A useful way to help a team work better together is to combine individual coaching across the team with bringing the team together as a group to explore and develop skills that are highly relevant to their everyday working life, especially where those skills are career-critical as well as challenging and where mastery demands an increasingly deep understanding and appreciation of the behavioural preferences of their peers and those around them.
To that end, as well as one-to-one coaching, I offer workshops on five topics that address situations that people in business commonly find challenging, even stressful. Yet these are areas where one's degree of comfort and proficiency are likely to affect not only current performance but one's career trajectory.
These are all highly interactive and participative workshops designed to deliver experiential learning, not just to install new information and new ideas and hope for the best. To paraphrase D.H Lawrence, it's easy to dodge new information and new ideas. It's impossible to dodge a new experience!
The design and delivery of these workshops draw on many disciplines: my theatre school training; voice coaching; accelerated learning; my training as a professional storyteller; my training as a trainer with a number of the co-founders of NLP; my training in group dynamics; and on-the-ground experience delivering workshops to some of the most challenging and demanding audiences in the business world. And, of course, there is a strong emphasis on coaching everyone to be their best.
They also rest on several decades of business experience, both in Corporate life and in running my own businesses. I've designed and delivered training courses along these lines for most of the Big Five accounting/consulting firms, most of the Magic Circle law firms, for a global civil engineering consultancy and for the UK's telecoms regulator.
"We've used many training consultants in the past but Jim was the first to really become 'part of the team'. I'm convinced that Jim's unique approach and the interactive exercises he put together did more to deliver learning than any amount of slideware could possibly have done."
There are seven topics I offer off-the-shelf. I selected them because I believe, from my own experience, that together they can go a long way towards rapidly improving (in the words of Brian Tracy) every part of your life:
Warning! These are not your average trainings. They are designed to deliver learning that transforms a person's relationship with themselves and the skills. They have been described as unorthodox, challenging, positive and confidence-building. Even inspirational!
"Stimulating, confidence-building, comfortable, positive. Want to know more! Best part was my change of attitude, feeling at ease on stage - atta girl! This is a chance to work with someone who really knows what he is talking about."
When I started running training courses back in 2001, I was passionate about delivering experiences that were out of the ordinary (still am, in fact). That demanded two things. First, I needed to learn how to structure the content in the most likely to lead to genuine long-term retention. Second, I needed to learn how to actually deliver the content in the way most likely to create the impact and energy needed to keep people engaged and energetic.
To that end, I sought out leaders in their fields to study storytelling, group dynamics, psychology, training design and accelerated learning. I headed off to one of the leading London drama schools to study drama and performance, improvisation and voice coaching.
All that diversity allows me to create high-impact trainings that have been used by (amongst others) most of the Big Five accounting firms, most of the Magic Circle law firms and which were integrated into the management development and graduate programmes of one of the world's leading engineering consultancies.
This workshop distills all the key learnings from all those disciplines and all that experience into a one-day workshop designed to transform both the way you present and the way you think about presenting.
We'll have a highly interactive, participative and experiential day incorporating a lot of really important facets of the presenter's craft that most such trainings sidestep, including: how to structure your presentation so it gets remembered; how to remember what you have to say; how to make sure your voice sounds confident and grounded right from the moment you stand up to speak; how to deal with difficult audiences; how to get out of trouble elegantly and safely when it all goes wrong; how to use your voice and body language to engage everyone in the audience; and, of course, what sort of visual aids to use and why.
The aim of this workshop is to give you a set of skills you can use in practice right away to transform how you communicate, not just as a presenter but there is much here that is relevant to written communication, getting your message across in meetings and even taking control of a meeting should it get out of control (it happens - you know as well as I do!).
If you want to learn how to use PowerPoint then this isn't the workshop for you. If you want to learn how to be a more confident, dynamic, purposeful, creative and even inspirational speaker, presenter and communicator then this is, most definitely, the workshop you want.
"Unorthodox and really useful. Something you can really build on."
Where the Presentation Skills workshop focuses on communicating with a group, this workshop focuses on one-to-one inter-personal communication.
Once again this workshop draws on several important disciplines not widely taught and seldom brought together.
We take the key practical lessons from them and apply them to the sort of scenarios you might find in the typical business, including: rapport skills; what it means to be authoritative or approachable and why it matters (it really does - a lot); when to be authoritative; when to be approachable; how to be authoritative or approachable at will; how to deal with difficult conversations when you are on the receiving end; How to deal with difficult conversation when you are having to instigate them; why it's so important to understand your own and other people's communication preferences; how to uncover your own and other people's communication preferences; the six levels of communication and how to use them.
These are learnings you can apply across the board: in meetings, in coffee-machine conversations, in difficult conversations about somebody's future (or your own). And they work equally well at home.
If you want to transform your ability to communicate with a wide range of people in a wide range of situations - pleasant and difficult - then the approaches you learn in this workshop will be a powerful help to you. These are practical lessons you can take away and use right away. Not theoretical models. The workshop is constructed so you get to viscerally experience how they work in real life. You get to practice them, you get to experience them, and you get to feel how much more effective and healthier communication can be with the practice of the skills you learn in this workshop.
"Inspiring, helpful, easy (once you did it!), challenging (to start with) and useable. Best aspects were learning about body langage, how to sound authoritative and how to work with a group. Really enjoyable!"
Negotiating is widely accepted to be one of the key professional skills, but a surprising number of people in business feel inadequate in this area. That not only means they don't negotiate (or negotiate poorly), but it also means they don't notice when negotiation tactics are being used against them. Buying or selling, either way it means they (or the business) are losing out.
And it's not just about buying and selling. Pretty much every conversation in business revolves around a negotiation of some sort, which makes negotiating skills very important indeed. Negotiation is at the heart of how to get things done through people.
Whatever level you are, it's important to recognise that business has a very hard side. Your negotiating shills are central to building the resilience you need to thrive: negotiating well helps you to protect yourself; helps you to advance your arguments; helps you sell better; helps you buy better. And it helps keep the other side honest and keep their prices realistic.
Many people are resistant to negotiating, perhaps because they are uncomfortable, or embarrassed, or don't want to risk rejection. Yet the benefits of developing and practicing your negotiating skills are so many and diverse that it is important, as a business professional to embrace negotiating as a skill worthy of development in just the same way as you accept communication skills and presenting skills.
In this workshop, you will get hands-on experience of using the skills you learn in practice, as well as experiencing what it feels like to have 'tactics' used against you. No other skill so directly affects your results as your ability to negotiate an agreement without giving in, and this workshop helps you build the firm, practical foundation every serious business professional needs.
"Great insightful information! Should have more workshops like this one. Useful, clever, energetic, challenging!"
Two of the biggest unnecessary costs in any business are things taking too long to get done, and having to re-work things that have been done wrong.
This is well understood in a manufacturing environment, but in other environments they are often either accepted as a fact of life and tolerated, or experienced as a source of frustration, dissatisfaction and even conflict.
Yet the solution is, on the face of it, very simple because the cause is so often the result of poor delegation.
Delegation is one of those things that sounds very simple and intuitive. In fact, it's a complex interaction between two individuals and so is vulnerable to all kinds of assumptions, misunderstandings, personal sensitivities and confusions.
Successful delegation is founded both on the communication skills of the person delegating in formulating the request, and the communication skills of the person on the receiving end.
All too often 'delegation' means 'throwing the task over the wall and hoping the other person picks it up properly'.
And in the pressures of everyday it's inevitable that a manager can't always find the time to brief a task fully, or to explore all the possible concerns of the person on the receiving end. And, like it or not (and completely counter-intuitively!) that means it's down to the person on the receiving end to make sure the delegation happens effectively!
And that's what this workshop is about: developing the skills on both sides of the fence so that more things get done right first time, on time, on budget and in good heart.
"Best part was how to recover and deal with difficult situations. Straightforward, fun and valuable."
There's a common misconception about networking, and you can spot it a mile off when you meet someone who holds it: that networking is about seeking to create opportunities.
To turn the classic book title on its head, that's a great way to lose friends and alienate people! If you've done any networking at all you'll know what it's like to be 'targeted' by someone, then 'pitched' and then see them walk away when they realise you're not a sale-in-waiting! It's enough to make you get a coffee, find a table in the corner and sit the whole thing out.
The truth about successful networking is that it's about seeking to create relationships, not opportunities. It's about connecting people. Successful networkers - the networkers getting the referrals and enquiries and feeling good about themselves - are the generous networkers. They connect people with people, people with ideas and people with opportunities. They are generous with their time and connections and who help other people get what they want. It's not about 'me', it's about 'us'.
I think we all know this, really, but it seems like networking is a bit like losing weight or getting fit: we all know how it works but find it just so hard to actually put into practice!
And it all starts with showing up and being seen. It takes courage to be generous, certainly, but that first step of simply showing up in a room full of people you've never met (even if that room is just your LinkedIn profile) can be overwhelming for even the most outgoing and chatty of people (many of whom are, in fact, quite quiet and introverted).
In this workshop we'll take a practical look at how you can build your network - from showing up through following up to connecting up. We'll look at online networking as well as face-to-face networking and even reaching out directly.
It is the size and quality of your network that determines your success, and this workshop will help you build the confidence you need to build and grow perhaps the most important asset you can create.
"Very positive! Great! Fantastic! Every team should do a course like this one!"
The skill of selling is central to thriving in any organisation - in any role. Why? Because selling is not just about closing deals with customers. For most people it's about communicating ideas and getting people on board with them. It's about agreeing plans. It's about evaluating options and making collaborative decisions.
It's a funny thing but the very idea of 'selling' can, for many people, feel a bit distasteful! Even some sales people and entrepreneurs cringe at the idea of having to 'sell' their products or services.
It's probably because the stereotypical image of the sleazy, pushy, manipulative 'salesman' is very alive - sometimes with good reason.
Two things. The first is to say that those unsavoury types are seldom successful. They fail to build long-term relationships, and they leave a bad smell. The second is to say that without 'selling' there is no business. Without 'selling' no new idea ever sees the light of day. Without 'selling' there would be no enthusiasm for anything.
Because 'selling' is simply about the skillful, persuasive and authentic communication of beliefs, values and ideas. Delegation is a sale. Communicating a new idea is a sale. Asking for a raise is a sale. And making a sale is a sale.
Skillful selling is more about inquiry than pitching. More about consulting than 'persuading'. More about relationship than outcome. And it's about crafting an effective, repeatable process that means you can consistently take action that does, indeed, deliver the outcome you want.
This workshop is about how to sell if you hate selling - even if you aren't a sales person. The skills you learn and practice are an important platform for anyone in business. Even if you aren't on the front line bringing in business, the art of the true sales professional is an important one to master. and in this workshop you will learn the simple, powerful basics that will transform your ability to 'sell' elegantly, ethically and even (dare I say it) enjoyably.
"Engaging, stimulating, relevant, worthwhile. I had an illuminating day - and learned how to approach something I felt intimidating previously."
As a person develops in their career, their thinking needs to change.
In the early stages, the focus is internal and operational, directed at getting a specific job done effectively within a defined job role and under the guidance of a management chain.
In due course, however, it will be expected that thinking is more independent and less constrained. Less about day-to-day operations and more about the future of the department, the people or even the business.
And that means a change in thinking. It means stepping outside the busyness of everyday pressures, assessing what's happening in the business environment and contributing ideas that will help to shape the future of the business.
Naturally the specialist 'operational' experience is an essential component of this, but the change of focus from everyday operations to the strategic future of the business demands additional skills, including the ability to be analytical in evaluating situations, creative in synthesising potential avenues for exploration, and objective in assessing and prioritising actions.
Some people have a natural aptitude in this way of thinking strategically. Others find it more difficult - but it is a skill that can be learned and practiced.
And, while it becomes essential as a person grows in seniority, even in an operational role it can make a profound difference, because having a strategic understanding of the business and its environment puts the everyday operational tasks into perspective. A person can see the true value of their contributions and the workplace becomes more fulfilling and rewarding.
This workshop aims to give a solid grounding in the three elements of strategic thinking: analytical evaluation of the environment, creativity in generating ideas, and the objective assessment of options.