Wednesday, 30 October 2013

In support of middle managers

I read an article recently that rather unkindly referred to middle managers as the “muddle in the middle”. This got me thinking about how often middle managers get a bad press. I wonder if the “squeezed middle” might be a more appropriate description.  So, I write in defence of the middle manager.

They are required to communicate the organisational vision, frequently when this vision is not being clearly communicated from the top leadership.

The have to motivate tired employees, threatened by job insecurity from yet another organisational change, and this is no easy matter.

Securing cross-functional collaboration when resources are more and more constrained is a challenge they face on a daily basis.

But that’s not all they face! At times middle managers are also in the firing line from their staff. They are a readily available target when someone from “management” is needed to take the blame. Yet many employees are unaware of how frequently their managers shield them from poor leadership.

Middle managers are bridging the gap between executive managers and front-line managers, and at a time when they need to be developing and up-skilling they are not getting enough organisational attention.

Behavioural capabilities such as fostering co-operation, securing employee engagement and ensuring best practice are core aspects of a middle management role. They are also key requirements for organisations facing volatility, trying to negotiate change and seeking to encourage innovation.

The link between organisational capability and business performance has been made many times, there is no need for me to repeat it here. Developing the behavioural capability and empowering middle managers, who are able to respond and adapt to changing environments, will increase such organisational capability.

Yet learning and development opportunities have been curtailed in many organisations as part of cost cutting measures.  So, let’s support the middle managers, recognise their contribution to the bottom line, and invest in their development.

Tuesday, 29 October 2013

Heavy workloads, organisational change, long hours, doing more with less

These are factors that can lead to people feeling out of control and therefore stressed.

If the work pressure is building up within your team and reducing collaboration or even leading to conflict, maybe it’s a good time to intervene and help your employees reflect on the different ways that people respond to stress and how to build resilience.

MBTI is a particularly useful instrument when you wish to get a team to work together more effectively. It provides opportunity to reflect on differences and how they can be used constructively, rather than being a point of irritation or even conflict.

Fostering resilience in your team will increase confidence and team work and give your organisation a competitive edge.

Wednesday, 18 September 2013

SQS to increase workforce in Ireland

The SQS Group (SQS) which is the world’s leading specialist in software quality has announced today that it is expanding its Irish operations by adding 75 jobs over the next three years. Fifty of the positions will be based in Dublin and the company said, a further 25 at its Northern Ireland office in Belfast. Up to 30 of the jobs will be filled by the end of the year.

SQS established it's office in Ireland in 2002The German company  which is listed on the London stock exchange currently employs 200 people in Dublin and Belfast at present. The new jobs are high end specialist roles and include software quality engineers, software testing managers, business analysts, performance engineers and software test analysts.

The company's chief executive Dik Vos made this comment ''Our continued expansion in Ireland is a strong reflection of the growth of the IT industry and the increasingly important role that independent software testing and quality control plays in the successful rollout and ongoing operations of IT systems,'' 

While the CEO Dik Vos said "there was no doubt that recruitment of such specialist roles remains a challenge, he added that working closely with the country's third level colleges and initiatives such as the SQS Graduate In-Take Programme, have proved very successful."

He went on to say "that  such measures will remain a key part of the company's recruitment strategy, ''providing valuable training and investment in developing key skillsets to support businesses in the Irish economy to the required SQS quality standards''. 

The Taoiseach Enda Kenny, TD, described the company's expansion as a welcome development and "another encouraging sign of the ongoing rise of Dublin's Digital Docklands"

Dik Vos CEO SQS Report Irish Times 19-9-13
SQS was founded in Cologne in 1982, it employs around 2,500 staff in Europe, Asia, North America and Africa. Along with a strong presence in Germany and the UK, SQS has further subsidiaries in Austria, Egypt, Finland, France, India, Ireland, the Netherlands, Norway, South Africa, Sweden, Switzerland, and the USA. SQS also has a joint venture in Portugal and a partnership with a company in Spain. In 2012, SQS generated a turnover of €210.1 million

Dik Vos was appointed to the SQS Management Board in March 2011 and started in SQS as COO, responsible for global sales and operations. In this role, he focused on driving forward company growth and improving the operational excellence of the global SQS Group.
Source: RTÉ News, The Irish Times & SQS

Tuesday, 17 September 2013

Celebrating Equality and Diversity at work

Everyone knows that it is illegal to discriminate in the workplace, directly or indirectly, against anyone on the grounds of; age, sex, disability, religion or belief, pregnancy or maternity, sexual orientation, gender reassignment, marriage and civil partnership or race.

But it wasn’t always like this… read  Celebrating Equality and Diversity at work

In the meantime is your organisation equipped to manage diversity? Find out more about jml Training's Diversity and Inclusion training services Here

Arrange your 2013 / 2014 in house training now.

Sunday, 18 August 2013

Two in five professionals will work through their annual holiday according to report from Questor Insurance

Vehicle hire excess and travel insurance specialist Questor Insurance looks at figures which show that two in five workers* plan to carry on working during their summer holidays.

Despite our holidays traditionally being the perfect time to escape from the pressures of the 9 to 5 and our daily work deadlines, it seems that many of us can’t bear to tear ourselves away from office life – even if we are sunning ourselves on a beach thousands of miles away.

The findings of research commissioned by global workspace provider Regus, found that more than a third of holidaying workers will invest one to three hours of precious holiday time on their work, while one in ten will forgo more than three hours of their relaxation time to ensure that they keep up with what’s going on at work.

Far from lazing under a palm tree or going for a leisurely swim in the sea, more than a third of holidaying professionals prefer the joys of responding to work phone calls or carrying out other work-related tasks...who knew switching off was so hard?

In effective for these workers’ holidays are akin to business trips in disguise, with it being ‘business as usual’ despite it officially being their time off.

Professional men are the most likely to succumb to the lure of ‘workations’, as they’ve been dubbed are, with 31% taking their workload on holiday with them, compared to 25% of professional women.

Commenting, Questor Insurance CEO Andrew Lawrence, said: “Despite the economy recently picking up workers are keen to make the best impression they can in the current market, even if it means sacrificing their holiday time
“If you have to work for a portion of your holiday, securing your business travel insurance in advance will help to ensure that any business equipment you do use will be covered.”

Buy your business travel insurance at Questor today Here.

Questor Insurance’s ‘Be Holiday Savvy’ campaign is running from June to September and will provide travellers with a wealth of handy hints and tips to make the process of planning and executing their foreign holiday that much smoother. Source Questor Insurance

Monday, 12 August 2013

Labour Market Outlook shows employment confidence at its highest level since the 2008 recession according to CIPD Report

The CIPD - Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development  issued a press release today "CIPD Labour Market Outlook shows employment confidence at its highest level since the 2008 recession - With more employers looking to hire, pressure mounts to attract the right talent " 

The CIPD is the professional body for HR and people development. It has over 130,000 members internationally working in HR. In 2013 it celebrated its centenary offering one hundred years of leading HR into the future. 

The press release went on to say "The Summer 2013 CIPD/Success Factors Labour Market Outlook (LMO) survey report, published today, shows that for the sixth quarter in a row, employers expect jobs growth - meaning more openings for job seekers but more competition among employers for the right candidates.

The report shows that the net employment balance - which measures the difference between the proportion of employers who expect to increase staffing levels and the proportion who intend to reduce staffing levels - stands at +14.  This is an increase from +9 in the previous quarter and the highest figure since the recession in 2008. The Labour Market Outlook has shown itself to be a reliable leading indicator of the official employment statistics quarter on quarter and the latest results suggest a degree of optimism we have seen reflected in other economic indicators, most notably Q2 GDP.

Private sector employers remain positive about employment intentions with an increase in the net employment balance from +21 in Spring 2013 to +26 in the Summer 2013 survey.  In contrast, public sector employers are still more likely to expect overall job cuts but here there was also an improvement in the net employment balance (-25 in Summer 2013 compared to -31 in Spring 2013).

However, employers do not expect wage growth to accelerate significantly.  Among those LMO employers planning a pay review in the twelve months to February 2014, the average anticipated settlement for basic pay (excluding bonuses) was 1.7%, unchanged from the previous quarter.   

Mark Beatson, CIPD chief economist, comments: "These results suggest we should see further jobs growth over the summer and autumn and hopefully reflect a degree of optimism about growth prospects for 2013.  This is welcome news for job seekers. The challenge for the increasing proportion of employers looking to hire will lie in finding the right talent to fill their vacancies.  The annual CIPD/Hays Resourcing and Talent Planning survey suggests that turnover still remains low, perhaps because many employees are reluctant to leave the security of their current role for fear that the market dips again, so employers could find fewer ideal candidates around than they might have expected.  

To counteract this possibility, employers will need to be flexible and innovative in their approach to recruiting and retaining employees, and make sure their job offers are attractive to the more confident and active job seekers entering the market. If competition for talent remains high, as our annual survey suggests, employers will also need to think more than ever about ways in which they can grow their own workforces by recruiting for potential and investing in the development of existing employees.

"However, there is still little sign of improved confidence about employment prospects feeding through into pay expectations, which remain below the rate of inflation.  Clearly employers feel they do not need to raise pay to meet recruitment goals and, with turnover low, retention is unlikely to be a pressing issue for most organisations.  However, both these factors could turn as the job market improves and employers need to be prepared to adjust their workforce planning, development and reward practices in response."

Also commenting, James Reid, UK and Ireland Managing Director, SuccessFactors, said:  "Today's highly competitive economy has left businesses not only battling for custom and market share, but also for the acquisition and retention of talent. But an important balancing act must take place when it comes to employing new talent versus the training and development of the existing workforce. Businesses should not focus solely on new talent if they are to keep recruitment costs down and retain the best staff. Positively this has not been lost on business leaders. At SuccessFactors we are seeing a growing interest and investment in employee development and up-skilling across all staff levels outside of traditional HR spend, from e-learning to better on-boarding and performance management."  Source CIPD

So with the employment confidence come the need for manmagement training services. Since 1997 jml Training and Consultancy has been providing management training services to organisations in the UK and overseas. The summer holidays will shortly be over and people back at work after a rewarding break full of enthusiasm, so make sure your workforce is productive by being properly trained.

jml Training offers "in house" courses only. They run a great selection that are tailor made to the individual clients's requirements.

To find out more visit the webbsite today

Sunday, 3 March 2013

Sexual Discrimination and Harassment at Work

The Independent on the 2nd March (and on line on the 1st March) ran a feature by Ellen E Jones on "Office relations guide: how to avoid being a sex pest in the workplace"

"It's not just the Lib Dems who are under fire over harassment claims. Organisations everywhere are struggling to respond correctly to issues arising from their employees' sexual urges."

The Indenpendent columnist then spelt out what is and isn't acceptable in the modern workplace. 

 She continued "It seems every workplace in the land is being rocked by a sexual harassment scandal and if even national leaders and heads of giant corporations are so flummoxed by the line between bad office etiquette, behaviour that requires disciplinary proceedings and criminal sexual harassment, what hope is there for the average office dinosaur? Here, by way of clarification, are 10 common scenarios and suggestions on how to navigate "

The full article can be found here  with comments from readers to the scenarios. There is also a link to "Free advice and specific guidance on handling sexual discrimination and harassment at work", however the link is currently not working.

If your organisation is looking for in house training on:

Diversity and Inclusion - Managing Bullying and Harassment in the Workplace

Equality and Diversity Awareness - Managing Diversity in the Workplace - Equal Opportunities in Staff Recruitment and Selection  - Women - Moving Beyond the Glass Ceiling - Understanding Oneself in a Diversity Context - Dignity at Work - Preventing Bullying and Harassment in the Workplace - Ensuring a Supportive Work Environment - Age and the Workplace - Promoting Age Diversity at Work

You need to contact  jml Training & Consultancy. We do not offer open courses, but in house training. Find out more Here

Monday, 25 February 2013

Equal opportunities update

The Equality and Human Rights Commission has published new guidance to help employers and employees deal with the expression of religion or belief at work.

The guidance follows the European Court of Human Rights judgment in four cases about religious rights in the workplace, one of which found that an employee suffered a breach of her right to religious freedom for being told not to wear a cross at work.

The Commission has therefore produced straightforward, expert guidance to clarify the law.

Religion or belief in the workplace: a guide for employers following recent European Court of Human Rights judgments - Employer Guidance Here  Legal Explanation Here

Meanwhile on 1st October 2012, new provisions in the Equality Act 2010 come into force, extending the ban on age discrimination to cover services, public functions and private clubs and associations - with some notable exceptions. Direct and indirect age discrimination, harassment and victimisation will be unlawful when providing services and when carrying out public functions. It is irrelevant whether a service is provided by the private, public or voluntary sector, and whether it’s for payment or free of charge. More Here

If your organisation is looking for training for your employees on The Equality Act 2010 we would like to help.

jml Training has a course that will cover:

The law covering all the protected characteristics and what behaviour is and is not acceptable.

Identify what stays the same, the changes, extensions and new introductions for example:

Changes to the definitions of discrimination

Harassment and third party harassment and its extension to the other protected characteristics

Victimisation changes

The risk of ignoring or seeming to approve inappropriate behaviour and personal liability.

How discrimination can affect the way an employer functions and the impact that generalisations, stereotypes, bias, inappropriate language in day-to-day operations can have on people's chances of obtaining work, promotion, recognition and respect.

What to do if staff experience harassment or discrimination

Taking a responsible approach as an employee

Find out more Here
There has never been a better time to invest in your organisation's future than investing in training now

Monday, 11 February 2013

Training and Business News Updates

We have listed below a roundup of what has been happening since the start of 2013.

The Learning and Performance Institute hosted  the annual Learning Awards last Thursday, 7th February. he event was hosted by BBC presenter Susanna Reid at The Dorchester Hotel In London.

Categories included Learning Company of the Year which was won by The Mind Gym. The category for Learning Department of the Year, which was dominated by a host of household names including McDonald’s Restaurants, Legal & General and Ernst & Young, was won by First Data.

The UK’s largest female business community, everywoman, has announced the finalists in the 2013 FDM everywoman in Technology Awards, the country’s flagship programme celebrating the successes of the women leading the way in the profession. Passion, drive and commitment are just a few of the attributes recognised in these talented women who are laying the foundations for future females to follow in their footsteps.

UK Employment on the up - Official figures released on the 23rd January by the Office for National Statistics showed that total unemployment has now dipped to 2.49 million - lower than the figure posted in spring 2010 - as the number of young people and individuals out of work long-term declined.

The Ken Blanchard Companies and Universal Consensus, LLC, have entered into a collaborative relationship in order to serve public sector clients more effectively. The organizations have utilized their world-renowned, research-backed strategies to create and deliver a specialized cross-cultural leadership training solution for the public sector in order for leaders to appropriately interact with their international counterparts.

National Training Awards - The Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) and the National Apprenticeship Service (NAS) have confirmed that from 2013 it will no longer hold a programme of National Training Awards (NTAs). The landscape of awards ceremonies has changed dramatically since the NTAs were launched in the late 1980s and many other organisations now host programmes and recognition events, giving employers the chance to illustrate the merit of investing in quality skills training for existing and new staff.

Eweida Ruling Implications for Diversity Policy - The decision made by the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) in the case of Ms Nadia Eweida could have serious implications for employers and policy makers when they are creating policies about what is deemed to be acceptable dress code in the workplace. After examining the case in more detail, it's possible to draw some conclusions about the impact the case will have for employers going forward. More at Diversitylink website

Changes to unfair dismissal pay-outs do not go far enough, says IoD (Institute of Directors) Commenting on the publication this morning of the Government’s response to the consultation, ‘Ending the Employment Relationship’, including changes to compensation for unfair dismissal claims, Alexander Ehmann, Head of Regulation at the Institute of Directors, said: “Business will welcome the 12 months’ pay cap for unfair dismissal claims as evidence of progress towards a more balanced system. But they will be disappointed that the Government has refused to reduce the overall cap from its current unnecessarily high level of £72,000. Two-thirds of businesses who responded to the consultation felt the cap was too high. Most successful claimants receive less than £5,000 in compensation, and leaving the cap so much bigger than this only helps to create unrealistic expectations, and encourage tribunal cases which could be sorted out more quickly and easily before that stage.”

If you are looking for Management Training for your staff in 2013, jml Training offers a large selection of in house training - Find out more Here There has never been a better time to learn.

Monday, 21 January 2013

Ten Reasons to Train Your Staff

I received the latest edition of "The Estate Agent" in this morning's post. Our postman had braved the thick snow to deliver  the January / February edition of the National association of State Agents magazine that is entitled "The Education issue".

In today's market training is vitally important for those involved in the estate and letting agency business as any business being run in the UK.

Flicking through the magazine an article "Committed to training" caught my eye. It said that "with staff being shed and costs being slashed across the board many estate agents have stopped spending altogether on essentials like training".

This will often be the case, do I need to train my staff to make them more productive? Should I cut my advertising budget is another question many companies must ask themselves?. If you don't advertise you will not be found, if you don't train your staff when they are taking on properties, selling them on behalf of clients they will probably not be as good as those of the trained competitor.

On another page of the supplement there is a headline "Top 10 reasons to train your staff" So what does the "Estate Agent" define as these top ten reasons?

  1. Increase productivity
  2. Reduce employer turnover
  3. Decrease need for supervision
  4. Increase ability to incorporate new technologies
  5. Increase safety to decrease work related injury or illness
  6. Maintain employee qualifications
  7. Help employers meet new responsibilities
  8. Increase job satisfaction, morale and motivation among employees
  9. Enhance company image
  10. Enhance risk management, e.g. training about sexual harassment, diversity training.

At jml Training and Consultancy we have been featuring these "10 reasons" for years. We don't run open courses, but "in house" training courses for companies in the private sector and in the public sector designed specifically for the individual client.As we have been saying for the past five years " There has never been a better time to invest in your organisation's future than investing in training now"   Find out more at   

Philip Suter FNAEA, MARLA is the Marketing Director for jml Training. He is a member of the National Association of Estate Agents and The Association of Residential Letting Agents 

Thursday, 17 January 2013

jml Training and Consultancy offers some exciting developments for your organization in 2013

January 2013A very Happy New Year to you from  jml Training & Consultancy.

We have been preparing for the year ahead and want to let you know about some of our exciting developments for 2013.

We know from feedback that participants have highly valued the reflective and experiential aspects of our learning and development programmes, as well as the enabling approach of the facilitators that increased self-awareness and built participants’ confidence to put new skills in to practice.

We have reviewed core aspects of our in-house programmes and have identified opportunities to continue to develop our range of experiential and skills based learning to improve personal effectiveness and in turn organisational performance and productivity.

Highlighted below are a number of Leadership Development workshops/interventions that we would like to recommend to you for 2013:  

  •       Developing the Thoughtful Leader – building relationships, trust and engagement using emotional intelligence
  •       The Art of Communication – inspiring and motivating high performance
  •    Understanding Your Organisational Culture – helping or hindering effective leadership and performance
  •       Leading Empowerment – growing leadership at all levels to increase agility and effectiveness
  •  The Art of Teamwork – tapping the benefits of collaboration within and between teams
  • Building Sustainable Change – recognising why change fails and how to lead and engage people with on-going change and innovation. 

We would be delighted to talk to you about your organisation’s development requirements and to explore how components of these workshops could be developed in line with those needs.

We will continue to create a learning environment that is both pragmatic and reflective and ensure that all programmes of learning and development are bespoke and respond to the specific requirements of each organisation with whom we work.

For further information about the range of services we provide please do have a look at our website or call us on 01494 488787. If you know of anyone who might be interested in hearing about our services, please do forward our details. We very much look forward to hearing from you . Gráinne Suter Director jml Training and Consultancy

Other Training & Business News  - Read all our current Newsletter Here