V = E+J+D



Reading Time – 2 minutes.

“Great teams succeed because they are safer, not smarter” Cameron Thomson

V=E+J+D

Values =

Experience+Judgement+Discretion

What expectation do we have that our colleagues will be able to apply judgement ?
How important is utilising experience ?
What circumstances might require discretion ?

And, crucially,if you had to TEACH all of the above, how would you go about it ?

Hard questions eh ? All pretty subjective perhaps,and yet,vitally important to understand as we develop as a high performing team.

I had a fascinating experience this week with a team who were in exactly this position – a set of circumstances had emerged that they had a set of pre-existing “rules” for that determined how they should proceed, and yet something didn’t “sit” comfortably with them…….the specific nuances and considerations that had emerged had never been remotely considered when the “rule” had been decided upon (years ago). What were they to do ?

Fortunately they had a well embedded and UNDERSTOOD set of core values within their business that allowed them to ask themselves “how would our values dictate how we should proceed here ?” – once they asked themselves that question the path forward became really clear, really quickly.

The greater we understand our core values, the less we need a rule book – does your family need a rule book to co-exist ? Of course not – the behaviours that are expected and acceptable are visceral. We can’t see them, we can’t touch them, but we can FEEL them. We instinctively know what’s right and what’s not.

By regularly, and deeply, TALKING about our core values we narrow the gap between knowing what’s right and doing what’s right – values that are truly “lived” become a reflex, an instinct.

The deeply held belief of this team has been to create an environment where they all,
⁃ Feel “safe” to utilise their experience.
⁃ Sense comfort in exercising judgement.
⁃ Know when they should (and shouldn’t) apply discretion.

They truly understand that “rules” inhibit “thinking” and believe that handful of shared values is worth 1,000 rules.

How clear are you and your colleagues on your core values ? and, crucially, what they mean ? If the answer is “not very” then maybe we should have a chat …… contact me on cameron.thomson@footdown.com

Have a great weekend !

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E Mails aren’t toxic ……(but our e mail environment might be)

Reading time – 3 minutes.

“Great teams succeed because they are safer, not smarter” Cameron Thomson

Bullets don’t kill people. People who fire guns kill people – How often have you heard that ?

Well the same principle applies to the way we use e mail. I’ve only been back from holiday for two days and twice already the subject of “inappropriate” use of email has come up in coaching sessions.

On one occasion a client had not only been admonished by her Boss via email, but the hurt and distress caused had been compounded by him “cc”ing other team members into the e mail thread !

On another occasion, a client had received an e mail from a colleague at 9.14pm about a subject matter that was “in play” the following morning – it had opened with a comment from the sender that “I don’t expect you to do anything with this at this time of night”, but, equally, there was clearly an expectation that it would be read before the morning !

There is no doubt that e mail is the most commonly used “tool” that is utilised by teams – that Genie is definitely out of the bottle (and never going back). Equally, there’s no doubt that teams rarely actually discuss and commit to how they are going to use it.

So what key areas should your team be considering ?
– e mail content should be “unemotional”.
– e mail should NEVER used to admonish.
– e mail should be restricted one subject at a time, not a variety of different subject matters (how often have you seen several threads within one e mail ?).
– e mail maximum number of words should be 150 words. Beyond that, the content should be delivered on an attachment.
-what do colleagues believe is an appropriate use of “cc” / “bcc” ? – discuss !
-what are colleagues expectations (and boundaries) around response times ? How should we handle non responses ? – what’s the impact of being ignored ?
-when should we prefer to use face to face,or telephone, conversation ? what are the benefits of the different styles ?

Remember,as a species, 93 % of the way we receive communication doesn’t come from “formal”communication – it comes from “informal communication”, that is, the gap between what’s being communicated and what’s being comprehended – that gap consists of tone, body language and facial expression (non of which can be experienced via e mail).

Have a think about these principles, discuss with colleagues, commit to actions ……..and start making your e mail a safer place to be.

As always, I’d love to hear how you get on – you can let me know at cameron.thomson@footdown.com

Have a great weekend.

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E Mails aren’t toxic ……(but our e mail environment might be)

Reading time – 3 minutes.

“Great teams succeed because they are safer, not smarter” Cameron Thomson

Bullets don’t kill people. People who fire guns kill people – How often have you heard that ?

Well the same principle applies to the way we use e mail. I’ve only been back from holiday for two days and twice already the subject of “inappropriate” use of email has come up in coaching sessions.

On one occasion a client had not only been admonished by her Boss via email, but the hurt and distress caused had been compounded by him “cc”ing other team members into the e mail thread !

On another occasion, a client had received an e mail from a colleague at 9.14pm about a subject matter that was “in play” the following morning – it had opened with a comment from the sender that “I don’t expect you to do anything with this at this time of night”, but, equally, there was clearly an expectation that it would be read before the morning !

There is no doubt that e mail is the most commonly used “tool” that is utilised by teams – that Genie is definitely out of the bottle (and never going back). Equally, there’s no doubt that teams rarely actually discuss and commit to how they are going to use it.

So what key areas should your team be considering ?
– e mail content should be “unemotional”.
– e mail should NEVER used to admonish.
– e mail should be restricted one subject at a time, not a variety of different subject matters (how often have you seen several threads within one e mail ?).
– e mail maximum number of words should be 150 words. Beyond that, the content should be delivered on an attachment.
-what do colleagues believe is an appropriate use of “cc” / “bcc” ? – discuss !
-what are colleagues expectations (and boundaries) around response times ? How should we handle non responses ? – what’s the impact of being ignored ?
-when should we prefer to use face to face,or telephone, conversation ? what are the benefits of the different styles ?

Remember,as a species, 93 % of the way we receive communication doesn’t come from “formal”communication – it comes from “informal communication”, that is, the gap between what’s being communicated and what’s being comprehended – that gap consists of tone, body language and facial expression (non of which can be experienced via e mail).

Have a think about these principles, discuss with colleagues, commit to actions ……..and start making your e mail a safer place to be.

As always, I’d love to hear how you get on – you can let me know at cameron.thomson@footdown.com

Have a great weekend.

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E Mails aren’t toxic……(but our e mail environment might be)

E Mails aren’t toxic ……(but our e mail environment might be)

Reading time – 3 minutes.

“Great teams succeed because they are safer, not smarter” Cameron Thomson

Bullets don’t kill people. People who fire guns kill people – How often have you heard that ?

Well the same principle applies to the way we use e mail. I’ve only been back from holiday for two days and twice already the subject of “inappropriate” use of email has come up in coaching sessions.

On one occasion a client had not only been admonished by her Boss via email, but the hurt and distress caused had been compounded by him “cc”ing other team members into the e mail thread !

On another occasion, a client had received an e mail from a colleague at 9.14pm about a subject matter that was “in play” the following morning – it had opened with a comment from the sender that “I don’t expect you to do anything with this at this time of night”, but, equally, there was clearly an expectation that it would be read before the morning !

There is no doubt that e mail is the most commonly used “tool” that is utilised by teams – that Genie is definitely out of the bottle (and never going back). Equally, there’s no doubt that teams rarely actually discuss and commit to how they are going to use it.

So what key areas should your team be considering ?
– e mail content should be “unemotional”.
– e mail should NEVER used to admonish.
– e mail should be restricted one subject at a time, not a variety of different subject matters (how often have you seen several threads within one e mail ?).
– e mail maximum number of words should be 150 words. Beyond that, the content should be delivered on an attachment.
-what do colleagues believe is an appropriate use of “cc” / “bcc” ? – discuss !
-what are colleagues expectations (and boundaries) around response times ? How should we handle non responses ? – what’s the impact of being ignored ?
-when should we prefer to use face to face,or telephone, conversation ? what are the benefits of the different styles ?

Remember,as a species, 93 % of the way we receive communication doesn’t come from “formal”communication – it comes from “informal communication”, that is, the gap between what’s being communicated and what’s being comprehended – that gap consists of tone, body language and facial expression (non of which can be experienced via e mail).

Have a think about these principles, discuss with colleagues, commit to actions ……..and start making your e mail a safer place to be.

As always, I’d love to hear how you get on – you can let me know at cameron.thomson@footdown.com

Have a great weekend.

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Expectations Exceeded, But ………

Expectations Exceeded, But……

Reading Time, 3 minutes.

“Great teams succeed because they are safer, not smarter” Cameron Thomson

Your team performed.
Your team delivered.
Your team exceeded expectations.

But……you know there’s more to come.

Readers of last weeks blog will know I’m a huge admirer of all that Gareth Southgate has achieved in creating an environment where his England Football team could perform to a level that had been difficult to imagine (even just a few months earlier).

Ironically, in a very different field, I have CEO in exactly that same position the England Head Coach. His team (I won’t name them but you definitely know what they do – they’re a household name) have delivered yet another world class event recently,
-They’ve delighted their clients.
-They’re Board are purring with satisfaction.
-They’re in the mood (and rightly due) a short term celebration.

And yet………… he knows that they have even more talent that’s still to come. The next one can be even better.

But how do we release it ? He was so exercised by this that he called me while I’m in the Italian Lakes on holiday (I took the call – I know him, he’d never call if it wasn’t serious).

We decided on a two pointed strategy after the celebrations have died down next week,
– A candid feedback session, led by him, where he makes himself vulnerable enough to share with his team one thing that he’s reflecting on that he feels he could have done better on (his vulnerability will encourage his team to know it’s safe to share the thoughts they’ve been having on their own performances).
– For him to share 3 things that went well but where he could still find “1%” improvements in his performance – again, when this ripples out to his team they will all find “good stuff” that they could do just a little bit better.

Great teams are hungry.
Great teams never stop searching through effective feedback.
Great teams are safe.

As a card carrying member of the Tartan Army, I can tell you this England Team will be back. As for my CEO and his team…….watch this space, the best is about to get even better.

If you’d like to know more about how creating a culture of safety can create world class performance drop me a note on cameron.thomson@footdown.com

Till next week ………. Ciao 🇮🇹

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Waistcoats,Words & a Winning Culture

Waistcoats,Words and a Winning Culture

(Reading Time – 3 minutes)

“Great teams succeed because they are safer,not smarter” (Cameron Thomson)

How good has the World Cup been so far ?
Incredible finishes, end to end action, last minute goals, penalties scored, penalties missed, VAR catching out those who seek unfair advantage……. the list is almost endless (and there’s still more to come).

But ……………

For me,one performance stands out, head and shoulders above others and is worthy of being singled out (though I doubt he’d thank me for that). I refer to the performance of the England Head Coach, Gareth Southgate – as a card carrying foot soldier in the Tartan Army this should be hard to write but I just can’t hide my respect and admiration for this guy.

A sound,well respected,professional,who, while being very experienced,hardly raised many eyebrows when he was appointed in 2016 – he was viewed as a “solid” (if unspectacular) appointment ………… but then,he went to work.

The English National Team was at a crossroads – the so called “golden generation” had come, gone and hardly performed along the way. Southgate was left to assemble a squad of largely workmanlike,honest, professionals (in his own image perhaps ?) with a couple of special talents to throw into the mix.

And mix them he has !

In 2 years he has built an incredible culture that goes beyond a mere team – he’s tapped into that most elusive of alchemy’s and created a “chemistry”.

But how ? ………. here’s how –

⁃ They touch – high ‘5’s, huddles and tribal (not ordinary) handshakes are common place. They know they “belong”.
⁃ They know the minimum expectations they have of one another’s behaviours (just watch EVERY player sing the National Anthem with passion and gusto).
⁃ They’ve taken time to get to know one another as people beyond football – they know the names of their wives, partners and other family members and know what’s going on in their lives.
⁃ They’ve developed a genuine affection for one another.
⁃ They eat together.
⁃ They know about one another’s vulnerabilities.
⁃ They can predict one another.
⁃ They see something needing done and just do it – they don’t wait for permission.

In addition, Southgate uses hugely inclusive language – “we,us,our” ….. here are some direct quotes after the victory on penalties over Colombia on Tuesday –

“WE owned OUR own process”
“Credit to all OUR staff”
“WE all looked at OUR technique”
“WE looked at how WE needed to be as a team”
“WE lost OUR cool a little bit”
“ WE kept OUR nerve”
“OUR fans”
“WE’RE creating OUR history”

Above all, everyone in this England team has created a culture where they are safe to express their talent (on the pitch and off it too).

How could you use these principles to leverage even stronger performance from your team ? If you’d like to know more drop me a note at cameron.thomson@footdown.com

Keep your eye on Gareth Southgate- whatever happens to England for the rest of this journey he will go down as one of the great coaches – he’s already a winner.

Have a great weekend ⚽️

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Waistcoats,Words & a Winning Culture


Waistcoats, Words & A Winning Culture
(Reading Time – 3 minutes)

“Great teams succeed because they are safer,not smarter” (Cameron Thomson)

How good has the World Cup been so far ?
Incredible finishes, end to end action, last minute goals, penalties scored, penalties missed, VAR catching out those who seek unfair advantage……. the list is almost endless (and there’s still more to come).

But ……………

For me,one performance stands out, head and shoulders above others and is worthy of being singled out (though I doubt he’d thank me for that). I refer to the performance of the England Head Coach, Gareth Southgate – as a card carrying foot soldier in the Tartan Army this should be hard to write but I just can’t hide my respect and admiration for this guy.

A sound,well respected,professional,who, while being very experienced,hardly raised many eyebrows when he was appointed in 2016 – he was viewed as a “solid” (if unspectacular) appointment ………… but then,he went to work.

The English National Team was at a crossroads – the so called “golden generation” had come, gone and hardly performed along the way. Southgate was left to assemble a squad of largely workmanlike,honest, professionals (in his own image perhaps ?) with a couple of special talents to throw into the mix.

And mix them he has !

In 2 years he has built an incredible culture that goes beyond a mere team – he’s tapped into that most elusive of alchemy’s and created a “chemistry”.

But how ? ………. here’s how –

⁃ They touch – high ‘5’s, huddles and tribal (not ordinary) handshakes are common place. They know they “belong”.
⁃ They know the minimum expectations they have of one another’s behaviours (just watch EVERY player sing the National Anthem with passion and gusto).
⁃ They’ve taken time to get to know one another as people beyond football – they know the names of their wives, partners and other family members and know what’s going on in their lives.
⁃ They’ve developed a genuine affection for one another.
⁃ They eat together.
⁃ They know about one another’s vulnerabilities.
⁃ They can predict one another.
⁃ They see something needing done and just do it – they don’t wait for permission.

In addition, Southgate uses hugely inclusive language – “we,us,our” ….. here are some direct quotes after the victory on penalties over Colombia on Tuesday –

“WE owned OUR own process”
“Credit to all OUR staff”
“WE all looked at OUR technique”
“WE looked at how WE needed to be as a team”
“WE lost OUR cool a little bit”
“ WE kept OUR nerve”
“OUR fans”
“WE’RE creating OUR history”

Above all, everyone in this England team has created a culture where they are safe to express their talent (on the pitch and off it too).

How could you use these principles to leverage even stronger performance from your team ? If you’d like to know more drop me a note at cameron.thomson@footdown.com

Keep your eye on Gareth Southgate- whatever happens to England for the rest of this journey he will go down as one of the great coaches – he’s already a winner.

Have a great weekend ⚽️

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