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BeSpoke Skills

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Coaching tips and insight for business leaders, political players and creative entrepreneurs from BeSpoke Skills – a top coaching and consultancy based in central London –  led by Kate Faragher.

Kate Faragher
  • How to embed change – ACCOUNTABILITY CLUBS
    by (Kate Faragher) on June 26, 2020 at 18:29

    Changing behaviour is tough but during this COVID pandemic behaviour has changed.  So what enables us to change? Fear.  People feared for their health and so they took precautions.  Facts. The News told us of the facts and how people’s were dying.  We knew there was a real threat.Furlough.  We knew we could still eat and get paid if we didn’t work.  During that enforced change we had to deal with overwork, new ways of work or boredom.  People became aware they had to learn new skills and they had to do things differently and they had to deal with their mental health.  Research shows that if you have an idea to make a change odds are 10% If you make a commitment to achieving it – no matter how small it can increase to 25% Once you’ve worked out HOW you’re going to do it, it goes up to 50% If you tell someone you admire you’re going to do it it hits 65%When you create a regular commitment to be held accountable the probability can hit as high as 95%.We know from Choice Architecture other wise known as Nudge theory from the book Nudge by economist Richard Thaler  that small consistent changes in behaviour create habits.  Those habits mean that choice becomes something we do without thinking.  This is important because if we think about it we are more likely to stop ourselves doing it. So if you want to start running – do it regularly at the same time of day.  After about 3 months you’ll realise you’re at the door at the same time every morning with your running gear on and you didn’t even think about it. So regular habits change behaviour.  But what if you’re not a very consistent person? Or how do you change behaviour in business?Two things have helped me change my behaviour: a coach and an accountability club.  They’re quite similar.  Both hold you to account.  One is 121.  The other is in small groups.So if you want to start up your own accountability club here is a 10 step plan to tell you what do you need to do1. GET THE TIME AND DATE RIGHT – You need to set a time and date and it can’t change.  it has to be consistent and you have to have the whole group commit.  If someone can’t for a good reason then so be it but it has to be a good reason and there needs to be some kind of commitment – otherwise it will fall away. I would suggest 45 minutes – one hour maximum otherwise it might not be sustainable. 2. GET THE NUMBERS RIGHT  – You need to have enough to make it a good discussion but not too few that if one person doesn’t turn up then it still can go ahead.  I would suggest 5-8 being a good number. In the online world 4 could equally work.  Again commitment is key. 3. GET THE RIGHT MINDSET  – Goals may change as we act on them but it’s important that we sign up to clear goals.  Also if people aren’t up for making a change and stretching themselves but only make excuses every week it’s not going to benefit the rest of the group.  So choose your accountability team wisely. Negativity can be catchy.  4. GET CLEAR ON EVERYONE’S GOALS AT THE START – Get clear on the short term and long term goals.  You need to get through your weekly goals but not at the expense of the bigger goals that will get you to where you want to be. 5. SET UP A WHAT’S APP GROUP OR TEAMS FEED AS A WAY TO KEEP IN TOUCH  – you need this to keep in touch during the week and to share resources.  Some weeks are tough and you might need a bit support if things haven’t gone to plan. The more you all use this feed the more likely you will be to support each other.  We felt so much support for each other in our group – their wins were our wins.  6. HAVE A 121 – Hook up with one of the group separately during the week.  This should be one to one.  You can have deeper conversations.  Choose someone that you think you can learn something from.   This can be the same person each week from the group or you can mix it up – you can work this out at the check ins. 7. START WITH A WEEKLY CHECK IN – Initially this will be clarifying your goal, if you met with your accountability partner 121 and if you met the goals you set for that week. As the weeks progress it’s about whether you met last week’s goal and what next week’s is going to be. At the check in you tell the whole group if you completed the goal you set or if you didn’t. If you did you GO GREEN if you didn’t you GO RED.  If you’re green it’s a huge encouragement. If you’re red you work out the reasons why.  It’s not all doom and gloom. I found it really interesting when I didn’t meet my targets.  I found that I was unrealistic about how long certain things took me and it gave me an opportunity to measure them.  Going red shouldn’t be an opportunity to ridicule but a chance to support. 8. SHARE CHALLENGES AND WINS – The next part of the session is to share how you have got on.  It is a great way to get to know you’re not alone.  It can be so encouraging to find out how people got through their challenges.  9.  RECOGNISE SUCCESSES – at the end everyone votes on who they think got through the biggest challenges.  Everyone votes who they think achieved the most or was the most inspiring and got through a challenging week. The person with the most votes wins the prize.  The prize is winning – remember it’s the virtual world.  It’s amazing how powerful this public accolade can become and how inspiring it can be to support your fellow club members in this recognition. 10 HAVE A SET TIME TO ACHIEVE YOUR GOALS – you can have a rolling programme but it might be useful not to be in the grouping all the time. 10 -12 weeks to achieve your goals is achievable then you may want to switch round the groups. I achieved so much in my accountability club.  I did it through Parag Prasad’s London Business Coaching The session was run by Margarida Bonita who held the space brilliantly.  So what’s stopping you! 45 minutes a week could make those illusive dreams a reality . 45 minutes looks like this: CHECK IN – what are your goals for the next 10 weeks – make them SMART – specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and time boundGREEN/ RED EACH WEEK – check if you achieved your weekly goal – green if you did // red if you didn’tSHARE CHALLENGES – What are your challenges and successes?VOTE ON THE WINNER – nominate the person who you think had the best / got through the most challengesIDENTIFY THE NEXT WEEK’S GOALS

  • My week of overcoming fear.
    by (Kate Faragher) on June 11, 2020 at 16:10

    This week so much of the work I have been doing with clients is managing fear.  We all experience fear – particularly during changing times but it doesn’t need to stop us or define us. We are going through a time of change and for some people that lack of control means stepping into our stretch zone. We are being forced to do things we haven’t done before, aren’t comfortable with and need to trust without knowing the outcome.  The thing is we don’t learn very much in the comfort zone.  We need to move into the stretch zone to maximise our learning but keep out of the stressful panic zone. So how do we do it?  I did an amazing course with my coach, Andrea Callanan this week.  She explained that it’s not fear that’s stopping us – it’s our relationship with it. She got us all to do an exercise where we identified our fear.    We wrote it down and told each other what our biggest fear was.  Saying it out loud, sharing it with a group or writing it down is important. We are clarifying our fear.  Try it now. Write it down. We then need to make friends with it because fear is a teacher.  It protects us.  It’s usually there when we need to navigate something difficult but in this case it might be stopping you from being the best you can. You can then name your fear.  I called mine “Fanny.”  I wanted to be able to laugh at the name but you can name it anything you want. Next you thank it for protecting you and then tell it to get out of your way, step to the side or get behind you.  Why?  Because this the time to not let your fear stop you from getting on.  So know it, name it and then tell it to get out of your way.  David Bowie talks about it in this short 30 second clip.  He explains how all artists need to feel a little out of their depth to do their best work.  Now is your time to go a little bit out of your depth.  It might be easier than you think.  Your bravery will help you stretch.  So if you are doing anything this week that scares you ask yourself – what is my fear and then tell it to GET OUT OF YOUR WAY because you’ve got crafts to create!  

  • Learner-led – what is it and how do we improve it?
    by (Kate Faragher) on June 11, 2020 at 14:59

    I have been a coach, facilitator and trainer for over 25 years and what I have learnt over the years is that we need to be as learner-led as possible.I understand learner-led to mean the learner will ask for information that will help them build knowledge.  It may be that they have noticed a weakness in their skill set or that they are trying to figure something out and aren’t sure where to start.  Being learner led means they can decide what they can learn and ideally how to learn it.  To be truly learner-led the learning systems need to change.  People need to know how they learn, how to measure their learning and who to go to check and stretch their learning.  I believe this behaviour change works best when embedded in the school system – possibly right from nursery school.  in the absence of that we need to skill up those who can change their behaviour from being told what to think to thinking how to think.  Skills aren’t about learning information they are about changing behaviour and giving opportunities to experience the learning – in real situations that can be measured.  Skills are about transforming information into knowledge and action. A learner can learn skills but how are they supported to embed the skills into action, or create knowledge from information or behaviour from facts?My facilitation company BeSpokeSkills collaborates with my clients to encourage on-going learning.  It’s not easy though.  A lot of training companies deliver off-the-shelf courses but sell them as bespoke.  To really enable learner-led approaches you need to: 1. do your prep – so that you are speaking their language and putting it into their context. 2. be flexible during the session – so you can test they are learning and able to put it into practise.  This means you have to create a safe space for challenging dialogue to take place.  Real learning is tough, vulnerable and discombobulating.  To enable it to happen you need to create the right environment. 3. have follow up learning approaches. Once you’ve got them to realise how important the learning is and how it feels to use it, you need to help them think of ways to embed it daily and weekly.  This is the most difficult as requires people to change behaviour.  Understanding Choice Architecture or Nudge theory is key.  How do we nudge people to self manage their learning?  How do we make sure their assessments of their learning are valid?As companies want less time away from the desk and more impact from learning, we as trainers and facilitators need to find more collaborative ways to enable deeper and sustainable learning.  A beSpoke approach is key. With the rise of Artificial Intelligence we at beSpokeSkills are exploring ways to use AI or digital platforms for the information building and use the facilitator for the learner-led approach.  This means delivering content that has context.  Part of the context is making sure there are opportunities to embed and practise the learning afterwards.  However only the companies and their staff can truly take on this role of embedding learner-led approaches.  What we are exploring is how people can improve their collaborative learning skills – but these skills need to be developed earlier – in schools  universities and possibly in nurseries.  We at beSpokeSkills can help them find ways to create a learner-led, self managed learning ethos but it takes time and energy to implement.  Changing behaviour takes time just ask someone who wants to lose weight, get fit or learn an instrument. 

  • Political Influence the 7 scientific principles of persuasion
    by (Kate Faragher) on May 30, 2019 at 08:06

    What does science suggest is the best campaign strategy for the eleven MPs who have thrown their hat into the ring? What structures do they need to build to hold up their campaign? It might be a good idea to revisit the six principles of persuasion based on Robert Cialdini’s best selling book.  How can we translate these principles into what is happening in Westminster?Persuasion and influence are not short term strategies. Only those who have been playing the longer game will be able to achieve those aims.  However timing plays a key role too.  Those in the race need to be clear on what they can influence and what they can’t.  They need to have a clear strategy that is focused and flexible. Let’s examine how you achieve your political objectives through the 7 principles of persuasion. 1. Knowing your long game & the principle of repricocity. What is your political objective?  What qualities do you have and is it realistic to think you can achieve that objective?  Do you have the right skills?  Are you good at speaking in debates, in front of cameras?  What quality do you have that the party and the electorate will get behind?  This is about your values and how you go about doing things.  All these are important questions but they are questions that needed to be asked years ago and skills that needed to be demonstrate for years.  They will be part of the “making your mind up” strategy of every voting Conservative MP.  They are qualities that will be attributed to you, imagery that will be associated with you.  So they are important but it will be too late to influence them now.  They will need to build on them now.  The big question today is who supports you and will continue to support you in the coming weeks or months?Once you know who will vote, you need to be clear WHY they’ll vote for you and then leverage that motivation in others. How many of the leadership candidates have had their eyes on the prize?  We all know that Boris Johnson and Michael Gove have for some time but what about the others? Here is the list of eleven currently vying for the role The first critical step in the contest is to whittle the eleven down to two in a series of rounds.  So the candidates will need to have their backers ready and waiting in the wings. They will need to have been building advocates and supporters over the last few years to be ready.  There isn’t much time to campaign.  You need to have started ready.  2. Be authentic. It’s not all smoke and mirrors.  The principle of consistency. The longer you are in politics the more your voting record will speak volumes.  Has your authenticity matched your actions?So you need to be consistent in your messaging. However there is another side to the principle of consistency – if people said they liked you in the past – they are more likely to vote for you in the future.  People like to be consistent. So it might not look so good for Michael Gove who lost out to May and Leadsom in 2016.  However he has been working hard to get more endorsements – so can’t be ruled out. The thing about the principles of persuasion they don’t always work in isolation. Although the general public are not involved in the voting –  it’s MPs that vote in the first round, then party members to vote in the second round.  It is still important to make sure people know who you are beyond the corridors of parliament.  People will make their mind up according to how well you have positioned your profile.  They wont just be thinking of now but of the up and coming election.  Who could win and get the backing of the voters? Who could give them a stronger majority?3. Have a clear message – principle of authority.  No matter how clear your long term aim is or how authentic you are, if the message isn’t loud and clear no-one will know you’re there.  Already journalists are deciding which names to mention in their introductions and which they wont.  Will yours make it in?What is your campaign message and what differentiates it from the others?  Dominic Raab’s @ReadyforRaab” semi official twitter feed has a strong ring to it.  It has nice alliteration too! However Rory Stewart has the same twitter fan handle @ReadyforRory and Rory4Leader.  Jeremy Hunts’ critics are dominating his campaign message as “Theresa in trousers” which might not help his bid.  Steve Bakers @StandwithSteve, Boris’s @backboris both use alliteration but James Cleverly is going for @TeamCleverly. Priti for PM is great because it aligns it to the next general election by not using the word leader, however I can’t see that she has definitely put her hat into the ring, although there is rumour that she was seen filming a promo video recently.  Others are talking policies.  Gove has said he would offer free citizenship to EU citizens – a promise he says delivers on on the Vote Leave promise.  Esther McVey’s Blue Collar Conservatism is an in-party group looking to support voters in deprived areas..  So the candidates need to get clear on their three to four word slogan.  These short slogans need to be fun but not too cringy.  People need to feel comfortable saying them to each other and to be associated with that slogan. With such a short time to make an impact you need a phrase that floats to the top of people’s minds. It needs to stick. The use of alliteration is a great start but it will be those who embed a message within the slogan that  could tip the balance.  This phrase, if strong, will be quoted in the press and by the critics thus giving you an air of authority.  4. Build up your media influence – the principle of “liking” Jeremy Hunt needs to be aware of how negative slogans can spread.  He needs to nip that slogan in the bud and refocus people’s attention.  He needs to take control of the messaging if he can.  Using your media advocates is key here.  If a newspaper backs your bid, you may be in a stronger position. Again this isn’t a short term strategy – this is something you need to have been building for years.  The backing might be subtle – they might just write nicer things about you than they do about the others.   Which journalists know you and like you?  Use your contacts.  If good things are written in prominent places, voting MPs will read it and be convinced by it.  How many of them have good relationships with key critics?Don’t underestimate the power of being liked. 5. Get backing from people your Conservative peers will like  – principle of consensus If people aren’t sure who to back they will look to others to then decide what they think.  This scientifically proven method was used in hotels. Hotels that said “75% of people who stay in this hotel reuse their towels” then reuse goes up by 26%. So those opinion polls are a double whammy effect. If people think most of the others will vote that way – they may get behind the consensus.  This can back fire if all the other principles are not aligned.  We’ve seen it before in politics.  If people believe someone will win – it can focus people’s mind against them and build that counter-consensus.  6. show what makes you unique – principle of scarcity. The normal use of the principle of scarcity is to show people they only have a limited time to vote, buy or get involved.  However in this situation, the leadership campaigners need to point out what makes them unique.  People need to feel that THEY will lose out if they don’t consider your leadership bid.  If they think you might be able to have another go later – they might reconsider voting for you now.  Candidates need to show that their time is NOW and build on that momentum. As well as these six principles I believe there is one other that is key to this leadership campaign: timing.  In Cialdini’s most recent research for his book “PRE-SUASION” he talks about the importance of timing and what happens in the lead up to a decision.   7. The importance of TIMING Timing, like all great persuasion techniques require planning.  However there is one quirk in timing that may help one candidate over the other in this short term space.  The best sales people know that cultivating the relationship enables the most productive outcomes.  Often the difference between one product and the other is minimal – it is the relationship that matters. Trust is key.  So is it possible to influence the relationship?  Cialdini talks about the importance of what happens BEFORE you meet; BEFORE they hear your message.  What has happened just BEFORE they vote is key to the outcome.  For example people are more likely to buy German wine if they’ve just heard a German song on the shops sound system or French vintage if they’ve heard a French song. it’s not just Cialdini who talks about timing.  In Bill Goss’s Ted Talk on “The single biggest reason why start ups succeed” he talks about the importance of timing.  Air bnb succeeded because it started in the recession.  Uber came out when drivers were looking for extra work.  You tube was perfectly timed when the technical problems of video streaming were sorted.  So for success in start ups you need to be honest with yourself – are the consumers are ready for you. who are the Conservative Party ready for? Who is the timing right for?  Who fits the cultivated environment?What relationships have been cultivated, what trust has been built, what messages are sticking and who else believes in you? Only when all these principles merge will the outcome become clearer.Will Boris’s call to court be a positive or negative timing issue?  Will Esther McVey’s Blue Collar Conservative build momentum?  In this first round it’s difficult to know because who truly knows the minds of the Conservative MPs at the moment.  Every political commentator will say they do or go on to say they do.I believe what people are saying in public and what they think is a bit different at the moment.  Nobody really knows what is going on and what will happen.  Yet the norm is to look strong and clear without ambiguity.Attention & Association The last two principles that may apply in the scientific principles of persuasion is the importance of how the Conservative MPs “see” the candidate. What qualities to they associate with that candidate.  When you’re voting, how do you remember that person: what do you associate them with? Will it be the candidate’s position on Brexit or some other quality?  What part of their campaign will draw their attention and convince them to vote for them?These few qualities, thoughts and visuals that come to mind in the moment of decision making, will be the determiner.  So it will be the small moments that will build the voting picture and the long term associations that will embed in the minds of the MPs.  There is still time to cultivate these nudges.  They need to get a strong message, react to the daily events, associate themselves with “leadership qualities”.  Although there are key front runners there is still more strategy to be played out and noone is ticking all the persuasive boxes…yet.  And then of course we are all human so it will also be how they deal with any pitfalls along the way.  

  • Why sometimes does theatre get is to right? Should we ask Richard Feynman?
    by (Kate Faragher) on May 9, 2019 at 21:30

    Today I was delivering a course in Cardiff on Questioning.  10 years ago when I was developing the course I came across this amazing video by Richard Feynman.  In it a BBC journalist asked him why magnets repelled.  His answer is so brilliant I don’t want to spoil it for you.  I urge you to watch it. At the heart of it is the challenge of the question WHY?As I was walking back to my hotel I nipped into the Wales Millennium Centre.  In their Weston Studio Theatre the Paraorchestra, composer, Will Gregory, choreographer and co-director Caroline Bowditch and conductor and co-director Charles Hazelwood had collaborated on a piece based on the exact Richard Feynman interview.  I set myself up for disappointment.  My favourite scientist, collaborating with contemporary dancers in the round where musicians interplay with the audience was my idea of heaven.  At drama school in the 90s I was fascinated by the theatre director Grotowski’s use of space.  He had a tendency to put the audience where the performers normally are.  They had done the same.  We were in the centre while they were on the fringes.  Well I was blown away.  The mixture of dynamic composition, thoughtful movement and interplay with the audience was enhanced by the diversity of the orchestra.  Every performer looked out for each other.  The space oozed with empathy and care.  The space was held by every performer and we felt safe as an audience. This was the theatrical equivalent of facilitation. The space was made safe, the audience were asked to join in and stretch themselves as much as they were willing.  The performers listened to each other and the audience.  The movement was thoughtful, considered and playful as well as technically challenging.  The dancers had huge proprioceptive awareness – they knew exactly where each part of their body was positioned in space in relation to the audience.  Every position they took was considered with empathy for those around them. The young male dancer held his hand out to the older lady and beckoned her to join.  She mirrored his movements, moved seamlessly through the space and started to smile the most joyous smile.  I later found out she has never danced professionally or as an amateur – she just thought she’d go for it. The performers happily dealt with us all – wheelchair users, visually impaired, vertically curious.  We became part of it.  It was done gently.  A foot to foot.  A cello lifted slowly above and over your head.  A touch to the back as a group connected physically then parted just as swiftly. The interplay was sometimes structured, other times improvised.  The musicians also became part of the movement.  Charles Hazelwood moved as a conductor and then as a dancer.  The cello player’s cello was held up by another of the dancers as he played.  The vibraphone player was lifted like a ballerina while still playing perfectly every note.  The other percussionist danced as he moved round and towards the end gave out some instruments to the audience who played them to rhythmic perfection.  And then we stopped.  All together.  Even the audience members with the percussion instruments.  Not a bell or a shaker over the beat. The group had become one.  We had become the collaboration. Why does theatre get it so right sometimes?  Is the answer in magnets?  Sadly we can’t ask Richard Feynman but I’d love to think he might have a theory…. The Nature of Why is on at the Wales Millennium Centre for two more nights – grab a ticket while you can.