The Challenge of Change

The Challenge of Change

By Tom Moore July 2011

Behavioural scientist, Robin Stuart-Kotze wrote “Companies change the way they operate when the people in them change the way they behave”.  On the surface that might make the task of corporate change seem an awful lot harder; instead of changing this single, impersonal entity, we have to change people with all the potential difference and resistance that implies. However, by and large you can’t change people, you can only change the environment around them and then people change themselves. Fortunately, altering the environment to make this happen can be quick and relatively mechanical.

As Stuart-Kotze’s comment implies, change in this context is not specific to any one organisation; it has a universality about it that is above sector or process. As such it cannot be about changing things. It is about the ability to change rather than any physical act of change. In that context, it has two dimensions which everything else flows from

  1. The ability of the individual to always respond to any issue in an immediate and appropriate way.
  2. The collective ability to move quickly and in unison whenever necessary.

Getting the business to the point where it can be steered as if every element of it was connected to a joystick is the challenge. It has to be tackled in layers and the process has to start with the managers.  They are the mechanism that connects the strategy and its achievement. When they change, it makes change in the rest of the company simpler, quicker and more certain.

For many organisations, the immediacy of that joystick response might seem a long way off; decisions can be slow and uncertain, implementing any strategic shift can take a lot of time and effort, and every manager can be heavily and continuously involved in fire fighting. There is not enough time to be different. However, in most cases, the fundamental mechanics of management are sound, the problem is the extent to which they are implemented. This manifests itself in a number of ways

  • Operational objectives at the front line of management are not always clear or properly synchronised with the overall corporate objectives.
  • The evidence based approach is limited. This in turn limits the operational awareness and causes an over reliance on anecdotal evidence
  • Internal, operational communication is flawed and there is an exposure to bias or personal agendas.
  • The management structure becomes somewhat compromised with a subsequent dilution of accountability and responsibility.

This is not necessarily fatal but it is clutter and fog that obscures reality and undermines the ability to respond. It also encourages the fire fighting habit and fosters “dropdown” management where managers continuously manage at a level below their role and below their capability.

The two key mechanical improvements that can address these issues are operational planning and operational information.

  • Fully deployed operational planning means going far enough to ensure that every manager understands what they need to do and has a viable strategy in place. This need not be complicated. It means that, as the core objectives ripple down through the management structure, each manager proposes how they will achieve their objectives before they accept their targets and pass them on down. This does a number of things; it clarifies whether or not they understand what they are being asked to do, it gives Manager A an opportunity to assess Manager B’s approach at the outset, and it bench tests the overall objectives. It also defines the roles and responsibilities more clearly in terms of tasks and determines the information and measurement required in a much more precise way.

  • Fact based feedback should provide all the information each manager needs to achieve their objectives. This should not only provide a continuous and independent stream of operational facts, it should also be structured to provide a radar for problems and issues and should be used to prompt where action or intervention are required.

In Good Hands – InGovernment Magazine interview with Adrienne Davitt

Read an interview with Adrienne Davitt on how the ongoing support and development for Business Leaders is crucial to all companies today. This interview appears in the current edition of InGovernment Magazine.

In Good Hands – InGovernment Magazine interview with Adrienne Davitt


To learn more about how you can develop and support the leaders in your oganisation, please contact the office: +353-1-6688891 or

Discover how DavittCorporatePartners can help you to understand emotion and leadership

Develop Leadership in Your Organisation

Win the War for Talent

Realise Individual Potential

Align Behaviour with Corporate Values


There is no safety in doing nothing

There is no safety in doing nothing

Andrew Harley

In 2008 the business landscape changed.  Banks faltered and failed, currencies became volatile, commodity prices soared and credit and capital became scarce or even non-existent.

Most business leaders responded by “battening down the hatches to ride out the storm”.  In reality this translated into programs of aggressive cost management, consolidation, rightsizing and being defensive.

The landscape has changed to one that is filled with organizations that are frozen – waiting, waiting for the warmth of economic recovery to breathe life back into them.  There is an expectation of a return to normality.

Three years ago the world changed.  Time does not go backwards nor  does it stand still.  The organizations that aspire to grow and prosper must make strategic plans based on the current reality, waiting for better times is not an option – the luxury of time was ripped away three years ago.

The leadership challenge just got tougher.  A key ingredient of success will be courage, the courage to make decisions and create plans, to wrest control from circumstances and drive forward for the good of the organization.  To continue to do nothing is to wait for someone else to turn off the lights.

Can you handle failure?

Managing Yourself – Can you handle failure?

Handling failure and blame is a key to managerial success. But, according to Datter and Hogan 2011, roughly 70 % of Americans have a personality type that tends to react inappropriately when things go wrong.

Fortunately there are ways to fix such flawed responses. The first step is to cultivate self awareness. Several personality questionnaires can help you assess your preferred type.

The next step is to deepen your personal impact awareness (or political awareness) in order to better understand what messages others are receiving.

Once you have identified your bad habits, you can move toward more adaptive responses such as:

  • Listening better
  • Communicating more effectively
  • Reflecting on the situation and people involved
  • Thinking before acting
  • Looking for the lessons learned when mistakes do happen

How Executives Can Learn from High Performing Athletes

How Executives Can Learn from High Performing Athletes

Aoife Harrington, May 2011

The performance of elite athletes and those who excel in business is alike in many ways and both of these high performing groups can learn much from one another and how they excel in their relative fields.  Countless research endeavours have found that how top sports people approach their respective games – and often their professions – is akin to how business leaders drive change and growth in organisations. Therefore, by looking at some of the key techniques and approaches used by high performing athletes, we can isolate new ways in which business leaders can continue their professional development and, importantly, continue to exact successful outcomes.

6 Lessons that Business Leaders Can Learn from the World of the Sporting Elite:

  1. 1. Learn the Fundamental Skills

Mastery of basic skills and competencies of a game is the most basic ingredient of success for any athlete. Where many athletes have been found to fall down, is spending too much time on learning the tricks of the trade to the neglect of learning and embedding the trade itself. For both athletes and executives, therefore, the basic skills or competencies need to be learned and relearned until they become second nature.

  1. 2. Develop Drive and Focus

One quality that all successful athletes have in common is their drive for success. High performing athletes tend to be very focused in one particular area – often referred to as single-mindedness – and they tend to go the extra mile to be excellent at what they do. Drive has been found to be closely related to having a clear vision for success. This illustrates the importance of spending time deciphering your vision – what you really want to achieve and where your passion lies. Your vision can be made all the more real by writing it down, in a sentence of two, and reefing to it regularly – thinking of it as your personal mission statement.

  1. 3. Practice Visualisation

Many sporting greats over the decades have acknowledged that one of the most important steps in their preparation for a game was visualisation of that game in advance. They reported that this gave them the feeling of ‘having done it before’ and that when they got out onto the field of play it felt almost second nature. Visualisation typically involves going through a performance step by step ahead of time. The good news is that virtually anything can be rehearsed ahead of time – like giving a good presentation at work or delivering tough feedback to a colleague. By mentally taking yourself through the steps that will be involved – from entering the room, to greeting the audience to the effective delivery of the task – actual performance can be enhanced and you are likely to feel more relaxed and at ease in your delivery.

  1. 4. Be You’re No 1 Competitor

Striving to better your personal best is what sets elite performers apart from the average sports person – ability aside of course. Top athletes have reported that setting personal goals that are relevant to their own performance is much more potent that setting themselves goals against a competitors standards. Top sports people rise to the challenge not to just win but to do their very best. Setting your own personal learning or competence goals rather than just following goals that are set by others (in a performance review for example) will return control to you – the executive – control over your expectations, your goals and the resultant effort you invest in order to achieve these.

  1. 5. Elicit Feedback and Take it on Board

Getting feedback from a trusted source and listening to that feedback is integral to sporting – and indeed business – success, as it can help a person to understand what they are doing well but also what they are not doing so well and thus what they can improve upon. It is very important, however, that you elicit feedback from someone whose opinions you trust and respect and that you are willing to take action to rectify the skills or performance deficit identified. A mentor at work, a trusted colleague or even your own personal coach can be very useful in this regard.

  1. 6. Learn from Defeat

Adversity, and your personal response to it, is central to continued high performance in both sporting and business arenas. Athletes lose games all the time – just as business leaders fail to win clients or that much sought after promotion – but it is their personal response to this and what they do after the loss that will differentiate the average from the great.  Great athletes and business people, although they will feel a sense of loss – their focus is likely to be on what they can learn from the situation, what weakness or deficit it may have exposed and what changes they need to make to ensure future success. Setbacks are both normal and inevitable in life. It is your response to them, however, and your impetus to change following them that will determine the likelihood of your future success.

The 6 key approaches outlined above which are frequently utilised by those who excel in sporting arenas, can easily be transferred to the organisational context to drive performance of executives at work. Basically it’s about mastering the fundamentals, visualising success, refining vision and drive, learning from mistakes, taking feedback on board and striving to go one better every time. Just like in sport, a business or executive coach can help you to gain focus, clarify vision and revitalise drive – they can hold you accountable to your goals and they will challenge you to think differently, do better and aim higher thus making the most of your skills, abilities and attributes.

For more information on how the highly experienced executive coaches at DavittCorporatePartners can help you to achieve this and more, call us on +353 16688891 or consult our website for more information on our executive coaching, leadership development and other services.

DavittCorporatePartners wins ESB contract

DavittCorporatePartners wins ESB contract

DavittCorporatePartners are delighted to announce that we have been appointed as one of ESB’s preferred suppliers of Psychometric Testing services for their Senior Management Selection Process. Having already worked with ESB for a number of years, we look forward to continuing our longstanding and excellent relationship with all in the ESB.

Personality and Organisations

The study of personality represents one of the largest areas of research within the discipline of Psychology. It is studied in to order to ascertain why people behave the way they do, and by doing so it is hoped that researchers can gain a greater understanding of how and why people behave the way they do.


Personality can be defined as ‘more or less stable factors that make one person’s behaviour consistent from one time to another and different from the behaviour other people would exhibit in a comparable situation’. Similar definitions describe personality as ‘the relative consistencies of style that people show in the way they think, act and feel, as they respond to their environments’.


Although these two definitions were offered almost 40 years apart they highlight the same general thinking that personality is an enduring style of thinking, feeling and behaving that reflects how each person adjusts to their environment. Most importantly research into personality has proposed that the characteristics people display allow us to predict how they will act in other environments and at other times.


A long tradition of research in psychology and organisational behaviour has attempted to link personality characteristics to job success. Models of personality are used in many organisational domains, including; selection and assessment, performance management, organisational commitment, team working, vocational guidance, alleviating workplace stress and management development to name but a few.

Understanding the Change Cycle in Coaching

Understanding the Change Cycle in Coaching

By Aoife Harrington, March 2011

Change is inevitable in all aspects of life. In the business world the rate of change is ever increasing, with new technologies, new competitors, new products, new markets, new customers and new demands appearing every single day. Because it’s going to happen whether we like it or not, change should be looked upon as an opportunity for growth and development – a way to make ourselves as people and the environments in which we live and work better.


The vast majority of people come to coaching because they would like things to be different; they want less of something or more of something else. Better leadership skills, greater work/life balance, less stress, more success. In order to make these ideals happen, however, change needs to occur. The good news is that change follows a particular cycle and understanding this cycle offers a platform for working towards change in a structured and coherent way.


A particularly useful model for looking at change in general and also change in coaching was developed by psychologists James Prochaska and Carlo DiClemente.  It is particularly useful in helping people to break away from habitual forms of behaviour that can be problematic, for example a tendency to procrastinate, a lack of assertiveness or an inability to delegate.


This 6 stage model or cycle of change describes a person’s level of motivation to change behaviour and also their level of progress in actually modifying that behaviour. There are two main types of change processes outlined in the model – cognitive and behavioural. Cognitive Change Processes reflect changes in the way we think and these processes help us move through the early stages of change. Behavioural Change Processes focus on how we actually behave and these processes help us to move through the later stages of change.









6 Stage Model of Change: How it Applies to Coaching


Stage 1: Pre-Contemplation:

People at this stage have no intention of changing. In fact they may not even perceive that there is a problem, even if others feel that something is wrong or needs attention. Helping to raise awareness of the problematic behaviour and providing appropriate information, in a non-authoritarian way, as to why the change might be useful are critical at this stage.

Stage 2 – Contemplation:

At this stage the person is aware that a problem exists, they are thinking about changing but have made no commitment to take action. Here the person tends to be ambivalent and while they can see some benefits in changing, they are also aware of, or may even be experiencing, the benefits of not changing. Weighing up the pro’s and con’s of changing can be very powerful in moving a person from Stage 2 to Stage 3. Considering small changes that may move a person in the direction of the bigger change should also be explored.

Stage 3 – Decision/Preparation:

At this stage the person makes a decision to change. There is a firm commitment to change and plans are formulated to accomplish that goal. This can often occur after some specific triggering event which increases the person’s motivation to change. Commitment to change should be formally documented in writing and any goals that are set should be achievable, measurable, realistic and directly related to the desired behavior change.

Stage 4 – Action:

In this stage the plan is put into effect and the change is made.This may involve stopping the unwanted behaviour altogether or reducing it to a more acceptable level. Monitoring and reviewing progress of the plan is important and people should be helped to acknowledge, celebrate and reward their success to date as well as reinforcing the benefits of making the change. Accessing support systems should also be encouraged.

Stage 5 – Maintenance:

In the maintenance stage changes are typically consolidated and reinforced. If things are going well, then the person maintains their progress in stopping or cutting down on the unwanted behaviour. People should be helped to recognise, however, that change and development is an ongoing process. Relapse can occur at this stage – and that is perfectly normal and natural. People at this stage of the change cycle should be encouraged not to lose heart if a relapse occurs, as this is not a sign that they cannot change. They should also be helped to look at their progress to date and to formulate a new plan to overcome the resistance or blockage to change and any setbacks that they are experiencing.




Stage 6 – Permanent Exit:

If the person is able to avoid returning to the unwanted behaviour then they can be said to have permanently exited from the change cycle. Usually this will involve effectively controlling or managing the unwanted behaviour rather than the behaviour actually disappearing. Prochaska and DiClemente propose, however, that people generally go round the 6 stage cycle several times before they are fully able to eradicate the unwanted behaviour.


The above model can be used when exploring change in coaching but also when trying to understand any personal change that you might be trying to achieve. Recognising where you are in the cycle, adopting effective strategies, remaining persistent, staying motivated, believing in yourself and following the process should increase your chances of kicking old habits and forming new, more desirable, behaviours.


To learn more about our  services, please contact the office: +353-1-6688891 or

Discover how DavittCorporatePartners can help you to:

Develop Emotional Intelligence in Your Organisation

Win the War for Talent

Realise Individual Potential

Align Behaviour with Corporate Values


Aoife Harrington is a Registered Work and Organisational Psychologist at DavittCorporatePartners – Corporate Psychologists

Our Outplacement Services

Outplacement Services

Presented by


March 2011

During what can be a very challenging and often potentially difficult period, we at DCP have established an extremely professional, supportive and progressive programme to assist executives manage this process and grow through it using the experience to become the best they can be at this stage of their professional lives. There are at least five stages to this process, each building on from the previous one.

Step 1- Psychometrics

This phase comprises a range of questionnaires which provides you with a significant bank of information about yourself, your strengths, your preferred way of working, your leadership style, how you think and your areas for development.

In addition, completion of these questionnaires sets you up for completion of executive level psychometric selection methods you may encounter.

Step 2- Feedback of results

Full feedback of all results and establishment of behaviour based programme for moving forward, including:

  • Personal Impact
  • Interpersonal Style
  • Organisational Awareness
  • Stress Management
  • Adaptive Skills
  • Optimism
  • Drive and Focus
  • Energy and Enthusiasm
  • Any other goals that become apparent

Step 3- Curriculum Vitae

Review at the highest level of proficiency. The function of your CV is to get you to interview, by creating a strong and impactful (and truthful) resume you can open many doors to new opportunities. This is a rigorous, enlightening and highly affirming session, with hugely positive feedback and success for participants to date. Included at this stage are practical exercises getting yourself out there, establishing networks and other supporting tools.

Step 4- Personal Resilience

This session ensures that you are continuing to manage this process effectively and that your preferred focus is aligned with your personal values. You will also gain invaluable methods to ensure ongoing emotional and psychological well being, mental toughness, the best recognised ways to turn challenges into opportunities and an enhanced belief in your ability to control what is happening to you. Your ability to manage yourself is crucial to professional success.

Step 5- Preparation for Interview

Having successfully been called to meet prospective new employers, this session is designed to ensure that you present your absolute best aspects. You will determine how well you will fit with the new role and how you can contribute to the organisation. Of prime importance at this stage of the process is that you will feel calm, confident, in complete command of yourself, and will be adept at managing your impact on others, on building rapport, establishing personal and professional credibility, and ensuring that both you and your prospective new employers are aligned in terms of understanding, expectations, future focus and desire to move forward.


This is a five phase process, typically undertaken over a six month period (i.e. monthly session) but can be completed in a slightly shorter time period if required.

You will have a sizeable amount to do between sessions, but you will be clear about what this is and a weekly call with relevant expert is part of the programme.