I’ve been a business mentor for many years.

Shaun invited me to add some of my thoughts to the Thompson Balch website and I am delighted to do so and meet you all.  So who is this woman with the funny name and what is her take on the world? I trade as Elizabeth Toogood Insightful Business Mentor but what does that mean?

I am a businesswoman of mature years – well old really! I have been working for over 50 years having started at 12 with my mother in her wine shop. My career proper began in road transport and has spanned retail, motor retailing and consulting in both big limited companies, privately owned businesses and my own businesses. If you want to know more then get in touch and I will tell you some of the stories of crises, chutzpah, strikes and serendipitous events. I am now a business mentor helping people develop their enterprises effectively to deliver whatever outcomes they aim for.

My shorthand is this “ Helping you and your business grow. Together we find your focus and craft the plan to build your success. Together we’ll create your legend, we’ll make it a reality”.

Of course, this is different depending on the circumstances but let’s unpick this.

01234 273644 / 07968 822275

hello@elizabethtoogood.com

elizabethtoogood.com

A Thought for April

It is April. I love April with its wonderful spring flowers and the trees in full foliage. I love the forsythia and the pussy willows. We have even had some wonderful sunshine and warm days. Mothering Sunday heralds Easter. Shops are full of Easter eggs and bunnies and hot cross buns. The food festival at the end of Lent. I am already hearing families talking about what they will do during the Easter holidays. Adventures are being planned.

We are all aware of just how few people are seeking work at the moment. We are all looking for them and want them to stay with us.

I was fortunate to spend time recently with trainee nurses. They were bright and shiny and eighteen or nineteen years old. Their motivation for joining the profession was always the same they wanted to care for people. When challenged that this meant dealing with other people’s vomit, urine, blood, faeces and tears, people in high states of anxiety, none of that bothered them. Of the ones I met some were on apprenticeships and some on degree courses. They were all on their first work placement. It is a baptism of fire. They get thrown onto a ward and are expected to work alongside experienced Health Care Assistants or nurses. And I mean work not observe but under supervision. Those nurses were often under pressure and the ward was almost always short-staffed but the trainees were nurtured, shown how to do things, supported whilst they did things and given language to help them explain to patients. I was there when three of them came to the end of their placements; their experience had served to fuel their commitment to the profession not to put them off. 

To me this was proper induction. There was no sugar coating and certainly no concessions to their youth and inexperience. Recruits were helped to understand the job thoroughly and able to judge whether it was for them. There was a mixture of doing and talking. There was delegated responsibility. There was rarely a reprimand just a suggestion of a better way. There was always an experienced person close by to ask if there was a query. And there was always room for innovation. By now you will have realised I was one of the patients on the ward. One of these young things found me wide awake and in excruciating pain at 3am. There was not much she could do, so she offered me a cup of tea –it was the best cup of tea I have ever had. Another made me toast at 10pm because I would be nil by mouth from midnight and she thought it was too long before my next meal. 

All this is quite traditional induction but it works.

So how do we do in the business world? We are desperate to find and keep the right people. We talk a good game as we recruit people. If we are looking for an apprentice, an intern or a trainee we paint a picture but in those first few weeks do we let the newbie loose to discover whether this is really for them? Perhaps we do because we are governed and helped by people at colleges. 

What about other newcomers to our organisations? In these days when we employ fewer and fewer people and rely more and more on technology, it is even more vital that we find and keep the right people. I am assuming that you are good at recruitment. You know how to define a job properly and then how to interview and use all the other available techniques to secure the right person. But how do they tell whether this is the place for them and the job for them? It might have the same job title as something they have done before but that does not mean it is the same job. Sometimes I think we shield them from the reality of our situation fearing it might put them off.

So how do we do in the business world? We are desperate to find and keep the right people. We talk a good game as we recruit people. If we are looking for an apprentice, an intern or a trainee we paint a picture but in those first few weeks do we let the newbie loose to discover whether this is really for them? Perhaps we do because we are governed and helped by people at colleges. 

What about other newcomers to our organisations? In these days when we employ fewer and fewer people and rely more and more on technology, it is even more vital that we find and keep the right people. I am assuming that you are good at recruitment. You know how to define a job properly and then how to interview and use all the other available techniques to secure the right person. But how do they tell whether this is the place for them and the job for them? It might have the same job title as something they have done before but that does not mean it is the same job. Sometimes I think we shield them from the reality of our situation fearing it might put them off.

It seems to me there are three stages to being open and honest:

The recruitment process when you portray the job and the organisation – the good and the bad.
The first day when you have an opportunity to make a good first impression. I cannot resist giving you an example. I once arrived at a new job at 8.30. It was 9.30 when my boss rolled in. He said, “I have not prepared an induction programme for you. I thought as an HR person you could write your own”. Guess who had decided she had made a mistake by the time she went home on the first day?
The probationary period is when you can make sure the person understands the organisation and what it stands for; the job and the standard of performance you expect and how to deal with and talk to customers, suppliers and other employers.

In my nursing example, so much of this was done one on one whilst working. That might be less easy in your environment. However, with some thought and planning, it can be accomplished.

By the end of the probationary period you should have a happy, committed member of the team. If not ask yourself why not. Did it go wrong at the recruitment stage? Did it go wrong once they got into the muck and bullets because it was not what they expected? Did it go wrong because you were not as you described? Perhaps you micromanaged them or gave them so much leeway they did not know which way to go. Perhaps it was a happy place to be or perhaps the person was so terrified of needing permission or making a mistake they fluffed what they were doing.

In 2022 it is even more important that we get the right people in the right places and that wonderful gestalt happens and one and one make three. How are you doing with this? 

If you need some help then perhaps we should talk. If as you read this it resonates with you or someone you might know; if you like my ideas and values; if you want to develop your business or yourself; then please give me a call. I love speaking with people, off the meter, to help them explore possibilities and whether/how to take them forward. If you want an objective view of how things are in your business pick up the phone now and let’s have a chat.

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