Reading Room

Macfarlan Lane’s Reading Room is the place for news, views, insights and discussions.

Research
Macfarlan Lane has an independent research capability with a focus on best practice and measuring effectiveness in career development and career transition.
Media
We have a reputation for being ‘thought leaders’ in our specialist area so are regularly asked to comment in the media. We are also interested in what others have to say on important senior career issues.
Macfarlan Lane Publications
Macfarlan Lane occasionally publishes qualitative and quantitative research in the form of EBooks and regular books. We also publish compilations of interviews with senior people to draw out experiences and insights of broad value and interest.
Bloggery
Sometimes we just want a chinwag about issues that crop up or new research or publications we’ve worked on.
Broader Reading
A selection of interesting articles on topics such as career change, career coaching, change management, talent development and general management.
Career Change
Change Management
Talent Development
General Management
Career Coaching
Find Your Voice - Career Coaching for Professional Women
Sideways To The Top
Testimonials

Recent Articles

Inclusive Leadership in Law Firms – The Practice of Conversational Intelligence

Posted in: General Management

This is a quick discussion of leadership in law firms – mostly as experienced by those below partner level. Something to think about if you are a partner, and something to think about in choosing who to work with, if you are not a partner. Most of the work inside law firms comes via conversations.

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Conversational Intelligence

Posted in: General Management

Judith Glaser’s book, Conversational Intelligence, produced mixed reactions in me. On the one hand it is just a tiny bit self-promoting. Her suggestion that conversational intelligence is right up there as a new intelligence, alongside IQ and EQ, is a bit over the top. On the other hand, despite this reaction, there is some great

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THE DOWNSIDES TO BEING A CONSUMMATE PROFESSIONAL

Posted in: Career Change

Strong skills as a lawyer, and being seen as a consummate professional are two constructs which fit well together.  Think of one of the best lawyers you know, and the most likely adjectives to come to mind will probably include disciplined, hard-working, forensic intelligence, client focused, and self-controlled. It seems there will always be a

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EFFECTIVE CAREER TRANSITIONS RELY MORE ON WHAT YOU DO THAN ON WHO YOU KNOW

Posted in: Career Coaching

When “Bill” began work with us in a career transition service he had been the CEO of a listed, mid-sized manufacturing and distribution organisation with a strong public profile.  He had been energised by success and had worked hard; the decision by the board to replace him with a new CEO came as quite a

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Managing Change with Humanity

Posted in: Career Change

Throughout Australia currently, public servants in a number of contexts are losing their jobs.  Funding is shrinking, restructuring is being imposed, and some areas of services are being outsourced or quietly abandoned. Much the same has been happening in the private sector for the past five years or so. However in our experience, the support

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How would you advise your son or daughter…

Posted in: Career Coaching

How should you as a parent and law firm partner advise a young adult looking at studying law today? A first response might be “with great caution”, because how can anyone anticipate what careers in the future will look like?  It would be very hard to draw wisdom from a past career in guiding someone

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The “performance development” part of an HR Directors role

Posted in: Bloggery

My recent blog: “Death to Performance Appraisals!” certainly sparked a bit of interest –and most likely some level of disagreement. Performance appraisals are supposed to be about developing and improving performance – which is a laudable aim of course.  Certainly most of us value constructive advice with that in mind.  My main point earlier was

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HOORAY – DEATH TO PERFORMANCE APPRAISALS!

Posted in: Bloggery

Sorry if my heading here sounds a bit like the war cry of a terrorist – but why has the movement to abandon annual performance appraisals taken so long? There probably is no more emotive and laden phrase than:  “Let me give you some feedback..”  Following closely behind this is “ May we discuss your performance

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ANOTHER REFLECTION ON CAREER CHANGE FOR LAW FIRM PARTNERS

Posted in: Career Change

We have published a number of short papers on the challenges facing law firm partners contemplating a career change.  Most recently our paper: Creating New Careers in the Changing Law Firm Landscape looked at emerging new practice models, and the opportunities these present. Here we reflect more on the bigger picture partners need to consider

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THE WIDER CONTEXT IN FACING UNPLANNED CAREER CHANGE

Posted in: Career Change

Unplanned career change brings with it a sudden array of pressures.  These can include dealing with the uncertainty created by the loss of a formal position, financial concerns, and family instability, as well as the need to articulate capabilities and begin to exploration and capture a new career. At the same time, as a wise

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Meauring Quality in Career Transition Services

Posted in: Career Change

Career Transition services are generally secured to acknowledge a duty of care to individuals displaced by organisational change and as a critical element in reinforcing an organisation’s brand and reputation. An employer’s reputation or “brand” is built through what existing and former staff says about the organisation. It is not built through brochures or through

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Some elements of the future world of work are already with us, and the picture is not altogether pretty….

Posted in: Bloggery

A number of thoughtful observers now write about the future world of work, with Lynda Gratton of the London Business School perhaps at the forefront.  Needless to say, those of us working in career transition services need to keep abreast of what is changing. Here, I just wanted a moment to reflect on the impact

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Networking Schmetworking – Give me a break!

Posted in: Bloggery

In the world of job-search there is no stronger fear-inducing word than “networking”.  Networking is the holy-grail in job search.   “Most opportunities open up through networking” is the refrain, the key message and the Big Imperative. You can almost see the introverts – and those with the typical Aussie form of self-abasement  –  wither up

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Sometimes conventional wisdom blinds us

Posted in: Bloggery

Conventional wisdom about job-hunting goes like this: The most productive investment of time in searching out opportunities is to go networking – (and we could say more than a bit about how effective networking is best undertaken) The next most productive investment of time is following up referrals, from those in the first group.  (Preparation

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MISGUIDED ASPIRATIONS, OR SIMPLY A FAILURE OF EXECUTION?

Posted in: Bloggery

This is a question often asked of themselves by HR leaders.  “Was this last initiative of mine a wrong aspiration, or something I simply did not execute properly?” Many of the objectives HR leaders focus on relate to complex undertakings – for example improving an engagement score – where the outcome rests on a number

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HR LEADER SURVEY

Posted in: Research

Our HR LEADER SURVEY – 2015 – is intended to capture the thinking, the confidence and their sense of effectiveness in HR leaders.  We are looking at wellness from an individual perspective, in this most challenging of professions.  Please dive into the link below, and in due course see how you compare with a number

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Creating new careers in the changing law firm landscape

Posted in: Career Change

In recent years a variety of new law firm practice models have emerged.  These are presenting challenges, and opportunities, across the sector for those aiming to win clients and build careers.  Large law firms will remain with us, and will most likely continue to capture most of the international work, and high level activity for

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Some thoughts on Wellness

Posted in: Bloggery

We are all familiar with the concept of wellness in the workplace.  It is a condition increasingly measured and worked upon in organisations. The “wellness movement” began with a focus on physical health – with emphasis on diet, exercise, and work- life balance.   However as it became evident that individual health was also impacted by

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What do good leaders do heading into caretaker mode?

Posted in: Career Coaching

Right now many government departments are moving into caretaker mode as an election looms in three eastern states.  “Here we go again…” is the feeling.  New initiatives need to be mothballed and a period of uncertainty begins. At the same time the expectation of widespread change looms as does the prospect of absorption into the

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Bringing about significant complex change in organisations

Posted in: Change Management

At a recent AHRI conference, during a day focused on the public sector, a number of speakers addressed issues involved in leading significant change. A range of insights, checklists and imperatives were provided by subject experts and various leaders. We heard of the importance of strong leadership, effective project management and of the need to

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Evaluating Service Suppliers

Posted in: Career Change

Career transitions for senior people are significant events. This may be the first time you will professionally take stock of your career, truly reflect on new directions and make informed choices about the next phase of your career. The period immediately after leaving an organisation can be initially a little challenging. Continue reading…..Evaluating service suppliers

FOCUSED RESEARCH: WHAT SENIOR MANAGERS NEED IN CAREER TRANSITION SERVICES

Posted in: Career Change

In a second survey of senior managers and professionals across Australia ran late in 2009, Macfarlan Lane focused on what senior managers and professionals actually experience in career transition services – and what is needed for such services to deliver value, in their eyes. Our first survey identified five elements considered by middle and senior

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Who’s got the Wheel?

Posted in: Career Coaching

This topic goes pretty much to the heart of what we do.  We work with, and provide resources to senior individuals as they build, navigate and adapt their careers. The challenge The past decade has seen a number of big shifts in work environments and career building: In many sectors, jobs, roles, assignments and careers

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The business case for specialised career transition support

Posted in: Change Management

It may seem counterintuitive and a waste of money to invest in the welfare of departing senior staff, especially those whom a government agency or department targets to leave. However, our experience at Macfarlan Lane suggests without providing guidance and support in first coping with job loss and then managing the transition, costs will be

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Moving on from government service as a business of one

Posted in: Career Change

Career resilience means independently leading your own career development, taking up opportunities in an organisation – and sometimes creating them – coping effectively with unplanned changes and working to a broad plan which best suits your evolving interests. Career resilience sometimes means moving into periods of self employment, and perhaps building portfolios of activities. Moving

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Enabling senior level career transitions

Posted in: Career Change

Government Departments are under pressure again, and this time it does seem that the next career moves for many public servants will be to the private sector. For those at the Executive Officer/Senior Executive service level, how can departments ensure exits from the public sector are treated in a dignified way, which uphold strong values

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Career transitions from the public sector to the private sector

Posted in: Career Change

Government departments and agencies everywhere, in both Federal and State contexts, are facing major budget constraints currently. Many are faced with pressures to reduce headcount. What does this mean for those directly affected: those whose roles may be disappearing? Most particularly, how should a senior public servant with perhaps extensive service in the public sector,

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Senior Public Service Appointments – testing for capabilities

Posted in: Career Change

The Capabilities Framework developed by the NSW Public Service Commission is an interesting exposition of what will now be required in senior appointments in this sector. The framework provides some 16 capabilities across four broad groups: Personal attributes, Relationships, Results and Business Enablers. There are then another four capabilities in the People management group, for

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Career Development for People and Culture Leaders

Posted in: Career Coaching

People and Culture leaders are ordinary mortals (!), and need the same mentoring, opportunities and challenges as they seek to establish for others in their own career development. Here are some of the big questions we think have a place in planning, and achieving rewarding careers in People and Culture.  These assume your aim is

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Moving from Transactional to Strategic HR

Posted in: General Management

In a talent management study in 2008 by McKinsey & Co, 60% of the line managers interviewed agreed with the statement “HR is an administrative department, not a strategic business partner”. Disturbingly 51% of HR professionals agreed with the statement. This finding is not surprising, given that in Australia, with the increasing amount of regulatory

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The door many partners find hard to open

Posted in: Career Change

What comes next, when the work of a partner in a law firm or a professional services firm begins to lose appeal, and fails to generate enthusiasm – when the “R” word begins to swirl around in one’s consciousness? For many partners, retirement is not an attractive prospect for a multitude of psychological and practical

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Procuring HR services – the good, the bad and the very ugly

Posted in: Bloggery

We have recently had a really positive experience with a major company facing the shut-down of a significant operation.  We were invited into their process for securing high quality career transition services. At this point, we don’t know whether we and our joint venture partner will be successful but the selection experience was really good.

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My kingdom for a diverse talent pipeline!

Posted in: Bloggery

Tony Abbot claimed when questioned as to why, when he formed government last year, only one woman was appointed to a 15 person cabinet, that there simply weren’t enough women in the pipeline ready to step in to a cabinet post. Was he right? Were the appointments merit-based? Were there no women with the experience

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Getting To Gender Diversity 2014 Report

Posted in: Research

In a recent survey we asked a selection of Australian People & Culture leaders to comment on what their focus is in 2014 for improving gender diversity in their organisations. We asked them to share their plans, what’s worked in the past, what’s not worked (and why) and to provide some frank and honest feedback

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The Fertile Time between One Career and the Next

Posted in: Career Coaching

Successful careers – for some – culminate as a CEO or as a Partner in a professional services firm or as a leader in government.  Careers like these can bring great rewards at a number of levels.  However, as we all see from time to time, career success can come with costs, in terms of

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The Rise of Shared Value

Posted in: Bloggery | Tags:

There’s a new term in town – shared value.  It’s a little bit edgy, a little bit hip, a little bit short black and a little bit out there. Shared value has been floating homeless about town for a couple of years but is now getting noticed. Shared value is basically the intersection of the

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A challenging decade for People and Culture professionals

Posted in: Talent Development

What are we seeing? Since even before the GFC of 2009, this really has been a challenging decade for People and Culture professionals. Their challenges have included: A prolonged period of organisational stress with downsizing, continuing business caution, and a focus on cost containment and “survival” rather than on growth. The shortened tenure of CEOs

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Interim or enduring self-employment can be a liberating, creative career path

Posted in: Career Change

In the current difficult business environment, active exploration of self-employment can be a constructive area to explore. For the most part, the senior people we work with focus on capturing another regular appointment.  However more than a few invest some of their time to focus on new, self-employed ventures – and this is often a

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The Reinvention of HR

Posted in: Bloggery

The February 2014 issue of “Boss” contained an article which caught my eye.  It was all about the “Reinvention of HR” within Netflix.  The “Boss” piece was based on a Harvard Business Review article by Patty McCord (published in their January-February 2014 issue) There is also a formidable slide-pack put together by the author.  Both

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Navigating changes as partners in law firms

Posted in: Career Change

Partners of law firms face a multitude of challenges right now.  Unease within partnerships can have both external and internal dimensions.  Externally, the worlds of clients of these firms have become more difficult: budgets are being cut, support for new investment can be hard to secure and transactional activity continues to be subdued.  The internal

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How Netflix reivented HR

Posted in: Talent Development

Netflix HR – HBR Article  –  People find the Netflix approach to talent and culture compelling for a few reasons…..the most obvious is that Netflix has been really successful. Watch the slideshow:-  http://www.slideshare.net/reed2001          

Career challenges for all of us in professional services

Posted in: Bloggery | Tags:

The past two years have been tough ones for many individuals in the professional services area – and this year may not be much easier it seems.  The challenges lie in shifting and contracting markets.  Past and prospective client firms have themselves been contracting, and have become far more “cost-averse” in a difficult economic environment. 

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Is the tide running out beneath your career?

Posted in: Career Coaching

For many partners in professional services firms, it feels as if the tide is starting to run out beneath their careers…. Is the tide running out beneath your career

Leadership and the art of plate spinning

Posted in: Career Change

Senior executives will better balance people and priorities by embracing the paradoxes of organizational life…..   leadership_and_the_art_of_plate_spinning (McKinsey)

The successful appointment of a CEO

Posted in: Career Change | Tags:

The successful appointment of a CEO The business media, analysts, investment funds boards (and those they represent) and of course staff in organisations all have a strong interest in the capabilities and likely success of CEO appointments. CEOs are sourced most usually amongst previous or current incumbents in similar roles external to the organisation, from

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When the platform shifts

Posted in: Career Change | Tags:

When the platform shifts Achieving standing as a CEO, or as a divisional or function head in a large firm is a terrific achievement. From an outsider’s perspective, the path to this point might look straightforward, but for those in such appointments a great deal has usually been invested into bringing this period of leadership

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Sideways to the Top insights for leaders

Posted in: Broader Reading | Tags:

Sideways To The Top Insights for leaders Macfarlan Lane has recently published a book Sideways To The Top – 10 Stories of Successful Women That Will Change Your Thinking About Careers Forever (published by Melbourne Books). The book captures the career decisions and choices made by a number of successful and high achieving women. Their

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Dealing with unease in the face of change

Posted in: Career Change | Tags:

Dealing with unease in the face of change In many government departments, the cool (perhaps arctic!) breeze of change is in the air. Budget cuts and consolidation is all around. The work of recent months and years can be suddenly sidelined as the time consuming machinery of government process grinds into action – with meeting

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Discussing Corporate Transitioning

Posted in: Media

Hugh Davies, Managing Director of Macfarlan Lane talks Corporate Transitioning on “The Upside” Sky Business Channel.

Departing CEOs

Posted in: Media

Hugh Davies, Managing Director of Macfarlan Lane talks about the issues facing departing CEOs on the “The Upside” Sky Business Channel.   

Is Talent over-rated?

Posted in: Bloggery

At the prompting of one of my colleagues, I have just read Geoff Colvin’s book: “Talent is overrated”[i]  It is an interesting book, but the title really irritates me.  A better title would be “Real talent is rarely innate – it is built”. This is much more a book about how talent is developed, and

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So how do your “survivors” feel right now?

Posted in: Bloggery

Some time back we wrote about the “survivors” of downsizing activity – and how there was such a thing as the “survivor syndrome”.  This was a condition said to afflict those who were left after a restructuring, often feeling dispirited, overworked and unloved. In fact one of several costs rarely counted in restructuring initiatives are those

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The very big step up from general management to being a CEO

Posted in: Bloggery

Recent press coverage of a high profile CEO exit was a further reminder about just how big the step is from general management to being a CEO.  The demands are huge, and come across such a broad spectrum of responsibilities. From time to time in our practice we work with general managers looking to move

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Three ways to turbo-charge your diversity plan

Posted in: Bloggery | Tags:

Smart organisations acknowledge that management depth and effective, creative and agile leadership across an organisation requires diversity: including strong representation of women at all levels. The statistics measuring success here are dreadful. Even within firms committed to a better mix of talent this goal is proving hard to achieve. If a CEO and the Board is

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There’s one! There’s another one! Recognising and acting on opportunities

Posted in: Bloggery

Are successful careers based on luck, or on recognising and seizing opportunities? At Macfarlan Lane we work with individuals to help them seek out and capture opportunities.  It is not a case of hoping to get “lucky”, it is more one of researching areas of need, and building good intelligence and relationships. Here are three

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Upside-down, inside-out and back-to-front: the best bits of Sideways to the Top

Posted in: Bloggery

The overarching finding from the women profiled in Sideways to The Top is that they all had the self-confidence and courage to take charge of their careers. Digging deeper, there were at least five common characteristics of success across these stories. First, these women were clear about what they wanted in their career, they were

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Are we still unconsciously incompetent? Bias and stereotyping

Posted in: Bloggery

Lately, the concept of unconscious bias has come into the forefront of diversity advocates in the workplace. Previously we would see conscious bias at work – especially several decades ago when women were clearly being denied opportunities and blatantly discriminated against based on their sex – like the stereotypes in the TV series Mad Men.

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Why this book and why the title Sideways to the Top?

Posted in: Bloggery

There are millions of books in the market about women, leadership and careers. According to Google and Amazon there are over 300,000,000 books on successful women leaders, and around 30,000 on women and careers. So why would we contribute to this huge collection? The vast majority of books we have identified in this huge collection

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That old chestnut: is there still a glass ceiling?

Posted in: Bloggery

There is no doubt the workplace has substantially improved for women over the last few decades.  There has bee a lot of progress over a short period of time.  We no longer see the sexism and discrimination that was open and visible several decades ago in many workplaces, highlighted in TV programs such as “Mad

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Two new books on women and leadership

Posted in: Bloggery

Lean In – Women, Work and the Will to Lead, by Sheryl Sandberg Sheryl Sandberg, the current Facebook CEO and former Google executive explores in her book Lean In- Women, Work and the Will to Lead why women’s progress towards leadership positions in government and industry has stalled. Despite women having more opportunities today than

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Is feminism still relevant?

Posted in: Bloggery

The political landscape has changed quite dramatically over the last few weeks. Julia Gillard, in her farewell speech as Prime Minister, said “I do want to say the reaction to being the first female prime minister does not explain everything about my time in the prime ministership, nor does it explain nothing about my prime

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Through the looking glass of executive search

Posted in: Bloggery

This blog aims to help you raise your profile in the competitive and candidate-rich world of executive search, so that your name is included in the candidate pool for those jobs you are seeking. We all want to be known by key decision-makers in executive recruitment and search firms, so that when that right role

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Marketing strategies that really work

Posted in: Bloggery

Many people feel uncomfortable about the word networking, or undertaking networking activity. We often hear from executives we coach who express reservations about networking as being pushy, looking needy or coming across as insincere. So we prefer to describe networking activities as marketing. Marketing is about intelligence gathering and exploration, it is not selling. The

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The increasing diversity of “employment” relationships

Posted in: Bloggery

In a recent discussion with a group of HR leaders we were exploring the increasing diversity of employment relationships, and the implications of this diversity. If you look around any organisation today, virtually all will have some combination of regular employees, employees working flexible hours – teleworking and hot-desking to varying degrees, contractors, interim project

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Relevance Deprivation Syndrome

Posted in: Bloggery

I was asked recently by a journalist to comment on a term she had heard:  “relevance deprivation syndrome”.  Was this something one saw much of?  Was there a psychological term associated with this?  How serious was this issue? My main reaction was to say that I thought this was a really unkind term:  a pejorative

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Bad bosses can be good for you

Posted in: Bloggery

One of the big challenges often faced by men and women in the corporate world is working with a ‘bad boss’. A bad boss can be described in many different ways –as a micro-manager, a control freak, arrogant, defensive, insensitive, a bully, untrustworthy, a poor listener, unwilling to accept others’ ideas – the list goes

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A reprise on the changing nature of employment

Posted in: Bloggery

In our October blog Matt Gaffney wrote about our approach in supporting self-employment, as one of several career directions someone might consider whilst working with us.  There are a range of reasons why this pathway deserves some consideration, in the context of a career transition – and Matt covers these and a great deal more.

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Do Women Lead Differently?

Posted in: Bloggery

Last month our Prime Minister, Julia Gillard, made her now famous “misogyny” speech, where she quoted Tony Abbott opining: “What if men are, by physiology and temperament, more adapted to exercise authority or to issue commands (than women)?” Are women really up to the challenge of leadership? And if so, why do women continue to

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Exploring what your “Business of Me”can be

Posted in: Bloggery

Can self-employment offer some senior people more, rather than less, employment security than a permanent role with a large organisation in these challenging times?  This is a hard question to answer.  Some forms of self-employment are more “secure” than others.  But with the right attention to risk, work-life balance and simply getting much more broad

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Should we be Funny at Work?

Posted in: Bloggery

According to research conducted by Dr. Allan Reiss of Stanford University, humor seems to activate brain networks that are involved in rewards. In fact, the areas activated by humor have been shown to be the same ones activated by amphetamines and cocaine, for receiving monetary gains (like when you win at the Melbourne Cup) and

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Further comments on the hegemony of the media

Posted in: Bloggery

At a Committee for Economic Development lunch on August 14, I was privileged to hear Professor Tim Flannery speak.  Tim is of course Chief Commissioner, Climate Commission and a distinguished author and academic. What struck me about his speech was his quiet blend of optimism and concern.  He quietly observed that whilst he was disappointed

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Counting blessings

Posted in: Bloggery

Every now and then I need to get myself by the scruff of my neck in a stock taking effort.  “What is working right now?” “What does the business have going for it this year? “ “What have been some recent successes?” “Maybe you should count your blessings?” Why do I need to shake myself

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Anger

Posted in: Bloggery

One of my colleagues (Norah Breekveldt) has just prepared a short paper on anger – taking an interesting line: that anger is an emotion which we ought to express more often.  Anger can be good! It is an interesting approach to the subject because most of us learn and assimilate the virtues of self-control –

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Getting things done in HR – with limited line authority

Posted in: Bloggery

One of the biggest challenges for HR leaders is getting things done in an organisation, with limited resources and little line authority.  The mandate of the function may be wide – around culture, engagement, talent development, change management – but for the most part HR people are seen as service providers and advisers to the

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The Finkelstein Inquiry

Posted in: Bloggery

The Finkelstein inquiry report came out recently. For many months I have ben annoyed by facile, superficial and often heavily biased tabloid journalism (both on TV and in the print media). Not to mention a few instances of absolutely egregious conduct in media reports.  I determined to read the report. It runs to several hundred

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Our new baby is born!

Posted in: Bloggery

Packed with insights – despite being modest in length.  I am referring to a book actually – born out of collaboration with a range of experienced contributors.  The book is titled: “Employer Branding – Case Studies and comments from Industry Professionals” – and is aimed squarely at HR Directors and business leaders generally, where the

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A look at the year just finished…

Posted in: Bloggery

We have worked with a number of CEOs and partner level individuals in 2011, and our strong focus on quality continues to position us away from the broader “Outplacement market”. Our aim is to be trusted advisors for senior people undertaking career change – rather than a volume driven, high overhead supplier of standardised career

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Shopping for career transition services

Posted in: Bloggery, Career Change

It has become a practice in recent years for some organisations to prompt senior people experiencing retrenchment to choose between different suppliers to select a program of support following their exit from the company. The practice is well-intentioned. HR directors have told us that they are at pains to seek to ensure that executives retain

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The impact of an organisation’s transactional culture after a retrenchment

Posted in: Bloggery

We do, as you might imagine, hear some very interesting stories about the inner workings of a range of organisations.  We pick up and absorb messages about their cultures as we talk with their representatives and the people who leave them. The messages include the way decisions are made, how communication occurs and how people

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To retire or not to retire

Posted in: Bloggery

This month I have had a crack at writing a short paper about senior partners in law firms and in professional services firms, when the time to consider “retirement” looms. It has not been an easy paper to write, because I think this is one of the more challenging career transitions to contemplate. The journey

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On having a plan B

Posted in: Bloggery

After dramatic plunges across the developed world in stocks and currencies and a massive rally in bond rates, the question is being asked are we in crisis mode again? Just as the dust was clearing from the pantomime in Washington DC over the US debt ceiling, global financial markets have whipped attention back to the

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Decisions decisions…….

Posted in: Bloggery

Do you ever struggle with making decisions? A great book on this subject caught my eye recently: “The Decisive Moment”, by Jonah Lehrer.[i] It is an easy to read, articulate discussion about how best to think about making decisions. The book emphasises the interplay of both cognitive and emotional intelligence in decision making.  Good decisions

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Some surprises for us in the Senior Management Survey

Posted in: Bloggery

At Macfarlan Lane we continue to be intrigued about what makes careers “work”. What makes work fulfilling. How individuals develop. And how they best navigate pathways through transitions. Our research project this year examined the theme of career satisfaction. I won’t repeat all the findings of this particular research here: they are summarized and dissected

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Working on an employment reputation

Posted in: Bloggery

What springs to mind for you when you hear the term “employer brand”? As I understand it, a brand is what key constituents think about you and what attracts individuals to want to associate with you.  Tesco chief executive Sir Terry Leahy has said: “Your employer brand isn’t what you say it is. It is

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Hollywood – at it again

Posted in: Bloggery

You might recall that in my blog of March of 2010 I tackled a George Clooney movie called “Up in the Air”. This was a satirical story based on the life of someone to whom large corporations outsourced the task of sacking people. It bore as much resemblance to the real work of career transition

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Is the information overload damaging our brains and our ability to think?

Posted in: Bloggery

Do you agree that we are hooked on emails, texts and tweets?  How do you deal with information overload? You might recall that last month I had just read Sennet’s book “The Corrosion of Character” and my blog for that month drew heavily from that source. It seems that a fair bit of my reading

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How much does the work we do define us?

Posted in: Bloggery

I have been reflecting on the nature of careers and on work more generally, and what this means in terms of making something of ourselves in the lives we have.  I’ve been reading the works of Richard Sennett’s “The Craftsman”[1]and an earlier book of his, “The Corrosion of Character”[2]. In “The Corrosion of Character” Sennett

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OK – I am out of here to go lie on a beach somewhere….

Posted in: Bloggery

“I am out of here!” is often a response to redundancy. The passionate determination to leave a bad situation and simply chill out for a few months. Losing your job is an enormous psychological blow.  In this spectrum of reactions there is the desire to escape, the desire to go climb a mountain or take

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Don’t just do something….sit there

Posted in: Bloggery

Often in our work with executives we meet people with the habit of burning the candle at both ends. They experience a sense of great urgency, they’re restless, impatient and competitive. Business leaders who are something like dynamos. They are used to being task oriented, supremely focused, and working hard – and these are the

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The best organisations

Posted in: Bloggery

The best organisations are places where people really enjoy their work and their careers.  Enjoyment is infectious. It causes people to look out for each other. People who are positively rewarded by the work they do – tend to do it well.  Customers notice. People who find their work fulfilling tend not to leave. They

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A brilliant career

Posted in: Bloggery

Every now and then you see someone who appears to have glided inexorably upwards, in one or more organisations, to an influential, admired and well remunerated role.  The individual rests comfortably on their accomplishments, seems poised and displays personal mastery. You say to yourself “I wish I could do that. Reach the top and operate

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CAREER RE-INVENTION: A USEFUL MIND-SET

Posted in: Bloggery

A recent article in the “Australian Financial review’ got me thinking more about the transience of employment generally.  We are reminded of this during down-turns. We are reminded as well when new CEO’s are appointed and then act to quickly bring in their own team ( usually at some cost to those already in senior

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BUILDING A ROAD MAP IN A NEW ROLE

Posted in: Bloggery

A new job is like a fresh start for many people: a significant new investment of time and enthusiasm.  You may not be sure yet of the challenges or how you will meet them, but you know that first impressions – especially in the first 3 months – are critical to your success – or

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TIME OUT

Posted in: Bloggery

One of the “costs” of corporate life is that in the pressures of work it is difficult for individuals to find time to develop their careers.  This is true at many levels.  Many partners in professional services firms – taking one example of successful people in conventional terms – feel totally caught up in their

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The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly in Career Transition

Posted in: Bloggery

Navigating a path through a career transition can be both an emotional and practical challenge. The challenge increases if the career change is sudden and imposed, if a new direction is contemplated after years in one profession, and if there are financial and family pressures.  It is terrific if a peer level coach is provided.

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Fresh Fields

Posted in: Media | Tags:

Fresh fields: Being laid off can be as devastating as losing a spouse. Companies that offer specialist assistance for the newly unemployed are enjoying boom times…..

Partners no more

Posted in: Media | Tags:

Partners no more: After decades of climbing to the top, contemplating a career post-partnership can be terrifying.  Easing into other interests helps, but this takes time……

Discussing corporate outplacement – protecting your reputation as an employer of choice

Posted in: Media | Tags:

Boardroom report: Directors have an important role to play in ensuring their organisations sustain their reputations as employers of choice in both good and bad times says Hugh Davies of Macfarlan Lane….

Transitioning with respect

Posted in: Media | Tags:

Transitioning with respect: How people leave a law firm reflects significantly on its values, so firms should never negate the benefits of effective CT services….

The next step after you quit

Posted in: Media | Tags:

The next step after you quit: When a Chief Executive is between jobs, it is a particularly public dilemma.  Being at the centre of power in an organisation can be intoxicating, enervating, exhausting and completely absorbing and then there is ….. a vacuum……

How effective are outplacement services

Posted in: Media | Tags:

How effective are outplacement services (1): There are many levels of quality and performance to be found in outplacement services….

OUTPLACEMENT INDUSTRY BENCHMARKING REPORT MARCH 2010

Posted in: Research

OUTPLACEMENT INDUSTRY BENCHMARKING REPORT MARCH 2010 Released 16th March 2010 This Benchmarking Report summarises the second stage of a multi-stage ground-breaking market research program on the Outplacement Industry. Macfarlan Lane’s research (Outplacement Industry Benchmarking Report, March 2010 *) into service quality, especially as experienced by senior managers, identifies that for most senior people their experience

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Distilling the wisdom of CEOs

Posted in: Career Coaching | Tags:

Distilling the wisdom of ceos summary: IMAGINE 100 people working at a large company. They’re all middle managers, around 35 years old. They’re all smart. All collegial. All hard-working. They’re all good communicators. Which of them, when the time comes, will get that corner office?

Better strategy through organisational design

Posted in: General Management | Tags:

Better strategy through organisational design Corporate strategies, according to the classic definition, consists of the actions a company takes to gain competitive advantage. Executives invest enormous energy into product designs and long-range strategic plans, though many of these initiatives become obsolete as markets and competitors adapt, social norms and regulations evolve and technologies advance.  Yet

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Know what growth stage your organisation is in

Posted in: General Management | Tags:

Know what growth stage your organisation is in:  Key executives of a retail store hold on to an organisation structure long after it has served its purpose, because the structure is the source of their power…the company eventually goes bankrupt….

Sloan MIT the importance of analytics

Posted in: General Management | Tags:

Sloan MIT the importance of analytics: How the smartest organizations are embedding analytics to transform information into insight and then action. Findings and recommendations from the first annual New Intelligent Enterprise Global Executive study.

HBR – The new psychology of strategic leadership

Posted in: General Management | Tags:

The new psychology of strategic leadership: Cognitive science sheds fresh light on what it takes to be innovative.

Creating certainty in uncertain times

Posted in: General Management | Tags:

Creating certainty in uncertain times : Information to help leaders and managers deal with uncertainty and help their people do the same. Overview – Findings from LMA’s latest Leadership, Employment and Direction (L.E.A.D) Survey reveal a potentially unhealthy disconnect between leaders and managers and their employees on some critical issues. The extent of disconnection threatens to undermine performance

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Challenging conventional wisdom on sales incentives

Posted in: General Management | Tags:

Challenging conventional wisdom on sales incentives : Some things in life we know are true.  The sun rises in the east and sets in the west. And, the best way to motivate salespeople is by offering them commissions.  But, what if we are wrong, at least about the last one.  What if paying salespeople commission is

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Defining and developing reputation

Posted in: General Management | Tags:

Defining and developing reputation: Most executives say reputation is a CEO priority and that attention to reputation will increase in the future, yet the results suggest that companies have room to improve in understanding and appealing to a broad set of stakeholders.Most executives believe their companies’ reputations are equal to or better than those of

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Using evidence to address myths about keeping talent

Posted in: Talent Development | Tags:

Using evidence to address myths about keeping talent: Despite extensive scholarly research and organizational interest in employee turnover, there remains a gap between science and practice in this area. This article bridges this gap and replaces several misconceptions about turnover with guidelines for evidence-based retention management strategies focused on shared understanding of turnover, knowledge of cause-and-effect relationships, and

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The professional career on the right track

Posted in: Talent Development | Tags:

The professional career on the right track: A study on the interaction between career self-management and organizational career management in explaining employee outcomes. This article explores the relationship between organizational career management and career self-management and addresses the impact on employee outcomes.

How knowledge workers manage their energy on the job

Posted in: Talent Development | Tags:

How knowledge workers manage their energy on the job: In this paper we explore how individuals sustain an important human resource—their own energy—at work.

Marketing strategies that really work

Posted in: General Management | Tags:

Marketing strategies that really work: Many people feel uncomfortable about the word networking, or undertaking networking activity. We often hear from executives we coach who express reservations about networking as being pushy, looking needy or coming across as insincere. So we prefer to describe networking activities as marketing. Marketing is about intelligence gathering and exploration, it is not selling. The additional benefit

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Why women still can’t have it all

Posted in: Talent Development | Tags:

Why women still can’t have it all: “It’s time to stop fooling ourselves”, says a woman who left a position of power: the women who have managed to be both mothers and top professionals are superhuman, rich, or self-employed.  If we truly believe in equal opportunity for all women, here’s what has to change….

SENIOR MANAGER SURVEY

Posted in: Research

SENIOR MANAGER SURVEY – 2011 We now have the results of our survey “Career satisfaction among Australia’s senior managers”. We partnered with Six Figures and Sandra Beanham & Associates on this. We were interested in both how happy individuals saw themselves at any one point in time in a particular role and how this might

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Using evidence to address myths…

Posted in: Talent Development | Tags:

Academy of management talent management evidence based research: Despite extensive scholarly research and organizational interest in employee turnover, there remains a gap between science and practice in this area. This article bridges this gap and replaces several misconceptions about turnover with guidelines for evidence-based retention management strategies focused on shared understanding of turnover, knowledge of cause-and-effect relationships, and

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A developmental network and relational savvy approach to talent development

Posted in: Talent Development | Tags:

A developmental network: The need for more and better internal development of talent.

Keeping your headcount

Posted in: Change Management | Tags:

Keeping your headcount – Academy of Mgt Journal April 2008: Keeping your headcount when all about you are losing theirs: downsizing, voluntary turnover rates and the moderating role of HR practices. Although both downsizing and voluntary turnover have been topics of great interest in the organizational literature, little research addresses the topics’ possible relationship. Using organization-level data

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CEO’s guide to re-energising the team

Posted in: Change Management | Tags:

CEOs guide to reenergising the team: In today’s tough and fast-changing environment, CEOs must help their top leaders to work through fear and denial and to learn new rules. When business conditions change as dramatically as they have in the past year, CEOs need to be able to rely on their best leaders to adapt

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Which way should you downsize in a crisis?

Posted in: Change Management | Tags:

Which way should you downsize: Managers have been inundated with advice on the dos and don’ts of laying off employees. But the truth is that there is no ‘one size fits all’ approach to downsizing.

The power of reconnection

Posted in: Career Coaching | Tags:

The power of re-connection: The world of networking continues to expand. For years, people have been encouraged to build a strong, wide personal network to get information and keep connected. Facebook, LinkedIn, Google and other Internet sites have made everything about this task easier than ever…..

Are you a high potential?

Posted in: Career Coaching | Tags:

Are you a high potential: Leaders at your company are constantly wondering that about you, whether they own up to it or not. Here’s how to get them to answer yes.

Conversations that build capability

Posted in: Career Coaching | Tags:

Conversations that build capability: This is a short paper about transactional conversations and what we term capability building conversations.

Disrupt yourself

Posted in: Career Coaching | Tags:

Disrupt yourself: Four principles for finding the career path you really want.

The many colours of success

Posted in: Career Coaching | Tags:

The many colors of success: What do executives want out of life? The variety of replies demonstrates that success is a metaphor for many things, made up of different combinations of patterns, values, and ideas…..

Managing yourself – why you didn’t get that promotion

Posted in: Career Coaching | Tags:

Managing yourself – why you didn’t get that promotion: You’ve been passed over for a key promotion despite stellar results and glowing reviews, what’s going on…..    

Ensuring that restructuring and downsizing actually works

Posted in: Change Management | Tags:

Ensuring that restructuring and downsizing actually works: One of the most common reasons why companies that downsize perform so poorly is that they often are successful at anticipating and preparing for the employees who are to be released, but they may not be prepared for the low morale and lower productivity experienced by the survivors

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Marketing strategies that really work

Posted in: Broader Reading

Many people feel uncomfortable about the word networking, or undertaking networking activity. We often hear from executives we coach who express reservations about networking as being pushy, looking needy or coming across as insincere. So we prefer to describe networking activities as marketing. Marketing is about intelligence gathering and exploration, it is not selling. The

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When they don’t call back…..

Posted in: Broader Reading

When they don’t call back…. Despite the prevalence of technology in our lives, career progress requires real interaction with real people. Technology is a helpful tool but you can’t shake hands over the Internet. But what happens when you put yourself out there and the world doesn’t respond? You apply online for a job but

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Creating energy at work

Posted in: Change Management | Tags:

Creating energy at work: This paper discusses what grows and sustains energy in people at work, and how to generate vitality and enthusiasm at work.  

Effectively guiding the transition of retiring partners

Posted in: Change Management | Tags:

Effectively guiding the transition of retiring partners: The issue of managing the transition of partners into retirement must be handled in a sensitive and dignified way. This paper shows you how…..  

Performance appraisals and shareholder value

Posted in: General Management | Tags:

Performance appraisals and shareholder value:   We know many conventional performance appraisal processes fail to live up to expectations.  Learn how organisations can make appraisals work, from a neuroscience perspective.  

Shopping for a career transition provider

Posted in: Change Management | Tags:

Shopping for a career transition provider: Human Resources often provides employees with a choice of career transition provider.  Find out why this may not be in the interests of the individual. There is a better way…..  

Career Resilience – the business of one

Posted in: Change Management | Tags:

Career Resilience – the business of one: Developing career resilience is an essential competency for success in this environment of uncertainty and change. Here are some tips on how to develop it…..  

In the period before retrenchment

Posted in: Career Change | Tags:

Are you going or are you staying? Read how you can navigate through this difficult and emotional time and come out looking professional, composed and in control. In the period before retrenchment

Understanding the territory of the CEO role

Posted in: Career Change | Tags:

Do you have what it takes to be considered CEO material? This paper discusses the likely career path, and skills and capabilities that will get you there… Understanding the territory of the CEO role

Resilient Leadership – What it takes in tough times

Posted in: Career Change | Tags:

With on-going cuts in both the private and public sectors, and continual threats of restructuring, mergers, reorganisations and downsizing, many executives are experiencing stress. Resilient Leadership – What it takes in tough times

EBook – Managing Change with Humanity

Posted in: Macfarlan Lane Publications

Macfarlan Lane EBook 2 Managing Change with Humanity – August 2013 This short collection of papers is intended for those guiding organisational change where careers and jobs will be lost or disrupted.

EBook – 8 Reflections on Career Transitions

Posted in: Macfarlan Lane Publications

EBook – 8 Reflections on Career Transitions Macfarlan Lane’s first E-Book is a selection of papers about Career Transitions.

E-Book – The Inner Journey

Posted in: Macfarlan Lane Publications

E-Book – The Inner Journey: This e-book is mostly for those heavily impacted by the experience of retrenchment.  It draws on the real experience and emotions of some individuals we have worked with.