Luke, I Am Your Training Department!

Do you have a training department? You might have a finance arm, or a marketing team or even an HR department. But how do you get your staff developed?

You have a team of staff. Your organisation is growing. You’re navigating through change and you are thriving – or at least surviving.  But you are not yet big enough to have a team of in-house trainers.

And yet…

…to keep your staff working effectively, feeling engaged and able to deal with change, they still need skills development.

That’s where I come in.

Who Is Janet Webb?

Janet training a group on critical thinking and problem solving. She's sat on a desk and her banners are to the right. Thet read - working with your brain the way your brain works.
Janet training – her happy place.

As a trained and experienced trainer, facilitator, mentor and coach I can offer you the skills that you need, when you need them. I have managed training and development functions; this means that I have managed the whole process from learning needs analysis, through the development and project management phase, through to delivery and evaluation.

So if you or your staff need training but you have no learning and development team, then give me a call.

  • Assertiveness
  • Emotional Intelligence
  • Presentation Skills
  • Creative Thinking
  • Problem Solving and Critical Thinking
  • Management Skills
  • Train the Trainer

And I am good at it. Have a look at others’ testimonies about me, at the bottom of my LinkedIn page.

Being poised; finding our inner diamond.

A simple line drawing of a diamond

What is it to be poised?

If more people felt poised the world would be a much better place. Feeling poised means having balance, feeling secure, being sure-footed, enduring with ease.

It comes from having confidence, mastery and inner strength.

And it allows humility, resilience, serenity, authenticity and wisdom.

Poise is not just about how we stand – it’s also about what makes us stand well.

It’s not just about the words we use – it’s also about the thinking behind those words.

It doesn’t just lead to confident behaviour – it leads to effective behaviour and good judgement.


A  simple line drawing of a diamond, illustrating being poised.
We are all diamonds underneath

How do we develop it and why should we?

When we understand how our emotions work, we can control what we do about them.  Fear in particular can hijack us. Getting to grips with our fear allows freedom from it. See this post for more information about how this happens.

Understanding how our brains work gives us the liberty to respond effectively and efficiently. Difficult situations, like giving a presentation, become much easier. Managing staff becomes more effective as we grow a wider management toolkit. The ability to manage change increases as we develop flexibility and agility. Resilience, the ability to bounce back from stress, grows.


The perfect version of ourselves is like a diamond; tough but shining brightly and perfectly matched for the job in hand. But we can be covered in stuff that weighs us down.

Being poised is about finding that inner diamond. Through developing mastery, knowledge and confidence. My job is to facilitate that. To teach about our inner workings, how the brain functions and how our emotions impact on our behaviour.


Crew Log: Swanage to Lyme

View from Polly B, Portland Bill to the right.


Crew Log – Janet Webb

Sailing yacht Polly B with full sails.
Polly B doing what she does best.

Boat – Polly B, Westerly Centaur

Skipper – Jonathan Webb

Journey – Swanage to Lyme via Portland

Date – 16.07.22 to 18.07.22

Engine hours total – 3hrs

Swanage to Portland

After spending two days anchored at Swanage, we headed to Portland with plans to use a marina. At this point we had been at sea and anchor for 8 days. Consequently, our supplies were a little low and we were a little in need of civilisation!  A cracking sail put us outside the harbour mouth in the early afternoon and a call to the Harbour Office confirmed that they could accommodate us.  A call back as we entered Portland Marina established our berth for the night.

The facilities were top notch and the staff were polite and helpful. We made use of their local knowledge – the best time to round Portland Bill, where the nearest supermarket was, who sold the best Fish and Chips; all the important matters.

In the morning the crew (i.e. me) got some essentials from the local Lidl: milk, bread, Kit Kats. I resisted the urge to buy a catering sized pack of stuffed olives, a novelty BBQ set and a pneumatic drill.

Rounding Portland

After taking on water and fuel, we headed off to face the dreaded Portland Bill; we were going via the Inner Passage in order to avoid The Race. For information regarding the dangers of sailing around Portland feel free to look here.

Rounding Portland Bill By The Inner Passage,

Fortunately it was a beautiful day; there is nothing like a bit of sunshine for reducing perceived danger.

View from Polly B, Portland Bill to the right.
A lovely day to tackle Portland Bill.

With the Berthing Master’s wise words ringing in our ears we knew that timing was crucial. There is only a small window when you can get round and if you haven’t timed it right then you will be stuck, battling the oncoming tide and so forced to retreat. Hence, the skipper was unusually quiet (not that he ever shouts in a presidential way.)

There were three boats all standing off, waiting for their moment, waiting for someone else to make a move, like a watery slow bicycle race. As it turned out, we all sailed through the Inner Passage with no drama, the beauty of Portland Bill passing by within meters to starboard.

Portland to Lyme

Sadly the wind died away and we were forced to motor the last bit to Lyme. A swell was forecast and we didn’t fancy joining the yachts we could see moored up in the harbour mouth. The wind was blowing straight in, the harbour walls offering no protection, and so they were swinging about frantically. If we had to be hurled about all night there seemed little point in doing that with the added noise of a dozen other boats.  So we anchored off Lyme, with the bright lights of the amusements on Lyme beach as our backdrop.

And what a night. The noise was not a problem. The experience of being tossed about was. Not the gentle rock of a cradle; more the frenetic back and forth of a Titan’s washing machine. Great for our core muscles. Not so good for sleep. At 5am we gave up and were rewarded with a beautiful sunrise.

Sunrise through the clouds over Lyme Bay
Lyme Bay after a tough night

Lyme had one more Joker to play; we had a struggle to get the anchor up. Our beloved shipmate, a 10Kg Lewmar Delta (with 25m of chain and 15m of rope) held a bit too firm, presumably stuck in a rock crevice. (We now employ a tripping line to deal with this.) With some wiggling about we eventually slipped free at 6am and headed for our next stop; Dittisham, Dartmouth.

The bacon sarnies tasted particularly good that morning.

Tom Cunliffe gives an excellent overview of Portland here.

What happens when you get it wrong can be seen here.


The Future of Work – How Was It For You, Visitor 6?

Wooden Christmas Star

You may be wondering about your staffing levels for Christmas. Are you? After all, it is only a few months away. Whilst you consider your options, I would like to share with you what it is like to experience The Future of Work and be a Christmas casual worker at Sainsbury’s.

Wooden Christmas Star
Look after your Christmas Stars

Last December business was a little quiet for me. It wasn’t desperate, but I was at the point of cancelling lunch with a good friend and I wasn’t having that! So, I signed up to do some casual shifts at Sainsbury’s; sometimes in life you just have to suck it up.

To be one of their merry band required navigating your way through the Indeed Flex App, which is apparently the Future of Work. This is not that straightforward; all very inhuman and not for anyone who isn’t tech savvy. At one point it crashed and I had to start again. After completing the “training” (ie watching a few videos about various things, including lifting and handling – compliance training anyone?) I got there in the end. Within hours I was booked in to do two shifts the week before Christmas. The app is the ultimate in being processed. But hey ho.

So how was working at Sainsbury’s?

Well not that great. Filling shelves and being in the hustle and bustle of Christmas was fine; it took me right back to my early days in retail. There is a certain satisfaction to be gained from getting an aisle straight and helping customers where I could.

What was not so sparkly was the way we were treated.

I arrived for my first shift and reported to customer service. They clearly didn’t know what to do with me or the others also arriving. I was given a visitor badge, number 6, and told to wait.

A manager collected us, took us through to the back office where we could leave our bags and then took us onto the shop floor. I was rather expecting a briefing – health and safety, domestic stuff etc.  But no. No explanation of breaks, location of toilets, the canteen, who to speak to, what to do at the end of day, where to take rubbish etc.

Straight onto the floor, shown an aisle and a cage, given a brief explanation of what to do and then left to it.

All day

And I Mean All day.

At no point during that 8 hours did anyone check I was OK, check that I was doing things properly, send me off for a break, be curious, be kind.  Not one member of staff came to speak to me. No manager knew my name. I swear I could have walked out of the store and come back at the end to sign out and no one would have known.

The fact that one of the other workers came and found me every time he had a customer query tells you everything you need to know.

It was inhuman. I was a visitor in the store and utterly abandoned.

Sainsbury’s has a quote that

“Our values make us different.”

Which values are these, do we think?

It was exactly the same for the second shift. I didn’t book a third. I had wondered whether I might make this a regular thing to do at Christmas. I guess not.

The Future of Work?

As a customer and as a person with a particular concern for people at the margins of society, I felt I needed to do something.

I emailed the Store Manager on the 28th March outlining my experience. Then again on the 24th April.

I wrote a letter on the 28th June.

I’ve still had no reply.


Management skills development through mentoring.

West Beach, Littlehampton

Management skills development is essential for organisational development and team success.  It can make the difference between a team thriving or not. But when and how should it be accessed?

The Problem

Staff often get promoted into management positions because they are great at something completely different; the chief widget maker becomes the Head of Widget Making. And then the problems begin. Why? Because management skills are a very different skill set. But they can be learnt.

Traditionally new managers are sent on a course to develop these management skills.  This can be a good starting point. However, there are a number of potential difficulties with this approach:

  1. You might have to wait for a good course to become available.
  2. Such a course covers what it has been designed to cover, when it has been designed to cover it. This may not meet the manager’s needs.
  3. A course doesn’t take into account the skills that the manager already has.
  4. There is little or no support to help the learner develop these skills once the course is over.
  5. There is no on-going advice on specific problems, just general principles

The answer to really effective management skills development is to use a mentor, with a vast array of experience and knowledge, to provide bespoke support and training. Good learning comes with input, practice, reflection and repeat, spaced over a period of time. Bespoke training delivered through mentoring can do this.

West Beach, Littlehampton; a great place for skills development
Mentoring – a place to learn, to reflect and to breathe.

Mentoring can also give clarity and space for reflection. Problems can be dealt with as they arise.

This is one of the services that I offer.


Critical Thinking – what can carbon fibre teach us?

Maclaren racing car winning the 1981 Grand Prix

In 1979 racing car designer John Barnard was exploring the use of carbon fibre as a material for making Formula 1 cars and critical thinking was key to this research. His interest was in making the chassis narrower and lighter, without any loss in strength or torsional stiffness (the ability to withstand twisting.)

Barnard approached British Aerospace, who were working with this new product, and asked for their help. Arthur Webb, an aeronautical engineer and carbon fibre (and carbon fibre composite) expert, came on board (in his spare time!) Together Barnard and Webb changed motor sport history. What they did was to think about this new product differently to the way other people were approaching it.

Lesson 1 – Barnard realized that their competitors were trying to use carbon fibre in the same way as they had been using metal. However, aluminium is “stretchy” whereas carbon fibre is brittle. Both products would behave very differently under stress and in an accident.

Critical thinking lesson 1 – techniques that work in one situation don’t necessarily work in another, even if the materials look the same.

Lesson 2 – Hercules Aerospace, an American firm, were funding the construction of the new chassis. Their technicians calculated that the design that Barnard and Webb had come up with wouldn’t work. However, in their calculations they had treated the carbon fibre as “black metal”. Arthur Webb was able to convince them that their calculations were based on wrong assumptions.

Critical thinking lesson 2 – challenge the assumptions you and others are making.

Lesson 3 – Concerns were raised by competitors and in the sporting press, that this new material was dangerous and wouldn’t protect the driver in a crash. Their main objection was that carbon fibre was brittle. What they didn’t take into account was

    1. that brittle in engineering terms has a different meaning to what the man in the street means by brittle.
    2. the carbon fibre composite material has fibres running in many directions to give it all round strength and is sandwiched around a honeycomb of aluminium.
    3. carbon fibre maintains its strength right up to the point where it breaks, unlike metal, which loses its strength as stress is increased.

Critical thinking lesson 3 – check that everyone understands something in the same way.

Maclaren racing car winning the 1981 Grand Prix
What a car! A win for carbon fibre.

And Finally

Their new car, driven by John Watson, won the British Grand Prix for Maclaren in July 1981. Later that year, Watson crashed his car at the Italian Grand Prix. Webb and Barnard had built into the design weak points where the chassis would break, giving them a safety advantage. The engine mounts broke, so that the engine sheared away from the rest of the car, reducing the kinetic energy and putting distance between the driver and engine. Watson walked away unharmed and concerns about this new product faded.



A Different Sort of CV

Photo of Janet looking into the camera

Janet Webb, Chartered MCIPD, Learning & Organisational Development Consultant, CV.

Instead of giving you a personal statement, I thought I would let others do the talking – a rather different sort of CV.

If you want to see my work history, then hop over to my LinkedIn profile.  
Photo of Janet looking into the camera as part of her different CV.
Could I be your next wingman?
For a fuller CV then e-mail me:

Key Skills

Critical, but objective, partnering.

Mentoring, coaching and training.

Project and people management.

Creativity and energy.


Work History

What People Said

Janet Webb Consulting

L&OD and HR services and project management

“Janet really helped me with a new project. She is a great listener and really understood what I needed, keeping me focused and on track. She is a great strategic thinker, just the right person to help with organisational change.”Michelle Gavin, Business Development Manager

“Janet is a joy to work with. She brings high energy and enthusiasm to any project. She is straight-talking, down-to-earth and practical in her approach, yet she also brings tenacity, strategic thinking and an ability to see the bigger picture. Values-driven, generous, caring, fun. Don’t under-estimate her approachable and informal style; you can be sure that Janet knows her stuff.”Sarah Harvey, Leadership, Culture & Conflict Coach


East Sussex County Council

Interim Project Manager


“Janet was my right hand in the modernisation of the Registration Service in East Sussex. She showed exceptional skills in change management, strategy and vision. She took the staff with her on a very difficult journey. She was so good, I used her again and again and again.”Irene Campbell, Assistant Director, Communities


East Sussex County Council

Personnel Manager and Business Partner


“I worked alongside Janet at East Sussex County Council when she was managing the projects team in what was then the Personnel and Training department. I’m sure the role wasn’t always easy, but working with Janet was a joy. When times are tough, a smile and a good sense of humour go a very long way! Janet had a well-deserved reputation for being a safe pair of hands as a project lead, a supportive line manager, and a dependable colleague.”Tom Elliott, HR Business Analyst

East Sussex County Council

Training & Development Officer and Training Centre Manager


“Janet brings both humour, wisdom and professionalism to her work. She not only delivers to meet the objectives of a project but is flexible and adaptable seeking continuous ways to improve.”Liz Felstead, Head of Corporate Training & Development 

St. Richard’s Hospital

Training Officer to Training Manager


“We’ve regraded your role to reflect what you are actually delivering. You’ve gone up two pay grades!”Julie Dodd, HR Director 

Selfridges Ltd

Everything from a temp to Training Consultant and a number of management roles along the way



After a month of being a Christmas temp “Will you stay on as a permanent member?”Then three months into that role “Will you be team leader?”And after a year “I’m putting you forward for the management training programme.”

Juliet Quinton, Buyer and Department Manager, Greeting Cards


Dorlann Productions

Professional Dancer


Michou “Would you take a contract in Cairo?”Me “Who will be team leader?”Michou “You!”Michou Dorlann, Director and Choreographer after 6 months of working for her. I was 20!




When The Management Policy Is “Don’t Come To Me …

Orange lifebelt ready for deployment

… with your problems; come with your solutions.”

I hear this style of management quoted often as being great practice; after all, a manager’s job is to coach.

An orange lifebelt ready for deployment by management.
When someone is drowning they don’t need a coach; they need a manager who jumps in.

And I would like to raise an alarm bell. If someone is drowning, they need you to throw a line, or even jump in with them. They don’t need you to coach them to swim.

How Would This Management Policy Work Here?

A few days ago, someone came to speak to me about a very current and desperate issue that they had been struggling with for days. They were at the end of their tether with a problem and were close to tears. If I had said

“and what do you think you should do about that? What are your options? What has worked before?”

I rather suspect that would have finished them off.

They didn’t need coaching. They did need someone to listen but they also needed some help. I wasn’t the expert but I was in a position where I could offer some ideas because I wasn’t the one drowning. I jumped in and offered a life belt. It was just enough to give them some space, take hold of their emotions and see a way through.

So What Is A Great Management Policy?

A manager’s job is to build the environment where individuals can thrive. Sometimes they need telling how to do stuff. Sometimes they absolutely do not. A blanket policy of “don’t come to me with your problems” means you never get to hear about their problems. And that’s not great either. So a policy that decides how you reply before they have spoken is no good. It doesn’t work for them and it doesn’t work for the manager.

Instead, dial up the empathy, listen carefully and then choose the right approach:  Tell, Teach, Mentor or Coach. Be the manager that people can come to and get what they need (which may not always be what they want.) You can only do that if you are empathetic enough and flexible enough to choose how to respond.

If you say don’t come to me with problems, what you are saying is “Don’t come to me, particularly when it’s really difficult” and no employee wants to hear that.

You can find other thoughts on great management practice here:

A Good Manager Asks The Target For Feedback

Help Your Team Find Some Solid Ground

What is Beyond Appraisal?

Devoting Resources and Supporting Parents – Living in a Neolithic Village

Chapter Two – Supporting Parents For The Future

(You can read part one here.)

The Context – Protecting Resources

A picture of Gog's mud and thatch house in his Neolithic Village, with two other houses.
Gog’s lovely house

The village needed a number of important resources to survive, including food, water and people. Without protecting these resources, such as supporting parents to have children, they would all perish.  The water source was drying up and in 20 years there would be no fresh water supply. Disaster. However, the elders knew that there was a fresh spring a few miles away. If only they could find a way of getting it.

The Answer – Devoting Resources

Gog, the person in the village most skilled at making things, had an idea for a system to carry the water to the village.  He would build a pipeline underground to protect the water from other tribes. This would take some time and effort to do and for the sake of their survival, the village would need to give up resources to Gog. The village gave it’s blessing. Crucially, no-one suggested that if took on this project, then that was his decision alone and he was on his own. After all, the village need this pipeline.

Gog decided how long it was going to take – the village agreed that he was best placed to make that decision – and he set off with precious resources; tools, food and other workers.

The work was sometimes tiring, sometimes exhilarating. There were setbacks. There were advances. Gog and his crew learnt much. Meanwhile, the village waited patiently.

The Outcome

A few years later Gog returned triumphant because the water supply had been secured for the future. Hooray! The whole village celebrated; they were happy to have their friend back and they also knew how important this work had been. They rewarded him and gave him status. He had grown in knowledge. He returned with a new outlook and perspective. All of this was helpful to the growth of the whole village. What a party they had!

Gog had his old job back but he wanted to carry on working on other engineering projects. This made sense, so again the village agreed.  In addition, in order that he could catch up on what had changed, he was given attention and support. It was a wonderful time of joy, growth and confidence.

Nobody criticized him for leaving the village for a year or two. No-one complained that the village had to give up resources so that he could do this. Everyone understood that there had been some short-term cost for a long-term investment in their future.  As a society they are going to survive. As a society they benefitted.


The Learning – Supporting Parents

Now compare this with how society is supporting parents today in having children and protecting the future.

Having children is not some hobby that parents indulge in.

We are all somebody’s child. Also, our employees and customers were somebody’s child. The businesses that we buy goods and services from – their employees were somebody’s child. Society needs this pipeline.


Management or Leadership Development?

What’s best, management or leadership development? Where should I put my energies?

Good leaders are really important. They give an organisation drive, focus, spirit and hope. But good leadership can’t make up for poor management. If the boss is terrific at cheering on the team, but incapable of dealing with an individual’s poor performance, then the whole team suffers. Or if the boss is great at inspiring followers but hopeless at communicating what actually needs to be done, then nothing gets done. An inspiring vision wont help a team that is at loggerheads.

Peter Drucker is quoted as saying

“Management is doing things right; leadership is doing the right things.”

Management is often seen as a poor relation to leadership – certainly the price tag of leadership training and coaching would suggest that. But fundamentally managers need to manage well; to do things right. The right things, yes, but in the right place, in the right way, at the right time.

And they need to be able to manage themselves; manage their time, their critical thinking, their communication and their assertiveness.

What’s the Answer for Janet Webb Consulting?

Excellence in management can have a significant impact.

So I have nailed my colours to the mast and decided to concentrate on helping managers be great managers.

Yacht masts decorated with colourful bunting.
Yacht masts decorated with colourful bunting.

How I do that I’ve written about in various places, including here.  They’ll almost certainly pick up some good leadership skills along the way; if they are concerned about managing well, then they’re half way there.

I’ve worked for really amazing managers who were shy and unassuming. And I’ve worked for poor managers who had an excess of charisma and passion. I know which I preferred and I know which environment I thrived in. It certainly wasn’t the one where we got a daily dose of guano; manure is really only good for the roses.