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June 2, 2021

Reading Time: 3 minutes

Can a 20-years-old guide still be actual and provide insights that resonate with modern managers? Indeed, it can! Leadership skills for women delivers over 90 pages of exercises and ideas that will help all aspiring managers, women as well as men, to achieve valuable self-knowledge to boost their career.

The authors foreword anticipates this as a “book to read with a pencil” (p.vii): thought out its pages it guides the readers from the discovery of the qualities that make people leaders to the learning of key skills, via the unique challenges and opportunities that leader face, with direct consideration to women managers.

The workbook opens by listing the characteristics of the effective leader: values intuition, ethical believes and great listening skills are what differentiate a leader from a follower.

Of great insight are the 2 core leadership styles that can be recognised in leaders: the “Quite style”, that divides in The Supporter & The Perfectionist and the “Outgoing Style” which includes The Director and The Motivator – simple and easy to follow indication of characteristics and preferences that can be observed and reflected upon.

The statement “your attitude as a leader will set the pace and the tone for your employees” (p.10) sets the expectations high and the authors suggest that conflicts raising directly from the private sphere will lead to stress to trickle in the business life affecting one’s own effectiveness as a leader.

Management evolves around “planning, organising, staffing and controlling” (p. 13) and those four basic functions are essential to both man and women to become effective leaders.

It is not until page 15 that the authors begin to address unique challenges that women leaders face: by listening the stereotypes the readers are guided to truthfully ask themselves if they have engaged in such stereotype and what resolutions could be taken to change perception. Accepting that some of the challenges are differently worded today, I have wonder if the stereotypes are still actual despite the semantic. “Women are too picky” or “women are difficult to work for” are surely some two I have found myself confronting.

The workbook reads easily and it can be completed in 2-hour setting or over a few sessions, depending on what the reader is really searching for.

Insights on team players types (p.24), values as motivators (p.27), time management (p.37) create an active workbook. The reader can get fully involved by naming individual team member, list traits that makes them difficult and then work out effective resolution techniques such as coaching and feedback (p. 51)

Very Interesting the notion to use Positive Anger in conflict resolution and the proposition that women, being raised to “be nice”, are directly challenged in using this technique. The ethics that guide “raising girls” continue to resonate in most contemporary discussion around women leadership. The benefits of leadership that the authors provide e.g. leading a more interesting life thanks to the ability to travel, could be modernized in a new edition by including closing pay-gap and increase equality in participation, without decreasing the great insight offered by this useful workbook.


Boost your career with new techniques and skills.

Marilyn Manning and Patricia Haddock

Kogan Page – Better management skills


96 pages

ISBN: 0749427310

Interactive Worksheets

Further Reading

Available on Amazon

June 2, 2021

Reading Time: 2 minutes

A concise and straightforward workbook for those who intend to become a mentor in their workplace. The easy to follow content and chapter breakdown, provides friendly worksheets to complete during the reading and allow the aspirant mentor to begin reflective work on own motivation, belief on what mentoring is and create of next steps towards further education

The book opens with the idea core to mentoring is the development of latent abilities, in those named as the mentees: listening, exchange of knowledge, skills and opportunities are essential to a constructive and efficient mentoring experience.

G.Shea suggests that a good friendship, where effective listening and support has occurred, should be considered a real mentoring relationship. Allowing for Informal as well as short-term associations, mentoring is about development, interchange of viewpoints and encouragement towards a professional and winning behaviours.

Most of all mentoring is about going the extra mile:

“Most of us have known many good and competent teachers (…) The fortunate ones among us have also encountered teachers who have lit a spark within us, who opened new vistas and dimensions before us, who touched us deeply and who awakened and encouraged our potential” (page 23)

Some key points for effective mentoring

  • Focus on what is done following the mentor’s help, rather than how
  • The desire of the mentee to be independent is essential
  • The empowering mentors may just involve in good listening which will allow the mentee to find the solution by him/herself.

Without doubt mentoring is a path to change and Shea reminds its reader of 5 key bullet points of change management (page 37) which include: share vision, time, behaviour adjustment, coping and internalisation of the change.

The workbook prompts to the different ways listening, the most essential aspect of mentoring, occurs. Mentoring requires active listening, respectful listening, listening for feelings, listening for motivation.

Mentors are to refrain from giving advices: if during the conversation the mentee retorts with “Yes, but…” the mentor must halt and reflect on how the relationship might be shifting towards problem-solving or coaching rather than remain in the constructive area of mentoring:

Mentoring is a reciprocal, mutual relations between equals working together: the mentor will have a gaining relationship by sharing his/her own motivation openly with the mentee.

When mentoring as a manager more care in the disclosure of objectives and a plan to revision must be discussed: this will ensure that seniority will give assurance of competence and not of become a measure of performance expectations, which can be covered by other aspects of the relationship.



Gordon F. Shea

Crisp Publication Inc.


77 pages

ISBN: 0 7494 – 0881 -2

Interactive Worksheets

Available on Amazon

Further Reading

June 2, 2021

Reading Time: 2 minutes

The book is perfect for those interested in learning about Situational Leadership without having to address extensive Occupational Psychology theories and data.

Written as a dialogue that reminds of the Socratic method, Dr. Paul Hersey characters are modelled on “two giants in the field – Frederick W. Taylor, the father of scientific management (Task Behaviour) and Carl Rogers, who opened new horizons in interpersonal relations (Relationship Behaviour)” – page 126

The key themes are addressed in the dialogue and further expanded in explanatory sub-chapters.

The model of Situational Leadership has been adopted since the late 1970s and, as the title suggest, leadership is not be intended as a fixed skillset that a manager and leader can apply. Leadership is the ability to modify and interpret the situation, more specifically the requirements and readiness of the followers, and adjust the management style accordingly. This flexibility is well explored in Chapter Four Selecting Appropriate styles –

Rogers: You got it…and, you know, after a while, I could predict that Taylor would treat me differently depending on the job we had to do, how much a knew about it, and how much I wanted to get it done. (page 54)

Of extreme value is the chapter that covers Performance problems and more specifically performance discipline. The basic suggestion is that the modern negative connotation of discipline as a corrective measure has evolve from what used to be a more positive and constructive use of the term disciple “A disciple is a learner” – page 114.

Time, an essential factor in performance and management must allow for variation of circumstances, motivations as well as company goals. It is the role of the manager to evaluate correctly if there are events which can negatively impact performance.

“When people’s performance declines, the intervention needs to be made with a leadership style that is appropriate for their present readiness.” (page 115)

The model was first created by Dr. Paul Hersey in collaboration with Ken Blanchard and it was introduced as a “life cycle theory of leadership” in 1968. The two theorists subsequentially developed independent streams of the model. Dr. Paul Hersey founded the Centre for Leadership Studies which offers courses and certification to deep dive into the content and application of the Situational Leadership theory. Dr. Blanchard has also actively engaged with the model and created SLii© model and the Blanchard Training and Development Inc. (Companies).

Criticism of the theory are not address in this original volume, which in fact frames itself as presenting a model rather than a theory of Leadership “A model, on the other hand, is a pattern of already existing events which can be learned and therefore repeated”.


Dr. Paul Hersey

Wilson Learning Edition

Centre for Leadership Studies


127 pages

ISBN: 0446513423

Prologue and Post Prologue

The Story, the Background, The epilogue

June 2, 2021

Reading Time: 2 minutes

A. Montgomery is an awarded author, Harvard Business School Professor and Director in boards of two Fortune 500 companies. The content of the book is educated by her experience in running the Harvard’s Entrepreneur, Owner, President Program (EOP). Written with accessible language that uses minimal commercial jargon, the book clearly covers what set out in the contents outline: it explores what are the key responsibilities of a strategist and how to differentiate between strategizing and creating business models. Using approachable case studies such as IKEA, Gucci and Apple, Montgomery concludes the book by sharing an inspiring poem by Mary Oliver, “The Summer Day” (1992) which poses the question

“Tell me, what is it your plan to do

with your one wild and precious life?”

The aim is clearly outlined at the beginning of chapter 1: “My ultimate goal is not to ‘teach strategy’ but to equip and inspire you to be a strategist, a leader….” (p.5) The book is suitable as a bright read for a business owner, as an introduction to higher management responsibilities or for entrepreneur searching for inspiration while embarking in new ventures. It is not a workbook or a guidebook: it provides limited, but effective, diagrams and a very good FAQ appendix (which reminds of the usefulness of SWOT!).

Key points stressed throughout are

  • Leadership and strategy are inseparable (p.12)
  • Strategy is more than an aspiration (…) it’s a system of values (p.133)
  • Strategy can be a simple motto that translates the key purpose of the company: be unique
  • The strategist is not a super-manager: s/he employs a team key people with the correct specialisation and know how
  • Communications enables success

During the reading, Montgomery invites her audience to answer many questions, reformulated clearly on the final chapter (p.133)

  1. What does my organisation bring to the world?
  2. Does that difference matter?
  3. Is something about it scarce and difficult to imitate?
  4. Are we doing today what we need to do in order to matter tomorrow?

The Strategist has the responsibility towards its own firm as well as its own community; the purpose and values it brings and offers must be the most essential moments of considerations. The Strategist is responsible to define what a company is, what it exists to achieve. I recommend this book as a good introduction for Senior Managers to the concepts and mind-set that guide strategizing versus the more customary business planning approach.



Cynthia A. Montgomery

HarperCollins Publishers

(May 7, 2012)

208 page

ISBN: 9780062071019

Frequently asked Questions

Recommended Reading

Alphabetical Index

Available on Amazon

April 29, 2021

Reading Time: 4 minutesWhat is Experiential Leadership (and How it Works) – Education of Performance Managers is best guided by the workplace reality and workplace culture. Creation of case studies that reflect Experience will supports managers in adopting the most effective leadership techniques to channel team’s pride and engagement.

Image: National Gallery of Ireland – Creative Commons Project – “Christ Disputing with the Doctors”
Artist: Master of the Annunciation to the Shepherds, c.1604-1656

Many management strategies are overly reliant on models build upon static personality traits research: from the well-researched OCEAN model and psychometric testing, to 360 reviews and Gallop’s Strength Clifton Strength Online assessment. 

While extremely useful for an individual to embark in the journey of self-awareness and reflection, “a growing body of evidence shows that personality traits aren’t necessarily consistent from one situation to the next” (HBR, “Persuading the Unpersuadable, Magazine March–April 2021, Adam Grant).

What is Experiential Leadership?

Experiential Leadership is an over archiving framework which stems directly from the theory of Experiential Learning.  Experiential Leadership grounds Managers’ learning in the workplace reality and it inspires supervisors to adjust performance management programmes to reflect existing workplace experience as lived by the individual and the organisation. 

How Does Experiential Leadership Work?

Let’s take the example of managing performance by considering emotional labour. Emotional labour is defined by the specific behaviours outlined by the organisation which an employee is required to apply in a specific situation. Instructions like “always greet a client with a smile”, “maintain your calm under stress” are commonly prescribed behaviours. 

Often – the workplace emotional behaviour required is contrary to that which a person actually believes. Consider the scenario of an organisation who provides support to the un-employed.  A worker who is engaging with a client who is plainly sabotaging opportunities to become employed with be required to remain a behaviour which is supportive, open and understanding. If the client was a family member, the clerk might in fact consider necessary to do an intervention of sort and remove the support

Emotional labour cannot be easily quantified or prescribed – apply level 10 of supportive response (!); furthermore, and social attitudes to questions like un-employment change over time and differ between generations. 

The management of teams employed in highly demanding emotional labour roles is best achieved by building performance management on real life experience. The manager education must be based on relevant case studies and real-life examples accessible via the workplace direct experience. Experiential Leadership supports each worker in understanding own position and define the personal effort – the manager is to apply a generic “guideline that prescribes behaviour” and ensure that each member of staff is supported. 

Real Life illustrations are the core of Experiential Leadership: they facilitate every leader to learn by generating the best response according to the specific experience at hand by mirroring a comparable event. The manager is not adapting leadership and communication responses by extrapolating ideas from generic the personality traits of the employees; nor on supposed personal preference of management style.

Experiential Leadership requires the manager and the organisation to reflect before any action is taken and performance standard defined. It is likely that specific scenarios will form over time and these can be used as blue prints. 

Scenarios and case studies that repeat over time are created by the habitual nature of human begins rather than been based on traits or models. When we identify a path, which is efficient and works, we tent to re-adapt that behaviour and it can become a habit. Habits are based on situations and nurture, environment and experience. While traits and psychometric testing is pushing the conversation towards “nature”, experiential leadership is asking to adapt skills and competence to the case at hand with its peculiarity and specificity. 

Foundation of shared value

The role of the People Managers and Leaders is to guarantee that the most valuable organisational assess, its people, are striving to share success with the organisation. 

While not all roles are generating vocational stimulation, it can be generalised that most people share the value of pride in one’s own work.  Managers should adjust their management and communication styles by looking at the workplace through the prism of pride at work as a critical motivator. 

Pride in one’s work can be both Intrinsic as well as extrinsic motivator – to be self-guiding or to be guided by wanting to earn the respect of peers and colleague or professional community at large.

To do a job, any job, at the best of one’s own ability is often critical for all employees. Understanding that “one’s own ability” changes over time and according to situation it crucial. 

Educating Leaders via Experiential Leadership methods is to “allow people to enter various life situations that are otherwise not accessed by them, to experiment with various situations or roles and to explore their reactions to their new situation – Experiential Learning – A best practice Handbook for Educators and Trainers – Colin Beard, John P Wilson.

3 Top Tips to apply Experiential Leadership in Performance Management

    1. Managers are to be attentive of their past experiences which resemble a current situation 
      1. Adopting a Management Journal can support manager to create a case study as well as ensure that fact-based memory is not changed by fallacy of remembering.
      2.  “What worked” and “What did not work” reflections prove useful and straightforward.
    2. When direct personal experience is not available, the manager is to identify a comparable situation or case study. 
      1. Access to senior mentors is crucial. Mentors can be inside the organisation or experience Management educators who are able to share relevant experience.
    3. Manager will share direct experience/learned experience with the team/employee and discuss together how the performance choices and communication used may be suitable and provided the desired results
  • Management of performance is linked to the work at hand and manager and team member together are to identify the best route to providing the highest quality of work that one can achieve at the specific time and place

Where the manager or the organisation are facing an unexpected and new situation – let’s consider the disruption that COVID-19 pandemic has recently generated – it is again via a consultative process of discovery that the Experiential Leadership model will become apparent. This approach will ensure that when a team member has a comparable experience the manager is guided from within to define and support best practice towards performance management. 

8 Categories for Experiential Leadership Training

At Symposium Learning we have identified 8 categories that represent the most common performance circumstances (categories) and experiences in the workplace.

Click here to download the Outline.

March 30, 2021

Reading Time: 3 minutesInteraction with specialist trainer gives the highest level of assurance that the training courses selected address the real learning needs of managers. While e-learning makes vast and high-quality content easily accessible, blended learning offers calibration by expanding and clarifying on leadership needs.

What is Blended Learning

Blended learning can be generically defined as a structured learning interaction between learners, subject contents and a learning facilitator. 

Technology-mediated education includes synchronous learning, when students and instructors have a real-time interaction as well as asynchronous learning, when the learner has independent and autonomous access to subject matter content from digital resources like videos, case studies as well as the traditional text books. 

Blended Learning and E-Learning

Independent access to digital content is often simplified by the term e- learning. E-learning makes vast and high-quality content easily available to learners by removing obstacles of time and place. Thanks to is affordability it has been used extensive for workplace learning: from tactical skillsets like Data Analytics to more complex subjects such as leadership and motivation.

The advantage of e-learning is the variety and quality of method of delivery of content when compared to traditional text books. Webinars and videos tutorials are engaging and are powerful resources, often of brief length, that focus on specific aspect of the programmes helping the learner’s understanding. Gamification allows a learner to interact independently with the content, to experiment and it dynamically supports the prerequisite of repetition as a learning tool. Both video and gamification provide the learner with instruments to experience knowledge progression and reward systems which support engagement with the subject matter. 

The disadvantage of e-learning is the one-sidedness of the experience. As e-learning that does not include real time interaction with the author, e-leaning offers extremely limited opportunity to relate the content with the specific supervisor’s learning needs. Most digital content is generic and not necessarily beneficial to the leader’s progression.

Assurance that the training courses address the real learning needs is best achieved via interaction with a specialist trainer. Most subjects require contextualisation and specifically for leadership and management trainings this is grounded in a two-way process of communication. The facilitator has the ability to calibrate the content by expanding, simplifying, paraphrasing, reducing and clarifying key learning points by anticipating the learning needs based on observation and interaction. When a learner has direct contact with an expert trainer opportunity of deep learning, which translates in behavioural change, can occur.

Organisations therefore must provide hybrid learning educational plans and give to the learners the opportunity to access high quality and quantity of content via e-learning as well as to benefit from interaction with subject matters experts. 

Blended learning programmes combine effectively and seamlessly expert know-how with e-learning content and gamification programs.  

How to Create a Blended Learning Plan

To build appropriate blended learning plans, an organisation can

  1. Invest in an e-learning library for all managers and encourage completion of programmes 
  2. Engage specialised trainers to supervise the creation of the library and selection of the content.
  3. Invest in building case studies repositories personalised to the specific industry and size of the organisation
  4. Encourage leaders exchange of feedback on e-learning programmes offered.
  5. Create opportunity for practice with support by expert trainer in application of the knowledge 
  6. Offer Virtual and/or In Person real time sessions with expert trainers to expand on specific subjects 
  7. Recommend Mentoring Programmes with experts in the leadership subject matters 
  8. Assess regularly effectiveness by appraising key business performances and employee engagement.

The leaner supervisor will access high quantity of content and diversity of points of view while being guided in self-reflection by experts. Trainers encourage motivation to progress further in the learning journey and identify specific learning blockages in a timely manner.

Leadership and Performance Management rely on the enhancement of specific skills which cannot be fully explored via e-learning resources. Organisations must pay sufficient attention to how key competencies such as Emotional Intelligence, Change Management and Diversity are acquired and ensure that contextualisation is made available. 

March 2, 2021

Reading Time: 3 minutes

Are we discussing sufficiently about the personal biases we bring to the workplace? The limited reaction to the resignation of KPMG chairman 2 weeks ago seems to suggest we actually don’t.
Bias is non-useful knowledge that we carry in the workplace. Learning how to break the link is a crucial first step to allow for new behaviours to occur.

I was expecting hundreds of posts in the past 15 days covering the leaked statement by KPMG UK Chairman about the ineffectiveness of unconscious bias training.
Instead, I was welcomed by a surprising silence.

The #unconsciousbias and # bias Google Searches give little fresh results, and so did searchers on LinkedIn and Twitter posts.

According to the HBR article in 2019 “(..) research also shows that bias prevention programs rarely deliver. And some companies don’t invest in them at all.” Article from Mail Online talks about how unconscious bias might make things worse; article form the Telegraphs reports that also the English Civil Service has stopped receiving trainings on this topic.

Plenty of debates, training and programmes are offered on inclusion, diversity equality and equity. Actions and strategies to support a diverse workforce, recruitment practices and promotion are published. As a modern workforce we seem to have clear the strategy that by simply adding perspective and diversity we can create innovation.

However, do we really understand perspective without the concept of bias? Are we focusing our efforts on how to be inclusive leaving out the why we seek exclusion?

Bias is a powerful decision-making tool that our evolution has fine-tuned to provide immediate and tangible results. Bias is knowledge – knowledge that we have acquired as we matured from childhood into adults. It is the knowledge we have attained without reflecting on its accuracy by implicitly trusting the source. Bias is what our parents believed the world to be and this includes social and economic class, religion choices, cultural interests.

Our cultural zeitgeist informs our bias.

Unconscious bias is cumulative unrevised knowledge – knowledge for which we no longer trace back the ultimate source.

The fact that they are unaware or disinterred on how we have come to a decision is framed as unconscious – even if the real term that best describes it is covert or unabridged.

Unconscious Bias Trainings are revisions of choices and actions in the workplace – like CV selection – that aim to bring to attention how some of our choices stem can from our biased. The trainings aim to show how this bias replaces our free choices – age stereotyping for specific job roles.

To provide employees with learning opportunities on how past knowledge influences decisions at work and, subsequentially, with information on how to move past them is an important step to accomplish.

Why then Mr. Michaels and other Senior managers believe that such learning opportunities are ineffective?

It can be argued that a shared learning experience that exposes prejudice is not the most favourable way as we would naturally feel embarrassed. By not engaging with the discovery openly the opportunity for learning (and change) is missed.

Some trainings bring forward prejudices that impact our choices outside the work place. Values and morality impact the private self – only practical workplace examples should be given of when bias happen.

A key challenge for organisations is to support employees and managers to more forward and make decisions in “unbiased” as well as effective and timely manners. It is not enough to recognise once preference when delegating which might be based on a pre-conceived notion of skills and aptitudes. It is also necessary to know what else can be used to make choices and take action. If bias is an implicit error of judgement and my decisions lack equilibrium – we then need to learn what equilibrium is.

From what I read I understand that Bill Michael’s resignations from KPMG is linked to a series of comments made in the course of the same company meeting, not only to those referred to Unconscious Bias Training.

FT reports his words to be “There is no such thing as unconscious bias (…) because after every single unconscious bias training that has ever been done, nothing’s ever improved. So unless you care, you actually won’t change (…)

And there is some truth in that caring to change is a key component of all form of learning and the understanding that bias is personal and that common workplace do not strive if the workforce is extremely homogenous and sharing the same values.

The key of unconscious training is to bring to the individual attention the link there is between one’s own values and bias in the workplace.

Once the unplanned link and broken further earning on empathy, decision-making will sustain the will to change and stamp out the fear that naturally comes when realising that not all the knowledge we have acquired is actually useful.

To progress your self – education

February 9, 2021

Reading Time: 3 minutes

Strategies to increase employee performance & engagement have been used since the early 1900’s when early automation rendered some factory jobs repetitive and boring. 100 years later organisations are still working on striking the right balance between providing comprehensive directions whilst allowing employees’ autonomy. 

A recent response is found in the SCARF theory of motivation recently developed by neuroscience.

principles of scientific management bookHR analysts’ ability to detect behaviour and translate it into statistics is one of the greatest advancements for the last decades Employee Performance Management. Behavioural data is easy captured by the everyday technology used by most employees in most businesses. For instance at the supermarket, performances is measured by the speed of checking out goods; at the optician by the average duration of a visit and total appointments cancelled. In an office insight can be as detailed as the number of keystrokes per minute. Video conferencing software tracks eye movement to define engagement in conversation. AI supports the construction industry in reducing health and safety challenges, including social distance in the time of covid-19.

The practices of measuring the details of performance at work are not new – Frederick Taylor in 1900 in his work “The principles of Scientific Management”  describes scientific management as “the practice to systematically partitioning working into its smallest elements and standardising tasks to achieve maximum efficiency”. 

Over the years however, Scientific Management theories have been largely criticised. Core set back is the perception that performance standardisation is driven by lack of trust by the employers and in consequence enables the detachment and disengagement by the workforce. As a response, the 1940’s work of Maslow in the Hierarchy of Needs and the drive to self-actualisation began to shape companies’ work policies from on-boarding to career advancement. For many, the role of the employer is to create inclusive and engaging roles and to support work life balance for all employees.

In the mid 1950’s Douglas McGregor defined the tension between the approaches of Scientific Management and Employee Self-sufficiency as Theory X and Theory YTheory X summaries the practices that encourage close monitoring of employee’s behaviours to ensure efficiency and reduction of costly mistakes – including Health & Safety concerns. Theory Y is the counter balanced approach, which sustains that employee engagement and efficacy can only be reached by giving responsibility, autonomy and freedom of initiatives.

The search for balance continues in present days. 

Most HRM conferences dedicate extensive coverage to Employee Empowerment, Engagement, Voice of the employee. Freedom and self-actualisation are powerful tools for retention and company success. Maslow’s Theory of motivation remains are part of the educational curriculum of most managers and HR practitioners. 

At the same time, an organisation capacity to micro-manage employees’ activities and performances has never been greater.  According to recent entry in Wikipedia, up to January 2020 over 350,000 users are active on WhatPulse, a key-counting programme.

An article by Scott Shane in the New York Times in 2019 reported that more than 125,000 Amazon’s warehouse employees are given algorithm generated targets which include how long they should take to pick up each item in an order. The article moved further in suggesting that also “warnings” which can be ground for dismissal are generated by an algorithm.  

Recent research in neuroscience resulted in the SCARF Model published in 2008 by David Rock. The model applies to the workplace as the workplace is a key component of our social domain and existence, even when carried out virtually. Rock’s research shows that our neurological response to management can be divided into 5 main social spheres: Status, Certainty, Autonomy, Relatedness and Fairness. 

Our ability to monitor and control performance has a direct impact onto the 5 workplace social spheres and by correctly assessing them it is possible to understand what type of engagement or di-engagement response could be expected. For instance – if a specific performance monitoring system completely alters the Autonomy domain – by which we regulate our ability to exercise control over event – a negative or positive response can be anticipated.

Performance Management rests upon the balance between Performance Control and Employee Autonomy and this 100-years-old pursuit continues to inspire.  While I engage with extensive amount of meta-data generated by software, I am reminded not to minimize the individual input to the smallest of it components – as inevitably I would lose the ability to appreciate the larger meaning of what constitute organisations mission, vision and success. 

“For I have known them all already, known them all.

Have known the evenings, morning and afternoons,

I have measured out my life with coffee spoons”

TS Eliot – “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock”



January 30, 2021

Reading Time: 3 minutes

A selected a Question & Answer featured in a leading magazine and myattempt to provide constructive answers. 

The objective of Q&A? To build a dynamic relation between speakers & audience.

What is the biggest challenge you’ve faced in your career?

Answering the question in the time of the Covid-19 pandemic one feels compelled to answer isolation. However, like many others, I do find a sense of purpose in this time of physical distance. The biggest challenge I’ve faced as a people manager was the opening and closing of calls centres in Europe. Closing a centre in Dublin while transferring operations to a newly created centre in Romania was very demanding: to guide a team and give it  a sense of purpose, while making oneself redundant, took a lot of effort and empathy.  I then had to do the same 3 more times. Each time I had to renew my sense of professional drive and find more than financial benefit for the organisation as a motivator

What’s the best career advice you’ve ever received?

I feel I have never really received clear and direct career advice – plenty of interesting encounters that have directly, or indirectly, made an impact. I became a Trainer thanks to one of those: as I was looking for the next adventure, the Call Centre manager suggested a course in Train the Trainer. I completed a 3- day course at Jefferson Institute in Donnybrook, back in 1999. It completely changed me: I had found my vocation.

And the worst?

The worst episode relates to my professional dress code: just weeks after I began my journey as a freelance trainer, I attended an event in Bank of Ireland and I stood close to the buffet table. I wore a white shirt and a pair of black trousers – a quite distinctive professional uniform, I though. While there I was asked for coffee: milk no sugar! I answered “I take it just black” and the unfortunate attendee was immediately aware of the mistaken identity and apologised. Since then I  no longer wear white shirts!  and I am confident that his networking skills have greatly improved.

Who do you most admire?

Teachers and university professors. The responsibility they carry is enormous. Knowledge is very powerful and, when mis-used, it can be very damaging – even more than ignorance. Teachers and professors are seen as the foundation of what we believe to be true. Things that we learn in early education will remain with us forever. To hold such a role in somebody’s life is admirable.

Who or what has been the biggest influence on your career?

Might sound a naïve answer, but I must answer: my father. His work ethics and etiquette still guide me today. Those include the simple motto “be on time and do your best.” And when it is time to go home, get changed and go. Very simple but very effective. This helps me today to be present when at work and present when at home. Clear and simple boundaries essential when working freelance.

What practical things do you do to help your personal development?

I attend course every year. Would it be a diploma or a certificate.  My husband says I like my “gold stars” and that I collect them. But as an educator, I believe that to be able to actively learn something new is the best personal development I can engage in. Learn directly how new tools are used and how those effect the learning, how group dynamic in a course can develop. To be a good educator I must allow others to educate me.

What location do you return to for a sense of calm and time out?

The physical location is the library room in my home, in North Dublin. We have space for music, writing, game boards and a beautiful window over a park. We see trees and a lot of sky. My mental location  a view over water. Glendalough, Shannon River or SeaPoint – near the James Joyce tower. Very important mental image in this time of travelling restrictions.

What’s your biggest flaw?

I am relentless. A dear friend of mine once told me that I will never know how to feel content, as I profess that there is always room for improvement.

What aspect of yourself or your behaviour do you privately admire?

Courage – I am a very courageous person. Many aspects of my life have been scary and, even though I felt frightened and nervous, courage and willingness to move forward have helped me to overcome obstacles. This “trained” courage is now integral part of my being.

How about an unfulfilled goal you don’t tell anyone about?

Learning to play the piano. My husband many years ago bought me a keyboard and now it is used by my daughters for their junior piano lessons. I still believe that one day I will learn how to play music and allow myself to express emotions and ideas without letters but my sound.

What are you most proud of in your life?

My knowledge. It is something I actively and constantly work on and it is enough to see the two bookshelves I have in my home to understand how proud I am of what I “know”. I hope I will be remembered as a polymath.

Inspired by “Life Lessons” Irish Times Magazine, Spring 2020

February 27, 2018

Reading Time: 2 minutes

5 Building Blocks to Harmony in the Workplace

CONSTITUTE your organisational tribe

Harmonious group dynamics and stimulating work relations are essential to the everyday life.

Motivational theories have demonstrated that financial return is not the only motivator drive organisational performance. Vast literature proposes an underlined theory of impact driven by shared purpose and vision and the desire to contribute to a culture, an objective, a tribe.

The organisation, its departments and teams epitomise modern tribal affiliations which can closely resemble familiar relation.

The entrance to the organisational ‘tribe’ occurs via selection completed by both the employer and the employee and here we outline 5 building blocks for any size organisation, or team to use to strengthen work relations.

(1) A Guiding Covenant

Rules of engagement and values shared by the teams and to which all can defer to.

Include simple and human rules of engagement such as: Freedom of ideas; Listening with the aim to understand not to respond; Courtesy and Respect and Ask for help.

A covenant will facilitate the on boarding of new people and reassure existing members of their individual values recognised by the organisational tribe.

(2) A Charter of Roles & Outcomes

Access to individual and team roles & objectives and encouragement to share challenge and success stories on achieving goals.

Understanding participation and recognition of contribution will enhance organisational cooperation towards achievement of business goals.

(3) A Communication Path Outline

Agreement on how projects updates are shared and via which medium.

Organisations information repository is essential and ease of access must be validated and reviewed.

Discuss Email policies as well as internal social media usage to ensure that there is an understanding and clear expectations on effective communication. Meetings, frequency and meeting rules be also agreed upon members.

 (4) The Decision-Making Framework

How decision will be brought to the group and which decisions will be open to proactive participation enables team to be prepared and alert.

The Framework aims to set clear expectations upon transparency and anticipate how affected parties can be involved in shaping decisions.

(5) The organisational Journey

Chart the last decade or last year of the business journey: the organisational tribe can see its stability or its transient nature.

Display your MILESTONES: each person will be able to recognise him/herself in the path and new employees can see how their role can fit in the overall organisational culture.


Employment allows the individual to participate and be part of a tribe.

Tribal behaviour is observable in organisations like Google, Facebook, Apple – the employee’s social life occurs within the periphery of the organisation.

Understanding group behaviours is also fundamental to small and medium organisations where more than 70% of Irish workforce is employed.

We recognise harmony in music when the totality of sound is pleasing to the ear. We know Harmony when we see it.

Harmony in the workplace follows the same aesthetic goals of pleasure and absence of strident noises that we find in nature. Harmony is not accidental – it is a durable entity built upon defined foundations.