Like you, we have quite a few areas of interest, so we post everything under one or more of these main labels: Personal Development, Business Development (startup and marketing), Intelligence (emotional, spiritual, etc.), News, Fun, Newsletter (chat about things we've emailed). Enjoy, and keep in touch!

Thursday, 25 March 2010

££ Use it or lose it - grants for business leaders ££

Deadline approaching!

Business Link (South West) has grants set aside to give to the leaders of small businesses by 31st March 2010. They have unspent money they need to give away!

The Leadership and Management Advisory Service within Train to Gain gives grants to small businesses to help directors and senior managers to develop their leadership skills. These funds are also available to “micro businesses” (two to five people). Sole traders are also often eligible if they regularly work with particular associates or contractors, which increases the effective size of their business.

These excellent grants provide support to help businesses improve results or escape from the recession, and may be spent on relevant courses or executive coaching - for example to develop strategies for the business or particular skills such as sales or delegation. The basic grant is £500. A further £500 is available if you match that with your own funds.

This deadline applies to Business Link in the South West (Wiltshire, Gloucester, Bath, Bristol, etc. down to Cornwall). Funds may or may not be unspent in other parts of the country. The programme will continue into the following financial year, but funds for micro businesses are usually very limited. Some funds are also available to leaders of charities. All grants are subject to eligibility.

If you are interested to find out how you may benefit from coaching, contact me. Phone 01249 712446 or email richard@findingtruenorth.co.uk

For general or training course enquiries contact Business Link (Train to Gain) for the South West on 08456 009966 or 08000 155545 or go to http://www.traintogain.gov.uk/In_your_Region/South_West

Tuesday, 23 March 2010

UK Employment Law update: need to revise contracts?

This morning I enjoyed a good breakfast and listened to the team from Wansbroughs Solicitors (Devizes and Melksham) giving a concise and helpful update on changes to employment law.

What seemed most significant to me were:
  • Changes to the law concerning how employers should handle discipline and grievances. These are no longer governed by statutory procedures, but by changed codes of practice issues by ACAS. This means that employers need to review their discipline and grievance procedures.
  • Being phased in from 6th April 2010 for businesses with more than 250 employees, and then to all businesses from April 2011, is an employee's right to take off (unpaid) time to train. This needs to being benefit to the business and the employee's work for that business, and could be anything from a short course to several years for a degree. There are circumstances under which an employer can refuse.

Other areas covered were redundancy, equality legislation, paternity leave, and parental leave.

For more info contact Tim Prees at Wansbroughs, and sign up for their excellent occasional newsletter which gives updates on employment law.

Friday, 19 March 2010

More influential than you think!

In this world that sometimes seems so competitive, does your character make a difference? The "nice guys" (or gals) sometimes wonder whether being kind to people has any effect on wider society.

Prof James Fowler and his team from the University of California have discovered from observing participants in a game that they had devised that someone on the receiving end of an act of kindness went on to show similar goodwill to three other players, on average. So "This creates a domino effect in which one peson's generosity spreads."

On the downside, selfish behavour was seen to spread in the same way! However this does show that behaviour is influential, and character (which is about repeated patterns of behaviour) is important. From a coaching point of view this shows the importance in a group or organisation of the behaviour of leaders, and how it is important to make issues of character, or personality, central in executive coaching. Of course, what we call "character" in an individual becomes "culture" in a group, and this study shows something of the way culture can be formed and influenced.

This reminds me of a quote by Mother Teresa of Calcutta: "We cannot all do great things, but we can do small things with great love."

Follow links for more detail: popularist Daily Telegraph; technical: Red Orbit.

(First noticed by me in The Week 20th March 2010.)

Experience Coaching in Swindon - for free

Those of you in Swindon, or with friends in reach of Swindon, may be interested in an upcoming event. A team of business and life coaches, including Finding True North, are setting up a regular coaching "drop in" in Swindon. Do spread the news.

The first one will be held on Tuesday March 23rd 2010 at the Old Bank Wine Bar, Wood Street, Old Town, Swindon, UK, SN1 4AB. Drop in anytime between 6:00 and 8:00 p.m.

If you'd like to find out more, go to the Swindon Coaching Team website at http://www.swindoncoachingteam.org.uk/. If you'd would like to hear about future dates either email me and let me know, or sign up on that website for future info.

In the current economic climate, the team are keen to increase the availability of coaching to those who may benefit from it - people facing challenges or changes at work or at home.

Friday, 12 March 2010

Newly promoted?

This has been a good week, with mutually rewarding coaching of existing clients, and meeting potential clients.

It shocks me when I meet people who have been promoted by their firm, been in a new post for over a year - perhaps it is the first time they have had responsibility for a budget of for line managing staff - and they have not received any significant training or other support (such as coaching) to help them into their new role. Newly promoted managers or directors also need good role models, so they can see "what a good job looks like" and in firms where such support is lacking good role models may be lacking too.

This is mitigated a little if they are now talking to us about starting some coaching!

Is "throwing people in at the deep end" the best way to build good businesses?

At the very least, people can be guided to a few good web sites, or e-newletters. Try Finding True North, this link will take you to the sign up page, http://www.findingtruenorth.info.

Friday, 5 March 2010

Would you like to be infallible?

Secretly, even if you did not admit it, would you like to get every decision right every time? Can anyone be infallible?

Alan Turing was one of the people who made enormous contributions to code breaking during World War 2. He was fascinated by machines and what they might do. He worked out that it is not possible to solve every problem by logic alone. In seeking to determine whether machines could replace human beings he developed the 'Turing Test' which is still referred to today. This is the test: if a machine can really think then a person interrogating the machine and a human being from behind a screen should not be able to tell the difference.

In reading an article* about him recently I was struck by another of his conclusions, or paradoxes: that if a machine is expected to be infallible, it cannot also be intelligent - because part of what makes us human is that we get to solutions by making mistakes. If as human beings we are to learn well from our mistakes, it seems to me that we need to also to develop skills to do so - skills of review or reflection.

I think I'd rather be intelligent than infallible. I enjoy learning, and value the ability to learn!

Furthermore learning is at the core of the coaching work that I do, and I seek to help people to learn during the conversations that we have and also to live life in such a way that on an ongoing basis they review the results of what they do to maximise their learning (and, to an extent, their awareness).

Besides, I think my children probably destroyed any attempt of mine at infallibility a long time ago!

*Third Way magazine, March 2010.