Tough questions for bright sparks


Here’s a light-hearted ‘Fun Friday’ blogpost to end the week with. Glassdoor looked at interview questions, these were shared by UK job candidates in the past year, how would you reply? Answers on postcards, please.


  1. “What on your CV is the closest thing to a lie?” – Marketing and Communications role
  2. “What am I thinking right now?” – Regional Director role
  3. “How would your enemy describe you?” – advertising sales graduate scheme interview
  4. “If you had a friend who was great for a job and an identical person who was just as good, but your friend earned £2,000 less, who would you give the job to?” – Associate Recruitment Consultant
  5. “What’s the most selfish thing you’ve ever done?” – Graduate Consultant
  6. “You are stranded on the moon with a group of other astronauts and you need to travel 200 miles back to base, here is a list of 15 items salvaged from the wreckage of the spacecraft you were travelling in. List them in order of importance.” – Sales employee
  7. “If your best friend was here what advice would he give you?”
  8. “Describe your biggest weakness. Then describe another.” – software engineer
  9. “How do you cope with repetition?” – Product Specialist
  10. “How would you describe cloud computing to a 7-year-old?” – graduate scheme interview
  11. “There are three people, each with different salaries, and they want to find out their average salary without telling any of the other two their salary. How do they do it?” – Technical Delivery Graduate
  12. “Who is your hero, and why?” Product Quality Employee
  13. “What’s your the biggest regret managing people so far?” – Area Director
  14. “What would you ask the CEO if you met him one day?” – Performance Analyst
  15. “You have 50 red and 50 blue objects. Split these however you like between two containers to give the minimum/maximum probability of drawing one of the colours.” – Operations Analyst role
  16. “What does social justice mean to you?” – Content Marketing Manager
  17. “What is your coping mechanism when you have a bad day?” – Consultant
  18. “Are you a nice guy?” – Product Manager role
  19. “Provide an estimate for the number of goals in the premier league.” – Management Accountant
  20. “Tell me about your childhood.” – Learning and Development Employee

It turns out that there is a statistical link between a tough interview process and greater employee satisfaction. According to recent Glassdoor Economic Research across six countries, more challenging interviews upfront are associated with higher employee satisfaction later on.

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High-quality outplacement: a beginning, not an end


Organisations have long realised the positive effect and business benefits that can be achieved with the provision of outplacement support to employees who are affected by a redundancy programme.

But there is a clear distinction opening between two different types of employers who need to deliver some bad news to their employees. Some see outplacement as an ending, an unpleasant duty to perform for as low a cost as possible.

But there is a better way – a way in which an optimal outplacement service is of the highest possible quality, genuinely laying the foundations for a better beginning for organisations and all individuals, whether remaining or leaving the organisation.

The modern approach to outplacement provides a range of tools to suit the different needs of individuals. Rather than the emphasis that used to concentrate on the CV and job-hunting, quality career transition services now focus on understanding what an employee wants and helping them to developing the self-marketing skills that ensure they are well positioned in a competitive job market.


Photo by on Unsplash

We firmly believe that, in our current environment, we need a more employee-centric approach and suggest that career transition services are not just for people who are seeking new roles.

In a volatile and dynamic market, it’s good to be able to look staff in the eye and tell them you are really trying to help. We know employees will leave, indeed, there are times when for a range of reasons, we may want them to leave, we should acknowledge that the career landscape has changed and help staff negotiate their career path.

Emphasise employability

We should encourage employees to invest in their employability not just for the current job but for the change of role that is inevitable. Smoothing the career path makes sense and equips employees to make well-grounded decisions about their career direction.

The way we work has changed and rather than a lifetime career with one company we now tend to work in alliance with an employer for specific projects; loyalty is not the prime mover for either party but reciprocity is very important.

Employees provide the organisation with flexibility and adaptability; the organisation invests in employees’ employability. This form of contract is predicated on employees who have broad-based professional networks beyond the organisation, and employers actively establishing alumni networks that enable career-long relationships with employees after they’ve moved on.

Fit for purpose

Career transition provision should be integrated into the talent agenda, not just for the redundant, but all staff should be offered help to enhance their employability and take control of their career to optimise potential.

Providing tailored career management support can fit employees for promotion, future career development, self-employment and entrepreneurship. Technology, networking skills and social media play a huge role in the way we work now and helping staff to build skills for the future is essential.

Something as simple as providing seminars to help them write an effective LinkedIn profile will build confidence; allowing staff to build their professional networks on the firm’s time benefits all parties, it’s short-sighted to suppose otherwise, increasingly we need staff who are connected, collaborative and strategically aware.

We envisage career transition processes embedded in the organisation, with career coaching and mentoring, to help employees cope with career transition points as a means of improving the employee experience and enhancing the employer brand. Good career management, not just for leavers, makes an organisation stand out as an employer of choice.

To get in touch with Liz about 10Eighty’s outplacement services, email her on

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Optimum outplacement


In 2018, if you haven’t already done so, it’s likely you are going to have to make changes in order to operate in the post-Brexit economy.

We face change on an unprecedented scale with uncertainty and volatility accruing from socio-political pressures, disruptive technologies and an unpredictable economic outlook. Leadership teams need to be able to move fast when it comes to decision-making and change management, in order to implement innovative solutions with minimum disruption to the business at hand.

 Optimise-Outplacement-Services-Post-Brexit Optimise-Outplacement-Services-Post-Brexit

In a difficult economic climate, no organisation can afford to carry passengers, so productivity and high performance will be the main focus as we adapt to face the future. For many, this year, that will involve hard decisions with regards to manpower planning, and, given the pace of change, it is likely that many organisations will need to make changes to their management team as part of the process.

Forward planning

Making the decision to implement redundancies is never easy and is particularly difficult where it will affect people with whom you have worked personally. Before making such a decision it is crucial to determine which staff members can be developed in order avoid the need to make redundancies. In fact, this career path planning should be an integral part of overall strategic workforce planning and, along with structured development plans for staff, should significantly negate the need to make large-scale redundancies.

Once the leadership team determines that there is a business case for restructuring then obviously it is crucial to follow relevant legislation. Unpleasant as it is, making team members redundant should be a pro-active decision that anticipates a future workforce where different skills are needed to meet the corporate strategy in a challenging environment.

Structured outplacement is a key element in managing the disruption that results from right-sizing and is a standard component in corporate redundancy programmes. From a PR perspective outplacement is crucial to managing the employer brand. A reputable name and respected brand can be damaged astonishingly quickly especially since social-media has magnified the scope, speed and reach of commentary that could potentially damage an employer’s reputation.

Resettlement support

While there is a social and moral case to make for supporting employees who have served the organisation well, it’s also about managing the morale of employees who see their colleagues being made redundant. A strategic HR policy also considers prospective employees and the need to persuade them that the organisation is a good place to develop a career; it is also important to do everything possible to leave the door open for returners.

At 10Eighty we believe that a high-touch tailored transition support will help executives identify a wide range of opportunities and find roles that resonate with their values and aspirations. Career transition services should not focus solely on landing the next role but on positioning the individual, with tangible, practical support and advice, for the career path they choose to follow.

The effects of a redundancy programmes don’t end with the last dismissal, those left need to continue functioning with minimum disruption. They must pick up the pieces, often while dealing with an increased workload; they may be worried, angry or demotivated. There is a clear management responsibility to articulate, demonstrate and model the benefits that will result from the redundancy programme. At this point, it is important to promulgate a clear message around ongoing business strategy and the part that team members play in rebuilding and securing future prosperity for the whole organisation.

Shape a future-proof workforce

Career planning can also help reshape the team, increase team effectiveness, improve employee engagement and productivity. At 10Eighty we use the Fuel50 interactive tool to create a career-engaged workforce and to help managers to conduct career conversations with their staff. Alongside coaching and development programmes we help clients build a collaborative culture and organisational ecosystem that will enable and empower a future-facing workforce.

Clients see a real return on investment as a result of implementing career path development for employees. Evidence shows that engaged employees are more productive, more loyal, take less time off work, generate high levels of customer satisfaction and this generates shareholder value. Put simply, the organisation is more profitable.

I firmly believe that an employee-centred approach to manpower planning will enable the organisation to shape high-performance teams with increased effectiveness, engagement and productivity. Making the investment in career planning for employees with a collaborative process that aims to enhance and realise the potential for sustainable personal and professional development will always pay dividends in difficult times.

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Resolving to do better


This year I have firmly resolved not to make any more useless New Year resolutions. Surveys reveal that 32% of respondents say that their resolutions are usually broken by the end of January.

The writer broke a resolution before getting out of bed on 1st January one year. Our colleague Liz gave up chocolate for Lent some years ago; when found eating chocolate she simply explained that she meant she had ‘given up buying chocolate’ but gift chocolate was deemed to be acceptable!

New-Year-Resolutions 10Eighty top tips for setting goals

Steven Covey in “The Seven Habits of Highly Successful People” studied executives and found that the most successful wrote down their goals and reviewed them periodically.

Don’t focus too much on the endpoint as small changes can pave the way for bigger changes. Chunk the task down into achievable stepping stones and ask yourself, what is the smallest thing I can do today that helps me reach my goal?

It’s not the end of the world if you don’t get it right first time, make like a Boy Scout, be prepared. Psychologists call this an if/then contingency plan, or “if this happens, then I’ll do that”; a mental plan for how to react to things that may confound your good intentions. It takes three weeks or more to make or break a habit so just resolve to try again.

Concentrate on setting SMART goals:

  • This is a goal which is SPECIFIC – be clear about what you want to achieve.
  • The goal needs to be MEASURABLE, demarcate a starting point from which to monitor progress.
  • Goals should be ACHIEVABLE, stretch goals can be useful but perhaps you need to take smaller steps to start with.
  • It also has to be REALISTIC – most things are possible if we set our minds to them and focus, but consider reasonable options and alternatives.
  • TIME BOUND provides a timescale for achieving your goals.

Get a traditional calendar, pin it where you can see it and at the end of each day mark a big black cross over the day if you kept your resolution. After a few days, you’ll have a row of crosses and won’t want to spoil the pattern, after a month, give yourself a gold star. After three months of rows of crosses give yourself a reward, just make sure it isn’t one that sabotages your resolution!

It’s good to reward yourself when you achieve your goal but beware of self-sabotage. Apparently, this is a big problem with those unused to regular exercise because they tend to be so pleased with their efforts that they over-compensate by rewarding themselves with food and rest!

Use self-affirmation – this involves thinking about something that is important to you, like friends, family or a higher ideal. Research suggests this can boost willpower, even when not connected to the habit you are trying to ingrain. When you feel your self-control ebbing away then think about what you most pride yourself on; think about the things you hold dear, it will help you find new reserves of determination.

Thomas Schelling of Harvard University looked at the ways in which we enforce rules on ourselves and recommends the “write it down” technique for two reasons: “One is precision: writing invites careful formulation of boundaries, exceptions, penalties and rewards. The other is ceremony: formalising the rule in writing, perhaps with witnesses, attaches moral authority and makes violation more threatening to one’s integrity, raising the stakes.”

Getting what you want is its own reward. Talk is cheap but at 10Eighty we believe that you can do anything if you set your mind to it. Set a goal and aim for it.

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A cat will find a way to win


There are plenty of magical animals in Pantoland – geese spring to mind, mice who become coachmen, and cats. There’s Puss-in-Boots who is a chancer and Lord Mayor Whittington’s faithful feline companion who helps him achieve worldly success.

Jack believed in magic beans and defeated a giant. Gerda believed in love and saved her friend from living death. Young Richard Whittington set out to find his fortune, as he heard the streets of London were paved with gold! Well, there’s not that much magic abroad in the world but Whittington and his cat persevered and became rich and famous.

Apparently, the real Dick Whittington never owned a cat (one theory suggests that a “cat” was a slang expression for a type of ship used in his merchant business). The cat is not actually supernatural but loyalty and faithfulness provide the real magic.


Persistence pays

Whittington and his cat were not daunted by adversity. Planning, preparation and persistence allowed them to find a home and job, to rise in the world, found a business, marry an heiress and achieve high office. A fairytale ending results from old-fashioned hard work; as the philosopher Bertrand Russell says “No great achievement is possible without persistent work”.

In the workplace, this means defining your values and strengths then delineating objectives and goals that align with your values and will enable you to achieve your aspirations. Make a plan, write it down, share it with people who will help and encourage you, then work towards your goal.

There will be challenges, setbacks and nay-sayers but if you have a real vision as to what success means and what it looks like then persistence is key. It is a good idea to anticipate obstacles and devise a contingency plan, prepare so that you are psychologically ready when life gets difficult.

Entrepreneur Jim Rohn said, “If you really want to do something, you’ll find a way. If you don’t, you’ll find an excuse.”

A growth mindset

People with a “growth mindset” enjoy challenges, strive to learn, and consistently see potential to develop new skills. 10Eighty suggest this approach:

  • Check your assumptions – leaders should challenge the standard perspective, keep an open mind and resist the temptation to accept the status quo while being willing to consider the options and embrace the possibilities.
  • Value diversity – a broad range of perspectives and backgrounds can facilitate innovative approaches and reactions to barriers and challenges.
  • Provide training, development and networking opportunities – encourage wide-ranging interaction throughout the organisation, offer work assignments that take individuals out of their usual work environment, let people learn from their colleagues and make knowledge-sharing a reality; these are all ways to help the team broaden their horizons and spark new ideas.

The moral of the story is

Obstacles and adversity should not stop you from accomplishing great things. In Pantoland, self-belief, faith and courageous persistence are the qualities that guarantee success. The story of Dick and his cat shows that success eventually comes to those who don’t give up.

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The ‘have-a-go’ heroine

The have-a-go herione: Resourcefulness and Resilience in the workplace

In pantomime, the villains are often the most interesting characters, whether a cross-dressing Dame, a wicked stepmother or the Queen of Air and Darkness herself. The leading girl is often little more than a cipher – Cinderella, Snow White, Sleeping Beauty are not really empowered heroines. We like Little Red though, and Belle who sees the good in and marries the Beast.

In our first ‘panto piece’ we told about Jack, who believed the beans he was conned into taking were magic, which seems a tad foolish. Well, there are all sorts of magic in the world and the beans were indeed magical. Now we take another classic trope – the struggle between the force and the dark side.

Kai and Gerda are childhood friends torn apart by the terrible and magical Snow Queen who abducts Kai, by piercing his eyes and heart with slivers of her magical ice mirror, then carries him off to her ice palace at the North Pole, promising him power and domination over men. Gerda sets out barefoot, armed with nothing but her loyalty and integrity to rescue him. Along the way, she encounters many dangers but ultimately has the courage, love, fortitude and resilience to save her friend.

Gerda is the real heroine in the Snow Queen, she’s the smart, brave girl who saves the day. The struggle between good and evil is resolved because a pantomime is all about the happy ending, although apparently Andersen was inspired to model the icy-hearted Snow Queen on Jenny Lind after she rejected him as a suitor.

The have-a-go herione: Resourcefulness and Resilience in the workplace In the modern workplace resourcefulness and resilience are great attributes in team members. We all have to do more with less so cheerful, willing colleagues who can turn their hand to a range of tasks, learn new skills and shoulder responsibility, as and when needed, are useful to have about.

Communication as a two-way process

Pantoland is a riot of colour and fantasy but in the real world, we need to be adaptable and versatile in a volatile marketplace. Encouraging employees to engage with organisational values and objectives empowers them to develop creative solutions and proactively tackle challenges and setbacks.

Many leaders have the talent and ability to develop a vision, however, in the general kerfuffle of getting stuff done, they often don’t communicate that vision to the wider organisation. Taking time to reflect on the communication process to ensure objectives have been properly understood is crucial.

Step back and check that the leadership messages are landing in a way that helps team members understand what they are supposed to be doing to drive the business. It’s difficult to lead people if they don’t have a clear idea of where they’re heading and what’s expected of them. Gerda had to find her own way but most people respond to guidance and feedback.

10Eighty recommend using the Connected Conversation technique to understand the employee perspective, this enables managers to enhance operational flexibility. The real magic of management lies in empowering good people to fulfil their potential.

We believe that agility in a business context relies on a culture that encourages continuous learning as this facilitates innovative problem-solving and rapid responses to a constantly changing environment. The way we work now is reliant on networking and is much more organic and self-organising. Great leaders develop people who are confident in their ability to move forward and take whatever steps are needed to find what works.

The moral of the story is

The Snow Queen stars a determined child triumphing over evil, and while Gerda has help along the way from a robber, a reindeer, and some crows the story shows that love and hope will win the day. Magic takes many forms but we know that self-belief or self-confidence is invaluable for achieving great things.

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From Babies With Love – engaging with working parents

working parents

In 2015 Michael Moran, our CEO wrote a blog titled ‘Charity is good for us all’, sharing his thoughts on the significant opportunities available when you connect employee engagement with CSR strategies.

So we’re thrilled to introduce guest blogger Cecilia Crossley, founder of social enterprise From Babies with Love. Her organisation has pioneered a new and impactful opportunity; its Parental Leave Gift Service creates meaningful engagement for working parents and supports thousands of vulnerable children too. And in the run-up to the Christmas holidays, their service seems particularly pertinent.

From Babies with Love is the baby brand that donates 100% of its profits to orphaned and abandoned children around the world. Our organic baby clothes gift sets arrive with packaging that tells the story of how your gift is helping the children, so they may grow up safe, loved and cared for.working parents For example, our latest project is in North East Nigeria, establishing three Child-Friendly Spaces in partnership with the international charity Street Child. The Spaces will care for 720 unaccompanied children fleeing the ongoing conflict there, providing physiological, social and educational support.

Our story – the story of the children – speaks to the powerful emotions parents feel for the welfare of children, and in doing so positively reflects corporate values. Our gifts communicate an employers’ appreciation for employees taking parental leave; they represent recognition and celebration of the change in their lives, and through engaging employees in a poignant way, our gifts positively reflect a commitment to retention.

Many HR professionals we work with and speak to explain that their company sends gifts such as flowers and that often there is an inconsistent approach, dependent on a line manager.

Our service is simple: send beautiful, practical, parental leave gifts that also support vulnerable children. Your colleague, your budget, your company, all receive greater value – a gift that means so much more – to everyone.

Find out more

Click here to read the summary business case and see who some of From Babies with Love’s clients are.

Contact or inmail (via LinkedIn) From Babies with Love founder Cecilia Crossley

working parents



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Magic beans for Christmas

self-belief at work

Christmas is coming, there’s nothing you can do to stop it, so let’s get into the proper spirit with our pantomime-themed blog series.

We are starting with Jack and the Beanstalk; according to Wikipedia, the story originated more than 5,000 years ago, based on a widespread archaic story form which is now classified by folklorists as ATU 328 The Boy Who Stole Ogre’s Treasure. That’s the serious bit done.

Jack accepts a handful beans in a trade deal, he believes a story that they are magic beans. This is the cue for much derision but the beans are magic and after many adventures, Jack ends the story rich and happy. There’s no doubt he was foolish but if he hadn’t been a trusting soul the adventure would stall on the grid.

Magic takes many forms but we know that self-belief or self-confidence is invaluable to achieving great things.

self-belief at work

Confidence and faith in your own ability

We’re not all blessed with abundant self-confidence, but this is what we think the confident person looks like:

  • does what they believe to be right, even when it is unpopular
  • is willing to take risks and seize their opportunities
  • admits their mistakes and learns from them
  • is able to accept a compliment graciously
  • is optimistic

There’s a particular form of magic that you can see in the workplace and it happens when a good manager supports and encourages team members to fulfil their potential.

Connected conversations

Taking the time to understand your team members, who they really are, what is important to them, what are their aspirations and career objectives is a great place to start. More managers need to work on making that connection with their staff, it’s the clearest route to improving employee engagement, performance, morale and productivity.

These are some other things that 10Eighty think will help a leader to support employees, boost morale and enhance engagement:

  • leaders who display integrity and treat employees fairly and consistently will build great teams
  • all employees should be treated with respect, the security guard, bus driver, receptionist, cleaner as much as the chairman, they are all team members
  • treat employees as if they really are the organisation’s best and most valuable resources
  • provide regular employee recognition and celebrate an achievement
  • communicate openly about factors important to employees
  • provide regular and constructive feedback and try to instil a coaching culture
  • provide opportunities for employees to develop professional skills and manage their careers
  • provide a framework for expectations and goals that facilitate positive success

And the moral of the story is

Jack takes advantage of the opportunity presented to him and it works out brilliantly. He takes a risk in climbing the giant beanstalk and it pays off. He took the magic beans on trust and really it was just sheer luck that things turned out so well but sometimes, just like in pantomime, everything comes right in the end. Don’t be too trusting, seize your opportunities and be grateful for your blessings.

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The connected conversation in practice


At 10Eighty, we think employers need to take a more employee-orientated perspective in terms of performance appraisal.

The annual tick-box exercise tends to be counterproductive and the best staff want something more personal and tailored to their role and aspirations. Why should employers want this too? Because connected career conversations can accelerate and align your workforce development, with dramatic impacts on engagement and productivity in any organisation.

In our recent successful Connected Conversations events we used values cards and skills cards to show how these two traits can be used in initiating meaningful career conversations with employees. Every employee is entitled to job satisfaction and career success – their employer will benefit from helping them achieve that success. Engaging with employees and committing to providing personal development and opportunities to meet career aspirations is the launchpad for a connected conversation.


An employee whose values don’t resonate with corporate values is unlikely to be engaged or motivated and give some insight from personal experience.

The connected conversation centres on what is really important to people, what motivates them. Values taken in conjunction with an overview of employee strengths provide the basis for reviewing both performance and career trajectory that builds on the reality of their working life.

To manage people well you need to understand what makes them tick; to make the connection between how the organisation can help them to achieve and develop as part of a high-performance team. This is a much more positive experience than the average performance review.

Schedule and track connected conversations

10Eighty’s career path software Fuel 50 offer is a powerful platform for leaders and managers to schedule and track connected conversations with their people throughout the year, with a concomitant impact on overall levels of engagement and performance. It also allows team members to create career plans and track progress towards achieving career objectives for a truly rewarding career.

Regular feedback is important to employees – younger members of the team prefer to work this way and workers on flexible contracts need the input and opportunity to engage with leadership. Employees in some roles will want and need feedback more often than others and managers will soon come to arrangements with each team member as to what works best in each instance.

There is also the obvious advantage that by checking in regularly with employees performance issues are dealt with promptly, problems don’t fester and team members can be more confident that they understand the big picture while feeling they have a voice in the process. In essence performance and productivity improve when feedback is not held back for the annual review and managers deal with issues as they arise.

The connected conversation allows managers to acknowledge where staff are performing well, where they can improve and provide guidance as to how they might build their skills and progress within the organisation.

Quality, relevant feedback improves employee learning and task performance. We think it is really important that all managers learn how to deliver effective and constructive feedback.

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Child’s play

childlike qualities

United Nations Universal Children’s Day was established in 1954 and is celebrated on November 20th each year to promote international togetherness, awareness among children worldwide, and improving children’s welfare.

There are some childlike qualities that we should try to retain – curiosity is one and the ability to find joy in anything and everything is another.

Curiosity as a competency

Curiosity is one of the top five character strengths identified by positive psychology researchers Martin Seligman and Christopher Peterson and is closely linked to fulfilment and happiness.

In terms of employability curiosity is really important, but don’t just learn for the sake of your job learn to enhance your life. Develop curiosity and learn to question more, in a changing world the ability to adapt is increasingly important.

childlike qualities

Curiosity helps us in looking for connections and links; try to be someone who doesn’t just look inward but who looks outward too. Work on being one of those people who is “useful to have about the place”, versatile and flexible.

Remember that employability is not just about where you are now but about staying current in the marketplace. Collaboration is a key skill and curiosity helps us to build relationships and can lead to innovative results because it is predicated on an interest in others’ experiences and their ideas, the basis for meaningful interaction.

The ability to approach people, problems, situations and conversations with curiosity also leads to interest and wonder and enthusiasm for work and life.

Finding joy

What makes you jump for joy, or laugh out loud? I often think we don’t celebrate enough.

When we were little we were given badges in the Cubs and Brownies and we wore them with pride. We proudly pinned certificates and rosettes on the bedroom wall. As we get older we dismiss these achievements. What was once all-consuming, for instance your O and A levels (or GCSEs for our slightly younger readers!), are now a distant memory, though at the time they were mountains you successfully climbed.

At work it’s important to celebrate success, so do please congratulate colleagues on their successes and achievements, acknowledge the contribution others make, call out and show appreciation for devotion to duty and for those who go the extra mile.

Here are some other things that 10Eighty recommend to help you find joy in work and life:

  • Smile
  • Reconnect with someone you haven’t spoken to in a while
  • Be kind – help someone else find joy
  • Disconnect – go outdoors, turn off your phone, stretch your legs and simply enjoy a peaceful lunch break
  • Give some time to charity, do some voluntary work or mentor a colleague
  • Take action towards fulfilling a goal or dream

There’s more to life than work and there’s more to work than shareholder value so remember to take joy too. I firmly believe that work should be fun, work hard and celebrate success.

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Face time makes a difference


The outplacement business has changed out of all recognition in the last decade, increasingly we see one-to-one career support and coaching replaced with online systems. Automated, self-service programmes have advantages from the client’s perspective, providing a reasonably priced solution, but the effectiveness of the one-size fits all e-outplacement option is doubtful.

An off-the-shelf option may please the procurement manager but the online model has devalued outplacement in the eyes of employees and employers. At 10Eighty we believe that face-to-face, tailored career coaching remains the most effective choice for both parties.

The purpose of outplacement coaching is to help clients manage their options, to build their employability not just in terms of finding the next role but for a successful career down the line, in alignment with their values and aspirations for the future. A coach can address specific needs and help the client build their personal brand and leverage their social capital.


A holistic approach

For the employer outplacement is crucial to managing the employer brand, there’s an obvious social and moral case to made for supporting employees who are no longer needed, providing them with the support and skills to move on quickly; it’s also about managing the morale of employees who see their colleagues being made redundant, showing that the organisation takes care of employees is key to employee engagement.

From my point of view, outplacement is not just about the client landing a new job but about launching the next phase of their career. I wrote The Guide to Everlasting Employability with the aim of equipping clients to take charge of their career and proactively work towards clearly articulated goals and ambitions. 10Eighty outplacement is not a job shop, it’s a holistic approach to personal branding and navigating the career path for a rewarding future.

In an outplacement programme, the online career portal has a place, the blended learning approach has enormous value. On-line support provides a range of tools and resources for the client to design and implement a job search strategy, and online apps make career advice portable. Indeed at 10Eighty we have developed an app that audits the extent to which you are managing your career.  It can be downloaded for free from the App Store or Google Play just follow the links or search for ’10Eighty career ladders’.

Personal, professional and proactive

However, to make real progress nothing beats face to face coaching. It’s partly a reflection of how we communicate, 70% of what we take in is what we see, more importantly, though it’s about feedback and dialogue. You can tell someone how to look for a job and how to behave at interview but personal coaching does so much more.

The outplacement consultant or counsellor can push a client to address important issues, assessing their reactions and tailoring coaching to needs. We know that employees prefer personalised, customised advice and that makes particular sense when we’re talking career aspirations. Working with a coach also facilitates practice, it’s not so much a question of perfection but Gary Player’s assertion that “the more I practice the luckier I get” rings true.

For me, career coaching is predicated on a collaborative process aiming to enhance and realise the potential for sustainable personal and professional development.

The emphasis is less on CV writing and job search tactics and more on clarity of purpose and resilience in career management. Looking for a job is hard work, an emotional rollercoaster, and clients need support, especially in the face of rejection, which always feels personal. A good outplacement programme provides support, offers a sounding board, measuring progress while helping clients maintain momentum.

The measure of success is the achievement of a new role that aligns with values, motivations and talents. Much more than that, we aim to enable our clients to manage their career for the long-term and to build their employability.

The world of work has changed and we can no longer rely on our employer to manage our progress, nor is loyalty its own reward, in the modern workplace each of us needs to build skills, stay current with changing technology, nurture our social networks, and proactively manage our employment options.

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Sweep away stress


It’s International Stress Awareness Day today – 1st November – an annual event centred on stress and stress prevention and promoting the importance of wellbeing for individuals and organisations.

Some stress is natural but it’s important to recognise the symptoms and monitor stress levels. Organisations that genuinely promote and value the health and well-being of employees will benefit from improved engagement and retention of employees with consequent gains in performance and productivity.


Measure and monitor

Work-related stress is defined as a harmful reaction people have to undue pressures and demands placed on them at work. Labour Force Surveys show:

  • The total number of cases of work-related stress, depression or anxiety in 2015/16 was 488,000 cases, a prevalence rate of 1510 per 100,000 workers.
  • The number of new cases was 224,000, an incidence rate of 690 per 100,000 workers. The estimated number and rate have remained broadly flat for more than a decade.
  • The total number of working days lost due to this condition in 2015/16 was 11.7 million days. This equated to an average of 23.9 days lost per case. Working days lost per worker showed a generally downward trend up to around 2009/10; since then the rate has been broadly flat.
  • In 2015/16, stress accounted for 37% of all work-related ill health cases and 45% of all working days lost due to ill health.
  • Stress is more prevalent in public service industries, such as education; health and social care; and public administration and defence.
  • By occupation, jobs that are common across public service industries (such as healthcare workers; teaching professionals; business, media and public service professionals) show higher levels of stress as compared to all jobs.
  • The main work factors cited by respondents as causing work-related stress, depression or anxiety (LFS) were workload pressures, including tight deadlines and too much responsibility and a lack of managerial support

Wellbeing at work

Health and safety legislation imposes on employers a duty to undertake risk assessments and manage activities to reduce the incidence of stress at work.

The emotional and physical wellbeing of your workforce is reflected in levels of absenteeism. Well-being at work encompasses general mental health and wellbeing in terms of levels of happiness, trust, engagement and “presenteeism”. Although the financial impact of these aspects of work is difficult to evaluate, there is research that links workplace wellbeing to long-term financial success.

Here are five steps you can take to address stress in your workplace:

  • Ensure you have plan in place to manage stress in the workforce
  • Undertake an audit of the workplace to identify potential stressors, such as unrealistic workloads and schedules
  • Train line managers in mental health awareness
  • Launch a good mental health promotion campaign
  • Audit absences and make sure you understand the reasons for them.
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Values and the connected conversation Part 2


At 10Eighty we focus on a strengths-based approach to employee development issues. This is predicated on an employee-centred approach that helps team members optimise their strengths and identify strategies to improve effectiveness, confidence, engagement, and wellbeing.

Research shows that this approach works:

  • 73% improvement in employee engagement when employees are encouraged to play to their strengths (Rath and Conchie, 2008)
  • Customer retention is 44% higher in companies where people are allowed to do what they do best every day (Harter and Schmidt, 2002)
  • Positive psychology based interventions help reduce stress and burnout (Cotter & Fouad, 2013)

We examined in a previous blog the need to make a meaningful connection with employees in terms of their values. You also need to focus on strengths – what employees are energised by, what they are good at and enjoy, how effectively they are applying their strengths – as this enables engaging performance conversations around those strengths.

It’s obvious that skills and strengths are important and our recent Connected Conversations event looked at aligning personal values and skills with organisational objectives.

We work in a dynamic and volatile environment where change is a constant. When employees are engaged and working in roles that align with their strengths and preferences they are liable to be better placed to deal with challenges. A positive focus on what one does well and the opportunity to use and develop strengths, facilitates motivation and creative, innovative responses to change. This is partly because using strengths is, in itself, motivating and rewarding, those who are operating from their strengths are likely to feel more confident.

The traditional annual appraisal and 360 degree feedback tend to focus on negatives and problem areas. Roberts, et al, in the Harvard Business Review point out that you “may have more to gain by developing your gifts and leveraging your natural skills than by trying to repair your weaknesses”, (How to Play to your Strengths, 2005).

To foster excellence we need to identify and harness the unique strengths of each team member. It is a paradox of human psychology that while people remember criticism, they respond to praise. The idea is to enable employees to draw on their strengths and build on them; building a strategy for personal development. Knowing one’s strengths also affords a better understanding of how to deal with weaknesses.

Needless to say you can’t overlook weaknesses, it would be short-sighted to assume that playing to strengths is enough to offset them; and 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, armed with self-awareness about strengths we are better able to deal with weaker area and other risks/blockers to performance.

Strengths assessment helps us in building partnerships with others who have strengths in areas where we are weaker which has the added benefit of enabling a strong team culture within the organisation.

The organisation that designs ways to align staff work goals and tasks with strengths will build a workplace is more productive and efficient.

To find out how to keep your employees engaged happy – click here

Emma Mitchell is Leadership and Management Director for 10Eighty

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Posted in conversations, Homepage

Conversations to resolve conflict

It’s Conflict Resolution Day today – conflict-resolution-day-201719th October 2017 – a day to promote awareness of mediation, arbitration, conciliation and other creative, peaceful means of resolving conflict.

At 10Eighty we work in a collaborative environment and believe in constructively working on disputes to resolve issues amicably. In any workplace there will sometimes be conflict, it can take many forms; it may be a personal grievance, a problem between employee and manager or conflict between team members, or it may be stress-related, a misunderstanding or sheer temper.

Unresolved conflict gets in the way of work and makes the organisation less effective and productive.

What’s to be done?

ACAS advises that are some key steps an employer can take to help ensure disputes and conflict don’t arise too often, and to enable them to be dealt with when they do:

  • train managers to handle difficult conversations with employees
  • encourage open expression of opinions
  • recognise the importance of feelings
  • listen to what people have to say
  • focus on interests not positions and personalities
  • have clear discipline, grievance and dispute procedures for dealing with conflict
  • write mediation into your contracts of employment and/or individual disciplinary and grievance procedures
  • consider outside help where necessary, for example, using a third party by way of mediation

At 10Eighty we think the first point is key – talk to staff. Disputes and conflict are less likely to arise when you understand your people, their values, beliefs and motivations. Have a conversation about what really matters to each employee, and listen to their concerns and aspirations. If you understand where there is stress or disengagement you may be able to deal with issues before they become problems.

Don’t use the ostrich model

We think this is an area an employer needs to think seriously about. All too often a busy manager will be inclined to hope an issue will resolve itself. If you don’t act promptly you could:

  • mislead an employee by acting as though there is no problem
  • deny an employee the opportunity to improve or put things right
  • damage the productivity and efficiency of the organisation
  • adversely affect morale amongst team members.

Training managers to engage staff in constructive, connected career conversations will pay dividends in terms of employee engagement and enable a platform where issues can be raised and stress defused.

Managers don’t spend enough time talking to staff about career aspirations and development plans it’s a shame because successful career planning requires employer and employee to have mature conversations about ambitions, aspirations, potential, opportunities and growth. It’s about optimising organisational potential so the smart organisation will ensure that managers have the competence and confidence to manage workplace conversations that could also bypass conflict.

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Do you know how to coach employees towards high performance?


That’s what we’re asking in our latest White Paper ‘Coaching Employees for High Performance’.

In a nutshell ‘Employers need to be employee centric’ – a philosophy espoused by LinkedIn’s Reid Hoffman. He believes the role of employers is to make their employees more employable.

White Paper co-authors Anne Fulton CEO of 10Eighty’s Antipodean partners’ Fuel 50 and Natalie Hackbarth Inbound Marketing Manager of Quantum Workplace, an employee feedback software company, collaborated to produce a handy HR guide for implementing manager or peer coaching programmes with a real impact.

Employee engagement experts, Anne and Natalie, provide a raft of insights into learning and development strategies and consider how organisations can create a coaching culture, and how manager coaching and peer coaching can optimise employee engagement and talent management, particularly in conjunction with the powerful career pathing software CareerCENTRE™.White-Paper-Coaching-Employees-for-High-Performance

Forge a thriving coaching culture

The 18-page ‘Coaching Employees for High Performance’ White Paper includes the Top 5 learning and development opportunities and 4 Keys to create a culture of coaching. And how a fusion of these two processes can make a valuable contribution to your talent management strategy.

Understanding the roles of manager coaches and peer coaches and nurturing these two complementary coaching styles is important. But for a coaching culture to truly thrive, a commitment to engagement and employee development is essential.

The White Paper also provides a ‘best practice bundle’ for successful coaching:

  • Set expectations
  • Educate the coaches
  • Create structure
  • Set a frequency
  • Consider attribution
  • Encourage 2-way conversation
  • Track, monitor and measure progress.

Coaching drives engagement

“People will produce more than they think they can if they’re challenged.” Ray Titus, CEO of United Franchise Group.

10Eighty’s CEO Michael Moran, expands: “Employees want to be developed. This is a key driver of engagement. In fact, research tells us that nearly 8 out of 10 employees who said their organisation had a formal development programme were engaged.”

Michael continues: “The connected conversation is at the heart of any developmental intervention. It is a conversation to understand what engages the employee, their values and motivators – what they like doing and what they are good at. This connected conversation is all about coaching.

“Line managers who spend time coaching their employees are rewarded with greater productivity, increased loyalty and a workforce that demonstrates a ‘can do’ attitude.

Research tells us that coaching by your line manager or by your peers is the biggest driver of engagement of any developmental initiative. “

Find out more

To get your copy of ‘Coaching Employees for High Performance’ simply click here and enter your details.

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Posted in career conversations, coaching, Developing yourself, Homepage

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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.