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Building Trust in Teams

posted 13 Mar 2017, 06:48 by Sally Butler   [ updated 13 Mar 2017, 06:50 ]

I'm currently researching how to build trust in teams. There doesn't appear to be a thorough list out there. I see repetition with a few attributes, such as using effective team building exercises, and getting to know one another better, but I want to put a few of my ideas down and welcome feedback on what you would include/exclude from my list.

1) Lead by example - be open and transparent as a leader - if you make a mistake admit it

2) Encourage diversity when recruiting, without this you will experience "group-think" and stagnate

3) Respond to mistakes constructively - by quickly addressing, but providing a no-blame culture so that people can learn from mistakes

4) Give honour where honour is due - don't hog the glory yourself for a team achievement - rather honour those who bring success to the team

5) Provide vision - communicate where you are intending to go as a team

6) Show your values as a team - what is important to your business

7) Respect and encourage constructive debate - allow people to express their concerns, but encourage this to be done with respect

8) Give people responsibility and authority to act

9) Do not allow back-biting, but keep constructive communication open in meetings

10) Seek 360 degree feedback from your team and encourage team members to do the same

11) Provide opportunity to let your hair down with each other - team away day maybe?

If you have anything I can add to my list please let me know. I value contributions from those out there who have worked in a good team before (or still).


Should a leader expose their weaknesses?

posted 26 Oct 2016, 07:39 by Sally Butler   [ updated 26 Oct 2016, 07:42 ]

Do we try to hide our frailties and weaknesses from those we lead? Are we concerned that somehow exposing our weaknesses will cause those who are subordinate to us to lose faith and confidence in us?

Too often leade
rs hide their imperfections out of a misguided belief that failings will cause subordinates to think less of us. Leaders set the culture in an organisation.
Banduras Social Learning theory speaks of how we model ourselves on people that gain our attention (our boss), retention of the information (whether the behaviour is easily remembered), reproduction (are we able to actual reproduce the behaviour), and motivation (the perceived rewards -pay off) for imitating the behaviour.   If we hide decide to hide our faults, then our staff may also model this behaviour and hide their own faults. Costly mistakes can then occur and important lessons are not learnt!

If we discuss problems and difficulties with our subordinates we can engage them into problem solving activities. An important aspect to consider is to ensure that you instil confidence in your subordinates, and that you don’t become “undone” with these problems; rather model confidence in your joint ability to overcome these problems/difficulties. This will give the freedom for staff to admit when they make a mistake, and that the blame game isn’t adopted. As leaders, it is important that we value problem-solving activities amongst our staff; we want solutions and forward thinking rather than finding out who did it! 

We need to speak to our staff like adults not children - all too often we seek to find the culprit, resulting in denial by the staff member, finger pointing, and blame shifting. 



posted 2 Sep 2015, 04:35 by Sally Butler   [ updated 2 Sep 2015, 04:42 ]


“Quit!” “Give up, you’re beaten!” they shout at me and plead,
“There’s just too much against you now, this time you can’t succeed.”

And as I started to hang my head in front of failure’s face,
My downward fall is broken by the memory of a race.
And hope refills my weakened will as I recall that scene.
For just the thought of that short race rejuvenates my being.

A children’s race, young boys, young men; now I remember well.
Excitement, sure, but also fear; it wasn’t hard to tell.

They all lined up so full of hope. 
Each thought to win the race
Or tie for first, if not that, at least take second place.

And fathers watched from off the side, each cheering for his son,
And each boy hoped to show his dad that he would be the one.

The whistle blew and off they sped, as if they were on fire
To win, to be the hero there, was each boy’s desire.
And one boy in particular, his dad was in the crowd,
Was running near the lead and thought, “My dad will be so proud.”

But as he speeded down the field, across the shallow dip,
The little boy who thought to win lost his step and slipped.
Trying hard to catch himself, his arm flew out to brace,
And ‘mid the laughter of the crowd, he fell flat on his face.

So, down he fell, and with him, hope. He couldn’t win it now.
Embarrassed, sad, he only wished he’d disappear somehow.
But, as he fell, his dad stood up and showed his anxious face,
Which to the boy so clearly said, “Get up and win the race!”

He quickly rose, no damage done, behind a bit, that’s all.
And ran with all his mind and might to make up for the fall.
So anxious to restore himself, to catch up and to win,
His mind went faster than his legs. He slipped and fell again.
He wished he had quit before with only one disgrace.
“I’m hopeless as a runner now, I shouldn’t try to race.”

But, in the laughing crowd he searched and found his father’s face.
That steady look that said again, “Get up and win the race!”

So, he jumped up to try again, ten yards behind the last;
“If I’m to gain those yards,” he thought, “I’ve got to run real fast!”
Exceeding everything he had, he regained eight or ten,
But trying so hard to catch the lead, he slipped and fell again.
Defeat! He lay there silently, a tear dropped from his eye.
“There’s no sense running more. Three strikes, I’m out…why try?”

The will to rise had disappeared, all hope had fled away.
So far behind, so error-prone, a loser all the way.
“I’ve lost, so what’s the use?” he thought, “I’ll live with my disgrace.”

But, then he thought about his dad, who soon he’d have to face.
“Get up,” an echo sounded low, “Get up and take your place.
You weren’t meant for failure here; get up and win the race.”

With borrowed will, “Get up,” it said, “You haven’t lost at all,
For winning is no more than this–to rise each time you fall.”

So up he rose to win once more. And with a new commit,
He resolved that win or lose, at least he wouldn’t quit.

So far behind the others now, the most he’d ever been.
Still, he gave it all he had, and ran as though to win.

Three times he fallen, stumbling, three times he rose again.
Too far behind to hope to win, he still ran to the end.
They cheered the winning runner, as he crossed the line, first place,
Head high and proud and happy; no falling, no disgrace.

But, when the fallen crossed the finish line, last place,
The crowd gave him the greater cheer for finishing the race.
And even though he came in last, with head bowed low, unproud,
You would have thought he won the race, to listen to the crowd.
And to his dad, he sadly said, “I didn’t do so well.”
“To me you won,” his father said, “You rose each time you fell.”

And now when things seem dark and hard and difficult to face,
The memory of that little boy helps me in my race.
For all of life is like that race, with ups and downs and all.
And all you have to do to win is rise each time you fall.

“Quit!” “Give up, you’re beaten!” They still shout in my face,
But another voice within me says, “Get up and win the race!”

Dr D H Groberg

10 Steps on how to make your Customer Really Angry!

posted 16 Apr 2014, 03:19 by Sally Butler   [ updated 11 Mar 2015, 02:59 ]

I don't know about you, but have you sometimes gone to complain about something and found yourself getting increasingly angry? I am generally not an angry person, but when it comes to Customer Service I tend to see red from time to time! This is mainly due to a number of factors that the customer representative throws my way. So with this in mind I thought it would be good to share how to make me angry, and I am guessing you too?

1) Debate the facts - this is particularly useful if the person is highly emotional and is talking rubbish! Use every opportunity to prove them wrong - customers love this.

2) Provide an answer really quickly - why waste your customers time explaining all that they have found wrong - jump in and provide a fantastic solution that you just know will suit them perfectly.

3) Ask they why they hadn't done... Customers enjoy being asked why they hadn't followed the procedure, it gives them a real sense of purpose.

4) Blame them - it's important that the customer knows when they are wrong and that you are right. They wouldn't respect you if you took the blame for something.

5) Use sarcasm/humour - why not use a bit of humour to lighten the mood? I know most customers find jokes particulary funny when they are angry.

6) Blame your colleagues/organsation - if it's not your fault certainly don't take the blame. I'm sure that your customer will appreciate the fact that you didn't do anything wrong, but your colleague/organisation did. 

7) Change the subject - Customers are like us, they don't like conflict, they will appreciate the opportunity to talk about the weather, or anything else that takes them away from the source of conflict. 

8) Pull the poor-me card out - I think sometimes the customer just needs to know how you don't know the job well, that you are stressed, that you haven't been told what to do. 

9) Use as many buzz words/technical in-house terms you can think of - this really impresses the customer with your knowledge. I think they particularly like it when you mention things like - we will put it on our "lessons learnt" file

10) Admit you know there is a problem in this area - let the customer know they are not the only one who has complained - it is a nice surprise for them that they aren't on their own! 

How to Carry out an Induction (tips)

posted 16 Apr 2014, 03:17 by Sally Butler   [ updated 10 Mar 2015, 06:51 ]


Have you ever worked somewhere and have been left to sink or swim? There are so many things that people need when they begin with an organisation. As management we can sometimes become so busy that we don’t give our staff the time to acclimatise to a new place of work. Employing a new member of staff is a costly process, with writing job descriptions and person specs, advertising the new post, spending valuable time on interviews, collating references, medical history, and proof of right to work in the UK, sending out contracts, and adding to the payroll with all the tax implications. Then we can just give the new person lots to read but not explain processes, procedures, and norms of behaviour. Let alone the health and safety implications. Why not make for yourself a comprehensive check list? Yes, it takes time, but again it can be used over and over again and saves costly mistakes.


Health and safety issues such as carry out a Display Screen Equipment check. Where are the first aiders and the first aid box? Who is the fire warden? Where to congregate in the event of a fire? The last thing you want is someone going sick with musculoskeletal issues. Provide adaptations for people with dyslexia, repetitive strain injuries, sight impairment.

Create a simple flow chart of procedures that highlight documents and where to find them. This will save the new person from making mistakes in the procedure and ensure efficiency.  

Buddy your new person up with someone who is familiar with the role, to enable them to learn what is required of them. Making sure that the buddy is someone you want the new member of staff to emulate.

Provide a simple ICT structure so that necessary documents can be found. Label documents when printed with the file location.

Provide a “who is who” photo organisational structure to enable the new staff member to familiarise themselves with names and settle in quickly with their colleagues.

Ensure policies are accessible, better still summarise policies into layman’s speak.

Equip your new person with resources such as a place to call their own, including stationery, equipment, and materials they are likely to need.

Arrange a meeting with each person they need to be in regular contact with to find out where they fit in to the organisation.

Whilst the above seems a challenge, many smaller organisations miss out on this vital step of employment. Putting the initial effort in can save money on mistakes, long term sickness, potential court cases and grievances.

For more resources there is an excellent checklist available from ACAS which you could

What is a Locus of Control?

posted 19 Feb 2014, 06:00 by Sally Butler   [ updated 10 Mar 2015, 06:53 ]

"A locus of control orientation is a belief about whether the outcomes of our actions are contingent on what we do (internal control orientation) or on events outside our personal control (external control orientation)." (Zimbardo, 1985)

Internal Locus of Control

If you have a high internal Locus of Control you believe in your own ability to control your life and the world around you. You will see the future as being in your own hands and that your own choices lead to success or failure.

Positive factors:

If you feel that you are in control of yourself and your environment you tend to be more confident and influential. You will also be more intrinsically motivated rather than needing an external force to validate you. If you believes that you are in control of your destiny, you are more likely to show great effort to achieve high performance.

Negative factors:

If you are extremely internally focused you can be very hard on yourself, blaming yourself for things that may have been out of your control. An internally-focused person will be hard on themselves and constantly analyse what they did wrong. That perspective almost forces these individuals to be hard driven individuals that at times can adopt a take-no-prisoners attitude.


External Locus of Control

If you have a high external locus of control you believe that you have little or no control over the environment and that you are subject to “fate” or whatever “luck” comes your way. All you can do is obey the system which controls you.

Positive factors:

If  you are externally focused you don’t feel a sense of guilt and can happily go along blaming the world around you for things that go wrong; which can mean that you are extremely laid back and relaxed about life, or accepting of life situations.  

Negative factors:

In this position you may believe that others have control over you and that you can do nothing but obey. You may step back from situations, assuming that you cannot make a difference.Conversely, those that have an external focus may come off as someone who just does not accept responsibility. While they are and can be team players, if the result is not a positive one, they will be the first to complain that something outside their personal control attributed to the shortfall.


If you're a person with an internal locus of control and you get a promotion at work. You will probably attribute the success to the hard work you put in.

If you have an external locus of control, you might attribute that promotion to environmental factors, such as luck, fate, timing, or other people.

If you were denied a promotion and your locus of control is internal, you would find a way to blame yourself for the perceived failure. If your locus of control is external, it would be easy, even natural, to blame outside sources beyond your control.

Those with an internal locus of control:

  • Are more likely to take responsibility for their actions
  • Tend to be less influenced by the opinions of other people
  • Often do better at tasks when they are allowed to work at their own pace
  • Usually have a strong sense of self-efficacy
  • Tend to work hard to achieve the things they want
  • Feel confident in the face of challenges
  • Tend to be physically healthier
  • Report being happier and more independent
  • Often achieve greater success in the workplace

Those with an external locus of control:

  • Blame outside forces for their circumstances
  • Often credit luck or chance for any successes
  • Don't believe that they can change their situation through their own efforts
  • Frequently feel hopeless or powerless in the face of difficult situations
  • Are more prone to experiencing learned helplessness

 So what conclusion can we draw from this information? I would suggest that a good leader has an internal locus of control. But along with the internal locus of control it should go hand in hand with a positive outlook, a negative outlook and you may find the individual difficult to work with. Whereas, it may be better for someone in a highly controlled environment to hold a more external locus of control, as the individual will be happier not being pressured to take responsibility.

Neither of these states are a permanent fixture, if someone should want a more internal LOC then start setting achievable goals. These goals when achieved can be very rewarding and enable the individual realise that they can be the master of their own destiny.



Amygdala Hijack

posted 19 Feb 2014, 05:58 by Sally Butler

Amygdala Hijack (more information on the Managing Stress course)

Due to life being as it is we are going to experience conflict situations. How we handle these conflict situations can work for or against us. Sometimes we react without thinking when we face conflict - this is called an amygdala hijack. The caveman part of us is faced with a "flight/fight/freeze" reaction. This happens so quickly that we are often unaware of what actually happened, hence you hear the stories of the have-a-go granny, or the super human strength that people find they have during these times of stress. 

How does it all work? 

1. The journey begins with sensation received by our eyes, ears, nose, and mouth which are routed to the thalamus.

2. The thalamus acts as an

Amygdala Hijack
"air traffic controller" to keep the signals moving. In a typical situation, the thalamus directs the impulse to the cortex for processing

3.The cortex "thinks" about the impulse and makes sense. "Aha," it says, "this is …………… It means I should ………….." That signal is then sent to the amygdala where a flood of peptides and hormones are released to create emotion and action.

4.  In what Dan Goleman labelled "The Hijacking of the Amygdala," the thalamus has a different reaction. Like any skilled air traffic controller, the thalamus can quickly react to potential threat. In that case, it bypasses the cortex -- the thinking brain - and the signal goes straight to the amygdala. The amygdala can only react based on previously stored patterns.

Potential Conflict Scenario: 

You’ve had a hard day, you have made 20 sales calls and not one caller was positively responsive.  As you’re walking out of the office a colleague approaches you and starts to attack the way you do things, suggesting that you are not up for the job. Their comments are delivered sarcastically.

What happens?

You feel like your blood pressure has hit the roof and you can’t focus on anything. What the colleague has said has pushed your buttons and you immediately reply with an equal amount of sarcasm and abuse, which makes the situation worse. Before you know it, you’re resulting in a verbal fight and your other colleague has to intervene.

Afterwards you say to yourself “How did that happen?”

What you experienced was an “amygdala hijack.” The amygdala is the “fight or flight” and emotional memory part of the brain. Its job is to protect you by comparing incoming data with emotional memories. An amygdala hijack happens when we respond excessively with the actual threat because it has triggered a much more significant emotional threat. For instance, the amygdala will react similarly to the threat of being attacked by a lion (physical threat) and the threat of an ego attack (emotional threat) by bringing on the fight or flight reaction.

When you experience an amygdala hijack, the amygdala overtakes the cerebrum (the thinking part of the brain) and you lose the ability to rely on reasoning. Your energy is drawn exclusively into the hijack. The immediate result of a hijack is a decrease in working memory. Adrenaline is released and will be present and effective for 18 minutes, and other hormones are released into the bloodstream that will take 3 - 4 hours to clear.

At this point you may be wondering, well if this all happens, what hope have I got of reacting sensibly to the perceived threat? I just go with emotions and flow at the time! 

The simple 4 steps to reduce the chance of an amygdala hijack are SOAP:

Stop. Stop whatever you’re doing. Ask yourself what just happened. Replay the comments in your head. This step keeps the neocortex engaged and can prevent the amygdala’s takeover.

Oxygenate. Breathe deeply, with intention and purpose. This step also keeps the neocortex engaged.

Appreciate. It’s difficult to have two emotional experiences at the same time, and appreciation counters the hijack. While it’s especially effective to appreciate the source of the hijack (i.e. appreciating the colleague is concerned about their job), any appreciation of anything will be helpful. If you can’t appreciate the person who is the source of the conflict, appreciate parts of your own life, such as your family and friends.

Ponder. After the hijack, spend some time exploring what happened and why. Recognising the trigger will allow you to avoid being triggered in the future.

So the old adage of count to 10 really does work. The only thing to bear in mind in addition to Stopping our thoughts is to replace them with positive thoughts. If we just count to 10 or stop what we are saying, the thoughts can return and start the process off again. 

If you are interested in knowing more why not join the Managing Stress Training course - just register your interest and I will let you know when the next course is running. 


Re-engaging employees after redundancies

posted 10 Jul 2012, 03:14 by Sally Butler   [ updated 10 Jul 2012, 03:14 ]

You have been through some cut backs and trimmed down your employees becoming a much leaner organisation. Now it is time to build up morale and re-engage your employees. The psychological contract between key decision makers and employees cutbacks has been damaged and it now needs to be re-built. There are few people unscathed by the cutbacks, even if not directly affected.

Remember back to childhood are you a younger sibling? Do you remember vividly elder siblings being punished? Often the effects of seeing older siblings punished puts the fear of god in you and either stops you from misbehaving, or makes you a little sneakier so that you don’t get found out! At least, it will result in passive aggressive tendencies.

This behaviour doesn’t change, whilst employees who are left in the organisation after cut backs may appear quiet and compliant, are they being sneaky, or perhaps passively aggressive?

Trust has been damaged; wounded workers don’t make for a happy team!

So how can we re-engage these wounded soldiers? I would like to suggest a few steps that will start the process of healing:

1)      Decision makers to humbly admit if they made any mistakes and put their hands up (if you don’t start with this any further steps could aggravate the problem).

2)      Decision makers to communicate empathy (this has to be honest)

3)      Give employees a voice so there concerns can be heard (and addressed wherever possible). This will help produce security in employees.

4)      Communicate respect and value to existing employees.

5)      Re-envision employees to the leaner organisation (values, vision and goals).

6)      Help employees settle into their new roles and give them tools to manage the new workload effectively.

7)      Invest in training and development (this will enable employees to feel that they have true value for the future).

Sally Butler Chartered MCIPD


posted 25 Jun 2012, 02:24 by Sally Butler   [ updated 13 Jul 2017, 07:21 by Sally Butler ]

Presentations and how to improve them

Over the years I have seen many presentations and have been surprised how messy and unprofessional they look. I may be being picky, but the errors are many! To name but a few:
1) Too much information on a slide - writing becomes far too small and unreadable to your audience
2) Pictures are very cheap and amateurish with little walking gifs confusing the whole page
3) Backgrounds are picked from templates - far too dark and oppressive leaving you struggling to see what is written
4) Long lines of text and no visual impact - dare I say boring your audience
5) Images and text poorly designed
Then there is of course the sin of reading your PowerPoint points and adding nothing - why does your audience need to be there, just send them an article and let them read themselves!
I have also seen the back of many heads with presenters turning to face their presentations and giving their PowerPoint rapt attention.
The old acronym KISS comes to mind - Keep It Simple Stupid!
I understand that some people are not designers, feel lacking in creativity when it comes to design and feel that PowerPoint is a comfort blanket. I have to admit when I began presentations humm... many years ago! I used to hide behind my presentation, thinking at least I won't get eye balled all the time. Now, I enjoy making people laugh with humorous images. I like to aid memory retention with snappy acronyms and I like to make a presesntation memorable.
If you in all honesty think help, I need some help here why not let me re-design your presentation to make it memorable - so that you can stand out for that Interview, Sales Pitch, Board meeting or Training session?
Be amazed at how reasonable your presentation re-style will be and understand that it's not a cost, but an investment into getting the job/pitch/message over.
Ring 01522 685299, or email 
 for a free quote (quotes will depend upon the number of slides/the images/and the acronyms you want)
Alternatively, why not undertake a Presentation Skills course (details under seminars)?

Exit interview analysis

posted 6 Jun 2012, 02:15 by Sally Butler   [ updated 7 Feb 2014, 08:26 by Sally Butler ]

In response to a LinkedIn analysis 6 June 2012 on Exit Interview reasons for leaving; I have added my findings from the public sector back in 2007 for comparison. The responses may be very different today due to public sector cutbacks. I would envisage a much higher response from respondents to Job security (below it is only showing 1%). Job satisfaction was the most important factor.  This should make managers reconsider their need to enrich work rather than increase pay to retain employees.

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