If no one goes to work to be difficult, why are they?

February 14, 2018

“Whatever the question is, love is the answer.”

I love this quote. It reminds me to move my focus from the superficial noise and angst, onto ‘what really matters here’.  No one goes to work to be unhappy.  No one goes to work to deliberately antagonise others, to be difficult – and yet that’s what we experience.

People are complex – and that simultaneously makes them brilliant and challenging. Increasingly employees (and customers) are becoming more demanding – for a number of reasons, and they have higher expectations. This is forcing managers and leaders to re-evaluate their own roles and their own behaviour. Management used to be primarily around the management of tasks – it just happened that a primary resource was often human.  This stems from the industrial revolution when we were machine-centric, and the humans worked around the capability and physicality of the machines.  My first degree was in Ergonomics (the man-machine interface), so I understand this.

“This is forcing managers and leaders to re-evaluate their own roles and their own behaviour.”

We’re moving beyond this now, at an exponential rate, and managers HAVE to manage people – not just as a resource but as individuals. For some managers this is normal – the way they’ve always worked. For many it’s a huge challenge, and it’s a challenge to their identity, to the way they generate respect and action.  Skills training alone is not enough, so ticking the box on a management course just won’t create the changes required. That’s why I work with motivation first.

There a powerful story that Tony Robbins tells of a woman who pulls out her hair; pulls it out so her scalp bleeds and people avoid her. Tony explains that, however strange and illogical the behaviour, at some level it works for the person. Otherwise they wouldn’t continue to do it, and we have to address this first.  (In this case – it was a deliberate strategy to avoid being hurt by others by making herself so undesirable.)  At a simple level, that’s why we’ve all read books, been on training courses and applied little of what we’ve learned.  The motivation, the deep desire for a different outcome, has to come first.  As they say ‘Where there’s a will, there’s a way.’  And we’ve all heard stories of people who overcome all sorts of challenges – because it mattered to them.

“However strange and illogical the behaviour, at some level it works for the person, and we have to address this first.”

So today – as it’s Valentine’s Day, if you experience others who are being difficult, why not take a moment to wonder ‘why’?  Love is a verb – and the most loving thing you can do today, might be to take a moment to understand what’s really going on for someone else.  #motivatedperformance

Fit, lean and agile teams – getting fit for change

June 7, 2016

by Paul Kinvig and Susannah Brade-Waring – Business Coaches & Facilitators with Aspirin Business Solutions


The Scottish golf club Muirfield’s decision not to change its 272 year men-only membership policy has proved to be very costly, as it’s lost the right to stage one of the most prestigious golf tournaments in the world – The Open.  By contrast, it came as a real surprise to us just how many world changing inventions/ discoveries/ innovations can be attributed to Scotland and its people. Here are just a few – pneumatic tyre, telephone, television, hypodermic syringe, penicillin, flush toilets and refrigerators.

Contrast that again to the high speed world of Formula 1, which has made a number of mind-blowing changes – for example moving from being predominantly funded by cigarette advertising prior to its international ban, and in achieving the seemingly impossible feat of a sub 3 second pit stop.

In order to survive and thrive as an organisation, the need to both embrace and drive change has passed from being an option to a fundamental requirement.

Racing drivers know that going slow into the bend allows us to be faster going out.  Leaders who deliver change successfully, know the same holds true for organisations.  So it’s in the preparation for change that the race is won.

Whilst every organisation is going through change, for some it is slow and predictable. Whereas, the retail market is moving so quickly it’s difficult to know what we need to change to, let alone how we do that.  The best we can do is become more agile, leaner and well-equipped so we are fit and ready for change.  And, the golden lining, when the team are ready, they’ll start to drive the change themselves.

So, how do we become more agile, leaner and well-equipped?  Here are 3 things to consider:

1. Re-recruit

We’re very familiar with re-recruiting for sporting teams, picking the players who’ll help us achieve our objectives for the next season.  But what if we applied the same policy to our teams?  After all, even if we are in the same role today as we were 2 years ago, it’s highly likely that the requirements of the job have changed.  So bearing in mind the current and foreseeable future requirements of your team, who would you automatically re-recruit, who will make the grade given training, mentoring or coaching, and who probably won’t?  We acknowledge that this idea will feel intensely uncomfortable to some, however we’re actually being much fairer to everyone if we acknowledge the likely struggle to keep up and, as leaders, to face this head-on.  A good test of whether we need to think about re-recruiting is that when a vacancy comes up, do we just automatically use the same job description?  And if someone is unlikely to ‘make the grade’ they may thrive incredibly well in a redefined job role.


 2. Develop an ethos of team working

Change brings new challenges and uncertainty.  Therefore, the need for people to work together as teams, with trust and appreciation for each others’ talents increases significantly.  Consider, if you will, two examples – firstly that of a flock of geese who would never migrate if they couldn’t depend on each other, and secondly the F1 pit stops – where a sub 3 second pit stop utterly depends on having the right people, in the right roles with the right equipment.

Teams waste time and energy when there is an atmosphere of mistrust and blame and lose focus on achieving what is ahead because they are looking around and behind them.  This is often exemplified by team members not believing that change is necessary, that there’s a hidden agenda or not trusting others to get their part of the work done.  And, it can be easier to fail by refusing to participate, than to be seen to fail if we can’t deliver the new requirements.

If we are to build agility into our teams so that change is embraced and, in many cases, driven, we have to create this culture of trust by communicating effectively, being honest and authentic, sharing information and actually always ‘doing the right thing’, even when it is tough and has challenging implications. Being consistent in these areas creates that culture by demonstrating it in our behaviour as leaders AND thus demanding it from our teams.

However there is one more area that we need to examine and it is that of…


3. Create a culture of motivation and accountability

You have to expect that with a former Finance Director as our leader, we believe accountability is a critical success factor.  And yet this issue of accountability is a thorny one in that knowing what to hold people accountable to, and how to hold them accountable can leave us scratching our heads (or walking away), and we sometimes think it applies to our team – but not us, as leaders.  And yet if we want to make our teams agile and responsive then accountability is one of the keys to this.

It’s defined in the Business Dictionary as –

“The obligation of an individual or organization to account for its activities, accept responsibility for them, and to disclose the results in a transparent manner.”

If we look at the definition, the words underlined give us an indication as to key areas of focus. Each individual within the team needs to know exactly what is expected of them in terms of their activities and to what level so that the results can be accounted for without ambiguity or confusion i.e. in a transparent manner.

Contrary to what you might think, research shows that this principle of accountability has a very positive effect in respect of accuracy of work, problem solving, decision making, colleague co-operation and team satisfaction. It’s our responsibility to be accountable ourselves so that that authenticity moves through the team….there is no blame or vindictiveness…it’s just the way we do things!

And whilst we firmly believe in the principle of accountability, we also firmly believe in motivation – of creating the conditions that create a great place to work.  Being able to take pride in our work through a job well done, is a fundamental aspect of this.


At Aspirin Business Solutions, we take pride in creating great results for our clients.  Helping leaders and their teams adapt to change successfully, is critical in achieving their wider goals – such as succession planning, increasing profitable growth and in ensuring organisations will survive and thrive in a changing marketplace.

Our Seven Factors to Faster Growth model fuses people and processes to release the potential in individuals, teams and organisations.  It allows our clients to scope out the intended future through vision, strategy and mission and identify how to implement and deliver that through values, objectives and team performance – and then to define and increase the capability of leaders, managers and teams accordingly.

seven steps


If this article resonates with you, we’d love to explore how we could help you achieve your organisation’s goals.  Please get in touch and let’s talk.

E: sue@aspirinbusiness.com

T: 01202 801187

or sign up to our newsletter: http://eepurl.com/bSJCaz

Aspirin in the community: Twilight Walk

June 7, 2016

24-May-Twilight-WalkThe Twilight Walk for Women returned to Bournemouth seafront for the sixth year running on May 20, All money raised from the event went towards women’s health services at the Royal Bournemouth Hospital and for the third year running the event was hosted by Aspirin’s own Paul Kinvig.

As well as compering the event and introducing special guests for the evening, Paul interviewed participants before the event started and as they completed the course uncovering some wonderfully inspiring & heartwarming stories regarding how they have faced and embraced the life changing circumstances they have found themselves in.   

The event encouraged fundraisers to form a sea of pink and take part in the 1k, 5k or 10k walk along the seafront with more than 350 former patients, local residents and hospital staff strolling in their pink Twilight t-shirts at sunset.

Paul Kinvig, Business Coach & Facilitator with Aspirin said

“This is the third year I’ve been involved with this wonderful event and each time I come away inspired by the stories of the participants. Their willingness to embrace the change that has been forced upon them and in many cases to use it as a way of achieving inspirational things is truly humbling. Whether it is families running in memory of lost loved ones, patients who are undergoing treatment yet still running or those who have beaten illness and wanting to say thank you, one cannot help but reflect on the courage of the participants.”

Barry Wilson, Community & Fundraising Officer at RBHC commented

“It’s always difficult to keep interest in an event when it has been going for six years but we are very fortunate to have a very worthy cause behind us and are extremely lucky to have great supporters! Over 300 signed up to take part in the Twilight Walk for women and the atmosphere was fantastic! The participants will make a real difference to the women’s health unit at the Royal Bournemouth Hospital”

Aspirin’s involvement in the Twilight Walk is part of its ongoing commitment to supporting the wider community in which it operates, adding to its involvement in such things as Diverse Abilities, Lewis Manning Hospice & Mayor Of Poole’s Charities.

The Truth about motivation and Motivational Maps

April 25, 2016

by Susannah Brade-Waring, MD and Business Growth Coach & Facilitator at Aspirin Business Solutions

I’m usually up for a challenge, and so I particularly enjoyed being challenged by both a Managing Director and a Chairman about the Maps recently.  And good for them!  I’m all for doing your homework first – after all my passion for growing sustainable businesses started when I was a Finance Director.girl-429020_1280

The truth is I knew that I didn’t know what motivated my team AND furthermore, I’m not convinced that I was particularly interested in engaging people in other teams.  After all, I was having too much fun trying out my own ideas to invite others to contribute.

It was too good to last… by which I mean, that strategy worked brilliantly in my own team where we worked closely to deliver results.  However, it limited the impact of the business improvements I was creating when I struggled to engage some key people.  In all honesty, I don’t think anyone else noticed – but I know, and would have loved to have seen just how much we could have increased Net Profit!

Now I’ve been advised not to speak about my own weaknesses – but I’m a bit old school.  I think the best teachers are those who’ve experienced it for themselves, have invested time, effort and money into finding a better way and then want to share that learning.  After all, we have a bit of a moan about politicians who haven’t experienced real life.  And all good leaders know you can’t learn management from a text book – people just aren’t that predictable.  And when I moved from Nottinghamshire to Poole (yes that’s where part of my accent is from), and found Motivational Maps – I immediately joined as a Business Practitioner (the highest level at the time).

And I spent another 2 years testing out the tool before I was trusted the tool to be able to recommend it without reservation.  That was 3½ years ago and a few hundred clients, so that’s why I enjoyed being challenged about the Maps.

I’ve kept you hanging on for long enough, so what is the truth about Motivational Maps?

Question:  Isn’t everyone motivated primarily by money?

Brief answer:  No – money (the Builder motivator) is just one of nine motivators, and rarely makes the top 3 somewhat surprisingly.  Of course people don’t know that, so they’re tempted by money because they think they’re supposed to be motivated by it (it’s more like they’re motivated by feeling valued) – but for most people, once they’ve got enough, it simply stops motivating them.  NB:  Builder is a great motivator for sales people as they’re motivated by winning, targets and commissions.  But there are no rights and wrongs – see ‘same behaviour – different motivator’ below.

Question:  Do the Maps reflect how someone’s feeling on the day, so tomorrow’s results could be completely different?

Brief answer:  No.  The Maps do reflect significant changes in someone’s life, e.g. a new job, a promotion or change in role, a first child, saving for a bigger house or first car, retirement and the death of a loved one.  We’ve seen all of these, and it’s always a relief for the individual to see how those changes are impacting what’s important to them.  For example – a bigger house, first car or retirement usually create a greater motivation for money (Builder), whilst a first child or death of a loved one usually increases the need for certainty (Defender).

Question:  Wouldn’t doing these frequently be a great way for you to make money?

Brief answer:  No – as it’s not in our interest or the clients.  We recommend repeating the Maps annually at most – unless there’s been a significant change (for the reasons described above).  The whole point of Motivational Maps is to measure and improve motivation – so demotivating people through over-testing and not using the information undermines both their organisation and the Maps.  It’s a matter of integrity.

Question:  Can I use the motivators to manipulate people?

Brief answer:  You can try – but that will only decrease your team’s trust in you, and they’ll work around you or leave.  So what’s the point?  You’ve a golden opportunity here – step up, or step out.

Question:  If someone’s 35% motivated (or even less!), does that mean they’re not performing their job well?

Brief answer:  Surprising no.  We’ve got clients who’ve been astounded to learn that people they perceived to be highly motivated, aren’t.  The individual wasn’t surprised and said they were bored by the job.  Performance, and feedback from clients, for these individuals can be very good – it’s just not sustainable as their ‘batteries’ are nearly empty.

In our experience there are 3 typical reasons for a score that’s in the Action Zone, i.e. 35% or less.

  1. They want to make a statement (not common, but it does happen).
  2. They genuinely don’t find their job fulfilling at a deep (soul, if you like) level, but they’re generally okay.
  3. They have significant challenges in their whole lives (including their personal lives).

Question:  My report shows my ‘Creator’ motivator is very low – but how can that be true when I’m really innovative?

Brief answer:  So this is where the motivators get interesting.  You see many of us believe that other people are motivated by the same things as us, particularly if they’re interested in the same things.  That’s not true.  One of our favourite sayings is “same behaviour – different motivators”.  In this case, the individual was correct – evidence proves he’s extremely innovative, but it’s not driven by his Creator motivator.  It’s driven by his top motivators of Searcher (need to make a difference) and Spirit (need to break free and not conform), and with Creator low in his motivators he struggles to come up with a completely novel idea and doesn’t like change being imposed upon him.

Question:  Can we fake the answers?  I’d love to show I’m more customer focussed.

Brief answer:  Somewhat disappointingly (from a personal point of view) – no!  Let me explain that.  I keep trying to be excited about motivators which are low in my profile – in particular Star (public recognition which is great for PR) and Director (which is great for managing teams), but I just want other things more (like making a difference), darn it.  So if someone’s being honest, then it can’t be faked.  And if they’re trying to create a better impression of themselves, it comes out in the feedback – as they won’t be able to explain what the motivators mean to them personally.  I have experienced individuals ‘faking’ their motivation score, but they often go round telling people – so that doesn’t work either, and people in the Optimum Zone (80% or more) exude passion and that’s not easy to sustain if faked.

There’s SO much more I could share with you – like how can we get motivated by something we’re not motivated by, or how do the different motivators interact, or what’s the average motivation score for a team (60% in my experience), and why are leaders more motivated than their teams, will poorly motivated people leave and what are Organisational Maps and Change Index Scores ….  but for now, I’ll sign off with probably the most important lesson I’ve learned:

“Work with someone’s motivation rather than with what motivates you. And not everyone wants to be rescued – sometimes they’re just going for a swim.”

Motivational Maps reach ‘Full Potential’

April 25, 2016

Full Potential New Accreditees - resized for website

Recently Aspirin Business were engaged by The Full Potential Group (FPG) in High Wycombe to accredit 9 of their coaches in the Motivational Map tool – including the Managing Director – with a view to using it with their clients across the UK.

Motivational Maps are a tool that identifies core motivators within individuals & teams and determines whether they are being met and are a significant aid in helping, organisations with Career Management, Recruitment and Selection, Talent and Performance Management.

The Accreditation Workshop involved the FPG team learning how to read Individual & Team maps and to give feedback as to how the results can be used to raise motivation levels and thus help improve performance

With hundreds of practitioners across the globe helping individuals & businesses to really understand what motivates their employees & teams, Aspirin Business are one of only five Senior Practitioners in the world, licensed to train & accredit individuals to use the Motivational Map diagnostic within their companies.

Sue Brade-Waring, MD of Aspirin Business observed

“Time after time, I’ve seen & experienced the difference Motivational Maps make in helping individuals and teams understand themselves and each other better.  We’re delighted the Maps have been adopted so wholeheartedly by the Full Potential Group because together, we can help more people and more businesses through this transformational tool.”

Motivational Maps were created by Dorset’s James Sale who’s recently published book ‘Mapping Motivation’ features an Aspirin Business case study. Additionally Aspirin have accredited 24 Motivational Map Practitioners as either Internal Motivation Champions or Licensed Practitioners of coaching organisations, recognising the importance of effectively motivating individuals & teams

Carole Gaskill, MD of Full Potential Group was full of praise for the Aspirin accreditation. She said

“Thanks very much for an amazing day – everyone got loads of value.  We came away buzzing and excited about making a difference using the maps. You made the learning very clear, easy to understand and apply.”


Motivational Maps – the book

December 17, 2015

James book signing

Having received our advanced copies of ‘Mapping Motivation’ by James Sale, the creator of Motivational Maps, we rushed over to get them all signed.

The first book is being sent straight to our clients at the John Lewis Partnership, as thanks for their permission to use our work with them as a case-study for the book.  This provides a real and powerful example of how Motivational Maps helped support growth and change within the Partnership.  The other case study in the book is with that equally wonderful and long-lasting organisation – the Ordnance Survey.

What inspired James to write the book?

“My product, The Motivational Map, has been around since 2006, and I was developing it for at least five years before then.  Currently, we have over 240 licensees in 14 countries – we are scratching the surface of what we and the product could potentially do.

Developing ideas for it really go back to 1995 when I left education and struck out on my own as a coach and trainer. I studied in the evenings at Bournemouth University and achieved a postgraduate Diploma in Management Studies (with Distinction) and so began a journey of learning: reading all I could, practising what I had learnt, finding masters and gurus who could show me more and emulating them where it fitted my style (and maybe sometimes when it didn’t!), and going on as many courses as I could to pack my mind with knowledge and skills that I could deploy. And over that time as we move towards 2006 and the launch of Motivational Maps I found increasingly that not only was I absorbing ideas from everywhere, especially America, the home really of personal development, but I was changing and transforming them.

In short, Motivational Maps became not just a diagnostic tool, but around it I produced a whole load of intellectual property that was original and different: the tool kit that makes up the primary equipment of licensees of Motivational Maps.

These ideas are so powerful and useful that it would be wrong to keep them tightly under wraps within the Motivational Maps system itself. On the contrary, they need to come out into the fresh air, be exposed to scrutiny, and given their strength, be used and adopted by people way beyond the Motivational Maps’ community. I see myself the personality tests as Generation 1 of the diagnostic tools; the psychometrics as Generation 2; and of course the needs of the twenty-first century are different again, and so Motivational Maps are Generation 3 – they fit in with the new ethos of the new century, and in this in two important ways.

  • First, the realisation that engagement is critical to organisational productivity, and that motivation is core to engagement.
  • Second, and even more widely, the growing understanding, as for example demonstrated in Professor Gary Hamel’s brilliant book, The Future of Management, that top-down management, command and control, just doesn’t cut it anymore. We need a bottom-up approach and that is exactly what the most successful organisations have. And that is exactly what Motivational Maps makes possible: the Maps can only work with a bottom-up approach. Scary, or what? Yes, and deeply empowering too.

So if you want to find out what this is all about then take advantage of the 35% discount I can offer you on the price, valid till 31/12/15. Just go to bit.ly/sct-motivationbook and pre-order your copy now: enter the discount code G15JXH35 to take advantage of your special price. Hope you enjoy the book – be sure to review it, and join the motivation revolution if it’s for you.”


F.A.S.T.E.R Teams – Empower or stay on the ground!

November 30, 2015

Paul Kinvig, Coach and Facilitator at Aspirin Business Solutions


On Friday 20th Nov, 150 entrepreneurs, software developers & designers gathered in London at the behest of the Department of Transport in a 48hr “Hack Train Weekend!” The express intention of this coming together was to generate ideas for making Britain’s trains more efficient. Facing significant budgetary cuts, the need to achieve a “game changing” way of delivering a better service with reduced funding remains essential – ring any bells?

This is an example of a “hackathon” – a phenomenon that has grown up in recent years whereby individuals from differing sectors come together to solve a problem or create a new opportunity. Apart from the fact that this is “sideways thinking” at its best, it’s also a radical example of empowerment. The participants are encouraged to approach the situation from any angle or methodology. Industry or sector assumptions are disregarded and the contributors are “empowered” by the organisers/businesses to birth new ideas & solutions.

Now let’s be clear, empowering teams is NOT about having no parameters or limits but it IS about making those parameters clear and then giving them the tools and the authority to undertake the task or job at hand. Empowering people we lead should be about freeing them from unnecessary “red tape” & supervision and us managing them by remit & results…….

Now for many managers this can be challenging as the definition of their own success is the traditional model of hierarchical  management where “knowledge is power.” Anything close to “letting go” is seen as a challenge to their authority and undermining their own value and safety within the organisation .

Yet time and again we see the most successful leaders (and interestingly those seen most in control) are those who have truly empowered their teams to achieve rather than just obey!

So what are the hallmarks of empowering teams?

  • Led not ruled – At the heart (not the head) of an empowered team is a leader or manager who clearly & honestly communicates on direction, implements processes that enable rather than hinder and coaches rather than criticises to improve performance. They delegate and don’t “dump” tasks and most importantly…..they stay the hell out of the way and trust the skill & will of the team to achieve what has been agreed!
  • Autonomy – The other side of that coin is that truly empowered teams have and respect They know their limits of authority AND don’t abuse the trust placed in them. In fact many empowered teams impose stricter “rules” upon themselves than would be seen if they were inflicted upon them. They are clear on how decisions are made and communicated, and who is responsible for implementing them. They also keep the leader & manager informed on progress and any support needed WITHOUT being chased.
  • Impact – Without doubt, empowered teams have a far more significant impact in terms of results. Why? Simply because they see the project as theirs rather than someone elses and thus the engagement levels are always increased and along with it discretionary effort. Toyota empowers some of its employees to identify and help remedy problems that occur in product assembly. A car coming off Toyota’s assembly line with a paint defect is seen as an opportunity to delve into the root cause of the defect and not just something to be fixed. Solutions that have employee involvement tend to have more buy-in when it comes to implementation!

Additionally, truly empowered teams create empowerment for themselves by seeing and seizing situations, opportunities and coming forward with ideas to deliver even greater success. They don’t wait to be delegated to….they ask to be delegated to – or they just do it!

Here at Aspirin Business, we help our clients create empowered teams by co-creating clear goals, measures of success, developing skills, building trust and improving communication.  Empowered teams are essential to growth, freeing leaders to focus on strategy, sales and key relationships.  Worth a conversation?

F.A.S.T.E.R Teams – Be STRONG, you never know who you are inspiring!

November 11, 2015

Paul Kinvig, Coach and Facilitator at Aspirin Business Solutions


fighter-jets-440519_1280For most people, the sight of the Red Arrows flying overhead causes the heart to skip a beat. The primal noise of the engines, the sight of nine people & machines in perfect harmony, the unbelievable ability to achieve death defying moves, that sense of pride in a group that is the best in the world……and they’re British!

The aura surrounding the team inspires respect and admiration. They know what needs to be achieved.  They have almost off the scale skill levels and a determination to succeed & consistently deliver.  They share a sense of camaraderie and trust at the highest level and an attitude that does not let circumstance dictate their mentality. Nowhere was this more clearly demonstrated than when they dealt with the tragic loss of one of their team, John Egging, at the Bournemouth Air Show. They mourned, showed the utmost respect then came back stronger and more determined than ever!

So let’s take a look at these elements of strength exhibited in successful teams :-

  • Alignment – Strong teams share a clear vision of where they want to go and how to get there.  That enables them to commit to both the actions required AND the philosophy of how they will behave with each other, their colleagues and customers as they get there.
  • Skill – Strong teams are ALWAYS highly skilled in their respective areas. These skills cover both the competencies of doing the job and the “emotional intelligence” to deal with customers (both internal & external) who have different requirements & personality types.
  • Will – Strong teams have the desire to do what it is required and adapt, resist & overcome circumstances that get in the way! Their determination comes from knowing what motivates them, individually and as a team, and the skill of the leader in creating the conditions for that “will” to be maximised.
  • Cohesion– The bonds between a strong team are such that supporting and challenging each other are the norm. In many cases they “self manage” and encourage their colleagues to greater levels of achievement by sharing knowledge, experience and assisting them without the need for recognition. The members of the team recognise & appreciate each other’s differences & skills and understand that the whole is greater than the sum of the parts.
  • Resilience –  When times are tough, strong teams remember who they are and what’s important to them.  They learn from both their successes and their failures to come back faster and stronger.  In order to bounce back, they draw upon their self-belief, strength and motivation.  Crucially, they receive support, strength and motivation from others that believe in them.  Each time this happens the individuals and teams grow stronger, with even more alignment, skill, will, cohesion and resilience!


The wonderful Muhammed Ali once said “Champions aren’t made in gyms. Champions are made from something they have deep inside them-a desire, a dream, a vision. They have to have the skill, and the will. But the will must be stronger than the skill.”

Here at Aspirin Business Solutions we help our clients build “Strong” teams that can adapt to, lead and inspire both change and growth.  Worth a conversation?

A glass half-full: the cost of negativity on business

October 28, 2015

Susannah Brade-Waring, Managing Director and Coach at Aspirin Business Solutions

glass half full

Following my post on resilience, I’ve had a number of conversations about negativity and its effect on self-confidence, motivation and resilience.

A negative attitude, i.e. one that focusses primarily on all the things that are wrong, is incredibly pervasive.  In a sense, it’s like carbon monoxide.  Carbon monoxide is invisible, it has no smell and it bonds more easily to our blood cells than oxygen, making it difficult to replace.  Even the most resilient of people can succumb over time – or they physically locate themselves to a different area or a different organisation.  This creates silos in organisations and the cost of poor communication, to replace lost talent, let alone the missed-opportunity costs, can be enormous.

Negativity has another consequence for organisations – it can create a groundswell of resistance to change.  This is, perhaps, insidious.  We don’t notice it until we need to change how we do things – by creating greater cost accountability, for example, or more proactive account managers.  This is particularly prevalent with long-serving employees who have become accustomed to the ‘way things are done here’ and aren’t aware or ready for the agile business environment that we now compete within.  Again the costs can be enormous – both in terms of lost competitive advantage and in changes being forced upon us if we act too late.

How do we turn this around?

  • For new recruits, we can try to spot negativity.  In my last post, I described ‘priming’ where key words affect how we feel on a subconscious level.  This is strongly linked to negativity.  Years ago we banned TV programmes like Eastenders and Jeremy Kyle from our home because they feature so many destructive arguments and relationships.  McDonald’s ask job candidates to name their role models, and why.  It might be interesting to ask them to name their favourite TV programmes and hobbies too.  Look for signs of negativity and positivity in their choices and language.
  • For existing employees, on a daily basis it’s important to nip negativity in the bud by discussing this with the individual and not tolerating constant grumbling.  Occasionally, individuals are unaware that they grumble and just mentioning it can be enough to stop it.  However, in my experience, these grumbles are the outward signs of someone who is generally unhappy within their role and who may struggle to keep up with a growing and evolving organisation.  If the individual performs their job well, coaching can be highly effective – providing the individual is committed to trying to turn this around.
  • Creating a cultural change is larger project.  It has to start with the top in creating a strong, cohesive leadership team who are firm and fair, and demonstrate the behaviour they’re looking to create.  We need a vision (based around a strategy) to summarise where the organisation are headed, which creates the framework for the change in attitude and behaviour.  After all, if we’re not going to be doing anything consistently different as an organisation – why change?

We’ve found a combination of Motivational Maps and Clarity4D personality profiles to be particularly effective, enabling the individuals to understand themselves better and how they appear to others.  Whilst the power of others’ opinions can be destructive on Facebook (with popularity measured by ‘Likes’), it can be very powerful in curbing negative behaviour when used with the tangible reports produced by these two tools and coaching.


Here at Aspirin Business Solutions, we help release the potential in leaders, Senior Teams and organisations through our F.A.S.T.E.R. programmes.  The starting point is often a Motivational Map with a 30 minute debrief.  Worth a conversation?