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CAKE PEOPLE DEVELOPMENT takes on eras ltd people development consultancy.

Welcome to our news and blog page.


Here will share what's new and happening in the world of CAKE People Develeopment and all things Learning and Development.

By Shelley Measures, Feb 13 2018 03:04PM

Coaching Leaders

Working with leaders in business, whether senior leaders of organisations or talented contributors within them, can be highly stimulating and rewarding. They are often bright, passionate and inspiring people with impressive track records of success. For the same reasons, coaching these leaders can be scary. It’s easy to feel intimidated by power and talent. This article covers three areas in which gaining the respect of your leader coachees can lead to their stronger commitment to working with you. The three areas are credibility, confidence and challenge.


Leaders want to know that you’re a person worth their time and effort before they commit to the process. Success has come to them from using their time wisely, and you’re just one of many choices they could make to fill their day. Accept that they will start judging you as soon as you meet (or speak on the phone or exchange emails). Every interaction is a moment of truth for them about you. Establishing your credibility is essential for them to trust you and we know that trust is vital for coaching to be effective.

As well as your professional credibility as a coach, learning as much as you can about your leader before you meet them shows them you take your coaching clients seriously. This sounds obvious, but I’m still surprised at the number of coaches who pay scant attention to this step. “I don’t do any preparation as I don’t want to pre-judge the person,” a coach once told me. I know of at least one contract she lost because the managing director she met thought her unworthy of working with. She knew little about his company and even less about him. One or two conversations and a search online might have produced a different outcome. Study the organisation’s website to understand their business niche, approach and successes. Many display profiles of their leaders. Some even give contact details. Recently I was researching a financial software company. The CEO’s email address was on the website, so I sent him a brief hello. This led to a friendly phone conversation. No immediate business resulted, but our relationship is now established. One thing he did say was how few approaches he gets directly in this way. The fact I’d bothered to look and contact him, as a result, was unusual and welcome (why would he have his email in a public domain if he didn’t want people to reach out?).

Speaking to people who know and work with your leader is also very useful. I find a simple, open and honest approach works best, something like, “X and I are meeting soon to see if there’s value in working together. What could you tell me that might be helpful?” Sometimes I’ll ask a more specific question such as, “What strengths do they bring to the business?” or “What are some of the qualities you admire in them?” Don’t ask about failings or shortcomings. You can guarantee this conversation will get back to your leader at lightning speed. You don’t want your motives to be questioned. Keep it positive and respectful.


You need to convince your leader that you believe in the value of what you’re doing. If there’s any doubt, you can forget continuing to work with them. Remove the risk of coming across as hesitant or tentative by having a clear coaching pathway to travel along. Point out the reason for and the value of each step, and include a couple of real-life vignettes to illustrate. When I met the no-nonsense MD of a business consultancy, “Convince me this will work,” was one of the first things he said. I showed him a simple one-pager entitled, ‘Your Exit Strategy In Four Steps’. On the page were four key questions for him to wrestle with. All of his answers related to his achieving retirement as soon as possible. My research had revealed this as his key goal. I explained each step simply and clearly, and emphasised the thinking effort and committed action he would need to bring to make our coaching relationship worthwhile. “OK,” was all he said and we started right away. He retired within five years of the conversation.


Giving your leaders an easy ride is not helpful to their development. They welcome and rise to challenge, and they will want it from you. I adopt an assertive coaching approach with business leaders. As long as that does not stray into rudeness or insult, often they find somebody standing up to them refreshing. Pick your battles, however. Nit-picking is just annoying. Put your foot down on the big stuff, the thinking, assumptions, opinions and judgements that could sabotage your leader’s progress. During one of my last coaching sessions before writing this piece, I interrupted my coachee. “You are blaming someone else for what is your responsibility,” I stated. He was taken aback and a bit annoyed by this. I explained that three times he had told me of the importance of a key deliverable’s success, each time adding that he had little faith in one of his manager’s ability to play their part. The message I got was, “I’m just waiting for things to fail so I can justify my opinion of the guy.” When I said that to him, he became silent, looked at the floor and then reluctantly agreed. It was a breakthrough which allowed us to move towards how he could support that manager more strongly.

Coaching leaders is a great test of your own leadership in action. People like people who are like themselves. When your leader coachees experience qualities in you they can relate to, admire or to which they want to aspire; they will have a natural tendency to connect with you. How you coach them, therefore, is arguably just as important as what you coach them on. By building your credibility, displaying confidence in your coaching and not holding back with a helpful challenge, your leader will be even more minded to take you seriously as a valuable asset on their leadership journey.

Contact The CAKE Team on 01603 733006 or via email on to discuss our coaching interventions.

By Shelley Measures, Jan 15 2018 04:16PM

CAKE People Development - Setting New Standards

The introduction of Leadership and Management Apprenticeships is the best business opportunity available for you to develop the capabilities and performance of your managers and leaders.

The new standards unlock exciting opportunities for organisations to attract talent, nurture and develop existing team members to enable them to reach their full potential and achieve a professional qualification.

We can help you to develop them using the funding available through the Apprenticeship Levy, but where do you start?

Join us on March 6th from 9.00am to 11.00am, for refreshments, breakfast and of course CAKE to explore how your organisation can make the most of your Apprenticeship Levy.

We will demystify the processes and funding of apprenticeships, and share our innovative and unique approach, putting learning to work in the context of your organisation; it’s how we make the difference.


Apprenticeship Levy explained

Hear from our event partners CMI (Chartered Management Institute)

Qualifications and how they work

Employer support and guidance

Learner journey and experience

Funding made simple

The CAKE difference

(Agenda subject to change)

Our CMI (Chartered Management Institute) apprenticeships are an essential ingredient in the development of your teams.

They represent the very highest standard of development design to deliver exactly what your organisation and leaders/managers need. They set the new standard, improving business performance and organisational profitability, delivering professional qualifications inline with apprenticeship frameworks. For all sectors and business sizes, our quality assured, thoroughly blended learning approach will help you attract and retain the best talent and bridge the skills gap.

By Shelley Measures, Jan 4 2018 02:31PM

HR professionals, managers and employers are invited to join Wellbeing Consultant and Menopause Expert Diane Danzebrink for this introduction to menopause and why it matters in the workplace.

Every woman will experience the menopause and with more women in the workplace than ever before menopause should be on the agenda of every forward thinking employer, whether large or small.

Menopause symptoms can have a significant impact on a womans life and work, the concequences of this for both the individual and the organisation can be significantly improved with the correct information, education, advice and support.

Diane will speak about the following to allow you to decide what next steps might be suitable for your organisation.

What is the Menopause?

What are the symptoms?

How can it affect work?

What can employers do to help?

Why does menopause matter?

Ticket price includes a light breakfast and your choice of beverage.

Diane Danzebrink Wellbeing Consultant and Menopause Expert

Organiser of Why Menopause Matters in the Workplace

Diane is a Wellbeing Consultant and Menopause Expert who specialises in providing bespoke training and support solutions for businesses and organisations and private consultancy services for women and couples experiencing menopause.

A professional coach and therapist Diane has completed clinical menopause training for nurses and is the media lay spokesperson for the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists and a member of The British Menopause Society. Regularly interviewed by the media she has appeared on the BBC, ITV’s Lorraine and Good Morning Britain, Channel 5 and BBC Radio. Diane is a passionate campaigner and advocate for improved care and support for women experiencing menopause both in and out of the workplace and will be a consultant on the upcoming Royal College of General Practitioners curriculum review. She is currently working with the Shadow Minister for Women and Equalities to raise awareness of menopause in the workplace amongst cross party members and employers. Diane was invited to speak at the launch of the Wales TUC survey on menopause at the Welsh Assembly in September and she has recently recorded an educational video for the TUC as a tool to assist union representatives when introducing menopause in to the conversation with colleagues.

CAKE People Development is delighted to be supporting this event. Menopause is often seen as a taboo subject we believe needs to be brought to the fore and openly discussed by both men and women, unlike in previous generations. We need to prepare women about to enter menopause, support women experiencing symptoms and educate employers. This workshop is a must for both men and women to help them understand more about the subject.

By Shelley Measures, Nov 28 2017 02:06PM

Over 100 HR & L&D professionals joined us for our annual East of England coaching and mentoring conference, The Coaching Conversation, held at Center Parcs, Elveden Forest, Suffolk.

Now in its 3rd year, out latest conference on Wednesday 15 November tackled the theme of change.

Margaret Burnside, Director of CAKE, said; “It has been an amazing year for us, we have gone through a period of massive growth and change which influenced the theme for this year’s conference.

“We are passionate about coaching and mentoring; it’s at the heart of everything we do so it was very important that we upheld the quality of our previous conferences.”

Our aim is to continue to meet and bring inspired people together to support the coaching community. In previous years we have brought guest speakers: Julie Starr - Author and Coach, Andy Lancaster – CIPD, David Taylor – The Naked Leader, as well as experts in the coaching and mentoring world to the region and this year we were delighted to add Professor David Clutterbuck and James Hutton to the list.

Delegates were able to choose from a variety of practical workshops and case studies running throughout the day with the opportunity to connect, collaborate and have some great conversations in the delightful, rural setting.

This year saw the introduction of the first CAKE Coaching Award. We wanted to know who went above and beyond their job role coaching and supporting their colleagues, who were the coaching champions driving and maintaining the coaching culture in their organisations.

The winner of The CAKE Coaching Award was Martin Bull – Systems Development Manager, Global Closure Systems – UCP Zeller and our finalists were: Derrick Farrell – CEO Rehabworks and Derek Jackson – Graphic Designer – LSI Architects.

Margaret continued, “Encouragingly, the use of coaching in conjunction with existing development initiatives is becoming more common. We introduced the CAKE Coaching Award this year, to recognise, reward and celebrate the valuable contribution coaching makes to individuals and organisations. We were delighted to announce our first ever winner having been overwhelmed by the quality of nominations, which gave us some tough decisions to make. The feedback we have had has been amazing; I’m so proud of our CAKE Team for creating a great conference experience.”

What our delegates said:

“I think the conference was extremely well organised, fabulous venue, very good food, very professional speakers and workshop facilitators.”

“Thank you for organising such a fabulous event; the conference was extremely good value for money, an enjoyable and thought-provoking day.”

“I found the whole programme very interesting; I wish I could have attended every session.”

I thoroughly enjoyed it, surpassed my expectations.”

If you would like to discuss any of our coaching initiatives or qualifications call the CAKE Team on 01603 733006 or email

By Shelley Measures, Oct 19 2017 09:50AM

We often get asked to explain just what exactly coaching is all about., so we've put together this guide to provide you with some information about what it is, why it’s used, what the benefits are and how it works..


Coaching is people centred, it’s effectively a conversation between two people, the coach and the client.

It’s about unlocking a person’s potential to maximise their own performance.

In a confidential environment, the coach uses effective listening and questioning skills to help the client to explore options to enhance their performance or to find their own solutions to solve any issues they are experiencing in their professional life.


Simply put, it is to help someone to take something to another level.

It helps them to learn rather than teach them.

Coaching accelerates the client’s progress by providing greater focus and awareness of choice.

Coaching starts by concentrating on where clients are now and what they are willing to do to get where they want to be in the future.


It supports changes in attitudes and behaviour of the client that can translate into more effective performance in their job.

It helps clients to identify barriers that are preventing them being more effective in their jobs.

It is a challenging and demanding experience and this can help to accelerate learning.

It promotes individual responsibility for performance and development.

It helps raise self-awareness and self-management.

It can support the client to deal with a climate of rapid or continual change.

It provides clients with feedback on their strengths and areas for development; this is supported by using 360 feedback.

It is beneficial for clients who have moved from management or front-line positions to more senior levels or where they need assistance in gaining a more strategic perspective.

It can be offered as a rapid and individually tailored solution to a learning need and as such, it complements any existing Learning & Development activity.

In cases where a client is performing perfectly well but could be even more successful with some assistance. In this situation, the coach is not helping to ‘fix’ any particular problem, and instead will seek to help the individual to help themselves to consider their future plans and the next step in their career.

How it works:

We would have a detailed conversation to fully understand your coaching need; we would then suggest 3 best fit coach profiles so you can choose the coach you would like to work with.

Before the first session your coach will have an initial telephone conversation with you, giving you the opportunity to build rapport and agree details for the first session. Typically there would be 6 coaching sessions and these can be a mixture of face to face and telephone. Coaching sessions take place at a venue and over a time scale to suit you but are usually completed within 6 months.

To support the sessions your coach may recommend the completion of a 360 feedback process before you begin coaching and again at the end. This can provide powerful feedback and information for you and by doing the 360 again at the end of the sessions will often highlights your progress on your goals and objectives.

If you would like to have a conversation to find out just what an impact coaching could have on you, call CAKE on 01603 733006, a member of our team will be more than happy to help.

Or join us at our coaching and mentoring conference, The Coaching Conversation 2017. To see and hear just what coaching can do for both individuals and organisations.

By Shelley Measures, Oct 12 2017 02:08PM

It amazes me that there is still such a gaping hole in businesses today when it comes to coaching in the workplace.

Today’s leaders are given more responsibilities all the time, for issues they have no experience of and they are given no advice, support, coaching or feedback to help them be a better leader.

I’m not encouraging giving people the answers but give them perspective and ideas so they can be successful! The idea is to open up the many aspects of coaching and help business managers and executives understand how to use coaching and mentoring effectively as part of everyday working life.

Done well, good coaching is so worthwhile and has a positive impact on employee engagement, retention and performance.

It is really a powerful development tool for managers and leaders, helping them be the best they can be, when they ‘get it’ or have their ‘lightbulb moment’ the impact on the individual and the business is immense.

If you ask an employee who has had a good coaching relationship with their manager what’s great about it, they will tell you, “my manager actually cares; they listen and give me a different perspective”.

The power of coaching for the person being coached is momentous.

To have insight on how something looks outside of yourself, and ideas on how to make it even better, will only lead to success. Good perspective saves time, effort and frustration.

Simply put coaching is a conversation between two people engaging to help someone to take something to another level.

Can you imagine the strength of an organization if every employee came into work tomorrow with the commitment to solicit feedback and coaching to be better in their role, and committed to providing coaching and feedback to others so they are more successful in their role?

It’s mind-boggling but not impossible, so why isn’t it happening?

Let’s dispel the myths around coaching, come and hear how it works and works well by joining us at our coaching and mentoring conference ‘The Coaching Conversation 2017’ to be held at Center Parcs, Elveden Forest, Suffolk, IP24 3TR November 15th.

Book your place today and we look forward to seeing you then.

If you are unable to make the conference but would like a conversation, please call the CAKE Team on 01603 733006.

By Shelley Measures, Oct 6 2017 11:44AM

Managing business finances is absolutely critical for every organisation, regardless of type or size. Responsibility for areas such as budgeting, business cases and project finances are often devolved to people working outside of the finance team, making it vital that they clearly understand what it is that they need to do and why it is so important to do so.

Our financial courses are lively, practical and relevant. We can tailor the content and materials to your own organisation and your ways of working, making the transition of ideas and tools from the learning environment incredibly smooth.

We use a variety of approaches to ensure that participants find this potentially dull topic both interesting and fun to learn about. These methodologies include business simulations, games and a large amount of practical exercises, introducing many useful tools, techniques and top tips.

We cover a wide range of financial topics, from finance for non-financial managers to building powerful business cases, project financial assessment and management and creating and managing effective budgets.

For further information on our finance for programmes, call the CAKE Team 01063 733006.

By Shelley Measures, Sep 27 2017 01:13PM

In my 20 years plus as a trainer, I’m continually frustrated that learners don’t translate learning value into workplace value. Often delegates tell me how much they have enjoyed a training event (even one of mine occasionally!) and how useful the learning was.

A few weeks later it’s all forgotten and nothing of any significance has changed for them. The training has therefore been largely a waste of time. Forbes recently published an article estimating that only 10% of business training actually produces any real value.

The problem becomes clearer if we look at the learning journey from ignorance to mastery in terms of a staircase. Each stair represents a step in learning and relies on the learner completing the previous steps. The bottom three steps are information, concept and knowledge.

Our senses need to be exposed to information first so that our brain can start to organise it coherently into a concept that makes sense. Knowledge is achieved when we can recognise and understand concepts consistently.

The only way to make learning stick is for our brain to make a pattern of it that persists. The pattern making is called neuroplasticity and our brains are excellent at it.

So, learning to tie a shoelace might start with information about shoes, laces and eyelets that we can arrange into the concept of a shoe with laces. Being able to pick out the shoes with laces from a bunch of random shoes will show we know what a shoe with laces is.

The only way to make learning stick is for our brain to make a pattern of it that persists. The pattern making is called neuroplasticity and our brains are excellent at it. Unfortunately, our brains are also very efficient and will only keep the patterns that we use. ‘Use it or lose it’ is definitely a brain thing.

The next three steps in the staircase are application, practice and feedback. We need to find an application for our knowledge that we can practise over and over to get our brain to start hard-wiring the learning pattern. Feedback tells us if we’re doing it right.

Too often in business training, the trap door opens between knowledge and application. The learner leaves the training knowing what to do but the opportunity to apply their knowledge doesn’t happen. Their brain doesn’t hard-wire the learning and the pattern disappears.

They fall through the trap door. This is called forgetting.

By applying knowledge, the learner can complete the staircase. So, with practice and feedback, knowledge can turn into skill which, with further practice and feedback, can turn into mastery.

In organisations, most learners need management support to get up the staircase to mastery and avoid the trap door. This is part of a three-way learning partnership involving learner, trainer and learner’s manager. The learner commits to the learning and focuses on specific learning outcomes they want.

The trainer facilitates the learning by providing clear and engaging learning experiences. The manager creates opportunities for the learner to apply their learning in the workplace and provides feedback, say through coaching, on progress the learner is making.

Unfortunately, management lets the learning partnership down too often by not getting actively involved in the learner’s journey. I was recently involved in a transformation programme for a manufacturing company which involved uplifting management capability.

The senior divisional leaders were nowhere to be seen and left their middle managers struggling to apply the management principles we had trained them in. After nine months, the whole transformation was left hanging by a thread.

Contrast that with another programme I delivered to develop a coaching culture at a specialist chemical company. From day one, the chief executive was front and centre of the programme. He attended every training session and took full responsibility to drive through the learning. The commitment to the programme by the whole management team was 100%.

I find most people like learning stuff. Apart from making them better at their jobs it gives a sense of achievement and builds self-esteem and self-worth. Also, we’ve probably all seen Dan Pink’s video citing mastery as a key motivator (along with purpose and autonomy).

I believe our responsibility as trainers is to do our best to get managers of learners playing their part in the learning partnership. I routinely insist on speaking with learners’ managers to challenge them to support their people proactively.

By creating opportunity for their people to apply and practise their learning within a feedback framework they will get more capable, more productive and more motivated team members who can actually make their management lives just that bit easier.

About the author

Grant Cullen is a consultant with CAKE People Development.

By Shelley Measures, Sep 26 2017 01:44PM

If there’s one thing we can be certain of, it’s that nothing is certain. All organisations go through change which impacts the business at all levels. - this can be disconcerting but also a productive opportunity.

Our conference this year tackles the theme of change from many approaches - shifting and transforming organisational and leadership culture; the psychology of change, building a coaching culture; team coaching supporting change, team coaching culture; the interface between coaching and business culture, coaching and mentoring; the apprenticeship levy and there are other themed sessions too.

This is our 3rd annual conference, and we’re upholding the quality of the of our previous, successful conferences. We have engaging speakers; lots of choice of interesting and practical workshops/case studies and the opportunity to network in a friendly environment, in the delightful rural setting of Centre Parcs, Elveden Forest, Suffolk, IP24 3TR.

We are hosting the first ever CAKE Coaching Award where you can help celebrate the achievements of your colleagues, peers, or your own! And the perfect finish to the day – relaxing in the woodland environment, enjoy a walk along the lakeside, dive into the famous Subtropical Swimming Paradise or challenge colleagues to a game of Ten Pin Bowling. You are invited to stay on site until 10.00pm on the day of the conference.

We hope you can join us for a full and varied day of inspiration, conversation, and learning.

See you there!


By Shelley Measures, Sep 12 2017 12:17PM

Join us on Wednesday 25th October (18:00 - 20:30) at the Ekiko Lounge at Norwich City Football Club to network with other L&D leaders and to discuss and debate how to set L&D strategies to support the ‘new learning organisation’ and how we influence lasting change!

You do not have to be member of the CIPD to attend.

Book your FREE place today by emailing

Wednesday 25th October - 18:00 - 20:30.

Ekiko Lounge, Norwich City Football Club, Carrow Road, Norwich, NR1 1JE.

Work is changing, customers and stakeholders are demanding more and technology is disrupting the way that organisations deliver services.

The role of the L&D leader in business has never been more important, but it's a role that is changing rapidly.

The theme for the evening will be "Driving the New Learning Organisation" where, through an interactive session, we'll be drawing on the findings of the latest Towards Maturity and CIPD joint report on this topic. We'll explore:

• How we set L&D strategies to support the new learning organisation

• The implications for your L&D team - how do we get ready for the future?

• The implications for your business - how do we influence lasting change?

You can download a copy of the report at the following link:

We will be gathering all the creative ideas from all the ‘Leaders in Learning’ sessions being held on this theme around the UK to create a free webinar on practical approaches to facilitate a learning organisation which will be delivered later in the year. So your thoughts and input at this event are important and valued.

We look forward to seeing you on Wednesday 25th October.

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