Monday, 27 February 2012

What Can Small Businesses Learn From John Lewis?

Are you eager to increase your sales and keep your business alive during these challenging economic times?

I ran a workshop recently with a group of senior managers to think about a new way of doing business.

The group wanted me to help them think about the characteristics of a high-performing team and the starting point for them was their values.

John Lewis came up as a good example of an organisation with strong values that drive the success of the business.

John Lewis’s values include treating staff as ‘Partners’ with co-ownership, ‘Sustainability’ in a changing market and maintaining and building ‘Long-term customer relationships’.

You may or may not be in a position to create co-ownership in your business but one way of introducing this idea is perhaps creating a bonus scheme for your staff.

Essentially, the John Lewis ethos is: ‘Looked after staff creates looked after customers and the profit takes care of itself’.

You can bring these values to your small business by introducing any of the following 6 ideas which are drawn from the John Lewis business approach:

  1. Empower team members to seek and provide back to the team feedback on what the customer wants and improve your service in line with those ‘customer priorities’
  2. Talk to team members regularly about being exceptional and noticing areas where services could and should improve to serve the customer better
  3. Openly share your vision, objectives and expectations with all your team members
  4. Train your team members in how to effectively deal with customer complaints with an emphasis on ‘the customer is always right’ ethos
  5. Empower team members to make their own decisions
  6. Ensure your team members ‘know their stuff’, the services you provide inside out and that they 'bend over backwards' for customers

If you find any of these ideas useful please leave a comment on this blog or to find out about more about business coaching contact us through our website at West of England Coaching and Counselling.

Friday, 24 February 2012

Business Coaching for Senior Women Leaders

Are you a woman in a senior role at work?

Do you want to make your mark in business through a job in which you feel well-respected, well-paid and valued for what you achieve?

Do you care more about the organisation than your own individual needs? Are you a nurturing character?

The likelihood is that you make an excellent 'high-performing team' leader.

High performing teams have a clear vision, clear structures, team aligned and agreed goals and objectives and - where there is role clarity - positive team behaviour and change agility.

How does your team fair?

A starting point would be to assert your needs - what do you need to communicate with your team to achieve the high performing team that you want and what do you need from the Board to perform at your potential?

Is your vision aligned with that of your organisation?

Are your goals and objectives aligned with and contributing towards the organisation's?

Are you achieving results in the areas most important to the business, such as, increasing sales performance and reducing costs?

Are the behaviours of you and your team helping you to achieve in the key result areas?

Are you and your team flexible to the changing requirements of the business?

If you have answered 'Yes' to each of these questions you can develop a good business case to support what you are asking for from the Board.

If there are one or more 'No' answers then you may need to address that area before developing your business case.

If you have found this blog useful please leave a comment.

If you would like support in achieving the next level in your career please contact us through our website at West of England Coaching and Counselling.

Monday, 20 February 2012

Wisdom Coaching

Do you want to be wise and enjoy a peaceful life?

Earlier this week I was helping a client to set her goals for 2012 and my client said one goal she wanted to achieve was to be 'more wise in 2012'.

We went on to explore what this meant for her in specific terms as 'being more wise' means different things to different people.

My client explained that she wanted to 'live more peacefully in her own mind' and 'be able to share this way of being with her family and friends'.

My client wanted us to come up with a list of things she could actually do to achieve this.

We achieved her outcome for the session and my client was happy for me to share her 'Wisdom List' with you.

This may not resonate with you at all - so no promises - but if it does please leave a comment. So here's wishing you more wisdom in 2012:

  1. Let Go of The Past - Perhaps by practising literally letting go of in your hands whenever you think of something which has happened in the past that provokes negative thinking or feelings.

  2. Relax to Stay In Control of Things - Breathe in deeply into your tummy - like inflating a balloon - and then breathe out slowly as though deflating your balloon.

  3. Live In The Now - Practise seeing, hearing, feeling, touching and smelling what is happening around you right now, clearly using all of your senses preferably.

  4. Be Positive and Optimistic - Rather than negatively forecasting the day (the presentation won't go well, for instance) say to yourself 'I wonder what will happen today and I am curious to find out'.

  5. Be Kind to Yourself and Others

  6. Be Enlightened - Be grateful for what you have that is truly important to you.

For all of your coaching and counselling support needs please get in touch via our website at West of England Coaching and Counselling.

Friday, 17 February 2012

Improve Your Health by Breathing Properly

Are you feeling stressed and want a quick tool you can use to address this?

Most people are upper-chest breathers, areas associated with anxiety and stress.

However, if you start breathing from your stomach this induces calm and a relaxed feeling.

To begin practising this sit back at a slight angle - say in a comfortable chair - making sure your neck is supported.

Place your hands on your stomach and breathe in through your nose to about the count of 7 - imagining that your stomach is a balloon and that you are inflating this as you feel your stomach rise.

After a brief pause start breathing out through your nose to about the count of 11 feeling your stomach deflating like the balloon you have envisioned it is.

Repeat this process 3 times and you should feel much more relaxed and - with a bit of practice - now know how to breathe from your stomach.

When you breathe in you are oxygenating your body and giving it energy from stimulating the sympathetic nervous system.

If you feel soreness in any area of your body take your mind there and breathe into that area to direct the oxygen and energy to that place and help the muscles in that area relax.

Most of us have a tight neck or shoulders so directing energy to these area will help to loosen them.

When you breathe out you are detoxifying and relaxing by stimulating the parasympathetic nervous system.

Just carry out this exercise whenever you think of it, for example, when you get in from work.

Research shows that since breathing is the best tool we have for relaxing quickly it also helps us to stay in control of our behaviours, such as, not giving in to comfort eating. How great is that?

Please let me know how you get on with this by leaving a message.

If you would like to know more about stress and anxiety management then please get in touch via our website at West of England Coaching and Counselling.

Monday, 13 February 2012

Yo-Yo Dieting: Eating, Food and All That...

Are you someone who has always had an issue with food such as yo-yoing between dieting and overeating?

Perhaps you want to work on this area of your life yourself once and for all and maintain your optimum weight.

If this is your plan then here is my list of top tips to help you to get started:

  1. Monitor Your Habits - Are you a 'sit on the couch in the evening and eat person?' or do you tend to 'raid the fridge after a bad/good day at work?'

    Think about what you might do instead. For example, if you are the first type of person could you watch less TV and when you're watching TV perhaps only have a handful of unsalted nuts instead of a packet of biscuits.

    If you fall into the latter category you may use exercise for reward or to 'let go' of a bad day.
  2. Are You Starving Yourself to Lose Weight  - Are you eating very little and finding that you don't lose any weight? When you try this tactic you are literally putting your body into starvation mode which causes it to hold on to all of the calories you put into your body - leaving you starved of energy but maintaining your weight.

    The best tip that I can give you is to eat protein at each of your three meals, such as, low-fat Greek yoghurt for breakfast with your fresh fruit and lean meat and fish for lunch and dinner.
  3. Don't Cut Out What You Enjoy - You'll find by not cutting out what you enjoy your weight is more likely to stay on track for life. For example, if chocolate is your thing have it just once or twice a week rather than every day and at 100g a time - even better if you opt for dark chocolate with a high cocoa percentage of say 70%+.

    If wine is your thing perhaps have a boundary of Friday and Saturday drinking of say two standard 175ml glasses on each of those nights. This will stop you craving and undoubtedly binging.
  4. Keep Your Eating Varied to Stop Weight Plateaus - The Caveman Diet is best for a healthy diet leaving you feeling full of energy. This amounts to lean protein, fruit and vegetables, nuts, seeds and whole grains.

    Why not have whole porridge oats with some fruit and seeds plus spices such as ginger and cinnamon, water then microwave it for a couple of minutes before adding a little Greek yoghurt?

    You could have brown rice with chiecken and vegetables and swap your normal jacket spud for a sweet potato lower in starchy carbs and a great source of energy?
  5. Take Time to Eat and Really Enjoy Your Food - This gives you the time to register fullness so aim to chew each mouthful of food 15 times or so before swallowing. A lot of the digestive process is eased by this so you will avoid feeling bloated as well.
I wish you every success in your goal and would love to hear about your experience.

For all of your coaching and counselling needs please do get in touch via our website at West of England Coaching and Counselling.

Thursday, 9 February 2012

Life Coaching: Making A Decision

Are you thinking about life coaching but not yet at the point of decision?

You may already be aware that life coaching is about helping you to achieve what you want from your work, personal and social life.

How can life coaching benefit you in 2012 in a way that you would not have experienced without it?

For my clients the most regular feedback I receive was summed by a client who said the following:

"In the past I had goals but they were never written down in a way which I knew I would help me achieve them.

"Life coaching helped me to do this in a way which motivated and helped me to get what I wanted.

"It also helped me to create an action plan, asked me questions and recognised my successes in a way which left me energised to get on with the next part of the goal."

Working with a life coach day-to-day can help you achieve your goals and stop you feeling tied down and free you up to take control of your life.

Maybe you want to change careers in 2012, get healthy or find a partner - maybe you want all three.

Your life is so short and precious that it makes sense to invest in yourself by taking on a life coach who can help you to live the best life possible.

I haven't once come across a client who thinks that the investment of time and money in life coaching was NOT worth the results they achieved.

But where do you start? Read through the previous blog Are You Ready, Willing and Able To Be Coached? as this will help you take the first to realising whether life coaching is right for you.

If you find out that it is then please leave a comment on this blog or to find out about more about life coaching contact us through our website at West of England Coaching and Counselling.

Monday, 6 February 2012

Money Coaching

Are you like the vast majority of people who recognise that they do not like speaking about their financial position?

For one of my clients this issue has resulted in her feeling uncomfortable having money and therefore she spends as she earns and has no savings.

Recently she set herself a goal of saving for those things that her and her partner want which are 'bigger ticket' - including a conservatory and a replacement car.

Her beliefs around money including 'I believe I shouldn't have money' and 'Easy come easy go' - among others - were impacting her behaviour.

She has now set herself a new goal 'To get pleasure from saving and to think 'Do I need it?' before spending'.

She recognised that to enjoy life in the present and to plan for the future she needed a balance between spending and saving so she could be proud of herself.

In order to work on her goal we spent time visualising her spending and saving some money and this mindful approach left her feeling more comfortable and more in control.

Would you benefit from experimenting with visualising yourself in this way?

Perhaps set aside some time to sit quietly in a comfortable chair, then to close your eyes and relax your body - perhaps by imagining yourself in some place which you find tranquil.

Then imagine yourself saving an amount that you can contract with yourself each month - perhaps in a savings account - and imagine realising what you are saving for - something for someone else perhaps.

Perhaps you are currently in debt and want to clear that debt. If you imagine this to be the case, your mind will come up with options and ways to help you to realise your goal and get back in the black because it's clever that way.

Have a go at these exercises and let me know how you get on by leaving on comment on this post.

Alternatively, if you're looking for some support in changing your behaviour - whether it's about money or anything else - please get in touch via our website at West of England Coaching and Counselling.

Saturday, 4 February 2012

Focusing On What Matters To You

I think you could convincingly agrue that the economy mirrors the human drive for material gain and spending money which we do not have.

Something similar happens in our personal lives when we put our own material success before other more important values.

"Too much and too long, we seem to have surrendered community excellence and community values in the mere accumulation of material things,’ said Robert Kennedy during his 1968 election campaign and a few months before he was assassinated in Los Angeles.

"Gross national product counts air pollution and cigarette advertising and ambulances to clear our highways of carnage… yet the gross national product does not allow for the health of our children, the quality of their education or the joy of their play.

"It measures neither our wit nor our courage, neither our wisdom nor our learning, neither our compassion nor our devotion to our country, it measures everything, in short, except that which makes life worthwhile."

Today, a group of Anglo-American economists together with French economist Patrick Viveret are urging that the success of our societies should be measured by the well-being of their citizens rather than by their production of weapons or construction of prisons.

In studying what really makes people happy, they have come up with the following precise recommendations – daily behaviours and activities which do not consume material goods and are pretty recession-proof.

  1. Connect with Others – Invest in human relationships. Look on them as the foundations of your life. They will enrich and support you more and more every day.
  2. Be Active – Find a way to move your body that’s fun and feels good. When the body is active it manufactures happiness through feel-good chemicals including serotonin.
  3. Sharpen Your Awareness of the Present Moment – Be curious. Observe what is beautiful or unusual. Savour the moment that you are living in right now.
  4. Keep Learning – Try something new. Take up singing lessons, dancing, playing an instrument, cooking, drawing. Set yourself a goal which you would like to meet. Then take the first step in getting there.
  5. Do Something to Help Someone - Imagine your personal happiness is inextricably linked to the happiness of your community and activate the pleasure zones in your brain.

Good luck with this and if you have a success to report from using the advice in this blog then please let leave a comment.

If you would like to learn more about the life coaching services which we provide them please get in touch via our website at West of England Coaching and Counselling.