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April 2018

Hello and welcome to April 2018 edition of our Monthly Leadership Tips: your 'once a month'  'bite-sized' chunks of practical leadership wisdom!

This month we share :
We often post the blogs in this publication on Linked In.

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We also use the content we share each month, in the work we do in our consulting practice. Feel free to get in touch to find out more about anything in this newsletter or other blogs on our website.  Enjoy!

Melanie and Paul Eyres

Questions for Post-project Retros

There is a lot to be said for learning on the job – and by not just having experiences but also paying attention to them, we can embed this learning quickly and improve our self awareness and insight at the same time. Putting time aside for simple, ‘just-in-time’ reflective practice, like our ‘simple daily 5 minute mindfulness activity’ can help facilitate practical learning, can help us to form new good habits and break less helpful ones, and positively impact our wellbeing.

There are also times when an even greater block of time needs to be set aside to take stock of a big piece of work – be it individual or collective. We need to create space that has the purpose of not only measuring success but also for the even more important purpose of longer term learning.

Last year we came across a post by Michael Bungay Stanier with 5 simple but very powerful questions that individuals and teams could use as a basic framework. I’ve made a visual that you can print out and use to guide conversation.


What I like about these questions is the very open exploration they will encourage.

1. What were we trying to do? Always connecting back to the ‘WHY’ – the purpose.

2. What happened? An open sense of curiosity helps people to capture some data and a range of perspectives before moving to deeper level understanding of results and meaning (ie the ‘so what’?).

3. What can we learn from this? This questions encourages people to make sense of the data / the detail that has been shared. When that happens, what is it like? How does it feel? What is the impact / result? And what does that mean for us? for the customer? for our process?

4. What should we do differently next time? A deliberate frame of learning can be enhanced with sub-questions like
  • What can we keep doing?
  • What should we start doing?
  • What should we stop doing?
5. What next? What do we commit to? Who will do what and when?

Give it a go!

Next time you see an opportunity for a learning-driven retrospective or project debrief, why not give these 5 questions a go!

Click here to see the original post and copy of the printable visual.

How to give better feedback with 19 words

In his March 2018 PinkCast video, Dan Pink shares 19 words that have been shown to have a positive effect in feedback conversations.

Quoting from a study shared in a book called ‘The Culture Code’ by Daniel Coyle, it was found that 19 words used in feedback conversations had a ‘dramatic effect in boosting performance and effort.’


Pink shares simple reasons why these words have had such a positive impact:

  • they build trust
  • it signals belonging
  • it combines high standards with a belief that people can reach those standards

Researchers call this WISE FEEDBACK!

Click here to watch Dan’s video and see links to the work by Daniel Coyle.


Click here to see other posts on providing effective feedback.


Is there a difference between organisational culture and organisational climate?

And does it matter?

In recent years I have pondered these questions as a result of some client discussions and related pieces of work.  In general conversation I often find these terms used interchangeably and/or spoken about in conjunction with such things as high performing teams, improving staff/culture survey results, working on values and behaviours etc.  As I have worked with clients on these issues, I have sought to provide some clarity about these concepts, usually just through exploration and conversation with them.

It seems timely to attempt the discipline of putting some order around my thoughts and put my thinking into words!  What I have written below is more food for thought, rather than a definitive answer, but hopefully is a helpful frame of reference when exploring these concepts.  I’ve also contemplated this issue from a pragmatic practitioner perspective rather than taking an academic or intellectual view.  So here goes…


Organisational culture is often described as the way we do things around here – the behaviours and actions that are valued, whereas organisational climate might refer more to the mood of the organisation – is it a healthy work environment where people can bring their best selves?  Is that sufficient a distinction, though?  There might be a reasonable argument to suggest those two things are still pretty similar.  So let me take it is few steps further by suggesting a couple of other possible distinguishing features.

I believe that organisational culture is very much a strategic question:

What is the culture that we need that will support our strategic direction?

Rather than the idea of having a good/bad culture, it is more about the idea of having the right (strategically aligned) culture – the culture we need to support our strategy.

Organisational climate, however, is more about organisational health which is more universal in nature – a good (healthy) climate versus a bad (unhealthy) climate:

Is it a workplace where people can thrive and perform at their best?

Organisational Culture

So, when we talk about organisational culture, there are critical choices to be made.  One of the most important things to do is describe the type of culture we need to support our strategic directions.  Typical cultures might be described in terms of one or a combination of the following themes – achievement oriented, customer-focused, collaborative, innovative, people-first or socially responsible¹.  Organisational values are then articulated that embody the desired culture.

To create the desired organisational culture the organisation then needs to actively plan and manage the messages received by the organisation through:

  • Behaviours – the behaviours and actions that are demonstrated and rewarded in the organisation
  • Symbols – the decisions and artefacts that people notice e.g. office layout, titles, meeting agendas, priorities, resource allocation, etc
  • Systems – the mechanisms for managing people and tasks e.g. planning processes, organisational structures, performance management, etc¹

It is not unusual to see organisations inadvertently communicating messages that are inconsistent with their desired culture e.g. an organisation that preaches collaboration but measures and rewards individual performance, maintaining pidgeon holes and in-trays while requiring people use sophisticated electronic document management systems, professing innovation while requiring monthly reporting on output targets etc.  No doubt, many of you will be smiling to yourself and you recognise these types of inconsistencies.  Culture management requires a planned and consistent approach.

Click here to see the remainder of this post...

Got a meeting? Take a walk!

In this fascinating 3 minute TED talk by Nilofer Merchant, we learn that ‘sitting has become the smoking of our generation’!

On average, we sit for more hours a day (9.3hrs) than we sleep (7.7hrs)!

With sitting being so prevalent, we don’t even question how much we are doing it – and because everyone else is sitting, it doesn’t even occur to us that it is not OK – or that there is an alternative. Recent research has shown us that inactivity is closely linked to many of today’s health problems.

So ... next time you need to organise a meeting, rather than meeting in the usual room – or even outside at a coffee shop, why not invite someone to go for a walking meeting? As Nilofer explains, it is amazing how fresh air can drive fresh thinking – for you and your colleagues…

Click here to see the link to the video.

Some recent assignments

  • Facilitated 2 new DiA Leading People programs
  • Began design of an alumni program for graduates of a customised leadership program
  • Facilitated a strategy workshop for a not-for-profit to identify alternative revenue-generation strategies
  • Ran an environmental scanning workshop to identify and plan to address key strategic issues
  • Assisted numerous coaching clients in achieving their goals
Click here to access the Eyres & Associates website to find out what else we do!

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