Why it’s all about culture!

Today’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 Michael Moransatisfaction 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 podcast series, he interviews entrepreneurs and business leaders who have some really creative and energising ideas. His recent interview with Jonathan Neman of Sweetgreen, a start-up food company, rang a lot of bells for me, a positive peal of them in fact. Sweetgreen has a very strong company culture that focuses on passion and purpose. I reference the article on Linkedin last month.

This is a touchstone for me, my whole career has been about my passion for helping people maximise their potential and I believe everyone should have job satisfaction and a successful career. At 10Eighty our motto is “work hard, do good and along the way have fun”. I believe leaders need to foster a culture of curiosity and encourage employees to learn and grow as part of their working life.

Interestingly Neman defines Sweetgreen’s culture as: happy, humble, hardworking, curious and coachable. That picks up some other enthusiasms of my own, I am keen proponent of lifelong learning and the value of curiosity. I want to work with people who are keen to learn, want to find things out and how things work, eager to try new things, not afraid to ask questions and take a risk sometimes; people who will pick up the ball and run with it.

I believe that what leaders need to do is to create a meaningful employee experience for their people. This is not just about employee engagement but also about creating a great experience for customers that goes above and beyond. Sweetgreen are on a mission – working for them is not just a job they want their team to understand that there is a greater purpose both from a company and community perspective.

I’m a big sports fan, as regular readers will know, I think business can learn a lot about team building and motivation from some elite coaches. I was happy to hear that at Sweetgreen they view the work as a team sport. Leadership and good management are important but in no organisation can one person do it alone. Work is cross functional so collaboration and knowledge sharing are key. I believe it’s important to hire for attitude, look for people who will share the credit and have positive intent.

Another thing that struck a chord for me was the assertion that humility leads to wanting to hire people that are better than you. Hire smart people and then let them get on with it; micro-management doesn’t bring out the best in anyone. Empowerment and autonomy make this work, good people don’t want to be told what to do, they want a goal and then to be trusted to give it their best shot.

Live your values

At10Eighty we emphasise the value of curiosity and the pursuit of learning for its own sake. Neman thinks that velocity of learning is what matters, the right attitude to problem-solving. We want to work with people who are curious, coachable and committed to personal development. That means it’s important to have real conversations about goals, exceeding the day job, development work and stretch assignments.

Jonathan Neman’s advice for leaders:

·        Connect to your mission

·        Don’t just put values up on the wall, make them real action items for everyone

·        Allow your team to co-build the culture together

·        Understand that your culture will evolve over time


Creating a great culture is, simply, the right thing to do. It’s not HR fuzzy feel-good thinking, because employee engagement makes a difference to productivity and profits. Ensuring your organisation is a great place to work is the right thing to do for the team, it makes the workforce happy, makes the customers happier and makes more money, it’s a win-win-win situation.

Posted in Corporate culture

Outplacement, globalisation and collaboration

Today’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 Michael Moransatisfaction and a successful career and helps organisations design jobs and career paths that maximise employee engagement. 

Globalisation leads to overall benefits for growth and employment, but it can also cost some jobs, and it’s important that transnational organisations develop programmes to help these workers to explore new and different opportunities.

The march of globalisation means more organisations need to develop the effective capability to locate, source and manage human resources anywhere in the world and enable their organisations to manage the wide range of options associated with global resourcing.

HR is working with an ever more diverse and global workforce and it is a challenge to ensure that HR professionals have available to them HR processes that are robust enough to operate across cultures and diverse labour markets. Employees in career transition programmes need programmes that enable them either to remain in employment or find a new job quickly; this should comprise of counselling, job search advice, technical resources, appropriate training and entrepreneurial support.

Increasingly, workers suffer job insecurity and the life-long job guarantee has disappeared. Responsible organisations provide career transition programmes for displaced workers to improve their chances of finding new and better jobs, the emphasis being on protecting and empowering people, helping them move on, set up new businesses, acquire new skills, and rethink their career management planning. This, of course, is very different from trying to protect jobs. The life cycle for technical skills is getting shorter and shorter; any specialisation in technical knowledge will not last a career span. In times of bankruptcy, downsizing, mergers, outsourcing, and off-shoring, businesses frequently offer outplacement assistance, but rarely career re-training.

The rapid pace of change and globalisation alongside shareholder pressure to perform mean that organisations may have to make difficult decisions regarding employees but the impact is not limited to departing employees. Those employees left behind are also affected and, if redundancy is badly handled, the effect upon an organisation can be serious.

It is vital to handle displaced workers professionally, not just for the individual but for the reputation of the organisation and the motivation of those left behind. Outplacement services can be used to protect the organisation’s image and brand from adverse publicity that sometimes arise from staff lay-offs and the potential for former staff to criticise the organisation.

Managing effectively across multiple cultures is one of the toughest tasks facing HR professionals in transnational organisations. Creating structures to identify and deal with specific cultural problems an organisation may face and processes to deal with HR administration in a multi-domain structure is a necessity in the modern workplace.

The GOA helps individuals make successful career transitions. GOA works with organisations to ensure they manage change, maintaining their employer brand at the same time helping their employees’ maximise their potential.

This year’s GOA conference was held last week in Louisville at which 15 participating members came together to share best practice in outplacement.

Posted in Change management, Outplacement, Uncategorized

Cracking career architecture for a 2020 career experience

Today’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 Michael Moransatisfaction and a successful career and helps organisations design jobs and career paths that maximise employee engagement. 

Fuel50’s latest seminar looked at the challenge of defining career frameworks in a disrupted world. The good news is that today it is easier than ever before to build career frameworks highlighting the competences that drive performance. The future of work depends on agile career pathing solutions that allow organisations to deliver a 2020 career experience for employees that is personalised and based on employee values, talents and career aspirations. In short today’s career paths must be employee centric. To thrive in the modern business world, it is critical that roles enable employees to play to their strengths, those things that energise them. In this dynamic, rapidly moving environment, you 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 around the organisation.

At 10Eighty we champion the Fuel50 system which uses a path mapping capability to incorporate job functions, jobs content, skills, competencies, matching them to the values and talents of employees. Fuel50 uses an IBM framework to identify core competencies and leadership behaviours. The database has 3000 roles and over 2000 competences. The adoption of this “one I created earlier approach” facilitates speed of implementation, external benchmarking and an updating capability to ensure competences do not become obsolete.

Career development is key to retention of talented employees

Employees expect to be empowered, with resources and support from the organisation, in order that they are truly able to take control of their own career path.  They expect this career experience to be tailor to their values, motivators and talents. They also expect career development and will, in fact, move on if it is not available to them; there is an expectation that their organisations will make them more employable. Employees need to be able match themselves against the competences required for roles to which they aspire. The problem is that until recently most organisations have struggled to collate this base data and to make it widely available to all employees; and, all too often this was restricted a few anointed individuals who were deemed to be high potential or emerging talent. The latest generation of career pathway software, and the underpinning AI, can allow individuals to truly own and manage their careers. Organisations that fail to embrace this technology will increasingly lose talent and be unable to attract it.

Start from where you are

So, assuming this article resonates with you, where do you start? It sounds like a big ask but one of the key points made in the seminar was that making a start is the important piece, the architecture can be built process by process and will evolve as jobs and markets change. Some parts of the organisation may have clarity around their roles and competencies while others are less mature in terms of career architecture. Taking a small section of the organisation and making a trial of the framework will pay dividends that make the effort well worthwhile. I also strongly believe that by giving employees a better understanding of themselves, as to what is important, what motivates and what it is they enjoying doing and are consequently good at, is a critical first step. To quote Lao Tzu “The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step.” This small step, will drive up employee engagement, increase productivity and reduce attrition.

Find out more

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

Posted in career conversations, career management, coaching

Leadership in context

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

What constitutes good leadership is a perennial theme discussed by the HR community. Management consultancy McKinsey point out that a great deal has been written about Winston Churchill, Mahatma Gandhi, Abraham Lincoln, Ernest Shackleton, and countless other celebrated leaders. The volume is overwhelming but what emerges is that one leader’s experience may be completely inapplicable to another’s.

In essence, leadership is only leadership because followers share an understanding that an act by a particular person in a specific setting constitutes leadership. The context of the performance of leadership is inseparable from the actions of leading. In reality leadership happens at all levels within an organisation. The Chief Executive may be charged with the strategic direction and control of operations but the receptionist or security guard who prevents or solves a problem is also acting as a leader. In fact, junior-most employees may have the best insight into customer needs and levels of satisfaction. The CIPD points out that “employees without formal managerial responsibility are now expected to treat the organisation’s agenda as their own, lead from the front line and do ‘the right thing’ for the customer and for their employer, sometimes without time to consult up the organisational hierarchy”.

Nitin Nohria, dean of Harvard Business School, says ”there is no single characteristic that defines great business leaders. There are many paths to success”. Leadership is context-sensitive, an effective leader in one era may be quite different from being an effective leader in another.

Situational, not scripted.

When we talk about leadership development it is important not to forget the context of the workplace, the employees, and the work overall. The McKinsey study points out that “people seeking to lead companies effectively and for organizations seeking to develop managers who can deploy different kinds of leadership behaviour when appropriate, recognising and responding to a company’s health is far more important than following scripts written by or about great leaders”.

Context is more easily defined than leadership. Context comprises such things as organisational values and cultures, social and professional relationships and interactions, the influences, drivers and local, national and international trends. Some are conscious influences, others are subliminal, but such things impact on how leadership is enacted within the organisation. The CIPD suggests that even where individuals have the capability to lead, organisational factors may affect their ability to respond to the external context. These factors are:
1. Hierarchy and bureaucracy undermine devolved, front-line leadership.
2. Short-term, bottom-line focus overshadows priorities of delivering quality.
3. Individualism in reward and accountability hinders collaborative working and creates inertia.
4. ‘Us’ and ‘them’ mentality obstructs the potential benefits of workforce diversity.

Nobody thinks that rigid hierarchies, micro-management or personality cults are evidence of good leadership; rather that healthy organisational leadership affords support for colleagues and subordinates, alongside understanding of their needs and aspirations. Leaders of successful organisations empower employees to aspire by setting stretch goals which inspire the achievement of potential.

Good leadership makes all the difference because, as Bazigos, Gagnon and Schaninger suggest, “leaders who embrace agility and seek different perspectives to help ensure that their companies don’t overlook possibly better ways of doing things”. So leadership development should be driven by and embedded in the context and challenges that leaders in the organisation face. The focus is on organisational relationships, connectivity and collaboration, employing agile systems and flexible practices in the face of a dynamic environment.


Coping with constant change

All too many leadership development programmes fail to articulate a perspective on leadership that goes beyond competencies, behaviours and values approach to consider the context in which leadership is exercised. In a paper for the King’s Fund Kim Turnbull James offers a clear picture of great leadership, which is “leadership creates an environment where new knowledge – collective learning – can be co-created and implemented rather than just as the implementation of a top leader plan”. After all, the culture of an organisation is dynamic and will be in a state of constant change.

So, leadership is not a set of behaviours that can be prescribed and applied on a one size fits all basis. Senior managers need self-awareness, a commitment to personal development and an appropriate skill set but they also need to be able to learn and adapt to changing circumstances – to understand and respond to their particular contexts and enact the skills and capabilities required for a given situation and time.

Turnbull James suggests that “identifying individuals who have leader potential is not the (only) solution. Leadership development ‘in context’ does not just mean individual leadership development adapted to a specific locale, but means people from that locale coming together to learn to lead together and to address real challenges together”.
10Eighty recommend that in developing leadership programmes, organisations need to look at the appropriate options for their needs in terms of leader and leadership development so as to help individuals identify with their role as a leader at work and empower them in developing the skills they need to adopt with colleagues and team members to create the change the organisation wishes to achieve. Understanding of context, mediates and defines the enactment of leadership in the organisation.

Context and culture

A leadership development programme to future-proof the organisation needs to address:
• what constitutes effective and authentic leadership;
• the challenges to leadership in the current contexts and environment;
• encouraging reflective practice and self-reflection to develop an awareness of diversity and personal leadership contributions;
• the shared meaning and values that shape organisational culture and how it is situated in a complex environments;
• technical and interpersonal skills for effective team membership or leadership of a team.

You can’t ignore context when talking about leadership development because it is widely accepted that we learn best when able to connect new information and skills to personal experience (Hull 1993). Leadership development needs to be thought of as an integral component of organisational strategy and key to creative thinking and cross-functional problem-solving.

I have long championed the notion that self-awareness, or self-insight, is essential characteristic of effective leaders. London and Maurer suggest that “leaders need self-awareness to know what’s happening with their own emotions, maintain a positive state, keep distressing emotions out of the way, be empathetic, and prime positive emotions in others” (London and Maurer, 2004). Self-awareness is key to being able to manage oneself and choose behaviours which encourage certain behaviours from followers, resulting in effective leadership performance. Richard Bolden, of Exeter University, warns that self-awareness should encourage leaders to be curious about the self in relation to others, and to hold that self-knowledge lightly, with humour and compassion for both self and others.

Leadership at all levels

Good leadership relies on knowledge of good people management practice and skills, the ability to communicate, authenticity and openness, such attributes are critical to effective leadership. Peter Cheese of the CIPD says we need to do a better job of developing leadership capabilities at all levels: “managers need to be leaders as well, to engage and get the most out of their teams, to manage the conflicts and issues, to ensure alignment to purpose and values, and to recognise individuals in a diverse world”.

It’s important to define what the organisation hopes to achieve through leadership development. It may be to grow the next generation of senior leaders by identifying and developing strategic leadership potential or, perhaps, to achieve enhanced employee productivity and devolved decision-making responsibility. Alignment with organisational strategic objectives is crucial; think about all the stakeholders in the process: leaders and followers, and the context in which they interact.

Developing talent should be viewed as part of organisational culture, and leadership development programmes that harness super-charge potential need to be connected to strategy in order to deliver real results for the organisation. At 10Eighty we aim to develop and prepare leaders for changing roles and business needs.
The last word goes to Dan Pink who says we need to encourage “leadership that takes a step back and says, “How can I help other people lead?”

Bazigos et al, 2016, Leadership in context, McKinsey – https://www.mckinsey.com/business-functions/organization/our-insights/leadership-in-context
Hull, Glynda A. 1993. “Hearing other voices: A critical assessment of popular views on literacy and work.” Harvard Educational Review
London, M. & Maurer, T. (2004) ‘Leadership Development: A Diagnostic Model for Continuous Learning in Dynamic Organizations’ in Antonakis, J., Cianciolo, A. and Sternberg, R. (Eds) The Nature of Leadership, London: Sage.
Turnbull James, K., 2011, Leadership in context, Lessons from new leadership theory and current leadership development practice, The King’s Fund

Posted in Leadership Development

A Sporting Chance


One of my favourite speakers is Damian Hughes, professor of organisational psychology and change at Manchester Metropolitan University. He’s the ultimate coach’s coach, an academic with a sports background who knows about the winning mindset.

Great coaches, according to Hughes, have something in common. “They create an environment in which people feel safe enough to ask questions and admit they don’t know everything. That’s where the real coaching work begins because people are exposing a gap in their knowledge and are looking for a leader to help them fill that gap.”

From Liquid Thinking and How to Think Like Sir Alex Ferguson to his latest book The Barcelona Way Damian offers unique insights into the issues confronting the modern corporate environment, and shows how the lessons learnt at FC Barcelona can also be applied to develop a winning corporate culture.

The new book is not so much the Barcelona way as the Pep Guardiola way. Guardiola knows about teamwork “Winning is very hard, whatever the competition. And winning again is even harder. We have worked hard all this time, and that’s what I’m proudest of. I give you my word that the players will make the utmost effort”.

A winning environment

The power of teamwork is that the sum of the total resource is greater than the individual constituent parts. Coaching can make a real difference, a study by Borland and Lye which looked at coaches working in Australian Rules Football noted that there is direct evidence of a coach-team match-specific effect on team performance. Successful coaches are more than great motivator, they are leaders, mentors, and teachers, they cultivate behaviours that drive passion and performance. Matching the coach to the team or individual is important as there is a level of trust and confidence involved but a coach facilitates learning and coachees is empowered to continuous learning and improved performance.

Good coaching is about creating a winning environment – recruiting, developing and nurturing talent, communicating a shared vision to a diverse team of individuals, delivering on stakeholder expectations while overcoming significant challenges, handling pressure and staying focused. As Damian puts it: “One of the trademarks of Manchester United as a club is that they keep on coming at you. Ferguson was relentless with his ‘We expect to win’ tone”.

The key to success is a willingness to learn. We know that those who thrive in changing times are those with the ability to see, feel and experience success before they actually achieve it. Damian Hughes has a formula for this:

I x V = R which represents Imagination x Vividness = Reality

And he describes Sir Alex Ferguson’s great strength as his insistence that everyone at his club shared his ruthless focus on ignoring what he called’ the peripherals of change’ and managing the challenge of an exclusive focus on being the best.

Good goals

I’m a great proponent of setting and regularly reviewing goals as a way to make sense of personal and professional life. Edwin Locke and Gary Latham spent years studying top performers and found they all set goals. They estimate that an effective goal can improve performance by up to 16% (the equivalent of saving yourself an hour in an average eight hour day). All the sportspeople that Damian quotes suggest that focus on the goal is key to success. He points out the problem for most people is that they lose sight of their strengths at the very time they need to be focusing on then the most. Your strengths represent the things you really excel at. Understanding this and ensuring your use them more effectively enables the creation of a winning environment.

Posted in Career advice, coaching, Collaboration, Corporate culture

Creating the right workplace environment

Today’s blog post is also 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 think we often forget about the importance of the work environment. I for one was at one time one those HR professionals who shied away from facilities management. When, truth be known, when and where people work is critical to organisational effectiveness. In my case the opportunity to design a dealing room, and dictate who sat next to each other, and the consequent impact on work processes opened my eyes to the need to afford careful consideration to the workplace environment.

A recent Future of Work podcast engaged in a discussion with Mary Bilbrey, the chief human resource officer of JLL in the Americas, around the corporate real estate environment and workplace strategy integrates with the talent strategy. Mary talks about the use of space and technology within the space to promote wellbeing. She mentions the new McDonald’s headquarters in Chicago which is a really smart building, where employees are using apps to book rooms and set the workplace temperature for their workspace, the space is flexible in terms of open-plan, hot desking, pods, break-out areas, conference facilities and collaborative working.

Impact on the employee experience

This approach provides not just financial operational efficiency but an employee experience which is really fit for the future and enables an employer to differentiate themselves in driving the connection to their brand, their values, their culture. Mary provides another really great example of this differentiation and how it impacts the employee experience.

At the new Toyota headquarters in Texas there is a light fixture, a chandelier made out of deployed airbags – what it really represents to the employees is a symbol that they save lives. They don’t just make Toyota cars, they actually save lives; there is a real emotional connection. The use of a sculpture to embody organisational values, has much greater resonance than the posting of the values poster in the reception, or mugs emblazoned with the corporate mission statement.

The airbag chandelier reminded me of the story about the NASA janitor who, asked by President Kennedy what his job entailed, said that he was helping to put a man on the moon. That feeling of being part of the team, of understanding the bigger picture, of being a valued contributor to the overall mission makes a real difference to the engaged employee.

In thinking about motivation we tend to focus on compensation, perks and benefits and the open-plan décor, but tend to forget to connect what the company stands for and that’s why the Toyota chandelier reframes that connection for an enhanced employee experience.

Engaging the remote workforce

The nature of work, and the way in which we view work has changed. Workers don’t all want the same thing, but being collaborative in the workplace helps support the diverse needs of today’s workforce. Never mind moveable walls and a choice of work pods, many organisations no longer maintain traditional offices, they use serviced offices and staff meet occasionally, work is enabled by rapidly evolving technologies and very specific contractual arrangements. The new workplace may be flexible but the people still need to be led, motivated and managed, inspired, advised and organised, depending on what works best for you and them.

Most workers value these new ways of working but it does mean that leadership has to work harder to communicate their EVP and corporate culture as well as facilitating knowledge sharing and collaboration. We know that employees collaborate best when they have personal connections with each other, that’s harder if the team is scattered. Smart technology, rather than office design, is key in this situation, so appropriate file-sharing platforms and intranets, team calendars, messaging services and accessible support systems make work more productive. The big question is when asked who is your best friend at work, do you reply Yammer, Slack or Jive?

Make it easy for people to give of their best and you have a happier and more engaged workforce who really care about the job in hand and customer service. It’s about giving your people the flexibility to design their days and order their workload so that their professional and personal lives are aligned and are fulfilling and meaningful.

Creating a positive culture

Company culture and the employee experience still matter even where the team all work remotely, so don’t forget to arrange meet ups but you can also to create virtual watercooler moments such lunch and learns, online coffee breaks or books clubs. 10Eighty recommend that you aim to embrace the flexibility, versatility and learning agility of the growing digital nomad talent pool while building a culture of trust and transparency. A 2017 Harvard Business Review study noted that employees who feel trusted perform better, exert extra effort, and go above and beyond expectations – what’s not to like? Research by the Canadian Economist John Helliwell found a 10% increase in employee trust in a company’s leaders has the same impact on their life satisfaction as receiving a 36% pay increase.

Little things make a big difference, so it’s important to take into account what makes employees feel connected to the organisation. For young workers today it is crucial to feel good, that what they’re doing during the day has purpose and so management need to think about that in terms of employer branding and providing an environment and amenities that promote a good employee experience. You can leverage the efficiency of the workplace by providing choices and enabling integration of working life and personal preferences for the workforce which will also benefit the organisation.

You can’t manage the modern workplace in the same way that our predecessors did when Taylor used time and motion studies to streamline workflows. Scott Adams perfectly captures the tyranny of the scientific management workplace. Today we need to be employee centric. The workplace, as well as the job, has to be sculpted to suit the needs of the employee and that involves significantly more than pool tables, free yoga classes or smart espresso coffee machines.

We’d be interested to hear about your views on creating the right work enviroment. What’s gone well? What hasn’t gone so well?  Either post your views or story at the end of this article, Tweet us @10EightyCareersor leave a comment on our Facebook page.

Posted in Career advice, Corporate culture, Employee engagement, Work experience

Book Review : The Barcelona Way unlocking the DNA of a winning culture

Mes Que UN Club stadium at daytime

Today’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. 

Don’t be misled. This isn’t a football book. I love the fusion of football and business psychology. In Damian’s usual forthright style it is also a self help book designed to take the lessons of a very successful football coach, what psychological research tells us, to enable you to apply these lessons and research to your leadership style and your business.

It’s not so much the Barcelona way but the Pep Guardiola way. I was lucky enough to be reading Damian’s book as the same time as I was watching the excellent Amazon Prime series All or Nothing Manchester City. You get the chance to see Guardiola in action, playing out the behaviours Damian references in the book. Of course we now know that Guardiola’s leadership or perhaps more accurately his coaching style has worked equally well in Munich and Manchester.

The essence of the book is how to build a winning culture and taking the reader through the steps necessary to build that culture. The book is superbly referenced, one of Damian’s great skills is his ability to advertise the work of lesser known business psychologists. I found myself constantly making notes in my kindle for future reference. By way of example, how about the research of Canadian Economist John Helliwell who found a 10% increase in employee trust in a company’s leaders has the same impact on their life satisfaction as receiving a 36% pay increase.

I therefore highly commend this book.

Leaving with my favourite Pep quote from the book “what I have learnt over the years…I am aware tactics are very important, but the really really great coaches are coaches of people and that human quality is what makes them better than the rest”. Are you listening Jose!

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Posted in Uncategorized

Push off Performance Reviews, Connected Conversations have arrived!


At 10Eighty we think it’s about time that the much-reviled performance review is consigned to the dustbin of HR history.

We’ve been spreading the Gospel of Connected Conversations for several years now, and as we are great believers in walking the talk we decided to develop a product to support organisations to discard the stomach-churning monthly appraisal.Connected Conversations E-Learning

So, we’re delighted to launch our new ‘Connected Conversations’ offering, which can be accessed on any device and distils our expertise into a video-led and highly interactive course which explains how:

  • an ongoing coaching approach to performance can get results
  • constructive and connected conversations between managers and employees is the best vehicle to enhance career development and performance at work
  • managers can acquire the necessary skills to give feedback and motivate employees, and ensure that employees reach organisational goals too
  • employers can become people-centric
  • managers providing regular feedback can grow and improve their employees
  • employees can manage their careers by applying the 3 areas of Intelligent Career Theory.

Our CEO Michael Moran sums it up neatly: “What’s crucial is that the employee should generate the options.”

The connected conversations approach isn’t just a nice idea, its backed up by research which informs us that managers spending quality one-to-one time coaching their staff enjoy higher levels of engagement which in turn leads to higher levels of productivity and profitability.

What does the course cover?

The course has 6 modules including high-quality video scenarios, and associates from e-learning providers Marshall E-Learning and 10Eighty who discuss key issues surrounding modern performance and appraisals best practice:

Module 1 – Introduction

Module 2 – Coaching conversation: the benefits of using a coaching style of conversations

Module 3 – The Strength-based approach, which identifies positive aspects of individuals, organisations and communities. Research by Gallup found that this approach can lead to higher levels of productivity, customer loyalty and employee retention.

Module 4 – Helping your employees manage their career: provides a framework – the Intelligent Careers Model (Arthur et al 1995) – for understanding what to focus on in career discussions and what employees need to think about when managing their careers.

Module 5 – Connected Conversations: explores how to lead successful connected conversations that support performance and career development. Typically aimed at managers, this module will be useful for all employees.

Module 6 – Performance review: useful for anyone having one-to-one meetings with their manager, interested in taking a proactive approach to managing their career.

Watch our video

We’ve created a 60-second video overview about our Connected Conversations course, please take a look:

Get started

Would you like to try out the course? Simply call 020 7947 4130, email info@10Eighty.co.uk or get in touch with us via Twitter or Facebook.

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Posted in career conversations, Employee engagement, Homepage, Talent Management

Managing performance with ‘Connected Conversations’

It goes without saying, every employee is entitled to job satisfaction and career success! And, we think employers could benefit from helping their employees achieve that success.

The annual tick-box exercise of performance reviews tends to be counterproductive and the best staff want something more personal and tailored to their role and aspirations. Essentially, employees want meaningful career conversations.

That’s where ‘Connected Conversations’ come in. A process of continued conversations that sees performance management for employees evolve over time, rather than as a one-off event that takes place annually.

For organisations, ‘Connected Conversations’ can accelerate and align your workforce development with dramatic impacts on engagement and productivity in any firm. We’ve found that those companies who adopt the ‘Connected Conversation’ approach, have employees who are motivated, engaged, stick to a task for longer and are more resilient.

The ‘Connected Conversation’ centres on what is really important to people, what motivates them. To manage your team 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.

We think it is really important that all managers learn how to deliver effective and constructive feedback. And, now you can. Together with Marshall E Learning, 10Eighty have developed an interactive e-learning course to equip managers with the skills needed to give quality feedback and motivate employees.

Crucially, this course helps employers become people-centric, shows how managers can give regular feedback in order to grow and improve their employee skills, and help employees manage their careers using the three areas of Intelligent Career Theory.

Tools in this course include;
• An interactive e-learning package
• High-quality video scenarios
• Coaches from both 10Eighty and Marshall E-Learning discuss key issues surrounding modern performance and appraisals best practice

Want to start a Connected Conversation today?

For more information and to book your FREE no obligation demo, contact us on 0207 947 4130 or email us at info@10eighty.co.uk 

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Posted in Uncategorized

Making connections for performance management


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. 

The annual performance review is an outdated concept that doesn’t adequately serve the modern workplace. At 10Eighty we believe that regular and constructive conversations with employees, which support their career development and performance at work, are much more effective and empower employee engagement.

Leadership needs to create a place where employees actually want, not need, to show up to work. Most managers pay at least lip service to the notion of employee engagement, and they may believe they know what motivates their team but many could do more and better. This is why it matters:

Teams whose managers spent at least 16 minutes of one-on-one time with each direct report per week had 30% per cent more engaged direct reports than the average manager, who spent just 9 minutes per week with direct reports. (Nielsen & McCullough, Microsoft Workplace Analytics)


If you want to see real cultural transformation take root you need to understand what makes your employees tick – what your top performers do, how your best managers create shared understanding and how the corporate culture drives productivity, innovation and agile performance in a super-competitive landscape. Think about your people and how to improve their lives at work and make the organisation more effective.

The challenges are real but the opportunities are huge. Source the right employees for the organisation, ensure they are engaged and excited, put them on the best career path, and make them as successful and productive as possible.

Put your people first

A strengths-based and employee-centric approach allows managers to design the enterprise around people, not production, an approach well suited to knowledge workers who are used to determining for themselves how they work and taking ownership of their career pathways.

Research shows that traditional performance reviews demotivate people and don’t improve employee performance. Gallup found that only 29% of employees agree that the performance reviews they receive are fair, and just 26% agree that they are accurate. A range of major organisations like Deloitte, Microsoft and Netflix have dropped their annual appraisal process in favour of alternative ways to manage performance.

Time with leaders and managers is often a key factor of employee engagement and can indicate a good coaching and development culture where managers are focused on developing their employees. Such interaction facilitates open communication, feedback cycles, and opportunities for growth when managers collaborate with their teams and are available to their employees.

Manager one-to-one meetings are crucial to employee development. The level of day-to-day collaboration between managers and team members can indicate whether employees feel empowered to take initiative and work independently.

Microsoft Analytics have found that there are some fascinating insights when engagement scores are compared with behavioural data in terms of what engaged employees actually do. One of the biggest indicators of engagement is manager behaviour and this is consistent with Gallup reports about managers being the most important reason why people stay or leave a company.

Microsoft found that there is a really strong case that shows regular, solid one-on-one time between the manager and an employee is the primary indicator of whether an employee will feel valued by the company, will be able to connect their work to the company’s mission and to understand their role in the bigger picture.

An employee’s network health is a key indicator of engagement, a consistent gauge of successful employees, regardless of their role or level indicates the presence of cross-function collaboration or silos within an enterprise. Organisational productivity is defined by employee productivity – how they spend their time and who they spend it with.

Simple data from email and calendar functions can provide valuable information about how effectively management are communicating with people via emails and meetings – a window into how the organisation works and its culture. If junior level employees are spending 80% of their meeting time at meetings where their manager is also present, and the percentage of their actual communications that are proactive, not reactive, is very low, then that’s a good indicator of a culture of micro-management.

What you want is a culture where junior employees have the right level of coaching and mentoring with a healthy level of leadership exposure, and a high degree of proactivity in their work and independence in their work predicated on a healthy culture of empowerment.

Double-booking is something many people pass off as not that important, but it’s a bad manager habit that means employees have a lack of clarity as to whether a given meeting will be an effective use of time and energy. Double-booking meetings is one of those red flag manager behaviours highly associated with poor employee engagement.

Optimum performance

People want feedback in order to improve their performance and enable personal development but don’t want a retrospective critique of past performance. They need forward-looking guidance and encouragement that enables a proactive approach to career management. The Connected Conversations concept facilitates the evolution of performance review over time, rather than as a one-off annual event; as a concept, this is in line with research on making the process more relevant and effective.

To engage and motivate employees the organisation adopts an employee-centric approach to sculpt roles that enable optimal employee performance according to the Intelligent Career theory which underpins the Connected Conversation method:

  • What’s important to the employee?
  • What do they like going and what are they good at?
  • Who do they know? Does the employee have a network that will support and enable their aspirations, development and personal brand?

The model is about playing to people’s strengths, and this will result in a productive and engaged employee base which affords a more sustainable business, an agile and faster-growing business.

How the Connected Conversations approach will benefit your organisation

  • ROI – Employee engagement drives profitability, customer satisfaction and shareholder value. The Work Foundation claim an increase of 10% in employee engagement will put an extra £1,500 per person on average to the bottom line of your business.
  • Engagement – the correlation between business performance and employee engagement is well known. Implementing Connected Conversations is good for your business and good for shareholders.
  • Employee Experience – when an organisation is employee-centric, their employees will be more motivated and will stay in role longer, leading to enhanced profits and added value for the organisation.

In conjunction with partners Marshall E-Learning, we designed the Connected Conversations e-learning course to equip managers with the skills needed to give constructive feedback, to motivate employees and ensure they achieve personal and organisational goals.

The course empowers employers to be ‘people-centric’ with the aim of nurturing and developing employees’ skills and confidence; an approach that enables employees to manage their career according to the Intelligent Career Model which describes how organisational and employee needs are connected and mutually beneficial.

Our interactive learning package includes high-quality video scenarios and discussions on best practice in a contemporary performance and appraisals system.

For more information and to book a free, no obligation demo, please contact us on +442079474130 or email info@10eighty.co.uk

Nielsen, C. & McCullough, N. 2018 How People Analytics Can Help You Change Process, Culture, and Strategy, Harvard Business Review

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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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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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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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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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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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Michael Moran – CEO 10Eighty

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


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