able to recruit to a high level, you reduce the risk of regretting your hiring decisions and you’ll leave the 96% who make bad decisions.

Thanks again


Sean McPheat

Managing Director

MTD Training   | Image courtesy of Big Stock Photo

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How To Disagree With Your Manager – And Still Retain Your Job

Is your boss sometimes wrong? Do you know it and they don’t? Does confronting your boss make you quiver with fear and make you want to ‘just get on with your job and not rock the boat’? I know what you mean. You’re worried that you might be seen as negative, or the boss might trigger a defensive reaction and you’ll suffer in the short and long-term. However, my discussions with top managers and senior directors tell me that they would welcome some new perspectives, and most tell me they don’t get nearly enough. Remember, the boss isn’t some fabulous guru, gaining all their knowledge through osmosis and making sensational, well-informed decisions every moment of the day. They need information, feedback and advice just like anyone else. Knowing the methods of how to give that feedback will give you the confidence to approach them and drive change forward. Here are my tips on how to do it: Relate your feedback or new ideas back into your manager’s and company’s goals and objectives: For example “I think the customer care feedback system could be improved, as we are losing a lot of valuable information with the current one” Bring up actionable suggestions rather than just objections: For example “What if I talk to other companies who use different systems and identify if any of them provide better results than what we get at the moment?” Explain how your ideas help protect against possible risks or challenges: For example “A new system will help us gain better feedback and prevent us from losing potential customers. If we try a new, more robust way of getting information, we could improve our customer loyalty” Offer more choices to your manager: For example “Either I could do the analysis myself, or we could get IT to support the new mechanism and find out if new systems could give us more valuable information” Reflect their concerns in your conversation: For example “I know you’ll be concerned about the extra costs, so I’ve done some research on developing new systems and in the long-run it would be more cost-effective to maintain loyalty rather than marketing for new customers all the time” Remember to always share the same goals as your manager…that way, you won’t get bogged down with methodologies or minutia, and disagreements will be less likely. Identify your boss’s main motivations and present them in such a way as to encourage positive discussion and make your boss look good. That way, you’ll get a hearing ear and potential agreement to your ideas. Thanks again Sean Sean McPheat Managing Director

MTD Training   | Image courtesy of Big Stock Photo

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Six Qualities Leaders Need Today

I was asked an interesting question via email this week that made me stop and think. The question was, What leadership qualities are most needed in today’s time of great change?

I believe leaders play a vital role in each and every business today, and no business can afford to carry passengers. So, I believe the top characteristics that a leader must have are: the ability to recognise and develop employees’ talents, the know-how to make teams work and the ability to communicate at every level within the organisation.

Phew, quite a lot for the leader to do, then! Here are my ideas for a great leader

1. Good communication is the key for developing good business relationships. If he can’t establish a good business working relationship, he is not going to be that leader, that team player. He will not be able to communicate how the teams can add long-term value to the company. The modern leaders must therefore be equipped with good communication skill and use new ways to effectively communicate

2. Honesty The most valuable asset of a leader is honesty. He must be honest with his employees, suppliers, customers and stakeholders. If not, the integrity that leaders need will be undermined.

3. Vision

Leadership qualities are different for different positions. For a Chief Executive , stabilising and running the business today is vital, but so is looking to the future .He has to be able to look beyond where we are today, know where the business is going, and be able to use that vision to move the company forward. We pay a lot for those skills.

4. Action speaks louder than words

What a manager and leader does will speak louder than what they say. If the words and actions don’t match, the people will believe the actions. It’s vital that all the team understand the value of the leader’s example.

5. Ability to motivate people around

A good leader must always keep motivating his team mates for good work and should maintain a healthy environment. That environment must be seen by others as motivational and accurately reflect the direction they all need to go.

6. Consistency

Without consistency, people will not know where they stand. Have integrity and variety in what you do, but have the values that are driven by positivity. People will look to you as an example, and your consistent approach will do wonders to get people on your side.

You may or may not agree with those ideas, and I’d like to hear your views. I’m sure we could between us write a book on leaders’ qualities, but one thing is sure…the way we lead businesses today is vastly different to how we lead 10 or more years ago.

Thanks again


Sean McPheat

Managing Director

MTD Training   | Image courtesy of Big Stock Photo

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How To Make The Job Interview Successful

How do you feel when you need to interview for a new post? Nervous? Anxious about making a mistake?

Don’t worry, you’re in the majority! Most people have concerns about making decisions based on how a person comes across in a false work situation. Remember, the interviewee has prepared well, is on their best behaviour, wants to make a deliberate positive impression and will not moan, complain or make you feel anything other than they are the best person on earth for the job. Learn More

Edward de Bono’s Six Thinking Hats

De Bono’s ideas of thinking hats go back over 25 years but is still seen as relevant as much today as back then.

The idea allows for different modes of thinking, allowing a problem to be seen from different perspectives. It encourages you to choose a deliberate focus during a discussion that suits the needs of the discussion.

The model can be used in meetings, workshops or brainstorming activities, and can also be used by individuals. Each different coloured hat refers to a different mode of thinking. You can ask all people in a group to ‘wear the same coloured hat’ or you can encourage different people to ‘wear different colours’.

De Bono distinguishes the colours as follows:

White Hat: Factual – With this hat, you focus on specific, available data. You analyse the information and see what can be learned from it. You identify the information you have and what further information you need

Red Hat: Emotional – With this hat, you consider the situation with intuition and emotion. How do you respond emotionally to the situation? How would others respond?

Black Hat: Critical – With the black hat, you see the downside of the situation, cautious and defensive. You highlight the weak points, the downsides, the pitfalls, reasons why it might not work

Yellow Hat: Positive – With this hat, you think positively, highlighting an optimistic point of view, looking at the advantages, being opportunistic, watching for the benefits

Green Hat: Creative – Here you create solutions to problems with a free way of thinking. You look for possibilities, growth, new ideas, new initiatives

Blue Hat: Process control – Here you take control of the thinking process of the group. Normally worn by the meeting chairperson, the blue had manages communication, focuses on the main points, creates conclusions, summarises and deals with action points

You can see that, when used creatively, it can be a very useful model to encourage different thinking styles whenever you’re stuck for ideas or find yourselves always going down one particular line of thinking.

If you feel the concept of coloured hats wouldn’t go down well with your team, simply use them in your own mind, and drive the discussions down the specific avenues of gaining facts, using intuition, creating new ideas, seeing the benefits and disadvantages of certain ideas and keeping control of the development of ideas. That way, you have all issues out in the open with the chances of missing key information greatly reduced.

Thanks again


Sean McPheat

Managing Director

MTD Training   | Image courtesy of Big Stock Photo

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Kotter’s Eight Phases of Change

eightIn today’s business world, the ability to lead change has become one of the most fundamental skills needed by managers in successful organisations. John Kotter found through his studies of over 100 companies that there was a clear distinction between leading change and managing it.
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