Career Evolution introduces new Principal Consultant

Career Evolution is pleased to announce that one of the company’s highly experienced and long-standing Consultants has taken on the role of Principal Consultant within the business. Margery MacKellar, who has worked with Career Evolution for over four years, takes on the new role to further support Director and Consultant Sue Thomas.

A wide and varied career

Margery is an MCIPD qualified HR professional, Management Consultant and Career Consultant who brings expertise of delivery across the UK and Europe.  She started her career by initially training and qualifying as a Printer – and never thought back then that she would end up coaching and developing individuals. Margery works with clients across a wide range of roles, and at all levels from junior and middle management, through to executive and non-executive director professionals.

Hogan Assessment certified and British Psychological Society accredited, Margery has extensive experience working within all the fields of HR and professional development, including in a senior HR role working across Europe. She also spent a significant number of years working in HR within the health and innovation sector.

Margery joined Career Evolution in 2019 to support the company’s growth within the north of the UK, with her very first project to provide support to a fish food manufacturer near Inverness. Now, her main focus is supporting senior executives with outplacement and providing management development, specifically helping employees navigate across organisations and tap into their unique skillset. In her role of Principal Consultant, Margery will also be engaging with new customers across the business.

Matching Consultant and Client

Margery explains: “I love working with people and helping them to develop. One of the first things that attracted me to Career Evolution was Sue’s approach – and commitment – to matching the right Consultant with the right Client. That chemistry check is so important and is often what makes the difference to enabling people to be the best they can.

“I have done a lot of work around personality, leadership and fit over the years and this feeds into much of the work that I do. When I am working with a Client on outplacement I also need to be able to help them articulate themselves on paper, so that they are selected to be interviewed. This can sometimes be challenging as I am working with them when they are at their most vulnerable. However, I am a trained competency-based interviewer, so I usually know what the interviewers are likely to be looking for.”

An integral part of the team

Commented Sue Thomas, Director at Career Evolution on Margery’s appointment: “Margery is an integral part of the Career Evolution team, and I am looking forward to working more closely with her as we welcome new Clients to Career Evolution.”

Outside of her work, Margery has been inspired to start running and has also started befriending residents at a local Dementia care home.

Why am I not getting a job?

Every time you pick up a paper or listen to the radio, there is invariably someone talking about the skills shortages in the job market at the moment. If you are in the process of job hunting, this commentary can be particularly galling, particularly if you are struggling to find a suitable next role.

Even if you have done all the obvious first steps, like ensuring your CV and LinkedIn profile positions you in the strongest and best light, targeting the right recruiters and making the most of your existing network of contacts, there are still many reasons why you haven’t found your perfect role yet.

The right skills

You may have even managed to secure an interview and feel that you performed well, yet still not received a job offer. However, the stark truth is that despite the media constantly talking about a shortage of skills, if the skills that are in short supply are not the ones you have or want to use, it may just mean that you are in a more competitive marketplace and the whole process can take longer than you want it to.

If that is where you are currently at, it is important that you don’t take these setbacks personally. You must remember you have not failed if the job hunt takes longer than expected. The right job is out there, but setting false deadlines for yourself can be counter-productive.

Develop a strategy

A more positive and effective approach is to develop a well-defined job search strategy. This needs to tick off the basics first, such as updating your CV and LinkedIn profile, and identifying the recruiters to contact. But then you need to treat this like you would a job. Plan in who you are going to contact, when and why. Set up calls and meetings with useful contacts and identify job opportunities to apply for. Don’t forget to take the time to identify what you want from your new job. It is important to be able to refer back to your ‘must-haves’ and ‘nice to haves’, when the time comes to review a job offer.

It is also important to track your activity so that you don’t miss out on any opportunity and return your applications in plenty of time. The reality is that this can all be hard work, in fact, it has often been said that job hunting is a full-time job in itself. But don’t give up. The satisfaction – and relief – of securing a new role that meets your requirements is worth all the hard work and patience to get there.

Purposeful hybrid working

As companies and employees settle into the new work rhythm, it is interesting to see how hybrid working has grown up.

Since the initial switch from office working to home working, where people adapted because they had to (just the small matter of a pandemic), there has been a period of time when many organisations have had to have their employees working from home. As restrictions eased, working from home became non-mandatory, so businesses then had potentially difficult choices to make with regards to where their employees were based.

Upsetting the equilibrium

Throughout the lockdowns, many employees had enjoyed the freedom of choosing their own working hours from their home offices. As restrictions eased some companies were reluctant to upset their teams by insisting on a return to the office. However, other businesses wanted to see a full return to the office as quickly as possible, with no regard for the impact this would have on their teams. While still other organisations introduced a more blended, hybrid approach, with perhaps a requested two or three days per week in the office.

Regardless of what companies decided on, if they did this without proper policies in place and without consulting their teams, they created all sorts of problems for themselves and their teams. In some instances, people were commuting into the office, only to find themselves on their own in an empty space.

Getting the balance right

As more time has passed, it feels like many companies are starting to get it right. Where it is appropriate for employees to work from home, there has become more of a ‘hybrid with purpose’. In other words, if you are in the office, it’s because you’re attending meetings or being with the rest of your team, rather than aimlessly wondering around a half-populated work environment.

This, of course, goes back to the importance of consulting with your team and understanding that everyone’s situations are different. Some people relish the freedom of home working or hybrid working, while there are others that want to be in the office full time. There may be many reasons why this is the case, and managers need to be aware of why people act as they do and ensure that the working environment remains as inclusive as possible.

AI and the future

There’s been a lot of talk recently about the demise of human civilisation and the rise of the robots. Okay, I may be exaggerating there a bit, but there has been a great deal of conversation around AI and the impact it is having – and will have – on human productivity and employment. In this blog I’m looking at how AI is leading to greater automation, but the human voice will also continue to be important.

Intelligent thinking

AI has developed in all kinds of interesting ways over the last few decades and advanced immensely in the 21st century.  From the dawn of computers people have been asking how far their intelligence can reach and if these machines can learn processes and behaviours. AI research was begun in 1956 at Dartmouth College in America and these pioneers became the leaders in AI research for decades. Many of them predicted that a machine as intelligent as a human being would exist in no more than a generation and they were heavily funded, to the tune of millions of dollars. But it later became apparent that they had massively underestimated the complexity of the project. Research and development petered out in the 1980s, due to funding shortfalls, but as technology hugely advanced, investment and interest in AI boomed in the first decades of the 21st century. During this period, machine learning was successfully applied to many problems in academia and industry. Automation is now being applied to all aspects of productivity, from manufacturing to service industries and retail.

Artificial creativity?

AI learning is also being talked about as able to creatively write about subjects from a point of knowledge. There is even talk of AI replacing human beings in fields that rely on writing skills, such as web design, journalism or marketing. The old joke about the Infinite Monkey Theorem now doesn’t seem so far from the truth. If a monkey hitting keys at random on a typewriter keyboard for an infinite amount of time will almost surely type any existing text – including the complete works of William Shakespeare – then surely artificial intelligence can learn to do this using processes and algorithms. But can they replicate imagination? Can they add soul and emotion? And can they recreate a human’s written ‘voice’.

The human touch

When it comes down to it, there really isn’t any substitute for the personal touch. It’s not only the human interaction that is completely lost if you are dealing with a machine – be it paying for goods in a supermarket or talking to your energy provider by telephone. There really is no substitute for just talking to someone, if you are trying to sort out a problem. And the more automated services become, the less interaction people will have in a society that is already increasingly isolated and remote. Aspects such as working from home are great in some respects, but less so in others. The massive reduction in person-to-person interaction will be further impacted by even more automation at work and in our personal lives.

It’s not all bad news, as greater automation does offer the potential to enhance people’s jobs too. Automation in many industries can make a huge difference to productivity and efficiency, and there are many positives to be gained from progress in AI – particularly in the health and science sectors, where there have been huge advancements in research and treatment. But it’s always worth retaining that human touch too, especially in our human resource sector. There really is no substitute for an in-person, one-to-one conversation – you just don’t the same sense of personality and vibes from someone, if you’re talking to a machine.

Looking after the talent

Recognising talent is one of the key attributes of any successful company. A good manager will be able to identify talent when they see it and acknowledge the importance of retaining that talent in the long term. Talent and skills can surface in different ways and if they occur naturally, then so much the better. Talent of course can also be engendered through advice and training too, so that the ‘raw materials’ of a person’s attributes can be enhanced and honed into something more effective and efficient. In this blog, I’ll be looking at talent management. What’s the best approach?

A holistic approach

There’s a school of thought that decrees that talent management, like many aspects of business management, needs a holistic approach. By that, I mean it needs lots of different approaches, to be looked at from a variety of angles. Talent management needs to be a joined-up process and also should be part of a wider business strategy. In this way, investment can be prioritised and resources allocated, as an integral part of growth and success. 

Talent spotting

Keeping on the lookout for talent is a key part of business management too. With platforms such as LinkedIn, it’s easy to connect with new people and ascertain their experience and suitability for your own business. It’s essential that when recognising potential, that you link it to performance and process. So that anyone you engage with and employ is rewarded for their commitment and achievements. Any business needs a mixture both of knowledge and experience, and modern thinking on the latest developments. There’s no point in having a seasoned, knowledgeable team that has no awareness about digital technology, such as social media or video sharing platforms. The phrase multitalented is often overused, but when it comes to creating an effective, successful business or team, it’s very apt.

A flair for business

A good manager will assign specific roles to the members who are most suitable for those roles. A flair for one aspect of a job – communication, for example – might mean that they are encouraged towards more outward facing aspects of the business. Identifying talent might be readily apparent or it may take time for it to emerge. Team members can each bring individual talents to mesh together and often a team environment will encourage staff to come out of their shells and into their own. The important thing to remember is to make sure you reward success, which in in turn will futureproof your business going forward.

Identifying and nurturing talent is a talent in itself. If you find that you are struggling to find or retain talent, it might be worth talking to one of our coaches. They can provide advice and guidance on what to look for as positive attributes in your staff and how to preserve that talent in the future.



A big shout out to the NHS

As the NHS celebrates its 75 years of service this Wednesday, we would like to acknowledge the incredible role it plays in the UK and play tribute to the people that work within it.

At Career Evolution, we have been fortunate to have carried out a number of career management and coaching projects with the NHS over the years. It has been a pleasure to work with such a range of extremely talented professionals in Primary Care Trusts and Integrated Care Boards – and even going back to the days of Clinical Commissioning Groups and Strategic Health Authorities.  Five years ago, we also supported the organisation at its 70th birthday conference in Manchester (pictured). The relationships we have forged go back over 20 years and through various restructures and throughout the country.

Well done NHS and here’s to the next 75 years!

All together now

Working as part of a team can be one of the most rewarding aspects of employment. Whether you’re part of a senior management team, or an integral member of staff in a group of creatives, the interaction and inventiveness you experience can bring about real success and a sense of achievement.

But how can you ensure that you are getting the best out of a team? A good manager will be able to assess the strengths and weaknesses present in a team. They may well assemble the group with these aspects in mind, to make an interesting mix that becomes a catalyst for creativity and results. However, no one is infallible and there will always be areas that can be improved. How do you go about improvement, when dealing with a wider group?

Working together

People often think of coaching as a solitary activity. It’s for individuals to engage with coaches or mentors, and the one-to-one aspect is often cited as being a major strength. But the parameters of coaching don’t end there. Group coaching can be very rewarding too and a good coach will be able to look at the individuals and see how they will gel as a team. Their personal development will become part of the group’s development, and the two things can be seen to be mutually beneficial.

A team member that becomes more self-aware will be able to identify various aspects of themselves that they can then bring to the group. In this way, a group working together successfully will enhance every member of the group. Sharing knowledge and experience is an aspect of group working that can bolster what begins as a group of individuals, to transform them into a formidable team. A coach can help to identify who are the most experienced members of the team and how they can act as mentors to their fellow team members.

Common goals

One of the ways a coach can assess an individual’s strengths is by asking them about achievements. It’s important not to make any individual feel less worthy if their achievements do not match their colleagues – and do not demean their achievements in front to the team. Every individual’s achievement should be equally valid, as what is an everyday occurrence to one person can be like climbing Everest to another. For example, people who achieve industry qualifications and academic accreditations are not automatically better team members and more valued than those who don’t. Intuition and imagination cannot be taught. Often the most talented team members can be those whose thought processes and work practices are more natural and intuitive than structured.

The key to a successful team is bringing together the right mix of individuals. A small group of people will need to get along on a basic communication level and there is no room for passengers. But when a group really crystallises to its best abilities, the results can be formidable. If you think your team would benefit from group coaching, then why not get in touch today?


Time for change

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We all have a work persona, whether we acknowledge it or not. But with WFH so prevalent, it’s sometimes difficult to distinguish between your true self and your ‘work self’. The same is correct when it comes to making decisions about your career path and your future. Are you self-aware enough to identify where your future lies?  Are spending less time in the office, but working as many hours from home? Have you got a work-life balance that suits you? Or would it be beneficial for you to be in the office more?

WFH doesn’t suit everyone. Perhaps a move towards a more office-based culture would be a better fit. This is certainly true in creative industries, where collective thinking and collaboration are vital ingredients. And of course, not everyone has had a say in whether they work from home. If the balance isn’t suiting you, then perhaps it’s time for a change.

A fresh outlook

Don’t wait for a formal review to speak to your manager about your development. These conversations should be woven into formal and informal discussions throughout the year.  Discuss with your manager to ensure they are aware of your feelings and areas you would like to develop or change if possible.

However, if you are reviewing your career due to redundancy, don’t forget to ask your employer to fund outplacement. This will give you access to a professional Career Consultant to discuss and identify your options and how to achieve them. This might be in the same sector you occupy now, or it may be an allied industry – or a new area entirely. A Career Consultant will be able to identify aspects such as transferable skills, that can be deployed in an adjacent sector. They may also be able to steer you towards something you find more fulfilling or into a sector where the demand for new employees and thinking is high.

Taking control

Successful career management means taking control. The old notion of a career being a continued upward progression and of ‘jobs for life’ is one that doesn’t really sit with today’s workplace. People move around, roles and technology evolve, so sometimes you have to retrain just to keep up with modern working methods. Also, with remote working, the world’s literally your oyster when it comes to working locations. A Career Consultant can help you to identify what is most important to you, to prioritise your ambitions and analyse your skills. They can also look at aligning your goals with a work-life balance you would prefer – wherever you choose to work.


Welcome to the latest vlog from Career Evolution!

In our latest vlog, our director, Sue Thomas, pays tribute to her old boss and friend, Robin Wood, who sadly passed away suddenly. Sue and Robin set up CMC together back in 1990 and she describes him as a ‘force majeure’, dynamic, enthusiastic and fun to work with. Sue and her former colleagues came together again to let people know about his passing; Sue reflects that this is what makes a good team, empathy and the will to get things done.

Watch the video below:

Points of view: Polarisation in the workplace

Everyone has their own perception of what their ideal workplace should look like. Some people thrive in a busy work environment, with a bustling office and bubbling conversation. For others, the quieter the better, for concentration and efficiency. But with work from home (WFH) now the norm for many people and offices downsizing or hybrid working, what suits someone doesn’t suit another. Everyone has a point of view, and in some instances it’s causing friction in the workplace.

Different perspectives

For many people, the hybrid working model – of working from the office for part of the week, from home the remainder – is an ideal that was unthinkable a decade ago. The many different pressures of modern life beyond work, such as childcare, school runs or caring for elderly relatives, have eaten into the time available in our daily lives. The flexibility afforded by WFH has gone some way to redressing the balance, with the opportunity to start earlier or later, pop out to pick the kids up, work on later, or make better use of the time usually devoted to the daily commute.

Others have found the extra time afforded by WFH to be valuable for exercise, or to take up new hobbies or interests. But for others, the enforced solitude of WFH is no benefit at all. Some people work better with colleagues around them and certainly, the spirit of collaboration is lessened if the same interactions are carried out onscreen over the internet, rather than in person. People interact differently when they are present with one another in a way that cannot really be replicated online. The solitary nature of home working has also taken a toll on some employees’ mental health. People who previously had no physical or mental health problems at all are now finding that issues like office lighting or the close presence of other people are causing them health or anxiety issues.

A common goal

Some businesses are starting to demand people are back in the workplace, so employees are making the decision as to whether they stay or go. Do they stick with a job they like, but doesn’t allow them the flexibility they enjoyed during lockdown? Or do they seek another role elsewhere? It’s also interesting as to who holds the power here. It’s usually acknowledged that happy staff are more productive, but polar opposite opinions will only cause tension. Bosses will not want to lose disgruntled staff, but many managers see WFH as unmanageable. Common purpose is important and the hybrid way of working is here to stay. Both employers and employees will have to adapt, to make these new methods work for everyone.

Some managers say it’s difficult to ascertain productivity and ‘office hours’ attendance when staff are working at home. But is more time wasted in the office catching up with colleagues when you see them? If it’s an event for everyone to meet in the office, a certain amount of time is lost each time with normal interactions, such as conversation, making a cuppa. But these are part of what makes working in an office fun and mentally beneficial and stimulating. The aspects of the ‘place’ in addition to the ‘work’.

If we are to see a widespread and voluntary return to the office – en masse – then there must be some flexibility on the part of managers and bosses too, when it comes to hours and days worked. In this way, everyone will feel that their point of view has been appreciated and it’s a win-win for all, as they aim for a common goal.