When the going gets tough, get your strengths going


Difficult conversations are inevitable – and the workplace is no different from other areas of life. To ask for a pay rise, let someone go or resolve a dispute are tough issues to talk about – and to do so effectively means having the right approach. At 10Eighty, we believe that understanding and playing to your strengths is an essential underpinning to not only surviving, but also thriving through having difficult conversations.

So what is a difficult conversation? We are indebted to the excellent book “Difficult Conversations: How to discuss what matters most” by Douglas Stone, Bruce Patton and Sheila Heen of the Harvard Negotiation Project for the answer. A difficult conversation is basically anything that we find hard to talk about. As the authors put it: “Anytime we feel vulnerable or our self-esteem is implicated, when the issues at stake are important and the outcome uncertain, when we care deeply about what is being discussed or about the people with whom we are discussing it, there is potential for us to experience the conversation as difficult.”


Every difficult conversation is in fact made up of 3 different conversations interweaving simultaneously. These are the:-

The Actual Conversation. This comprises the …

  • Truth assumption: It is tempting for us all to feel that we are right and others are wrong.
  • Intention invention: We believe we already know the other persons’ intention, based on our feelings (i.e. you’ve made me angry).
  • Blame game: The assumption is all about the fault of the other side (i.e. you did something wrong).

The Feelings Conversation. This is because …

  • Feelings are at the core of difficult conversations.
  • How you manage your feelings will define how the conversations go.

The Identity Conversation. This raises 4 key questions …

  • What is the conversation saying about me?
  • Does the conversation match how I see myself?
  • How will this conversation impact on me?
  • How do I feel about myself?

How we use our underlying strengths will define our success in reconciling these 3 strands. This is because playing to our strengths allows a more positive mind-set in the face of difficult conversations, which means more constructive conversations and more positive outcomes. The Strengthscope tool used successfully by 10Eighty with clients shows us that strengths that are directly applicable to having successful difficult conversations. These are:-

  • Thinking: Where we apply your intellect, as well as how we go about gathering and using information to make decisions at work.
  • Emotional: Where we make sense of, express and manage our emotions in the way we perform our work.
  • Relational: Where we establish and maintaining productive relations with others for personal need satisfaction and/or to achieve our work goals.
  • Execution: Where we focus on how we deliver results, including both what is delivered and how it is delivered.

The positive psychology of playing to our strengths in the face of difficult conversations makes for better relationships in work, as well as in life. The research evidence is clear. When employees are encouraged to play to their strengths, an organisation enjoys: a 73% improvement in employee engagement; a 44% increase in customer retention scores; and a 90% of employees feeling more positive and solutions-oriented.

Difficult conversations are inevitable. So when the going gets tough, let’s get our strengths going.

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Rethinking the career experience


We recently took part in an online event run by our New Zealand partners Fuel50 and IBM to consider the disrupted career experience and how we might make work more rewarding for employees.

Career paths have changed and employees expect to take ownership of their career development rather than relying on traditional career models. The career ladder has disappeared and we expect a more flexible and tailored career path. The career landscape has changed and given that 81 percent of employees feel their skills are not put to best use at work the new employment model needs to offer a more rewarding employee experience.

As consumers we demand personalised services and product, tailored to our requirements, not one size fits all. The same applies to the work experience. We want careers that align with our values, talents and passions.

Josh Bersin talks about the ‘Uberization’ of jobs – we work when and for whom we want to work. Similarly, organisations are becoming much more project-focused, applying resources (people and capital) to specific opportunities, where agility is the name of the game. Gone are the traditional career paths, and CEB report that employees are spending more time at the coalface, with steeper rises in responsibility, less frequently and with consequent risks of failure.


Agile career development requires solutions that drive personalisation and implementation of careers that put employees in the driving seat. Business needs a career growth mind-set and to enable career growth should empower managers to become coaches and career champions who can craft an engaging career experience for their teams.

To repeat, this trend echoes the ways we do business now, the employee experience is viewed as being akin to the customer experience as we recognise that in the modern workplace our best staff want individual career propositions that allow them to play to their talents, values and passions.

Recognising employee needs

In the new environment breadth and depth of experience and development are more important than a vertical rise up the old-style career ladder. Employees seek roles that allow them to explore new avenues, to broaden their perspectives and to engage with fresh challenges. Interestingly, Fuel 50’s research shows that 81% of employees feel that they don’t make full use of their talents at work. Employees see lateral moves as facilitating their overall development and in a flatter organisation model they may spend longer runs of time in lateral moves and, from time to time, steeper upward rises where leadership balances a more complex workforce through a changing business environment.

In real terms this means following the advice of the Head of Employee Experience at General Electric and endeavouring to “See[ing] the world through the eyes of our employees”.

An emphasis on employee engagement means a focus on career strategies that work to develop and retain and engage the majority of your workforce.

Traditionally business has put the focus on hiring which is perceived as a bigger issue than a good work experience; it would be smart to refocus on leveraging the talents of what you have got. Research shows there is a much greater chance of success by promoting from within, than hiring externally. It may be dated, but SHL research showed the coefficient of correlation between successful interview and successful job performance 0.3, which is barely better than chance.

The new model is all about personal enablement not performance review. It is about giving employees the power to manage their development. The new workplace is forward looking, seeking out new opportunities rather than a focus on past performance I am minded to draw an analogy from the world of finance, management accounts only tell where you have come from, cash flow forecasts tell you what is going to happen in the future.

Engagement surveys consistently show that key drivers for employees are career opportunities closely followed by learning opportunities. Other engagement drivers such as feeling valued, open and honest communication, and trust in leadership are, it can be argued, about the personal agenda: “What will the organisation to do for me, how will it make me more employable?”

10Eighty and Fuel50 believe that world class career practices empower employees to maintain a career growth mindset, enabling self-directed growth aided by a manager who acts as a career coach.

Essentially, the organisation needs the technological infrastructure that enables employees to identify their values, talents and passions, allowing them to look across the organisation and identify fellow employees who share those traits so as to facilitate career conversations around opportunities and the development required to reach career goals.

Organisations should adopt this approach not just because their employees want it, but because this is how to ensure competitive advantage in today’s economy.

This is perfectly characterised by a quote from Marianne Jackson, CHRO at EBay: “individualised career propositions are for the purpose of business velocity”.

Aim to build a careers framework that provides a better sense of involvement and belonging and offers open and honest two-way communication. It’s a two-sided coin – if we can build career pathways that provide profitable growth for the employee in terms of their career development, and profitable growth for the business then we are getting it right

You can check out how just your organisation compares to these best class career practices. Take a look at the 10Eighty CareerCENTRE

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Building an employee-centred organisation


There is a case to be made for organisations to be more employee-centric; in a rapidly changing workplace and business environment we need to look at job design and organisational structures from the perspective of the employee. Just as consumers increasingly seek tailored, bespoke solutions, so knowledge workers demand just such an approach to their work and career path.

High performance, committed employees want jobs that are sculpted to their particular requirements. Job design, role content, work environment, hours are all areas where people want to have more control and autonomy. Good employees want to map a career path with their chosen organisation; they want managers who give them a voice and they want to see how their contribution fits into the bigger organisational picture.

This is not just the case with regards to high value jobs; the imposition of the living wage will end wage differentiation for many High Street retailers. The gig economy is revolutionising the way services are delivered in hospitality, logistics as well as management consulting; technological development and innovative design are disrupting everything from banking to waste management.


Congruence and connection

Where employees feel that there is a high level of congruence between their professional and personal priorities there is a greater likelihood of success and engagement.

Employer brand is increasingly important as organisations realise the necessity to present well in the marketplace and provide a positive candidate and employee experience. The rise of social media makes it is easier than ever to connect and share online. Social platforms have transformed office life and personal career management. Organisations can’t escape this online scrutiny, and they can’t control it; this means that softer, intangible benefits are more important in attraction and retention. Glassdoor provides an up to minute review of the candidate experience, and human behaviour being what it is former employees are likelier to write a negative review than a good one.

There is a greater focus on employability, partly because individual employees are finding it is much easier to source new opportunities using social media, and because their expectations for personal growth and career development are increasingly important. The best employees are not willing to suffer a poor employer offering. An organisation’s ability to make their employees more employable will increasingly become a point of competitive advantage.

Rather than top down manpower planning the organisation will need to provide career management systems that allow employees to look across the organisation for opportunities. Self-aware employees demand clearly defined and aligned goals, with open and flexible career paths, learning and development plans and the provision of tools that facilitate career planning. Organisations will need to enable their employees to manage their careers.

Empower performance and growth

The organisation will need to focus on talent management strategies that empower employees, inspire high performance, facilitating and rewarding development and skills acquisition, to enhance business outcomes. Your best people want career growth and if those opportunities don’t exist internally, they will look elsewhere and eventually leave.

Skills shortages and talent pipeline are serious issues for organisations in every sector. A robust employer brand attracts staff who are engaged in their work, devoting ‘discretionary effort’ to their role and an organisation that they care about. It’s a fundamental measure of employee engagement – employees who feel proud of the organisation and what it does.

This is the employer brand that allows people to identify with the organisation, and to develop an affinity with organisational values and objectives. Enhanced employability is not sufficient, employees demand meaning and purpose in their work; they thrive and perform to full potential in a culture that resonates with their own values and aspirations.

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Director Liz featured in HR Grapevine article on leadership scandals


We wanted to let you that our Director Liz Sebag-Montefiore is featured in the May edition of HR Grapevine in an article about tackling leadership scandals.

Titled ‘Keep Calm and Call HR: How do you handle a leadership scandal?’ it debunks the ‘any publicity is good publicity’ myth. Sometimes scandals can have a lasting or devastating impact on businesses.


Often it’s not the scandal itself – it’s the way the scandal is managed that can make the difference. And HR is on the front-line of damage control.

Quotes from a number of HR experts are peppered throughout the article including Tim Mitchell, Head of HR at Alliance Automotive Group and Elizabeth Divver, Head of HR at the Big Issue… and our very own Liz who says that employers cannot simply call on HR and expect them to work magic to make the problem go away. She suggests a deep dive into corporate culture could be the way forward.

Read the article in full

If you would like to read ‘Keep Calm and Call HR’ in full just click on this link or on the image above.

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Learning while earning


Last week we took part in a Learning at Work Week (LAWW) event with Disney staff. We’re well aware that it can be really difficult to find time to learn, as well as work. You probably have a host of other commitments, commuting eats into your time and day to day responsibilities are pressing. You may feel you should be doing ‘real’ work and learning may not seem to be a priority.

Two years ago consulting firm CBRE suggested an estimated 50% of jobs would be redundant by 2025 due to technological innovation. Ongoing education and skill development are essential in an environment of economic uncertainty and disruptive technologies. At 10Eighty we firmly believe that continuous learning should be a priority for everyone, the fast pace of technological change and the imperative for creativity and innovation in the workplace make the issue of learning and development a serious matter if you want to keep your career on track.

Aim to learn everything you can at work, as well as investing your own time and commitment to funds to subjects that interest you. Take up offers of training, work with a mentor, volunteer for projects, ask for secondments or shadowing assignments, learn what your co-workers do, and learn how the various parts of the organisation contribute to the end-product. Demonstrate your commitment, willingness to learn and your interest in self-improvement. Review your career regularly, if you find that you haven’t learned anything new at work in the last 18 months you should probably be seeking a new role that will challenge you and enable you to expand your skillset.

Invest in yourself

It’s a question of investment in yourself and your onward progress and development. You may want to undertake a course of study for a specific reason, such as promotion or career change; or, you may pursue learning to broaden your horizons and satisfy your intellectual curiosity. Set yourself a goal, whether it’s a qualification, or a smaller more manageable goal of mastering a new skill or tackling a new subject.

I’m inclined to think that studying anything at all is good for you. In almost any line of work, a term or two spent studying book-keeping or accounting will stand you in good stead. You may never have to balance the books but the knowledge you gain will give you a real insight into the nuts and bolts of business. Commercial awareness and a good grasp of financial basics are invaluable whether you are a creator, a salesperson or a service provider; of course, if you work in accounts it’s probably worth considering a marketing or communications course. A good grounding gives you the basis on which to build success in your chosen career path.learning-while-earning

You may choose to unlock your potential by learning something unrelated to your ‘day’ job. The very act of applying yourself to your study goal is a means to leveraging your motivation and working towards the best you can be. Learning to play guitar, studying archaeology, undertaking a language course or an art class could be fun, frustrating, relaxing or enlightening but as you learn you will open new perspectives on your life and the choices you make. The chances are that, whatever you study, you will learn things about yourself that contribute to your personal development and enhance your performance at work as well as in other areas.

Learning is good for you

Add to that the massive bonus that learning is good for your health – reading reduces stress levels, learning offsets cognitive decline and improves memory function. The habit of learning, of being interested in the world around you, indulging your curiosity and maintaining an open-minded attitude to new ideas and ways of doing things will all enhance your creativity, agility and employability.

Focus on self-investment and find or make the time to learn. Whether you want a qualification or to explore the world it has never been easier to source learning materials. Books, online courses, MOOCs, professional development programs, podcasts, and online resources are often free and accessible at all hours, so you can schedule learning opportunities into the busiest of days in a way that suits you. You can learn almost anything via YouTube and TEDTalks will inform you about an astonishing range of topics and specialist subjects.

Share and enjoy

An important things to remember about learning at work is the value of knowledge sharing. Try to encourage others to learn at work as well. You could do a presentation to your peers about what you’ve learnt, or share your own advice on continuous learning.

Expand your horizons by networking in order to learn more about your industry and competitors and share your own insights with colleagues and peers. Make a commitment to contact others who work in your sector, for a competitor, and meet to share market intelligence and industry knowledge. It’s all part of building your brand as an employee who is serious about improvement and progress. If you are ambitious it’s important to be seen to be making the most of your opportunities, sharing your expertise and exploring new avenues.

Learning is important in the face of changing ideas and new innovations if you want to be in the forefront of organisational change. You can’t rely on what you already know, the workplace is changing and long-term stability is rare, you may need to switch to a new field, so upgrading your skills is imperative in adjusting to new situations. An enlightened employer will help staff with continuous learning but you may have to rely on your own resources and take responsibility for your learning.

Education is not something that ends when you leave college it’s an ongoing adventure.

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Building a culture people love


We wanted to tell you about about a new video created by our partners Strengthscope® called ‘Building a culture people love’.

Why is it when we think about doing something better we focus on those things we don’t do well? There appears to be something in the human psyche that leads us to focus on deficits. All too often feedback at school was pointing out what we didn’t do.

So here’s the thing, we at 10Eighty believe it is all about playing to your strengths. Having a growth mindset is all about what we can do. Positive feedback encourages us to take risks, to try new things.

Playing to your strengths improves your confidence, being confident is much more likely to produce positive outcome which in turns builds confidence. It is a virtuous circle.

So watch the video.

And see what a growth mindset and playing to your strengths can do for you.

Find out more

Strengthscope® is the most comprehensive and innovative cloud-based strengths profiling system to energize peak performance at work and we are working with them to revolutionise culture change across the globe.

Click here to find out how Strengthscope® could support your organisation.

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Improving your interview technique


A version of this article originally appeared on our website in April 2012 (when 10Eighty was in its infancy) and has become very popular over the last few months.

We think that’s because during this uncertain period many of us are brushing up on interview skills to help us navigate the choppy waters of Brexit and snap General Elections. And becoming an exceptional candidate is something you definitely can take control of…

Interviews are an inprecise art. Most people don’t take the effort to become ‘interview ninjas’ and most interviews don’t go very well because most people are bad at them.

In addition to this, many interviewers can find it difficult to be totally objective (unconscious bias is a whole other blogpost) or good at interviewing either.

Statisticians tells that the coefficient of correlation between successful interview and successful job performance is 0.3. Barely better than chance. So the good news is,  good interviewees have the odds stacked in their favour.

For a good interview performance, you need to consider the 3Ps:  planning, practice and positive psychology.

Think of an interview as an audition. During your performance, you should project yourself as the candidate that the interviewer wants to hire, someone who would slot easily into their team.


Plan: Find out what makes your interviewer and organisation tick

Don’t just research the organisation, understand why the organisation is hiring.

If they are looking for a resource to solve an identified problem a quick skim of their website, annual report and accounts is not enough. (But make sure you do that, don’t come across as a toe-curlingly poor candidate from ‘The Apprentice’)

Understand the organisation’s needs and how you can add value. Discover their challenges and opportunities and how your experience and expertise can address these issues. Explore their marketplace, competitors and the changes in their sector.

Your network may be able to provide information about the interviewer and their preferences, the company and its culture. For intelligence gathering check out their LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and other relevant social media channels.

Practice: Learn your script

You don’t need to be word perfect. Just think about how you and going to respond when you are asked ‘What do you do’. ‘Why did you leave?’, ‘What have you achieved?’, and other classic interview questions.

Can you talk about yourself comfortably, with confidence, concisely with clarity? Rehearse your answers and then you won’t get flustered, talk at a steady pace and know when to stop. (Don’t ramble or waffle!) And always be mindful that words and body language are in sync.

At interview you should be able to answer a question about your CV in a heartbeat. Know exactly what you are going to say and how you are going to big yourself up. Good interviewees learn their lines in advance and focus on delivery, not off-the cuff responses.

Expect an inquisition about the perceived challenges faced by the role. Be able to evidence what you have done in similar situations previously and give demonstrable positive business outcomes.

Be interactive. Use the 70/30 rule

Make the interview interactive! Use the 70/30 rule. This means the interviewer talks for about 30% of the time allotted and the candidate talks 70%.

However, smart candidates should aim for a 50/50 dialogue – a conversation that allows you to play to your strengths. The interviewer can only go with what you give them.

You’re aiming for positive interaction. Help the interviewer by asking: “Have I told you all you need to know on that subject”? “Can I give you more detail?” Build rapport, find some commonality. But remember, do not allow the interview to descend into a monologue, ensure it’s mutually interesting dialogue throughout. At the end of the day we hire people we like. So seek areas of mutual interest.

Be positive: Believe you can fly!

Henry Ford famously said “If you think you can do a thing or think you can’t do a thing, you’re right”. You’re motivated, you’ve done the prep and you have the drive to succeed. Now imagine yourself being successful.

You can call it confidence, self-esteem or self-belief. To shine at an interview you need to show that you will make a good employee. Show that you are good at interacting and reading your situation, good at selling yourself and your ideas.

If you practice your interview technique it will make it so much easier for you to shine. Don’t be nervous. Believe you are a good candidate. If (without sounding too much like that R Kelly song…) you believe you can do it, then you can do it. Your confidence is emboldened by your preparation. You’re practiced, now you’re ready to show what you can do.

Follow through

After the interview send an email to thank the organisation for seeing you. Reiterate how interested you are in them and the role. Review the key points of the interview when you discussed challenges and opportunities and outline how you can help them meet these.

There are no guarantees. But if you work at becoming a better interviewee you’ll definitely give yourself the edge over the competition during what could be a difficult few years ahead.

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Spring into action

spring-into-actionDespite the current cold snap spring is definitely in the air and the birds are on the wing. Time for spring-cleaning and attempting to improve the effective operation of your office. Putting your office space to rights will improve productivity, and boost morale.

A study at Michigan State University found that a distraction lasting only 4.4 seconds can lead to as much as trebling the rate of error once we get back to work, so knowing where to find your notebook as and when you need it is a definite benefit.

Start with the computer

Do you save every single potentially interesting article and then never seem able to find them again? Perhaps you never delete an email. This is technological hoarding and it’s a good idea to make time to fully clear out your bookmarks and inbox by organising information into folders and archiving stuff you don’t need. You’ll find it’s easier to locate important information, and your computer should run a bit faster.

Then the desk

Next tidy the top of your desk. Do you have paperwork scattered everywhere, sort it out, put it away or put it into colour-coded folders. Clear as much as you can from the desk top, only keep within arm’s reach what you actually need to hand, put everything else away. Sort out the desk drawers, throw away all the pens that no longer work, and the scraps of paper with notes you no longer understand.

Organise yourself

Find out the organisational tools work for you, and stick with them. A kanban is a tool to visualise, organise, and complete work. All you need is a whiteboard or pinboard near your desk which shows three states: Backlog, Doing, and Done. Use a marker pen or sticky notes to list tasks and move across the board as a simple workflow diagram.

The Pomodoro technique is great for time management. Use the timer on your computer and structure your work in 25-minute sessions, each separated by a short break. Each 25-minute session is a “pomodoro” after you complete one, take a five-minute break before starting the next session or task. When you complete four “pomodori” take a longer break to rest and recharge. Set the timer, and make a commitment to work only on the task at hand in the limited time which is available and then, in rest break, you can return phone calls or catch up with social media.

evernote-logoEvernote is great for making and organising notes and lists. You can use it for simple notes and to create notebooks for, and searching everything you’ve saved is easy. You can use Evernote to digitise pen and paper notes, documents, and other files so you can save them in the relevant project notebook and it has a massive ecosystem of apps that feed into it and support it, as well as a web clipper.

Boomerang is a handy tool for organising email. You can write an email and schedule it to be sent automatically at the ideal time. You can take messages out of the inbox until you actually need them. Then there are the times when you need to follow up within a specific time frame after sending a message, use Boomerang and never forget to follow up with people.

Final tip – a meeting bin is a designated bin or tray in your workspace allocated to materials for upcoming meetings. Whenever you come across something or remember something you may need for your next meeting, put it in the bin so most of what you need is all in one place before you set out for the meeting.

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Trevor’s a top collaborative learning evangelist on Twitter!

Trevor Merriden

We were over the moon to discover that 10Eighty’s very own Head of Collaborative Learning, Trevor Merriden, was named ‘2nd most important influencer on social learning’ according to a report created by jollydeck.com – ‘What were the 2016 L&D Twitter Trends?’ – which broke the main L&D categories into:

  • Virtual reality
  • Video
  • Collaborative/social learning
  • MOOCs (Massive Online Open Course)
  • Games/Gamification

It analysed L&D-related Twitter posts from 2016 and identified key topics people were actually talking about, with a view to predict the future direction of L&D over the coming years. Amongst all this analysis Our Trevor made the Top 5 in Collaborative/Social Learning with an impressive 236 tweets on social learning.

Trevor has long been a ‘Collaboration Advocate’ arguing that we need to “kick down silos” and “pop learning bubbles” to work better together. And he has been helping to make this happen for a range of organisations thanks to 10Eighty’s Leadership Cloud, a platform that supports collaboration and learning across organisations and:

  • allows leadership development to be highly customised, delivered to individuals, to groups, or the complete leadership population
  • cuts across hierarchies and taps into an organisation’s collective intelligence, creativity and innovation
  • facilitates dialogue within a leadership population, enabling CEOs to communicate and get feedback on their strategies
  • builds high-performance, a step-change in engagement and delivers a rapid ROI.

Click here to find out more about 10Eighty’s Leadership Cloud.

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Careers in the 21st century


We took in Fuel50’s recent online seminar with Josh Bersin and Dani Johnson of Deloitte Consulting, which looked at human capital trends, recent research on career management and a case study from Ingersoll Rand. Here’s a summary of what we learned.

This is not your parents’ career management

There have been major changes in the workplace and the workforce in recent decades and employees now aspire to manage and map out a career path with support from their manager and organisation, the emphasis being on shared responsibility, which looks like this:

  • Worker – drives the process
  • Manager – supports and guides
  • Organisation – sets expectations, builds infrastructure

There is more attention to career progression which is not necessarily, upwards, but embraces more movement in general, with an emphasis on development, and “experience collecting” and “attribute building”.

The modern way of working has seen a move from structured to open career paths – where the focus is on facilitating work by assembling the most appropriate talent. Movement around the organisation is based on an integration of worker interest and organisational need; this way of working is particularly appropriate in team and collaborative environments.

careers-in-the-21st-century The new industrial revolution

90% of organizations surveyed by MIT and Deloitte anticipate their industries will be totally disrupted by digital trends. What will this mean for the workplace of the future? Bersin says that the impact of new technologies will lead to hybrid jobs which require a knowledge of the technology as a given and good social skills, cognitive skills that facilitate creative thinking, teamwork, research and problem-solving. We are all knowledge workers now.

Career management has become important because what millennials really value is training and development. Lifelong learning and continuous professional development are crucial to sustainable career given the changes we are seeing:

  • The half-life of technical skills is approximately 2 years
  • 50% of millennials will live to age of 100, expect 10-12 jobs by age of 38
  • Life expectancy of Fortune 1000 firm is less than 15 years
  • 37% of working people believe they will change careers within 5 years
  • Only 29% of companies believe careers in their company are 10 years+, 44% say less than five years

The job for life has long since disappeared. Career management now is about accruing experience in a journey during which you appreciate as an asset. Reid Hoffman of LinkedIn points out that prospective new hires are asked “What are you going to do when you leave LinkedIn?” because they are committed to the idea that as an employer they are going to be transformative in the prospective employee’s career. A job is less a lifetime contract and more a “tour of duty” – a limited-time engagement meant to achieve specific ends on both sides.

This means it is increasing important to carefully select your career moves, seeking organisations that will offer development opportunities and personal growth; we know that a person’s best performance comes when they are given meaningful work that leverages their personal strengths, we need roles that offer the potential to optimise strengths and build and develop skills.

We’ve seen a massive shift to an expanded non-traditional workforce – don’t think of a contract of employment as the principal employment method, we are all our own boss now as consulting, freelancing, contracting, externships, crowdsourcing and contingent working predominate.

The Deloitte model suggests that successful career management is predicated on an alignment of preferences and values to traverse progression paths and development opportunities facilitated by the enablers of leadership, messaging and infrastructure. Flexible career paths being now more common than a more structured approach.

Career-Navigator-10Eightys-Career-CENTRE Explore-Career-Paths-10Eightys-Career-CENTRE

Career management at Ingersoll Rand

Michael Martin of Ingersoll Rand said employee engagement surveys had told them that employees wanted more focus on career development, raising questions around the issue:

  • Can I achieve my career goals at this company
  • The company has effective processes for developing people
  • I am supported in taking advantage of available career opportunities

They implemented an online career navigation system enabling employees to reflect, explore and plan to enhance their career development which included manager tools to facilitate better career discussions and guidance as a foundation for succession planning and building stronger talent pipelines. The aim being – ‘growing people to grow our business’.

Poll results for seminar attendees

  • 54% are considering restructuring their career pathways
  • 49% believe work needs to be done on career visibility – why don’t employers make career paths more obvious and available for exploration?
  • Only 14% have open career approach, 55% flexible and 30% structured

Watch ‘Careers in the 21st century’ seminar

Click here to watch the seminar in full

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How I Learned To Stop Worrying And Love Brexit

Stop worrying learn to love brexit

Nine months have passed since the European Referendum and the UK’s economic prospects don’t look sunny. Sterling’s value against the US Dollar has fallen by about 15% and this is having an impact on fuel prices and the cost of foodstuffs, which suggests we’re entering a period of cost inflation and bleak times.

Stop worrying learn to love brexit

With Brexit Day (29 March 2017) fresh in the memory and as a remainer and passionate European I could take a negative view of the future. But I refuse to. Instead I turn to Shawn Achor’s work – his TedTalk and book ‘The Happiness Advantage’.

As an illustration of Achor’s philosophy I want you to imagine we are walking into a local bank. We arrive in the reception area and there are 48 other people waiting to be served. As we wait, in bursts a robber with a gun, he fires off the gun and a bullet goes straight through your arm.

The question to ask yourself now is ‘Are you lucky or unlucky?’

People who consider themselves unlucky, because – “How come I got shot when there were 49 other people in the room?” – are taking what is called a negative construct.

People who consider themselves lucky, because if the bullet had been 6 inches (or 15 European centimetres) either way then they could have been killed, are taking a positive construct.

Achor argues there are 3 good reasons why we should take positive constructs.

1 – When faced by challenge or adversity such as Brexit, people who take positive constructs rather than negative constructs are likely to achieve better outcomes. Their glass is half-full rather than half-empty.

2  – People who take positive constructs tend to have longer lasting relationships, indeed Achor argues you can rewire the brain to take positive constructs. For example, for the next 21 days, share 3 good things about your day with your partner. Achor argues that not only will you think more positively, the relationship with your partner will be stronger and more rewarding.

3 – Is ‘The Killer’ and is based on two pieces of research.

The diaries of novices entering a nunnery in the early 20th century were studied and their entries divided into positive and negative constructs. They discovered that nuns who took positive constructs lived, on average, 10 years longer than nuns who took negative constructs.

Dr Martin Seligman, the father of positive psychology, asked people who were going down for open-heart surgery if they thought they were going to get better or die. He found that those who thought they were going to get better, had a propensity to get better. And those who thought they were going to die, had a propensity to die.

This reminds me of the Henry Ford quote: “Whatever you think, you’re probably right”.

So there’s good reason, despite the economic doom and gloom, to see Brexit in a positive light and as a positive construct.

Those who sit around remoaning won’t succeed. Individuals and companies who see Brexit as an opportunity are the ones that will do best.

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Careers in the 21st century – a webinar recording from partners Fuel50

We wanted to tell you about a webinar hosted recently by our New Zealand partners Fuel50 ‘Careers in the 21st Century: This is not your parents’ career management’.

This hour-long event, originally aired on 7 April was led by  Josh Bersin and Dani Johnson of Bersin by Deloitte, Mike Martin of Ingersoll Rand, and Anne Fulton of Fuel50 who discussed 2020 Career Predictions and much more.

Here’s a few slides from the presentation…

Fuel50-Careers-in-21st-Century Fuel50-Careers-in-21st-Century Fuel50-Careers-in-21st-Century

Bersin by Deloitte is the leading provider of research-based information, benchmarking, professional development, and advisory consulting services for strategic HR, talent management, leadership development, recruiting, and training organisations.

And don’t worry, you haven’t missed this fascinating discussion on careers in the 2020s. You can watch the entire event on Vimeo video using this link.

Stay in touch and find out more

To make sure you’re subscribed to our community to stay in the loop with future events, and receive more recap material like this just click this link and complete the details on the short form.

If you’d like to find out more about our career pathway software 10Eighty’s CareerCENTRE™, please click here.

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How Emma made difficult conversations easier yesterday


We held an interactive invitation-only lunchtime session ‘Making difficult conversations easier’ at 50 Liverpool Street, London, EC2M 7PD yesterday.

The event was facilitated by Emma Mitchell, one of our leadership development experts along with Joan O’Connor Head of Leadership Development, who was advertised as Emma’s co-host but was unable to attend due to illness.

Leadership-showcase-Difficult-conversations At this 90-minute session attendees:

  • learned how to call upon their strengths to face challenging conversations with confidence and composure.
  • explored how working with a strengths perspective can transform a difficult conversation into a constructive dialogue.


Everyone who attended yesterday were offered a selection of recent 10Eighty leadership articles, which are all available to download on our website:

‘Here Come the Everyday Leaders’, an article which recently appeared in HR Grapevine’s Learning Technology Guide 2017

The Strengthscope® white paper ‘Strengthening Workplaces: achieve performance excellence using a strengths-based approach’

A case study about 10Eighty’s work with MBNA: ‘How MBNA increased employee engagement from 52% to 88%

A 10Eighty White Paper: ‘Surfing the Collaboration Wave: How to spread the benefits of Collaborative Learning across your organisation’

Here’s a slide from Emma’s presentation (full disclosure: the model used in our presentation slides was adapted from ‘Difficult Conversations’ by Stone et al)

Leadership-showcase-Difficult-conversationsWe’re planning more invitation-only lunchtime showcase events over the coming months.

Find out more

Click here to find out more about the benefits of our strengths assessment tool Strengthscope®.

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Are you an Everyday Leader?

At 10Eighty we’ve been thinking long and hard about leadership development and about what a leader should look like in 2017.

And you’ll be pleased to know that we’ve encapsulated our thinking in a 2-page article catchily titled “Here Come The Everyday Leaders” (full disclosure: Suga Babes and Ini Kamoze songs were painlessly paraphrased in the creation of this headline!) and written by Joan O’Connor our Head of Leadership Development for HR Grapevine’s Guide to Learning Technology 2017.

You’ll see this advert about our leadership development services in the April 2017 edition of HR Magazine:


In a nutshell… an Everyday Leader understands what the organisation wants, has clear personal plans balancing business needs and their own careers and, most important of all has good leadership habits and knows how to embed them in others through their words and deeds – and continues to do this throughout their working lives.

Read ‘Here Come The Everyday Leaders’ in full

If you would like to find out more about 10Eighty’s new thinking around leadership development and read Joan’s article in full just click here, enter a few details and you’ll received the download direct by email.Everyday Leaders Article - HRGrapevine

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Dealing with common myths about strengths development


Applying a strengths-based approach to development is neither a management nor an HR fad. The strengths-based organisation selects on strengths and trains in skills and knowledge; it recognises strengths so as to deploy them effectively, combining them in innovate and robust strategies to develop and deliver results.

Conventions, myths, assumptions and stereotypes abound wherever people interact but a focus on strengths provides an effective way to improve performance and engagement.

People know their strengths

Writer and management guru Peter Drucker observed “most people think they know what they are good at. They are usually wrong and yet, a person can perform only from strength.”

Clarity and confidence around strengths and weaknesses actually takes some analysis, reflection and a level of self-awareness, and for a variety of reasons we may not always be clear-sighted about our own strengths and may take for granted aspects of our strengths and mastery.

Strengths-development Even those who do understand their strengths may have reservations about discussing them, perhaps through fear of appearing complacent or arrogant. In contrast, most people, especially those with more work experience, tend to be familiar with their weaknesses.

Using Strengthscope® we help employees learn how to combine their strengths, skills and abilities to achieve work and career goals whilst mitigating weaknesses and other risks to performance; this enables them to challenge limiting beliefs and to achieve peak performance. The key lies in time spent reflecting on strengths and deliberate development time focussed on how best to put them to use in pursuing aspirations both inside and outside of work.

With the strengths analysis in place it’s possible to design focused action plans that will stretch an individuals’ strengths to enable them achieve work and career goals. Managers with practical coaching skills and techniques can empower employees to optimise their strengths and skills.

Playing to strengths is the easy option

There is plenty of evidence to support the value of identifying and playing to your strengths but it’s important to recognise that, in context, some strengths may be optional whilst others are essential. You can’t always choose, and you can’t play it safe, growth depends on stretch and challenge, we learn a lot about ourselves when we deal with new situations and adjust to new contexts.

Knowing your strengths isn’t a one-stop shop, once you’ve assessed strengths using Strengthscope® you can move on to the next stage – building a strategy for personal development. Optimum performance is achieved when you operate outside your comfort zone and test yourself. To optimise one’s strengths and move from good to great takes work and application. It’s useful to consider ways in which to use signature strengths in addressing weaker areas.

Think of the performers and athletes who hone their strengths with constant practice to achieve peak performance. Carol Dweck suggests that if we are willing to learn and persist in the face of challenge we can grow strengths that may not be ‘natural’ talents.

You can ignore weaknesses

It’s natural to focus on existing and natural strengths more than we do on our weaknesses, but that doesn’t negate a need to manage those weaknesses. You can’t overlook weaknesses and it is short-sighted to assume that playing to strengths will be enough to offset them. We can work to address these areas but it would be unrealistic to expect to transform a weakness to a signature strength.

Leveraging core strengths to address areas of concern is the best option, Strengthscope® helps the user examine creative ways to use strengths in dealing with weaker areas. Armed with self-awareness about strengths we are better able to discuss our weaker area and other risks/blockers to performance. Strengths assessment can also help in building partnerships with others who have strengths in areas where we are weaker and this has the added benefit of enabling a strong team culture within the organisation.

Acknowledge weakness and invest in self-improvement. Relying solely on established strengths is too limiting and calls to mind ‘Maslow’s hammer’ – over-reliance on a familiar tool “I suppose it is tempting, if the only tool you have is a hammer, to treat everything as if it were a nail”, (Maslow, 1996). We work in a volatile and uncertain environment and need to ensure we offer skills that up to date, relevant and in demand.

Management guru Marcus Buckingham claims that organisations that focus on cultivating employees’ strengths rather than simply improving their weaknesses stand to dramatically increase efficiency while allowing for maximum personal growth and success. A win-win situation!

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Michael Moran – CEO 10Eighty

A blog about career and talent management, things that might help you with your career and in your job.