Establishing a rhythm of one to one meetings as part of your growth culture

Establishing a strong and positive organisational culture is crucial for the success and sustainability of your growing business. There are several aspects to creating your org culture, like articulating your mission, communicating your vision, defining your core values, leading by example (demonstrating the desired behaviours), etc. Some elements of culture can be deliberately established through repeated practice e.g. as a founder, you may consciously choose to talk about your vision at every opportunity. Other elements evolve from behaviours that establish themselves as the ‘unwritten rules’ (the way that things are done around here).

The speed of culture formation

Your culture is established quickly. So it’s essential to make sure that it’s the culture you want.

The early days of a business typically see a fluid approach to people management and culture forming. But sooner rather than later, discipline is needed and it’s way easier to establish this discipline whilst the organisation is relatively new. It also means that a core few can decide how one to ones should be run in terms of frequency, tone and content. These key people can model the style to their own direct reports who, in turn and in time, will cascade best practice to their direct reports. And thus the discipline gathers momentum.

In the early days, it’s also easy but dangerous to assume that everyone is on the same page. Typically entrepreneurs employ an initial team of like-minded individuals. Harmony reigns and the thinking is that an informal arrangement for checking performance and direction is a good thing.

But is it really? Just as diversity of thinking and healthy conflict are better for business in the long run, it’s also crucial to systematize people performance early on. People respond well to an established way of doing things. It helps manage their expectations, ensures they don’t get paralysed by uncertainty or don’t deviate off-track.

One key way to consciously shape your culture is by holding regular one to one meetings

However amazing the product or service offering that you’re launching, how you lead and manage your people is also core to your success. The most valuable practice that fosters communication, collaboration, professional development and relationship-building is the one to one meeting. Done well, one to ones are a microcosm of your organisation’s commitment to a culture of learning, caring and high performance.

The existence of regular one to ones signals discipline, mature business practice and modelling of best practice. In these meetings, you are able to establish confident communication, monitor performance (and correct it if necessary), set goals, talk about learning and development, check-in on wellbeing and track employee sentiment. 

The outcome of having quality one to one meetings

Stratton HR highly recommends the early establishment of one to ones as a key part of any organisation’s communication and performance management processes. They are a must-have for high-performing organisations and a simple way to begin to establish the culture you want. 

By encouraging them, your organisation will be:

  • Driving home the importance of two-way line-manager-direct-report communication and connection
  • Emphasizing the importance of KPIs and performance management
  • Establishing the importance of having a feedback culture
  • Inviting vital upwards feedback
  • Retaining talent more easily
  • Showing itself to be a listening and caring organisation
  • Making time for a focus on employee learning and development
  • Etc

If you’d like more information on one to one best practice, see other blogs in this series:

  • “Your one to one meetings as a retention strategy”
  • “How to run really effective one to one meetings”

For more information about the support that Stratton HR can provide your organisation, contact

How to run really effective one to one meetings 

In our last blog, we spoke about the benefits of holding regular one-to-one meetings and in particular how they help improve the line-manager-direct-report relationship, correct/boost performance and provide professional development; all of which aid your talent retention.  

Your 1:1 meetings need structure  

The structure of your one-to-ones ensures that they are conversations with a purpose and that various criteria are satisfied. Maintaining the same structure every time helps manage your direct report’s expectations of what will be discussed and helps focus you both to cover everything that matters. 

Here’s our recommended 1:1 structure: 

  1. Check-in: “How are you?” and small talk, catching up with things outside of work agenda including wellbeing 
  2. Agree your 1:1 meeting agenda 
  3. Ask big picture sentiment questions about work: “What’s been going well for you?”/”What hasn’t?” 
  4. Review last 1:1 meeting’s focal points/goals/actions 
  5. Review recent work since last 1:1, including direct report’s performance metrics, team interactions and behaviours.  
  6. Set new focal points/goals/actions 
  7. Zoom out to bigger picture: Take a strategic lens and share appropriate organisation/division/team information & communicate key messages 
  8. Take an interest in direct report’s professional development 
  9. Invite upwards feedback; how to manage better, how to work better together, what new approach ideas, etc. 
  10. State take-aways; summarise insights, focal points and actions. Get your direct report to share first, then you wrap up. 
  11. Give words of encouragement 

Whilst structure is fundamental, it’s only part of your meeting’s success. You also have to set these meetings up in a way that instils confidence in the process. Here are the five key considerations: 

1. Get your timing/rhythm of 1:1s right 

There should be a rhythm to your one-to-ones; e.g. allocating one hour a month to each of your direct reports. You may find that only one scheduled formal meeting per month is too infrequent, so you may choose to have an informal check-in weekly or fortnightly too. 

Having a routine to your formal one-to-one meetings creates structure and professionalism. It conveys the positive message that you place great importance on these meetings with this individual. 

2. Get the venue right 

Ensure that your meetings are held in a quiet and safe space. If it’s in person, book a meeting room. It it’s a virtual meeting, ensure that you are both in a private space where you can talk candidly and freely, without being overheard by others in your team. 

This also goes a long way to sending the right message that these meetings are important.  

3. Get the scope right 

Your one-to-ones must cover a number of things and it’s good to have a standard order in which to address the various items on your agenda. But firstly, before you tell you direct report what’s on your agenda, check what they have on their agenda and incorporate it into yours. 

We recommended a scope above, but you may wish to adapt it to suit your team’s way of working better.

4. Get the tone right 

The encouraging vibe of these meetings ensures that the employee feels supported and leaves the meeting feeling uplifted. 

1:1 meetings are an opportunity to strengthen your line-manager-direct-report rapport. For this to be successful, a conversational, relaxed tone is key and this is set right from the offset of your meeting. It helps sustain good psychological safety in general and specifically for these one-to-ones. Aim for a ratio of 50:50 in terms of sharing the airtime between yourself and your direct report. 

These meetings are a chance to check in with your direct report individually and to take an interest in them as a whole person, not just as a team member. As soon as you begin your conversation, find out how they are and focus on small-talk for a few minutes. Don’t avoid this part! Small talk paves the way for more focussed, intense conversations later into the meeting. 

In order to ensure that your tone is the right one, set an intent for yourself before you begin your one-to-one. This should always be that there is a win-win outcome to the meeting and that the direct report feels uplifted by the end of the meeting; even when you have to deliver some tough messages. This may seem impossible, but isn’t. By establishing an adult-to-adult, professional ambiance for the meeting, you can frame your message in a way that tells your direct report that you believe in them and their capability. 

Most managers default towards a directive style when engaging with their direct reports. However, adopting a coaching style of questioning some of the time can be beneficial to both parties. In simple terms, this means asking open questions instead of closed. e.g. 

“Did you correct the problem?” (closed) 

“How are you getting on with regards to correcting the problem?” (open)  

The result of taking on more of a coaching style is that the direct report gets to talk more and takes more ownership of their thinking and actions and that you, as line manager, glean insight into their mindset and way of thinking. Once you understand your direct report’s typical approach better over time, you’re better equipped to know what style of motivation suits the direct report best. 

The tone of your 1:1s is clearly indicated by the top right quadrant of The Blake Mouton Grid, entitled “Team Management”. It’s when you get the balance right between having high concern for your direct report (and the rest of your team) as well as high concern for results. 

5. Get the outcomes right

When the above four criteria are well-considered, you should be set up for a positive one-to-one that is conducive to achieving a positive outcome of your meeting. But are you clear on the outcomes you’re wanting to achieve? It’s a worthwhile exercise to list these before you begin your meeting. Keep it to three outcomes max. 


My outcomes for this 1:1 with Alan are:- 

  • to query what’s getting in his way of meeting the Project X timeline milestones 
  • to check his motivation levels and to give him a boost 
  • to ensure he feels adequately supported by me, as manager 

By the end of your one-to-one, your direct report and you should have a shared understanding and clarity for the way ahead. The direct report should be very clear on their Starts-Stops-Continues i.e. What they can start doing to improve their performance, what they can stop doing that’s detracting from their performance, and what they should continue doing that’s working well. 

If you would like a workshop on how to improve the quality of 1:1s in your organisation, please email: 

And look out for our next blog: How organisations succeed at establishing quality 1:1 meetings as part of their culture 

Your one to one meetings as a retention strategy 

If you’re concerned about your organisation’s churn rate, it’s worth assessing the rhythm and quality of your one-to-one meetings. These meetings should be recurring calendar entries at all levels through the organisation, which provide an opportunity for line managers and direct reports to spend focused time together. Done well, they develop employees’ confidence, performance and sense of belonging to your organisation, which in turn drives employee engagement and commitment. 

Too often, line managers postpone or cancel their one-to-one time with direct reports because they have ‘more important’ or more pressing things on their plate. Even when they’ve been told that holding regular one-to-ones with their team is the single most important success criteria for their organisation, they may hear other contending messages like “Make the sale!” or “The client always comes first”. Indeed, these are important, but when one-to-one time is postponed, the direct report hears the message that these meetings aren’t important or – worse still – that they, as an individual, don’t matter.  

Over time, if one-to-ones are let slip by managers, it results in a culture of postponed commitments to employees and an un-nurturing environment, causing employees to be lured by opportunities at other organisations that promise a greater focus on employee development.  

You’ve heard the expression, “Employees leave their boss, not the organisation.” Focusing effort on developing good quality 1:1s throughout your organisation strengthens the line-manager-direct-report relationship and helps retain your top talent. Therefore, these meetings come under the heading of “Crucial Conversations”. 

It’s true that your managers may feel inundated by meetings and, therefore, view their one-to-ones with direct reports as burdensome or inconvenient. But when a rhythm is established for one-to-ones, the benefits to line manager, direct report and your organisation are many. 

For example: 

  • Rapport-building 

The ideal tone of one-to-ones should be relaxed and conversational. It’s not just an opportunity to review work but also to build trust and connection between managers and direct reports. Part of the one-to-one should be dedicated to taking an interest in and checking in with their direct report as a whole person. What do they do with their spare time? How’s their family? How’s their health? etc. 

  • Performance enhancement 

Importantly, one-to-ones review recent performance. In the planning stage for a line manager’s one-to-one, they should prepare their direct report’s recent performance metrics in a shareable format. This forms a core element of the one-to-one, creates transparency and means that feedback conversations (the positive and the developmental) are evidence-based. 

  • Priority-setting 

One-to-ones ensure that direct reports get a few key areas to focus on that both their line manager and they have agreed on and that will be reviewed in their next one-to-one. 

  • Time optimisation 

“Not taking the time at the front end to effectively manage your direct reports leads to a lot of wasted time on the back end,” says Elizabeth Grace Saunders, in HBR article “Cancelling one-on-one Meetings Destroys Your Productivity” (March 2015). If a direct report is unsure of what they are to focus on or how they are doing, their line manager risks them continuing to work inefficiently. Alternatively, the line manager may find that they’re receiving a stream of emails/messages from their reports or they may see them hovering outside their office in an attempt to catch their boss as he/she moves between meetings. This is distracting and the manager may well feel a sense of being out of control.  

Hence, booking in time for a one-to-one means that the line manager and the direct report make sure that they are both clear on how work should proceed and provides an opportunity for queries to be raised ahead of time. 

  • Confidence-building  

The intention of quality one-to-ones is to encourage the direct report and to make them feel supported in their current role as well as in their career aspirations. When run well, direct reports should leave their one-to-ones feeling uplifted. They should feel like this time spent with their boss was time well-spent.  

A consistent routine and healthy, candid tone for these meetings establishes positive expectations, builds trust and results in a sense of progress for both the line manager and their team members. 

Steven Rogelberg, author of “Glad We Met: The Art & Science of 1:1 Meetings” writes that 1:1 meetings are “foundational to being a manager”. He says that they are “arguably one of the most critical meeting types for the success of team members, managers, teams and organisations.” 

If you would like a workshop on how to improve the quality of 1:1s in your organisation, please email: 

And look out for our next blog: How to structure quality 1:1 meetings 

Stratton HR prepares ITC Travel Group for take-off during successful two-year partnership.  

Stratton HR is getting ready to hand the reins back to travel business ITC after a successful two years leading and activating the company’s HR strategy.

ITC is a luxury travel operator established in 1974 with around 200 employees across multiple sites in the UK.  In 2021, following significant Private Equity investment, ITC approached Stratton HR to deliver a full HR Diagnostic to assess the people needs of the business. 

With a loyal and passionate workforce, but with leadership changes and foundations that needed building upon, Stratton HR identified the need to introduce systems, processes, and standards to support business growth.

Stratton HR was then instructed to deliver the people plan, which included some of the follow key projects:

  • Developing a robust HR infrastructure including Natural HR system implementation
  • Designing a strategic reward proposition, underpinned by organisational design and roles and responsibilities
  • Developing a performance framework
  • Creation of a management development programme
  • Establishing a manager’s toolkit and new online Employee Handbook 
  • Contract harmonisation to align terms and condition 
  • Rolling out an internal comms campaign “The ITC Way”

After a successful partnership, and with all of the foundations in place, Stratton HR completed their work for ITC by recruiting their in-house HR resource for them and offboarding seamlessly to the newly appointed team members.

The partnership has put in place all of the fundamentals of a leading organisation, helping management to act consistently and with long term in mind, whilst also motivating employees who now have a framework to work within.

CFO Emma Pickering said of the partnership:

“Stratton HR has been pivotal in defining our people strategy. The whole Stratton team has been fantastic; hugely knowledgeable yet pragmatic about where we were and where we needed to get to. Investing during COVID was risky but we are now in great shape and are well placed to capitalise as the world has opened up again. Not only that but our employees are happy – in a recent survey, we got an ENPS score of over 50, demonstrating the healthy culture we now have in place.”

Hannah Langston, Head of HR Support at ITC commented:

“It has been a pleasure to work with the team at ITC. We’ve been on a real journey with them. The business had a huge amount of potential, but in order to grow it really needed solid foundations from an HR perspective. The work we’ve delivered over the last two years has been fundamental in getting them ready for growth, and we’ve now reached a position where we can hand over to the in-house HR team. They know where we are if they need us and we wish them every success for the future.”

L&D Programmes: Choosing between in-person and virtual

When you’re designing Organisational Learning and Development Programmes, you’ve probably found yourself in the dilemma situation of wondering whether you should plan for in-person or virtual delivery. 

Here are the pros and cons of each:

In-person: Pros and cons

In-person deliveries are what people are most familiar with. They offer the opportunity to get together with colleagues, to build relationships, to network across departments by being in one physical room and by having informal conversations at break times and over lunch. In this way, they’re more personable and socially spontaneous. This is the prime reason that certain clients still insist on getting together in a room, to learn together.

The learning subject matters when you’re deciding between in-person or virtual. If it’s a physical skills session such as Presentation Skills or Personal Impact, you’d most definitely want to be in person. But some other topics (listed below) may be more conducive to online learning.

Learning is more sticky when it’s experiential. Whilst some types of experiential exercise can be done virtually, there’s way more scope to run such exercises when you’re in-person. Getting people on their feet and moving around the room or even outdoors can shift participants’ flagging energy and make the learning more memorable. For example, you can lay out a giant two-by-two matrix on the floor and have participants walk the quadrants, discussing the characteristics and behaviours of each quadrant. This works well for participants with visual as well as kinaesthetic learning preferences, anchoring the learning as they go. Or you can have participants visit different stations in the room, to solve a puzzle, to create something or to capture their group thinking.

In-person means that your participants can self-organise for ‘mingling’ exercises, whereby they share information with one person, then another, then another as they work the room.

As the learning facilitator, you can more easily keep your eye on whether the participants are staying focused when you’re in a physical room. When you’ve designed an exercise for them to do in smaller groups, you’re able to quickly see whether they’re getting distracted or going off-piste rather than following the exercise instructions correctly.

The downside of in-person is of course the cost. If you don’t have in-house space, you’ll be having to pay for venue hire and perhaps also covering participants’ travel and accommodation costs if they’re coming from far afield. If your organisation covers several locations or you’re a multinational, the chances of freeing people up to travel to attend a programme far away diminishes.

Virtual: Pros and cons

The great advantage of virtual learning is its convenience. Participants can be in the office or on a work-from-home day and log on to their learning programme. This of course means that there’s no commute or travel (and accommodation) required for the learner, and no venue or catering required by the provider. Not needing to organise the physical logistics means that virtual learning is much quicker on administrative time too.

In order to successfully run a virtual session, each participant would need to be on their individual computer with webcam access. So, it really is only an option when everyone has the technology and when participants are confident to be seen on-camera. It goes wrong when participants are camera-shy or in busy offices where they might be distracted or needed by colleagues. And it doesn’t work when you’re asking them to share something personal about themselves or to work on sensitive topics, when they’re within earshot of colleagues.

Ideally, virtual participants will have a quiet space to themselves where they’re able to talk freely and to not feel inhibited about the information they’re sharing or when participating in an exercise / role-playing. 

If the learning topic is a psychology or behavioural one, such as Creating Psychological Safety or Developing Emotional Intelligence, or an intellectual subject, such as Strategic Decision-Making, then virtual learning usually works well for the reasons listed above. 

Online also works well for communication skills topics such as Having Difficult Conversations or Giving Feedback, as the breakout rooms mean that the practising small groups have focused, private online space to create a safe learning environment (provided that their computer is also in a quiet, private room). It means that their conversations are not overheard by other groups, and it means that the facilitator can easily assign co-facilitators to observe a breakout room activity or else pop in and out of rooms themselves.

The biggest challenge for the facilitator is to keep online participants sufficiently engaged that they are not tempted to be drawn into work emails/messages or to be texting on their phones. The bigger the group, the more likely that participants are less engaged and less disciplined to be solely focused on their learning.

Because of its convenience, bite-sized learning can be delivered online in shorter time windows, more frequently. 

Virtual apps are ever-evolving, offering many of the regular features that are doable in person; slide sharing, whiteboard, breakout rooms, and more. And they can be used in combination with other apps to add extra features and workspaces for collaboration, e.g. Miro, Mentimeter, Jamboard, etc. These work best of course when the facilitator is confident with the various apps and functions, but it’s also important that the participants are not overwhelmed or anxious about their own ability to navigate them.

Beware the hybrid option!

Clients often ask if they can create a hybrid learning set-up with a mix of virtual and in-person. In short, the answer is, “No!”. Virtual works best when all fellow participants are also virtual. 

Hybrid sessions where some people are in a room together and others are on Zoom/Teams/etc. tend to be disappointing. It restricts participation in exercises and conversations, especially when participants are working in smaller groups. 

The work-around would be to have the small in-person group to have a portable laptop and just one virtual participant working with them (a ‘head in a box’), but it’s just not the same as everyone sitting in a circle together or everyone being in an online breakout room together.

For multi-module programmes, consider a mix

When you’re designing a programme that comprises various modules, consider which modules would be best suited to being in-person. Your first module could be in-person, for example, so that people have the opportunity to get to know one another quicker. Subsequent modules might be online and you then round off the programme in-person too, to help boost the sense of achievement and to provide more of a celebration.

Decision-making questions to consider

  • What’s the size of your group? Would everyone fit on one laptop screen?
  • How well do participants know one another? Do they need the opportunity to get to know one another in a real room?
  • How far would people need to travel to get together? What are the time, admin and cost implications?
  • Which topics are more effective facilitated in person?
  • Which topics are more effective facilitated online?
  • How effective would online learning be compared to in-person?
  • Does your limited budget mean that you can offer more learning scope to participants online than in-person? Or have two co-facilitators instead of one?
In-person – prosVirtual – pros
More sociable spontaneityMore convenience; no travel
More relationship-buildingReduced cost e.g. no venue hire & training budget stretches further
More dynamic experientialLess admin/logistics arrangements
Easier overview of participantsQuick transition to breakout rooms
Easier energy tracking & managementAvailability of online tools/functions
Less e-distractionsHandouts in e-version; less printing
More of a memorable experience (e.g. reward in the form of off-site learning)Apt for shorter learning bites and more frequent modules
Break from screen time 

In the early days of participants experiencing online learning, feedback from many was that they enjoyed the experience at least as much as they would have done in-person and that they also learnt as much. They were quite surprised! Now that online learning has become more accepted and has been run for a few years, survey results are telling us that participants appreciate the accessibility and convenience of online. Client organisations in turn enjoy their L&D budgets stretching further.

But there are some downsides to be aware of:

In-person – consVirtual – cons
Cost of venue, travel, catering, etc.Not so much social spontaneity
Less convenienceLess networking
Time investment for admin/logistics arrangementsAdds screen-time
Transition to and back from breakout rooms can be lengthyTypes of experiential exercises more limited
Handouts may require printingRequires individual computers with functioning audio & webcam, and app familiarity 
 Requires willingness to be on-camera
 E-distractions may affect true presence
 Energy tracking & management more tricky
 May require booking meeting room for each participant

To discuss your learning requirements and for more information about Stratton HR’s Learning & Development Programmes portfolio, please contact

Stratton HR celebrates two-year deal with ABL 1touch as business gets set for further growth.

Stratton HR last week signed a significant deal with ABL 1touch to provide comprehensive HR Support services to the business over a two-year period. During this time Stratton HR will be responsible for developing and executing a full people plan across the business, at both a strategic and operational level.

ABL 1touch first worked with Stratton HR on a full organisational review, delivered by Stratton’s MD Anna Cornwallis, following the investment by Mobeus Equity Partners. ABL 1touch engaged Stratton HR at the end of last year to assist them with urgent recruitment and interim HR needs. During this time a successful partnership has developed, with Stratton HR effectively delivering all of their initial people requirements. Talks soon moved to retaining an outsourced HR function with the full expertise of the Stratton team to deliver all of their people needs. 

Tony Lawman joined ABL 1touch as CEO in January 2023 and has been surprised by the effectiveness of an outsourced HR function. “Until I met with Stratton HR, I had not considered the idea of completely outsourcing our HR needs. The team at Stratton HR has really got under the skin of our business and taken the time to embed into the team and so can deliver the best of both worlds – a true strategic partner with the depth and breadth of knowledge of a specialist team. We’re delighted that we have their ongoing support now as we embark on the ambitious growth phase of our 5 year strategy that will see us expand to over 60 repair sites in that time period. People will always be fundamental to our future success and with Stratton as our partner we know that our HR needs will be completely taken care of.”

Hannah Langston, Head of HR Support at Stratton HR is excited by the deal; “We’re very happy to have formalised our agreement with ABL 1touch. It’s testament to both the work we’ve delivered so far and the relationships we’ve built with the senior team and the whole team is excited about the future.” 

Anna Cornwallis, MD of Stratton HR adds “We look forward to working closely with ABL 1touch, as their people strategy forms a key part of their growth plans. This is a significant deal for Stratton HR and one we can’t wait to deliver on.”

How to improve your internal communication

Without knowing anything about your business, I can almost guarantee that your staff’s biggest bugbear centres around poor internal communication. I know this because I’ve honestly only worked with one or two that are genuinely good at it. Oddly enough, it’s really not that difficult to get right, it just requires a bit of effort. And fundamentally it’s vital for business growth and success. So what are the essentials here and why do so many SME leaders drop the ball and let it slide?

Share the plan

You’ve spent a long time working on the business strategy and deciding on your goals and objectives, but how long have you spent communicating them to the rest of the business?

You can’t expect everyone to come on the journey with you if you don’t tell them where you’re going. Too often teams only hear about the plan at a granular level – the bit that management have decided affects them. Everyone works better when they know what the bigger plan is and when they understand how their contribution affects it.

Communication should be a key part of every manager’s role, and providing you have the right people in your management layer, they should be able to cascade information down to their teams. And, just as importantly, they’ll provide feedback up the chain too.

Listen as well as talk

Communication should be a two-way process. As well as ensuring you are disseminating information effectively, you need to provide the opportunity for your people to feed back into the business. It’s important that people feel that they are being listened to by management. Often some of the best ideas for improvements come from those who are closer to the day-to-day realities of the business – production, sales, customer service.

Match the message to the medium

One of the challenges facing businesses is how best to present information to employees so that it is consumed, understood and valued. There are a variety of channels that can be used from more traditional media such as employee newsletters and emails, to company chat software, and social intranets. Consider live online events to communicate to all employees simultaneously regardless of location and mobile intranets help to manage communication with remote workers. Video, surveys, interviews, live chat can all help to get your message over more effectively. Don’t rely on one channel, mix it up and include some face-to-face communication whenever practical.

Don’t be frightened to be honest

Often businesses decide not to tell their employees what’s happening, particularly when times are tough. But not communicating is far worse than being honest. Staff will fill the silence, create their own scenarios and, before you know it, rumours are flying around the industry and half the company is looking for another job.

I know you know this, but regular open and honest communication builds trust, loyalty, productivity and morale. If that’s not worth the effort, what is?

Follow through

Communication with staff doesn’t end with talking to them. Ensuring that your actions and behaviours are consistent with your words shows that you mean what you say. This should be true of your whole management team. Words are just that – it’s the action that matters.

And don’t forget to make communicating well with everyone in the business part of how you do business. It will be stronger for it.

So remember…

  • Communication is part of effective leadership
  • Schedule and commit to communication fora
  • Create an annual communication plan and stick to it
  • Don’t be frightened to be honest
  • Listen and act on staff feedback
  • Don’t just say it, do it.

Is the cost of living affecting your learning & development spend?

The cost of living is on everyone’s mind. Perhaps even more so for business leaders as employees look to them for support. As a business, you might be looking for ways to offset cost of living initiatives you’ve introduced to support your people and aid retention. One of those considerations might be reducing or cutting your learning & development spend. 

Is cutting your learning & development spend short sighted?

Cost of living initiatives may meet immediate needs, but it’s highly unlikely these things alone will keep people happy and engaged for long. Salary is a big pull factor, but the reality is, your star performers and top talent won’t just be leaving just for the money and though salary may sometimes be a contributing factor, it is often not the main or sole reason employees leave a job. To add the icing on the cake in the case for sustaining investment in learning & development, according to a Forbes survey ‘76% of employees say they’re more likely to stay with a company that offers continuous training’.

It’s no coincidence that many of the companies that stand out in the ‘Best Companies’ survey (celebrating the very best in workplace engagement, Best Companies | For a better workplace)  invest continually in their people development. This didn’t stop during the pandemic, so why would it be of benefit to stop it now? Companies that have won the special award for learning & development (to reflect their outstanding commitment to the personal goals and ambitions of their people), have, despite challenging circumstances, maintained a focus on personal and professional development as core to their people proposition and business success. For example, Energize Group (digital and IT recruitment specialists) are fiercely committed to personal and professional development, the company marries ambitions with a tailored bespoke internal development programme and regular input from industry experts. The group predicts business growth, forecasts revenues of £16m this year with continued expansion across its brands (SAP, Digital, Tech and Data) and locations (Best Companies | Energize Group Company Profile).

How can Stratton HR help?

We’re experts in working with growing SMEs to support the learning & development of their team. Our most popular offering is our management and leadership development programmes.

We work with our clients to make sure that the programmes we deliver are contextually relevant, practical, and focus on building capability and confidence, delivering behavioural change as a result.  

We work closely with the relevant leaders and stakeholders at the scoping stage to understand what you want to achieve through a development programme, for the individuals involved personally, but also for your business and what challenges you’re trying to overcome. This is translated into our delivery of modules, where we’re able to translate theoretical models into real life practical scenarios in your business – hence enabling the individual to feel like they can apply their learning outside of the training room.

‘It was the first training session I’ve had where I was able to stay locked in and interested as the subject matter was relevant to me and I had the opportunity to start debate and conversation about it’

Our work doesn’t just begin and end there though, we can help you right across your learning & development needs. Whether you are looking to change mindset, develop new skills or equip people with flexible learning and tools, our range of solutions can support across all levels of your workforce – think graduate programmes, apprenticeship schemes, upskilling your star performers, coaching your future leaders or widening your wellbeing offering. We can meet all those needs.

If you’re need help working out how to continue a commitment to your people and their development through a recession, or you’re interested in hearing more about the programmes we’ve delivered and the impact they’ve had then get in touch!

Employers, managers and mental health awareness

In order to break the stigma around poor mental health and encourage great conversations about wellbeing in the workplace there is lots that responsible employers can do to support employees at work – after all, the average person spends 47% of their waking hours at work!

A big part of this could be ensuring good quality, respectful relationships whilst at work including open and trusting conversation about mental health with someone who is trained to listen. Whether between peers, or colleagues and their managers; good quality connections at work are only enhanced by great supportive managers who encourage communication and collaboration. When it comes to mental health, speaking openly with a manager or HR team really can make all the difference in someone’s performance especially if the conversation results in purposeful reasonable adjustments that enable someone to thrive at work.

Where employers or managers work in this way to create psychological safety in teams’ individuals are encouraged to speak up and reach out when they need support. Psychological safety exists when people feel comfortable and supported to be open and honest without fear or risk of humiliation or punishment. Creating a psychologically safe place in the workplace can often start with building a supportive culture of continuous development and managers who are well trained in having great people conversations.

Here are some ideas that you may want to facilitate as a manager or employer:

  • Arrange to train some of your people in Mental Health First Aid, or a workshop or webinar on Mental Health Awareness. There are many online providers or Stratton HR can facilitate.
  • Ensure your managers are well versed on what opportunities for support they can call on for themselves or anyone in their teams that may need it.
  • Organise a ‘Tea and Talk’ session, virtually or in person. (Including a useful list of conversation starters).

Building the right team… more than once

A business can only be as successful as the team leading it. Often management teams consist of those first through the door, and many of them make excellent managers, but as a business grows it needs leaders as well as managers and many of those in at the beginning won’t make the grade. Appoint senior managers based on what they can do for the business going forward not what they did in the past. It’s unrealistic to expect that everyone remains fit for purpose in their roles in growth business. Situations change, business needs change and often its some of the leaders and managers need to change to meet those needs. Generalists rarely become specialists, and ‘doers’ can’t always become leaders. Be honest about what’s needed and appoint or recruit based on that alone.

Do it again

Building the right team is hard, but here’s the really bad news – you need to keep doing it. As your business evolves and grows, your organisational structure will need to do the same.

Finding good people is hard, finding great people even harder, so how do you go about it?

It may sound obvious but start by knowing what you’re looking for. Too often a role is identified and recruited for without due thought given to the problem you are trying to solve and the output you expect from that role. ‘Find me a good FD’ is not a recruitment brief, and without one it will take you much longer to find the right person, or result in wasted time and money while you make a few, often expensive, mistakes. Take the time to articulate exactly what the requirements of the role are, the experience you need to enable the job to be done well and the type of person you want to fit with your company culture.

And again

Given how tough it is to find good people you need to put recruitment and development front and centre of your business strategy. Understanding and accepting that the current roles, and the people in them, may need to change significantly down the line to support your plans is vital. Take the time to continually assess and develop your team – understand what you have, what you need and where the gaps are. Staff development will ensure good people are used effectively within your business, and well-planned recruitment will find the talent you need to fill the gaps.

So remember….

  • Appoint senior managers based on need and upside potential
  • Accept that not everyone will be able to step up
  • Specify the requirements of each role in detail
  • Regularly assess organisational needs and gaps
  • Keep recruitment and development front-of-mind
  • Build the right team for the situation