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What a Difference a Spray Makes*

Hands up who knows what Corten steel is.

In laymen’s terms: steel that’s been through a process where the outer oxidises to give an aged rust effect (often called Weathering Steel). Currently very desirable in garden designs. It may not be to everyone’s taste, but I love it.

Last summer, during phase 2 of the garden makeover project, we hit a snag. When looking for a decorative, laser-cut (I don’t know either, but the designer specified it) Corten panel to install on the garden fence we discovered how eye-wateringly expensive it can be. For something that looks rusty?? It’s a focal element of the garden but, still!!

After weeks of searching we finally found the exact thing we wanted BUT in actual real, rusty metal at a fraction of the cost. Yippee.

The final phase of the garden makeover is patio hard landscaping incorporating seating and Corten planters. Builders are needed but that’s tricky at the moment. With my “make do and mend” mentality I decided to try spray painting our existing silver plastic planters (earmarked for tip/Freecycle) for a Corten effect. Might look a bit dodgy, I thought, but it’ll do for this summer.

£12.99 rusty spray paint delivered. Pots primed. Face mask on. Spray. And they look…

…BRILLIANT. Like Corten.

Just how much small things can make such big differences never ceases to amaze me.

Which is why finding small specific things is a big focus in my coaching and programs. One example is a small but powerful question I encourage managers to ask at the start of one-to-one meetings with their team members. Quite often they’re resistant at first – fearing they will get side-tracked and lose control of the meeting – but when they do ask it, the impact can be huge.

This week I witnessed the ‘small’ question in action while observing a sales manager doing his regular activity reviews. At the start of each session he set expectations and then asked each salesperson: “What would you like to cover in this session?” On receiving their request he added: “Let’s cover that first”.

The result was profound. The dynamic was so focused on supporting the salesperson that when they got to the activity review there was no extraction of information needed, each salesperson was 100% forthcoming with everything the manager wanted to know.

It’s a great example of how to build trust in a small but powerful way.


Click here or call me for information on my Coaching for Transformation and Team Performance program. One of a family of remote programs for managers and salespeople.

*A trip down memory lane with “What a Difference a Day Makes” by Esther Phillips. 70s funked-up version of the jazz classic