New Chartered Manager Degree Apprenticeships starting Autumn 2015

This modern apprenticeship has been designed for employers by employers.  A group of 20 employers from all sectors and sizes of organisations put their heads together to ensure this meets their needs for better managers and leaders across their organisation.

This is a fantastic opportunity and route to develop existing managers who may have significant experience but little formal developments.  It also develops the next generation of talent, providing a new career path option for aspiring managers, who want to earn while learning – and develop their management and leadership skills within the workplace.  An overview the assessment criteria and entry requirements can be found in the link below.

Chartered Manager Degree Apprenticeship

All apprentices will achieve a degree in business and management and full chartered membership of the Chartered Management Institute (CMI), as part of this apprenticeship.  The programme is available from this autumn and the Government will fund up to two thirds of the cost of the fees to meet the employer contribution. The apprentices will not pay any student fees and will earn as they learn.

Contact Debbie for more information on


Recruitment – hints and tips for a successful campaign

A business’ workforce is it’s greatest asset and this puts pressure on managers to make sure they have the right people in the right jobs.  So what happens when a manager identifies a gap in their workforce? It’s time to recruit!

Once managers have identified a need to recruit there are many questions to be answered; what are the tasks of the role? Is the job likely to be temporary/permanent? Could it be done part time/full time? If there is no one available internally to complete the tasks, then there is a need to recruit externally.

Having an accurate and up to date job description and person specification for the vacancy is an important first this will help managers write an effective job advert.

The job description should include the job title and position within the business and who it it accountable to, location, key tasks and responsibilities, qualifications required, an indication of the type of person the role would suit and any information on salary/benefits. It should give potential applications a good idea of what they would be doing, should they be appointed the role.

A person specification details the ideal skills and characteristics of the person for the role, divided into a list of ‘essentials’ and ‘desirables’.  Managers could include relevant qualifications, previous training or certificates.  The person specification may also include personal qualities such as being able to work in a team, or being self-motivated.  It is important to keep the person specification relevant to the job and remember that the Equality Act prohibits discrimination on grounds of race, sex, disability, sexual orientation and religion or belief.  It is not advisable to ask for a certain number of years experience as you could miss out on excellent candidates if they fall short of the length of experience asked for.  In addition, by specifying a certain number of years experience managers are also at risk of indirectly discriminating people.

Once managers have the job description and person specification, it’s time to write the job advert! Although the aim of the advert is to attract applicants, it is important not to embellish or exaggerate to attract applicants as this runs the risk of hiring applicants who are unsuitable, or become unhappy in the role – this can lead to increased staff turnover and ultimately cost the business. The job advert should include the job title and outline the key tasks and responsibilities of the role, the company name and brief overview of what the company does, the location, any role specific qualifications required, any key personal qualities required, salary and benefits, how to and to whom to apply and specify a closing date for applications.

Once the advert is written, managers need to consider where to advertise the position ensuring that the advert will be seen by the most suitable potential applicants. For example, it is unlikely to be effective to post an advert for an engineering role in a marketing magazine. You could consider advertising via the Job Centre, recruitment agencies, local and or national newspapers, subject specific magazines, social media or even schools or colleges.

Consideration also needs to be given to how applicants should apply for the job and this should be made clear in the job advert.  Are they to email a CV? Complete an application form? Write a letter of application?  There are pros and cons to each method, depending on the type of role which is being recruited. An application form allows you to obtain specific information from applicants, but it is important to remember to only ask for information specific to the job for which they are applying. For a more creative role, a letter of application may give applicants a better way to demonstrate their skills and experience.

By following this process, managers will have optimised the chances of their job advert reaching the most suitable applicants for the role.  The manager’s work is not yet done however, as following the successful recruitment campaign – it will be time for selection and to make sure the best candidate is chosen for the role! Keep an eye out for a future post with hints and tips on the selection process.

The Powerful Referral – and what to do next….

Below is an extract from PR guru Fiona Scott. These words come from her June 2015 company newsletter Fiona Scott Media Consultancy and a reminder about the value of a good referrer and keeping that relationship building.

We often hear in business the phrase ‘it’s powerful to get referrals’. When you start out in business you hear it a lot, and you know it must be true, but seeing a referral in action is something else altogether.

For this reason I want to celebrate someone who has referred me on various occasions to her clients – Debbie Pepler of PepTalk UK.

I first met Debbie face to face at a women’s business lunch a few years ago when she came up to me, said she recognised me and we ought to talk. However, you know how it is, it was busy, she had arranged to meet a few other people and that ‘talk’ just didn’t happen on the day.

Then, out of the blue, she referred me to one of her clients, then another, then another, then another. I now work with a number of regular clients as a direct result of being referred by Debbie.

So what has this achieved? Clearly business growth for me. That is the obvious first result. However, it has also achieved other things too. For example whenever I see Debbie’s posts or stories on social media, I naturally like and share them. It just happens.

I’m conscious if Debbie refers me to any of her clients I want to first thank her, discuss the referral with her and let her know I value the referral – regardless of whether or not that referral leads to business of any kind.

I’m also conscious of the fact it’s good manners to let Debbie know that I’ve followed up on a referral and to let her know what happened. Regardless of outcome of that contact.

I trust in my bones, I will in turn refer Debbie to anyone when an occasion arises because she’s front and centre for me when it comes to high quality business coaching.

Believe me, I know lots of business coaches, I trust and value a handful. Debbie is one.

Thank you Debbie for trusting me with your precious clients and if any of you want to grow your business – try here first.

If you are looking for someone who will care about your business …

I was recommended Debbie by my sister who is in PR and through her networking had come across and been impressed with Debbie, something which is easily achieved as Debbie is efficient, affable very genuine but driven, quite a combination!

I wasn’t disappointed – from the moment I engaged Debbie, she has helped to give my business the backup it needed in all sorts of ways. By helping to give direction, support and know how in areas which have been much needed. In times of crisis she has also proved to be a great listening ear and I have come to totally trust Debbie in all areas of discretion.  She is always extremely professional and fair, often working late and giving you that extra mile and if you are looking for someone who will care about your business as much as you do yourself, Debbie is that person.

Joanna May –

Business Coaching – Client Feedback

From a Business Owner of a Domestic Services company

Debbie Pepler is very personable and easy to talk to. She is a great resource and sounding board, helping me come up with business development ideas which had occurred to me before, but I didn’t really know where to go with them. She helped me to refine and improve many of the things I had already been doing. In a nutshell she has provided clarity.

The time I have spent with Debbie has seen my business not only survive the recent recession but also thrive, expanding three fold over a matter of months.  Debbie’s coaching was definitely valuable to me and I am confident that my business development skills have improved (and will continue to improve) as a result of my time with her…

From a Director of a Joinery Restorer and Manufacturer 

… We have found that using expertise from outside the company has had many benefits. It has brought new insight and a ‘critical friend’ to the processes, as well as technical expertise…She is direct but never confrontational in her manner and this makes it possible to quickly build a trusting relationship, and makes her a pleasure to work with.

From Directors of a Web Technology company

We have one meeting per month with Debbie, in which we typically talk through the previous month’s business challenges, referencing the goals that have been set for us.  We find that these goals are extremely helpful in keeping us focused on tasks that we need to do that might otherwise be forgotten. Debbie is always extremely professional; she acts as a critical friend, enabling us to have a different perspective on our business. Whilst she challenges us to perform to the best of our ability, she is also realistic about what we can accomplish in our busy working lives.  She keeps in touch between meetings and sends us information about networking events, as well as giving us useful introductions to other businesses.  We place our trust in Debbie; she offers complete confidentiality.  This is vital for us, as we can always be completely honest and open in our discussions and know that she will be the same.  We feel that she really does go the extra mile for our company and would unreservedly recommend her as a business coach.

Tips to help you compile your questionnaire or survey, keeping it simple.

Sophisticated questionnaires and surveys usually require some professional expertise, but here are some tips to help you compile your questionnaire or survey and keep it simple.

What to include in your survey

Start off with an explanatory paragraph outlining the purpose of this questionnaire or survey and how their input will help your business. Use this space to indicate how long it will take to complete and the due date.

Include an exit or screening question – This question can identify if the responder has no interest or knowledge, if there is potential conflict or bias, or if this questionnaire or survey is not relevant to them.

Ask easier questions first – If there are some questions that are more difficult than others, then mix them up. The easier questions are generally quicker to answer leaving more time for the difficult ones.

Be careful how you ask the questions – be clear and give multiple options but avoid the following:

leading questions that encourage a particular response;
ambiguous questions that can be interpreted in different ways;
multiple questions with a question, i.e. would you prefer and tell me why. Your responders may not realise they need to give multiple answers, therefore you may not receive a consistent answer;
complex questions that include technical terms confusing the responder.
Consider the type of questions you are going to ask:

Open ended questions give the person interviewed a chance to explain how they feel about the product or service you are proposing;
Closed questions invite a yes or no response;
Multiple-choice questions must be carefully designed so that the options given reflect the information that is needed, i.e. ‘would you use this service weekly, monthly, other timeframe, or not at all?’
Rating questions, i.e. ‘how would you rate the quality of this product on a scale of one to five, where 1 is very poor, 2 is poor, 3 is average, 4 is very good and 5 is excellent?’
Don’t make the questionnaire or survey too long – try not to annoy the responder by taking up more of their valuable time than they have been led to believe. Try not to ask questions that are not relevant to the purpose of the questionnaire or survey.

Be careful who you ask – friends and family are great, but they are more likely to give answers that are meant to please rather that an answer that will add value to your products and services. If your questionnaire or survey is about business, then ask only the group of people that matter most to your business – your clients.

What additional information would you like? Take this opportunity to obtain additional, or correct contact details from your customers and clients, or ask for demographics to help determine the characteristics of your target market, i.e. age, gender, income, job type, location etc.

Think about how you will analyse the responses – what will you use and how will you interpret the information? – Entering the responses into a spread sheet will make it easier to understand the frequency, averages, percentages and to show the data in graphs and tables. You could also consider using Pivot tables and Google docs.

For more information and advice about compiling your questionnaire or survey, contact Peptalk on 0792 700 8440, or

What are the essentials of leadership?

A leader creates an environment where people consistently perform to the best of their ability. Some of us are natural leaders, whereas the rest of us have to learn how to lead.

To be a great leader, you need to be many things. To achieve that, there are a number of essentials required. For instance:

Giving a clear sense of direction. If you don’t know where you are going, how do you know when you get there, or what path to take?
Understanding who the customer is. Who really is the customer? A customer is the recipient of a good, service or product. They could be internal or external.
Communicating clearly. What is it you are trying to tell them. If they get it wrong – perhaps they didn’t understand.
Being flexible. Accept change and implement it.
Taking risks but not to the detriment of your department or business.
Building a strong team around you. Have clear goals and objectives from the start. Delegate and regularly review. Respect advice and suggestions.
Listening with humility (be open to what you are hearing) and acting with courage. Be brave.
Earning reward through building trust. Build a culture of competence, honesty and reliability along with good communication and common vision.
Becoming a leader requires time and patience. If you would like some help, or your business would like a Leadership and Management course delivered to suit your business needs, then email for more information.

This course is suited to existing managers, directors, these new to management or senior supervisors.

Management and Leadership – Course Feedback

Becoming a better leader and managing your team effectively – December 2013

In December 2013, participants offered the following comments after attending one of Debbie’s Leadership and Management courses ‘Becoming a better leader and managing your team effectively’:

  • Great presenter who inspires confidence and the ability to grow/develop management wise.
  • Very valuable.
  • Thank you Debbie – immediately engaged in a very positive workshop.
  • We need to move forward … perhaps you can help?

When the same participants were asked ‘What did you like most about this workshop?’, they responded:

  • You can express yourself
  • Interactivity / flexibility
  • The attitude and approach of the presenter. Gave the impression of a relaxed couple of hours, thought more intensive than appeared!
  • Very clear direction with the right level of interaction. The fact that we did it and you helped us at the right level.
  • Practical based.

Business Mentor – Client Feedback

Jane Butler,
Personal Coach and Business Facilitator
Out of the Rut

I first met Debbie Pepler of Peptalk through a BNI meeting – Debbie is a fabulous networker, and I met with Debbie to see how we may compliment our services, and where we may possibly overlap. This was nearly 3 years ago! I enrolled in a Business Growth & Development Course in May 2011 and part of it included a series of coaching sessions with a business mentor who turned out to be Debbie Pepler – I was stoked and have continued to work with Debbie on a monthly basis ever since.

Debbie cuts to the chase; she is excellent at keeping me tracking and organised and I find having Debbie to be accountable to ensures that I do as I say I will do!

Debbie is great at preparing agendas for our discussion so we keep to the point and to time; she also summarises our sessions so I can easily check on my commitments and my progress. Debbie is very familiar with social media and networking so she challenges me to expand my strong networking skills into the social media environment which I have to admit I have resisted until recently as I succumb to engaging with Linked In, albeit at an introductory level!

Debbie’s experience in both the UK and New Zealand has stepped me into engaging with coaching clients overseas, which I may well not have done without her assistance and encouragement. Having someone who is bridging both cultures and doing the same herself has made it very ‘do-able’ for me. I appreciate Debbie’s cross-cultural expertise and her experience in a number of different business sectors across a range of industries – this makes for a broad understanding of business issues and dilemmas, as well as solutions to those situations. I am very happy to recommend Debbie for keeping you on track and on purpose with a delightful humour and tenacity that will challenge even the most resilient!

Marketing – Course Feedback

‘Marketing for small to medium sized business – to support development of marketing activities in your business!’ – November 2013

Overall feedback for the course included:

  • Debbie knows her stuff and delivers a thought provoking and informative training session. Thank you.
  • Really glad I attended.  I left with a feeling that what I am currently doing is on the right track and some fresh ideas of how to improve.

When the same participants were asked ‘What did you like most about this workshop?’, they responded:

  • Good interaction of ideas and discussions between participants which added to the content.
  • Interaction with others to see how they deal with issues.
  • Listening & learning from both Trainer & Course Students experiences & ideas.