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Understanding Workplace Gossip and Stopping it in its Tracks!

Many, if not all of us have heard gossip in the workplace and some of us will have also contributed to it.  Gossip can be about all manner of things, including issues related to the company, such as potential lay offs and rumours of a site closure, to gossip about a co-worker's personal life. Whatever the topic, one thing is clear, gossip can have a hugely negative impact on the culture and productivity of a workplace and must be addressed.

Gossip caused by a lack of information from senior management and how to avoid it:

Gossip that relates to the business can largely be avoided if senior management provides adequate and timely information to employees about company direction, challenges, and potential change.  This means communicating in a forthright manner to employees and providing as much information as possible to leave no room for rumour.

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Angry? Sad? Contemptuous? The Importance of Constructive Expression

Photo by Gabriel Matula on Unsplash

As human beings, we are able to experience a wide range of emotions. However, not all emotions are viewed equally, with many considered either positive or negative,  good or bad. In this mindset, negative emotions would include anger, jealousy, fear, contempt, sadness, disappointment, and even grief. Good emotions would include happiness, compassion, affection, empathy, and love. Yet, considering it's perfectly natural for each of us to experience all manner of emotions in our lifetime, it's important to understand that, in reality,  no emotion is bad or negative in and of itself, although of course, some emotions do feel better than others.

Emotions are not  "good" or "bad"

Positioning certain emotions as negative is so pervasive and so subtle in our society that it usually goes unrecognized. For example, in times of great loss, such as the death of a loved one, if the bereaved person appears to be functioning normally and not "breaking down" into floods of tears, they may be considered strong, stoic, or even brave. They are admired, even praised, for not displaying, publicly at least, a perfectly natural response to loss, which is sorrow and grief.

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Habits that Hold Women Back in their Careers

In their book How Women Rise: Break the 12 Habits Holding You Back from Your Next Raise, Promotion, or Job, authors Sally Helgesen and Marshall Goldsmith put forward that women face very different and specific challenges than men in advancing their careers. This, they assert, is because there are a number of habits that successful women use to help them achieve success, but these same habits eventually impede future advancement.

While the authors identify twelve habits that get in the way of women's success, I would like to focus on five of them and provide some tips to help shed them.

1. Reluctance to claim your achievements. Humility can be admirable, but it won't advance your career.  Avoid the habit of minimizing. This can relate to everything from downplaying the size and importance of the project you're leading to how you helped boost efficiency in your department. 

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How to Prepare Emotionally for Retirement

Planning for retirement usually focuses on your financial readiness to leave work permanently, but ensuring you
are emotionally prepared for this next life stage is just as important. That's because, for many executives, work provides a sense of identity and worth, power, prestige, and responsibility -- all of which can be very difficult to part with. Without planning for the emotional aspects of retirement, it can hit hard and not be the joy it should be. 

If you are planning to retire in the next few years, the below tips will help you have an enjoyable retirement that best suits you:

  • First, rather than viewing retirement as stepping away from something of value, accept that you are also stepping towards something of value -- your new life!  This can be just as good or better than your old life.  In fact, if you put as much effort into your retirement as you do your work, you have every reason to expect retirement to be happy and fulfilling.   

If You Have the Same Problems Repeatedly at Work - Maybe the Problem is YOU!

If you are going from job to job and repeatedly experiencing the same problems, it may be you who is the

 problem!  While it's possible that you're really unlucky, it's much more likely that you are bringing the same unhealthy attitudes and behaviours with you from workplace to workplace and blaming others for your unhappiness. Here are six tips to help you recognize that it's not them -- it's you!

You Get Fired Repeatedly

It's quite reasonable to get fired once or twice during the course of a career, but getting fired repeatedly signals you are doing something wrong. Rather than blame your boss or others for getting fired, take a hard look at your own behaviour, for example, do you:

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The Four Kinds of Power in Organizations

In the book How Women Rise: break the 12 habits holding you back from your next raise, promotion, or job, by 
Sally Helgesen and Marshall Goldsmith, former Intel executive Ted Jenkins describes how there are four kinds of power in an organization and that "power is influence potential".  We examine them here and suggest how you can put that power to work for you.

The power of expertise

Having a knowledgeable and capable workforce is vital to an organization's survival. However, being an expert in a particular field does not ensure advancement within the organization, says Jenkins, because there are usually other issues at play. For example, if you focus singularly on a specific area of expertise, you may end up pigeon-holing yourself -- becoming known for one thing and one thing only. The irony here is that you may become so good at your job that when you feel ready to move on to greater things within the organization, it may be difficult to find support. Put your expertise to work for you by doing your job well enough, says Jenkins, while building relationships and working to be visible. Importantly, don't limit your view of yourself.  It's not necessary to wait until you feel you have mastered all the skills of the next level before attempting to access it.

How to Transition from Co-Worker to Boss

Making the move from a co-worker to the manager of a department can be one of the most challenging situations experienced in the workplace.  Some former co-workers may feel resentful about your promotion, believing that they are more worthy of it. Others may have difficulty accepting that a former equal is now in a position of authority.

This shift can be a challenge for all.  As the new boss, you must take the lead in recognizing and mitigating any problems that may arise from the new dynamic, so that the focus remains on achieving departmental goals. 

Here are some tips for transitioning smoothly from colleague to boss:

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How to Stay Positive During Times of Unemployment

Virtually all of us will experience unemployment at some point. Being out of work impacts each of us differently but, for many, a good deal of our identity is wrapped up in who we are in the workplace.  Without work, it's possible to lose that sense of self, and the confidence that comes with it. For the senior executive, being unemployed can be particularly disorientating due to the sharp contrast between the status and power enjoyed at work and being suddenly at home. So, what can the senior executive, or anyone else do, to stay positive and make the most of this challenging time? 

Talk Ratio - What it is and Why You Should Care

Good conversations are a delight to share in and do much to bring us together.  But what is the key to good


Why do some seem better than others? Manybelieve it comes down to content, but  while content is certainly important, there is another essential component of good conversation -- and that's talk ratio.

Talk ratio is how much time a person spends talking compared to others in the conversation.  This matters because the talk ratio of a conversation -- just like its content -- can do much to define the quality of a conversation and it can dramatically impact how satisfied each participant comes away feeling.

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Conversational Intelligence - What's your Quotient?

Conversations can impact how we feel about ourselves and others, as well as who we work for and how we fit in. 

 If you have ever left a meeting feeling unheard you will know how negatively even a brief conversation can affect you.  Conversely, if you have ever emerged feeling victorious, it is quite possible that others may not be similarly overjoyed, even if they say they are onboard.  The fact is, neither situation is good for business or good for you.

Judith E. Glaser, in her recent book Conversational Intelligence, describes how good-quality conversations are the building blocks of success.  "To get to the next level of greatness depends on the quality of the culture, which depends on the quality of relationships, which depends on the quality of conversations.  Everything happens through conversations," she says.

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Why Wait til January 1st to Make a Change?

changeSetting a date to start a new behaviour is not an unusual way of thinking. But does it really have to be on the 1st of January? The trick to making a change is understanding the change cycle and where we stand in it. Prior to picking a day to start a new behavior, it is important to do the mental preparation necessary to be psyched up to implement the change.

Most of us have something we would like to change about ourselves and sit contemplating the need to make a change for a while before taking action. The change cycle is similar for most of us. Initially we believe nothing is wrong or we minimize the impact of an unproductive behavior such as procrastinating, spending or drinking too much.  Then comes a time when we recognize a particular behavior needs to be altered. Note that I said "altered" and not "stopped". 



Extra Curricular Activities Can Enhance "Grit"

angela duckworthAngela Duckworth, author of Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance, had a strong intuition that Grit is enhanced by participating in extra-curricular activities. There are countless studies suggesting that kids who are involved in extra-curricular activities have better grades, higher self-esteem, and are positioned to do better in their life in general. She points out that activities led by a demanding and supportive adult, such as a coach or teacher, "are designed to cultivate interests, practice, purpose and hope.”  So dance studios, dojos, and swimming clubs are breeding grounds for Grit.


Leadership Qualities You Didn't Know You Had

leaders inspireAre you intimidated by leaders? Are you intimidated to be leader? Do you think that you lack the worth to deserve the title? Where does that attitude come from? Maybe you lack experience and therefore assume that if you haven’t done it before then you can’t do it. Everything you do adds to your experience. 

Whether or not you consider yourself to be a leader, the fact is that you most likely possess many of the qualities of a great leader. 


The Benefits of Mentoring

mentoringAlthough many coach trainees engage in mentoring as a credentialing requirement, the opportunity to participate in this self-directed learning is an excellent investment in yourself on both a professional and personal level. The support that comes from a coach mentor brings your learning to a different mastery level.

Mentoring is a time to look at how you position your practice and how you relate to your clients. 


Coaching Changes Women's Future, One Woman at a Time

woman leaderWomen are as qualified as men to hold leadership positions, yet in 2015 only 23 Fortune 500 companies were led by women. That’s less than 5%. Why is there such a huge disparity?1

Research indicated that in contrast to men who tend to be more career-centric and driven by the desire to maximize their financial return, women's motivation is intrinsic.  Women are more likely to value meaning, purpose, connection and work-life integration when considering a position. 


Coaching Capacity Screening helps Coaches Maximize Client Success

The Coaching Continuum TM  model , as well as the ICA  class “Client Screening for Successful Coaching Engagement”, were developed recently by Manon Dulude, Phd, PCC, BCC,  and Jeanne Erikson, PhD, PCC, BCC. Dr. Dulude researched coaching effectiveness, and Dr. Erikson has been active in ICF coaching ethics development.  

Both the Continuum theory and the skill class address what seems to be a knowledge gap in coach training encountered by both novice and seasoned coaches. The novice sometimes reports he or she took on a complex client, but felt unequipped to assist the client reach his or her goals. Seasoned coaches have concurred that after working with a complex client who demonstrated a poor ability to progress, the client likely did not have the capacity to fully benefit from the coaching requested. 

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How Women's Friendship Expectations at Work Impact Their Career

women at workFriendship is a relational expectation in society that develops early in life. Parents want their children to develop friendships in their neighbourhoods, at school, on the sports team they join, and later on at college or university. In childhood, friendships teach us about sharing, equality, inclusivity, collaboration and kindness. They also assist us in learning to develop a strong support system beyond one's immediate family.


Coping with the Emotional Impact of Downsizing

downsizingBeing fired from a job is one of life’s top 10 stressors, according to the Holmes and Rahe Stress Scale, designed to evaluate how stressful events will impact one’s health. That’s why I recommend that one of the first things to do when you’re downsized is get support so you can vent your feelings.

Your family and friends can be wonderful cheerleaders, but also be sure to take advantage of professional support. Being fired is not an illness. 

Four Upsides to Being Downsized

upside downsizeYou may not think so at the time, but a termination can be a blessing in disguise. It can benefit you both mentally and physically, can advance your career, and can also boost your bank balance and retirement fund. 

Of course termination is a negative outcome and not what you want to have happen (though these days you should really expect and prepare for being downsized). Yet upon reflection, I’m sure you will agree that there are upsides to being downsized. Here are four of them:


Cultivate Grit and Resilience

resilienceMy interest in exploring resilience in people led me to discover Angela Duckworth’s presentation on grit and to some other authors who are thinking and contributing to these very important topics. 

I am curious about the impact of juxtaposing the two concepts of resilience and grit. I believe there is a connection between the two. I see both as an attitude toward life and toward problem solving. Resilience is the ability to keep bouncing back during times of adversity while grit is the ability to see failure or a mistake as part of the journey.


5 Ways to Handle Job Search Rejection

A job search is like a rollercoaster. One day you’re down, the next day you’re up. The idea of an optimal job search is to be up more than down, however, you’re not going to win the race in every interview. You will be number two, number three, or number four, and that is not a good feeling.

Job search rejection can bring on a negative mindset, but think of it this way: the more rejections you get, the closer you are to a win.



Leaders Gain When Hiring People with Grit

angela duckworthOnce you have a ascertained that the candidates you are interviewing have the skill set you require them to have, what personal attribute do you look for?  I suggest you look for Grit. 

Angela Lee Duckworth speaks of Grit as a strong indicator of success. Grit is a combination of passion and perseverance for a very long term goal. Someone with grit shows stamina and the ability to work tirelessly toward a future reward despite any setbacks. They are able to keep their eyes on the prize.

Personal Branding for Executive Job Search

personal brandWhen processing dozens, if not hundreds, of resumes, decision makers at the corporate level look for a personal brand that sets the candidate above all the competition.

This goes beyond any checklist of credentials or skills. Others may have exactly the same list. Instead, we’re talking about the personal characteristics you will bring to the future employer. This is what captivates the reader, who may be your future boss or boss’s boss, an HR professional, or an executive recruiter.


Are You a Leader, a Friend, or a Friendly Leader?

friendly leaderDo you want to be a friend or do you want to be a leader? Or perhaps you’re looking for that happy medium and you’d like to be a friendly leader. The answer lies in where you’ve chosen to set your boundaries.

Healthy boundaries will help you remember that as a leader your primary function is to guide and inspire your team. From that perspective, you will be able to freely challenge people, pull the best out of them, request their commitment and hold them accountable. 


Therapy is Not a Pity Party

Sharing your pain with a therapist is not just attending another pity party. Talking about your emotional pain in therapy is constructive and breaks through the downward mood spiral. You no longer have to suffer alone and ruminate over the same hurtful stories over and over again.

Truly effective therapy is an active process.  It requires the client to be clear on their desired therapy goal. Setting a clear goal, such as ``I want to live pain and shame free``, sets you onto a new path of intentional living. 

Intentional living is accepting that while you may not be responsible for the pain you are experiencing, you are responsible for your healing process and your personal growth. Once a client makes this realization, a significant shift occurs. 


Build Emotional Intelligence Muscles This Holiday Season

happy holidaysThe holidays can be challenging for some of us and emotional triggers appear to be in abundance during the festive season.  Whether it is the stories of Christmas past or the stories and the demands of Christmas present, we certainly can find ourselves flooded with powerful emotions without realizing it. 

When you find yourself being taken over by the “WHOOSH” of anger or sadness or any other emotions, catch yourself before you let others be on the receiving end, particularly at work. 

How to Repair Damaged Business Relationships

shaking handsBusiness relationships are complex and multi-dimensional. Not only do they impact the individuals directly involved, but they affect everyone around them and sometimes the bottom line. Instead of resorting to losing strategies that can harm your work relationships, let’s focus on what you can do that is positive and leads toward repairing damaged relationships.

Oftentimes when a professional relationship has been damaged, trust between individuals needs to be repaired. While not always easy, it is possible if you consider the following:


How Eating Healthy Increases the Corporate Career Woman’s Productivity

This week's blog is a guest post from Kevin Arnason, Owner of Motive8Fitness in Halton Hills, Ontario.

career woman

You are living in the fast-paced world of a corporate career woman. Your days are long and full of never-ending tasks. You can’t find the time to pee, never mind eat your lunch. The thought of adding anything to your current schedule makes you want to laugh and cry at the same time. Does this sound like you?

The one thing you can take comfort in is that you are not alone. What I just chronicled describes the lifestyle of the majority of corporate career women in the 21st century. The bad news is that this type of lifestyle takes its toll on your overall health and wellbeing not to mention the productivity at your workplace. 

Children's Aid of Toronto Volunteer Recognition Event

csa coachingOn April 10, 2014 Manon facilitated the Children’s Aid Society of Toronto Volunteer Recognition event.  With focus on celebrating their contributions, participants inspired each other by sharing powerful stories and personal reflections about their volunteer experience with CAST. Nearly 80 people attended and were there to connect to each other and with the mission of the organization. Volunteers have had a meaningful impact on the lives of others and recognition events like this enable them to reconnect with their intention of the heart.

Why Use Assessment Tools during a Coaching Engagement?

Assessment tools can enhance a coaching conversation as they are a means to increase people’s self-awareness and identify their strengths and areas of personal and professional development. Tools can also help an individual gain an appreciation of how others perceive them and become mindful of the behavioral and communication patterns that need altering to create a different impact.

Managers and executives have come to realize the importance of objective human resource assessment to ascertain the skills and talents available to their organization. Assessments help organizations make better decisions about hiring and developing people. They also increase the probability that the individual selected for a position has the skills and motivation to be successful.


How to Handle Dismissive Body Language

When we insult each other we damage relationships and that is why direct verbal insults aren’t socially acceptable. But some individuals use body language to hurt others either intentionally or unintentionally. Dismissive gestures vary from culture to culture and they can be used in a variety of ways to:
•    minimize or ignore the other person’s feelings
•    defend your own bad behavior
•    express disdain
•    diminish the other person in the eyes of others
•    assert superior status

•    exact revenge


Immunity to Change by Robert Kegan and Lisa Lahey

robert keganA recent study showed that when doctors tell heart patients they will die if they don't change their habits, only one in seven will be able to follow through successfully. It seems that desire and motivation aren't enough to bring about change even when it's literally a matter of life and death. Given that the status quo is so powerful, how can we create the changes we need in ourselves and in our organizations?

Are You a Job Hunter or a Career Explorer?

resumeWhat is the difference between a Job Hunter and a Career Explorer?

A Job Hunter is someone who is looking for a job in a specific field. They know what they want and have a targeted career goal. It is assumed that they have the proper skill set to do the job and that they are looking for a new environment in which to perform what they are trained and skilled to do. Generally their expectations involve a role at a similar level they were doing in a previous work setting or they aim for a promotion of some kind.


10 Tips to Do What You Do & be Where You Are!

Imagine learning a tool that can offer you the guarantee to improve your life quality. Would you not want to run to learn it as soon as possible? This too-good-to-be-true tool is both common sense and extraordinary. Athletes and performers receive hours of coaching to master it and   vouch for its merits.  

This tool is your ability to be in the “Here and Now” - to focus your awareness and give full attention to the moment and activity you are engaged in. 


8 Strategies to Achieve Work/Life Balance

work life balanceBalancing work and home life is a challenge for many. As actors in our own lives, we hold many leading roles (parent, spouse, caregiver, friend, employee, etc.) which are often competing for time and attention.  Attending to all these roles and responsibilities is quite a juggling act which from time to time can be overwhelming.

 Consider the following tips when you notice yourself to be off kilter:


How Better Sleep Can Improve Leadership

We live in an age where executives and leaders are getting less sleep as they try to squeeze more into their work lives. While popular belief might suggest that this is a more productive approach, the science indicates otherwise.

The Center for Creative Leadership recently published a comprehensive report on the neuroscience surrounding the topic of sleep. Click here to view the remarkable findings.

How Can Your Team Benefit From “Coaching Fundamentals” Training?

coach training haitiIn April 2013, I had the great pleasure of facilitating a 2-day Coaching Fundamentals training program to 16 people from Handicap International Haiti. This group was rich in cultural diversity with French, Italian, African and Haitian staff.  These individuals hold diverse responsibilities in the organization such as logistics, purchasing, project management, finance, security and physiotherapy.  

During the training we introduced coaching skills to this group focused on: 


Six Ways to Detect the Office Gossip

gossipCorporate cultures are not single-handedly built by executives and managers. They are the cumulative byproduct of the participation of each individual involved in an organization. Too often, staff ignore the fact that they have a direct impact on the quality of their workplace culture and leave it up to management to fix things. This approach allows staff to disregard the role they play in improving and managing the quality of interpersonal dynamics they themselves create. 


Is Your Boss a Psychopath?

boss is psychopathIn a recent study of more than 200 executives, nearly 4 percent scored at or above the traditional cutoff for psychopathy using the Psychopathy Checklist. By contrast, just 1 percent of the general population is categorized as having psychopathic tendencies. Admittedly, it’s just one study, but it suggests that business leaders could be four times as likely to be psychopathic than the average person.


Office Politics: Positive, Negative or Neutral?

Do you think of yourself as "politically savvy" at work? Politically savvy people often have better career prospects, are seen as more promotable and are less likely to have derailed careers. People who bumble through the political realities — or avoid or ignore them — are missing opportunities, connections and resources. Politics isn’t good. It isn’t bad. It’s simply a natural part of life in virtually any organization. Being politically savvy does not mean that you want someone else to lose in order for you to win. It isn’t about being false and inauthentic. Instead, it involves the sincere use of your skills, behaviors and qualities in order to be more effective.



The Power of Group Coaching

group coachingGroup coaching is a powerful and effective approach to enhance your personal and professional life.  There are great benefits to attending a group format rather than individual sessions.  Besides the practical side that the group approach may be more economical than individual sessions, here are a few reasons to consider attending a coaching group:

1. Members of a group commit to creating a safe environment. Together they agree to use a kind yet challenging approach toward each other.  


Anatomy of a Goal

Most of us at some point in our lives have set goals for ourselves.  While this is a common occurrence in our personal or professional life, we are not always successful in reaching our set destination. A goal needs to be meaningful for us to reach it, but we also need to have the psychological readiness to put the time into it that the goal requires. We must ‘own the goal’ and commit to putting the work in. A coach can assist you in achieving this readiness level to maximize your chance of success.

What if you could discover what makes a goal so compelling that it would be nearly impossible not to achieve it? 

Here are a few thoughts that may assist you in reaching your next goals:  

1. Stop writing a to-do list of things and calling them goals. 


Build Better Business Relationships

business communicationTo be successful in business, it is critical to build and maintain relationships. Not just with customers, but also with vendors, employees and competitors. You need to have long-term customers and good vendor relationships especially during challenging times or tight deadlines. Good relationships with other business owners allow you to share your struggles, resources and best practices that can give you an edge in business. Of course, any relationship will involve give and take.


How Stressed is your Team?

stress at workDid you know that 23.2% of your work force is likely experiencing a high level of emotional distress?

In the Manon Dulude Ph.D. research project “an Effectiveness Study on Telephonic Brief Solution-Focused Coaching on Life Satisfaction Measures”, it was discovered that 23.2% of those who volunteered for the study were considered too emotionally distressed to benefit from coaching and more suitable for counseling services.  


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Brief Solution Focused Coaching Works!


In 2011, Manon Dulude Ph.D. conducted a life coaching research project to evaluate the effectiveness of a short-term coaching model (brief solution-focused coaching) on the emotional and cognitive aspects of life satisfaction (how positively people feel and think about their life). This research project was a doctoral dissertation requirement. Aspiria EAP Corp. sponsored the research project.

The results of this research were exciting. Click the link for a summary of Dr. Dulude's findings on this short-term coaching model. 

Telephonic Coaching is a Viable Alternative

In this day and age where we want to minimize time on the road commuting, telephone coaching is the way to go. Ninety-five (95) percent of one hundred and six (106) subjects involved in a research project (Dulude 2012) confirmed that telephonic coaching is a viable approach to deliver the service.  


How can Coaching Assist me to Improve the way I Relate to my Supervisor?

supervisor relationshipIn my experience, when people talk about their workplace relationship problems, they tend to attribute the responsibility and blame to the other party and keep focusing on how the other person is just not living up to their expectations.  These internal conversations are rarely effective as they fail to acknowledge the relationship as an independent entity and how each person contributes to the "dance" they create together.


For confidential discussion, call Manon Dulude at (905) 873-9393.