What do you think are the Facilitators Strengths?

Here is the feedback from Fierce Conversations with Emily Parker and Tasha George, May 2013


“Both facilitators were very friendly, relaxed in approach and took the time to listen to participants view and give feedback to support understanding. They promoted group discussions and learning very well”


“subject knowledge”


“Intervention and guidance – making taught concepts meaningful through the exercises and offering good challenges and observations”


“Good Fierce knowledge”


“ Clarity, Time Keeping/Pace, Mix of theory and exercises”

Implementing change by Jennie Bracewell, Le Monde Petit Nursery

'I suspect like most companies we have had many staffing issues over the years, which have been quite costly especially in management time to resolve the problems.  

As part of a strategy to change we decided to try and adopt a “coaching culture” within the workplace to try and help empower the workforce.


We enlisted the help of PDA to help with the thought process, of implementing the change.


My biggest revelation throughout the journey has been the recruitment process. Often I’ve found myself in the position of filling a post out of time pressured need. This has been the root of all our staffing issues.


We have now developed a recruitment process to dig into the passion, pride and values of the candidate.


It’s been a costly lesson to learn and I cannot believe the answer was so simple, take your time with the recruitment process, it is better to wait for the right candidate than take on someone who you know “isn’t just right”...'


by Jennie Bracewell, Managing Director of Le Monde Petit

Learners of today are the Leaders of tomorrow and I can assure you ……….they are Fierce! by Nicole Fowles

Nicole contacted us at PDA after reading (and loving!) Fierce Conversations. At the time she was a Deputy Head at a local Primary School but has since taken up a post as Advisory Deputy Head teacher at a collaborative of 19 schools in the Borough of Solihull. She joins us on our open Fierce workshop in Birmingham this month to take her Fierce Conversations Accreditation so she can bring her passion for this powerful work to school leaders and students. Here she tells us what happened when she started to use Fierce in the classroom:  

Journey begins with Fierce®

Through my own journey of engaging with ‘Fierce’ and under the guidance of Sarah Vogel (PDA Ltd), I had the opportunity to trial some lessons with learners between the ages of 8-11 years old. This revealed several insights into the possibilities that delivering ‘Fierce conversations’ could bring to our young people. In addition, the potential it has to impact pedagogy, assessment and apply more readily what we know about the learning process. This is just a brief outline of the effect that the sessions had on the classes and also the implications it raises for teaching.


 'Outstanding' Elements

The sessions encompassed some key elements of what would be considered ‘Outstanding’ under the Inspection Framework 2012 and these were: Passion, High levels of pupil participation, Thinking skills, discussion skills, high level questioning and Challenge. Pupils were learning something ‘fresh and new’ and this led to higher engagement and generated an air of curiosity about what they were learning. Due to the content being fairly challenging in the form of the FITS Field guide, I adapted the material and created new resources while maintaining all key principles and messages. This ensured that different learning styles were included and much attention was given to the style of delivery and the range of activities available.


Understanding Mokitas and asking for feedback

The skills that pupils learnt through this programme began to transfer to other areas of their learning as well as their lives. An example of this came through them understanding about ‘Mokitas’. I shared with the children how we could use this within other lessons and invited them to express how and when they might apply this concept. Within the same week, they were asking for feedback in areas such as mathematics and being more vocal about what they didn’t understand. In short, the number of conversations they actively sought out increased. They became confident to interrogate their view of their own learning as well as become more open about what they struggled with. This improved their learning across the curriculum because they made the connection of how important it is to have that conversation about their learning and the benefits of doing so. Being so ‘real’ about their learning can be alien for many children because they spend a lot of energy doing the exact opposite. This is down to their desperation to ‘look smart’ rather than actively engaging in their learning process (See Carol Dweck – Self theories and Mindset).


Provoked my thinking

As a teacher, leader and educationalist, this really provoked my thinking about how the system maybe partly responsible for un-doing the ‘Fierceness’ already so very apparent and present in our young people. The polarised standpoints we take on this issue, when the world of Business (apprentice programmes and young enterprise) is literally crying out to Education to equip young Leaders with these skill sets is at the very least disappointing. The same can be said of other areas of Teaching and Learning with a prime example being questioning. By the time children reach upper Key stage 2 we used ‘Higher order’ questioning techniques to support progress and thinking. Teachers labour over the fact that they want pupils to ask more questions themselves, yet, my experience in early years education tells me that young children are excellent at asking questions that start with the words ‘Why and How?’ Therefore, what happens in-between? What messages do we give these young leaders? It really is a crucial debate to be had! Having said all of that, I am thrilled at the prospect of having a real and tangible solution at hand. Even though there is some way to travel, what a positive and enchanting pathway lies before us!


Realisation hit me like a truck

After I had completed a number of sessions with the youngsters, the realisation hit me like truck one day as I went about my daily leadership walk between class to class just checking out the learning and visiting staff. On entering the room a voice projected itself over the tops of heads…”Miss, have you come in to teach us more about conversations?” As I scanned the room I realised that pupils had stopped in their tracks and were waiting eagerly for the reply. Some turned to look at me; some looked at the plucky young man who asked the question, some just froze mid- task and didn’t make a move as they were sitting on a table with their class teacher. “Not today, but that doesn’t mean you can’t have a Fierce conversation with someone else.” Even before I had reached the end of my sentence, a wave of disappointed sighs and expressions exploded across the room. As I walked down the corridor and back to my office the expression on that child’s face stayed with me. His image spoke to me and immediately I contacted Sarah to set up a time to feedback about the materials. Some may say how effectively he interrogated reality – he wanted to know then and there – what I am learning today? Oh – and is it going to be relevant because that ‘conversation stuff’ helps me at school and at home. This is extremely profound because it is something that teachers everywhere battle with. Walk into any school and you will find committed, hard-working teachers that share a common issue and that is called trying to develop pupil ownership. There are whole companies and methods just dedicated to improving pupil engagement and participation. It certainly sent a shockwave through me!


I embark on the facilitation programme

I am about to embark on the facilitation programme and feel humbled by the outlook of where this could lead. Not solely for myself, my family, my friends and colleagues but for all of those young people and young leaders who may just get to hold onto their ‘Fierce’ nature. They somehow could get the chance to let it blossom, receive some guidance and above all, be supported in and allowed to have the conversations that could change their lives for the better. That alone, without question, should give us the reason to take this forward.


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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Fierce Conversations Workshop recommended by David Bryant and Paul O'Keeffe

  We were pleased to work with David Bryant, Area Manager  London & Surrey at Andrews & Partners Ltd on our Fierce Open Workshop


'I have held various management positions in a very target-focused industry for 14 years - challenging and ‘confronting’ people is very much part of the job, albeit not an enjoyable one. Now, having received two days of ‘Fierce Conversations’ training from Sarah, David and Paul, I have seen this area in a different, and certainly more positive, light. The topics covered, and techniques trained, focus absolutely on clear, ‘high quality’ conversations as one might expect - they are certainly ‘fierce’, but not aggressive. By following objectives including ‘provoke learning’ and ‘enrich relationships’, ‘Fierce Conversations’ ensures that the important issues are raised, but more than that, they are effectively dealt with (there is a difference!). From my experience, putting my learning into practice has enhanced the quality of my conversations, and in turn, has increased the ‘wins’ for me and my team'


And Paul O'Keeffe, Partner at Thomas Tosh, Dumfries.


'Fierce Conversations is one of the best courses I have ever attended. When you are on the course, and using the accompanying manuals, hard to crack problems get a massive dose of sense. So you can go back to work, get on better with your colleagues, and achieve what you really want.'

Swinging from trees? Yes please with Rachel Haslam from Team Academy

I have to admit I was sceptical when I found out the PDA away day was at an outward bounds centre and would involve team building and problem solving. I was under the false impression that I wasn't going to learn anything and wasn't going to enjoy it. How wrong I was! Rachels welcome was warm and engaging and very quickly I realised that our team was going to gain a great deal from the day which was crafted perfectly between thinking sessions and activities.  

The photos on our facebook page are evidence that we did indeed cover some scary and stretching physical challenges that we got most from working as a team, but I was surprised at how much learning I got from the day - and have continued to glean after the event.


Rachel, Babs and Jim are a skilled team of facilitators and I would recommend them whole heartedly for intact team development and individual leadership work.

You can find out more about them here


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’

Are surveys useful or should you have the conversation instead?

Karen Meadows, Owner of Safety In Action, is looking at launching a new service for parents who are considering which pre-school nursery to send their children to and we have been talking about how best to find out whether the service is one that is in demand. We both think so but what is the most accurate and speedy way to find out?  

Karen is thinking of using Survey Monkey to put together a questionnaire that can be sent out to parents. Whilst an online version may be quick in terms of collating the results for Karen, it may be that going into places where groups of parents can be spoken to face to face would result in a more compelling conversation with Karen and she can find out much more about the types of things that affect the parents decision.


Its got me thinking about the value of the conversation...and does Karen need numbers and figures to give the new project the go ahead or juicy indepth content that will help shape the project? I would be interested to know if anyone else has used online surveys at the product development stage –and were they useful? Or do you think face to face conversations are the way to go?


You can find out more about Karen Meadows and Safety In Action here

Jackee Holder recommends Sarah Vogel for Fierce Conversations

“I have worked with Sarah on several occasions on the Fierce Conversations Leadership & Management programmes. Sarah is an expert in the field of Fierce Conversations and delivers this programme with passion, integrity and clarity but also in a fun and engaging way. Sarah is not one to shy away from a challenge and brings this quality with great impact to her work. The nature of the quality of our working relationship ensured real team work with all the groups we worked with. Sarah is the UK's best Fierce Conversations trainer whom I would highly recommend.” April 4, 2012  

Jackee is an Executive and Leadership coach, coach supervisor, coach trainer, action learning set facilitator, intuitive facilitator, writer, published author, interfaith minister and creativity expert. Jackee works nationally and internationally with teams, groups and individuals. She is the author of Soul Purpose, Be Your Own Best Life Coach & 49 Ways To Write Yourself Well.