Business MOT

Does your business need a mid-year MOT?

Conducting a performance review at the halfway point can be a great way to keep your business evolving and root out problems before they arise.

Businesses are a lot like cars; you push all the right buttons and pull all the right levers to make it trundle along at a steady pace, but every so often you’re going to need to take a look under the hood to make sure everything is still in working order.

Giving your business a once-over has never been more important in this current economic climate; soaring inflation, a frightening cost-of-living crisis and residual challenges from Covid have put businesses, especially SMEs, under pressure to stay afloat. A mid-year MOT gives SMEs an opportunity to redesign, rethink and change things, says business coach Melitta Campbell. SMEs can make changes more quickly because they have less corporate bureaucracy.

“Businesses are always evolving, but sometimes our goals and plans tend to get filed away without a check-up to see whether they are working or not. It is really important to keep checking these plans for businesses to continue growing in ways that are effective and to remove outdated processes that will hold them back.”

Don’t point fingers 

So how does a business go about performing a mid-year MOT? Campbell says there are several important questions leaders need to ask themselves, including assessing what has worked well so far, what they’ve accomplished, what hasn’t happened and being honest about why. Avoid pointing the finger or shifting blame. Often things don’t happen because they were not a priority, or maybe they didn’t have the right people working on them.

SMEs also need to check whether their finances are on track. Campbell says leaders will need to balance costs to see where finances can be improved or lowered. This is especially important, as it is quite easy for SMEs to forget about their finances as they don’t have a dedicated finance department who do this on a regular basis.

Campbell says it is preferable for a CEO to kick-start the process and then compare notes with other departments to get a broader picture of the company’s successes and missed opportunities. This way everyone can agree on where to go next.

Discovering strengths 

Campbell does warn, however, that leaders should not wait until they see warning signs – in fact, it should be the other way around. The MOT will provide business leaders with the signs that something might be amiss within the company. If leaders don’t go looking for issues, then they will continue operating in the same way without hitting their goals at the end of the financial year.

But when leaders take a serious look at potential problems, Campbell encourages them to start with everything that has gone well this year, rather than solely focusing on the negatives.

“As humans, we always focus on what’s gone badly. But when you focus on what you’ve accomplished, you can start to understand where your strengths really lie. Quite often I get leaders to list their company’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats. When it comes to outlining their strengths they really struggle and a lot of things they see as weaknesses are actually strengths. There’s a real misunderstanding of just how well they are doing and to find that out can build up a leader’s confidence and trust of their employees.”

Leaders – don’t wait until there’s a problem. Stay ahead of the game by checking in with your business at the halfway point.

Original article here.

Socotec Bretby project

As part Sototec’s growth ambition in 2021, they undertook a project to refit the Bretby laboratories.

Project Managing 36 different work packages within this consolidation process, whilst ensuring all day-to-day operational tasks continued seamlessly, all during a worldwide pandemic was both challenging and invigorating in equal measures.

Four fully functioning buildings were surrendered, Numerous laboratories & welfare areas were refurbished, a brand-new yard area created and a Lean Lift introduced providing additional growth capacity.

The togetherness and can-do mentality of the Scootec/4D Team ensured that the project was successfully delivered within the 9-month timeframe.

Find out more about Socotec here.


Back to reality and importance of teamwork

For many of us 2020 was certainly a very different year with our work / life balances having to adapt to our ever-changing rules and regulations of our “new normal.”

When we were all advised to work from home in February, and then many of us taking on home-schooling too, we hadto adjust to a different way of working very quickly, to ensure that our IT facilities and conference calling facilities were all updated.

Some of us may have found that we have actually been more productive from home, being able to concentrate without those “water-machine” conversations. However, this lack of contact with our colleagues and teamwork can also affect our ability to be creative, and potentially our mental health too.

There are simple ways that we can sane during all of this turbulence. By taking our daily exercise, this is not only great for our health but our mental state too. (

With our working colleagues and clients, it’s good check in to see how they are doing on a regular basis. By setting specific tasks, objectives and tasks for your team this enables them to feel their worth in this particularly difficult and unprecedented time. (

However, be aware of “Zoom fatigue” (there are other conference facilities available…)

This really is a thing! When we meet people in person, we are able process information using our peripheral vision, to glance out the window or to look around the room, but with video conferencing we have a “constant gaze”, which can make us tired and feels awkward. Ways to reduce this are avoid multitasking, take breaks, reduce online stimuli, switch to email or pick up the phone. (

So, will working from home be our new normal? It seems that many employers are looking to adapt to hybrid type of working. With the vaccine being delivered over the coming months, but social distancing still very much part of our society at the moment and with the many of us still nervous about going back to offices to mix with others, this hybrid working could be our best solution. (

So, to conclude, make sure your plan your week and month, every hour, every day. Set yourself goals, both professionally and personally. Give yourself breaks from the screen and for exercise. And most of all take care of yourself, your loved ones and keep safe!

For more information on Leadership and Team Performance visit our website

By Jenny Sjollema – Director Fourth Dimension Executive Assistant 

Leadership Lockdown Lessons

7 leadership lessons from 2020


The past year has taught me that I can actually be flexible and go with the flow and I have no doubt that I will be a better business leader as a result. By nature, I am a big planner and my style is very much to have everything organised well in advance. This year, of course, all of my best-made plans have had to change, often at the last minute. Some ideas we have just had to put on hold, while others we have managed to adjust so they could still go ahead.

I love being in control, so have found this particularly challenging. Yet, our business has survived the unimaginable disruption of 2020 and has still managed to grow. June and July have been our busiest ever months for franchisee recruitment. And on top of this, I also managed to see my friends and family and even get a holiday – all of which I probably enjoyed and savoured far more because of the uncertain path to getting there.

 Vicky Matthews, co-founder, Pink Spaghetti 


This year has shown me that I work too hard and too long, most of the time. I’ve had a tendency to burn the candle at both ends but with the lockdowns that we’ve had, the extra quiet time and the relaxation of many deadlines has meant that I have had the time and energy to think properly and get more on top of research and strategy than before.

It has taught me that I need to take more time out and that doing so does not harm my business or slow things down. In fact, it is genuinely helpful to my work – if I’m honest, I’ve known for years that I should do this but this year has just forced me to experience its benefits. In future I will aim to make sure I get out into the park and have whole days off, even in the middle of busy periods.

  Jasmine Birtles, founder and director, MoneyMagpie 


Every business has been impacted by the pandemic: some businesses have sadly disappeared, some new businesses have been born, and some have pivoted. This year has taught me how quickly we can adapt to change, and how, regardless of what is thrown at us, we can keep going and thrive. My belief is the biggest constraints breed the best creativity. The coronavirus pandemic confined us to our boxes but helped us think outside the box. We all fear change but I no longer fear it as much as I did. Change means opportunity to exercise our creative muscle, to find opportunities that were previously hidden, like the farmer who started successfully renting out his goats as special guests on video calls, funny and brilliant. Sometimes change happens slowly and sometimes quickly, however it happens, we should not fear it, we will take it in our stride and adapt. Bring it on.

  Dan Gable, founder and CEO, ShoutOut 

Find out more here.

Lockdown 2

A leader’s reflection on lockdown mark 2

It felt different from March. For a start, no one minds if the dog starts barking.

When lockdown hit in March we all scrambled to put an infrastructure in place to enable our people to function and for work to continue. We grappled with new technologies, new kitchen/bedroom/bathroom work environments and were forced out of the familiar and into a ‘new normal’ that was anything but normal.

With that enormous and sudden change came a seismic shift for those of us who manage people. A greater focus on individuals rather than profits, more autonomy and less micro-managing, greater trust and transparency and an overwhelming need and want to support the mental and physical wellbeing of our employees.

Then lockdown ended and we made the tentative transition back to the office. Easing our way onto half-empty trains, the unfamiliar feel of a collar and tie, the relief of a new working environment and the ‘masked’ joy of being with colleagues – albeit at a distance.

Read more here.

Eddie Jones

A quick guide to being a better coach

Coaching is not the same as giving advice.

Most managers instinctively know that coaching is a good thing to do, but it’s easier not to do it for a variety of reasons:

  • Managers simply don’t have the luxury of hours of coaching time for deep, meaningful conversations with multiple direct reports.
  • They know what coaching is but feel ill-equipped to do it properly and would therefore rather not try.
  • They think that they are already coaching but they’re actually just giving advice.

So why bother? And why now particularly?

Managers act as the gatekeepers to the potential in the organisation. If managers are not releasing that potential, helping people thrive and bring their best selves to their work then what exactly are they doing?

Research points time and time again to the fact that employees who receive coaching are more likely to be engaged, feel more valued, apply more discretionary effort and are more likely to stick with the organisation.

In fact, organisations who place coaching at the centre of their culture have been shown by Bersin and Associates to have a revenue 21 per cent higher than their competition.

At a time when most employees are at home, many feeling isolated and disconnected, managers have an opportunity to do anything that can help their people feel more involved, more cared for and continuing to develop.

The good news is that it doesn’t take hours of focused training and experience to get up to speed with the most effective elements of coaching.

Here are our top tips on how to coach as a manager and reap the benefits as quickly as possible:

1. Intent matters more than expertise. Coaching needs to come from a position of trust, a lack of pre-judgement and a true belief that the individual has the potential to grow. Be open, tell them what you’re trying to do, take them on the journey with you.

2. Ask questions and listen to the answers. Great coaching questions challenge the coachee to think deeply, building their self-awareness and their ability to generate solutions. Allow silence, it gives space for deep thought and the chance to put into words vague ideas or feelings.

3. Focus on their desired outcome rather than their presenting problem. Help the coachee vividly bring to life what success looks like, what they hope to achieve and why it matters rather than wallowing in all the things that are wrong.

4. Empower individuals to try things out. We all learn through doing so be creative about how you enable your team members to experiment, make mistakes and learn within a safe environment.

5. Build your coachees’ confidence and self-belief. Grab every opportunity to demonstrate progress and highlight strengths that can be used to address challenges.

6. Avoid offering advice or direction. Let go of the need to demonstrate your expertise and experience. Your goal should be to guide them to come up with their own solutions and actions. If you feel like jumping in with your wisdom, think WAIT – ‘Why Am I Telling?’

Coaching should form a part of every conversation with team members. It takes seconds to ask a powerful, thought-provoking question and the sense of being supportively challenged will push people out of their comfort zones and reap rewards.

In every conversation with a direct report ask yourself, what can you do or say now to help the individual grow and develop?

Original article can be found here.

Face Masks KN95

Use of face masks designated KN95

A substantial number of face masks, claiming to be of KN95 standards, provide an inadequate level of protection and are likely to be poor quality products accompanied by fake or fraudulent paperwork. These face masks may also be known as filtering facepiece respirators.

KN95 is a performance rating under the Chinese standard GB2626:2006, the requirements of which are broadly the same as the European standard BSEN149:2001+A1:2009 for FFP2 facemasks. However, there is no independent certification or assurance of their quality and products manufactured to KN95 rating are declared as compliant by the manufacturer.

Personal protective equipment (PPE) cannot be sold or supplied as PPE unless it is CE marked. The only exception is for PPE that is organised by the UK Government for use by NHS or other healthcare workers where assessments have been undertaken by HSE as the Market Surveillance Authority.

Read more here.


Gyms in England could reopen in July

Gyms in England could be open in July if lobbying by the fitness industry comes to fruition.

The government had initially indicated that gyms would be unlikely to reopen before October, however, Huw Edwards, chief executive of ukactive, has told the Guardian that talks are ongoing around reopening far sooner, saying “The government has said to us nothing before the fourth of July. Our plan is to take government and Public Health England officials out to sites to reassure them that gyms can safely implement social distancing. We are going to be a completely open book.”

He said he was “cautiously optimistic the industry could be back on its feet by the summer,” saying: “We want to open in a way which is safe for staff and customers, allows people to come back and train, and then gets businesses up and running again.”

Read more here.

Fitness Equipment

Missing your workouts during lockdown?

4th Dimension are delighted to announce that we have teamed up with Purchase It Home Fitness to be able to offer a 20% discount for all your fitness and nutrition needs straight to your door.

Simply log on to find your fitness needs and put in the 20% discount code PITCOPSEY20 at the checkout (for purchases over £50).

With us coming to the end of the week 5 of lockdown in UK due to the Coronavirus, many people are missing their visits to the gym during our social distancing rules.

For many of us going to the gym, is not only exercise but it is also the place we meet friends, it’s a place to turn off for an hour and a chance to release our stresses and frustrations from the world.

So, how do we cope during these times, when we don’t have access to gyms and fitness centres?

Personal trainers and instructors have been offering online workouts, which gives us the chance to connect with those that we would have been working out with in a virtual class or logging in later, when you’ve finished the “day in the office”.

In these unprecedented times, it’s a different way of working out for us, but it gives the opportunity to keep fit and interact with others in a different way.

It’s often more difficult to remain focused on these classes, as we’re used to having the instructor keeping the class motivated, having a friend to train along with and enjoy some social interaction.

With this in mind it’s a good idea to try and schedule your workout with a friend, whether this be online if you are self-isolating or if you’re able to go outside for your allowed hour on a social distancing run, cycle or even a gentle walk, to keep our bodies active during these times.

There are many solutions that we can use at home from the cheapest solution of an exercise mat and some dumbbells, right up to cycle machines or multi-gyms.

So check out Purchase It Home Fitness and take advantage of a 20% discount on us !

For all your fitness and nutrition needs straight to your door simply log on to find your fitness needs and put in the 20% discount code PITCOPSEY20 at the checkout (for purchases over £50).

Paul Verrico

COVID-19: Can employers be prosecuted if employees are exposed?

Amidst all the coronavirus headlines, some commentators have speculated that employers may be about to face prosecution if they don’t take all precautions possible to protect staff and third parties from infection. Paul Verrico, Partner at Eversheds Sutherland, investigates whether that is the case.

It is, of course, correct that employers in the UK owe duties under the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 to ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, the health, safety and welfare at work of employees; such duties extending to the provision of a safe working environment to those affected and not to expose third parties to risk.

The reality of these unprecedented times is, however, that enforcement of such legislation in this context is a very unlikely outcome. The HSE is involved in trying to help co-ordinate the government’s response to the global pandemic; individual COVID-19 cases are not RIDDOR reportable so would not fall for investigation and it would be near impossible to prove that an individual contracted the disease from exposure at their place of work. In this context, the regulatory framework should be seen as an enabler to assisting duty holders with the tools to ‘do the right thing’ by those they affect rather than as a stick to ensure measures are taken. In many ways, the burden is on the business to behave ethically and appropriately, rather than take measures driven by fear or fail to do anything out of misguided complacency. Potential regulatory sanction should not be used as a driver to achieve outcomes – this is about looking after people, rather than avoiding censure.

The modern day health and safety professional is used to dealing with foreseeable risk as a function of the job. The tools of risk assessment, often deployed by facilities managers to prevent exposure to noxious substances and control legionella bacteria, are equally appropriate for deployment in this context. Just as measures are taken to prevent contaminants from spreading, risk assessments should consider mitigation measures such as hand gel, remote working and reducing or eliminating non-essential travel. Government guidance is fluid and swiftly changing; there is a need to closely monitor the situation to stay current with any measures necessary and act accordingly – if you want statutory authority, the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999 tells us:

‘Any assessment shall be reviewed by the employer if—

  • (a)there is reason to suspect that it is no longer valid; or
  • (b)there has been a significant change in the matters to which it relates; and where as a result of any such review changes to an assessment are required, the employer or self-employed person concerned shall make them.’

Coronavirus advice for employers

Some employers are asking all visitors to self-declare any exposure to affected persons or any recent visit to severely affected nations. Rather like asking employees to self-declare that their grey fleet vehicle has a valid MOT or that they have valid business insurance, such measures have limited legal value – but do serve as a challenge to all visitors to think about their personal situation and so have some limited benefit.

The law does require some groups to have specific risk assessments: young persons and pregnant women are specifically safeguarded; whilst there is no specific protection for those with a disability, sensible risk management means that individual risk assessments should be carried out for those who have a self-declared health condition which could increase their risk profile. Home working may be recommended in some circumstances for such staff.

In the face of the pandemic, many employers are reminding staff and contractors to tell them about any specific individual medical advice which could affect the assessment. Duty holders will use this information to review their risk assessment and if necessary to adjust working conditions accordingly. Employees can ask to see the outcome of the risk assessment and the employer must show it to the individual.

The message then is simple: act responsibly and ethically, not out of fear of prosecution but out of an appropriate sense of accountability to staff and customer stakeholders. Stay current and do all that is reasonably practicable based on government advice and an ever changing situation.