Monthly Archives

May 2023

Announcing Our Q1 2023 PURE Award Winner

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We are pleased to announce the Q1 2023 winner of the PURE Service Award: Dan Epstein.

Dan is a Senior Instructional Design Consultant whose expertise in instructional design and development, videography and video direction contributed greatly to the success of our global food and beverage client’s drive-thru optimization projects.

Dan’s work with our client and the team was instrumental in the project’s success. He was able to translate our client’s needs and requirements into actionable tasks. He found a more effective and less costly alternative for filming drone footage, and even traveled across multiple states to be on location to ensure the success of the video shoot. His collaboration with the team of consultants was pivotal in moving the work forward and the resulting overall success of the project.

Dan was very adaptable to changes throughout the project and used many of his skills to ensure the video met the needed professional standards.

The client had this to say about Dan and the team’s contributions: “Thanks to all of you for the support and guidance along the way with all four videos. It was a really good team, and I am so pleased with all that you have done. THANK YOU!!! It has been an honor working with such a talented group of folks.”


CARA’s PURE Service Program provides a unique way to measure success and evaluate how well our consultants’ service delivery meets our clients’ needs. CARA’s service delivery process is based on the PURE service philosophy and consultants are reviewed quarterly based on how well they demonstrate our PURE values: Professionalism, Understanding, Responsibility and Excellence. CARA’s consultants are nominated based on client feedback, PURE evaluations, and team interaction with the consultants. After careful consideration of each candidate, CARA selects the PURE award recipients. The PURE award program is the foundation of CARA’s culture, aligning us with our clients’ and consultants’ values in service excellence.


Leveling Up Your Consulting Skills with Emotional Intelligence

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In my first blog, “Consulting Skills For The Workforce of the Future”, I shared what it takes to become an exceptional consultant – the ability to perform and deliver results as well as more advanced soft skills that allow you to become connected and invaluable, such as executive influence, strategic agility, and political savviness.

Today, I will share another skill which is critical in “Leveling Up” as a consultant. We know that the ability to drive business success and build long-term relationships requires logical and structured thinking. The consultants who pay close attention to the details, immerse themselves into the fabric of the client organization, and are savvy enough to stay clear of business landmines? Those of us on the hiring side know that these are the most valuable consultants of them all.

The consultants who pay close attention to the details, immerse themselves into the fabric of the client organization, and are savvy enough to stay clear of business landmines? Those of us on the hiring side know that these are the most valuable consultants of them all. “


So, Now What… How do you LEVEL UP as a Consultant?

Do you want just a “Thank you” when you finish a project? Hopefully you want more than that! You should desire a customer who is ferociously finding ways to continue partnering with you because you have become invaluable to their organization. Consultants who are truly “worth their salt” look back on each consulting engagement and ask themselves and their customers “What could I have done differently to improve that experience or outcome?” This should happen even when the engagement is a success, as self-awareness helps us make sounder decisions, build stronger relationships, and communicate more effectively.

Leveling up as a consultant requires a high degree of Emotional Intelligence (EI) – the ability to identify, understand, and manage one’s emotions as well as the emotions of others, in order to build and maintain positive relationships. It also includes being able to think clearly and collaborate to solve problems. [1]

Remaining flexible in response to changing circumstances is the “holy grail” in consulting.”

Emotional intelligence provides a level of empathy to place the consultant in the customer’s shoes, so-to-speak. They will understand the perspectives, needs, as well as concerns of the customer. Being empathetic can help to build and stabilize relationships because it builds trust and rapport. Adjusting their approach based on the needs and requirements of the client is the key of understanding and meeting the customer where they are! Remaining flexible in response to changing circumstances is the “holy grail” in consulting.

Priorities as employers continue to evolve and hiring or promoting based on experience and skills are not enough. With recent economic conditions, it’s important to understand the importance of emotions at work. EI is important across all aspects of work, especially in roles requiring interaction and collaboration – which is at the core of what consultants do!

A person with high EI is more likely to:[2]

  • Name and express their feelings and connect to their emotions, to be able to understand and manage their responses to stimuli and events. They can identify root causes rather than ineffectively trying to deal with symptoms or results. They are self-aware, openly expressive, and healthily assertive.
  • Know what they want and make plans to achieve their goals. They have a better understanding of what drives them. They are more likely to understand what gives them pleasure and why. This means they are more likely to identify their values and know their purpose in life.
  • Remain calm in challenging situations. By labeling their feelings and recognizing their emotions, people with high EI can learn to manage their feelings instead of allowing their emotions to hijack their thoughts. This can help them remain calm while others are losing their heads.

So, where are you on the emotional intelligence scale? The following behaviors will help aid you in the journey to highly become emotionally intelligent:

  • Practice self-awareness: Pay attention to your own emotions and try to identify what triggers them. Journaling or reflection of day-to-day experiences is a way to begin capturing your emotions.
  • Learn to manage your emotions: Once you become more aware of your emotions, you can learn to manage them in a healthy way. Practice deep breathing, mindfulness, or meditation.
  • Develop empathy: Empathy is the ability to understand and share feelings of others. Practice active listening, putting yourself in someone else’s shoes, and compassion.
  • Build stronger relationships: Emotional intelligence is also about building strong relationships with others. Be open and honest in your communication, showing appreciation and gratitude, and develop trust.
  • Seek feedback: Ask trusted friends or colleagues for feedback on your behavior. This can help you identify areas for improvement and develop a better understanding of how you come across to others.


[2] Forbes, “Why is Emotional Intelligence Important?”, December 2022

OCM’s Value Add Part 2 – Humans’ Desire to Retain Control

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Recently, we set out on our annual task of painting the vision of organizational change management (OCM) for 2023. For those who have read our previous posts, you know that we believe in OCM’s value to accelerate and sustain the change created by business priorities.

With that premise in mind, we set out to, first, determine the year’s business priorities and then the changes to OCM that enable those priorities. A fairly straight forward process, or so we thought.

Somewhere in that process for 2023, it became obvious to us that while businesses were creating change in new areas, in OCM terms, we were using many of the same processes and tools that we had used before. While the businesses were changing, changes to OCM were not too dissimilar from the prior year, especially when OCM is tied to a specific project.

So, we decided to look into the future, i.e., beyond the next calendar year, and see if we could get a picture of the longer-term value of OCM. In doing so it became obvious that the changes needed to be tied to the way humans change. OCM aligning with the way humans change. Imagine that!

This created five challenges that govern our thinking. They are:

  1. Humans’ desire to retain control.
  2. Humans’ desire for credible leadership.
  3. Humans’ preference and success in learning by doing.
  4. Humans’ desire to understand the “bigger” picture.
  5. Humans’ desire to be a part of something that matters, something that makes a difference.

In this post we will look at the first challenge and its attributes.

Challenge #1 – Humans’ desire to retain control

  • Humans need to feel they are in control, or feel they have as much control as they can get. It allows them to adapt to the changes more rapidly. Study after study indicates that even if you are sharing bad news, humans want to know what it is and how it impacts them.
  • Good leadership follows the mantra of “tell me what you know, tell me what you don’t know, and tell me when you will know more” because of this human need.
  • Employees would rather have more information vs. waiting until all the answers are available.
  • Meeting expectations is critical for moving humans forward.

How it works today

  • Communicating expectations is primarily project based (vs. strategic) and comes from project managers, communication leads and are often delivered after the changes have been defined.
  • Managing expectations is not fully understood by leadership. The overwhelming desire is to wait to communicate until they have all the answers.

What tomorrow will look like

  • Communication needs to occur at both the strategic and tactical levels and at the same time. Strategic communication consistently sets the context for the tactical.
  • The need to set expectations is constant and includes what isn’t currently known but will be and when.
  • Managing expectations is seen as a process.
  • Leaders are actively involved and understand how the business strategy will impact the people.
  • Leaders understand how the various projects complement each other.
  • Leadership groups are aligned on the business strategy.

Near term actions you can take

  • Ensure leaders understand their employees’ need for control and that communicating when they will know more is often as valuable as having the answers themselves.
  • Ensure leaders know, and practice, the mantra of telling employees what they know, what they don’t know, and when they’ll know more.
  • Ensure leadership understands their employees’ questions and concerns. For example, why are we doing this now? What happens if we don’t do it now? What is the impact on me? Will I have a job? Will I be trained? How does this impact other initiatives? What is the timing?
  • As a model for the future, share your organization’s plan for AI, the process and timing to advance its potential roles, when you will know and share more, and their expected involvement in the process.

In the spirit of setting expectations, what comes next in the series and when?

Our third blog will be coming in June where we will shine the spotlight on aligning OCM, human behavior, and the need for, and the development of, credible leadership to create trust in leaderships’ voice.

In the interim, we’d love to hear from you on what you think about the human behavior challenges facing the future of OCM.

Allyson’s AI Journey

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I was at a lunch recently where the two tables around us were talking about AI and ChatGPT. I wasn’t eavesdropping, it just seems that I keep hearing people talk about this everywhere I go in person and online. I then realized it was time to accelerate my learning!

As a leader of Talent for my firm, I knew from my research that AI was transforming how we were working: from ChatGPT assisting in the talent acquisition process and jumpstarting compliance training assessments to AI enabled voiceover to enable us to update elearning at a faster pace.

My first night with ChatGPT was like watching my teenager scrolling through Instagram. I was hooked, writing prompts, and evaluating the output. My brain swirled with the possibilities of this tool, not only for my role as a Talent Leader but also as in my role as a mom. The last prompt late that night was to chart out a plan for our summer college visit trip. While the driving times weren’t all correct, I do have a sketched-out plan that will save hours and serve as a starting point for our family planning session.

The possibilities with ChatGPT and AI seem endless, however, I know I have a lot to learn to harness this power. As a learning leader for many years, I realize that I need a learning journey for my team and me. Jumping into a solution without understanding the objective can actually be a loss of productivity and scrap learning.

So, this is the beginning of my journey to learn how AI and the tools around it can enable me, my team, and my organization to add value and be more productive.

Stay tuned for more of my journey!