Archive for the ‘Giving back’ Category

Your 5-a-Day

Mindapples is a project looking for support – and its one that you might find fantastically useful.

Andy Gibson, whose brainchild this is, decided that if 5-a-day could help keep us physically healthy, then its logical to assume a different 5-a-day would help with mental health.  Its like going to the gym but for your mind. (Actually, going to the gym is good for your mind. Exercise is definitely one of those things that’s a ‘must’ on the list).

Andy is trying to get 1000 responses to the short survey and he’s almost there. Worth adding your 5-a-day to the list.


Picture credit: Berkley Breathed

Walking the walk

At the beginning of 2007, we announced that we would be willing to offer up to ten free 360 feedback review to one charity each month of the year.  Our training partners loved the idea so much that many of them offered to provide some free coaching sessions to go with the 360 reports.

We’ve now decided to make this a permanent offer.

So, if you’re a UK-based charity and you’d like some management development work for free – get in touch

In the meantime, find out how Sporting Equals benefited from this offer in 2007…

Helping organisations focus on areas of maximum value and impact

We’ve made good progress on the project we announced last year which aims to provide charities with free 360 feedback services this year. We’ve now got 4 charities signed up for the project and our first completed project was a great success.

Here’s our official press release about it:


MSA Interactive CEO Vandy Massey announced today that the company, in partnership with Performance First, will offer free staff development services to the UK charity Sporting Equals. “As part of our charity initiative this year, MSA are offering a 360 Review and a one-to-one feedback session for senior executives at Sporting Equals, all at no cost to them,” Massey said. The Cambridge-based company is working with a number of charities that support education and training in the UK and abroad in 2007.

Sporting Equals works to promote racial equality in sports throughout England, and it is the first charity to benefit from this initiative.

“We’re all sports enthusiasts at heart, and we know that training is essential to success – that’s why Sporting Equals was delighted to respond to MSA and Performance First’s invitation to participate in L360 and coaching development. PF and MSA have helped us to target specifics and focus on these areas for maximum value and impact.” said Sporting Equals Director Lorraine Deschamps.

MSA helps organisations make fast, positive improvements in staff performance using online assessment tools. Performance First is a specialist consultancy based in London that focuses on delivering performance improvements to its clients. Together, the companies look forward to helping Sporting Equals maximise its performance as an organisation, and ultimately, the clubs that the charity benefits across England.

Massey explained, “MSA is thrilled to be working with Sporting Equals. Their work with governing bodies of sporting agencies is making great strides to promote racial equality, and we think that our online tools and support can help them build on their impressive results.” MSA will announce further charity partnerships in the weeks and months ahead.

There is still time to benefit from one month of free online utilities and support services offered by MSA and its training associates. Charities wishing to take part in MSA Interactive’s 2007 Initiative are encouraged to contact Vandy Massey, either by email, on, or by post, at MSA Interactive, PO Box 972, Whittlesford, Cambridge CB2 4WQ.


Do let us know if you would like to take part in this project.

The Gift of Effective Feedback Part 2

Recently, I wrote about how seasonal ‘giving’ relates to an important gift that that we can make part of our day-to-day lives – effective feedback – and invited you to share your experiences. I’d like to thank everyone who sent in responses, and pass on some tips.

The first reply that caught my eye was from Shamus Doherty, who gives us all a reminder that feedback is a two-way street: "When giving feedback make sure the other party is willing to listen, otherwise there could be tears at bedtime." Good point, Shamus! Even feedback delivered with the best intentions can be counterproductive if given at the wrong time. But remember that uncomfortable, or even unwanted, feedback can be some of the most useful. As Binh Zientek writes: "Painful as feedback can be at times, I have always tried to listen to constructive ones and have always improved personally and professionally because of them. I also thank the other person for their feedback."

A formal feedback exercise can help take some of the pressure out the exercise, but it still requires some thought to get the most out of it. If you’ve been invited to give feedback, either in person or as part of a formal process (for example an appraisal or a 360 review), here are a few tips:

  • Give clear, honest feedback – comment on aspects of specific behaviour. Often the person requesting feedback is not aware of how their behaviour affects others. You may be able to highlight and reinforce certain positive and helpful characteristics. Equally, your feedback may clarify the reasons why it would be a good idea for them to make some changes.
  • Be constructive – it isn’t helpful to comment on things they cannot change, or to write feedback in a thoughtless way. If carelessly worded, at best, your comments could be dismissed – at worst, they may be damaging.
  • Think informally – be respectful, but not deferential; rather than focusing on your relative positions within the organisation, concentrate instead on the impact of the recipient’s actions.
  • Treat the request responsibly – don’t let personal quibbles or a bad day have an impact on the feedback you give. Give yourself time to do the review properly. If you want to have a look at the questions first and think about them before responding, log in to the questionnaire, but log out without submitting a response (once the review has been submitted, it cannot be re-done). When you are ready to complete the review, give the task your full attention.
  • Finally, remember that by giving good feedback, you are helping a colleague improve their performance. Ultimately, this benefits all members of the team.

I’ll leave you with a great response from Steve Pendray of ProCustomer, a Reputation Marketing company. When talking about his experience of 360 degree feedback, Steve’s comment was: " I realised that I now had a solid foundation on which to base my personal development. I would say that it was the most useful development tool I have ever used." He goes on to say, "Feedback for a business is a bit like going to the gym – you know it can be painful, but it’s also good for you. You pay the subscription with eagerness but, having joined, you can find 1001 excuses for not actually going."

Well said, Steve. The message here is if you take the task seriously and follow through with the exercise, then you reap the rewards!

Can Christmas last a whole year? We’re going to give it a try

As the seasonal Christmas frenzy sets in, our thoughts can turn to those less fortunate than ourselves – especially as charities enter their busiest season of the year to draw attention, and much-needed cash, to their causes. But what about the charity organisations themselves? It’s a crowded and competitive marketplace out there, and attracting support is getting more and more difficult.

At MSA, we’re trying something new in order to help charities improve the performance of their organisation. We’re offering our services free of charge to 12 different charities, one for every month of 2007 (see our official press release here). We’ll provide a 360 Review and one-to-one feedback session for senior executives at each charity we work with, all at no cost, and no obligation to work with us beyond that month. We’re inviting charities that work in education and training to get in touch with us at .

I’ve been interested in finding new ways for the non-profit sector to benefit from staff development for some time now – and at this time of year, entering into the spirit of the season seemed like the right way to do it. So if you know of any education or training-related charity that might benefit from our offer, please let us know about them, so we can help make next Christmas their best ever!