The National Learning Institute

Monthly Archives: September 2009

Top Talent: Keeping Performance Up When Business is Down

September 25, 2009 No Comments

“A recession is a terrible thing to waste”, so says author Sylvia Ann Hewlett in her new book “Top Talent”. Her thesis is that people, particularly top people are more likely to change organisations in a recession than at other times. This presents both an opportunity for enterprising organisations to gain some good talent and a challenge for those organisations who are perhaps not so good at hanging on to their top talent, to keep them.

In part 1, Hewlett presents the evidence that suggests top talent are more likely to move during a recession than at other times. Fortuitously, Hewlett and her colleagues had set up a research study prior to the recession to look at the issues (challenges in work, motivation, engagement, life/work balance etc) facing top performers. Thus they have been able to look at before and after statistics, comments and trends amongst a wide range of top talent people. This provides much credibility to the book’s conclusions and recommendations.

I found some of the statistical information fascinating and quite illuminating. For example:

31% of people who survive a layoff, subsequently “walk out the door”.
Between June 2008 and June 2009, 14% of college graduates in the US lost their jobs. Of these, 32% were fired and 68% voluntarily left.
As at June 2009, 22% of “high potentials” are now working an extra 9 hours per week.
But for me, the really interesting stats were around trust, loyalty and engagement and the differences between high performers employed in Wall Street firms and those employed elsewhere both pre and post the recession:

In part 2, Hewlett outlines the steps to take to retain top talent. There are eight strategies which have been developed from the discussions with the study group of top talent and 55 one-on-one interviews with top performers. As well as Hewlett’s observations and recommendations, there are numerous verbatim comments from managers that provide excellent examples of what managers need to do to retain top talent.

This is a great little book. 132 pages in total, well written and easy to read. I have one criticism. For a visual person such as myself, there were not enough graphical representations of the stats in Part 1 to provide the “big picture” clarity I needed. It was often necessary to re-read a paragraph to gather the stats and their implications.

That said, I would highly recommend this book to any HR person serious about people development and to practising managers and particularly senior managers who have an influence on acquisition, development and retention of top talent.


Philip Pryor

September 24, 2009 1 Comment


Philip Pryor – Morphthink Pty Ltd

Specialising in . . .

  • resolving difficult internal and external negotiations
  • senior executive coaching
  • leadership and management development

Philip Pryor is a very creative training facilitator and coach.  As Principal of Morphthink Pty Ltd, Philip Pryor works with executives designing and implementing real-time change initiatives and strategies that provide practical outcomes, usually with extremely high ROI.

Over recent years, Philip has undertaken extensive work with family businesses in Australia and is a preferred facilitator with Family Business Australia.

Read more about Philip Pryor’s skills and expertise, and hear what Bob Selden has to say . . .

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Working With You Is Killing Me

September 18, 2009 No Comments

Working with you is killing me
What a great title for a book! And for the most part, the book lives up to its title. Crowley and Elster set out to help the reader “unhook” from emotional pitfalls in the office and show how to manage difficult personalities. They do both. to an extent.

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Creating Magic: 10 Common Sense Leadership Strategies from a Life at Disney

September 15, 2009 No Comments

This is both the story of author Lee Cockrell’s career, particularly the Disney phase and the leadership strategies he and others developed for the Disney Institute, a learning and development centre for current and future leaders (initially for Disney employees, but now also for public students).

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"Clean" – a real breakthrough

September 14, 2009 No Comments

I got cleaned!

Attended the Clean Coaching Conference in London over the weekend.  Very good material and sessions, all based on the “clean” concept of questioning, used particularly in coaching.   

For those unfamiliar with the concept of “clean” questioning, it is a way of helping another person find answers without giving advice.  This may sound similar to the contemporary model of “coaching”, so popular today, particularly in the business context.  However, “clean” is substantially different.  “Clean” is as clean as possible of the questioner’s assumptions, opinions and metaphors.  Furthermore, although listening is an integral component of the process of clean, it definitely does not use techniques such as paraphrasing, summarising etc, for these automatically provide the opinion of the questioner.

“Clean” was developed through the therapeutic approaches and methods of David J. Grove, creator of Clean Language.  Grove found that using clean language is a simple method of having the client amplify the metaphors they often use when describing a traumatic experience.  The key to Clean Language is to use the client’s exact words without inference in a structured process that enables the client to self discover the cause of their problem.

From Grove’s initial work in therapy, the concept has now been applied to coaching, communication and as I found at the conference, even market research (with stunning results).  In terms of practical and useable (by the layperson) psychological concepts, I believe “clean” is one of the greatest breakthroughs of the last 50 years!

See my reviews of two books on the subject Metaphors in Mind and   Clean Language – Revealing Metaphors and Opening Minds for more information.


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Johanne Spjut

September 4, 2009 No Comments

j spjut

Johanne Spjut – Founder and MD Gavlac AB

Specialising in . . .

  • Leadership development & executive coaching
  • Developing intercultural competence
  • Multi-cultural team leadership & coaching
  • Expatriate coaching

Johanne Spjut originally comes from Brussels, Belgium, and now lives in Stockholm, Sweden.

Johanne is the founder and managing director of Gavlac AB, a globally networked organization offering highly personalized services in leadership development and in executive coaching.

Read more about Johanne Spjut’s skills and expertise, and hear what Bob Selden has to say . . .

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