Raising Expectations: Is Gareth Southgate harnessing the Pygmalion Effect?


Emma MitchellToday’s blogpost is by Leadership and Management Director, Emma Mitchell, a People Development professional with 2 decades plus experience of training and coaching business professionals from many sectors. Her focus is developing people and maximising their potential for leadership through coaching and training facilitation.

At the start of the World Cup we wrote about the power of anticipation and over the last 20 days have seen Germany crash out at the Group stage and Argentina, Spain and Portugal fail at the Final 16.

And as England face Colombia tonight for a place in the quarter-finals at 10Eighty we were speculating whether the waistcoat-clad manager was aware of a Gallup Leadership Institute meta-study on the Pygmalion Effect.


Also known as the Self-Fulfilling Prophecy Effect, it is reckoned to be one of the greatest leadership tools.

In the study half of the leaders were told they were working with exceptional groups of people, the others were told nothing. In reality, all the leaders were working with randomly selected people… yet, performances were very different.

The groups performed as the leaders expected them to perform. The ‘exceptional’ groups like superstars, the other groups were totally average.

Bruce J. Avolio, a professor of management at the University of Washington Foster School of Business, says “smarter or more motivated groups do better if their leader believes they are smarter or motivated.“

The ‘better team’ performed at a higher level and the team members believe their skills were raised to a higher level too.

The message is clear. The way managers treat their staff will have a huge impact on performance and business results, and employees will raise or lower their expectations accordingly.

Here’s a checklist of ways to communicate expectations:

  1. Communicate your expectations positively
  2. See your team as superstars
  3. Higher expectations will result in higher performance – with the right amount of support
  4. Personally thank staff for their work
  5. Give positive feedback to under-performers
  6. Provide feedback in balance, 3 positive comments to 1 criticism.

Attitudes to the England squad have significantly changed since 8 June. The England fans have even created a Gareth Southgate song (set to aughties’ banger ‘Whole Again’ by Atomic Kitten) urging him to ‘Bring It Home Again’!

Whether he has utilised the Pygmalion Effect or not he certainly is raising expectations across the land.

Who will be the better team tonight?

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Posted in Homepage, Leadership Development, Organisational development

The algorithm for success


Michael MoranToday’s blog post is by 10Eighty CEO and Founder Michael Moran. He has a passion for helping people maximise their potential and believes everyone should have job satisfaction and a successful career and helps organisations design jobs and career paths that maximise employee engagement. 

I’m a big fan of Jacob Morgan’s Future of Work podcasts and a recent episode (broadcast on 4 June 2018) featured Patty McCord who has some interesting ideas for both organisations and individuals around career management.


McCord spent 14 years at Netflix, serving as Chief Talent Officer. She has more than 15 years’ experience in Human Resources with high-tech companies.

When Netflix started they didn’t have the budget for perks so instead, they emphasised good salary, interesting work and great colleagues. Later, they added extras and one of Netflix’s most talked about perks was unlimited vacation – it was never designed to be a perk. Initially, employees accrued 26 days a year but, as an experiment, the company decided that they wouldn’t keep track of employee vacation but instead would keep track of what got done. The focus is on results and they leave it for the employees to decide when to take their vacation time.

Hire talent and let it run with the ball

In short, Netflix expected their people to ‘act like adults’ – giving them more freedom but with high expectations of them.

This resonates with our philosophy at 10Eighty – by dispensing with the admin involved in a traditional system of booking and approving holiday time in favour of unlimited leave it allows staff to focus on building their work around their life. This approach treats employees like mature adults who know how to manage their time. If you offer compelling work, cooperative teams, and performance-based pay, then there are enough positive incentives to drive employees to work more hours.

McCord says: “At Netflix, we realized that when we had the right people, the right focus and the right deadlines, people operated pretty independently. It was about adults. It was about them knowing what they were doing. It’s about having people who are passionate about the work that you need to get done.”

Hire the curious and passionate

She also deprecates the annual performance reviews which need a rethink and traditional recruitment practices that mostly involve ticking the boxes alongside lists of skills. McCord maintains: “I advocate figuring out the problems you need to solve, then hiring people who want to solve those problems and are capable of doing it. That’s a different kind of matchmaking, rather than recruiting for skilled and experienced people.”

I particularly liked McCord’s advice to employees, her ‘algorithm for success’ – think about what makes a great day for you, self-awareness is important because your career belongs to you and you need to take ownership and seek out roles where you can do what you are good at and where what you do matters. Find someone in the organisation you admire and talk to them, how did they get where they are, you’ll get really useful, real information and, importantly, context.

The most important thing you can do to advance your career is to solve problems that need to be solved, and the way to be heard is to ask smart questions about the business so that you are seen as someone who cares about the right things and is curious and smart.


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Posted in career management, Developing yourself, Homepage, Talent Management

The power of anticipation: will your team achieve its (World Cup) goals?

Anticipation in the workplace

Michael MoranToday’s Fun Friday post is by 10Eighty CEO and Founder Michael Moran. He has a passion for helping people maximise their potential and believes everyone should have job satisfaction and a successful career and helps organisations design jobs and career paths that maximise employee engagement. 

Every 4 years it rolls around, the sense that something special could happen, this time… maybe this time. Football fans the world over expect their team to excel expectations and achieve well beyond their FIFA ranking.

And that happens. Remember the sterling performances of Iceland and Wales in Euro 2016? (The less said about England v Iceland the better).

And now, as we sit on the brink of another World Cup, the anticipation is tangible.

Anticipation in the workplace Some top-notch interplay from the lads with 3 Lions On Their Shirt during the friendly with Nigeria last weekend (OK, for the first 45 minutes), the ‘Second XI’ giving a good account of themselves yesterday evening against Costa Rica and a manager with a level-headedness and rapport with his young team not seen for a while. And England anticipates… again!

In the workplace, as well as on the pitch, this kind of positive thinking can help teams to strive for excellence and achieve their goals (literal and metaphorical).

It’s important to plan, consider the consequences of making certain decisions in the future and extend that thinking 4 or 5 steps ahead. This will help your team and your organisation to anticipate things like an interest rate hike, a policy shift on Brexit or a change in strategic direction by the Director.

In a tournament the same principles apply, you research the tactics of your immediate opponents and those you could face in the knockout stages and endeavour to make eventualities for all permutations. (FYI England could face Brazil if they make it to the last 8).

Sometimes events conspire to scupper these plans – a serious injury to a key player or a mystery illness. But if you have anticipated these possibilities, you should have a Plan B, a player with similar skills or a formation change to compensate.

Last night’s match demonstrated that England has more than several Plan Bs on the bench.

Working out the potential pitfalls is useful, but ideally, you want to create opportunities too as this can genuinely add value. The key is preparation. And with the right degree of preparation, your team or your organisation will be ready to make the most of those opportunities when they arise.

To be the best team in town or in the tournament it’s essential to anticipate the future, whether you’re the CEO of a FTSE 500 company, Director of an SME or an international football coach.

This could be Gareth Southgate and his young England squad, but we’re certain 31 other coaches and their teams will have other ideas.

Whoever you’re supporting this summer or whichever team you ‘play’ for, at 10Eighty we hope you enjoy the festival of football over the next month and achieve your team goals too.

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Posted in Fun Friday, Homepage, Teamwork

Lunch and learn with a side order of employee engagement


Emma MitchellToday’s blogpost is by Leadership and Management Director, Emma Mitchell, a People Development professional with 2 decades plus experience of training and coaching business professionals from many sectors. Her focus is developing people and maximising their potential for leadership through coaching and training facilitation.

Have you ever tried to host a lunch and learning session at work? Learning is definitely more fun when food and drink is involved.

But what can you achieve in around 60 minutes? In today’s Fun Friday post we look at ways to get the most out of learning at lunch.

We’ve all probably experienced those feel-like-they’re-thrown-together sessions experienced whilst chomping on tepid pizza. You leave with stomach and brain only partially satiated craving more substantial fare, both gastronomically and intellectually.


So why do organisations hold these lunchtime seminars? Often, they are seen as a quick and easy way to promote an agenda or for someone to add another hour to their annual CPD total.

At 10Eighty we think ‘Lunch & Learn’ sessions are an excellent forum for promoting creative thought or looking at new issues with a different lens.

Nowadays we now have access to unprecedented volumes of information, so all types of learning should reflect that fact and help to broaden minds not narrow horizons.

The best ‘Lunch and Learn’ sessions should have a positive impact on employees, focusing on how they can benefit them rather than the organisation.

That means avoiding worthy but dull ‘Lunch & Learn’ topics. Often the best ‘Lunch & Learn’ sessions have no direct links to the jobs in the organisation. This enables attendees to reflect on different aspects of their personal life and offer topics that will appeal to a more diverse audience.  You could also ask employees to suggest topics, giving them more ownership of the sessions.

Successful Lunch & Learn sessions can genuinely enhance the level of employee engagement, support the creation of new learning communities in the workplace and bring out the nascent potential within employees themselves.

That’s why we are excited about our ‘Lunch & Learn’ sessions.

Our passion for supporting people to develop their skills has motivated us to develop these targeted workshops that will provide insights into key business skills and development areas.

Find out more

If you are interested to learn more (at lunch!) or would like to run some of our Lunch & Learn sessions, we would be happy to discuss this, please email hannah.moran@10eighty.co.uk or call 0207 947 4130

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Posted in Employee engagement, Fun Friday, Homepage, Learning

Virtual Reality: the new employee engagement tool?


Michael MoranToday’s blog post is by 10Eighty CEO and Founder Michael Moran. He has a passion for helping people maximise their potential and believes everyone should have job satisfaction and a successful career and helps organisations design jobs and career paths that maximise employee engagement. 

We’ve all heard of and probably used e-learning courses on a wide range of subjects. Outside of the workplace, you could also access MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses) on a mind-boggling array of topics including A History of Royal Fashion. Maybe you want to brush up on your bridal gowns before Saturday’s pageantry.

Or how about trying ‘Introduction to Italian’ now that you’ve booked a week on the Amalfi Coast? Both courses are available, completely free, on the futurelearn website www.futurelearn.com

With the average attention span dropping from 12 seconds in 2000 to 8 seconds, e-learning is a proven and effective method for ensuring learners retain information. Retention rates for e-learning courses are 25 to 60 percent, compared to around 10 percent for the more traditional classroom scenario.

VR & AR: training tech for the 2020s?

We’ve become very accustomed to learning on our computers over the last decade or so. Enter Virtual Reality (VR) and Augmented Reality (AR) – could they revolutionise workplace training and employee engagement?


For this Fun Friday Learning At Work Week post we thought we would take a look at current developments in this new and immersive technology which is enabling learners to experience situations that they may not easily have access to, access information in a more convenient ‘real world’ space and increasing employee engagement and retention.

The Royal London Hospital broadcast a live surgery in VR enabling viewers to walk around the operating theatre and see the operation from different angles, enabling medical professionals from countries without the same resources as the NHS to get a close-to-first-hand experience of a complex operation.

If you’ve tried on an Oculus headset (the latest model, the Oculus Go, may take VR into the mainstream) then you will appreciate how it uncannily transports you to another world, even with graphics that aren’t UHD perfect.

VR training is becoming increasingly common part of worker training and is being used by some employers to help recruit and retain staff through entertaining simulations, arguably making the job seem more fun than it actually is!

Escape from the room, get cooking!

Would you believe fast food chain KFC has a VR training game where you to try to escape a locked room (the ‘puzzle room’ or ‘escape game’ has been a popular environment in video game culture for many years) and complete the 5-step cooking process at the same time?

While VR is still a new learning tool, it is viewed by some employers as an avenue for increasing employee engagement and satisfaction, particularly if it helps people to learn quickly and make their lives easier.

Some companies say it is improving their retention levels, such as the US restaurant chain, Honeygrow, who have developed VR tours and a food safety game for their new recruits.

Retail conglomerate Walmart has a VR training programme that creates scenarios such as holiday rushes and spills, that could be costly to recreate in the real world. And logistics giant UPS is developing simulations with VR tech to train their drivers before they hit the road.

Sometimes VR offers a rose-tinted view of the job, a criticism that aimed at the US Navy and British Army recruitment VR scenarios. Although you could argue that most training material accentuates the positive, while VR leaves a more lasting impression than a 2D video.

Augmented Reality (AR) is another technology to watch, where digital information overlays the real world. AR first came to prominence in 2016 with the global phenomenon, Pokémon Go, which resulted in thousands of people hunting down wild Pokemon (yes, they are a thing!) sometimes in far-flung corners of the world with their smartphones.

AR can work through a pair of glasses with a display that places virtual information over real objects. A maintenance engineer wearing their AR goggles can look at a piece of equipment and see information that explains how a repair could be carried out.

The key difference with AR is that the information is virtual, while the object is real, so it supports a far more hands-on experience.

Have you experienced AR or VR training?

We’d be interested to hear about your views on VR/AR. Have you used VR/AR training in your work? Do you think it’s a passing fad or a format for the future?  Either post your views or story at the end of this article, Tweet us @10EightyCareers or leave a comment on our Facebook page.

Photo by JESHOOTS.COM on Unsplash

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Did you know it’s Mental Health Awareness Week & Learning At Work Week this week?


Liz Sebag-MontefioreToday’s author is Liz Sebag-Montefiore, 10Eighty’s Founding Director who has provided HR solutions to a wide range of industries since 2005, working with numerous firms to understand their needs and is a great believer in the power and intelligence of networking. 

You may have noticed that this is both Learning at Work Week and Mental Health Awareness Week – and there’s so much we can all learn during the former about the latter. In our experience, there are 5 main areas of mental health in which many organisations still have much to learn …



Emotional Intelligence (EI). Emotions can be a powerful ally in the workplace, both in terms of understanding how individuals react to situations – and how others respond. If a greater knowledge of EI is achieved, people will know how to manage their emotions at work, show more empathy, handle tricky issues and learn how to influence others.

Dealing with Stress. Stress affects us in different ways and being able to understand the early signs and how to deal with them is crucial. The key is to help individuals in any business get the bottom of what stress is, recognise its early signs and how best to cope.

Personal Resilience, Health and Wellbeing. This is essential for facing uncertainty and navigating the challenges of career transition. It also means understanding what resilience means and how to build it, an awareness of energy health and wellbeing and to regain balance, once lost.

Navigating Change. External change events can be enormously challenging. The key is to understand the elements of change, reflect more deeply on responses to change and thinking about how to react in circumstances and how to make change a more positive experience.

Neuroscience and brain agility. Organisations need to help their people understand how to maximise performance through understanding their own neurological design and drivers. Once these are understood, stress triggers will become more visible.

To understand how to learn and harness the lessons of Mental Health Awareness for the benefit of your organisation, please contact me on liz.s-montefiore@10eighty.co.uk

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Posted in Developing yourself, Homepage, Learning

New rules for better meetings?


Emma MitchellToday’s blogpost is by Leadership and Management Director, Emma Mitchell, a People Development professional with 2 decades plus experience of training and coaching business professionals from many sectors. Her focus is developing people and maximising their potential for leadership through coaching and training facilitation.

As is becoming a tradition at 10Eighty we offer a light-hearted look at workplace culture in our Fun Friday posts.

This Fun Friday post springboards from our Team building with pizza post earlier in the year, the title influenced by Amazon head honcho Jeff Bezos’ 2-Pizza Rule – ‘Never have a meeting where 2 pizzas can’t feed everyone.’

At 10Eighty we also think a ‘making up the numbers’ approach, or ‘meat in the room’ as it was infamously referred to in Armando Iannucci’s ‘In The Loop’, adopted at any meeting can lead to overlong meetings and/or underutilised attendees.

A 6-page study hall?

Although the 2 Pizza Rule seems imminently sensible, Mr Bezos has recently arrived at some new meetings rules which include a ban on the dreaded PowerPoint presentation. Great idea. But its replacement is a 6-page structured memo with real sentences, no bullet points please.

For the first 30 mins of the meeting, everyone must read through this ‘proper English’ memorandum in silence. Bezos refers to this as a ‘study hall’ but admits that the quality of memos can vary from angelic clarity to hellish complexity.

Although we’ve been having meetings at work since Year Dot, the perfect meeting continues to evade us. Here are a few alternatives that are making the rounds, which we don’t necessarily endorse:

Get a little mindful

The popularly of mindfulness has resulted in organisations asking people to reflect for a few minutes on their decisions and find out what their feelings are telling them. Evidence suggests this can help to reduce anxiety and increase focus.

However, when the Department of Health started a mindfulness programme it uncovered serious problems with restructuring and overwork and created longer meetings and working days. Next.


Take a long lunch

The death of the lunch break and the increase in eating ‘al desko’ in the UK has had a serious impact on the work environment. Research by Humanize suggests that companies that lunch together and sit in large groups, stay together as it helps to build strong social bonds. Plus, we all enjoy a good lunch, don’t we?

Shut it down

PayPal executive David Sacks used to burst into meetings and ask: ‘What is this meeting about?’ If it wasn’t any good he would close the meeting down there and then.

Although it is a radical approach if everyone had to explain the purpose of their meeting maybe we would have less wasteful meetings giving people more time at their desk to have productive thoughts and do productive work.

Cost it up

You could use the Harvard Business Review’s business meeting cost calculator to find out how much your meeting costs. This would help any meeting organiser to work it if it was worth inviting ALL those people or any at all.

Walk the talk

There’s been a trend in meetings to involve stunts like holding a plank (yes, really) doing sit-ups or getting participants to pay a fine if they overrun an arbitrary time limit.

We say keep it simple, maybe try a standing meeting or walking and talking, the latter a technique favoured by Barack Obama and Mark Zuckerberg. Meetings can assist creative thinking so don’t rule them out completely, try to keep them short and productive.

Ditch the devices

Getting meeting attendees to leave their devices at the door is becoming a more popular meetings policy. Our smartphone, tablets and laptops can stifle concentration and laptops in particular present a physical barrier that doesn’t allow for open meetings.

Take a hard line

You may not want to follow billionaire boss Elon Musk’s lead. He has been known to walk out of meetings if he feels he is not adding value. Rather than taking a Musk-ish hard line you could suggest, before a meeting takes place, that your time would be better spent in a quiet space creating something of value.

Do you have a meetings rule?

Do you have your own rules for ensuring your meeting goes swimmingly or is very productive? We would love to hear from you – either post at the end of this article, Tweet us @10EightyCareers or leave a comment on our Facebook page.

Photo by Phil Coffman on Unsplash

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Posted in Employee engagement, Fun Friday, Homepage

Craft a best-in-class career experience across the talent life-cycle


Liz Sebag-MontefioreToday’s author is Liz Sebag-Montefiore, 10Eighty’s Founding Director who has provided HR solutions to a wide range of industries since 2005, working with numerous firms to understand their needs and is a great believer in the power and intelligence of networking. 

Fuel50’s latest seminar provided some food for thought around the theme of the changing workplace and job design. Workforce needs are changing and globally CEO’s believe the biggest challenge their organization faces in meeting their strategic objectives is having a sufficiently agile workforce.

Anne Fulton told us that talent management remains high on the agenda as automation and disruption in the marketplace means roles are disappearing at an unprecedented rate. It is essential that organisations are able to reskill the displaced workers even when they are not sure that their needs will be. In the face of a volatile environment is concerning to find that 40% of HR practitioners believe their organisation has insufficient talent resources to meet strategic business objectives.

The talent wars are over and talent won

Research suggests that 78% of employees would choose to stay if they knew what their career would like for the near future. Staff are energised when they have clarity on the opportunities open to them and a leader who is concerned to coach and develop them. To compete in a dynamic environment, organisations need to be able to design career paths that engage and motivate their people in this new environment.

Anne proposed the redesign of the career model along these lines:

  • Reimagine the organisation as an institution with citizenship and purpose
  • Listen to employees and stakeholders at all levels
  • Reinvent HR practices – focus on teams, agility, and inclusion
  • Adopt a growth mindset and enable every employee at any age to grow
  • Act local, empowering management to do what’s right in every community

Career pathing is the employee experience


The idea is to design meaningful career paths across the talent lifecycle – from recruiting through onboarding, performance, development and mobility through to the alumni stage. This involves crafting personalised work proposals based on individual career preferences and organisational needs to maximize both current performance and long-term goal alignment with an agile workforce that can be readily reshaped in response to evolving market conditions.

We have all long recognised the importance of the employer brand in terms of recruitment and onboarding and the value of facilitating promotion from within the organisation. Fuel50 say that organisations who support more junior candidates to acquire the skills necessary to ‘step up’ reported 50% better overall recruitment metrics.

Organisations are flatter and less hierarchical which means that for many employees the career ladder no longer provides obvious career progression. Tenure in roles tends to be of longer duration with changes in role sometimes involving a steep learning curve. In order to leverage talent and aspiration, we need to cultivate internal talent mobility.

The smart organisation must find profitable growth for the enterprise and the employee. A competitive environment means we need people who bring their ‘best self’ to work. This requires lateral growth thinking as well as forward focus, where career pathways are not necessarily seen as linear, but stretch and growth focussed.

At 10Eighty we believe that peer-based mentoring is a valuable exchange mechanism to address specific skills needs. However, as well as developing mentoring skills in the workforce there is a major problem in that many organisations seem to have trouble in defining what potential means!

Micro changes for macro impact on engagement

Fuel50 uses a performance vs. passion matrix to align talent with needs and do some customised job-sculpting that optimises potential. Every small change towards aligning work tasks with employee talents results in increased engagement. Sculpting job roles to meet employee aspirations will increase engagement and business performance, by up to 30% and that affords the organisation the talent mobility they need. In the modern workplace development initiatives need to be employee enabled, facilitated by the worker

In an agile career world, we need people who have broader more diversified capabilities, while also having the opportunity to maintain their connection to a specific area of expertise and competency as they move up towards higher levels of contribution. Research shows that on-the-job development opportunities, such as lateral moves, increase engagement by up to 30%.

In terms of mobility, Anne suggests that placing up-and-coming leaders in situations that provide the right degree of ‘stretch’ affords the opportunity to observe their resiliency, how they react to stress, so identifying potential derailers before they become problematic.

A striking point was made that only 18% of organisations keep in touch with their ex-employees. Failure to maintain contact with alumni is missing out on a huge opportunity; tap into the alumni population as they are a source of know-how and referrals that is invaluable. This is a particularly telling finding: employee referrals/alumni network was rated as the most effective recruitment strategy by 40% of respondents.

Career enablement drives business outcomes

The seminar concluded with a round-up of best-in-class practices:

  • Invest in talent mobility
  • Build an agile career development mindset
  • Enable careers at all levels
  • Empower managers to become career champions
  • Build leader coaching capability
  • Increase visibility of workforce talents and career paths

In short, when career enablement is done well it makes a real difference for everyone – best in class career practice organisations had 3x the revenue per employee than organisations who had not developed their career enablement practices.

Find out more

If you would like a demo of our career pathing software Fuel50 please complete the short form.

Photo by Mike Enerio on Unsplash

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Tea and productivity

National-Tea-Day-2018 Tea Productivity

Michael MoranToday’s blog post is by 10Eighty CEO and Founder Michael Moran. He has a passion for helping people maximise their potential and believes everyone should have job satisfaction and a successful career, and helps organisations design jobs and career paths that maximise employee engagement. 

A Chinese proverb says that “a day without tea is a day without joy.”

The British take their tea seriously so when we found out it was National Tea Day this Saturday (21 April 2018) we thought we’d bring you our exclusively 10Eighty take on the British workplace and the time-honoured tradition of the tea break.

The tea break is a chance to “down tools” and get away from the computer to relax from work for 10 minutes. Tea brings people together and every office has someone who asks if anyone wants a cup of tea with a frequency that may dismay some managers. The British consume 60 billion cups per year, according to the Tea and Infusions Organisation.

National-Tea-Day-2018 Tea Productivity

Bond and boost morale

Studies show that an average worker takes 24 minutes per day to make or fetch tea or coffees. That equates to 190 days of productivity over the course of a lifetime but the great British tea break ultimately makes workers more productive. Getting away from the desk or bench for a short break is known to increase productivity and the social aspect of the tea break improves bonding with co-workers thereby boosting morale.

Time taken over the tea break is not wasted, it only takes a couple of minutes to make a hot drink but more to the point workers who gather at the drinks machine or in the kitchen are engaging in conversation with other employees, and around 70 percent of those conversations are work-related. A tea break is an opportunity to network and to catch up with colleagues who work in other parts of the office.

At 10Eighty we think George Orwell was right in saying that tea is one of the “mainstays of civilisation”. We firmly believe that the tea break is an ideal opportunity to share knowledge and news about work-related issues, ultimately improving performance and efficiency; regular tea breaks help boost productivity, creativity and a sensible work/life balance.

Tea contains powerful antioxidants that can help boost your immune system, it is refreshing, whatever the weather, and can even put you in a better mood. Green tea has been proven to improve memory as well as increase task performance.

Share and enjoy

“The power of a quality cup of tea has long been a source of rejuvenation for Britain’s workforce and the tea break is integral in the workplace” says Isabelle Haynes, Senior Brand Manager, OOH at Tetley, well she would say that wouldn’t she?

Added to that anthropologist Kate Fox says that alongside its chemical properties, tea is an infallible social space-filler as “tea-making is the perfect displacement activity: whenever the English feel awkward or uncomfortable in a social situation (that is, almost all the time), they make tea.”

James Field, senior training manager at Debrett’s Training Academy, said the British tend to feel that it’s important to be able to offer clients a tea “because it can be a daunting thing coming into your office. They’re not in their space and they may feel a little on edge, so to get the best out of them, it’s important to serve them well.”

Which brings us to the important question of what to have with the tea, because we all know that tea is too wet without a biscuit. A study by biscuit baker, Thomas J Fudges, of 2,000 British workers, revealed one in four would be more likely to close a deal in a meeting because of the biscuits provided, with shortbread, chocolate bourbons and flapjacks all likely to win a favourable reaction.

Whether you favour builder’s tea, Earl Grey or iced tea, which may be the tea of choice this sunny weekend, make time to take your tea break.

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Posted in Corporate culture, Developing yourself, Fun Friday, Homepage

Tips for Taking time off: make the most of the long Easter weekend


Emma MitchellToday’s blogpost is by Leadership and Management Director, Emma Mitchell, a People Development professional with 2 decades plus experience of training and coaching business professionals from many sectors. Her focus is developing people and maximising their potential for leadership through coaching and training facilitation.

This weekend is the longest public holiday we’ll have in the UK until Christmas, over 8 months away, and we think you should make the most of it.

As regular readers will know we’re great believers in the Work Hard, Play Hard ethos and with a full 4 days off on the horizon we thought, this Maundy Thursday, we would give you some handy ideas for optimising those 104 hours of free time.

First, let’s take a quick detour to Japan. Have you heard of the term “karoshi”? It means “death due to overwork” and there’s even an organisation called the National Defense Counsel for Victims of Karoshi.

A 2016 report examining karoshi cases and their cause of death found that more than 20% of people in a survey of 10,000 Japanese workers said they worked at least 80 hours of overtime a month. The organisation estimates that around 10,000 people die from overwork every year in Japan. Even more impetus for taking a day or two off every now and then…

But there’s a problem. Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, in the book ‘Flow’, says that studies show people to be happier at work – even when they say that they would rather be at home.

We think the solution is to put more thought into spending days off. Work provides a practical and mental structure for a good part of our weeks. Whereas leisure, if it is not planned, can end up as aimless hours watching a mediocre production on Netflix or freeform Googling.

We’ve blogged a lot over the years about working more productively and optimising your skills and probably haven’t posted so much about kicking back. Although we did wax lyrical about the benefits of boredom last week!

If you seriously relax this long weekend we’re convinced you’ll have more creative energy to apply next Tuesday.

Everyone has different activities that help them to relax. You may enjoy reading books or listening to podcasts or audiobooks and spending some solitary time, but you could equally enjoy a loud night out with friends at a pub or restaurant.


Its horses for course, but we think there are some common principles for taking better time off.

Divide your work and leisure time – Draw a line between time for work and time for leisure (admittedly harder if you’re a work-at-home freelancer). If you work on your days off (something a lot of us are guilty of), your body can be lazy during work days to compensate. One way to avoid this is to work at certain times. For example, make a pact with yourself to stop working at 6.30pm and not start before 8.30am.

Plan ahead – Some people work without to-do lists, plans or goals. Others need structure to move forward. You may be completely spontaneous when you take time off or you may have more fun when you plan ahead, which has become much easier in recent years with online booking now the norm unless you’re trying to get a ticket for Glastonbury or equally popular events!

Keep your bookshelf full – If you enjoy reading, a book can be an excellent way to avoid wasting your time off. If you don’t enjoy reading, try an audiobook or start listening to a podcast. You can do something else at the same time and maybe learn something new too.

Keep an events calendar – Whether your preference is art, sports or history there’s often plenty of potential activities you may want to go along to. See if you can book at least an event every month to ensure you’re never out of options for interesting things to do.

Join clubs and classes – And not for a qualification, that could be too stressful. Learn something you’ve always wanted to try out: such as ballroom dancing, martial arts, French cooking, public speaking or playing a musical instrument. Don’t set yourself milestones, learn without pressure to take your mind off results and just focus on the process.

Have a slow day – Just aim to be as slow as possible. Wake up early and have a leisurely cooked breakfast (blueberry pancakes and maple syrup perhaps?), several hours reading and walk or take public transport (off-peak naturally!). It can refresh your mind to aim for the opposite of a typically busy day.

Meditate – And we don’t mean sitting uncomfortably on a bamboo mat for three hours chanting ‘Om’. Just take some extra time with your thoughts. File away those ideas that have been jumping around in your head but you haven’t had the time to sift through.

Look at the big picture – Spend the whole day reviewing your life (not just your work life). What is going well and what isn’t? Plan, set big goals or completely change your approach. This could really help to inject new energy into goals that might dissipate if you don’t put the time in now.

(re) Connect – Go through your e-mail inbox and message several people you haven’t talked to or met up with in a while. Call up old friends (yes you can use that smartphone to talk into too!) and arrange a meetup. Don’t let relationships dissolve because you are too busy.

Work hard, play hard – Make your most intense workday the one before your day off. Then you will have more of an incentive to get more done, knowing you have the entire day (or next 4 days) off to relax.

Try a half-day holiday – At other times of the year sometimes an entire day off is impossible. How about having a half or quarter day off instead? Go and see that exhibition you wanted to catch on a quiet Wednesday afternoon from work or savour a matinee at your favourite cinema.

There’s probably umpteen things you’ve probably been meaning to do. Seize the day and do some of them over the long Easter break or plan a longer term goal over the next 12 months. Whatever you do everyone at 10Eighty hopes you have a great Easter 2018!

Photo by Samantha Gades on Unsplash

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Creativity and boredom

creativity and boredom

Liz Sebag-MontefioreToday’s author is Liz Sebag-Montefiore, 10Eighty’s Founding Director who has provided HR solutions to a wide range of industries since 2005, working with numerous firms to understand their needs and is a great believer in the power and intelligence of networking. 

Do you ever have those ‘glazed over’ moments at work? Almost unconsciously you cease concentrating and your mind wanders, often from a completely anodyne thought such as what you fancy for dinner that evening, roaming to the more fantastical or off-the-wall.

The most common reaction to this daydream experience is guilt, a sense that we have been ‘busy doing nothing’ and didn’t even notice the time passing. Worse still, that we were bored with our work.

It turns out, however, that a certain level of boredom may enhance the creative quality of our work.

creativity and boredom

That’s the implications of two recently published papers that focus on the link between feeling bored and being creative. Research suggests that people who want to come up with creative ideas would do well to let their minds drift.

A 2014 study in the Journal of Experimental Social Psychology found that bored people “are more likely to engage in sensation seeking”, In other words, to seek out activities or sights that engage their minds and stimulate the brain’s reward centres.

This type is more prone to “divergent thinking styles”—the ability to come up with creative new ideas. The study concludes that “Boredom may encourage people to approach rewards and spark associative thought.”

Another 2014 study by the University of Central Lancashire tested the link between boredom and creativity.

They asked 80 participants to perform boring tasks like copying and reading numbers from a phone book and then come up with as many possible uses for plastic cups as they could.

The groups completing the boring phone book tasks beforehand came up with more creative answers than the control group that had not.

“Coming up with a boring task (especially a reading task),” the authors conclude, “might help with coming up with a more creative outcome.”

So boredom felt at work could help us get our work done better…or at least get work that requires creative thinking done better.

It’s possible that boredom can inspire “lateral thinking”—a form of engaging your mind to seek a more creative solution to the problem at hand, because the obvious one is just not very interesting.

So before you sit down to write, paint, brainstorm or examine a problem and produce a concise, effective solution (convergent thinking) you could try spending some time on humdrum activities such as washing the dishes, going through emails or inputting data – the better to set your brain roaming for bright ideas.

You could schedule your creative task after a particularly dull staff meeting (that’s not to say all meetings are boring, but many are unnecessary or loaded with too many people – read our recent pizza blogpost for elucidation.)

So next time you’re feeling bored at work, treat it as an opportunity, not a negative. As author Neil Gaiman says: “Ideas come from daydreaming. They come from drifting.”

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Download our Women’s Careers White Paper: What Helps? What Hinders?

International Women's Day Women's Careers

Originally released in 2016 we’re re-promoting Executive Coach Gill Amos’ White Paper ‘Women’s Careers: What Helps? What Hinders’ for International Women’s Day 2018.

The White Paper, based on Executive Coach Gill Amos’s research into what helps and what hinders women’s careers. reveals two factors:

  • extrinsic factors determine whether you are able to exploit opportunities as they present themselves, these are: you need informal career support, the support of your manager, luck, and you need to have developed your personal brand.
  • intrinsic factors such as drive, resilience, adaptability, confidence and the ability to take career risks are also essential to career success10Eighty Womens Careers White Paper

Interestingly recent legislation gender pay reporting is now attempting to address this issue by requiring employers with 250 people to publish statutory calculations every year that show how large the pay gap is between their male and female employees.

Gill’s research identifies ‘blockers’. Again using the extrinsic and intrinsic factors model: extrinsic factors are children, a poor manager and male behaviour that looks after other men; intrinsic factors such as self-confidence and self-esteem.

Eradicating blockers to equality

More importantly, the research identifies what both individuals and organisations can do to eradicate these blockers. The individual needs to know themselves.

Our career pathing software Fuel50 helps to identify what motivates the individual, what it is that they enjoy doing and are good at. These factors are essential to successful career planning. You need to build a network. We believe that investing in helping people in your network is vital to them helping you. You need drive and resilience. Being prepared to negotiate your career goals is also important.

Organisations can facilitate career development for women by establishing role models, sharing success stories, putting in support networks and the mandating of unconscious bias training of all managers. The provision of career management support tools will significantly help to deliver more role models, share success stories and give women line of sight of opportunities across the organisation.

Michael Moran, CEO of 10Eighty believes “Too many organisations fail to tap into the potential of their people. People development all too often is left to chance. It is okay to say career management is the responsibility of the employee, but you have to put in place the infrastructure in which people can plan their careers. You have got to facilitate and enable employees. Organisations that leave career development to chance will lose their best people, fail to engage their employees and subsequently underachieve as businesses”.

Since we released the White Paper gender pay parity has found real momentum via the Times Up and #MeToo movement, originating in the ubiquity of sexual harassment, it has widened its scope to address the position of women in the workplace and the wider world, encapsulated in the new hashtag #PressForProgress.

International Women's Day Women's Careers

Download Gill’s White Paper

Click here to get your own copy of ‘Women’s Careers: What Helps? What Hinders’.

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Learning to beat stress


Emma MitchellToday’s blogpost is by Leadership and Management Director, Emma Mitchell, a People Development professional with 2 decades plus experience of training and coaching business professionals from many sectors. Her focus is developing people and maximising their potential for leadership through coaching and training facilitation.

Real Bread Week, starts this weekend on 24th February, is the annual celebration of supporting your local independent real bread bakery and baking your own.

At 10Eighty we believe in lifelong learning and the value of learning new skills. Making bread is a great stressbuster too. With nothing more than flour, water, yeast, a little salt and a bit of kneading, anyone can turn out a loaf to be proud of; sourdough is easy but takes a bit longer.

The process of kneading and working the dough is soothing and therapeutic. Frustrated with a project? Mad at your manager? Fed up with a drama-queen co-worker? Take out all your frustrations out on the bread dough and when you are done, you will feel better and you will have hot, fresh bread.


Don’t think baking is the answer? There are plenty of ways to address stress.

Connect and share

At 10Eighty we value networking and collaboration but know that stress can make the friendliest person want to hide under the duvet. Don’t shoulder the burden. Someone to share your problems is a huge help in offloading stress. Talking will help you work through the tension, will distract you from the immediate frustrations and irritations of the situation, and you may well find a resolution by talking through your options. If you feel stressed out, take some time to call a friend or meet up with someone you can talk to. Sometimes if we can just get out and escape the stress for a while, we can establish a better state-of-mind to deal life.

Learning a new skill really is good for you. So if not baking what about tango, or chess, or carpentry? 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.

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 thing 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. Or you take in some home-made baked goods and boost your popularity with colleagues.

Small creative tasks make people feel better. According to a study published in the Journal of Positive Psychology people who frequently take a turn at small, creative projects report feeling more relaxed and happier in their everyday lives. The researchers followed 658 people for about two weeks and found that doing small, everyday things like cooking and baking made the group feel more enthusiastic about their pursuits the next day.

In addition to feeling happier, people who worked on small creative projects every day also felt they were “flourishing” – a psychological term that describes the feeling of personal growth.

It’s Friday, resolve to spend some time over the weekend making something, doing something different, or learning something new. Give yourself space to flourish!

Photo by Nadya Spetnitskaya on Unsplash

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Gong hey fat choy

Liz Sebag-MontefioreToday’s author is Liz Sebag-Montefiore, 10Eighty’s Founding Director who has provided HR solutions to a wide range of industries since 2005, working with numerous firms to understand their needs and is a great believer in the power and intelligence of networking. 

This year Chinese New Year falls on Friday, 16th February; also known as “Spring Festival” in modern China, this is the most important traditional festival, celebrated at the turn of the traditional lunisolar Chinese calendar. There is a tradition not to pick up a broom, in case you sweep the good luck for the New Year out of the door!

Apart from providing an opportunity to celebrate with fireworks and a feast of Chinese food, it gives you a second chance at your New Year resolutions! Failed to give up smoking, failed to use your gym membership, give it another try on Saturday.

This year will be the year of the Dog. It is believed that the dog is a symbol of loyalty, bravery and caring for others. The best news is that it is a whole two weeks of celebration.


Resolving to do better

At 10Eighty we believe that setting goals is useful in personal and professional development, so let’s look again at those resolutions you made at end of December. The most common reason we fail to keep New Years’ resolutions is that we set unrealistic goals. Surveys reveal that 32% of respondents say that their resolutions are usually broken by the end of January, while only 10% said they never break one.

It’s smart to be realistic, I particularly like the suggestion by psychologist Oliver Burkeman to choose something to stop doing. Something worthwhile, that you really don’t have time for; we wear ourselves out being hyper-busy, trying to cope with more than is sensible. Stop, think and address the overload. “Quit your book group; stop struggling to make dates with that hard-to-pin-down friend; accept you’ll never be a good cook. Not because those things are bad; because it’s the only way to do other things well”.

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.

Tips for setting effective goals

  • Express goals positively, focus on what you want to achieve
  • Be specific in terms of timeline so as to track progress towards your goals
  • Prioritise to decide which of goals to your attention on first
  • Write goals down as a reminder and so they can be reviewed regularly
  • Chunk down goals to small, achievable tasks – this allows frequent opportunities to accomplish a goal
  • Set realistic goals that are achievable and within your own control

Plan for success by applying some focus to the steps you need to take to achieve your goals. Ensure that your goals are aligned with your values and strengths. Commit the plan to paper and keep it somewhere handy so you can refer to it periodically. Setting targets and achieving them builds positive feelings of accomplishment.

A useful trick, that we use a lot at our events, is send yourself a postcard. Write your three key resolutions down and post the card to yourself. Pin it somewhere that will catch the eye, as a reminder of what’s important in 2018.

Gong Hey Fat Choy, buy some Chinese beer, cook a stir fry and share some fortune cookies around, there’s a whole near year ahead.

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Succession planning and leadership development


Michael MoranToday’s blogpost is by 10Eighty CEO and Founder Michael Moran. He has a passion for helping people maximise their potential and believes everyone should have job satisfaction and a successful career. He helps organisations design jobs and career paths that maximise employee engagement. 

An effective succession planning strategy is more than a simple matter of replacing executives as they leave or retire and needs to include a robust leadership development system. A successful integration of leadership development and succession planning systems facilitates a flexible, versatile and agile succession pipeline.

In a competitive environment organisational success relies on good talent management and development planning. Identifying and nurturing a leadership pipeline is fundamental in ensuring that organisational leadership ready for present and future challenges. Focus on identifying potential gaps in key personnel and creating programmes to meet organisational needs and ensure that the system capitalises on the intellectual capital of the organisation to build a talent pool of leadership candidates.

Development opportunities are important to employees at all levels, indeed those seeking new roles frequently cite lack of development as a reason for departure. At 10Eighty we champion career planning, mapping potential career paths and working with employees to align organisational and personal objectives. Employees need to commit to an individual development plan and take ownership of their career capital and stated long-term development objectives.

Career development and succession planning dovetail – an organisation-wide perspective on leadership development facilitates enhanced leadership capacity and talent pool for succession planning. Managing the pipeline for succession provides continuity while building bench strength and optimising the potential of ambitious and committed employees.


There’s no quick fix here as leadership development is an ongoing process. Research shows that executives find learning from work-related experience to be a more powerful force for their development as compared with classroom-based learning, (McCall et al). It’s important to provide the relevant development initiatives that will prepare potential leaders for more responsible assignments. Ultimately investing in staff gives the organisation a competitive edge.

Structuring a succession plan

There are some key questions to answer in order to start planning:

  • What are key or “corporate-critical” roles?
  • What does a high-potential mean in terms of the current team?
  • How does the organisation fill key roles and what percentage of those should be filled from within the organisation?
  • How many of those key roles should have at least one identified successor?
  • How will individual employee career goals and objectives align with the succession management plan?

Succession planning supports the development of strong leadership by building the skills and competencies of staff who can best manage the organisation for the achievement of strategic goals.

Aim to design leadership programmes as developmental systems that build experience to achieve that organisational strategy by ensuring that development programmes are relevant and forward-thinking. It’s crucial to support those on development programmes to put their learning into practice, one of the most common pitfalls in development initiatives is failure to support changes in behaviour and thinking when delegates return to work; a supportive culture is essential.

Structuring leadership development

At 10Eighty we believe that leadership development is most successful when designed with a robust understanding of the specific context where it is to be applied, the personal development needs of each leader, and the expectation that leadership learning will be assimilated into working practice.

Consider some key factors that will allow the design of a suitable initiative:

  • What leadership development opportunities are available to high-potential staff, talented individuals and business-critical employees and what is the take-up?
  • How can the organisation identify and use opportunities to strengthen leadership capacity, particularly around strategic priorities?
  • How clearly does the organisation communicate its commitment to facilitating employee career paths through a range of opportunities?
  • Does the organisation provide clear messages about their commitment to leadership development?
  • Is the organisation confident it has capacity to cope with resignations or the long-term absence of key members of the leadership team?

Leadership development establishes the groundwork for succession management so needs to be designed as an integral part of the organisation’s HR strategy and designed to suit the organisational context. As a starting point, we recommend that the organisation map specific activities and timeframes around employee skills and performance development, with the aim of preparing for future roles. The agreed plan is a collaborative effort and commitment between employee and manager with the objective of building the employee’s target development capabilities.

A practical leadership development programme based on a rigorous analysis of organisational needs and leadership capabilities should focus on learning goals that are aligned with internal systems and processes so it is quickly embedded in the way the organisation operates. Successful delivery of leadership development requires a careful balance between business needs and the personal needs of each leader.

Overall our approach envisages a natural linkage – the provision of structured career management, tailored leadership development and succession planning programmes – that aligns personal, professional and corporate objectives to benefit of all concerned.

A well designed and integrated succession and development programme enhances leadership bench strength and creates a leadership pipeline while giving the organisational a highly developed workforce that is agile and fit to face the challenges and opportunities that are a constant in the modern workplace.


McCall, M. W., Jr., Lombardo, M. M., & Morrison, A. M. (1988). The lessons of experience: How successful executives develop on the job. Lexington, MA: Lexington Books.

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Michael Moran – CEO 10Eighty

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