How To Write A Brilliant Report

How To Write A Brilliant Report

We are judged on how we communicate all of the time: verbal communication is for the here and now, can be ignored or accepted BUT written communication is dealt with very differently. Colleagues hold onto written material for reference for long periods of time and will refer to it for a long time.

So you need to make every word count and to have a document that both convey your message and which is valued by those receiving it.

Five factors should be used in shaping your document:

  1. Identity: think carefully about who you want to be in the document. Are you acting as an Observer, Reporter, Explorer or Commenter. In knowing this clearly you can then decide how much detail should go into each section or component of the document.
  2. Purpose: be very clear exactly WHAT you are writing about! Similarly WHY you are writing, WHO has requested that this work is being written and the remit of your document.
  3. Audience: who exactly is the target audience? Is there more than one audience for the document? What is the level and capability of those reading the document, observers and interested parties. What will all of the different audience groups do with the content?
  4. Code: what is the format, style and structure of the document? Identify your evidence base and what does each audience type want from the document and its content, style and recommendations?
  5. Experience: carefully evaluate your prior experience of the topic/subject matter of the document? Do you fully understand what you have been asked to do? (If there is any doubt on this you MUST clarify any issues ahead of starting the document).

Get the factors identified before writing to make sure that you produce a quality product!

Good Luck!

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How To Give Fool Proof Answers Under Pressure

How To Give Fool Proof Answers Under Pressure

When you are under pressure, in fast-moving negotiations or conversations, you must get it right first time as there are rarely second chances to correct a mistake.

The BID framework will give you this clear advantage if used carefully and correctly.

  1. Background: summarise the issue so that it is clear what all present are discussing and thinking about.
  2. Issue: what is the problem or topic we are discussing? What is at stake if we do not decide today or if we take a specific course of action? “If we do nothing we risk X happening” is a good starting point for the discussion.
  3. Decision: “The best way of dealing with X is …..” opens up the discussion nicely with you able to put your views across with everyone listening. Try to give more than one option but once tie decision has been made close with the benefits of what you have agreed.

BID will give you control.

Good Luck!

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Thinking On Your Feet – How To Do This Effortlessly

Thinking On Your Feet – How To Do This Effortlessly

We have all be caught out at one time or another – put on the spot and asked a tricky or difficult question that required a careful and considered answer but time is against you.

The weaker amongst us will throw out a few garbled words, utter some rubbish to deflect the moment, give a disjointed and irrelevant response while those around either smile inwardly or just cringe for you.

Even worse a more confident colleague or person in the room offers a really good answer and the moment is gone – would cannot come back from that position and you are left frustrated and embarrassed at your stumbled and garbled response.

Thinking on your feet is a critical business skill: managing well in a high-powered business situation separates out the successful from the not-so-successful in business and in life. What’s more annoying is that it only comes naturally to a select few – the rest of us must learn the hard way!

What can you do when you are in that situation?

  • Try to remain calm and focused: use your logical mindset and try not to let your breathing and stress levels get in the way.
  • Do not panic! Never get drawn into making statements or giving opinions that you cannot later substantiate. Covering up your lack of knowledge like this is a very dangerous game to play.
  • Think strategy: what are you trying to get out of the situation and how can you then see your answer further along in the conversation.
  • Be prepared: a meeting or a negotiation will be a testing experience so think ahead and consider what the likely questions or challenges might look and feel like. Put yourself in the shoes of others and think what they might come out with.
  • Quick thinkers use time well; ask the questioner to repeat the question or to clarify wat they are asking. The question will always be much clearer the second time around. Failing that repeat the question back to the originator as this also creates thinking space for you to prepare your response.
  • If you do not have an answer ready to fire back this is not a honest: if you need time to consider a response then say this as the other party will appreciate your honesty rather than just diving in with an inaccurate or wrong response!
  • “Can I take a moment to think about that question?” is also a good response which buys thinking time and shows that you are serious about giving a quality reply. The hostile audience will always pick holes in what you say if you say something without really considering it, thereby creating more tension and stress for you.

In terms of your response always aim to speak less and say more! Make sure that your response has brevity and impact. Think logically and carefully making the choice of words used work for you and not against you!

Never be afraid to ask more questions before you reply; this is a good approach in clarifying the point of the question and a key factor in giving a top-quality response. If you broaden a question out to avoid being sucked into a minefield of technical and narrow data.

Never ignore your body language which will give away clues as to your thinking and stress: palms up and palms down have very different messages to your audience (palms up invite others into the conversation whilst palms down indicate that you are in control, are serious and are making a key point).

If the audience is still hostile and still seeking answers try to calm things down by asking what is the cause of their concerns and show consideration for their views. This will then quickly bring them around to your message if you then tailor your responses carefully.

Always remember that snap comments and decisions rarely work and will entrap you further down the line!

Good Luck!

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The Skills Of The NOW Manager

The Skills Of The NOW Manager

The pace of change is speeding up; commercial insecurity, expanding markets, the need for organisations to act now rather than watch the competition hoover up customers, less time than ever to accomplish tasks with continually reducing pockets of resources to do this with.

It is only going to get worse.

The NOW Manager has a different view of the mechanics of the job: the NOW Manager sees things in a new light.

The NOW Manager:

  • Ignores the traditional hierarchy
  • Rejects management silos and breaks down barriers
  • Throws away the individual focus and promotes a collaborative and cooperative approach
  • Puts real emphasis and value upon imagination and new ideas, however unlikely they may seem
  • Never waits for the analysis and number-crunching to be done, rather they move forward quickly and take risks
  • Sees needs in the market and among customers and reacts very quickly
  • Uses optimism to break down barriers of pessimism

How many of these traits do you sign up to but, more importantly, deliver?

Be bold – be a NOW Manager!

Good Luck!

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Management Worries And How To Deal With Them

Management Worries And How To Deal With Them

We all worry about things at work, lose sleep, feel anxious and see our concentration and attention falter the more we worry and stress over issues.

The reality of the situation is never clear to us because we are simply too close to the issues. A more objective and neutral view on problems in a wide variety of scenarios throws up the following picture:

  • 40% of your concerns or worries will never actually happen! Lighten up and focus on what will happen!
  • 30% of your concerns or worries are from the past! Move on, forget them!
  • 12% of your concerns or worries are groundless: it is your mind playing tricks with you!
  • 10% of your concerns or worries are relatively minor in the big scheme of things. Experience will show you this!
  • 8% of your concerns or worries are real but only half of them (a mere 4%) are out of your control!

So, what looked like a huge weight of issues to deal with simply breaks down to a mere 4% of the total amount of worry and stress that you are carrying.

Ever wonder why senior managers never appear stressed? The answer lies in the detail above!

Good Luck!

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How Can I Succeed In My Job?

How Can I Succeed In My Job?

Success in any job or situation is all about recognising three areas in your activity that need to be identified and then recognised for what they ARE, not what you think they MIGHT be!

  1. Things that you are concerned or worried about or concerned over but which are outside your control or influence. These will always be there in some form but should not be your focus.
  2. Things that you are not concerned or worried about – the so what issues?
  3. Things you can influence and want to change – this is the area where you need to put all your energy, passion and drive.

This may be a difficult process as we all focus upon point 1 and put less of our energy and attention into point 3. Once you can master this your effectiveness and efficiency will dramatically increase.

Good Luck!

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How To Implement Change In 7 Effective Steps

How To Implement Change In 7 Effective Steps

  1. Have a strong and clear reason WHY you want to make a change: this should be easily justified the minute someone challenges you.
  2. Define the goal that you want to achieve before you start: write this down many times and refine the document so that you can see exactly what it is you are trying to achieve.
  3. Plan and define your priorities in achieving the goal: make this very clear.
  4. Have strong reserves of self-belief that you can and will make a positive difference through your plan.
  5. Invite other to join in and make a difference to the outputs.
  6. Take personal responsibility for your actions: only you can, and should, own them.
  7. Take action and measure the results of the difference that you have made: have you achieved what you set out to do in point 1?

Good Luck!

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Management Meddling – If It Is Broken Never Fix It

Management Meddling – If It Is Broken Never Fix It

There are always good and convincing reasons why we should never rush to mend something, despite what we might be expected to do and wade in to mend something that is broken.

Things break when they are at the end of their natural life: cars do die, they cannot go on forever!

Products have a life cycle. Anyone purchased a black and white television lately?

Even if your broken product/system/service is fixable and still may have a decent life yet to run there are still probably plenty of reasons NOT to get it fixed.

So, how do you decide?

  • Where is it on the lifecycle? Are you putting off the inevitable?
  • What is the opportunity cost of fixing it? What new ideas will be starved of time and resource by fixing your project?
  • Is the money spent on the project returning all it could? Other ideas in development are more likely to deliver a greater return. Take off the blinkers and be brave!

Good Luck!

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How To Beat The Dreaded Chinese Whispers

How To Beat The Dreaded Chinese Whispers

Information always leaks out – no matter how hard we try to avoid this and people will always create nuisance and mischief by adding in more detail that suits their purpose and goals.

Making sure a coherent, clear and effective message is communicated is an essential management skill.

Try the following approaches to avoid getting into that messy situation:

  • Make sure that your reputation is intact: a spotless reputation is critically important so beat your deadlines, meet all targets, keep your promises and rise above any level of suspicion.
  • Get in there first: make sure that your team is fully in the loop all of the time. Make your meetings effective and your communication style impeccably correct. Every time.
  • Identify trouble-makers first: spot those who circulate rumours in their tracks. If these people are genuinely worried or concerned about work matters pacify them and reassure at every opportunity.
  • Make sure everyone has plenty to do: rumour and gossip often starts when staff have too much time on their hands. Remember the saying “The Devil makes work for idle hands” and never forget it!
  • Share important and large news items as soon as possible: never wait for the full picture to emerge because when you have all of the information it is already too late! This gives fuel to the rumour mill and once this begins it is very hard to stop.
  • Get feedback: once the news is out ask for a reaction and be prepared to deal with the issues that get raised in a caring and even-handed manner. Be honest and if you do not know the answer promise to find it and report back.
  • Be available and keep the talking going: once the news is out be there to answer questions and repeat the message if necessary.
  • Rise above it all: never get sucked into a rumour cyclone. This only fuels the fire and makes life increasingly difficult in the long term.

Avoiding the temptation to become involved in rumour, gossip and Chinese Whispers is an important part of being a successful manager – getting a poor reputation in this area is VERY difficult if not impossible to shake off.

Good Luck!

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