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Sometimes Negative Feedback is Best- Heidi Grant Halvorson

Avoiding negative feedback is both wrong-headed and dangerous –  when delivered the right way, at the right time, criticism is highly motivating, and gives awareness of the mistakes a person  is making, leading to  improvement. New research by S Finkelstein and A Fishbach makes it clear why, when, and for whom negative feedback is appropriate.

Positive feedback increases commitment to the work you do, by enhancing  your experience and confidence. Negative feedback  tells you where you need to spend your effort, and offers insight into how you can improve. Given these two different functions, positive and negative feedback should be more effective (and more motivating) for different people at different times.

When you don’t really know what you are doing, positive feedback helps you to stay optimistic and feel more at ease with challenges. As an expert, and you already know what you are doing,  therefore negative feedback can help you get to the top of your game.

Finkelstein and Fishbach show that novices and experts are  motivated by, different kinds of information.

In one study, they asked American students taking either beginner or advanced-level French classes whether they would prefer an instructor who emphasized what they were doing right (focusing on their strengths) or wrong (focusing on their mistakes and how to correct them). Beginners overwhelmingly preferred  the former were as advanced students the later.

In study 2, the researchers looked at individuals engaging in environmentally friendly actions.  “Experts” were members of environmental organizations; their “novices” were non-members. Each participant made a list of the actions they regularly took that helped the environment — they were offered feedback from an environmental consultant on the effectiveness of these, and then given a choice: Would you prefer to know more about the actions you take that are effective, or about the actions you take that are not?

Experts were much more likely to choose the negative feedback — about ineffective actions — than novices.

Taken together, these studies show that people who are already have developed some knowledge and skills — don’t  live in fear of negative feedback.

Remember negative feedback should always be accompanied by good advice, and given with tact. For the full article please visit


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Change your Culture to Thrive – Sunday Business Post


The culture of a company can make or break its fortunes, and it comes from the top down, writes Gareth Naughton in the SBP 20th January 2013

Though it was once an abstract concept that bore little relation to how a company operated, corporate culture is becoming increasingly important as organisations work their employees harder and deal with the growing dominance of Generation Y. Minds have been focused in this area by the experience of the last few years. When push came to shove, the corporate cultures of many institutions – particularly those in the banking arena – were found seriously wanting, according to Michael McDonnell, managing director of CIPD Ireland.

‘‘There is a realisation that small groups of executives – and the banks are a really good example of this – can effectively hijack an organisation for their own personal gain and greed, and destroy it. That is something that we have seen in Ireland and Britain,’’ said McDonnell.

Toxic brands

This tendency could also lead to the emergence of what McDonnell called a ‘‘toxic brand’’ – such as FAS in the public sector.

‘‘That brand became so toxic that it effectively had to be eliminated. We are seeing it now in the BBC with the Jimmy Savile scandal. In all those cases, people are asking, ‘How did this happen? How were we so stupid?’ ’’ he said. The problem is that there was a gap between the rhetoric and the reality. You can define a corporate culture by writing value and mission statements but, unless you follow through, they are essentially useless. McDonnell said that organisations needed people, particularly in HR, to stand up and challenge the corporate culture when they saw something going awry.

‘‘The rhetoric says that ‘We don’t want yes-people in our organisation, we want people with the courage to challenge’. The reality in most organisations is that people who challenge are dismissed as oddballs, cranks and not team players,’’ he said.

‘‘The part of business that is probably in the best position to do that challenging is HR, but it has often been uncertain in its role so it has gone along with it. It didn’t want to be seen as a soft, fluffy part of the business. It tended to stay quiet.’’

The organisations which establish successful corporate cultures tend to feature chief executives and heads of HR who have a good relationship, where they are able to discuss issues arising without the latter feeling like a lone voice. HR should act as a guardian of corporate culture, and continually demonstrate why it is a good idea for companies to take an active interest in its development.

‘‘One of our difficulties in HR is that, to a large degree, ours is a qualitative profession in a quantitative environment,’’ said McDonnell. ‘‘By that, I mean we look at things like training. It is very hard to say, in total terms, that if you invest in a management development programme, it will create the following amount of wealth for you. ‘‘Business is measured by bottom-line results, so what we need to do is develop more analytical frameworks and quantitative evidence of the effectiveness of HR.’’

Lead by example

The culture of every organisation is defined by its people, but it’s the man or woman at the top who exerts the most influence. If your chief executive is a tyrant, that is going to filter down through the rest of the organisation and have a detrimental effect on the working environment, with consequences in terms of employee engagement, attraction and retention. How the business leaders in your organisation interact with the rest of the employees has a significant impact, according to Adrienne Davitt, senior corporate psychologist and managing director of Davitt Corporate Partners.

‘‘A lot of business leaders forget how visible they are because they are busy thinking of things at a higher level – but when they walk through an organisation, the energy they put out, the way they connect to people and whether they communicate at all are very important,’’ she said.

Davitt believes that, from the moment you walk into a place, you can sense its culture. This can be ingrained, which is why it is important that leaders are conscious of it.

‘‘Culture is developed by people at the top of an organisation, and those people can change over time, but what often doesn’t change is the culture. Any group of leaders has a responsibility to make sure that the culture of the organisation they are leading is the best place for people to work in and be as productive as they can be,’’ she said.

The economic difficulties of the last few years have had a transformative effect on the Irish

workplace, with companies leaner than ever before. This presents both an opportunity and a challenge, according to Davitt. Companies now have the chance to redefine their culture having survived the downturn; the challenge is to recognise how important it is to do that, rather than bury their heads in the sand.

‘‘It is the future of work,’’ said Davitt. ‘‘Organisations have changed because they had to – but now, in order to grow, develop and be successful, they need to take control over that change process so it is not imposed on them. The culture that you want to have in five years’ time is the one that you are putting in place now.

‘‘It doesn’t happen by osmosis or default. It only takes about 10 per cent of a leader’s time and energy to constantly focus on this, but the return on that is 30 to 40 per cent.’’ Davitt cited clothing retailer H&M as an example of a company that has reaped the benefits of focusing on corporate culture.

‘‘They are bigger than people realise, and they have an amazing culture,’’ she said. ‘‘They have it because they created it, and they sustained it regardless of what happens in the world markets.

‘‘Typically, people start with them on the shop floor and they move up. When you connect with people like that who have very strong fundamental values, and share those throughout the group and really live those values, then you have a very successful business,’’ she said.

The bottom line

This doesn’t just make sense from an employee’s perspective. There was solid evidence that companies who built high trust corporate cultures did better than those who failed to make any headway in this area, said John Ryan, chief executive of Great Place to Work.

‘‘There was a ten-year study done in the US where they did a comparison of the Standard and Poor’s 500 and Russell 3000 against the Fortune 100 list of best companies, and the Fortune 100 had three times the performance level,’’ said Ryan.

‘‘This is research-based – it is not just nice to have. That is why organisations are saying, ‘Hang on a second – maybe we should look at this stuff, it seems to be essential’. It is about building a competitive advantage, and there are certain organisations that have realised that culture can be that advantage for them.’’

The critical change has been in the demographics, according to Ryan, with workplaces in Ireland currently featuring five generations for the first time.

Diversity is no longer about integrating different nationalities. It is about working out how to get the baby boomers working with Generation Y to maximise potential. The impact of Generation Y cannot be underestimated. To some extent, it is this group that is really driving the move towards a more open and collaborative corporate culture.

‘‘Generation Y is the type of people who absolutely demand transparency. They are not interested

in being told what to do, like the people of the past who would have kept their head down and done the job, taking the lead from above and doing what they were told,’’ said Ryan.

‘‘The new people coming into the workplace – and these are critically important, talented people that organisations need to bring on board and keep – are not willing to accept that.

‘‘They want full information about what the organisation is about. They want to be included in devising the strategy of the organisation so they are not simply listening to the senior team; they want their say in how to create it.

‘‘They constantly want to be able to put their views forward, and they need them to be listened to.

‘‘They are not interested in staying around organisations that don’t have really strong corporate social responsibility, and they are also committed to sustainability so organisations have had to change dramatically,’’ he said.

Culture costs

Ryan said that organisations were increasingly finding that the new generation of workers were less attracted by money than company culture. Where the culture is not right, it is costing money.

‘‘If you are in a really competitive area, like the IT sector, where one new innovation can make or break a company, you know that you have to attract the brightest and the best,’’ he said. ‘‘If you think that it is all about money, you are making a mistake. Some companies are paying higher levels because they had to. Their culture is not strong, and they are trying to make up for it by paying more money, but the individual s are making lifestyle choices in terms of how and where they can work.

‘‘Can they take sabbaticals? What is the culture like? Is it a fun place to work, or is it dreary? “They want this place to be inspiring for them, and they are willing to take less money for a better culture.’’

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Article by Carol Ryan, Irish Times Journalist, where Amber Hanna & David Keane are interviewed.

obama_irelandWhat do the theory of evolution, Beethoven’s 9th symphony, the Mona Lisa, Harry Potter and Apple Computers have in common? They are all the work of an introvert who spent thousands of hours alone honing their work to perfection. Some of the world’s most famous introverts include Bill Gates, Google founder Larry Paige, Albert Einstein, Mahatma Gandhi, Anthony Hopkins and Steven Spielberg. Despite his charisma, Barack Obama is a classic introvert who has learned to “act” extroverted on the campaign trail. Many Asian countries prefer reserved people but in the West being labelled “quiet” is not a compliment. The ideal personality here is fast-talking, fun-loving and risk-taking. Bad news for nearly 50% of the population who are more introverted.

Where you fall on the introvert/extrovert scale has an impact on pretty much every aspect of your life including the partner you choose, the friends you meet and your career. Extroverts get their energy from the outside world and love interacting with people. They are more likely to have a wide circle of friends, to place big bets on the stock market, to be hospitalised with an injury, to exercise and have affairs.

Introverts get energy from solitude and feel drained by too much socialising. It is not the same as shyness, introverts just prefer situations that aren’t overly stimulating. They like more “down time”, have a greater need for privacy and are less outspoken in groups. The two personality types even arrange their work spaces differently. An extrovert is more likely to decorate their office and leave the door open to lure co-workers in for a chat, while introverts tend to keep their door closed to ward off interruptions.

Susan Cain, author of the bestselling book “Quiet: the power of introverts in a world that can’t stop talking” says that we miss out when we ignore the strengths of introverts. “Some of our greatest ideas, art and inventions…came from quiet, cerebral people who knew how to tune in to their inner worlds and the treasures to be found there”. She describes growing up as a soft spoken child in America (the most extroverted country in the world), and being pushed to socialise on an endless round of play dates and boisterous summer camps. As she grew older, she noticed that parents often apologise for shyness in their child, that the volume of a person’s voice is sometimes more important than the quality of their work at the office, and came to the conclusion that introversion is a second class personality trait in the West. “Extroversion is a hugely appealing personality style but we’ve turned it into an oppressive standard to which most of us feel we must conform. If you’re not an introvert yourself, you are surely raising, managing, married to, or coupled with one”.

Most workplaces and schools are more suited to the needs of extroverts. “Classroom desks are increasingly arranged in pods to foster group learning” says Cain. Research shows that the majority of teachers believe that the ideal student is an extrovert but in fact, introversion is linked to intelligence. The US Gifted Development Center found that 75% of children with IQs above 160 are introverts. Although they are more natural students, quiet children are at a disadvantage where there is a lot of emphasis on classroom participation and group work in school.

David Keane is a Senior Corporate Psychologist with Davitt Corporate Partners. He says that Irish businesses should be aware of the strengths of extroverts and introverts when selecting employees because a bad hiring decision can cost a company three times the person’s annual salary. Introverts have a more difficult time selling themselves in a traditional interview as self promotion does not come as naturally to them. “The nature of an interview is more suited to an extrovert because you have to talk about yourself and think on your feet” says Keane. “But if you throw in something practical like a presentation where an introvert really gets time to put their thoughts down on paper, it levels the playing field”.

In the business world, there is also an assumption that extroverts make the best managers. Amber Hanna, also a Corporate Psychologist with Davitt Corporate Partners, says that a quieter style of leadership is coming into fashion. “In the past number of years that kind of alpha, charismatic leadership hasn’t worked…just take a look at what happened on Wall Street. People are now more willing to accept that people who listen, get a consensus and make more logical, thought-out decisions probably make better leaders”.

Even office design can have a big impact on how productive introverts and extroverts are in the workplace. The funkily decorated, open plan offices ushered in to Ireland by multinationals are more suited to extroverts. “Plenty of introverts do really well in open plan offices but they probably go home at the end of the day exhausted from hearing so many voices and having so much interaction all the time” says Amber Hanna. “So if an open plan office has breakout rooms or quiet rooms, you are more likely to find introverts going off in there to work”.

Introverts are happiest when they can work in nooks and crannies and if a company has a lot of introverts on their team, it makes economic sense to give them their own workspace. A study by consultants Tom DeMarco and Timothy Lister compared 500 computer programmers (an occupation stuffed with introverts) at 92 different companies. The main factor separating the most successful companies from the least successful was that they gave more privacy, personal workspace and freedom from interruption to their programmers.

If job specs are anything to go by, being an outgoing “team player” is one of the most important attributes a job seeker can have today. But is team work really all it is cracked up to be? Teamwork can actually hamper innovation and lead to group-think where people toe the line even if they don’t agree with the group’s decision. If a company is seeking creativity and visionary ideas from their workforce, they would do better to advertise for an introvert because introversion is strongly linked to creativity.

Steve Wozniak, the engineering genius who designed the first Apple computer (but was completely overshadowed by the more charismatic and extroverted Steve Jobs) has little time for teamwork and has this advice for introverts who find they don’t quite fit into today’s corporate environment. “Most inventors and engineers I’ve met are like me – they’re shy and they live in their heads. They’re almost like artists…and artists work best alone. I don’t believe anything really revolutionary has ever been invented by committee. Not on a committee. Not on a team. Work alone”.

Carol Ryan, Journalist with the Irish Times.

This Article was published in the Health Supplement of the Irish Times on Tuesday 22nd January.


Gen Y’s Passion Problem

Gen Y’s Passion Problem

By Cal Newport  – Harvard Business Review

 Generation Y, is entering the job market in record numbers, and according to many commentators things are not going well. Earlier this year, a New York Times op-ed called Gen Y  “Generation Why Bother,” noting that we’re “perhaps…too happy at home checking Facebook,” when we could be out aggressively seeking new jobs and helping the economy recover.

To many, the core problem of this generation is that Gen Y is too entitled. Cal Newport argues that the problem is to do more with being misinformed arguing that this generation was raised according to the ethos of  “follow your passion”

This  simple phrase, “follow your passion,” turns out to be surprisingly pernicious.

It implies that you start by identifying a passion and then match this preexisting calling to a job. Because the passion precedes the job, it stands to reason that you should love your work from the very first day. Yet often people’s passion develops slowly,  can be unexpected and complicated. It’s rare, to find someone who loves their career before they’ve become very good at it — expertise generates many different engaging traits, such as respect, impact, autonomy — and the process of becoming good can be frustrating and take years.

The early stages of a fantastic career might not feel fantastic at all, Members of Generation Y often demand a lot from their working life immediately and are often disappointed with their experiences.

The tough skill-building phase at the beginning of a person’s career can provide the foundation for a wonderful career, but in this common scenario the “follow your passion” dogma would tell you that this work is not immediately enjoyable and therefore is not your passion.

Steve Jobs, for example, in his oft-cited Stanford Commencement address, told the crowd to not “settle” for anything less than work they loved. Jobs clearly loved building Apple, but as his biographers reveal, he stumbled into this career path at a time when he was more concerned with issues of philosophy and Eastern mysticism.

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How Do I Motivate Myself

How do I motivate myself

Psychologically-speaking, motivation is characterized as a process. This process has several functions which contribute to our well-being. In order for goal-oriented behavior to not only occur, but be maintained, it must first be initiated, and then guided. And this happens when motivation is present.

While there are many types of motivation, they can all be attributed to intrinsic or extrinsic factors. We are motivated intrinsically when our goal-oriented behavior occurs from within. For example, a person may be intrinsically motivated to complete a difficult task due to the desire to overcome the challenge that task presents to them.

Extrinsic motivation occurs when our goal-oriented behavior occurs as the result of something which happens outside of us. Examples of extrinsic motivation are when we receive incentives or bonuses, praise from employers, friends or family, or money. Some people rely on career coaching to provide a source of extrinsic motivation.

A successful motivation process must progress through three stages, which are activation, persistence, and then intensity. We must first have the desire to do something. Then, we must apply continued effort toward its successful completion, regardless of the obstacles that we may face along the way. Lastly, the intensity with which we pursue something determines how rich of an experience we have during the process.

What motivates you? Do you need to have a good enough reason to get out of bed in the morning, or do you jump from your dreams, ready and excited to be facing a clean slate in the form of a brand new day? We all differ in what motivates us. However, what’s interesting is that one cannot be sustained by intrinsic or extrinsic motivation alone. Sooner or later, we all crave one or the other. Some may say this is simply human nature.

Unfortunately, being intrinsically-motivated presents great challenge, and rightfully so; we are all concerned about what others think of us and how they view the things we do and say. And so we try and do our best to please everyone. But this is an impossible task. In trying to be everything to everyone, we can quietly lose our sense of who we are. When that happens and there’s no one left to please, what have we to rely on?

This is why it’s important to also create an environment within us which can help us endure during periods when extrinsic motivators may be few and far between. Confidence to believe that we are perfect just as we are, regardless of what is happening outside of us can go a long way to maintaining positive mental health and well-being.

But how do we get there? Ironically, the process is identical to motivation: we must first decide that we are going to make a change. Then, we persist with intensity. Persistence is often the most difficult part of becoming intrinsically-motivated, and can often be the point where we can find it too overwhelming, exhausting or painful to continue.

If this is the case, then concentrating on the good things at the end of a journey can help. Consider the quality of relationships now, and what they could be once intrinsic motivation is achieved. Or think about how wonderful it will be to rise each day, knowing that you have something special and valuable to contribute, regardless of how others may choose to rate your efforts.

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Mentoring Vs Sponsorship in Business

How to find a Sponsor

Mentoring and Sponsorship are both essential for anyone wanting to progress their  career – mentoring is the process of preparing people to move up the ladder, where as sponsorship is what actually makes things happen. Sponsorship is far riskier. It requires senior executives to spend their own political capital, and even put their personal credibility on the line

Whilst more women than men now have multiple mentors, the percentage of female senior executives still only lies at 15.7% (a 4% increase from 1998) Why?  The Catalyst study of 4,000 MBAs of both sexes, argue that one of the main reasons for this is that men are still more likely than women to have powerful sponsors.

“High-potential women are overmentored and undersponsored, relative to their male peers,” Christine Silva, a Catalyst senior director. “Without sponsorship, women not only are less likely than men to be appointed to top roles, but may also be more reluctant to go for them.”

Five ways to find a sponsor:

1. Build on a mentoring relationship.

2. Identify higher-ups who inspire you.

 3. Whenever possible, let a potential sponsor see you in action.

4. Suggest improvements in the way things get done.

5. Ask.


For the full article please see



Discover how DavittCorporatePartners can help you to:

Develop Leadership in Your Organisation

Win the War for Talent

Realise Individual Potential

Align Behaviour with Corporate Values



The 7 Skills Needed by Leaders to Manage Change Effectively

The 7 Skills  Leaders Need to Manage Change Effectively


Leaders have a key role as “change agents”. Dale et al.,(2002) discusses the 7 Skills that are needed by Leaders to Manage Change Effectively


  • The ability to work independently, and without the power, or support of the management hierarchies
  • The ability to be an effective collaborator (i.e., leaders must compete in ways that enhance co-operation)
  • The ability to form and develop high trust, and ethical relationships
  • Self-confidence tempered with humility
  • Respect for the process of change (as well as the content of change)
  • Ability to work across business units, and adopt a multi-faceted approach
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Women, Leadership and Sports

Women and Leadership

Sports have been highlighted by the United Nations as one of the key contributors to achieving the Millennium Development Goals, namely through the promotion of gender equality and the empowerment of women. Many girls in emerging economies are increasingly viewing sports as a pathway out of their current circumstances and as an opening for future alternatives.

Sanyin Siang suggests that the combination of technology, social media and greater female participation in sports will help advance women beyond sports.  During  London 2012, billions of people from across the globe were able to access results, images, and stories from the games (the opening ceremony  itself touched upon the themes of technology and social media) . Women  were able to see other women competing and winning in every sport. These  were the first games in which every participating country sent a female delegate, including pioneering women from nations such as Libya, Brunei, Iraq, Yemen, and Qatar.

So How Can Sport Contribute to Business Leadership?

Playing sport requires mental discipline; it fosters resilience and agility, as well as promoting the social skills and team orientation required by great leaders.  By engaging in, and appreciating sports, women are more likely to experience greater social inclusion in the workplace.

A 2002 Oppenheimer Funds Study further found that 82% of female business executives played organized sports after elementary school, 20% more than the general population. The correlation between participation in sports and success among women can be seen among high-profile leaders:

MD for IMF Christine Lagarde competed in synchronized swimming

PepsiCo CEO Indra Nooyi played cricket

Kraft Foods CEO Irene Rosenfeld engaged in 4 varsity sports in high school and basketball in college

HP  CEO Meg Whitman playing lacrosse and squash


Discover how DavittCorporatePartners can help you to:

Develop Leadership in Your Organisation

Win the War for Talent

Realise Individual Potential

Align Behaviour with Corporate Values

DCP Steps Back in Time

DCP takes a look at the history of 70A

Last Summer DCP had the great pleasure and privilege of meeting Fred O’Callaghan. Fred’s family were one of 70 A’s original occupants.  As we showed Fred around 70A (the home he left 7 decades earlier!), he was kind enough to share with us his cherished family memories, some of which have been captured by these incredible photos.


Fred O’Callaghan’s parents wedding reception (now DCP’s front reception room)

James Duffy (1861-1934) Fred’s uncle in DCP gardens pictured with the  antlers of Ireland’s last Elk (from National Museum Dublin)


Fred and family outside the steps at DCP

Another family picture taken outside DCPs frontdoor

Robin Sharma- Leaders Who Have No Titles- Leadership Seminar September 2012

This month DCP had the pleasure of attending one of Robin Sharma’s leadership seminars, where he took the group through a very enjoyable morning of practical tips and the latest thoughts on leading in today’s workplace.


As he outlines in his latest book ‘The Leader Who Had No Title’, Robin believe that we can all be leaders, and it is the ‘bigness of your impact, not the size of your position’ that really sets you apart as a great leader. He shared firsthand how he has worked with his clients (including Coca-Cola, Starbucks and Nike among others) to help them grow through their many and different challenges, to continue to be the world class organisations they are today.


Robin believes that the most successful companies are those who foster a culture where everyone is considered a leader, titles have no impact and each person contributes in their own way to the goals of the organisation. He believes people are at their best in work when they develop the skills that allow them to distinguish between the ‘real work’ and what he calls ‘fake work’, i.e. constant checking of emails, updating blogs and everyday distractions. He offers a number of tips to help people acheive this, and,  increase their productivity doing valuable work so that everyone can contribute to the business in a meaningful and leader-like way.



Some really practical tips he shared with us include:


7 ways to instantly increase your productivity

1. Spend the first 90 minutes of every day focused on money making activities


2. Set yourself the 40 day challenge to get up extra early to focus on what you want to achieve that day, exercise, or read the latest business books in your field, he recommends a 5am start to really make use of the most valuable time of the day


3. Set yourself 3 goals and focus on these exclusively for 100 days; make sure they are ‘game changing’ ideas and make them your obsession


4. Operate a ‘no office’ mentality, Robin recounted how some of his most successful clients avoid the clutter and distraction of a desk and work from their boardroom or meeting rooms


5. Construct a weekly schedule for yourself where you document all your commitments and priorities for the week, he does this on Sunday mornings and includes from family time, time spent on personal interests to travel and work commitments


6. Spend one hour a day with no stimulation- he advocates avoiding your phone/ipad/tv etc during this time, he uses his to catch up on his journal and read


7.  Associate with the giants- spend as much time as you can with successful people and learn everything you can from those you admire


Thanks to the ICBE for organising such a great event.


If you the above has sparked an interest you can find out more on Robin’s website, where he shares his resources including his blog, vlog, free e-book and many more useful and practical articles and thoughts.