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Welcome to the Fresh Tracks team building blog. This is a growing collection of team development news, opinions, tips and advice. We would love your input so feel free to comment or get in touch.


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New Leaders Needed

The days of leaders who can raise productivity and consequently profitability just by ‘managing by walking about’, patting their staff on the back and asking after the dog, are gone. 

Is Genghis Khan the ideal manager?

Is Genghis Khan the ideal manager?

In fact some would argue that relationship-based leadership was a fad or flash in the pan and now that businesses are in a battle to survive, ruthless tacticians are what’s needed to lead the team.  Luke Johnson said in today’s Financial Times : “It is becoming apparent that many leaders were really just suited to the good times. During a severe recession, when growth is irrelevant and all that matters is survival, their bullish attitude and denial of reality becomes positively dangerous .”  …

Management lessons from Masterchef

As the hit BBC series builds towards the final, I find myself in a cluster of  Derbyshire holiday cottages with a team of bright young managers about to discover more about their management style through the medium of cooking.

The original team building activity

The original team building activity

This group have given up two days of their hectic schedules to invest time in getting to know each other better and to take time out as a team.  By combining proven tools such as the psychometric Strengths Deployment Inventory along with team exercises the group will begin to bond as friends rather than colleagues.

Eating together is probably the original team building activity and when those around the table have all contributed to the feast, each mouthful is all the more satisfying.  All too often we separate our behaviour at work from our behaviour with friends more than is necessary.  Given we spend up to 60% of our waking lives with our work colleagues shouldn’t we make time to build friendships.  After all these are the people that influence our health, wealth and happiness more than any other.

Trusting Times

A nice story shows how businesses are trying to do things a bit differently in these straightened times.
Pay as you please

Pay as you please

A London restaurant, the Little Bay restaurant in Farringdon, has decided that with everyone watching the pennies, they will let their customers decide how much to pay for their meals throughout February.

“It’s entirely up to each customer whether they give £100 or a penny,” said the owner Peter Ilic. “All I’m asking is they pay me what they think the food and service is worth.”…

Just take slow deep breaths

Yesterday I had a coffee with Brian Draper, he’s been writing a book about SQ or Spiritual Intelligence. At first I assumed this was simply an obvious follow on to the much talked about IQ and EQ theories but there’s more to it than that.

Find time to relax

Find time to relax

I won’t attempt to rewrite the book here but will share one of Brian’s wise sayings. Having met some impressive theologians and thinkers over the years he reported that some of the most calm and wise men he’s come across talk about taking time to ‘overhear oneself’.

Amidst the rush of life and the endless stream of email, voicemail and online information it’s important to regularly find a period of quiet away from the chatter that fills our minds. Instead try not to think about anything, just take slow deep breaths allowing the muscles and joints from your toes to your head to relax.

Apparently taking time to ‘overhear oneself’ everyday can transform our outlook, not only removing stress but giving a more enlightened outlook on the world and people around us.

I’ll let you know how I get on.

Does strike action undermine employers trust in staff?

As the industrial dispute spreads over the use of foreign labour at the Lindsey Oil Refinery we should reflect on how this action might affect our own workforce.

Industrial desputes if not managed carefully can erode trust between employees and employers

Industrial desputes if not managed carefully can erode trust between employees and employers

The absence of strikes in recent years has given employers an opportunity to regain their employees trust.  Most employees don’t believe their employer is simply out to exploit them with no regard for them as a person.  Initiatives such as employee engagement surveys, team building days and employee incentives have all helped to strengthen the relationship between the worker and the company.

Action like wildcat strikes can begin to erode the Psychological Contract that is so important.  Especially in an era when many roles rely largely on the individual to choose to serve the businesses best interests, without close supervision.  And of course it can work both ways, the millitant soundbites from striking workers do little to support the diligent work ethic that most of us take to the office every day.

Let’s not forget that just because one employer is in a dispute with its workforce, its not to say that all staff are work shy and all employers are exploitative.

Conference team building in Europe

As I write today I’m being pitched and rolled aboard a Stena Line ferry travelling from the Hook of Holland to Harwich.

Team building in Europe is only an hour away

Team building in Europe is only 24 hours away.

Below me a truck full of team building equipment is hopefully well secured to the deck.  Despite the high seas I’m excited to be part of a new chapter in the life of Fresh Tracks as we increase our overseas team building offering.  On many occasions in the past we’ve jumped on planes to deliver keynote talks and team building sessions at conferences and on occasions we’ve freighted equipment ahead of us….

An organisation’s most valuable resource is its staff

As the recession begins to bite, it is going to be vital for organisations to optimise their resources. And surely any organisation’s most valuable resource is its staff.

Nurturing talent will be a key tool in combating the recession

Nurturing talent will be a key tool in combating the recession

For example, one option is to use this period to promote young talent rather than take on the cost and risk of recruiting externally, a tactic backed up by Dr Emma Parry’s recent report, Nurturing Talent, published by Cranfield School of Management. Another report from Cranfield suggests that initiatives such as Investors
In People can have a positive impact on financial performance.

In these leaner times it is going to be increasingly important to draw a distinction between financial capital and human capital. Whilst there’s little doubt that finances are restricted, now is not the time to constrain your people. In fact this climate of change offers the perfect opportunity to unleash new talent within your organisation, encourage innovation and allow the next generation of leaders to identify themselves….

Royal Mail Discord

Unrealistic demands in the workplace?

Unrealistic demands on Royal Mail delivery team?
Unrealistic demands on Royal Mail delivery team?

The Communication Workers Union has recently claimed that postmen are being bullied by Royal Mail managers because they do not walk quickly enough whilst making deliveries. 

A BBC News report says that union officials claim that a new softaware system, Pegasus, requires delivery staff to walk at four miles an hour. They claim that the demands of this system pressure postmen into completing “unrealistic” rounds in order to gain financial savings.

So how can Royal Mail managers motivate and inspire their staff, rather than stand accused of bullying them, to allow the organisation to cope with its busiest time of the year? …

A little help for Democracy

Would a bit of focused team building help at the House of Commons?
The House of Commons

The House of Commons

The Houses of Parliament have seen some pretty fierce confrontations over the years, and the ongoing debacle over the recent police raid of the offices of Tory MP Damian Green, hasn’t done much to breed a sense of community among MPs.
Accusations of “concealment, duplicity, whitewash and cover-up” have been levied and while some MPs are talking of farce, others see it as a particularly “sorry state of affairs.” The speaker has even had to intervene to remind MPs that they should use “moderate language”.

Biggest team build ever required?

Merger of Lloyds TSB & HBOS will require some serious team development

A new superbank

A new superbank

Back in September, Lloyds TSB announced it planned to take over HBOS. Since then the merger has been approved and looks set to complete next month, creating the UK’s first “superbank”.

Lloyds TSB was was created when the Lloyds Bank and the Trustee Savings Bank (TSB) agreed to merge their operations creating what was, at the time, the second largest bank in the UK. LLoyds TSB currently operates Cheltenham & Gloucester, Scottish Widows, Insurance.co.uk and Intelligent Finance. HBOS, for its part, was created as a result of a merger between Halifax plc and the Bank of Scotland. HBOS operates Halifax, Bank of Scotland, Birmingham Midshires and The AA.

The merger will therefore create a banking giant with around 145,000 staff and 3,000 branches across the UK.  …


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