Invitation to Solution Focus Change Network Group

The first meeting on the Sussex Solution Focus Change Network Group at the Chimney House, 28 Upper Hamilton Road, Brighton BN1 5DF on Wednesday 3rd November at 7.30. This group will be most helpful for people with an understanding of the solution focus and be applying it in business consulting, coaching, training, therapeutic and academic settings. Please let me know if you’d like to attend.


Solution Focused Process Slides and Audio

Please click play to get a slideshow of the process I use to train others in Solution Focus Facilitation 

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Worried Public Sector Managers and the Magic of Coping

I was working with a group of managers in the Criminal Justice system last week. The subject under discussion was Managing Change. They were wearied and worried about delivering the kind of service the public expects (and deserves) whilst dealing on a day to day basis with highly anxious staff and colleagues. Top of their list was the following

  1. Trying to be honest and transparent when there’s no news!
  2. Staff who are angry at what’s happening to their jobs and take this out on their manager (i.e. them).
  3. Colleagues doing more than they should, causing harm to their health and family life as a result of the hope that this will mean they’ll be passed over when the axe falls.
  4. Being asked for reassurance when there is none.
  5. Understanding that this is only the first phase of these public sector cuts, there’s worse to come

 These conversations are daunting for everyone. Managers attend workshops such as this Managing Change event hoping for some magic ointment which when applied will, as my mother would say, “izzy-whizzy” all our worries away. Oh for such a product! I too am of course intimidated by such expectations.

I know that these managers are all dedicated professions who want the best for their staff. However by dint of their position will be expected to play their role in making people redundant. We couldn’t make this disappear so we had to have another kind of conversation.

How were they coping?

Or more particularly what were they managing to provide the management service which was best for them, their staff and for the organisation in such difficult times when jobs, teams and even organisations may not survive. Once we got warmed up on this subject, the group was able to list all the things that they did which helped keep performance and morale up and stopped the anxiety perhaps getting even worse.

It was an impressive list, too long to quote here. Most memorable to me was the description of the daily bravery of managers making themselves available to staff, listening to their worries, dealing with their complaints and absorbing their frustrations, whilst all the time maintaining the boundaries necessary to their role – they are amongst the axe-wielders after all.

It is coping. Day to day ordinary bravery.

What I’ve learnt about Laying People Off – Part One

I had sought to gain some insight from leaders in the field via LinkedIn of what they might say to public sector managers who were facing staff at risk of redundancy or being made redundant on a daily basis. My work with these managers has mainly been facilitative in helping think of how to support themselves and others. However I was interested to know what the latest thinking maybe on how managers should support such tasks.

It was a struggle to be honest but this is what I came up with. 

  • I am grateful to Katherine Nathan of Chicago based consultancy Resilience Matters and her colleagues for making the biggest contribution to the discussion and my thinking. Katherine’s article provided practical and grounded advice on leadership behaviour. I’ve asked Katherine if I can publish the article on this site.
  • I retain my nervousness about talking too excitedly about the future at this early stage. As one contributor said – people will smell the BS a mile off.
  • I remain in awe of the work Elizabeth Khubler-Ross. Whilst wishing to be sensitive to the bereft and seriously ill, there are many direct parallels between talking and listening to people about ending their employment and those who have to do this. It is highly skilled work and goes way beyond the advice to be open and sensitive although of course this is the core of it.
  • I believe that organisations don’t do this kind of cutting well. Things get very crude and messy very early. In the UK public sector organisations are looking at making, let’s say, 25% cuts. They are reckoning on 5% efficiency savings and then the rest by making 20% of staff redundant. Rarely are they effectively reckoning the cost of this on the budget (it’s always more). I’ll say nothing more about the impact on UK society of the impact on services.
  • I continue to express gratitude to those who trust me with their valued staff and sensitive feelings. Feels like a privilege. My work has always been about the wish to make a living while offering something as a public service. As a consultant I need to make sure I’m truly worth it.



Workplace Mediation

Unhappy workplace relationships interfere with your ability to get things done and risk formal action. Workplace mediation can bring about good solutions for everyone

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Team Facilitation

Your greatest assets are your staff. With team facilitated sessions I can enable you to access untapped resources. Help your people find their motivation and use these to deliver more for the business.

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Support for Managers

Specialising in building staff engagement and better relationships, I can provide training and coaching for your managers on how to get the best out of, and for, your staff.

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