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   Thoughtscape: Thoughts and Tips from Mike Clayton


Issue 15

  Team Refresh
How to give new life to a tired team
    News and views



Dear %1

Teams go through cycles.  Not just the progressive improvement, from a group of people meeting each other for the first time, to a highly collaborative corps with a sense of shared responsibility.  Once you have achieved that, they still go through peaks and troughs. 

Today, we look at ten things you can do to re-energise a team that has been stretched and strained and wants a rest - yet still has work to do.

1. Take a Break
Your team wants rest: give it to them.  Often, a short, organised break from work for a team activity will re-invigorate your team to the extent that the increased productivity afterwards will re-pay the lost hours within days, rather than weeks.

It doesn't have to be expensive (a slap-up lunch, picnic in the park, early finish and afternoon in the pub), and it can be work - just a very different kind (volunteering or community service works well).

2. Good News 
Make a real effort to identify good news items you can report to the team and provide a stream of honest updates that highlight real progress of the team and the contribution their work is making.  Good news from outside, in the form of novelty items from the web can also lighten the mood and create a shared, fun experience.

3. Optimism
It is easy to get down under the pressures of deadlines and setbacks.  Your team will take their emotional cues from you, so cultivate an optimistic slant: not just shallow "glass half-full" optimism but a real focus on opportunities and solutions.  And always demonstrate your faith in each individual and in the team as a whole.

4. A problem shared...
Act as a sounding board for your team members' problems, frustrations and disappointments.  You rarely need to offer solutions - they can do that for themselves.  But they will value you most when you can listen uncritically and provide absolute support.

5. Recognise and Reward
Recognise individual and team successes and set up a scheme of celebrating and rewarding them: "person of the month", "innovation of the week", or "gaff of the day" can be a reason for the team to get together and feel god about themselves.  Token gifts and a round of applause are all you need.

6. ... and Tackle Under-performance 
Persistent under-performers can sap a team's energy.  When colleagues do not pull their weight, it feels unfair and demotivates us, so deal with the issues to ensure everyone feels that all of their colleagues are contributing fully.

7. Review Milestones and Schedules
Take a time-out to review your plan critically and evaluate your schedule and milestones.  Show your team that unreasonable milestones can move or that you are re-prioritising work to meet them, and that challenging milestones are achievable, will renew their sense of optimism and their sense of urgency.

8. Swap Roles 
Where possible, re-energise individuals by giving them new roles.  This can give fresh eyes to a stale problem, and new energy to a tired team-member.  People learn most after a settling in period, and then learning declines, so don't swap too often, but don't leave people to stagnate with little new to learn.

9. Greater Authority
If your team has been working together for a while, consider the development each member has been through and review how much autonomy, control and authority each person has.  Can you give them more, to both challenge and refresh them and lighten your own load?

10. New Blood
Maybe it's time for a small change.  Bringing in an outsider or two can shake up the team, put them on their mettle, and introduce new thinking.  sadly, this may mean benching a valuable team member, but done well, this can be their chance to continue growing, when they have out-grown the role they are in.


Brilliant Project Leader
What the best project leaders know, do and say to get results, every time


Brilliant Project Leader
17 November
Order here

"This has the ability to greatly enhance your effectiveness and capability.  It is a must read for all current or aspiring project leaders."
Charles Vivian
Head of Programme and Project Leadership



Recent Blog Posts

Naomi Campbell and Me
It turns out that Naomi Campbell is reading my latest book...
... and liking it!

Initiative Overload and
Project Prioritisation

I offer five reasons why organisations often resist rationalising their project activity

Risk Potential Assessment
Looks at the concept of the Risk Potential Review and links to the Major Projects Authority's Risk Potential Assessment tool.

There's more to life
It really is true: money can't buy you happiness.  And now there is research data to prove it.

Online Project Management Software
Cloud computing offers vast choice of tools for PMs and remote collaborators.  Here is a list of some of the tools around.

Young Apprentice

I am now in the swing of blogging after each episode.  Catch up with my analysis of:

Or click here for my Young Apprentice homepage.


Two Seminars you may like

Practical Project Management

Brilliant Project Leader

These are two of the 16 seminars I am currently offering.  Here is the full list:

  • Three hour MBA

  • Seven Ways to get More from Your People

  • Seven Ways to get More from Yourself

  • Brilliant Influence:
    Ten Secrets of Persuasion

  • Brilliant Project Leader

  • Brilliant Time Management

  • Faster, Better, Cheaper

  • How to Read People

  • It ain't the Stress that does the Damage

  • It won't work because...
    Handling Resistance to Change

  • More than just Survival:
    Thriving in Times of Change

  • Practical Decision Making

  • Practical Problem Solving

  • Practical Project Management

  • Risk Happens!
    Control Risk and Avoid Failure
    in Organisational Projects

  • The Seven Rules of Project Management

Learn more on my website.




Brilliant Project Leader

Brilliant Project Leader is published tomorrow.  I received the advance copies yesterday and am very pleased with it.

Brilliant Project Leader
17 November

Amazon currently has a healthy pre-publication discount of 46%, with their pre-order price guarantee. Order here at just 7.01.

If you have attended my project management training or seminars you will know that my approach to project management is highly practical.  So, to accompany the book, I prepared a resource pack of 12 project management templates.  You can now download these at the Brilliant Project Leader website and, at the same time, take a look at the contents of this book.  It will be my seventh.

It is a great complement to...

Risk Happens!
Managing Risk and Avoiding Failure in Business Projects


Risk Happens! is available in paperback, iBook and Kindle formats.  It is accessible to new project managers, yet has tools and resources that will give experienced hands new ideas too.  It includes 60 invaluable tables and checklists, and 57 figures and diagrams. On the Risk Happens! website, you will find more downloads of risk management tools.


Naomi Campbell
Notoriously stressed super model Naomi Campbell is "reading an amazing book called Brilliant Stress Management by Mike Clayton."

Yes, that is a direct quote, which Thoughtscape reader Judith alerted me to, in the December edition of Harper's Bazaar.  Read all about it here.

Brilliant Stress Management
Order Here

Brilliant Stress Management is in the WH Smiths travel Top 50

My latest book, Brilliant Stress Management grew out of a seminar and keynote called:  
"It ain't the Stress that does the Damage"

This seminar is only available  in-house - 90 min to 3 hour formats.  The focus is on building the resilience to thrive in a stressful environment. 

Contact me for details of how to book  "It ain't the Stress that does the Damage" or its companion seminar: "More than just survival: Thriving in times of Change".


The Three-hour MBA
Tomorrow, I will be in London, at RIBA, delivering two seminars:
Brilliant Time Management in the morning and The Three-hour MBA in the afternoon.

Both sessions have SOLD OUT - Three-hour MBA has sold out the largest seminar room RIBA has, at 65 people, with a wait list.

The Three-hour MBA, has been a great success as an open event, with some cracking feedback.  I am taking bookings for in-house seminars. 

"A lot of information in a short space of time but delivered superbly that
made it manageable."


Final 2011 Seminar Dates
The Three-hour MBA (afternoons) along with
Brilliant Time Management (mornings), in November:

  • 17 November:

  • London
    RIBA in Portland Place

  • 22 November: Manchester
    Renaissance Hotel

  • 23 November: Birmingham
    Copthorne Hotel

You can still book onto these events (except tomorrow's, which are SOLD OUT) by calling 01227 252100. There is a calendar on my website, where you can see all of the dates.

Practical Project Management and
Risk Happens! Control Risk and Avoid Failure in Organisational Projects will be back in the new year.  We are still finalising dates, so watch this space.


... and finally:
Do you remember my last Newsletter?

It got picked up by the Huffington Post, who re-presented it as a slide show  It looks great, but can you spot the mistake?

Rather than copy and Paste, they re-typed some of it, and in so doing, the title of one section (slide 9 of 11) was changed from "Smart Snacking" (wise advice) to "Start Snacking".

Beware the press!



My focus this year ...
... is on writing, responding to press enquiries, and new speaking engagements.  If you know a conference organiser who is looking for an engaging speaker with great testimonials, please do send them to my website: www.mikeclayton.co.uk.  If you need a speaker now, just contact me using the links below, or the contact form on my website.  You can download my speaker pack here.

Best regards


I recognise you get a lot of email and I don't want to add unwanted inbox clutter.  I intend to give useful tips and thoughts, but if you don't wish to get any more, I will understand, so just click the "no more emails" link and they'll stop.

Many thanks

    Please contact me ...
... mike@mikeclayton.co.uk
... Tel: 08456 441349
... www.mikeclayton.co.uk
... on Twitter @mikeclayton01

no more emails
Mike Clayton, 2011