Kellie Mills – Coach, Trainer and Speaker

Creating Change…one conversation at a time

How to have a courageous conver-sation


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Having tough conversations in the workplace takes courage. It is something that many of us dread.

Many of us will delay asking for a pay rise, for time off or bringing up a sensitive topic about another employee. Whatever the Courageous Conversation may be, it’s about time we stopped putting them off. By pushing these conversations to the side they take up precious energy and focus. This would be better directed to living in the present and getting on with what needs to be done.

Fear is the main reason why these necessary conversations do not take place when they should. Whether it be: fear of being shouted at, fear of looking stupid, fear of offending the person, fear of lack of performance or other repercussions from staff, and fear of being judged. By taking a calm and blame-free approach to having actual courageous conversations, stress levels can be reduced and effective outcomes can be achieved.

CIA is a good first step in assessing what the conversation should involve and how it needs to be approached. CIA involves asking Can I CONTROL it? Can IINFLUENCE it? Or can I ACCEPT it? This helps to take you to the next step: Clarifying the Realistic Outcome you want. For example, if the outcome is for the staff member to change their behaviour, you need to be able to be specific on the change that is required. You need to be clear that you do not want to change their personality or make them feel personally targeted. You need to name the behaviour or the performance issue that needs improving.

The next step involves Three Magic Words. These are three essential qualities that you need to exhibit when having courageous conversations: Empathy, Curiosity and Accountability. Empathy will remind you that you are dealing with another human being with his or her own ideas, emotions, and way of working. Be sensitive to the idea that they may be going through other struggles out of the workplace that you know nothing about.

Be curious, ask appropriate questions and seek understanding rather than making quick judgements. Try to uncover why they behave the way they do and take the time to get the full story. Finally, remember that Accountability is a two way street. Both people in the conversation should be aware of their tone, body language, words, and the way their message is received. Letting frustration seep into your behaviour will be detrimental to the final outcome and chances of resolving the issue will be limited.

Approaching tough conversations in the workplace takes courage. Being self- reflective in the way you process the issue in your own time will help the end result. Be confident and clear on what the issue is and how it can best be resolved.

Mills-Eaton Training delivers In-House training for medium-large organisations. They specialise in Team Development (with expertise in dysfunctional teams), Leadership, Communication and other practical programs.

Contact Kellie Mills on

Where do you hang your values?


I often find myself sitting in a room with a group of senior managers and I ask the question: “Tell me about your company values and how are they applied?”

The response varies; sometimes it will be shifting eyes from co-worker to co-worker in the hope that someone else will answer. Other times someone will say, “I think there’s five of them? Or is it seven?.Is one of them Integrity?…umm or Honesty?”.

What is the use of values if they are not implemented and understood?

Many organisations spend time and resources on creating their core values.  They then put them on their website, email signature and in a nice frame on the wall in reception. Unfortunately that’s often where they stay.

Let me tell you – truly successful organisations do much, much more than that. They have the values absorbed into the culture and they are applied in all they do.

How an organisation demonstrates their values can vary and there is no right or wrong. The important thing is that every member of staff is on the same page. Understanding what the organisation’s values are and how to demonstrate them in the workplace will make the business stronger as a whole.

Take this company for example –  NewGold Peak Gold Mine, in Cobar, NSW.

Their 5 core values are:

·         Develop Our Employees

·         Commitment

·         Integrity

·         Teamwork

·         Creativity

They believe “our values are what guide our behaviour in achieving our vision and mission”. This is obvious in the conversation, from the behaviour and the decision making of the CEO right through to the Supervisors on-site. They don’t just have their values ‘hanging on the wall’, instead they are embedded into their culture.

Personal values can be categorised into ethical/moral, ideological/cultural, social, and aesthetic. While workplace values are typically things such as: conduct, dedication, honesty, integrity, accountability, and collaboration.

It is important to keep in mind that personal values differ from individual to individual, whereas workplace values are a set of values upheld by a team or a group of people.

Conflicting values can occur when entering the workplace. With your own set of personal values, it may be difficult adapting to a new set of team-based values. For example, you may over-hear two colleagues having a heated discussion about another colleague and the quality of their work. This type of behavior may be embedded in their personal values and how they deal with conflict, but the organisations values state that there should be no bad mouthing or secrecy in the office. You are then put in a difficult position of making a decision as to whether you will tell your manager about the breach of the organisations values.

Team building days, workshops and weekly staff newsletters, are all good places to rehash on the organisations values. Often giving staff members hypothetical, value-based dilemmas is a good way of instilling what you would like to see happen when conflicts occur. It also sets a benchmark for future reference.

A values driven organisation is a powerful one. Not only does it strengthen staff members sense of team but also makes the workplace a happier community. Ask yourself what your organisations values are and see if you know the answer.

Mills-Eaton Training delivers In-House training for medium-large organisations. They specialise in Team Development (with expertise in dysfunctional teams), Leadership, Communication and other practical programs.

Contact Kellie Mills on

How to step out of your comfort zone

How to step out of your comfort zone


We are often told that to truly grow and develop we need to step out of our comfort zone.

What IS our comfort zone? According to Wikipedia… A comfort zone denotes that limited set of behaviours that a person will engage without becoming anxious. Alternatively denoted as a “plateau” it describes that set of behaviours that have become comfortable, without creating a sense of risk.

Humans are creatures of habit, we like patterns and familiarity. We are constantly creating little comfort zones in our daily lives. Whether it be a certain spot where we place our handbag when we get home or a specific mug you like to use and feel upset when someone else is using it.

If you travel on your own for business and stay in hotels, do you find that you put things in the same places as you would at home? – For example, watch and rings, suitcase, and make-up. You create your own ‘home away from home’.

What does stepping out of your comfort zone mean to you?

For some people it could mean a huge physical adventure such as hiking Mt Everest, or a physical change such as dying your hair, or adjusting your career path after years of doing the same job. Each one of us has our own individual set of comfort zones, what may be out of the ordinary or scary for some, may just be part of every day life for others.

The barriers, which stop us from stepping out of our comfort zones, are most commonly: fear of failure, fear of embarrassment and lack of self-belief.

Highly successful people routinely step outside their comfort zones, to accomplish what they want.

A comfort zone is a type of mental conditioning that causes a person to create and operate mental boundaries that are not real. These boundaries create an unfounded sense of security.

Are you really attempting something that has never been done before? I doubt it.

Every time you step out of your comfort zone you build your confidence levels and open your mind a little further to new opportunities. You learn more about yourself, your capabilities, and ultimately become stronger.

Remember how it felt when you started your first job? Remember the things you worried about? When you think back now, you can realise that it really wasn’t anywhere near as daunting as you imagined. You can be self-reflective and understand what you gained from the experience.

There are times when you don’t have a choice and you are thrust out of your comfort zone and forced to be bold.

Try doing something you do on a regular basis differently – dare to be different (I’m not talking about sky diving unless you have always wanted to). But perhaps a few changes to your normal routine could open your eyes to new possibilities, what’s the worst thing that could happen?

  • Start shopping in the opposite end of the supermarket and see what you see. Or even go to a different supermarket
  • Order something different off the menu at your local café
  • Travel a different way to work
  • Call someone you recently met at a networking event and meet them for a drink
  • Write down 3 things that you are illogically afraid of and commit to doing at least one of them by Easter.
  • Buy a business magazine that you wouldn’t normally buy and learn something new – knowledge is power
  • Learn a new skill – preferably something you think you cannot do
  • Change your self-talk from “no, I don’t think I can” to “ok, I’ll give it a go”

Be bold on your quest for new experiences.

Be bold enough to do the things that are important to you and say the things you need to say.

Be bold enough to say ‘no’ to things that don’t fit your value system and educate others on what is important to you.

Be bold enough to take an honest look at the boundaries of your comfort zone and why you have created them.

Then be bold enough to challenge those boundaries and leap outside of them.

I’m going to conclude with 3 of my favourite quotes…

  1. Dare to be yourself. What others think of you is none of your business.”
  2. I don’t want to get to the end of my life and find that I just lived the length of it. I want to have lived the width of it as well”. Diane Ackerman
  3. Never sell yourself short. Anything anyone else has done, you can probably do as well.”

Mills-Eaton Training delivers In-House training for medium-large organisations. They specialise in Team Development (with expertise in dysfunctional teams), Leadership, Communication and other practical programs.

Contact Kellie Mills on

5 ways to get your Manager’s attention.

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Here are my top tips on how to get your Manager’s attention:

  1. Put yourself in your manager’s shoes – think about the pressures thatthey might be under; what might be their key priorities, and how does what you want or need fit within those priorities? What may seem incredibly important and urgent to you, may be down the end of a very long list of issues that you manager is currently facing.
  2. Respect their time – choose your timing when you have something to discuss with them. Indicate the importance of your issue by making an appointment to see them, rather than mention it in passing in the corridor. Often staff give managers information at inconvenient times, and then wonder why nothing is followed-through. If what you want to talk about is important then do what you can to minimise distractions and ensure that you have their full attention. Also, when you tell them that you need ten minutes of their time, don’t talk about an issue for an hour.
  3. Consider their personality and preferred communication style – does your boss like extensive detailed explanations? Do they respond better if they have a brief email prior to a meeting so they have time to weigh up options? Do they make quick decisions or are they analytical and like to gather all of the facts first?  In team meetings, if there is a controversial issue, consider how you would feel if you are put on the spot in front of an audience, then ask yourself how your boss would prefer to deal with it.
  4. Speak their language – generally, the more senior a supervisor or manager is, the more they have to focus on budgets, targets, numbers and safety. So if for example, you want to ask for a new piece of equipment or an additional staff member, do your homework first and prepare a case study outlining the costs and the overall benefits to the company that the additional expenses would bring. Oh, and remember the magic 4 letter word…RISK! Part of a manager’s role is to identify potential risks and minimise the impact of them. Where relevant, let them know you have factored in the various risks involved in your proposal.
  5. Don’t use their office as a dumping ground – if you want your boss to take you and your concerns seriously, don’t just walk into his/her office and dump your problems for them to sort out. Where possible consider a couple of solutions before you see them and then present the issue, and your ideas of how it may be resolved. Your boss may prefer an alternative solution, but they will respect you for looking at the bigger picture.

Mills-Eaton Training delivers In-House training for medium-large organisations. They specialise in Team Development (with expertise in dysfunctional teams), Leadership, Communication and other practical programs.

Contact Kellie Mills on

Build a better business with … Lego?


What do you think when you think of Lego? Perhaps you associate the popular toy building brick with your childhood, or maybe your children or grandkids.

But these colourful little bricks are no longer confined to playrooms – they are now being used in boardrooms around the world.

Lego is increasingly being utilised in the workplace as a staff development or training tool as part of a method known as Lego Serious Play.

And it’s much more than just snapping bricks, wheels and mini figures in hard hats together.

The Lego Serious Play method is a facilitated meeting, communication and problem solving process in which participants are led through a series of questions which probe deep into the subject at hand.

Each participant builds his or her own 3D Lego model in response to the facilitator’s questions using specially selected Lego elements. These 3D models serve as a basis for group discussion, knowledge sharing, problem solving and decision making.

Typically the workshops focus on challenging issues or developing strategies. From the outside, a workshop may look like adults just playing with Lego, but the structured process elicits deep thinking, powerful storytelling, collaboration and problem solving of complex challenges that many organisations and businesses face.

Over the past two decades I’ve focused on leadership, team development and communication and am an accredited Lego Serious Play facilitator.

My experience has shown that putting a group of people in a room with a huge pile of Lego is a powerful way to enhance creativity while also providing an equal playing field for communication.

There is no hierarchy in the room with Lego.

It is ideal for team building, improving communication and strategic planning. It isn’t about an individual’s building skills, it is about developed storytelling skills. It is also fun!

Lego Serious Play was developed from the following realisation – just as the Lego group had been telling children to “build their dreams” for decades, so perhaps adults could be asked to build their visions for future strategy.

The method can be used to work on complex business issues such as developing strategy plans, resolving conflicts, forming and developing teams and working with turnaround and restructuring.

It can also be used for goal achievement and problem solving.

In team meetings, it’s an unfortunate reality that many people don’t leave with a sense of what the goals, strategy and plans are. Too much energy, ideas and opportunities are lost with the result that people feel less motivated, not involved and not taken seriously.

Lego Serious Play deals with exactly that challenge. It is a language, communication tool, and problem solving methodology based on the belief that everyone can contribute to the discussion, the decisions and the outcome.

While it may be hard to imagine serious business types in sharp suits playing with Lego, the idea is not uncommon.

Lego Serious Play has been used worldwide by major companies including Coca Cola, Daimler Chrysler, Google, Hewlett Packard, KLM, Microsoft and Nokia.

Businesses are increasingly seeking innovative, out-of-the-box thinking to meet the challenges they face, often with hands-on approaches, such as Lego Serious Play.

I have seen participants come away with skills to communicate more effectively, engage their imaginations more readily, and approach their work with increased confidence, commitment and insight.

Lego isn’t just a toy for kids or a relaxing adult weekend hobby. It can be brought into your workplace with rewarding effects.

After all, as Plato once said: “You can learn more about a person in an hour of play than you can from a lifetime of conversation.”

Mills-Eaton Training delivers In-House training for medium-large organisations. They specialise in Team Development (with expertise in dysfunctional teams), Leadership, Communication and other practical programs.

Contact Kellie Mills on