International Day of Older Persons

Posted by on Sep 6, 2013 in Blog Post | 1 comment

Retirement On the 1st October 2013, it is the International Day of Older Persons and the theme for this year is “The future we want: what older persons are saying.”

There will be lots of activities happening around this date, by organisations dedicated to supporting the issues for older workers. However, in business we could use this day to consider the impact of age diversity in our own organisations.

Due to recent demographic shifts people are living longer and therefore working longer. In consequence workforces are and increasingly will be, more age diverse. Exciting times for our workplaces, however, with shifts come new challenges for leaders. In this case: how to deal with this new scale and level of diversity in the workplace. Today’s workplaces need to be thinking actively around these following questions……

  • Is your organisation age friendly?
  • Are you responding to the growing numbers of older workers and consumers?
  • Do your company diversity policies include any proactive reference regarding age diversity?
  • Are you managing the challenges of a multi-generational workforce?

Currently, in Ireland, there are 6 people working to each 1 person in retirement. By 2050 this will drop to 2 people for each 1 person in retirement. Current arrangements of people working towards 65 and then retiring on their pension are simply not sustainable. The over 65’s are going to be a large demographic – globally. They will be one of the biggest consumer groups, in addition to being an increasing group of available talent.

Life expectancy for men and women born in 1996 is 73 and 78.5 respectively. Men and women born in 2041 are expected to live until 86.5 and 88.3 years of age respectively. In Ireland, the number of people over the age of 65 is expected to increase by 50 per cent by 2031 and then by 2050 the number will have trebled.  In USA, 56% of people over 65 are still working. This has risen from 44% only 13 years ago (Meister &Willyerd, 2010). A recent 2010 OECD report showed that 22% of men in Ireland aged between 65 & 69 were still in employment. The view of retirement is going through a dramatic shift and it is time to provide career support to those people approaching ‘retirement’.  Retirement no longer just means the end of work, but is now filled with alternative activities including paid and unpaid work, social activities, hobbies and self-employment.

Older workers who have not continued to train and keep skills up to date face ‘decay’ of their career progression. This makes them vulnerable and unprepared for creating a longer working life. If organisations can create opportunities and training for managers to work more effectively with older workers; this will support sustained employability for older workers.

Ireland along with many countries is facing a time of a new image of the stereotype of people at retirement age. How is your organisation planning for becoming an age friendly organisation? Maybe you can use this international day as an opportunity for holding a discussion on older workers, or becoming age friendly, or even holding an inter-generational activity?

European Day of Solidarity between Generations

Posted by on Apr 29, 2013 in Blog Post | 0 comments

Generational diversity

Today (29thApril) is European Day of Solidarity between Generations. This day is raising awareness about the demographic shift in our society. Why is this day relevant and important? The main aim of this day is to raise the issue that we should all be dealing with our ageing workforce and society and we should all be thinking about age diversity. This blog will aim to cover some of the reasons why generational diversity is a current issue for us all.

 Generational Diversity

For the first time in history we have four generations working together and five generations living in our communities. By 2020 there will be five generations working together and as people continue to live longer we all need to be aware of developing age friendly workplaces and communities.

 The demographic trends happening now include the aging of the baby boomer generation, an increase in the number of people over 65 and the increasing numbers of Generation Y entering the workplace. This is a more age diverse population than we have ever known in history so how should we prepare to meet the demands of the five generations living and working side by side? Generation X and Generation Y are now making up the majority of the workforce, with Generation Y employees growing in numbers most quickly and by 2020 Gen Y will make up the majority of the workforce. Baby Boomers are starting to exit the workplace, and we are seeing a rise in the number of over 65’s and by 2050 the number of this over 65’s will have trebled from current numbers.

There is a growing interest in ways to manage and understand different generations in the workplace and Psychologists have been interested in generational changes and whether personality traits and attitudes are linked to the sociocultural environment. The benefit for employers to understand differences and similarities between generational groups is so that they can develop policies to improve satisfaction, retention and productivity and also to ensure they are meeting diverse needs of the employee.

Members of a generation can influence society and the workplace in ways that may differ to previous generations, affecting management styles, expectations, motivation and shifts in workplace culture. The importance for employers is to understand these changes along with the needs and values of their employees so that the organisation can adapt and remain competitive.

By understanding generational differences, managers could be better equipped to improve productivity, innovation and corporate citizenship. A mix of the generations in the workplace will add diversity that is valuable to the organisation, it also adds a layer of complex differences that need to be understood and managed. Although generational groupings may lead to stereotypes, it should be realised that it is important to recognise the individuality in each person, whilst appreciating the assumptions and differences of each generation’s experiences, which now affect their attitudes.

So what is a Generation?

Research proposes the theory that generation is a meaningful psychological variable as it reflects the culture of a person’s upbringing over a certain time period. A definition of generation is an “identifiable group that shares birth years, age, location, and significant life events at critical development stages” (Kupperschmidt, 2000, p.66). A generation can be affected by changes in sociocultural environment and generation experiences.  Generation can also provide an identity for a person as their generational category and associated traits can become an identity which unlike some other social identities, will be with a person for their lifetime. The values, expectations and personalities developed through the generational experience are felt to remain stable through adulthood. Generational values can be influenced by a variety of sources including parents, peers, media, economy, social influences and popular culture. These different experiences will influence a person’s feelings towards authority and organisations, their work values and how they will meet these values.

 Current Generations in the workplace

There are four generations in the current workplace, which are as follows







I will continue to explore and provide more details about each generation and how to embrace generational diverity and its challenges over future blogs. If you require any further details on Generational Diversity, then please contact or check out my website

Networking – 10 tips to improve your networking skills

Posted by on Apr 3, 2013 in Blog Post | 0 comments

Networking is becoming even more critical in our working life. Some of the reason’s are as follow’s

  • As companies become flatter and less hierarchical we are expected to work with colleagues in all areas of the business to assist with our projects
  • As knowledge workers we work on more complex projects and tasks. We are not all expected to know the full solutions, but we are expected to be able to source the ideas and answers.
  • Organisations are changing the way we recruit. So many companies are recruiting people on a contract or freelance basis, so to find work we need to know what work is out there. Work opportunities are not always advertised as ‘jobs’ in the traditional way.
  • The workplace and our environment is changing as such a speed so we need to ensure that we are keeping up to date and learning from our peers so we are up to date.
  • Careers are boundaryless and we find people are moving from one industry to another – a diverse network is needed to support creating these opportunities

Because of these reasons, networking is becoming one of the top skills that large organisations are prioritising as a development requirement with their employees. Another reason for the increase in training in networking skills is that research shows that face to face networking is not a strong skill in our new Gen Y employees so it is something organisations should be training their new recruits, but also an area that team leaders and managers can support the development of with encouragement, creating opportunities and support to their colleagues.

Networking can make people feel anxious and nervous but it’s important to remember that networking is a skill, and like any other skill it can be developed with training and coaching. People’s perception on networking that it’s about sales and making deals, but it’s not just that, networking is also about building connections, learning, seeing opportunities, mentoring and helping others.

In a recent presentation on networking I shared 10 tips to improve your networking skills so I wanted to present them in my blog too so they can be shared with any other readers.

1.       Be prepared

Networking skillsThis means go to any events with your business card and your pitch. If you don’t have a pitch ready then practise how you are going to introduce yourself. Remember your pitch can be different depending on your reason for attending that event. For example if you are there to learn about a particular subject then say that as part of your pitch, or if you are there to make connections in a certain industry then say that as you introduce yourself to others.



2.       Engage

Engage with audienceDo talk to other people and engage in conversation. Listen to other people and what they are saying. People like to feel that they are being listened to so react and respond to what someone is telling you. Ask questions to show you are listening. Training in emotional intelligence or understanding social styles can assist with this if you feel this is a challenge for you



3.       Research

ResearchBefore you go to any event, research the venue, attendees, speakers, sponsoring companies and the organising company. Know who will be there and why, and then identify anyone you may wish to speak to. Ask for an introduction from the organiser to anyone you may want to speak to on the day.




4.       Connect on social media

ConnectFollow up with people you have met and connect on LinkedIn  When you send the mail, send a personal message so people will remember where they met you, but also it helps for your own records as if you are searching that person in the future you will then have a reminder on your own record of where you met. Twitter is also a great way to connect with people prior and at an event. Follow the hashtag for the event to listen to what other people are saying about the day. It’s a quick and friendly way of connecting with people out of your existing network and with speakers.

5.       Support team and colleagues

Support networkEncourage your colleagues to attend events, and support them with any challenges they may face. Provide a forum for discussion and sharing of information within your organisation so your business is learning from all networking.

Also introduce your colleagues to people they may find interesting and may assist with their networking goals



6.       Remember it is a two way process

Networking is a two way process, it’s not just about what you can get from new contacts. It’s about sharing your contacts, knowledge and information and any good networker will do this well. It is also about asking for help, you should be able to reach out to your network and ask for help about a project, or with a question, contact request, career help or lead.



7.       Stay in touch

ContactSuccessful leaders spend at least an hour a week working on their network. Spend some time each week checking in with your network. It could be sharing an article, making an introduction, saying hello or meeting for coffee




8.       Assess your network

Networking skillsOne of the key processes in developing your network is do analyse it for over dependencies  and gaps and then ensure your networking strategy is in line with your organisation and personal goals. We often naturally develop overdependencies in our networks as the people we talk to most are usually in a similar role to ourselves.  It is important to develop your network in line with your networking and career goals. To find out more about strategic network analysis, please Clare for a self-analysis tool.



9.       Don’t be afraid to go alone and don’t stick to people you know
NetworkingOften at events you see a group of people from one company huddled together for the day. It feels safe but the reality is that you are missing out on many opportunities to meet other people, so break away from your colleagues and say hello to others. Going alone to an event is often easier as you can talk freely without worrying about what your colleagues is doing and if they are ok.



10.   See opportunities and say yes

Networking skillsThere are many opportunities for networking so say yes to the project at work, or the committee meeting or the event you see. Also look at other networks in your life, such as friends, hobbies, volunteer groups, sports, social events etc and start thinking about the people in those groups. It is likely that a lot of people in your life are not considered as part of your network but when you start reaching out and talking about what you need help with, you will probably find a lot more assistance than you realised


Best of luck with your networking. If you would like further training on how to be an expert networker, then check out my course on Psychology of NetworkingThe date for the next open course is 2nd September



Habits vs Goals

Posted by on Mar 30, 2013 in Blog Post | 1 comment

As a business psychologist, I do a lot of work with clients who talk about their goals, and they normally include statements similar to the following

  • I want to be the CEO of my company
  • I want a better work life balance
  • I want to set up a successful business
  • I want to be a confident networker

All these goals are perfectly valid and are strong goals to strive for…. However… I have a bit of an issue with goal setting on its own. I think what people often need to do is to understand their habits and what bad habits are holding them back and need changing, and what good habits they need to embrace to meet their goals.

So what are habits?

Habits are mostly unconscious to us and form neurological pathways in our brains. When we receive a certain stimulus, it causes a routine behaviour to obtain a reward. To understand how these habits and neural pathways operate, it’s like thinking about a pathway in a field… if you want to cross a field then you automatically follow the pathway where the grass is already worn down by previous walkers. If you wanted people to use another pathway to cross the field then you would have to give a reason for someone to change the habitual unconscious choice they would take of the worn path, and then keep reminding them to do this until the new pathway was worn down and then became the habitual unconscious choice. William James is one of the grandfathers of psychology and wrote about habits in his infamous 1957 book ‘The Principles of Psychology’. In his chapter on habits, James compared habits to water and said that it “hollows out for itself a channel, which grows broader and deeper; and, after having ceased to flow, it resumes, when is flows again, the path traced by itself before”

The following diagram is taken from the book ‘The Power of Habit’ by Charles Duhigg and it provides an overview on how to start thinking about habits and how they operate. Each habit we have is triggered by a cue, which causes a routine behaviour to achieve a reward. Each time we repeat that habit it reinforces the process so we are then more likely to repeat it again.


I do recommend his book as its very interesting read and provides a clear insight into habits and the impact on your own behaviour but also on the impact of consumer behaviour so it’s a good read for any business owners out there.  In his book Charles explained his own habit of visiting the canteen for a snack every afternoon. He analysed the reason for the behaviour and looked at the cue for the routine and also what was the real reward, and realised it was the interaction and stimulation of talking to others that he wanted, rather than the snack. So when he understood the real reason for the reward he was able to change the routine behaviour. This is much easier way of meeting a goal of eating fewer snacks in the day.

To look at you own behaviours think about cues for the routine… an example we hear a lot that we should turn off the alert for a new email so you are not distracted to go and check your email. This is often sold to you as fulfilling the goal of being more productive but really you are creating better habits and removing the cue for distraction. Strong habits like answering email or responding to the bleep of a new text on our phone can produce addictive like habits that will force your brain into responding even if incentives are there for you not to answer, so removing the cue is a good way of changing that habit.

Some habits are ones we should reduce or stop whereas sometimes we are looking to increase behaviours so they become easier to incorporate in our life, such as exercising each day or regular meditation. So, when thinking about your goals, think about them in the terms of habits and how you can change your neural pathways to take on or reduce habits. People often say it takes 21 days to change a habit, this isn’t necessarily true as it really depends on how engrained the neural pathway is in your brain. Each time you think about the new behaviour and act on it, the resistance to change becomes easier so it is worth keeping up the work to change habits.

I do find a fun way of trying out new habits is by a 30 day challenge. I watched this TED talk on 30 day challenges by Matt Cutts last year and found it very motivational for my own habits. Do watch it as it’s less than 4 minutes long and very entertaining. The idea is every month either add a new habit or stop an existing habit.

Some of my own recent 30 day challenges have been

  1. Talk to someone new every day for 30 days
  2. Get up at 7am every day for 30 days
  3. No TV for 30 days
  4. Meditate every day for 30 days
  5. No chocolate for 30 days
  6. Do a good deed every day for 30 days

For April I am going to exercise every day for 30 days to improve my health and energy and also I am influenced by another recent blog and am going to log my hours every day so I can understand my distractions and develop more productivity for my business.

Charles Duhigg also shared a great flowchart for exploring habits on his site that may be a useful tool for analysing habits your want to change.

So what is your 30 day challenge going to be?

Time to Create

Posted by on Mar 24, 2013 in Blog Post | 0 comments

I read this blog recently and I thought it contained some very timely and good advice… I also shared it with a few others who are business owners and got the same positive feedback from it.

When a person sets up a new business or venture, there can be a lot of time spent on research, networking, meeting people, developing websites, social media strategy etc. These are all worthwhile and required activities, but sometimes we can spend too much time on these without actually moving our business on and selling our products. I agree with this blog in that we should create content and to do that I think we should really go back to our original business ideas and develop them. You will be informed from your learning, and can easily keep adapting and tweaking as you continue to learn and receive feedback. Once you have clear products to discuss the selling becomes easier… and if you are selling something you are passionate about, it becomes a joy to see your work out there in the world.

I thought I would share the blog in the hope it will inspire some others out there to get busy creating. I appreciate some of the reasons not to create can come from fear, self esteem issues or confidence. If your business is new or you are recently undertaking a new venture then maybe you may be on a transition for this change.  When people are going through a transition in any part of their life, I often use the Kubler-Ross change curve to demonstrate the emotions and challenges that transition can involve. See if any of the stages make sense to you? Being aware of the steps of transition can help you work through them and be more prepared for the emotional challenges the are part of any change. If any of these reasons are stopping you creating and developing your business, then you should reach out for support from your network or from your support group. If blog content is your challenge, there is plenty of inspiration online for creating content for blogs, see this for an example

For myself, I have been meaning to work harder on my own blog so I will take inspiration from this article and start creating content for my blog. To do this I have enlisted some help with improving the look of my blog so you should see some improvements over the next few weeks. My blog will include writing and insights from from my main areas of work which is Generational Diversity, Second Careers and Networking  so there will be a bit of back and forth on those subjects  I do also work in other areas of business psychology and there will be some blogs that are influenced by other projects and also from other readings and research I come across.

Best of luck with your own content creations



Careering towards a better life

Posted by on Feb 13, 2013 in Blog Post | 0 comments

‘Careering towards a better life’  Article on portfolio careers from the Sunday Business Post. Full article here. This article is based on a main area of my research and one that I passionately work in helping people achieve . I believe that alternative ways of working will continue to grow in demand, for a number of reasons. One demographic that are currently looking at opportunities is the Baby Boomer generation, for a few reasons, which include the following

1. They are approaching retirement with less money in their pots

2. Facing living longer

3. Wish to keep working longer for psychological reasons

4. Not reached potential in their current role

5. Realisation that their career is not meeting their goals or values

6. Lifestyle event

7. Redundancy or Early retirement

8. Financial Commitments

We also see Generation Y pushing this way of working as this younger generation are looking for better work life balance and are more open to flexible, consulting, freelance type of roles.

The career coaching model is changing to support this new way of working, this model is known as Protean careers…. further information to follow

If you are facing redundancy or early retirement and want to find out more about training or coaching for yourself or your organisation, then please contact Clare at

Generational Diversity Talk

Posted by on Feb 5, 2013 in Blog Post, Talks | 0 comments

How to manage the new challenge of generational diversity – The Do’s and Don’ts!

Clare will be speaking on the topic of Generational Diversity at the next Harvest Breakfast Briefing on the 20th Feb 2013. See link for more details. If you would like to attend to learn more about working with Gen Y, Gen X and Baby Boomers then please contact Clare

Women in Banking and Finance

Posted by on Dec 3, 2012 in Blog Post, News updates | 0 comments

I spoke at a breakfast briefing for Women in Banking and Finance on the 24th January. Topic is ‘Emotional Intelligence – Positive Changes for 2013’. For more information click here

A copy of the slides from the day are available