The Chord

Rethinking Performance Management

In this episode of The Chord, John Fitzgerald talks to Aisling Teillard, Global Chief Customer Officer of Beqom, a cloud based solution provider that unifies compensation and rewards processes.

Aisling’s career journey was of particular interest progressing from HR Director with both SAP and O2 to become a technology start up founder. She openly discusses with John the myriad of challenges and calculated risks taken as she progressed from a start-up to becoming a global business and then successfully being acquired by Beqom.

In this episode, Aisling shares her thoughts and experience on re-imaging performance, shaping and influencing culture and addressing bias,

Hope you enjoy the show!


Rejection… leads to… Redirection

“It wasn’t until I lost my job, I realized how lost I was in my job”.

Meta’s news today along with other global tech firms has started a wave of downsizing to reduce costs. Investor backed tech firms have grown exponentially in recent years which led to rapid hiring to meet demand. Now just as quickly when the tide turns, we are seeing rapid firing.  Once confidence dips in the markets, the first way many corporates know to stall a share price fall is to make a downsizing call.

In Ireland, we are protected by employment legislation laws around terms and conditions for redundancy, which cushions the blow. In the remote world of work, we now live in, some impacted by these layoffs will be leaving colleagues they never physically met!

In our Outplacement work, I have met thousands of people just after they hear this emotional news. When I meet them, they are often hurt and experiencing feelings of sadness, loss, shame, and anger. They are fearful, not knowing what to do next. It’s an emotional tsunami of feelings as neurochemicals are flooding through the body. They are in a survival emotional state.

The Emotional Spectrum Model illustrates our 8 primary emotions. The 5 primary survival emotions are Fear, Anger, Disgust, Shame and Sadness. They historically protected us from danger when we were being physically attacked. When you lose your job these survival emotions kick in because your self-worth is under attack.

But, the surprise/startle emotion is a potentiator and can flip response states. Between stimulus and response there is a space, this space offers choice. Rejection is an opportunity for Redirection.

Redirection takes time and when you are anxious and fearful, you want the quick fix, the next job! Time is needed to do a career stock-take to clarify how you could move to the thriving side of the emotional spectrum. This is where you seek out roles which bring you excitement and joy. Working in a thriving culture where you are trusted and valued. These are the attachment emotions which bring career happiness and engagement.

In the past two years especially, I have come across many people permanently operating from survival emotions. They are stressed and burned out in their work. They haven’t taken the time to reassess their future career direction. Bad as this news of redundancy will be for some, it is the opportunity to press pause and reappraise their definition of career and life success.

One person I coached through job loss said to me lately – “It wasn’t until I lost my job, I realized how lost I was in my job”.

If you are facing redundancy, I would ask you these three questions to help you do a career stocktake:

  • What emotions were you regularly experiencing each day at work?
  • When in your career past have you been at your best and what made it so?
  • What strengths and skills do other’s say you bring to a project and why?

John Fitzgerald is the Founder of the Harmonics Group. Harmonics specializes in helping organizations plan for change, manage change and support their people through change.

Follow Harmonics on LINKEDIN and keep up to date with trends in the World of Work

The Chord

How HR can Shape a Future of Work Strategy

In this episode of The Chord, John Fitzgerald talks to Nicole Dessain, founder and Chief Employee Experience Designer at Talent Imperative.

Nicole helps companies like Apple, Cisco, Comcast, Edelman and McDonald’s create human-centered, inclusive talent programs.

In this episode, Nicole discusses how the role of HR is changing and how HR can shape a Future of Work Strategy. Nicole also explains her point of view on design thinking at the intersection of strategy, innovation, culture, and talent in 2022.

Hope you enjoy the show!


The 3 Core Questions to ‘Future Proof Your Career’

I am meeting a lot of people recently who know what they don’t want but don’t know what they want! They are often busy and burned out and need re-direction.

I want to share a simple but powerful model we have used with over 30,000 people in helping them to future proof their career direction.

This model is based on the principles of neuroscience and is used by every successful business to adapt and anticipate future change – so we have adapted this model for careers.

Neuroscience has shown us the human brain has three regions; the ‘instinctive’ reptilian region which is great for taking action and getting stuff done. The limbic system helps us to understand our own and other’s emotions and building new influential connections. The neocortex helps us to stand back, take stock to make decisions about the future.

The brain is lazy and wants to follow the same tried and tested pathway as yesterday. We know from neuroscience, 95 percent of our daily brain activity is unconscious, so most of your decisions, actions, emotions, and behaviour are on autopilot. To future proof, you need to disrupt these habitual patterns to create new neural pathways in the brain and so too new career pathways.

The three regions of the brain give us everything we need to future proof, but from our experience we tend to overload on ‘doing’. This is where the robots thrive executing routine tasks, so as humans we now need to be smarter to stay ahead.

Think firstly about how great businesses balance these three regions of the brain. They need to step back from ‘operations doing mode’ to ensure they are in-tune with their clients changing needs. They do this by conducting ‘research and development’ to adapt their services to stay relevant for the future. This is enhanced by their ‘sales and marketing’ teams in staying close to customers to gain a premium price.

To Future Proof Your Career – You too need to stop being busy in ‘instinctive doing mode’ to take time to reflect and do your own ‘research and development’ to ensure you know what’s changing in the future of work. Once you know what skills and opportunities are in demand, it is within your agency to upskill and/or reskill to increase your market value. You must also do your own ‘sales and marketing’ to build influence and position yourself for what you want not what is simply offered to you.

What We Know Is – We are living in a time poor society; we are ‘always on’ but rarely reflective. We spend too much time in doing mode – what we call ‘the busy box’. Mobile and Digital technology is stealing our focus and distracting us from what we really want. The Great Resignation and Quiet quitting are all symptoms of increasing stress and burnout. What is needed is time out take stock and future proof your career.

Here are 3 Great Questions to Future Proof Your Career

  1. Research and Development – What is changing in my Profession, Organisation and Sector. What skills will this demand?
  2. Operations – What skills and work environment give me energy and bring out the best in me?
  3. Sales and Marketing – Who needs to know I am seeking new career growth experiences and the skills I have to offer?

The Harmonics Career Stocktake Process is an immersive 1-1 coaching process we offer to both Organisations and to Individuals to help them reflect and reskill to reposition their career on what they really want for the future.

If you are interested in finding out about Harmonics Career Stocktake Coaching Programme, please contact Liam Mc Donnell Harmonics for a confidential chat and we will forward you our brochure

“Know who you are. Know what you want. Know what you deserve. And don’t settle for less.” -Tony Gaskins”

John Fitzgerald is the Founder of the Harmonics Group. Harmonics specializes in helping organizations plan for change, manage change and support their people through change.

Follow Harmonics on LINKEDIN and keep up to date with trends in the World of Work

The Chord

Work Without Jobs

In this episode of The Chord, John Fitzgerald talks to Ravin Jesuthasan, global leader of Mercer’s Transformation Services business.

Ravin is a recognized global thought leader, futurist and author on the future of work and workforce transformation. He is a regular participant and presenter at the World Economic Forum’s annual meetings in Davos.

In this episode, Ravin lays out the core principles of work operating systems, and his views about the future of work and jobs that are rapidly evolving through the emergence of alternative work arrangements, diversity, accelerating automation, and the underlying challenges and opportunities that leaders and organizations are battling to overcome.

Hope you enjoy the show!


The 4 Success Factors for Every Newly Appointed Manager

Carmel called me asking for help as she had just been promoted to a manager role for the first time. I had coached her before. As we got to talk, it became clear to me Carmel hadn’t fully considered the implications of now managing her colleagues.

We met for a coaching session and I went through the ‘4 Success Factors Model’ above. The questions provide a reflective space to think deeply and be well prepared before jumping into a manager role.

Promotion can be exciting, motivating, stressful and all consuming. The excitement of being promoted can overshadow the reality of what is required to succeed. Research shows us between 40%-60% of management new-hires fail within 18 months!

This happens because newly appointed manager fail to pay attention to 1 or more of the 4 Key Success Factors as they transition into their new role.

The First 2 Factors focus on ‘What it takes to succeed’, the last 2 Factors focus on ‘How you will be at your best’.

  1. Context – Knowing the Big Picture and not assuming anything. This involves asking searching questions and knowing what resources are available at this time for you to succeed.
  2. Clarity -Understanding what success looks like through the eyes of those who appointed you, so you are on the one page from the outset. Clarity also applies to knowing your own values and what you stand for so when it comes to negotiations you are firm to face challenges.
  3. Collaboration – The quality of your relationships will determine your success or failure in the role. Developing your emotional intelligence helps you to understand your own emotions and those around you.
  4. Coaching – Time and space dedicated to reflection, thinking and planning is critical each day. Select a support team to include a coach, mentor, a specialist just like a professional athlete would do to achieve their performance goals. No one gets there alone.

I would encourage every newly appointed manager to script their own answers to these 4 Key Success Factor Questions to be best prepared.

In Carmel’s case, she was emboldened to seek out answers she had failed to ask because she feared she may have been overstepping the mark. She needed to understand she had now stepped into a position of more authority and responsibility.

If you are interested in finding out about Harmonics newly Appointed Manager Coaching Programmes please contact Harmonics on 01 8942616061 336136  or email for a brochure

“The key to successful leadership today is influence, not authority.” –Ken Blanchard”

John Fitzgerald is the Founder of the Harmonics Group. Harmonics specializes in helping organizations plan for change, manage change and support their people through change.

Follow Harmonics on LINKEDIN and keep up to date with trends in the World of Work


Leadership Series – An interview with John Fitzgerald

Mary Cummins talks with John Fitzgerald, founder of Harmonics, and author of ‘Future Proof Your Career’.  John shares insights on the importance of connection, creating a future ready learning platform, his passion for young people, and the future of education.

I TRULY believe if you want to start your own business, you can’t have a plan B.

That’s the view of John Fitzgerald, career and executive coach, author and founder of Harmonics Change Consultancy and Coaching firm.

“It’s got to be all or nothing because this is what focuses the mind. You have to take a leap of faith, trust your gut instincts, follow your passion, and always remember that everyone you meet in life has the potential to refer you to your next customer,” said John, who launched Harmonics more than 14 years ago.

Working with organisations and individuals to help them anticipate change, John had seen a niche in the market for a values-led approach to a corporate career consultancy.

Wanting it to be the best nationwide quality consultancy to be able to take on large projects, John is proud that this goal has been achieved.

“It is a great achievement that Harmonics are seen as the premium quality provider in the space by far.

“Harmonics are not a high-volume low-cost provider, but we have a great team who are truly passionate about what they do and how they add value.”

Born on a dairy farm in Knockainey, County Limerick in the heart of Golden Vale, John’s old bedroom window has a grandstand view of the Bruff Rugby club pitches, where the Bull Hayes once played.

As the only son, John stayed at home on the farm after his Leaving Cert but knew soon enough he had made the wrong career choice.

Replacing it with a job in Roches Stores, in his opinion, this is the best education for life anyone could ever have. Since then, in addition to studying business at UL, John has been involved in three business start-ups, qualified as a career and executive coach, has studied neuroscience in the UK, has written ‘Future Proof Your Career’ and most recently has become the host of his own podcast ‘The Chord’.

Exploring his views on leadership today, Mr Fitzgerald believes that hybrid working should be a co-creation between employer and employees.

“We are seeing the rise in importance of the ‘coaching and communications’ leader who is always listening and sensing the mood of their people.

“The importance of personal connection during a time of imposed change, working through some form of hybrid, has put the spotlight on the skills most critical for being an effective and inspirational leader, and being the type of person that people feel they want to be around.

“It all starts by beginning well with the softer skills and connecting with employees in meaningful and compassionate ways. There are many skills leaders must master, but whether in a co-located or hybrid world, there is one piece that just has to be there, that’s trust. Trust and the ability to be aware of the safe space you provide,” said Mr Fitzgerald.

Discussing some of the key challenges facing businesses today, such as the issue of attracting and retaining talent, Mr Fitzgerald referred to the need to convince organisation leaders to shift their leadership style to communicating in a human way with talent who want continuous feedback, coaching and career development. The best way to retain talent is to give them continuous stretch, challenge, and growth opportunities, he said.

With a passionate interest and expertise in the future of work, Mr Fitzgerald described the work that Harmonics do with organisations to make them future ready:

“It’s firstly about context. For now, post-pandemic, most businesses have had to adapt to rapid changes in technology to offer their services.

“People are working from home, in a hybrid model and in the office full time. The business may be scaling and need new people skills and capability or may be downsizing and need to reduce people numbers.

“Then it’s about implementation. We’re ‘hands on’ and we bring real life experiences to business as practitioner consultants to design and develop a people strategy that is fit for the future.

“This is complex work and demands a team like Harmonics with a team of specialist consultants that can see the project to the end.”

 Going forward, John wants to create a future ready learning platform that will become a super smart educational aid for different cohorts of people, as they try to make sense of the future of work.

“The world will continue to change, and we will need to be relevant and deliver timely learning for those who use it to stay ahead in their future careers.”

Also impassioned about the future of young people and the future of education, John referred to the need to resource young people to set purposeful goals that align with their values, instead of chasing college points that lead to working in careers where they fit in rather than have the bravery to stand up or stand out.

Contemplating his career to date, Mr Fitzgerald said: “My big learning is that learning never stops. We never reach the destination because it evolves. We are all human and a work in progress.”

Mary Cummins is a Career and Executive Coach, Trainer and Facilitator and can be contacted by e-mail at:


Solving the pain of Hybrid Working

To sustain a balanced future with engaged people, organisations must fundamentally shift their concept of real estate. Our offices, once the central place of heads-down productivity, must become the place of heads-up horizon scanning.

The flexibility of working from home continues to be a huge benefit for many. Simultaneously, the detrimental effects are being keenly felt.

Water cooler conversations can’t happen, so the potential for synchronicities drops. Without huge intentional effort, new team members aren’t infused with the culture they’ve joined. Learning by looking over the shoulder of a colleague is more difficult.

Most damagingly, it’s less likely we hear the stories of our colleagues’ lives outside work. The glue of personal story that holds teams together, ebbs without the opportunity to pop out for a shared lunch, or exchange news in the lift.

And it’s disheartening to make it to the office only to field a diary full of virtual/online meetings, because everyone else is still at home. I mean, what’s the point of that?

So, what’s the answer? How do we encourage our people back to the office, without losing the benefits of flexible working?

Change … is the answer. It was much heralded at the start of the pandemic wasn’t it? If something good can come from all this madness, it must be that we embrace change and new ways of working when we ‘get out of this!’.

And yet, here we are potentially slipping back into old habits. I even hear whispers of some companies considering mandating (by contractual obligation) at least 2 days back in the office a week…even after their people have proved that business can be conducted efficiently and effectively (notwithstanding the points above) when working from home.

To sustain a balanced future with engaged people, I believe organisations must fundamentally shift their concept of real estate. Our offices, once the central place of heads-down productivity, must become the place of heads-up horizon scanning.

How about we repurpose offices forming fun, interactive, collaborative working areas – fewer desks – much more creation space? The office of the future, rather like museums and galleries, curated to inspire forward thinking.

There’d be no more going to the office to Zoom or Teams. Instead, we go to the office to think, collaborate and innovate. Topics are examined and explored, and innovation courted, on days of the week allocated “agenda-free”. This will require careful formation, suitable space, and a clear vision.

And for those who can’t make it that day, can they dial in? No. That would defeat the purpose.

Open Space Theory says: “Whoever comes is the right people. Whatever happens is the only thing that could have. Whenever it starts is the right time. When it is over, it is over.”

Stepping into that uncertainty, letting go of an agenda, making space for fresh ideas and the alchemy of many brains in the same room, will make it worth the commute. Those who don’t make it can catch up on the outcomes later.

If certain demographics are less likely to make it into the office – working parents for example – we’ll need to work around this creatively. Perhaps inclusion might be the first innovation session …?

Why not use our unique place in time as an opportunity to dream more, dream bigger and solve the world’s, and our clients’, challenges in community?

Tania Watson is based in Edinburgh and works globally at senior level as a consultant for over 20 years supporting Boards and Business leaders. Tania is a long time friend of Harmonics and has worked with us on several coaching assignments in the UK. She can be contacted on


Intentional choices instead of Distracting Devices

I was coaching a Senior Leader last week and the issue of burnout came up. I gave her an exercise to explore the sources of stress and anxiety for her, by going through a typical week and journaling where she spent her time. I also asked her to share her weekly screen time breakdown usage with me which proved to be the most revealing.

Her total daily screen time was 5 Hours 51 minutes per day!

Her Weekly Screen time highs were

  • Instagram 5 hrs 41 mins
  • Whats app 4 hrs 32 mins
  • Facebook 4 hrs 9 mins
  • Spotify 3 hrs 18 mins
  • Podcasts 2 hrs 24 mins

Her daily pick ups to look at her phone were 77 with most pick ups on Wednesday topping out at 95 to bring her a total weekly pick up number of 503!

My coaching client is not alone, take a look at your own screen time to see how you compare. My view is we are not reflecting on what this attention economy is doing to our lives.

The US Average is that we spend 5.4 hours a day on our phones each day, 2.24 hours on social media! We check our phones 63 times a day and we are exposed to almost 5,000 advertising messages a day online. We need to wake up and see we are being programmed to react to what others want from us. Advertisers want us to feel needy and unfulfilled so they can promote their products and services through influencers. The perfect body, vacation, house, lifestyle, job! The pressure to be perfect is coming from the outside in.

In my book ‘Future Your Career’, I spoke about determining what you want ‘from the inside out’. We are now living through a massive change in how we work and we need to start making intentional choices based on what we want in our future. We only get what someone else wants of us from our i-phone. We will get what we want when we create space in our lives to visualise and mentally rehearse what we want. This is what Hi- Performing Sport’s athletes do, so why not learn from them. This week choose to be intentional in your choices and not just reacting to what others want from you.

Stand for something – as the saying goes “be yourself everyone else is taken!”

#leadership #futureofwork #timemanagement


The Chord

Becoming a Talent Builder

In this episode of The Chord, John Fitzgerald talks to Joan Hodgins, Global Talent Director at Diageo.

Joan is a Business Leader, HR Professional and Chartered Occupational Psychologist with over 20 years commercial experience, both consulting and in-house in a range of HR roles.

In the interview we talk about Joan’s career journey to date, the fierce competition for talent that’s changing the way companies are hiring and how Diageo are growing talent from within.

Hope you enjoy the show!