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

[email protected]

elizabethtoogood.com

Are you a super model?

It is August. Usually it is the month of holidays and excitement. This year it does not seem to be quite like that. Most people are talking about being pinged and there is lots of self-isolation. You have my sympathy if it has happened to you. I have just come out of ten days when I had plans to do many things all of which had to be postponed.
 
Thank goodness for the Olympics. There are lots of great events to enjoy. I am finding it fascinating to learn how new events work. There are always surprises, but this year against the background of a strange training period, a lost year, last minute withdrawals because of possible infection and athletes brave enough to say “my mental strength is not good enough to do this just now” it is even more knife edge. There have been wonderful performances and some tragedies. I am sure that our hearts go out for the competitors who suffer those and their friends and families. Having had a GB rower godson I remember the highs and lows of his career. Learning how to deal with them is a true life lesson but it does not feel like that at the time. Sporting careers are so short and an infection or an injury at the wrong moment means you miss your selection opportunity – possibly forever.
 
So a huge thank you to those who have trained so hard, are giving us so much pleasure and relieving the pandemic woes.

This month, because of work and the Olympics I have been thinking a lot about behaviour modelling. We all know the old adage “Do as I say not as I do”. We have probably said it jokingly to our children. Often in families it is part of the folklore that Mum or Dad have really bad habits, know about them and do not want their offspring to fall into the same trap so they go on and on about not doing whatever it may be. This is a running joke between you and your children; I would not dream of making any comment!
 
However, I am concerned about behaviour modelling at work. Do you do things in the way you want your colleagues to do it? It is a massive question. You haven’t got where you are today without learning effective ways to do things but you may also have learned some bad habits. I know that I have two which have got me into trouble over the years. The first has been insisting on being at my desk by 8am every morning . This has always been a choice because I am a morning person, I prefer to travel before the rush hour rather than in it and I love some quiet time to get a good start to the day before the phone starts and the rest of the world wakes up. However, it is hugely intimidating for people who work around me, especially those who have less flexibility about their early morning regime and those who are simply not larks. I am told they hate to find me hard at work when they arrive often harassed and need that first caffeine shot. It makes them feel unnecessarily guilty.

It is also made worse by my second bad habit. I insist on planning at the end of today what I will do tomorrow – however late it makes me leaving work. If I started planning early I would leave earlier. Again it intimidates those who work around me because I do not go home when I should and it looks like I work a long day. Perhaps I do. It certainly means other people know I might be available later in the day so know they can catch me before I go home. The world has changed and now more of us work from home these examples of behaviour are not as obvious but you see my point. However often I tell people they should work sensible hours, or as I suggest they should canter through their work so there is always room to gallop when necessary, they see me behaving differently.
 
I could give you lots of other examples of my working habits which might be good for me but I would not want colleagues to adopt. These are mostly about personal productivity. I hope that I always model attention to detail, conscientiousness, transparent communication with the customer, confessing and apologising when I make an error and collaborative working with colleagues. However there are people who do not. Let’s take admitting a mistake. There are plenty of organisations where the boss cannot bear to say they were wrong. They tie themselves in knots to avoid being found out or taking responsibility. If they make it a way of life to behave like this then their team members will pick up the same habits. If people see us doing something that is what is remembered not what we say, this will be deemed to be the way we want it done. Worse still if we pick people up on it we might be seen as creating one rule for me and one for you – totally divisive.

So how about a quick audit:

Thinking about tasks you do in the job

  • What do you do that you would like your colleagues to do?
  • What do you do that you would hate them to copy
  • Do you need to change your behaviour?

Thinking about your working methods

  • What do you do that you would like your colleagues to do?
  • What do you do that you would hate them to copy
  • Do you need to change your behaviour?

Thinking about behaviours that affect how the team works

  • What do you do that you would like your colleagues to do?
  • What do you do that you would hate them to copy
  • Do you need to change your behaviour?

There are two extra tests for me. I had a wonderful aunt who always said, “Do nothing when you are alone that you would not want anyone else to see” and “If you saw what you had done in the headlines of a red top paper would you be embarrassed?” Both really good tests.

In some ways the greatest compliments are things like “Steve would never do that”, “That isn’t Trina’s way of doing things”, “That must be a misunderstanding Pete would always check”.

Your audit is vital for day to day working and making your organisation one you can always be proud of. It is also vital in terms of describing your organisation’s working values to either a possible employee or potential client.  These values are what make you different and often are what make people trade with you.

None of this is rocket science but it is important. I would be fascinated to know what you think and what works for you. Please let me know.

If as you read this and it resonates with you; 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. Maybe you need to think more about dance partners or just want an objective view of how things are! So pick up the phone now.

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