Talent Summit 2019 - Notes & Reflections



This week we were delighted to work once again, with our good friends at The Talent Summit. We spent a fantastic morning co-hosting a very special session for the Construction & Allied Trades at the convention centre and then joined the eager participants for the rest of The Talent Summit panels and keynotes.




We captured our notes and reflections from both parts of an awesome day presenting and partaking at The Talent Summit. The theme for this years summit was 'The Talent Revolution: Leading Change'. We hope they are helpful for your and your team!


PepTalk on the ROI of Workplace Wellbeing :

  • 64% of jobseekers said they would be more likely to apply for a role 'if' the hiring company promoted it's workplace wellbeing program in the job advertisement

  • 60% of Irish employees are more likely to stay longer with employers who shows an interest in their health & wellbeing

  • 51% of Irish employees would consider leaving an employer who is not interested.

  • 48% of workers who frequently participate in health and wellness programs are extremely likely to recommend their employer as a place to work.

  • Gallup research shows that only two out of 10 U.S. employees strongly agree to having a best friend at work, but, if that ratio increased to six in 10, organisations could realise 36% fewer safety incidents, 7% more engaged customers and 12% higher profit

  • A study published in the January 2016 issue of the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine tracked the stock performance of 45 publicly-traded companies that earned top scores on employee health and wellness scorecards. The study found the high scorers outperformed the 500 largest U.S. companies listed on the S&P 500 index by 235 percent over a six-year period.


Yvonne Kearney, MSc, BA, MIACP – Irish Defence Forces, Psychotherapist


Growth Mindset : The passion for stretching yourself and sticking to it, even (or especially) when it’s not going well, is the hallmark of the growth mindset’ Carol Dweck (2012)


Resilience comes from Latin word ‘Resillo’ to bounce back after adversity , how an individual responds to stress

Grit: passion, resilience and perseverance for long term goals (Duckworth, 2014)


Automatic Negative Thoughts (ANTS):

  • All or nothing, black/white

  • Overcoming and perfectionism

  • Magical thinking or fortune telling

  • Catastrophising

  • Pessimistic of negative bias

  • Personalisation/over responsibility

  • Emotional reasoning


Motivational factors that influence employee retention:

  • Performance management

  • Training and development

  • Financial rewards

  • Job characteristics

  • Career development

  • Recognition

  • Work-life balance

  • Coaching Mentoring Culture



Unlocking performance through engagement

  • 'Unlocking Performance Through Engagement' says that 42% of jobs will be machine operated by 2022 and we need to start making decisions and plans. Laura Phelan, Cut-e

  • Secret sauce for sustainable performance – allow people to become the CEOs of their own careers. Empower people and give them ownership.

  • Employers need to make pension participation a condition of employment for day one. There is no point asking if you want to join after 6 months as younger staff will see their contribution as a pay cut according to Joe Creegan of Zurich.

  • The question emerged, how do you overcome the long term retirement challenge for workers in the gig economy? Will auto-enrolment help? Perhaps, but are they even considered in the proposals?


Leadership – Leading beyond the Odds


  • 27% of organisations do not have a leadership development programme

  • 1 in 4 organisations have very/extremely effective succession plans to cultivate the leaders of tomorrow

  • 62% of people managers have not received structured training in coaching skills

  • 1 in 3 organisations do not have a structured coaching program

  • 70% of employers believe they have adequate structures in place to enable an unbiased assessment in the recruitment process


Margaret Heffernan, Entrepreneur, CEO & Author – Keynote


What drives great leadership? Team connectivity, where every member of the team contributes, and leaders facilitate that team connectivity.


She shared the example of an organisation she worked with where they conducted AB Testing around ‘coffee breaks’.


  • Group 1 did not have coffee breaks, they worked hard, and had limited success in solving the assigned problem.

  • Group 2 had coffee breaks and solved the problem far more effectively. In short the output of connection from the coffee breaks meant they effectively made 10 million dollars more for the company. While everyone knows the work was important, what Marget was most interested in was ‘what happens in the coffee break’.


She gave some lovely ideas for how companies can foster connection in the workplace :


  • Blind date lunches (where people share a lunch with people in different parts of the company)

  • Hackathons to solve problems or come up with ideas

  • Anything powered by volunteerism - reduces typecast constraints that sometimes employees face

Companies are communities of humans. Build small tribes to allow responsibility and accountability. Allow employees to build friendships, this builds resilience (this is your mortar)


She spoke about being very aware of ‘nodes’. These are people who everyone trusts and goes to for info. They are appointed by people not leadership.


Project oxygen at Google where they researched ‘what makes a great leaders’. Interestingly it was not their technical expertise. The number one description the team received was : was Manager knows me and when I’m stuck will help me sit and figure out my problem (that is that they will take the time to improve my capacity)


Margaret’s research shows that high performing teams consist of 3 things; Empathy, Equal contribution from people and diversity.


Managers have to trust people to do the ‘right thing’ – it’s as simple as that!


Effective teams; it’s not the bricks that are important, it’s the mortar! What’s happening between people. Leaders need to foster the ‘mortar’.


Margaret spoke about the ‘Super Chickens Model’ where the value is placed on star employees who outperform others. Her research demonstrates that over time Competitive environments don’t work – there are too many losers and too few winners. Essentially people figure out how to game the system or do it the wrong way (e.g. forced ranking and the behaviours it drives)


How do you get collaboration?

  • Trust people

  • And be trustworthy

Finally, she shared that from her experience that ‘every good idea started as a crap idea’. Then you share it with other people whom you trust and slowly as you have more conversations, it gets iterate, people say ‘what about X of Y’ and it gets better



Leading organizational transformation and cultural preservation:

Robert Gibb, Chief Human Capital Officer, NASA

Change while it might be an organisational initiative, it happens on an individual level

When you are talking about organisational change, you have to know ‘the why’ and be genuine about ‘the why’

  • Change is hard. It is not for the faint hearted or the half committed, but stick with it and it will pay off!

  • Our job as leaders in change is to validate the assumptions that all parties make -

  • Both managers, organisations and employees

‘Change requires grit and resistance – I can’t communicate enough’

Question he asks of each of his teams: if people are the most important part of our organisation, how much time do you spend with or on them?

Assuming positive intent is one of the biggest factors in achieving organizational change.

Robert shared that the culture at NASA was to award failures so they can learn from their mistakes, that they learn way more from mistakes than successes.

“Lead forward, be innovative and be okay with the potential for that innovation to be a failure. Just learn from the failure, acknowledge it and move on”

They have worked hard to build a culture where the ‘best ideas win’. Of course, there are absolute minimums and maximums, but in general the best ideas should win out.

Robert closed with some wonderful video footage and that NASA win the prize for remote work, unless anyone else has staff on the moon?



Every Conversations Matters

Ian McClean, Founder @ The Flow Group

  • Conversations are the wallpaper of humanity

  • Conversations can connect or divide us

  • Every conversation matters

Businesses are driven by Mechanics and Humanics :

  • Mechanics are the principals, policy’s, structures etc. All the things that give sense and clarity) and businesses loves these

  • Humanics are essentially all the elements involving people, and people stuff can be messy (Ian shared an advisor’s commentary that ‘all problems in business come with hair on top’)

All conversations are equal, but some are more equal than others!

Conversations come in 3 packages:

  1. Face to face

  2. Telephone

  3. Electronic

He shared a major retail client actually worked to understand the volume of conversations happening in the organisation. They found that there were 220k conversations in just one day!


The outputs of conversations are like the gear shift in automatic car :


The Flow Group compile what they refer to as ‘The Red List'. Essentially this is a list that they compile every single time they work with a client since they were founded. This red list is focused on why conversations go wrong. What is interesting about the red lists over time, were the similarities that occur irrespective of age, gender, race etc.


So, why do conversations go wrong?

(Conversations are the basic operation system for connectivity and productivity)


  • Not listening

  • Assumptions

  • Lack of trust

  • Competing priorities

  • Different cultures

  • Hierarchies

  • Lack of clarity

  • Lack of preparation

What’s the point of a conversation?

  1. Solve problem

  2. Challenge

  3. Make decision

There is always a gap

And like transport for London always say - mind the gap!


Symptoms of Reside (when conversation doesn’t go well) :

  • Misplaced effort

  • Mistakes

  • Competing agendas

  • Wasted resources

  • More meetings

  • Inbox swell (cc’s, bcc’s)

  • Inefficiencies

  • Less discretionary effort

  • Missed deadlines

  • Silos

  • Turf wars

  • Blame game

  • CYA behaviours

  • Erosion of trust

  • Increased need for oversight


The Greenline research says that the average supervisor or leader spends 6 -12 hours a week cleaning up residue in their organisation. Interestingly when you move further up the organisation the more time you spend dealing with residue.


Residue has a very significant cost (see Flow Groups real life client cost example) :


The greatest trick ‘residue’ ever pulled was convincing the world it didn’t exist.

  • Conversations are a zero-sum game - what put in is what you get out

  • You have points of choice

  • At these points of choice we make unconscious decisions

Good news is : If the conversation is the cause, it can also be the cure!


Red : Leads to residue



Green : Removes reside



Resilience and Human Compassion in the Digital Age

Monica Lewinsky, Social Activist



Monica shared some beautiful context to her experiences, she shared the compelling truth that how same cannot survive empathy, and how in an internet age, with every click we make a choice.


She share the social change work that she has been involved on #ClickWithCompassion

We would encourage every person to watch this real life social experiment that shows what happens when online bullying is taken offline.




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