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Getting the best from your team

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To quote John F Kennedy: “We stand today on the edge of a new frontier – a frontier of unknown opportunities and perils – a frontier of unfulfilled hopes and threats.”

That might seem a little dramatic for your average employer, but when it comes to the new world of employer/employee relations, it is highly relevant.

Brought about by a mixture of skills shortages, increased pressure on productivity, and millennials having a very different view on the concept of employment than their predecessors, companies are being forced to look at their role in supporting and engaging their workforce in a new light.

According to talent services specialists Ford & Stanley, it is a world filled with opportunity for the brave and ambitious, but one not without risk.

“There is a significant shortage of skilled people at every level and the hard reality is that people with in-demand skills will choose to ply their trade with the employer they feel the most engaged with,” said Andy Duncan, head of GENIUS Performance Coaching.

“I work with a diverse portfolio of clients and whether it’s a Premier League striker living a champagne lifestyle, or a shop floor fitter trying to put food on the table for their family, the underlying issues that impact their engagement and performance are exactly the same.

“Personal circumstances, traumatic events, debilitating beliefs and habits that keep people from fulfilling their true potential do not have barriers in terms of job titles. Whatever you do, whether you like it or not, you bring your wphole self to work, and that might mean things that you have felt troubled by for 15 minutes or 20 years. You can’t just leave them at the door.

“Helping people with these things is the type of engagement employees are looking for.”

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Ford & Stanley Group’s chairman, Peter Schofield
Ford & Stanley Group’s chairman, Peter Schofield

On the agenda

Interest in GENIUS Performance Coaching has intensified in recent times, in line with increased publicity on the impact of mental health issues on industry and commerce. It brings with it, according to Duncan, both opportunity and threat; employers want to act but risk being blinded in a blizzard of available solutions.

“The publicity surrounding the impact of mental health issues is a good thing because it is now firmly on the agenda of all responsible organisations. With that, however, comes the inevitable feeding frenzy of people wanting to push their ideas forward as the ‘silver bullet’ solution,” he said.

“I don’t count Ford & Stanley as being in that space because we believe that there is merit in all sorts of approaches – the key is understanding which apply where.”

Working on highly personalised one-to-one sessions – normally four, one-hour-long sessions – is enough, said Duncan – the GENIUS approach is about encouraging employees to look forward to where they are happiest, more fulfilled and therefore most productive at work.

Unlike traditional therapy or CBT, there is no reliving the trauma, said Duncan, or “irrelevant” assumptions, boundaries or parameters to “shoe-horn” the employee into. “Our starting point is ‘where do you want to be’ and we take it from there.”

Deeper approach

GENIUS coaching is the distillation of Duncan’s life experiences, lessons and professional skills. These include neuro-linguistic programming (NLP), Emotional Freedom Techniques (EFT), Ericksonian hypnotherapy, psychotherapy, performance coaching and mentoring.

Ford & Stanley Group’s chairman, Peter Schofield , said there is a huge competitive advantage to be gained for those organisations who take a deeper approach to the issue of individual performance improvement, and believes that the rail sector can learn a lot from the way in which its GENIUS Performance Coaching team works with its sports clients.

“When we first work with a football club, we work with the management team to assess their perception of individual player engagement, and with the player himself. We work with that individual for a period of time on any issue that’s preventing them from being at the peak of their A-game and always, without fail, see an improvement,” he said.

“Within minutes of the final whistle, the manager can correlate improvement in player engagement with improvement on the pitch – proving that employee engagement works.

“Industries which lack measurement criteria for employee engagement often ultimately solicit the same response from those with their hands on the purse strings: ‘so what?’.

“It’s worth remembering that old adage ‘measure what’s important – and if you don’t yet measure it then find a way’.”


Running alongside GENIUS Performance Coaching is GENIUS OnBoard, where performance experts work with a candidate through the often-stressful resignation process, notice period and then the first 100 days of their new employment, ensuring they are settled, motivated and performing at their peak.

“When someone is considering a new role, there is pressure everywhere; from the current employer, the new employer, a sense of loyalty within yourself. It’s hard to know what’s for the best,” said Duncan.

“The objective support and advice we give has proved incredibly successful, as has the help in the first period of new employment as clients get settled, as invariably there is a wobble or two.”

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