When developing people – don’t we need to start from the same place?

Developing People

When it comes to developing people at work the assumption, probably made unconsciously, is that we all start more or less from the same place.

Senior staff makes a decision that to increase business performance people need training for example leadership, time management, sales, team working or change management.

The learning and development team are mobilised by HR and the desired knowledge training programme or workshop is born; or more likely a ready made one is taken off the shelf. Some organisations may also seek external providers and the web is awash with them.

This same pattern relating to people development to improve business productivity has existed for years yet very few providers, internal or external look beyond delivering the topic specific knowledge. They fail to ensure that the input transfers into behavioural change and tangible business results. Today, other than technical training, we know from research that the transfer of knowledge back into the workplace is poor. The training may have been great, people return to work with good intentions, then old attitude and behavioural habits kick in and soon they are back doing what they have always done. Most of the training has been a waste of time, effort and money.

There is a growing amount of evidence available today that shows the gap between knowing and doing is as wide as ever. Even Donald Kirkpatrick of training evaluation fame admitted in 2005 that there is a “devastating disconnect between learning and behaviour”. People know about theories, facts, information and so forth that are supposed to change them but in the main, it doesn’t. It is as if we are trapped in dead and obsolete maps, models and processes that cognitively we understand and can regurgitate when asked; yet we fail to take action.

A fresh approach

Fresh approach

It is crucial for both business performance and growth in today’s highly demanding world that we acknowledge we are all unique and through our different experiences, it makes us complex. Whatever the business challenge we face we all start from a different place and therefore, the journey to the point of convergence that relates to the specific topic in the context of our work, will be unique to each and every one of us. This may not be the case when it comes to providing technical knowledge, which can be learnt cognitively. However, anything that relates to attitudes and behaviours (soft skills), the input needs to start with the individual and their needs so that the journey they take is in the right direction.

As we all know, it is the games driven by negative attitudes and behaviours of people in organisations that cause so much waste in time, effort and money as disengagement surveys consistently bear witness too.

Universities have probably acknowledged they need to get everyone aligned and use the first year of a degree course to enable students to adjust to the new environment to make sure that they all start the second year from the same place. Parents will hear about their children in  the fresher year saying ‘I’ve done this at GCSE why am I doing it again?’ – to get you all on the same platform will be the echoed response.

From a different perspective Olympic 100 metres champion Usain Bolt is a fraction faster than his fellow Jamaican athlete Yohan Blake – by just over one hundredth of a second. Physically they are poles apart and therefore their training regime and methods of running has to take this into account. Even so, they both perform to an almost identical level of speed.

The importance of a good map

standard-tube-map_Page_1If a group of commuters travel to work in the centre of London via the underground, the probability is that they would all travel in from different directions.

All they need to know is where they are, where they are going and which direction they are travelling. Each person will take responsibility to get to his or her destination. They may even join colleagues at convenient parts on their journey. This is the power of having a specific map. It is obvious and occurs thousands of times each day.


This approach of people taking responsibility and making choices within clear parameters is the key to personal development and business growth. We all tend to know it, but unfortunately it doesn’t happen nearly enough. If a business has a very clear destination point relating to performance, productivity and profit then we need to devise an approach that initially allows people to make their own development and performance route that leads to success. Later, as they begin to converge, individuals can link up with fellow travellers and move forward together.

Building the foundation – reducing behavioural waste

Creating and Performance attitude and culture

Our approach is to build the foundation that might be termed ‘the prequel’ to enable people to achieve this by developing their own attitude and behavioural map – the Mind Fit Map. Once they become aware of where they consistently operate from on their map they can identify those routine behavioural activities that they do that either cause wasted effort and underperformance or those that cause increased performance. Once they recognise where they are and what they do to keep themselves in a particular place on the map then they can choose to change direction if they need too. These insights occur during the first day of exploration so their convergence takes place rapidly.

Simply by stopping those activities that lead to poor performance (behavioural waste), which may include prevarication, conflict, poor timekeeping, underperformance or disengagement they will immediately have a meaningful impact on productivity. All these activities can be costed so that by stopping them it will simply demonstrate the effectiveness and be valued against the cost of the development programme. Then, by replacing that behavioural waste with positive performance focused behaviours linked to business needs, will lead to business growth – and real added value compared to the cost of the development programme. It really is that simple.

However, people need to acknowledge where they are on the map first and once accepted, they can choose to change.

Only we can choose for sustained change:

  • The direction in which to travel
  • To change and influence our performance
  • To become who we are capable of becoming and not who we believe we are

We need to accept that any change has to be inside-out rather than someone else deciding what we need if we are going to make an impact on people and the business. Each of us needs to self assess to understand where our personal journey is starting. Then we can choose to travel in the desired direction.

Is it now time for organisations to change their approach and start with attitude and behaviours?

Eliminate behavioural waste?

The Map is there, the choice is yours.

Why Mind Fit works – complex adaptive systems

Mind Fit Juggling childThe brain is probably one of the most complex adaptive systems.

A feature of complex adaptive systems is that one small change can have a big impact.

We’ve all experienced what that means, although sometimes not really noticed it. Take walking for instance. It’s actually quite complicated but unless there’s a physical issue we all managed to walk and then we started to run and never looked back.  

In many cases we don’t notice the small changes we need to make because we’re not aware of what’s actually happening. Take the Mind Fit journey of Annaliese.

Annaliese is a biochemist with a large pharmaceutical company. Her life is one hectic round of meetings, analysing data and sharing it with colleagues, managing deadlines, keeping up to date with projects throughout the company and ensuring she is in touch with advances being made in the industry. The result – a very stressed individual. She would describe her day as being frantic from the moment she got up. Nothing ever seemed to go right when she was getting ready to leave for work, the traffic hold-ups were always bad so that by the time she got to work her mind was already over-flowing with negativity and she felt awful. Her days were a continual rush. She could not see a way out of this situation.

With some of her colleagues she attended a Mind Fit programme. As a direct result she re-examined her daily routine and identified where the problem lay.

She quickly discovered that when she got up she ‘knew’ – or ‘believed’ – that things would always go wrong. So that was exactly what she saw and experienced. Her solution was to get up fifteen minutes earlier ‘knowing’ she had plenty of time. And the result? The rush to get ready was gone, the traffic was lighter so that by the time she arrived at work she was in the right frame of mind to tackle her job. She was able to focus better, communicate with her colleagues more professionally and within three months she said that she felt 100% better.

The first thing to notice is that everyone’s Mind Fit journey is unique. What worked for her may have no relevance to you. It’s her world and that’s what needed changing.

Also that was the first thing she changed and from there she was able to make more changes to improve her work and her life. Because she was focused and far more aware of what was actually happening. No more knee jerk reactions. The business and personal benefits will just grow and escalate from a simple, small change.

I’m sure people would have told her many times but until the tipping point for her was acknowledged, by her, nothing was going to change.

Sounds simple doesn’t it? Well it is, but you have to notice what it is that needs to change first. We can help you self-assess and find out where you are on the Mind Fit Map. The actions are then down to you.

To really take advantage of the complex adaptive systems in your organisation, get your team Mind Fit and you’ll never look back.

Mind Fit is

scientifically sound, business focused, practical and sustainable



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How Mind Fit is your team?

Behavioural waste is burning a permanent hole in your most valuable resource – people.

Businesses today are cutting down on behavioural waste at source and hiring on attitude and behaviour and not on skills and knowledge – according to recent research over 96% of companies now operate this way.

It’s ok for new hires to be ‘can do’ but how will they fit into your organisation? Have you a ‘can do’ culture already? How do you know?

There’s a simple questionnaire you can do yourself and see how Mind Fit your team are, download the Mind Fit Map here

What attitudes and behaviour prevails in your organisation?

  •  General lack of drive or energy
  •  People tend to be compliant
  •  Present at work but functions without involvement
  •  Easily overwhelmed with workloads or change
  •  High level of sickness

If that’s the case a sense of hopelessness pervades  – Can’t Do = helpless attitude and behaviours – behavioural waste pervades

or maybe here?

  •  Managers and leaders doing their own thing
  •  People have a cynical attitude
  •  Blame culture dominates
  •  Bullying and aggressive behaviours are too common

If that’s the case – Won’t Do = defensive attitude and behaviours – behavioural waste pervades

or maybe everyone is here?

  •  We’ve a happy, focused team
  •  Clear sense of purpose
  •  Driven to succeed by seeking opportunities to add value

Can Do = Mind Fit attitudes and behaviours

or as in most cases you have a mixture of can do, can’t do and won’t do? 

If you want to know where your organisation fits and see how Mind Fit your team are, download the Mind Fit Map here . 

When you’ve had time to assess your organisation, ask yourself:  how much behavioural waste have we got to deal with?, and just how much is it costing us, financially?

How do your Leaders compare?

With great ‘can do’ leaders in your business do you stand a better chance of success?

Stupid question, of course you do. A common sense thing to say and what’s more, we all believe we’re great leaders.

So why do some of us struggle? Not only when dealing with our own people but when dealing with our clients and suppliers? Maybe it’s because common sense doesn’t imply common practice.

In these changing and challenging times, a business actually needs most if not all employees thinking and acting like winners. But all too often we see activity where employees are throwing up their hands in defeat or metaphorically curling up in the foetal position. Commonly referred to as ‘learned helplessness’.

Don’t think that business life has the monopoly here – we don’t vote in elections because we can’t be bothered or it won’t make a difference even if we can be bothered. At the last council elections less than 30% actually voted – that’s the value of democracy. Politicians sometimes count on that apathy.

People are not like computers, thank goodness, but we are far more complicated beings and there are many reasons why negative and disruptive behaviour can lead to apathy, can’t be bothered and then worse, paralysis. Even great leaders may find that state a bridge too far.

How do you compare?

There are simple things you can do to see what environment you are fostering. A quick reality check – take a walk around your organisation, watch the behaviour and listen to the language. Is it a ‘can’t do’ (learned helplessness) or a ‘can do’ engaged atmosphere?

What to look for?

It’s really easy to see the difference if you focus and know what you’re looking for. One of the techniques used in the armed forces and security services is to look for abnormal, or unusual behaviour. They have trained themselves where to look for dangerous situations and can therefore react to those effectively and efficiently.

What if you asked your employees “what goes on here?”, what answers would you get?

Would you get these answers? “Our managers say their primary goal is transparency, but their idea of transparency is …so, here’s what’s going to happen.” or “we always are asked for ideas but we are never given a chance to even discuss them.”

There are no prizes to be won here – you’ll know you have a ‘can’t do’ or ‘won’t do’ organisation. The more that type of activity happens the more rooted it becomes – eventually you’ll freeze, stagnate, lose your best people when the opportunities arise.

So what has your trip around your business told you? Have you leaders who lead?

“Managers are people who do things right [but], Leaders are people who do the right thing”  Warren Bennis, 1989

Do your leaders

  • have the confidence to lead?
  • know how to ‘be’ and ‘do’ leadership in the real world?
  • link people with their performance goals?
  • know how to be results focused yet people driven?

…if they do you are on the way to success.

So that’s a relief – phew, you have great leaders.

Now what about the other half of the equation, you, the supply side? The demand side – how do your clients stack up?


Are they ’can do’ leaders or do they block your progress?