14 Years of making sure conversations are #Fierce

Susan Scott and her team at Fierce Inc are celebrating 14 years of Fierce Conversations. Susan has led the drive to make conversations in the workplace really meaningful: helping people communicate more effectively in every aspect of their lives.  

In this podcast, Susan looks at the personal challenges that lay behind the creation of Fierce, and its transformational ideas and principles. And she looks to the future of leadership where connectivity and transparency will be key. You can find out about our next Fierce workshops here.



A Yes, is a Yes, is a Yes?

Tasha George thinks of the impact of the different ways we say Yes

Doing it differently

I was talking to a good friend of mine about a time recently when my usual behaviour and instinct to a choice was to say ‘no’ but a tiny yet powerful championing voice was shouting ‘Yes’ and it was so compelling that I said yes – and it turned out to be the right thing to do.


This, I said, is different to someone else I know who automatically says ‘Yes’ to everything even before it has reached their brain. They say yes and then find out what needs to happen in order to make it brilliant afterwards. It has served them well.


Nearly, nearly, nearly, Yes

This is that yes that has to make it through layers of wadding first – its in there, waiting to be given the time to be voiced but the wadding has to be taken off first. It can cause delay and I guess the risk is that someone else gets the chance before we do!



I do this. I really mean yes and yet the word no comes out. Often I regret it, sometimes I can backtrack but it does mean that I miss out – usually in my personal life and it is something that I want to pay attention to this year. Maybe taking my time before answering and extroverting my thoughts will help.


What have I missed? And what does your way gain/cost you?


By Tasha George

Influencing Open Workshop at St Giles Training Suite

Fabulous Venue

We have used some amazing venues for our Open Workshops and were delighted to be invited to work with St Giles Hospice for the January Influencing Dates. Carol was so helpful with the practicalities of organising the event and when we arrived the room was even better than we had expected. There was a huge amount of natural daylight, clever layout and good quality equipment to use throughout our two days. The staff throughout St Giles were amazing - thankyou.


Mixed Up Delegates

Aside from the juicy content and sparkling delivery from David and myself (!), the feedback and engagement from the varied delegates on this workshop was priceless. On our open programmes, people come for a wide range of organisations from the very large to the self employed. This time, some of the sectors overlapped a little which led to rich examples for the behavioural sessions and everyone was generous in their listening and discovering to find out more about one anothers issues and points to tackle. I am thrilled to see that links have been made between the group which will last beyond the workshop.


Feedback about PDA

Thankyou to all of you – despite not taking us up on the offer of a video testimonial! Your feedback is very much appreciated.


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360 ways to measure Influencing....well nearly.

People Development Associates measure Influencing

Ask people around you

Some of the best opportunities for seeing how much you have developed as an influencer can be done with a 360 degree feedback questionnaire. What this does is ask people around you – at all levels – to comment on your influencing so if this is done before and after your training you can compare the scores and get a quantitative as well as qualitative score of how you are doing.

Get a brilliant questionnaire that works online

We have been working closely with Reactive 360 for several years and find their online 360 questionnaire brilliant! They have created questions that reflect the 6 tools we know make a great influencer so you can directly relate your learning to how it is being put into practice. You provide the names of the people you want to nominate for feedback and then they will be sent the questionnaire. You also comment on your own influencing and this is all collected and presented in a way that can be as detailed or as broad brush as you prefer. You are rated according to frequency of doing a particular behaviour so the feedback is easy to score and there is also space to provide comments if people want to elaborate or give some particular information.


Look at the results with someone

Its your call – when the feedback is in, you can look at the feedback and comments and do with it what you will but our suggestion is that you talk it through with a coach, mentor or colleague. This can help to see patterns and talk through any learning points that may catch you by surprise.


Comments are generous gems

Lightbulb moments are often presented in the comments section – these blank slates are spaces for people to offer their contributions and some interesting things can be prompted after looking at the set questions.


You are greater than the sum of the parts….

We love the 360 questionnaire and the insights it brings, but we do know that the feedback is a snapshot of your influencing. For this reason it is a juicy rich measure and one that should be looked at but not treated as the absolute truth.

Try our mini measurer and the results will be emailed to you!

Dates for your Spangly new calendar

The dates for the 2013 PDA workshops are below, the venues are yet to be confirmed and we will make sure the details are on the website as soon as we have booked them. We will no doubt be visiting our friends at The Studio, Birmingham and Manchester and if you have any suggestions for great venues across the UK then please do let me know!  

Fierce Conversations 2 day Workshop

March 19th/20th Birmingham

June 11th/12th Manchester

September 24th/25th London

December 3rd/4th Birmingham


Influencing Skills 2 day Workshop Venue TBC

May 1st/2nd

July 23rd/24th

Oct 16th/17th


You can book a place on www.contactpda.com


Trevor Howard’s 10 Top Tips for Leaders

Following a conversation over lunch with the inspirational Sarah Vogel whilst I was back in the UK on a recent visit, Sarah asked if I could pass on some of the lessons I have learnt over the years on managing staff. My Number 1 Rule of Management

 “You’re only as good as your team and its weakest member”

 2. Passion

This starts with you as leader, if the leader doesn’t have the passion for the job, you can be pretty sure that the team won’t either! If you don’t have the passion for the job, find a job that you do. Work is a whole lot easier when you are passionate about it. Only hire people with passion for the job, it’s easy to train staff how you want the job done but near impossible to train them to have a passion for it.

 3. Staff Come First:

Despite being a very customer service orientated industry, I believe staff come first. Sounds a bit controversial when everyone is telling you that the customer rules?  However for me, if your team is unhappy, how will they ever deliver the kind of customer service that you need to have a successful business?

4. Get Them Onboard:

Over the years I have tried many ways to manage groups and by far the most successful has been by ensuring that your team are involved in as many decision making elements of your business that you can. If they have input they are far more likely to take ownership and work to ensure that it is a success rather than just what they have been told to do. I personally cringe when I see management that still rule by fear!

5. Ownership

Probably the best piece of advice I have ever had, is to pretend the business you work in, is your business! Now I work for local government and there are so many policies to abide by, but I do my best to make sure the whole team try to act as if it was their gym. Our motto is “if you wouldn’t do it in your business, it’s not right for this one either”.

6. Goal Setting and the 1% rule

“You don’t need to reinvent the wheel”  so to encourage the team to make improvements I set them monthly challenges of improving a particular area and to see if they can make at least a 1% improvement. Invariably they achieve a lot more as they brain storm and try new ideas. You need to allow the team to make mistakes otherwise they will stop coming up with new ideas.

By doing this kind of exercise each month, they understand exactly what we are trying to achieve as it is measured and we achieve a lot more overall over the year as a result.

7. Team Strengths

Just like a sporting team, your staff will all bring different strengths to the team. We work hard to use people to their strengths and to get them to help the rest of the team who are weak in this area. Example, I have a staff member who is brilliant with computers. We get her to improve our systems and then organise training sessions with the rest of the team over a period time to bring them all up to speed. Just like a sports team, there is no point playing your team out of position every week! Also just like a team coach, some team members will need more direction or coaching whilst others just need support and encouragement. Your job is to identify this.

8. Lead by Example

I chuckle to myself when I see episodes of Undercover Boss at just how out of touch that some bosses can get. Granted I don’t run a big business but I do my best to make sure that I understand any of the issues that the team are experiencing, whether this is different shift patterns, problem customers or something as simple as cleaning the equipment. If your team know you are willing to do the task, they at least know that you experience the same problems and it’s a great way to stay in touch with your team and customers at the same time.

9. Bigger Picture

You often hear staff complaining that management are all idiots. This is often down to a lack of communication. I try to include the team in as many issues as possible as explained earlier. I also like to give each of them a chance to swap roles for a few days/hours where possible to give them a better insight and to share as much information with the team as possible. This gives them a better understanding of what we are trying to achieve. As mentioned earlier you also need to allow the team to make mistakes as part of the learning curve otherwise they will not want to challenge themselves.

10. Have Fun / Reward

Whenever you talk about rewards, the immediate thought is about monetary rewards. However this is often not possible, I find a good old fashioned Thank You can be just as effective. It’s very demoralising  for staff if all we do is find fault, so I prefer to catch them doing good things and praise them in front of everyone. I also use a selection of thank you, well done cards etc and those going beyond their role often get rewarded by being allowed to leave early or have a longer lunch break where possible. Usually by me doing their job for that period, but most importantly we try to have fun in jobs. A happy team is a productive team.


Trevor Howard is an expat Brit now working in Perth, Western Australia as a Health & Fitness Manager. He worked in the construction industry for 15yrs where he originally trained as a bricklayer before making his way into construction management. With sales and management experience also gained in the retail sector, he finally landed a dream role as Team Manager of Londons only professional Rugby League team in 1994 where he stayed for 10 years.  Following the birth of his daughter he moved to Perth where despite not knowing anyone he quickly rose through the ranks of sales once again to leading a team of over 40 staff in the Health & Fitness industry, winning the award of Best Gym in Western Australia in 2010. He often gives talks to students at Perth TAFE as well as being a member of the Fitness Australia Regional Commitee Team.

You can find out more at www.bayswater.wa.gov.au

We are glad it's chips - McCain Case Study

McCain Foods is using PDA’s influencing skills programme to support the work it is doing internally with the ‘It’s all good’ campaign. The campaign covers both the way McCain produces food and the way it does its business. “We want to ensure that everyone who comes into contact with McCain, both internally and externally, has an ‘It’s all good’ experience,” says Helen Hudson, head of learning and development at McCain Foods (GB).  

Like many businesses, the family-owned food manufacturer with 1650 employees in Britain has a much flatter business structure than in the past. This means that instead of looking up to hierarchies and authority for direction, employees increasingly have to take responsibilities and influence others themselves.


Helen Hudson says: “We want to get people influencing to build and maintain relationships as many people now work across the business with colleagues in other areas who they don’t have authority over. We want to give people the skills to influence without authority.”


Positive Influence

“What we want is to give people skills to be accountable and responsible for all their activities: to have positive influence,” Helen explains.


Helen says its PDA’s emphasis on positive influence that ties in with McCain’s It’s all good ethos. “The environment PDA create helps raise people’s self awareness about how they impact others. People may think that they are influencing in a polite way, but it may in fact be in a negative way. Feedback is encouraged throughout the 2 days from all participants.”


Interactive and relevant

McCain is using PDA’s two-day workshops followed up by PDA’s one-to-one coaching sessions for its staff. Attendees also take part in a 360 degree feedback programme before the programme and six months later so that they can see what results they’ve achieved.

“We’ve had really, really positive feedback,” says Helen about the experience of McCain people who have taken PDA’s influencing programme. “The workshops are very interactive and the tools that people learn can be applied immediately in work.

“Helen also adds that the positive results are seen in the way people change how they approach issues at work. “People are saying that they are doing things differently since they’ve been on the PDA workshop which is helping them get better results.”


Some feedback from the delegates

‘I wouldn’t have made the changes if it hadn’t been for the course’

'It has gone well, I have been Direct and it worked – she was fine with it'

‘I have put the idea from the last group exercise into action and things are going to change as a result’

'It's been working quicker than I thought it would'

‘The metaphor has really helped’

‘I got the most out of [this course]’

'My manager said I am getting better at speaking up in team meetings'

‘[someone who was on the course with me] heard me on the phone and said I was using making requests and it sounded good’

‘I think this coaching session has been useful’

I am amazed how much it helped, instead of it being left on the desk it was dealt with straight away

‘I do think this is the only course I have been on where I have thought yes I can do this’