Recession proof sales tips to boost business growth in 2021

Selling in a global pandemic is no easy task, not least when businesses have been battling against the odds for almost a year. However skilled sales people are taking a proven approach to tackling the challenging sales climate, and – perhaps surprisingly for some – it doesn’t involve shouting about the bells and whistles of their product or service.

Tony Hughes, CEO at leading specialists in sales, communications and negotiations training and pioneers of the world-famous SPIN® Selling, Huthwaite International, reveals how the most successful sales people are boosting business growth by taking stock of the lessons of 2020 and teaming this with proven methodologies, to step away from feature selling and focus on adding real value for clients in 2021.

Stop talking and start listening

Last year, people were overwhelmed with content, more so than ever before. The worse thing a sales person can do is to add to the noise. If you want to stand out in a crowded market, don’t be just another business shouting their way through the pandemic – stop talking and start listening to your customer’s needs.

Forget the script you have in mind about the bells and whistles, advantages and USPs of your product or service, and starting thinking about who you are talking to and what they might need so you can ask the right questions – invite them to tell you more. Find out how they’ve dealt with the crisis, how they’ve been impacted – show that you really want to help them find solutions to the actual problems they’re facing now.

As sales people we are naturally passionate about our offering, but this passion can often stand in the way of effective sales methods. Showing clients you’re passionate about them and their concerns will help you to break through the noise and provide a relevant product or service that they will really value.

Have a plan

Of course, the most effective salespeople enter a pitch already knowing what those all-important client needs are. By preparing in advance, conducting research and planning to meet the needs of your clients, you can position yourself as a problem solver and build credibility quickly.

By giving yourself the time to do your research and fully explore the wants and needs of the both the individuals and organisation you are working with, you’ll ensure you consider all the factors that will impact your client’s market both today and in the future.

Be prepared to be adaptable

Despite the all-important plan, it’s also essential to try to stay ahead of the game and anticipate what might happen. In acknowledging to the customer that you’re aware their Buying Cycle™ will inevitably change during this turbulent time, your understanding and flexibility helps them to see you as trustworthy. Offering to be patient yet keeping in touch regularly will help to build a solid relationship overtime.

Being adaptable doesn’t mean being unprepared, it’s about anticipating changes and issues before your customer highlights them to you. After almost a year of the pandemic, clients will not just be wanting adaptability they will be expecting it.

Ensure constant and consistent communications

We know how easy it is to be all consumed by your own worries and stresses during a crisis, and your customers will feel exactly the same. Increasing your communication with a client is the best way to nurture the relationship. Whether it’s internal, to customers or to third parties this communication is reassuring and helps keep spirits and motivations high.

When people don’t feel informed, they tend to panic which stops them from focusing and prioritising. Keep conversations clear and consistent. If the advice and updates are confusing and provide conflicting opinions and frequent changes in direction, confidence will be damaged or lost completely. Many businesses were so focused on their external communications in 2020 and looking as though the pandemic hadn’t affected them, they forgot to communicate internally. Ensure everyone, both inside and outside your organisation understands your business and current position so all customer touch points are unified in their message.

Be confident, not bullish

Confidence is a vital skill for any sales person, that said it’s important that this isn’t confused with (the archetypal, yet false) aggressive or bullish behaviour often associated with complex sales. This can be a challenge whilst communicating virtually, so be mindful of your online behaviours.

Being a confident sales person means harnessing and building a quiet, calm but unshakable belief in yourself, your company and your offering. This is important, as committing to a sale can often be overwhelming for buyers. Don’t forget to show your emotions as this kind of verbal behaviour also reveals something personal, which is likely to encourage trust within a conversation, making the customer more likely to be honest about their thought process.

Huthwaite’s research shows that up to 30% of sales are left open due to unaddressed concerns. By remaining confident in your product, you create an open environment for questions and issues to be raised and addressed in advance, helping to build a stronger relationship.

Safety over price

In hard times like those many businesses have faced over the last year, consider that people may be looking for safety over price. More often than not, businesses will not go for the cheapest option anyway as it can ring alarm bells

Customers want to know that someone is going to be around and they want to believe that they can feel safe in your hands. As we go through what is hopefully the final hurdle of this pandemic, businesses are looking forward and want to ensure they’re still around to see the back of it, their confidence in you as a safe option will help them to achieve that.

As businesses prepare to secure growth in 2021, it’s important that sales people focus on the issues their offering is resolving for customers. By meeting customer needs by offering tangible solutions, sales people can generate trust, demonstrate value and build stronger relationships for the future.

Four business resolutions for 2021

It might sound crazy talking about resolutions considering the situation we find ourselves in, but for business owners to really get ahead for 2021, it’s crucial to set solid goals. Following a string of life-altering events, including Brexit and now our third national lockdown, businesses of all shapes and sizes will have no doubt felt an impact.

That feeling has been further illustrated with the results from a survey from The Federation of Small Businesses, revealing that 5%* of firms expect to cease trading this year. Ian Harford, business growth specialist at ActionCOACH Stoke-on-Trent, shares his views on this statistic and hopes to help business owners get some perspective in this challenging situation.

“With the new year in full swing, most businesses will be fully immersed in daily operations since the Christmas break,” said Ian. “But whilst it’s great that business owners are tackling issues face on, I want to stress the importance of taking a step back to set yourselves some business goals. Whether it’s specific sales targets or staff recruitment figures that you wish to achieve by the end of the year, having goals documented and planning in the smaller steps you need to implement to achieve them is key to staying on track. Especially during the uncertainty of a pandemic, it’s important to keep your mind focused, to recognise areas of potential and make decisions with clarity.”

Here are Ian’s top resolutions for business owners to set in 2021:

  1. Strengthen your brand. One thing that lockdowns have taught us is the importance of brand presence. As we can now see light at the end of the tunnel, it’s crucial to maintain this when things return to normal – think about things like keeping customers loyal and engaged. This could mean setting yourself a target to focus more energy on social media or to put more time into your PR activity. Communication has been, and always will be, important and, just like last year, will be a key consideration for 2021.
  2. Fine-tune your customer service. Stemming from customer loyalty, you might be looking at enhancing your relationship with your existing customer base. This might include perfecting your social media skills to ensure you are quick to respond to queries or finding the most efficient delivery service for your products. Whatever your goals, just know a strong reputation for great customer service will help you retain customers and to attract new ones.
  3. Get out into the community. This point might sound a little strange as we can’t get ‘out’ anywhere, but that’s the beauty of modern-day technology. Almost overnight, networking events turned virtual, so there are still many opportunities for collaboration and support. If it’s your goal to create more connections with the local area of Stoke-on-Trent, there’s BNI groups, coffee mornings and regular seminars to keep you in the loop all still happening online. At ActionCOACH, we believe in abundance, and this is a great way to bring more people, ideas and positivity into your world.
  4. Take time out. Once again, this might seem a little odd. But if it’s your dream to reduce your time spent working in the business, or you’re looking to retire, 2021 can still be a year to make progress towards that goal. Even if you just want your business to reach a point where you can take a holiday with your family without checking in several times a day, there’s no reason why this can’t be a possibility by the time travel opens up later this year.

Ian added, “There’s an underlying theme linking these four resolutions, and that’s mindset. If you have the right attitude and adopt a positive mindset to make these things happen, then they will. Just ask all my clients who grew their businesses last year during the most economically and emotionally challenging year for over a decade.”

Job losses and pay cuts the biggest worry for UK workforce in 2021

Research by Ezra, one of the leading global providers of digital coaching, has found that the threat of losing their job continues to be the number one worry for the majority of people in the UK.

Ezra surveyed nearly 18,000 people on their current feelings around work and the ongoing pandemic.

The good news is, that for 77% of those asked, the ongoing threat of Covid-19 is yet to prevent them from progressing in their career.

The latest gov data shows that so far, a huge 9.9m people have been furloughed from their place of work at some point since April of last year. While the scheme has enabled many people to retain their jobs albeit, at a reduced level of income, it has also acted as a barrier for career progression for those unable to work due to the restrictions of being on furlough.

No surprise then, that 46% of those that said Covid has impacted their career progression stated it was due to being furloughed.

A further 19% have seen promotions in the workplace delayed due to Covid, with 18% becoming unemployed and 17% unable to take a new job due to the pandemic.

When it comes to those impacted financially, 49% have had to take a pay cut while 51% have seen a planned payrise delayed or cancelled altogether.

Of course, it could be worse and those to retain their job are luckier than most. However, this doesn’t stop the current landscape causing them to worry about their professional life and it’s easy to see why with an estimated 200,000 already losing their jobs due to Covid.

59% of those in work stated they were worried about losing their job in 2021, while a pay cut was a worry for 24%. Being furloughed also remains a worry for 14% of people, with just 3% worried about a demotion.

Founder of Ezra, Nick Goldberg, commented: “Medical issues aside, the current pandemic has seen many people suffer from a professional point of view. Although the impact has been felt at varying levels, swathes of the nation have found themselves out of work or on furlough and this is a worry that continues to linger for those lucky enough to remain in their role so far.

“While the vaccine will bring a large degree of hope that 2021 may bring some level of normality, it will be some time before we see all areas of the working world return to full health, and some may never bounce back.

“The good news is, at least, that for those who remain in work, the opportunity to progress has been largely unhindered for the majority.”

Scottish business mental health crisis revealed in survey

Two fifths of business owners say they’re worried about their mental health, a survey of 1200 Scottish entrepreneurs has found.

More than half of the respondents (55%) to the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) poll said that they had concerns about the survival of their business, while slightly less than half (46%) were worried about keeping up-to-date with changing government regulations. About a third of business owners (30%) said that repaying debt weighed on their mind, while just under half (44%) are worried about their pay or the income of their family.

FSB is urging those that work for themselves in Scotland to do what they can to look after their mental wellbeing during the coronavirus crisis. They also want to see the Scottish Government pilot a new support service specifically for small business owners and the self-employed to prevent a mental health crisis.

Andrew McRae, FSB’s Scotland policy chair, said: “Speak to any group of people in business in Scotland and you’ll find that the last 12 months has taken a toll on their collective mental health. It is little wonder. They have faced the same life challenges as the rest of the population, with the added pressure of taking endless high-stakes decisions about the future of their business.

“While we want to see governments in Edinburgh and London take better care of the small business community, we have to take care of each other. That means more people in business seeking out help for themselves or their staff.”

FSB provides services for members to support their mental health, and offers a range of online advice for the wider business community.

The survey, conducted between 13-18 January, shows that only one in three Scottish businesses (32%) are trading broadly as normal, with a similar proportion either closed voluntarily or by law (35%), and about a third open but in a restricted manner (33%). Two thirds of businesses (64%) report that either they’re struggling to stay afloat or that sales and profits are under sustained pressure.

The small business campaign group says it is vital that policymakers at Holyrood and Westminster put small business survival and recovery at the top of their agenda.

In a letter to Finance Secretary Kate Forbes ahead of the Scottish Government budget, set to be published next Thursday, FSB urged Ministers to commit to maintain coronavirus-related rate reliefs for smaller firms for at least the next two financial years. The small business group also wants government, councils, regulators and agencies to reduce, freeze or scrap charges and fees until smaller firms get back on their feet.

In addition, they make the case for additional grant funding to be provided to help smaller firms use digital technologies to adapt to the current crisis.

Andrew McRae said: “Next week’s Scottish Government budget in Edinburgh is an opportunity for Ministers to put small business survival and recovery at the top of their agenda. With the widespread roll-out of the vaccine, it would be a tragedy if insufficient support saw thousands of small businesses fall at the final hurdle.

“That means taking long-term action to keep overheads as low as possible for businesses facing ongoing trading restrictions and a long recovery. It means getting the grant system working as it should, and channelling funding into encouraging business to innovate out of this crisis.”

Countrywide Surveying Services raises over £5,000 for Manchester based charity Lifeshare

Countrywide Surveying Services (CSS), one of the leading suppliers of valuation panel management services, residential valuations and surveys in the UK, has raised £5,070 over the course of December for homeless charity Lifeshare via its customer facing team in Manchester.

Historically, Countrywide Surveying Services has offered a December discount on home surveys. However, this year saw the surveying firm swap discounts for donations in a bid to help support the drive to end homelessness after it donated £5 for every survey completed in December.

Lifeshare is Manchester’s oldest charity dedicated to supporting homeless and vulnerable people in Greater Manchester. It was established in 1984 by a group of volunteers who recognised the lack of support for the city’s increasing number of rough sleepers. In the following decades, Lifeshare initiatives have become fundamental to the efforts in tackling homelessness in Manchester.

Matthew Cumber, managing director of Countrywide Surveying Services said: “The winter months are tough for many people and when you also consider the impact of Covid-19 then this is a particularly bleak period. The amount of activity seen throughout the housing market in the December has been quite incredible and I’m glad that we, as a business, could give a little something back to those people who are currently homeless and in need of that bit of extra support during these challenging times.”

Judith Vickers, Operations Manager of Lifeshare comments: “Lifeshare’s Trustees and Staff would like to extend their thanks and appreciation for the amazing donation of over £5,000 to Countrywide staff and customers. This money will ensure we can continue to provide emergency food support and 1-2-1 support to the most vulnerable and marginalised in Manchester, being without a home is tough at the best of times but during the pandemic is even more challenging this generous donation will enable us to continue providing a hot breakfast seven days a week and support in moving off the streets in to accommodation.”

Why businesses should be investing in upskilling their teams in a post-COVID world

In just one year, the business world as we know it has changed dramatically, and ensuring your business succeeds throughout challenging times can seem like an impossible task.

The unpredictability businesses have been facing during the pandemic, means planning ahead has been extremely difficult. Many will have changed the way they operate, which may have resulted in a skills gap within their team, which is why investment in team training is essential to help accelerate business recovery in a post-COVID world.

With the launch of government training funds from this month, businesses across the UK can take advantage of these funds to upskill existing staff. Whether that’s through an apprenticeship levy, the adult education budget, or advance learner loans – there are a variety of options available for all sized businesses.

High demand for “common” skills

With the end of lockdown likely to be announced in the coming months, it’s time to consider how new and existing staff can be upskilled in a post-COVID world – and to make the best use of the government funds available.

How can staff be supported if they have been furloughed and then brought back into the workplace? What if teams are rearranged and employees will have to take on completely different tasks? The answer lies in providing training which covers a mix of hard and common skills needed to carry out a job.

Over recent months, there has been a bigger demand for skills such as resilience, stress management, mindfulness or time management, which makes sense if we think about today’s ongoing issues with stress and pressure.

In fact, a skills and employment trends report* recently published by The Skills Network, in partnership with Emsi, has highlighted a mental health awareness skills gap in the UK jobs market, due to the COVID-19 pandemic – making it one of the top 10 most in demand skills in the UK.

Finding the right online learning partner will facilitate the process of identifying those gaps, tailoring training and implement it as and when needed.

Businesses should consider training that gives employers flexibility to learn and to apply their knowledge straight after in the workplace – this is critical in the future of business training. Ensuring your business thrives in a post-COVID world is not going to be easy, but there are plenty of Government training funds and expert online training partners who can help you get there.

Government funds available for businesses

  • The apprenticeship levy is available for businesses with wages of £3m or more who will pay the levy and have funds to spend on apprenticeships
  • The apprenticeship non levy is available for businesses with wages of less than £3m who will need to contribute approximately 5% of the training costs and then 95% is provided by the government
  • The adult education budget is available for businesses who want to put employees through a qualification, with some learners being fully funded or co-funded based on their eligibility
  • Advance learner loans for any adult who is over 18 and wants to do a Level 3 qualification

What has Brexit done to house prices?

While a ‘deal has been done’, Brexit and its implications for the UK remain a hot topic. However, one area that seems to have remained impervious to any Brexit related decline is the UK housing market. Despite claims by the Bank of England that a worst-case scenario when leaving the EU could see house prices fall 35% over three years, research by Keller Williams UK has found that this has been far from the reality.

National and Regional Property Prices

While we’ve arguably avoided a worst-case scenario, Brexit has brought with it years of uncertainty as multiple prime ministers battled to get the job done. Despite this ongoing saga and the disruption it has caused, UK house prices have climbed 14.1% since the vote in June 2016 until today.

This growth has been driven at a regional level by Wales and the Midlands. The East Midlands has seen the greatest increase in house prices since the Brexit vote at 20.9%, while values have climbed 19% in the West Midlands. Sandwiched between them, Wales has seen an increase of 20.3% in property values since June 2016.

Just London, the North East and South East have failed to register double-digit price growth. The capital has seen an increase of 3.2%, while property prices are up 6.7% and 9.2% in the North East and South East respectively.

Current vs Previous Price Growth Rates

While house prices have continued to climb since the EU Referendum, it is important to note that the rate of house price growth has slowed. Keller Williams UK also compared the rate of house price growth since the EU Referendum to the same time period prior to the vote. The research shows that while house prices across the UK have increased by 14.1% since June 2016, they increased by 28.3% during the same time period prior to the vote.

A third of UK regions have seen the rate of house price growth since the vote exceed that seen in the same period prior to it; Wales, the North West, Yorkshire and the Humber and Scotland.

London has seen the biggest slow in the rate of house price growth. As mentioned, house prices in the capital have climbed just 3.2% since the vote while they boomed by 61.2% in the same time prior to it.

Leave vs Remain

Property prices in areas to have voted Remain in the EU Referendum averaged £302,688 when the vote took place in 2016. Since then, they’ve increased by 8.1% to an average of £327,316. However, in areas to have voted Leave, house prices have increased by 14.1% to an average of £232,976 today.

Just two of the top 10 areas for house price growth since the EU Referendum were home to a majority Remain vote. Newport has seen the largest increase at 31.7% having voted Leave, while Monmouthshire has seen the largest increase of all Remain areas and the second largest increase in the UK at 30.5%. Leicester is the only other area to have voted Remain to make the top 10 with an increase of 28.2%.

In contrast, just three of the 10 areas for the worst house price growth since the vote are Leave areas; Bracknell Forest (-4.7%), Hartlepool (-1.3%) and Spelthorne (-1%). Aberdeen (-23%), the City of London (-20.9%) and the City of Westminster (-9.3%) have seen the largest declines in property prices since the vote.

CEO of Keller Williams UK, Ben Taylor, commented: “Regardless of whether you voted Leave or Remain and purely from a property perspective, you could argue that Brexit has provided the perfect tonic for the UK property market.

“Yes, a handful of areas have seen prices fall since the vote itself. However, the vast majority of the UK has seen the value of bricks and mortar continue to climb despite the rollercoaster ride that Brexit has been.

“At the same time, the rate of house price growth seen since the vote has slowed in 69% of areas. This won’t have addressed the outright issue of affordability that many face when trying to get a foot on the ladder. However it does, at least, mean that homebuyers are paying less than they may have otherwise while homeowners have still seen an increase in the value of their investment.”

First full week of Lockdown 3 has limited impact on the UK job market

As the UK finishes its first week in a third national lockdown, the latest job market data from the UK’s leading independent job board, CV-Library, reveals a resilience in the UK job market that may surprise many.

When compared to the first full week of lockdown one in March 2020, the number of job postings were up a huge +91.8%. Even in the first week of lockdown two (November 2020) when the market fared much better, job postings are +0.8% higher over the first seven days of lockdown three.

The most revealing data lies in the year-on-year comparison with weekly job postings over the last week showing just a –10.7% annual decline.

Broken down by industry, the COVID-19 patterns are clear when compared to 2020. Job postings in the catering sector are down -75.7%, leisure and tourism fell -68.7% and retail dropped by –48.6%. Unsurprisingly, the increases came in distribution +44.5%, social care +27.5% and medical, pharmaceutical and scientific +26.6%. There was also an increase of +59.4% across managerial roles and a +46.4% rise in job postings within the telecoms industry.

Lee Biggins, founder and CEO of CV-Library comments: “Starting 2021 in another full lockdown, and off the back of a year spent mainly under restrictions, many feared this would be a tipping point for the UK job market. The impact of COVID-19 is still clear to see within the individual sectors, but the overall initial impact of this third lockdown appears to be the least damaging, proving that we learning to navigate and adapt in these unprecedented times.”

Biggins continues: “January is traditionally one of the busiest times of the year for the job market and we must acknowledge this seasonal boost. However, in January 2020 the economy was stable and the world hadn’t been impacted by the pandemic. For job postings to be only –10.7% down on that period should provide a boost to both employers and job seekers and is a reassuring start to what looks to be another uncertain year.”

Is psychology the secret sauce for leadership development in 2021?

‘The Work After Lockdown Study’ funded by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC), reports on the impact on working from home, and predicts new ways of working in 2021 and beyond. Kate Pearlman-Shaw – Clinical Psychologist, sought-after leadership, team development and business coach, and public speaker has reviewed the study and suggested a bespoke approach to tackle the challenges people leaders face when managing from afar.

Using the research alongside her own professional insight, Kate explores the challenges facing people leaders and uses leadership psychology to share a suite of principles ideal for leaders, HR professionals and managers, to support line managers as they enter a new phase of remote working, UK lockdown restrictions and the uphill battle to manage teams through a period of economic recession.

Born and bred in Leeds, Kate is a Chartered Psychologist, her 30-year career has involved leading Psychology and Counselling services for the NHS, before working for public and private sector organisations across the globe. Now working within the Business Psychology arena, Kate specialises in using evidence based psychological methodologies drawn from psychotherapies, neuroscience, and the study of effective leadership (including during Covid-19) to help leaders to change how they interact, approach their roles and crucially, make substantive changes in their organisations.

2021 offers a difficult start to the new year, with predictions that the workplace landscape will remain tough for the next 12 months and beyond. Despite the rollout of a covid-19 vaccine and the promise of a return to some sort of ‘new normal’, there is no doubt that the world of work has changed. Perhaps indefinitely? Researchers and commentators predict that we will not be going back to ‘normal’ ways of working, with digital innovations and hybrid working styles here to stay, and speculation that people leaders will need to become better equipped to manage in a highly people-centric way.

The preliminary survey results (featuring over 1,000 people working from home) found that seven in ten employees were in no hurry to return to the office – even if they missed ‘water cooler moments’, citing their dislike of commuting and preference to spend time with family as key drivers. Nine out of ten believed they were more productive at home, with 60% enjoying the flexibility that working at home brings. Whilst the standout downside is that 80% missed informal contact with their colleagues. A worrying finding was the level of poor mental health, although not of clinical proportions: those with line management responsibility reported a troubling work/life balance and a noticeable decrease in wellbeing. Line managers and people leaders were found to be the most under pressure.

The original study team reflected that leadership competencies need to change to support the hybrid working that will be the future, particularly enhancing strong people skills. “We’re going to need amateur psychologists”, says Kate. As well as their technical expertise, Kate believes that in 2021 managers need to be amateur psychologists too, commenting that: “in this new world of motivating remote workers, managing their own and other’s resilience, and influencing from afar, understanding human psychology is now an essential leadership attribute”.

Leaders and managers need to know why people behave the way they do, and what their own options are to get the best from everyone. Kate has developed a set of principles designed to help people to lead successfully in this remote business era. Based on modern leadership psychology, Kate reveals the primary elements of her ‘secret sauce’:

Understanding people are not rational:

Although we employ people to be rational at work, this is not how humans behave. In the world of psychology, Kate explains that: “emotion comes before thought, which in turn precedes behaviour, and stressed, unhappy, lonely remote worker is going to be driven by emotions and consequent thoughts, not the logic of the task at hand. Knowing and being able to work with this is crucial.”

Properly listening and attending to feelings:

Kate believes that leaders need to understand what active listening is, explaining: “in my experience people intellectually understand this, but are often too busy to practice, meaning that colleagues end up feeling neglected, unhappy, anxious and even resentful”.

Needing praise is human:

Kate confirms that, “this is not a sign of an over needy person!”, before going on to say, “I seem to spend an awful lot of time in my work as a coach talking about the importance of validation or praise. Neuropsychologically, being affirmed by another has a massive impact on the brain, enabling it to get to that logical place we want people to reach.”

65% of what we think is unconscious:

Kate explains that, “judgement is simply something we do.” Before commenting: “Unconscious bias training increasingly has a bad press, and at a time where mitigating the impact of our bias is more important than ever, knowing this and that we can’t eradicate it, yet having the necessary skills to be able to identify and challenge bias in ourselves and others without creating tension is a very difficult but necessary art to learn.”

Mastering difficult conversations:

Reminding us that we are all quite different, and that, no-one likes a difficult conversation – and no method is infallible. Kate states: “Psychology tells us a great deal about why we struggle and how different people respond to different approaches.” Adding, “this is very useful psychology to know, and leads to the ability to make choices about how to go about things with different people.”

Voluntary vulnerability

Talking about voluntary vulnerability, Kate says, “this really does help you to be a highly effective leader of people, as this is a fundamental reciprocal behaviour. If you are open and honest with someone, they are more likely to do the same in return. Understanding why, and the impact this has, and how to do this authentically is another skill that can be learnt.”

New habits and routines:

Kate says, “changing behaviours, means changing your responses, and we are awfully bad at changing our habits and routines. In this new, and difficult ‘new world’ there is an urgent need to do things differently, especially as we are working in different places and ways.” Kate explains that new habits and routines, “require conscious planning, and new knowledge about how to establish new routines.” Kate confirms that learning from neuropsychology has shed light on how best to incorporate new ways into daily routines and the number of repetitions to try.

Understanding how to change, motivate & influence people:

Basing this principle firmly in psychology, Kate details how, “we can all learn more about why people hold a view, how they behave as a result, and to recognise what choices we have, and how to enact these to work with, and engage colleagues even more effectively.”

Task Management:

All these guiding principles require a new and different approach to task management. Kate describes, “Modern organisations are task driven, often with back-to-back meetings and 100% focus on KPIs. This focus does not drive effective or innovative thought. It does not allow for reflection or resilience methods to be used. This approach does not allow the brain to function properly. Leaders can change this way of working. However, first Leaders need to understand why and how?”.


Kate believes that to keep oneself resilient, as well as supporting colleagues, relies on the well-proven psychological methods of emotional regulation and behaviour change.

In summarising the principles, Kate says: “Fundamentally, 2021 leaders and managers need to be able to understand the way humans work, in order to make conscious, well-informed choices about how they behave themselves, to get the best out of and to support their teams. These guiding principles can be learnt – and need to be learnt!”

The key to leadership training, is that the learning needs to be in line with the learner’s personal characteristics. It is imperative that leaders know what they personally need ‘to do’ to adapt their behaviour in a way that maintains their authenticity. What works for one person may not work for another. When running leadership development programmes, Kate finds it common for two colleagues to emerge with diametrically different skills. Therefore, no off-the-shelf training can do this for an organisation. A bespoke approach, that focuses on the unique needs of the organisation and the people within it, is the only way to ensure results.

Kate suggests: “there is no single book to read, nor course to go on, that will equip managers with all the skills needed in 2021. Many programmes ‘teach’ one skill at a time, when in reality a programme that takes a far deeper approach – looking into the underlying psychology, to provide a set of methods for a wide range of leadership and line management situations is more apt.”

Reflecting on the last decade, Kate observes, “if we can learn anything from the last 10 years, it’s that repetition and the rehearsal of skills through behavioural experimentation and action learning components, means your investment won’t be wasted. Whichever you choose, the point here is that with everything going on just now, investing in some support and development for those in your organisation with responsibility for people is going to be vital in 2021.”

World’s Young Bankers Compete to Solve Climate Emergency

The 2021 edition of the most prestigious annual event for leading Young Bankers has been launched today and for the first time in its 30 plus years history, it will be truly global.

The organisers, the Chartered Banker Institute, are inviting nominations from its 30,000 members, and more widely across the globe from individuals and international banking institutions (including building societies, credit unions and fintechs).

In the run up to COP26, in Scotland, in November, we are also delighted to have the United Nations Environment Programme Finance Initiative (UNEP FI) as supporters of the competition.

Founded in 1987, the Chartered Banker Young Banker of the Year competition aims to showcase tomorrow’s leaders in banking. The challenge set for entrants is designed to test their capacity to generate new ideas and improve outcomes for their organisation’s customers, colleagues and communities. This year, entrants are asked to develop ideas which clearly demonstrate responsible and sustainable banking.

Contestants are asked to develop a proposal in response to the following question: “What idea would you implement in your organisation to improve outcomes for customers, colleagues, and communities? Your idea should reflect your vision for the future of the industry and be consistent with the UN Sustainable Development Goals.”

Following initial judging and Semi-Finals, the Grand Final will be held in the run up to COP26 in the autumn. Four finalists will present their proposals to a judging panel composed of senior industry figures and the Young Banker of the Year 2021 will be presented with a trophy and a voucher for an overseas holiday for two.

Tippie Malgwi from Arbuthnot Latham & Co, Winner of 2020 Young Banker of the Year, commented: “The entire experience has been incredible and has significantly elevated my profile, both within Arbuthnot Latham & across the industry. In a year where certain sectors of society have been especially vulnerable, the Chartered Banker Institute platform has been invaluable in championing my banking solution for people living with disabilities and serious injury. To anyone who is considering applying for Young Banker of the Year 2021, I’d say ‘go for it’ – your idea might just be what the banking industry’s been waiting for!”

Simon Thompson, Chief Executive of the Chartered Banker Institute, added: “I’m delighted to launch the 2021 edition of the Chartered Banker Young Banker of the Year, supported for the first time by the United Nations Environment Programme Finance Initiative (UNEP FI). Our Young Banker of the Year competition identifies and showcases the best ideas, from the best and brightest young bankers, to deliver responsible and sustainable banking for our customers and communities aligned with the Paris Agreement and the UN Principles for Responsible Banking. The creativity, drive and enthusiasm of our young bankers can help us build back better globally, and I look forward to seeing the ideas for creating shared prosperity for current and future generations put forward by our contestants this year.”

Simone Dettling, Banking Team Lead, UNEP FI further added: “The Principles for Responsible Banking are about creating a banking sector in the service of society. They are about using banking products and services to help tackle humanity’s greatest environmental and social challenges and with that create a sustainable future. And that is exactly what the Chartered Banker Institute’s Young Banker of the Year competition is about, too – smart, creative minds using the tools they have at their disposal as bankers to provide solutions for sustainability challenges and enable change. We at the UN Environment Finance Initiative (UNEP FI) are thus proud to help bring young bankers from all corners of the world to this competition.”