November 28, 2011


When teams are more effective they can solve more complex problems, make better decisions, release more creativity and do more to build individual skills and commitment than individuals working alone.

The Characteristics of a high performing team can be seen in the acronym:



Relationships and Communications


Optimal Performance

Recognition and Appreciation


We should never lose track of the fact that

 none of us is as smart of all of us.

So how do we start to build a high performing team, the first thing we need is a common goal so everyone knows what we are aiming to achieve and the development involves three major skills on the part of the whole team, Diagnosis, Adaptability and Empowerment.

The diagnosis is understanding the dynamics of the group and observing how each member participates and engages in the group and use these strengths and characteristics best to achieve the goal.

Adaptability is about choosing which leadership style to use at different stages of the team development, whether to provide more or less support and direction.

Empowerment is about realising when the team is ready to be less reliant on its leader and releasing elements of the decision making process to the team. At this stage when you become willing to share control, the team will become successful and self-directed.

Our job as managers is to help people and teams develop so they have competence and commitment and the ability to share in making decisions.




salmon and smoked salmon with spaghetti

November 22, 2011

This is a very tastey quick and easy dish to prepare. This recipe is for two people.


1 Tablespoon of olive oil

2 Salmon fillets, total weight approx 240g, sliced thinly

1 Onion, chopped finely

1 Garlic clove, crushed

2 Pinches of dried chilli flakes

400g Tin of chopped tomatoes

1/4 Handful of fresh basil, chopped

4 Sprigs of tarragon, chopped

100g Smoked salmon, sliced thinly (prawns can be substituted for smoked salmon)

200g Dried spaghetti



Put a saucepan of water onto boil for the spaghetti and cook as per the instructions on the packet. Meanwhile heat olive oil in a large frying pan, add the onion, garlic and chilli and allow to cook slowly for 5 minutes, until the onion is soft. Empty the tin of tomatoes into the frying pan and add the herbs and season to taste, allow to simmer for 5 minutes. Then add the salmon and cook slowly for 3 mins, add the smoked salmon and cook for one minute, it is now ready to serve. Drain the spaghetti and place on plate pour the fish and tomato sauce over the spaghetti.


November 22, 2011


 As businesses the economic climate is having an effect on all of us so in these uncertain times we need help and support and that might be closer than all of us as business leaders think. We do not have to sit in isolation and beat ourselves up to find solutions; let the people around you in the business help. We need to unite everyone in our business as a team for the good of the business.

In the current economic climate many businesses have had to make tough decisions that will have created unrest in the team, like the introduction of cost reductions and possibly a slimming of the team, this will have led to low team morale, disenchantment, additional work load and stress, so how do we fix this. I know lets treat the team to an offsite team building event; that will restore harmony!

This solution springs to mind in a number of business leaders as the magic wand to boost morale and harmony. In uncertain economic times this can prove extremely detrimental and counterproductive, as rather than rallying the team to the cause, many team building events only underline the problems they are attempting to smooth over. If cash is tight then expenditure on this is seen as hypocritical. It can also add to the pressure when people return to work after a day away, so what is the alternative.

In terms of business opportunity I believe it’s best to utilise the team in the decision making process as opposed to a team building event, so how do we create this.

The process should begin by gathering your team together and opening up the meeting by acknowledging the overwork and stress people are going through, empathise and take responsibility for it. Then explain that you have brought everybody together to explore how we as a team can improve business and then ask for feedback on what individuals see as the issues/opportunities for the business. This then should extend into what the team see as solutions and then group similar solutions together into manageable topics. These topics then should form the subjects of the next stage of the process.

The next stage of the process is to organise focussed sessions on these topics. These sessions need to be short and sharp, no more than one hour, and ensure clear action points come out of them and make team members accountable for following up on decisions taken.

Set clear defined timescales for the improvement, no longer than three months. Prioritise the actions that can be completed in this period. They are the stepping stones to the long term goal; tackle the opportunities in bite size pieces. The key is getting started on the journey.

The key to success is the creating and communication of a powerful vision of the goal and encouraging all to visualise and embrace it. This provides the positivity to this transition.

Regularly review the progress and as a team make any necessary adjustment this will play a vital role in building a high performance culture.

This process may not seem as exiting or glamorous as a big team building event but will create a sense of ownership and involvement in the business and make the team understand that everybody is going through the same issues and that together we can help each other and ensure a brighter and profitable future.

We should never forget that people are our most important resource.





The Benefits of Being an Effective Listener and Flattering People Sensibly

November 15, 2011


How is your business developing, is it growing its customer base, do you have a stable, focused, driven team, who will go to the end of the World for you. If you either hesitated or were completely honest and came out with a no in answer to these questions, then reading the rest of this post may help you to succeed where your competitors are failing.

Your team work in your business day in day out and see everything from the shop floor and understand your customer base. Your customers have the freedom of choice and see the good and bad in businesses each week. Taking this on board we can learn a lot about our business from these two parties.

Selling to anyone is never easy and you need to employ a number of tactics to succeed. A multi-purpose tactic for gaining the edge is to listen intently on what the other person is saying and not saying, whether it is your boss, your staff, customer or client. Listening carefully together with observing body language will give you solid clues as to the other person’s interests and motives, this will assist you in modifying your tactics to gain advantage and negotiate a wining position. Trainers who train in the art of sales will often tell their clients “selling is listening” so ensure you listen to your customers and give them the opportunity to comment on your business and the service they receive. You never know when one of these comments will deliver an opportunity you may never have considered. Therefore provide every opportunity for your customers to comment on your business, offer them an incentive to help you improve your business.

Also invest in time for your team in the form of team meetings and brain storming sessions and allow all the team to propose ideas and comment on the business performance on how they might add to its success. This makes all the members of your team feel valued, embracing the team ethos and giving them a sense of ownership and responsibility. You will be surprised at the resulting discussion and the impact it will deliver. It is always surprising where some of the most successful ideas come from.

In addition to listening take on board one of the least expensive and most effective tactics for gaining an edge that of flattery. Whether it is to comment on a member of your team on how impressed you are with their performance or on a customer on their choice of purchase. It will assist your team to remain focused and your customer to return for another purchase.


November 11, 2011


One of the things you’ve probably seen being pushed a lot by website designers and Internet marketing “experts” is Search Engine Optimisation, or SEO.

The idea is simple: you design your website and write the copy on it in such a way that when people are searching online for products and services, your site is the one the search engines decide is the best match, or the most “relevant”. In addition you also need people linking to your site, but they need to be the right people and they need to link to you in the right way.

Here are some simple (and very safe) techniques that you can put into practice right away to get your website appearing near the top of the search engines:

1. Know exactly what your customers are searching for! Before you begin to market your site on the web, it’s vital you know exactly what the people you want to become your customers are looking for.

So, what will a potential customer type into a search engine to find your particular product or service? Here’s how to find out: use Word Tracker, It gives you the results of the most popular search terms typed in by searchers for that month, and helps you narrow down and select the best search terms to get a response from people searching for the products and services you sell. You can also use Google’s free keyword tool in your Adwords account.

2. Include your keywords in your domain name and your file names. If you have an existing website for your business, you’re probably stuck with it. This isn’t necessarily a problem, but if you’re looking at a new website, it’s a good idea to have your main keyword in the domain name. For example, if your business was “wedding cakes”, and this was the search term you’d identified as being the best one for you, then you might consider the domain

Then, each page on your website should be optimised for a different search term. For example, if we take the wedding cake example, you might have a page under your main page which is about “vegetarian wedding cakes”. You would name the file vegetarian-wedding-cakes.html.

3. Write your page copy so it’s attractive to the search engines. It’s a mistake to think you can get better rankings by using your keywords more. Page content is increasingly less important – but it still counts. So here are some simple tips for writing search-engine optimised body copy:

Ensure your search term appears in the first few words of the headline of your page.

Ensure your search term appears once in every block of 125 words of body-copy and subheadings. It can appear anywhere in the block, (with the exception of the very first one, where it should be in the first 90 characters).

• Include at least one HTML link which contains your search term in the link copy. The easiest way to do this is to have a link at the bottom of the page linking to the top e.g. “Back to top of speciality wedding cakes”.

Once your site is search engine friendly, we begin the entire process of link building – getting high quality sites linking to you in the correct way. If you put these 4 tips into practice – and they’re all pretty easy and straightforward – you’ll not only save yourself a lot of money, but it will also increase your chances of getting highly-qualified, eager, and, best of all FREE traffic to your site from the search engines.


November 9, 2011


This recipe is for two people and the combination of the sweetness in the peas, prawns and herbs will delight your taste buds


1 garlic clove, finely chopped

1 onion, finely chopped

¼ head of celery

200g Arborio rice

125ml of dry vermouth

600ml fish stock

250g raw king prawns, peeled

75g frozen peas, defrosted

½ handful of fresh basil chopped

¼ handful of fresh mint chopped

Juice of 1 lemon

30g of butter

Sea salt and black pepper


Heat the fish stock in a pan to a very gentle simmer. In a separate large pan heat the olive oil and add the garlic, onion and celery and cook gently for ten minutes until the vegetables have softened, ensure the onions do not brown. Then turn up the heat and add the rice, keep stirring the rice for a minute and then add vermouth and continue stirring. Once the vermouth has cooked into the rice add a pinch of salt and first ladle of stock and turn heat down to simmering. Continue stirring and once the stock has cooked into the rice add the next ladle of stock, continue adding the stock a ladle at a time ensuring it has been absorbed before adding the next ladle. The rice is cooked when it is soft with a slight bite.

Now add the peas and prawns and allow it to simmer for 5 minutes. Then add herbs, lemon juice, butter and pepper to taste, stir in. Remove the pan from the heat and place a lid on the pan and leave it to stand for 5 minutes for the flavours to infuse.

It is now ready to serve, enjoy!!


November 8, 2011

This simple to prepare delicious healthy dish can be served on its own or with mixed salad leaves or lightly cooked vegetables.


2 Salmon fillets approx 120g each

100g Couscous

Juice of half a lemon

Zest of half a lemon, shredded

Small clove of garlic, crushed

1 Tablespoon of olive oil

200ml hot vegetable stock

A mixed handful of fresh parsley, thyme and basil, finely chopped

Half an onion, finely chopped

6 Sundried tomatoes, chopped


Heat oven to 200c

Add the couscous to a bowl, with juice and zest of lemon, garlic and olive oil. Pour in hot stock and then stir and cover with cling film and leave to stand for ten minutes. After ten minutes uncover and fluff up with a fork and then stir in herbs, sundried tomatoes and onions. Season with salt and pepper.

Cut two pieces of non stick baking paper approx 40 cm square, lay flat and divide the couscous between them and place salmon fillets on top of cous cous. Seal the paper up like a tight parcel and place parcels on baking tray and bake in oven for 15 minutes. The fish can be served in the parcel or transferred to a plate.

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