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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, Aug 22 2017 11:00AM

The Apprenticeship Levy doesn't feel new to me. When I started my L&D career in 1984 (it was called Training then) I had to produce an annual report to demonstrate we were entitled to levy exemption from The Distributive Industry Training Board (DITB). The report focused more on quantity of training days etc rather than outcomes or business impact but it always made us reflect on what we had achieved and meant that we had plenty of support for investing in training.

The similarity that particularly strikes me is the opportunity to create truly blended and comprehensive programmes for people at all stages of their career. I started with the employer I described above as a management trainee - I was on a two-year programme with a blend of learning opportunities planned in. It really was our flagship programme and when I became Training Officer I was responsible for running it. Remember we are talking early 80s and I still benefit from that programme now. Here are just some of the elements that made it such a solid foundation for the rest of my working life:

• 3 month assignments in different departments across the business

• Day release college courses - Year 1 technical, Year 2 - management focused

• In-house 1 and 2 day courses - often run by senior managers and specialists in the business on a wide range of business and management topics

• Involvement in special events - i.e. Ideal Home Show, Lining up and presenting a crystal bowl to Her Majesty The Queen, etc.

• Entry in to related awards (e.g. Chamber of Commerce Trainee of the Year)

• Project work

• Regular documented reviews after each assignment (3 months)

• Learning Diary to record progress, reflect on learning during assignments and guide us through the programme

• Regular access to Senior Management and real involvement from them throughout

• Final Graduation ceremony (I still have my photo!)

• Almost guaranteed promotion at the end but with plenty of support to make the right choice over the first management role.

The selection process was tough, over 100 applications were received each year without any advertising and this was whittled down to around 8 each year through interviews and assessment centres using a panel of trained senior managers - when I experienced this from the 'other side' I saw how robust the discussions were in the wash up.

So, now we have digital but other than that, I'm not sure how much of what we are doing today is really new. I believe that if we use the Apprenticeship levy wisely, we will go back to developing people properly. Bite-sized, e-learning, social Learning all have their place but as a product of an in-depth, tailored and well supported two-year programme I value the chance to provide others with that type of experience and learning. All of my fellow trainees went on to have impactful roles quite quickly and of those I have tracked - many reached Director levels in their various organisations. Perhaps that's the key, let's train people in management and leadership skills before they are promoted!

By Shelley Measures, Jul 12 2017 08:38AM

CAKE People Development opened its doors to clients and friends last Friday afternoon to mark the official opening of their new offices. They were invited for delicious afternoon tea, fizz and of course CAKE!

Margaret Burnside, Director, said “We’d like to thank everyone who came along to celebrate with us. After all the challenging work of the office refurbishment and the move itself, it was wonderful to have the opportunity to finally show off our new home.”

CAKE moved from its offices in Denmark Street to a new base at Diss Business Park in Hopper Way, following a successful period of growth since its launch in October 2016.

CAKE People Development are specialists in Leadership and Management Development, Coaching and Mentoring, and Organisational Development. They are approved and accredited by both the ILM (Institute of Leadership and Management) and CMI (Chartered Management Institute) to deliver qualifications to Level 7 in Leadership and Management and Coaching and Mentoring.

The new facilities have enabled the company to take on extra staff, while also allowing room for further growth.

Margaret added, “We were always committed to staying in Diss when we were looking for our new office space and the ongoing investment into regenerating the Diss Heritage Triangle mean it’s an exciting time for the town and we are proud to be a part of it. Our office looks great, it represents our values and culture, but more importantly it has provided us with the space and location needed for us to continue to support our clients in developing their people and really making a difference, not just for their staff but for the organisations themselves.”

For any enquiries regarding our new offices, training facilities or our services, please contact the CAKE Team on 01603 733006 or email or visit the website

By Shelley Measures, Jul 4 2017 01:46PM

The TJ Awards are back and they are bigger than ever for 2017.

Widely recognised as the best awards in the sector, the TJ Awards recognise the ingenuity, creativity, passion and hard work of learning and development professionals from around the world.

This year the TJ Awards 2017 ceremony will take place at the Brewery on Tuesday 5th December.

Margaret Burnside has been on the judging panel for the last four years and this year CAKE are proud and delighted to be sponsoring the 'Best Leadership Development Programme' category.

Debbie Carter, TJ’s editor in chief says: “We're looking for the brightest learning and development teams and people to tell us why they deserve to be recognised.

The Awards categories allow a broad range of companies and individuals to participate and reflect the increasing diversity and scope in the L&D landscape”

For further information visit,

By Shelley Measures, Jun 22 2017 11:16AM

Are you or a member of your team looking to development your leadership & management skills?

We have just announced the dates for our Autumn Open Programmes. Our accredited programmes have been designed to support your executives, managers, supervisors and team leaders through every stage of their career and professional development.

Our programmes are offered to award, certificate and diploma up to Level 7 and are accredited by the two-best known membership and accreditation bodies, The ILM and the CMI. CAKE is an approved centre with direct claim status from both bodies and as such, the quality of our programmes is guaranteed.

Our approach to people development is a practical one – with a strong emphasis on inspiration, implementation and application. Each programme has been designed to meet the needs of the executives, managers and leaders attending them.

We take a long-term view on working with you to build truly collaborative, trusted relationships founded on shared values, passion, and excellence. We believe in making a real difference to both individuals and organisations.

Whether you only have one or two people with a particular development need, or you have an individual that would really benefit from the variety of perspectives gained from learning with their peers from a wide range of different organisations; our open programmes are an ideal way for your managers and leaders to develop a wide array of skill and knowledge.

Our open programmes are also available in-house. If you are interested in running one of these programmes in-house, please let us know – we have a passionate team ready to help.

For further information on our Open Programmes, click here. or talk to Jo Tonnison, our Programme Manager on 01603 733006 for help in identifying the right path for you or a member of your team.

By Shelley Measures, May 30 2017 08:36AM

The apprenticeship levy?

On the 6th April 2017, the Government introduced the apprenticeship levy, with a view to creating millions of apprenticeships across the UK. The apprenticeship levy will be applied to all employers with an annual wage bill greater than £3 million however there will be a 0.5% tax on the total pay bill, which will be paid through Pay As You Earn.

The purpose of the levy is to encourage employers to invest in apprenticeship programmes and to raise additional funds to improve the quality and quantity of apprenticeships.

What size of business will be subject to the levy?

The levy threshold is calculated by size of payroll. Businesses with a wage bill of more than £3 million will be required to pay a levy. This payroll threshold only applies to 2% of employers, which means only larger SMEs fall into this bracket.

How much is the levy?

The levy amount is 0.5% of a company’s payroll, and every employer gets an allowance of £15,000 to offset against the amount they owe.

That’s why it only applies to businesses with a payroll over £3m. So to explain:

A business with a payroll of £3m:

£3,000,000 (payroll) x 0.5% (levy amount) = £15,000 (amount owing pre allowance) – £15,000 (levy allowance) = £0 (levy payable)

A business with a payroll of £6m:

£6,000,000 (payroll) x 0.5% (levy amount) = £30,000 (amount owing pre allowance) – £15,000 (levy allowance) = £15,000 (levy payable)

When will it be payable?

Businesses will be subject to the levy payment from April 2017 and it will be payable monthly.

For levy-paying employers (annual wage bill greater than £3 million)

In addition to the functions available to all employers, from May 2017 levy-paying employers will be able to access funding for apprenticeships through their digital account and:

• negotiate and pay for apprenticeship training and assessment

• manage their funding and apprentices, view their account balance and plan their spending

• stop or pause payments (for example, if their apprentice stops their training, takes a break from training or the employer hasn’t received the service agreed with the provider).

To access their funding, levy-paying employers will need to set up an account on the digital apprenticeship service from January 2017 using their Government Gateway ID, PAYE scheme details and Companies House number or equivalent, which company payroll teams should have.

For non-levy paying employers (annual wage bill less than £3 million)

By 2020, all employers will be able to use the digital apprenticeship service to pay for training and assessment for apprenticeships.

Until then, non-levy paying employers will continue to negotiate and agree their apprenticeship programme with their chosen training provider.

90% of non-levy paying employers’ apprenticeship training and assessment costs in England will be paid for by the government.

The government will ask these employers to make a 10% contribution to the cost, paid directly to the provider, and the government covers the rest. This cost will be spread over the lifetime of the apprenticeship.

The government is offering additional support to organisations with fewer than 50 employees by paying 100% of training and assessment costs for their apprentices aged 16 to 18 and for those aged 19 to 24 formerly in care or with a local authority education, health and care plan.

Are all UK employers going to benefit?

Employers that do not pay the levy will still be able to access government support for apprenticeships.

Employers in England that pay the levy will be able to access the funds they have paid in via a new online portal called the Digital Apprenticeship Service (DAS). They will also receive a 10% top-up from the Government to their total monthly contributions in England.

All employers in England have access to a new, easy-to-use digital apprenticeship service to help digital apprenticeship service to help them manage their apprenticeship programme.

By Shelley Measures, May 30 2017 12:00AM

We were delighted to team up with CDSM at the CIPD Learning & Development Show in May to show case our 'blended learning' approach.

We were joined by Rachel Mattia, learning and development manager for Anglian Home Improvements to talk about the journey she has taken with CAKE & CDSM in transforming the learning approach of her organisation.

The whole show was busy and very well attended. It was great to catch up with our colleagues and peers from the L&D community and meet so many new people on our stand. We enjoyed every conversation we had. We were so impressed with the dedication to learning and development and the interest shown in the work we have done to change organisational learning.

About her programme Rachel said "I approached Margert at Cake People Development as they are truly unique in what they do. They not only get to know your business, your people and your culture as it is now but understand where you envisage it to be. They bridge the gap of “how can we achieve that” and support you through the implementation of everything and beyond the life of the programmes.

They put together for us an inspiring challenging development programme for our internal trainers, touching all the key areas and incorporating aspects of social learning with support from Andy Lancaster CIPD. Using learning technology has really helped them become part of the learning technology revolution alongside developing their skills as confident trainers and facilitators. Helping them become curators and well as creation of resources.

Their response was incredible, collaborative working, peer coaching, self-directed learning, sharing resources and move towards video based learning, live polling and blended learning."

Don't worry if yo missed the show this year, we will be baqck again next year with CDSM to bring you another great blend.

If you would like more information on our blended learning solutions, contact The CAKE Team or call Shelley Measures 01603 733006

By Shelley Measures, May 18 2017 11:00AM

A training and development firm has expressed ‘a vote of confidence’ in Diss, after opting to remain in the town as it expands into larger facilities. CAKE People Development moved from offices in Denmark Street to a new base at Diss Business Park in Hopper Way on Monday, following a successful period of growth since its launch in October 2016.

The new facilities will enable the company to take on extra staff, while also allowing room for further growth. In a statement, CAKE said new business opportunities and “the loyal support of its customers” meant that it had only taken six months to outgrow its previous office. Margaret Burnside, the director of CAKE People Development, said: “We’ve been searching for the ideal space for a while. “We were committed to staying in Diss when looking to find a new office space and are delighted to tell everyone that we’ve finally found it. “Our new redesigned and remodelled offices, with a range of new flexible training rooms, make our new location a more relaxed and attractive place to learn. “Our decision to stay and continue our growth in Diss is our vote of confidence in the town and the terrific location of the business park.”

CAKE, which took on the people development consultancy division of fellow Diss business Eras Ltd in November, stated it plans to extend the offerings of its open programme service, as well as launch a full suite of one and two-day management and HR workshops for businesses in the region. The firm also expressed optimism for the ongoing investment into regenerating the Diss Heritage Triangle, which it believes will boost the local economy.

Read more at:

By Shelley Measures, Mar 14 2017 02:57PM

Making the most of your apprenticeship levy payments.

The way apprenticeships are funded and delivered in England will change from April 6 2017. If your organisations salary bill is over £3 million, you will pay 0.5% to a new government 'apprenticeship levy'.

What you may not know is that you can use your levy on apprenticeship training programmes that we can align to meet the development needs of your business.

We'll work with you to ensure you get the most from your levy payments. We help you develop an apprenticeship strategy that meets your key business objectives.

Using your levy payments, you can upskill your employees at all levels- from new starters to your managers, and regardless of thier age, position or experience.

Call us today and find out how you can maximise your levy payments: 01603 733006

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