Coaching Series 2: What can I really get out of leadership coaching?

What’s in it for me?

Coaching at an executive level has the power to transform the performance of the individual and the environment that person works whether they are a leader of one or many. At the very least, for leaders where time is a valuable commodity in their personal arsenals, dedicated and uninterrupted time with a coaching professional that is listening, and facilitating safe space to think was really powerful.

Having dispelled a few myths along the way of what it is actually like to be coached, it seems natural to ask and I have been asked – what will I get out of coaching?  Especially where a large majority of coaching is initiated by a sponsor, the third party in the trinity of coaching; coach, coachee and sponsor.

Speaking with those that have to lead and operate at a senior level and have had the experience of being coached these anecdotal findings show both expected and unexpected that in turn brought welcome consequences.

New learning Overridingly “new learning” was a phrase that came up time and time again.  This came from new “thinking” that was very present and immediate, sometimes within minutes of starting a session and took clients by surprise.  Through the coach’s expertise in the hundreds of coaching models, listening techniques and powerful questions they were able to gain different insights or understanding that future informed their thinking, actions and behaviour as a leader. 

Trust and safety Coachees should expect to experience both feelings of trust and psychological safety that in a work setting may well have been absent before. Being able to talk about the very thing a person is concerned about or consumed by, without judgement and the freedom to explore is very real and can be discombobulating.  Your coach should in each session explain their role, this is called contracting. You need to feel safe to explore ideas and whilst you do this, your coach will both support and challenge you.

Self Awareness also came up. Of you as a leader in work, which is so tied up with perception and confidence. Working through such techniques as Transactional Analysis understanding ours and others ego states (Parent, Adult and Child) are really impactful in understanding your work past, present and future.

Long term legacy for some was an unexpected impact where the small input of time and energy paid dividends time and time again with coaching having a long-lasting effect weeks, months and even years beyond closing the door of the coaching room behind you. Not just impacting their working life but naturally seeping into the creases of life in general be it health, wealth, relationships and beyond.

Return on investment In more literal terms people saw a return on the investment that in most cases a company was funding the coaching and that return was measured in cold hard cash. You can equate the cost of any coaching programme against the performance of that individual in their business area and ask what % of that financial result was attributable to the coaching.

Ripple effect We just mentioned performance and primarily in recent years coaching has been used as an intervention shifting from usually fixing toxicity in the workplace to performance enhancement.  Whilst I am sure that still takes place, the learnings that person takes into their roles not only affects them but also those that surround them and those beyond those direct relationships. Decision makers in organisations their coaching experience can fundamentally impact the whole environment. Like pebbles skimming across the water, bouncing far beyond its initial touch with the water leaving multiple ripples in its wake.

Curious? Motivated to learn to benefit yourself and others? Not afraid to be humble? Sounds like you are ideal to experience coaching.

Coaching Series 1: What is it like to be coached?

When you read articles about Coaching, especially those about work performance, do you think that they have  made a massive presumption… that you know what coaching is! Even some coaching professionals across the performance spectrum struggle trying to encapsulate a concise and well researched thought out definition.

What if, we take the view of the person being coached, the “coachee”. It is widely accepted that coaching is unlocking a person’s potential to maximise their own performance. (John Whitmore, in Coaching for Performance).

This is great for those that have clarity in understanding themselves and what they want to specifically work on, but often clients say they are stuck and, in a fog, when they come to me for 1:1 coaching.

Its when I hear this, I ask “What does it look, sound and feel like for the coach who is actually in the coaching experience?”

It looks like …two people, one coach and you the coachee (you might be the client and/or coachee depending on who is sponsoring the coaching. You’ll be having a session or number of agreed sessions usually 6 – 8 lasting 30 – 60 minutes. You’ll be in a private space either digitally or in person or even possibly outside but nontheless private.  You’ll exchange words, questions, responses, but there will be times when it is very quiet.  This is because your coach is fully engaging their listening skills and you are doing extremely important thinking.  You will also see your coach observing you carefully because they are noticing all your behaviour, a glance away or change in posture. This is because it is all valuable information or data as a coach might say.

It sounds like……lots of  talking and silence, too.  both are important especially because of the sensory listening skills your coach will use. I have heard of practitioners such as Linda Asprey who have worked with clients where almost the entire session is void of speaking.  You will also hear a clear structure to the session where your coach will begin by asking questions such as “how are you coming into this session today?” or will start by saying “I will today…….”. Your coach will explain their role and will communicate with you verbally and nonverbally. By asking powerful questions, reflecting back the words the coach says, sharing what they sense they are experiencing or even engaging in silence and being non-verbal time way longer than you might ever see in a work-based experience.

It feels like……. a very new and different experience if you haven’t been coached before.  It can give you many possible sensations that might be new to a work or leadership conversation because you are not being judged.  You might be uncomfortable but never dangerous, you might feel challenged or vulnerable but never unsafe.  You will always feel safe, this is fundamental to coaching ethics and is known as “psychological safety”. It may also feel very fluid that doesn’t seem to follow much of a format. Be reassured that your coach through many many accredited hours of practice will have a library of coaching models in their tool kit. From vastly positive feelings of clarity or emotional release where you discover new thinking, these become moments or pebble drop moments that you will remember. Whilst it can feel very natural to have a natural flow you will be aware of a definite beginning and end when your coach will ensure you are happy to close the session even asking, “how did we do today?”

Do you have a clear idea of what it would be like in a coaching session? What do you think about coaching now?

I would love to hear & see what is your response to this? Share about your experiences of coaching through your senses. Here is more for you to discover

Recruiter: what do you matter to your candidates?

What is our responsibility to our candidates?

In the veritable trinity of hiring; hirer, candidate and stakeholder where does our ethical loyalties lie? Topic of a recent conversation where I and a fellow recruiting professional debated the impact we have on our each and every one of the candidates we engage with.

This came about as we chatted about the state of recruiting and our role as recruiter representing the our profession. We often get bandied with a bad rep along the lines of an estate agent (no offence estate agents the recent selling showed a 50/50 ratio great versus poor). We came to the conclusion that this wasn’t entirely unwarranted, there are great recruiters but there are also a lot that really aren’t great. Is this through lack of technical training, for the most part no. More often it lies with the emotional intelligence of us to understand and empathise with the individual people they are.

I have previously written about placing the care back into careers but I would like to revisit this but go abit deeper to how our relationship with a candidate matters. It matters because all our touch points can dramatically affect that person and their career. Impact what and how?

How about confidence?

That candidate you didn’t bother returning calls to. I still hear almost 20 years on in my recruiting career candidates experience a “wall of silence”. I know candidates ghost recruiters too but the economic balance here is weighted in our corner and we aren’t placing our careers in their hands. Respecting that at any stage of the hiring process we should keep in contact. Because without our side of the recruiting relationship candidates will come to question and doubt themselves often resulting in long term impact on confidence. Especially in our more remote working age, these natural human interaction points are greatly reduced, so when we do interact we feel it more.

Secondly, there is the question of trust between candidate and recruiter and doesn’t matter whether it is agency or in house, our canddiates inherently place trust in us, let alone with their data, personal information and as importatnly future careers. With trust comes natural expectation. We enter into what is similar in coaching to a contact of psychological safety where candidates have a safe space to talk about all elements of their career and the personal that entwins with it.

We could say that our interest is only with the professional so its not relevant to know about family, physical and mental health, their work/life balance. So often a candidate will share far more with you than sometimes even people close to them don’t know. The person that wants to work 4 days a week becuase they need to build consistent time for mental health therapies in the short term. The person who relives the details of their painful experience of being made redundant or someone that is having to explain a desire to change how they work from self employed to employee because their business had to close during the pandemic and they need consistent and secure work. These are hardly unusual scenarios but do we think beyond the next phone call to the client or stakeholder and imagine the impact securing the role will have on them, their health, their wealth, their career direction and their confidence. On a basic level this is about confirdentiality but further than this it is about empathy and understanding. That what you say, how you behave will have a lasting impression and possible impact. So…..

the next time you hestiate to pick up the phone to call back….don’t! Make the call and be more honest

the next time you make light of someone’s lack of commitment to the process because they have asked about flexibility think and ask why?

the next time you rush feedback, pause go back and logically and specifically craft and share feedback, start with the good but please don’t shy away from the bad. Be constructive, be specific in giving examples, be an expert and offer advice as to how they can be better.

the next time you find a candidate sharing about their whole lives, listen and listen well because the better you understand them the better you can match them to a role.

Yes the product in recruiting is the candidate themselves and I wish there was more transparency around this but fundamentally it is also about people and people have lives. You never know that one detail might just be the USP for your client or stakeholder that seals the deal.

4.e.g.’s Top Tips for when applying for jobs on-line

Click here to apply

For some applying on line for a job will be second nature, whether its through a job app or careers website. But for others this is new territory and especially as a consequence of our current health pandemic. I would like to share key things to think about that will build your knowledge of the job market and most importantly what actions you can take to make this digital transition. Let’s think practically and ask ourselves the What, Where, Who and How of applying on line:


Info are you being asked to provide? Depending on the platform, you may well be asked for different personal and professional information. Often candidates rush through applications not always giving enough attention to each application. Have details such as your NI number, references and logins and passwords to hand as well as your updated and tailored CV. This way you won’t waste time looking this info but focus your energy on the quality and content of your application to make it stand out. I often draw the comparison of these as the cutlery making it easier to complete your meal i.e. your application – one without the other makes it really hard work. Here at 4 e.g. we ask client to create and keep a spreadsheet to record this info, list the websites, job boards and apps as well as the actual jobs you’ve applied for.


…. Our working landscape has undeniably changed in recent months and the job market has shifted. As candidates we need to respond and adapt our behaviour just the same. No longer can we rely on face to face IRL conversations or networking to bypass the on line application which at times can feel like a gaping void. Where we apply on line is as diverse as the jobs we apply for. But it doesn’t need to be complicated. There are multiple channels and platforms to apply for the same job because that is how recruitment or Talent teams chose advertise. Think like a recruiter and use your social and digital knowledge to guide you. What I mean by this is, a one size fits all approach is unlikely to give you the result you want. So that means tailoring your application to the specific channel. If its merely an email careers inbox, then an email covering letter is critical, or if its a recruitment agency then a PDF version that you are happy with that isn’t then changed is also important. If you are using LinkedIn to apply for a job then ensure both your profile is up to date and your CV is uploaded into the platform to save you much time and represents you the way you want.


do on-line applications differ when you come to actually do them? In short, yes they do even though they share the same aim to secure the right talent for that role. From volume job boards such as Indeed and Reed, or specialty websites like JobsToday app that looks to hire in a matter of days if not hours. You will likely be applying for several roles at once, so use that spreadsheet again to list the URL link to that specific job. Timing is key as well. Some careers/jobs sites expect you to complete an application in one sitting others allow you to save info as you go. Look out for this in the instructions so you know how long it will take and plan your time around this. Question types will vary also. Some sites ask for information in different ways from multiple choice, drop down menus for factual information and open text boxes with character limits. These in particular give you more freedom to state why you are the right person for the role.

And finally and possibly the most important is Why?

Keep asking what is your Why? Why are you applying for this particular job? Why are you investing your valuable time? Why should the recruiter or hirer pick your application? By reminding yourself of this each time you click through to view a job, tailor your CV to each job or even before you press SUBMIT you will save yourself time and energy. Your confidence will also benefit as doing this will keep your job search tight and true to your values and priorities. I will talk about Values in another piece so keep a look out for this. Read more here about how 4 e.g. can help you apply for the right roles in the right way.

Please tell me – Where is the care in career?

“1 application via their career’s website, 1 telephone interview, 3 interviews, 1 presentation & I didn’t get the job.  I asked for feedback to understand why better. They said yes, that was over 2 months ago and still nothing. It’s so frustrating you just hit a wall of silence.”

“Applying for multiple jobs for brands and companies I love is soulless, It’s so rare to actually speak to a person. Why is that so difficult?”

Heard this before? Can a candidate of mine say this about me, my team or company? Please ask yourself honestly. We have moved the dial so much on ATS, AI, EVP but why oh why are we still hearing experiences like these. Please don’t tell me candidates need to be less sensitive and more resilient, or these are hardly extreme, I’ve heard worse. Does it have to be worse? A lot of the work I do within my career mentoring at 4.e.g is supporting individuals through and after really bad experiences. But what does care even mean? The noun is described as the serious attention or consideration applied to doing something correctly or to avoid damage or risk. For me there are 3 things here; Consideration applied, doing it correctly & avoiding damage.

At the brilliant D & I event from the team at The Recruitment Events, Bill Boorman addressing our industry peers to take accountability and play our part, urging us to make it happen. For the hirer, we so much on our plate and for the candidate vote with your digital fingers, don’t apply there again, don’t work there and surely all these experiences build you resilience. In the face of growing demands on us all what can we all do?
This real life “a wall of silence” is so common and I want to pick apart what “care” actually means and see why “care” is really at the centre of what we do as career custodians.

Consideration applied – To consider is about thought and to apply is about action. This is key. If you ask the vast majority of talent professionals about candidates, they will say they want people to enjoy the recruitment experience whether they are motivated by metrics, money or making a placement. But just like any EVP or mission statement without action does it really matter. It’s applying our care through our behaviour in every interaction is how we demonstrate this. We should be harnessing the technology available to us to enhance and compliment not to replace our human connections. The vast diversity and progress made in recruiting software and atomisation theoretically should grant us the time and freedom to place humans once again at the heart of what we do.

Do it right – Show up and show off your best people behaviours and practices, setting you quite frankly apart from the mainstream based on the encounters above. These soft skills such a communication doesn’t readily feature on an SLA or objective or review in either a measured or anecdotal way. Have we forgotten there is a “who” at the receiving end of what we do and how we do it matters?

Will you and your teams be engaging those future fit uniquely human skills such as Emotional Intelligence, Creativity, Critical thinking, Growth Mindset & Mindfulness that will also prepare your TA teams for the future but at the same time show you Do Care. Somi Arian has written a compelling piece on this and in particular around Contextual Creativity here

And arguably the most important, by ensuring you both think and show you care your output of your recruiting work can endeavour to avoid any damage, whether it’s to your brand or to the very impactful experience your candidate’s live through. For many discovering and maintaining a fulfilling career is something we attach major value to, being the conduit to experiencing other great things in life such as purpose, enjoyment, financial security, learning, friends, wealth and many more. So how about this for an equation, thought + action = care

We would do well to think more like a UX Designer where user needs, value and accessibility all part an equal part.
Translate this to recruitment and a candidate would feel part of the conversation and have a sense of control, not words I hear often enough. With the appropriate automation that also embraces UX Design we can make headway to finding a partnership between Tech & the Human.

So, here is what I ask of us all (me included) for the timing being:

  1. Be considerate, this is a key skill in a recruiter’s dexterities as much as CRM knowledge
  2. Do it and do it well consistently. Let’s rebuild the recruiter’s reputation
  3. Remember both the person and the impact you have
    I am intrigued to know of other people’s experiences recruiters and candidates alike. Have you experienced a caring approach? I would like to talk more about how we can tangibly make a difference in re-building human connectedness in recruitment.

Dsylexia is about what you can do, not what you can’t

Let’s shift the perception from negative to positive

Reading that Pip Jameson of The Dots describing herself as “delightfully Dyslexic” made think about how I feel about my own dyslexia. For many many years I saw only what skills I didn’t have to study or do a certain job. Now I see Dyslexia as a strength just as much as my education or experience, but it’s still a work in progress.

My own experience is this. I the early days of my career, you weren’t asked about any disabilities or even know you are covered under the Disabilities Act. You didn’t dare mention it if you made it through to interview for fear of judgement and deselection.  An HR professional that can’t spell, surely not. I needed to decipher my own understanding of what Dyslexia meant for me especially with a late diagnosis in my mid-30’s.  Even today in some of my peer groups I am discovering that late diagnosis is not uncommon not just for Dyslexia but for other neurodiverse individuals.

So what has worked for me?

What I recognise now is very much quality over quantity. I use a range of tools so that I don’t become overloaded. From information to data, ways of working, reading about my industry, to networking. My brain just can’t process it so why make it, and even if it did I wouldn’t remember it anyway. I am learning to keep in check my consuming of things such as social media, have fewer apps but use them more(fab apps like Feedly are my friend). I have embraced different ways outside of reading to get my fill such as Podcasts. Google Maps gets me from A to B without the historical panic that I used to set in when travelling somewhere. However, sometimes ol’ skool is just the ticket, my trusty Moleskin notepad is never far away for my prolific list making.

What part does my dyslexia play in my work today?

It informs my point of view that the candidate/individual/cleint is at the heart of all that I do. My clients deserve quality of service, through my strength to think creatively I deliver simple but effective solutions. I listen intently to my clients and note take conscientiously because I can’t rely on my short term memory. This means I often pick up on the smallest of details, that others wouldn’t. My ability to find different solutions to the norm means my clients often get something they weren’t expecting. I am learning to harness is the strengths I have.

This months’ Dyslexia Awareness campaign quite rightly gave focus to Education getting to the core of the matter. But what about those already finished their education who are in the workforce facing challenges and want to be perceived differently?

Made by Dyslexia have just published their #valueofdyslexia report in conjunction with EY highlighting the positive.  They found that there is a match between what the World Economic Forum is saying are required future skills and the strengths such as vision, creativity and big problem solving skills that dyslexics have. This goes along way to challenge the perceptions of what you can rather than what you CAN’T do.  More importantly in an age where many skills are being automated this is shining a light on those not able to be recreated by AI. This gives real currency to dyslexic abilities in the future.

Reports such as this being widely read and acted up on we will start to see some of the balance being redressed.  But for the moment I will continue to shine a light on Dyslexia and how it shapes me in my work.

Give the report a read see how you could perceive your colleagues in a different light. However, if you can’t I would love to leave you with these thoughts:

  • Give space and time – Dyslexia means that information can only be processed so fast for dyslexics, so in our age of information overload this is ever more apparent
  • Please realise how hard a dyslexic person is always working, what you find quick and easy may not be the case for a dyslexic
  • Be sensitive to a dyslexic’s resources – Long sequences of the same instructions can be overwhelming. Break it up a little, give a visual cue, focus on one thing at a time
  • I have head Dyslexia called the “thief of time”, everything text driven takes twice as long so try bullet points instead of long sentenced emails where you can
  • Socialising in large groups can be intimidating with too many conversations to process, so help that person engage in smaller groups to avoid reaching a tipping point of info
  • Learning can be challenging so, engage other senses such as being visual or physical
  • Appreciate a dyslexic person’s strengths – why focus on admin detail when there’s ideas and creative solutions
  • Be open and talk about – at home, at work or out

Your career ABC to decode and make the change you want

Every wondered how people get hired for that perfect job or gain that enviable promotion or set up that successful business? It all seems so huge and unattainable right? Well let’s break things down a little and take it back to basics.  There’s no better place to start than our alphabet.  In this A – Z  I will give you regular tips to help you make the change you want in our careers.

So why the alphabet?

It is the foundation to our language, letters building words and words building sentences. In careers we can see the same, our day to day experiences, can build along with our skills and knowledge to create our career language. The beauty of this career language is whilst we all have common and familiar job stories, at the same time these can be deeply personal and unique. It’s this career language which creates through our experiences, skills and values that together can create what I like to call our “career code”.

Each tip will work to de-code areas of your career, giving you actions to make changes that are right for you.  With insider recruitment knowledge, these tips will be realistic, easy to put into practice and will make a difference.  So, I guess we start with A and I have 3 ways you can use this easily.

A is for Adapt. Being able to adapt should be a guiding star throughout our careers because we are constantly responding to our personal and work environments. Whilst we cannot control all our work, we can determine how we respond.  Those candidates that adapt, shape their career expectations, are open to learning from these recruiting experiences and then make the necessary changes to their behaviour, these are the ones that achieve their career goals.   Interestingly, this happens on both side of the interview table with businesses re-evaluating when they hire.

Firstly, be open-minded. Adopt what’s called a growth mindset and this will pay career dividends over and over.  It’s OK to be determined in your career choices but be too fixed and you’ll encounter more disappointment, which you will have to overcome and more to the point you could be missing out on unexpected but positive experiences. Sometimes you’re sure you want to resign, walk out the door, but cold being more open-minded lead you to finding new joy in something familiar. Not where you intended to end up but a good result, nonetheless.

Then look to adapt your approach.  Heard the apparent Einstein definition of insanity “doing the same thing over and over again, expecting to get a different result”? Sent off dozens of applications with the same CV and wondering why you aren’t shortlisted. Feel familiar? Adapting and tailoring your approach especially when it comes to job searching can create different outcomes.  If you’ve only relied on recruitment agencies to secure your next job, think about proactively approaching companies you identify with?  Have jobs has always found you? For a change, be open to the networking you never found time for. Brush up these different career seeking skills and book your next event to attend.

Finally, adapt your actions.  Laws of probability tell us we may not get the first promotion we go for or get offered the first job we apply for. Adopting an open mind, while you try these new approaches will mean these perceived failures will phase you far less. After each action you give yourself to do make the time to reflect on what and how you did it. Task yourself with recording what you did, how you did it as well as what went well and not so well (don’t be too harsh but be honest).  This will help you to adapt what you will put into action next time, starting a new pattern of behaviour that you can apply to many career situations.

Companies always look for individuals who are open-minded. Showing you can adapt from what you describe on your CV or application to how you talk about this in an interview tells an employer you can work with different people, be empathetic and can cope with the change so many businesses face.

Like this but wish to explore more how you can fine tune your “adapt” skill, then get in touch with me here and we can get started on decoding your career through a complimentary call.

Blue Monday & not the New Order kind

Just as we have Cyber Monday and Black Friday the recent phenomenon of “Blue Monday” is just around the corner. I became more aware of this last year as it just so happened my partner’s birthday falling on this exact day. No wonder he didn’t feel like celebrating this year especially, what’s special about Mondays….right?

Blue Monday according to the world wide Web tends to be the 2nd Monday in January as calcluated by very clever people as follows  \frac{(C \times R \times ZZ)}{((Tt + D) \times St)} + (P \times Pr)>400 and is dependent on factors such as the weather, debt level, time since Christmas, time since failing our new year’s resolutions, low motivational and feeling the need to take action. Always the optimist I did find that Cliff Arnall, who is credited with this work did also calculate that 24th June is the happiest day of the year so I will check back in on this in the summer.

What is interesting here is the themes around both resolutions/goals, motivation and need for action to create change to lead us to happier life experiences whatever they are.  Over the last week or so I have and I am sure you will have witnessed alot of noise about “new year, new you” “transform your life” whether that is your health, your weight, relationships, business, money, career. This can seem insurmountable for many. Whilst I won’t claim to help you with the other “Life” stuff let’s begin to talk about careers, how we go about creating andinstilling real enduring change.

I have posted before that I have a venemant belief that change does absoultely not have to be collossial or completely different or a U turn to bring about real and meaningful change that you want.  From my reading over time I wished to bring together some small but “doable” tips because you never know where it might lead that can work for you if you are looking to improve your current role or thinking about change.

  1. Think small not big

May seem obvious but even Margaret Heffernan in her book “Beyond Measure: The big impact of small changes,” talks about how creating strong cultures isn’t about multi-million dollar programme but the small actions of each employeeregardless of level which creates the biggest impact.  Plant a tiny seed, in the right place and let it grow!

2.  Use current habits as a trigger for new ones

This should get round the problem of combining the right amount of motivation to do something which you find hard or don’t think you have the ability to do.  With an everyday habit/behaviour tell yourself  “After I check my faviourite social media, I will ……… see if my LinkedIn profile statement is up to date 4 e.g. These are the wise teachings of BJ Fogg in his Ted Talk. Go on try it. Plant this seed and see how you get on.

3. Switch your environment

This doesn’t mean move house, decide to work from home but Science shows that our environments help us change behaviour. How about tweaking one part of your surroundings be it external and your immediate raidus. What about step chaning your commute for one day, get off a stop earlier, take a different turning into the office, listen to music you wouldn’t usually listen to rather than srollling your Apps!

4. Celebrate your victories

And celebrate them NOW! BJ Fogg in his Ted talk rallies us to do this. Whether it’s telling ourselves we are awesome or doing a little dance. Have your “Yay” moment, don’t delay, don’t wait for anyone else. So often we equate success to mean BIG such as landing that amazing job! Ok so you didn’t get the job offer (yet) but did you get selected to interview, or even had an news you got shortlisted. Take this! Celebrate this! This will in turn build your internal confidence.

5. Don’t be too hard on yourself

We constantly tell one another especially kids in our lives to be kind to others but what about us. If it hasn’t worked out like we planned or not worked at all, what has been the outcome? Very often nothing fundamentally bad has happened. Often this less than percfect experiences, could be feedback from your manager or on a project can be exactly the stuff we can learn from. Making mistakes isn’t easy to experience but does allow us to learn and growth. Employers far more in the current job market want to see real evidence of this growth mindset.

So as we stare into the face of this year’s Blue Monday, what will you be doing to get one “small” step closer to the happiest day of the year in June? Would love to hear.


My Dyslexic Discovery

Scrolling through Instagram a few weeks ago I came across Holly Tucker’s post recalling her experience as well as celebrating Dyslexia Awareness Month in her Conversations of Inspiration (  Take a listen they are fantastic, empathetic and heartwarming. What struck me was 2 things; one, I should have been aware of this initiative. And two, Holly’s earlier working life having her writing so brutally corrected  was so akin to my own. And more to the point I thought this was normal for me! So yes I am dyslexic, and there I have said it, in a very public forum. This is the first time if I am correct that I have written this professionally, so I wished to share how my discovery came about.

my diagnosis at the tender age of 34

I was struggling at work, and despite my previous capability and work ethic I was making simple mistakes time and time again with my then line manager having to raise the conversation of something else being the cause that no end of late night working could support. I still have the educational psychologist’s report a decade or so later, that gave me my official diagnosis – Dyslexic. As described by Sir Jim Rose in his 2009 report, it is a learning difficulty that primarily affects the skills involved in accurate and fluent word reading and spelling. With characteristic features of being difficulties in phonological awareness, verbal memory and verbal processing speed.

I had thought that my character rather than the chemistry of my brain was responsible for affecting my behaviour, as well as my response to stress and how fast I responded to things. It was in fact a weight lifted and gave me a “label” to attach to it.  What was more powerful was his endorsement that I had put in place quite “remarkable coping strategies” (his words). These unbeknown to me had got me through primary, secondary and right through my degree education and beyond into the first 10 years of my career.

I had thought I wasn’t as intelligent as others, one of those people who had to work harder just to achieve the same as others, not thick just couldn’t quite grasp things. My parents had instilled in me their work ethic, so I applied myself to all parts of my growing up, why was school any different.

I was fortunate, I made it through school, achieved decent grades, had begun a successful career in Fashion Retail with some amazing brands that I love. My family were supportive but didn’t really understand. No one else I knew were dyslexic or had a learning difficulty. For my other support networks, partner and friends it just made sense. The incessant note taking, freakish tidiness, hater of clutter, forgetting where to meet (pre mobile days) were prime behaviours and the penny dropped.

Work and dyslexia – not the comfiest of bedfellows

At the time of my diagnosis, I was already committed to my HR career with my employer supporting my choice, where words and accuracy were the currency no longer clothing. My confidence had plummeted and I just didn’t cope. Times of heavy workload, deadlines and limitless documents meant there will be trouble ahead.  Not because I was bad at my job or ill suited to it but I just couldn’t process and think in the same way others did.

Nobody talked to me about my dyslexia and come to think of it neither did I, I wasn’t encouraged to.  I didn’t know anyone else who was dyslexic, certainly not at work and certainly not in HR. I attended a course or two, was given a tech package to help check my own work and that was that. I was grateful at the time no big deal was made of it, however in light of current movements to support diversity I wonder if my early career would have been vastly different.

What are your experiences of dyslexia, or any other learning difficulty? As an individual or do you work with someone, or have a close friend or relative that is.

I will share more about my dyslexic discovery and how it has shaped and is shaping my current work world and workstyle. In the meantime, excuse the typo’s and let me know what your experiences are!


Has it really been a whole year?

I was cautiously excited (but scared if I am truthful) this time last year beginning my career shift from taking my regular payslip to freelancer but with today being 4.e.g. consulting’s 1st anniversary it seems the perfect time to take a pause, look back, look now and look forward.
I remember feeling like I was staring into a uncertain abyss of a future, yet to bag a client, yet to create let alone send an invoice, yet to recruit a role (there’s nothing like matching your first vacancy to give you validation) but despite this having some small measure of optimism. I had at that point started some internal dialogue and external conversations about what I wanted to do next and had the help of others around me, such as Helen and  Simon that were invaluable.

Last summer I had come out of a redundancy that wasn’t altogether a positive experience, and in my heart of hearts I knew I hadn’t found my true home even with putting my heart and soul into the role and with my optimistic HR hat on. Despite this, I wore the warm vintage cloak of corporate Retail. I loved it, it was trusty and reassuring, gave me clarity & solidity in my work, I was part of a brand, driven by its values and goals thinking really only of my HR team, line managers and candidates.

So, I had a name 4.e.g. consulting but not really a voice! Looking back I have listened to my own key messages I wrote in my first 4.e.g. article on LinkedIn because I didn’t have a website, company page or blog. What I take from this is that I have done what feels both right and timely for me.  I was humble enough to ask lots and I mean lots of questions to anyone that would pay attention, I listened intently learning from those in and outside my profession and sector, local freelancers, creatives, trusted colleagues from a former life! Looking now I am doing this everyday and I make a point to learn from this and seek out experiences, places and tools to learn.

I once believed that the reality for working in recruitment was two worlds – agency or in house that was all and certainly not freelance and certainly not flexible. I was comfortable with this, the combination of being available for candidates and the pace at which roles are recruited were imperative. Were freelance recruitment professionals a thing of mythology? I had aspired to the notion of working differently, witnessed others “living that supposed dream” but was it really possible? The simple answer is Yes it is.

At this point, I had a sense I wanted to work with smaller businesses, work less hours, but ultimately partner with businesses to guide them to make better recruitment decisions giving them the expertise, tools and experience that would give them lasting impact for their business, teams and bottom line. Larger organisations in the main were increasingly casting cookie cutter roles with practically no flexibility in any form. One particular business, despite needing an experienced recruiter, the very next week (they rung me on Thursday) for a 4-6 weeks could not explain why the contract had to be full time and in the “office”.  My wish is having seen a more positive move towards working differently that is taking hold is that for future generations my daughters included, it will be change.

I have discovered new places where people do work differently, for example Instagram has been kind to me finding connections, information and support I really didn’t expect in the unlikeliest of accounts and places. Some of those connections has transversed the digital into the real world where I find myself sitting in a cafe with a particular like-minded recruitment individual (you know who you are) sharing experiences and making up the rules on how we can collaborate and work together. How brilliant is that? Through working with new clients outside of industry, new skills and knowledge have been acquired. I have kept myself invigorated attending events I might not have made time for before, listened to podcasts (Work Life – Adam Grant/CtrlAltDelete – Emma Gannon/Squiggly Careers – Amazing if/Eat Sleep Work Repeat – Bruce Daisley to name a few) even read whole books found myself part of amazing communities such as The Hoxby Collective. At Hoxby there is no vacuous speak, work is measured purely by the output and quality of your work, not where, how long and how senior you are.

I told myself to take small steps and prepare as much as I can, setting myself up for success as much as possible, matching the practicalities of tax codes, T’s & C’s, tech, email addresses, website hosts and domains etc with a mindset that will grow with my work and business. There is no one definitive manual for being freelance and there shouldn’t as the beauty of being part of the “gig” is you can make up the rules – on some matters anyway. Thinking to shape your work differently I wish I had known about the great work IPSE do ahead of going freelance, they are a great organisation with such great resources from guides to setting up, conferences, advice on financials, newsletter to events.  “Small” seeds, small steps, has become a feature and style to all my work, I don’t need to change the world, there are plenty of others to do that brilliantly.

If you had asked me back at the beginning of 2018 if I really believed I would be in the place I am now I might have caved and doubted myself, because of the huge change for me that I was making at the time. Now, I know that what I do provides a great service my clients that they benefit greatly from. Because of my approach is to make mentoring accessible, it is bringing opportunities to individuals that is practical, bespoke and cost effective, making real change at key moments in their work journeys.

I didn’t expect this year to be either smooth running, easy or clearly defined, but it’s easy to get lost in being both flexible, responsive to your clients as well as distracted by what others are doing.  I will admit to spending time (mainly as a result of social media) comparing myself to others working in similar spaces, thinking I should be doing what they do. I did become distracted but it wasn’t a wasted exercise because through that I realised what I really didn’t want to be. They are great at what they do, you admire those people, will learn from them and champion them but ultimately led me to understand what direction I wanted to take.

I have had to learn to become more focused I have become clear on what , who and why I want to work in the way I do which definitely wasn’t the case a year ago. Within that focus I have become my biggest critic but also my biggest cheerleader, something I never did before. The words of Kemi Telford come to mind. If you haven’t looked Yvonne up do!

Then I remembered saying to people I just want to do good work and I have had to delve deeper to define what that means for me. For me that means working with small to medium sized businesses who don’t need or have recruitment in their teams, offering them bespoke services so that they can cherry pick exactly what element(s) of the recruitment life-cycle. Because I have always loved working directly with candidates I came to realise that I did missed the level of engagement enormously and that what I did love was guiding individuals to making the best choices for them at that time. From here I had the hair brain idea to professionally work with people and mentoring was the right avenue for my experience and skill set. This idea wasn’t really on the agenda as I was focusing on recruitment but opportunities presented themselves and within month 3 of 4 e.g. I had my first mentoring client. This is becoming a rock bed of what I do. I am doggedly determined to make career mentoring accessible to everyday people at whatever stage. I will look to talk more about my mentoring in future articles as much of what I have written about has been about hiring.

Right now I will pause and give myself time to celebrate but as I look to the future, one thing is for sure the world of work is both fascinating and evolving and you know what ……that is great to be a part of but with me making the choices.  Through my work it is this choice I will continue to bring to the people and businesses I work with.

Happy Birthday 4 e.g, Happy Birthday me!