The “Wow effect” in “Onboarding”




As APEC CEO Jean-Marie Marx said a few weeks ago, “Tensions are high. With an executive unemployment rate of 3.5%, applicant pools are becoming exhausted.” “The market hasn’t been as strained as this since 2000,” says recruitment professional Thibaut Gemignani, CEO of the job offer site Cadremploi.

As recruitment consultants, we have daily awareness of the dearth of certain profiles and the “battle” to attract the best.   

Despite that, curiously enough, we are also seeing that once staff are successfully recruited, many companies fail to observe an important stage: integrating the newcomers.   

And yet the first few weeks after someone takes up a new post are fraught with danger: new recruits sign letters of engagement focusing on all the positive signals they registered during the recruitment process, and their first few weeks will show if they made the right choice. If they have the slightest doubt, they will be tempted to reconsider their position, especially as they could well get other offers, given the tension in the job market.   

When executives start actively searching for a job, they initiate as many actions as they can, and after a certain time they will be exploring certain avenues simultaneously. As every recruitment process has its own rhythm, applicants are often forced to make a choice before following all their actions through. They may very well say yes to a post without abandoning all the other processes. 

          “The first few weeks after someone takes up a

new post are fraught with danger.”


Even if they want to behave honestly with their new employers, they will naturally be highly sensitive and attentive to any speaking signs that might affect them, and will form views on the quality of the company they have joined and the advantages of the post they occupy. If employees don’t feel at ease in their new job, they know it will take six months at most to find another one. 

For the company, it is crucial for new recruits to have no doubts about their choice – and within a very short time. 

So why not apply the “Wow Effect” marketing theory to the integration of staff into a new post?

In a company’s relationship with clients, “the Wow effect” is something clients aren’t aware they have bought. They then receive it and are amazed. “The Wow effect” is the element that transforms a “passive” client into a “promoting “client. Today, the companies with the most sophisticated marketing approach are looking to go far further than merely fulfilling a promise. They aim to touch the emotional core of their clients, and make a deep and lasting impression.  

Applying this concept to the integration of new recruits represents an easy, low-cost way of inspiring maximum commitment from new staff members, thus reducing turnover and developing both team spirit within the company and the productivity of new members. 

” Applying the “Wow Effect” marketing theory to the HR world when

hiring new staff is a catalyst for successful integration.”


Beyond a highly effective integration process – necessary, but not enough to produce the “Wow Effect” –,  the following are essential:

  • With each stage of the integration process, focus on those little extras that make all the difference. For example:

    • Specific demonstrations of attention from their direct report and the HRD between the signature of the engagement letter and the moment when newcomers start work;
    • The use of new digital tools before the job begins. There are now onboarding apps for connecting with new employees once the contract is signed, meaning that they can collect information that will facilitate life when they start work;
    • A particularly warm welcome on the first day new people start work, with their future team taking a close interest;
    • Very regular updates organized for new recruits with their boss and with the HRD. 
  • Preparing the welcome beforehand by informing all those concerned by the new recruitment, and answering employees’ questions and concerns about any changes that might transpire because of the new arrival. 

  • Giving new staff members all the information needed to create a clear picture of the integration process, in a welcome booklet or some other form:
    • How should I work during my first weeks and months? 
    • Whom can I approach for any questions, and where do I find them?   
    • How often and to whom should I submit my first feedback?
    • What are the success indicators for the company in general and my post in particular?   
  • Formalizing this integration process and setting it in motion will provide an inspiring working environment for new recruits and their teams and colleagues alike.


These are just a few ideas, of course, and every company will gain from developing a specific integration approach reflecting its own culture.

The benefits this provides are incontestably far superior to the effort it would take to rekindle new recruits’ interest (or even replace them) if the integration process is a failure.

“Every company will gain from developing a specific integration

approach reflecting its own culture.”


– July 2018 –

François Humblot, Deputy Director of Grant Alexander:


Changes and challenges in the retail sector

The retail sector is undergoing profound change. Anne-Marie Deblonde, Executive Search Consultant in Retailing at Grant Alexander, was at Paris Retail Week held from 19 to 21 September 2017.

She shares her conclusions with us here.


To set the scene, world figures observed by leading consultancy firms reveal a significant basic trend:

Sales formats have become very diversified: E-commerce, drive-ins, direct sales, convenience stores, wholesale, traditional shops, pop-up stores, etc.

BtoC e-commerce rose by 24% in 2016 compared to 2015. However, it only accounts for 9% of retail sales worldwide so its future looks bright.


But what strikes us most is another trend:

In 2016, trade increased by 17% and European food consumption rose by 3.7%, but hypermarket sales areas have experienced a staggering decline over the past ten years.

  • Shopping centre traffic: down 60%.
  • Department store sales: down 31%.


The decline of traditional superstores

Regarding their non-food offering, supermarkets and hypermarkets (especially those over 8,000 sq. metres), including Carrefour and Auchan, are facing competition from specialised superstores that are more efficient and innovative. Regarding their food offering, they have faced competition from hard-discount stores since 1988, and more recently they have suffered from new forms of consumption, like home meal delivery, made possible by the arrival of new players (Deliveroo, Foodora, etc.). Meals are conveyed from their place of preparation straight to consumers, at any time.

Therefore, in order to survive mass retailing must reinvent itself, because its ‘industrial’ model based on strong economic growth, mass consumption, the convergence of multiple products at attractive prices in the same place is undergoing profound change.


Points of sale are changing and becoming ‘phygical’

  • Points of sale are adopting an omni-channel approach.
  • Stores are improving their ability to collect data (on customers and markets),
  • They are testing innovations upstream and downstream in the supply chain and striving to improve their customer relations.
  • These can be technological, marketing, managerial and commercial innovations. We talk about the Smurf revolution: social media, uberisation, robotisation and future of digital.
  • Store areas are changing, allowing customers to move around more easily, offering cosier atmospheres, and creating snack and take-away areas to cater for consumers’ new habits.


Hyper-customers are taking power

  • Customers are becoming Atawad: “any time, anywhere, any device”. They want to buy things at any time, from anywhere, using any device.
  • Customers, especially Millennials, want points of sale to offer interesting experiences and not just things to buy.
  • Customers are less and less inclined to wait and want purchasing to be a smooth process.
  • They are increasingly attracted to high-quality products that procure pleasure. Food safety has become a major concern and this has led to higher sales of organic food. Locavore tendencies are becoming more common.
  • The act of purchasing must be accompanied by feelings, relations and experiences. Consumption is more and more individualised and customers try to act responsibly.
  • Customers expect close relations with salespeople and expect them to be passionate about their job. Buyers observe the salesperson’s good sales performance which facilitates the purchasing of a product that may be more expensive provided it is of high quality.

-September 2017-

Anne-Marie Deblonde is an Executive Search Consultant at Grant Alexander, in charge of the Retail Division (retailing and physical distribution).


  • Le Nouvel Economiste – 12 September 2017 issue
  • Conferences at Paris Retail Week trade fair held from 19 to 21 September 2017

Anne-Marie Deblonde has been accompanying job changes in the retail sector for over 15 years: creating departments and teams dedicated Customer Intelligence and Data Analytics (Big Data projects), accompanying the birth of the first digital channels and supporting the use of more and more omnichannel strategies over the past 5 years.

Expert knowledge in jobs related to the performance of organisations, in the following areas:  products, customer marketing, Data, Digital. She guides stores of all sizes and all economic models in their reflections when they consider making strategic shifts. She intervenes in changing environments, helping to define new HR challenges, i.e. learning how to identify emerging jobs and how to integrate these new jobs, where to find people with new skills, how to convince them and support them when they join the company.

Given the changes in retailing, recruiters rarely have exactly the same position to fill. Anne-Marie establishes links between new jobs and companies’ strategic developments and specialises in tailor-made recruitment for organisations undergoing change.



Phygical: hyper-connected stores that support the convergence of its sales channels for the benefit of its customers and salespeople (physical sales area / catalogue / e-commerce websites / Social media). It links data from the world outside and the world inside, using digital devices and interfaces. The terms cross-channel and omni-channel are also used.

Atawad: acronym of “Any Time, Any Where, Any Device”. The term was coined when large IT projects and new technologies were being developed (accessing data in real time outside organisations) and when new uses emerged. It disrupts organisations in companies, raises security issues and pushes back the companies' physical and temporal limits.

Locavore: consumers who advocate geographical proximity, preferring local producers and seasonal produce in order to limit waste, save energy and keep local players in the region. 


Surpassing yourself in the business world

Citius, Altius, Fortius

Surpassing yourself in the business world



Always higher, always better. What should we think of managers who surpass themselves? Grégoire Beaurain, a Practice Finance consultant and coach, explains his thinking after a conference he organised at the Edhec School around four managers who, in their personal and business lives, push themselves to the very limits.


I’ve always enjoyed reading those final paragraphs in résumés. A head-hunter, I’m also extremely curious and like discovering other people’s passions. At the end of an interview, when there is a click and the masks can come off, I often use this “switch” to the areas of interest. I then discover highly interesting subjects and use this to polish up my general culture.  I admit I like passionate people, their energy is contagious. Recently I met an excellent management controller who told me about his passion for the NBA and Phil Jackson, its greatest coach to date. This led me to order three books that he recommended and discover what goes on behind the scenes in American basketball.

Amongst all the passionate people I’ve met there are many marathon runners and trailers. One observation is manifest: many managing directors and managers on the rise love these new sports; there are many great athletes amongst financial directors and the number of ultra-trailers is on the increase. Not only did these meetings and observations whet my curiosity, they also activated my competitive fibre. This pushed me to take up marathon running and I ran my first Paris Marathon in 2013.

Apart from the natural interest that I have in sports, this raised a question in the mind of the fervent head-hunter that I am: is there a correlation between performance (professional success) and surpassing and pushing oneself to the limits, whether in sport or in other commitments (attitude in life)? Or in other words, with a knowing wink towards my sporting friends in HR: could I draw up my short lists of candidates from the results of marathons or trails? This speculation leads to a corollary: do you run a marathon because you are a born high performer? Or do you become a high performer because you run a marathon?

Therefore it was quite natural for me to reflect on this by bringing together managers who have surpassed themselves to explore this topic and thereby enable the new generations, the breeding ground for future managers, to benefit from our discussions. This is why I organised with Edhec Alumni association a conference with four key speakers: Jean-Marc Delaville, CFO at ZF Services France, François Halfen, Sales Planning Director at Nike France, Bertrand Lellouche, CFO and Executive Partner at System Up, and Bénédicte Tilloy, Assistant Managing Director at SNCF Réseau.

It should be stressed once again that pushing oneself to the very limits is not restricted to sports. While Jean-Marc and Bertrand recounted their exploits on foot… trails, ultra-trails and marathons, François his ascension of mount Ventoux using the force of his arms, in aid of a charity, it was a non-sporting, but equally captivating physical and mental  passion that drove Bénédicte to surpass herself personally and professionally: painting…

All the evidence agrees. What characterises these persons who push themselves to their limits is a cocktail of passion, rigour, pleasure, humility, sharing and collective thinking. Fulfilling your dreams has cross-effects in life at home and at work. It requires great discipline on a daily basis because if the need to surpass oneself is part of your inner nature, it can only be achieved harmoniously and profitably if it is implemented in a structured manner. There was also much humility in their remarks. There is a form of logic in this surpassing, it is not a sudden impulse or whim.

To answer the question that we asked earlier (the chicken or the egg?), I would say that both are true. You surpass yourself because you have that inside you. And because you surpass yourself, you become stronger and want to go even further. But the click can also come about from being in a situation provided by other people. Because, above all, this approach corresponds to a search for meaning. And in itself it contains a natural need to share real-life experiences, without  proselytism… although we must admit that it is contagious.

Bénédicte Tilloy, in her position as Assistant Managing Director at SNCF Réseau, wasted no time in deploying her passion for graphic expression for the benefit of the employees with, in particular, a fine example of sharing with a freight train driver passionate about Street Art: together they organised a network of artists who transformed his train into a work of art.

I also like the experience of François Halfen who, through his passion for sport and his talent to bring it alive in corporate bonding events, gave Nike the desire to create a tailor-made job for him. And with him, in this company it is an opening for handicapped people that illustrates surpassing oneself: Just do it!

That’s what I’d like to invite you to do…


Author: Grégoire Beaurain – May 2017. Practice Finance consultant and coach, he regularly runs training sessions and organises conferences in business schools and on the social networks.

Along with the Edhec Alumni association, he organised on 15th May 2017 a conference entitled “Managers who surpass themselves”. His guests were Jean-Marc Delaville, CFO at ZF Services France, François Halfen, Sales Planning Director at Nike France, Bertrand Lellouche, CFO and Executive Partner at System Up, and Bénédicte Tilloy, Assistant Managing Director at SNCF Réseau.

Transition management 4.0, it’s right now! 

Transition management is developing and changing. Far from the old ideas that would have you believe Executive Interim to be the preserve of mercenaries and the kingdom of heavy transformation situations, Alban Azzopardi offers an alternative version. One that considers work in project mode. One where a generation – generation Y – is starting to take over the control of businesses.




Transition management has evolved in line with new work forms. In what way?

First of all, we  need to do away with the idea, still common in many firms, that a transition manager is a mercenary. It is not the status that counts, but rather the function. Being a transition manager is not in itself a guarantee of professionalism. While it is not impossible that a mercenary mindset can be a key to success in a fast and complex change context, it does not supplant professional expertise, it complements it. This means the Executive Interim firm needs to identify a manager’s capability to carry out their job at a specific moment in a temporary manner.

The role of the consultancy is to detect the expertise to deal with the given assignment and the candidate’s capacity to work in project mode.

Being a transition manager is not a profession, it is a specific way of doing your job. 

So is there an important mental aspect over and above the professional skills?

Of course. This is true in any recruitment but the more so in transition management. Being able to take the right decisions in sometimes stormy contexts, while controlling the environment, knowing how to work in project mode, in a team, being able to deploy a range of assets that include confidence, determination and adaptation while managing one’s emotions, these are the characteristics of a good transition manager.

Our role is to check these qualities in addition to the technical skills. The Athlete Thinking methodology that Grant Alexander has developed to deal with and develop the mental dimensions of candidates is an advantage in this respect. But once again, being a mercenary is not an end in itself; being a transition manager is not a profession, it is a specific way of doing your job!


If it isnt mercenarism, then how would you define transition management?

It is the head-hunting spirit adapted to the project mode. This involves providing the correct external expertise to meet a specific requirement. The difference is the temporality: in Executive Search, it takes a few weeks or maybe a few months to find someone who will stay for several years on a permanent contract and develop within the company whereas, in Executive Interim, you only have a few days to propose someone who will only stay a few months. Moreover the assignment is based on a specific perspective which is not always to occupy a position in its totality. More and more transition managers have not made a deliberate career choice to work in assignment mode, but this corresponds to their career at a given moment in their professional lives, with real added-value for the company.


Would it be true to say that this balancing act is a concept that corresponds to Executive Interim?

Yes and no. Regarding our consulting intervention, it is true that we need agility and foresight. However, as regards the assignments to be filled, this is far from always being the case.

Thinking that Executive Interim necessarily corresponds to heavy transformation situations remains an outdated stereotype. Managerial relay is a common reason for resorting to transition management. Nonetheless, while the context is less of a balancing act, the issues are just as crucial for a company as those of a corporate restructuring: an executive manager is an essential mechanism in the management of a company and their absence may be critical.

Moreover, these concepts are not mutually exclusive: a transformation assignment in a crisis situation must nearly always be followed by a relay period; and a relay assignment may result in a transformation that needs to be managed. Renovation is sometimes more difficult than reconstruction.

The head-hunting spirit adapted to the project mode. 

Where do consulting and monitoring processes fit in in your model?

It is the candidate who ensures the success of the assignment. The methodology provided by the consultancy firm must be an asset to improve assignment leadership and profitability, not a prerequisite made up of regulatory procedures with no added-value.

Our consultancy role is to provide the talent adapted to the situation and to support effective roll-out of the assignment. Our philosophy is to supervise the pertinence and smooth running of the relationship between the manager and the company without seeking to take over. It is based on a relationship that is respectful, clear, ethical and lasting.

The candidate is not a white label sold by an Executive Interim firm, but a partner who, for each assignment and to the same extent as the firm, puts its reputation on the line. Our relationship with the transition managers and the clients is based on trust and transparency.


How will transition management fit into the future ways of working?

Work in project mode is becoming more common given the fast changes in markets. A transition manager is an individual who moves through the business world with flexibility and a high capacity to adapt. Today we are seeing managers taking up management positions who are from generation Y, which is made up of professionals who are globally very comfortable with project mode working.

Indeed, for this generation, transition assignment is merely one way of carrying out their profession at a given moment, which does not exclude them from working on a permanent basis when they feel driven by a corporate project.


At Grant Alexander, the four pillars of transition management are:

  • agility (in the search),
  • pertinence (of the profile),
  • flexibility (of the contractual format),
  • expertise (of the candidate).


May 2017 – Alban Azzopardi is Associate founder of Grant Alexander Executive Interim.


The beginning of the end for the CV?


The CV, a death so often predicted! One which we refuse to believe, because we have to be able to adapt to the new tools and capitalise on them. We also need the ability to reconcile them with the fundamentals of the job of recruiter, so that they enhance each other’s relevance and quality. The teams at Grant Alexander bring together the opinions of three generations, through the voice of three experts in head-hunting senior executives and rare talents…



There is a plethora of new tools that are used to present and promote candidates’ professional careers. Job boards and online CV libraries have been developed extensively since the 1990s, followed in the early 2000s by professional networking sites. More recently, it is the mobile applications for job boards that have flourished in abundance. Whether they are old networks that have been updated or new channels, all these tools provide not only increased access to information but also new presentation formats for CVs.


Separating the wheat from the chaff from amongst all the initiatives to promote careers!

Could the traditional CV be in danger of disappearing? Don’t be so sure!

The ability to use these new tools as elements to enhance the search for and presentation of candidates is certainly more beneficial than thinking that they can replace the traditional CV.

They should be thought of and used as tools for profile differentiation, visibility and accessibility, as a means of presenting the career prior to making contact or highlighting a variety of skills. So the use of multimedia CVs (with presentations or videos) may prove to be completely unnecessary or to the contrary, add value for profiles working in audiovisual or digital communication… and then be part of the skills assessment.

Ultimately however, the paper CV is still the most effective summary tool for comparing two profiles and launching into the interview which, in any event is still key. Especially since the content of the paper CV tends to be updated and used to highlight useful elements of the career or personality. In this respect, the endeavours are personal… and extremely variable depending on the candidates’ field of activity.


The candidate’s unavoidable trilogy: what they have done, what they are and what they want to become.

In order to make sense of things, firms must pay close attention to trends and be able to use the most relevant ones depending on the business sectors in which they work.

LinkedIn has become an inescapable network, but is still a provisional instrument for skills promotion because profiles are often incomplete in terms of career… or not always up to date. Similarly with Viadeo, also broadly used in certain sectors; these professional showcases are excellent ways of making contact, but they tend to standardise profiles and cannot replace an expert approach.

Identifying potential strengths and weaknesses, checking a professional background and measuring skills beyond the stylistic effects of this or that new tool or original medium is still a job that requires traditional techniques. An expertise that can assess the quality of a professional career through traditional presentation methods without being seduced by attractive processes where these are not justified.

In order to put things into perspective and avoid the wrong paths and recruitment mistakes, it is useful to be able to draw on the traditional CV enhanced with suitable touches of modernity. The bottom line is that a good paper CV will always highlight as clearly and concisely as possible what characterises the candidate in terms of expertise, career, personality and aspirations. In the end, it is still a very good differentiation tool. One that can be filed, used for comparison and fair because it is available to everyone.


Hard skills, soft skills, mad skills? Or how to promote expertise, interpersonal skills and commitment?

Much has been written about the CV in all its forms. However, skills have long been divided into “hard” or “soft”; assessing a candidate on their qualifications and professional experiences as well as their extra-professional activities and personality is nothing new. What is changing is the importance attributed to certain elements of the career depending on the type of position to be filled or the business sector or corporate culture of the recruiting company.

What is more, in the current globalised economic world that wants changes to happen quickly, it is important for companies to consider profiles’ assets in their totality. Because adaptability and the ability to reinvent yourself has become equally as, and indeed even more important than technical skills. Some people even go so far as to observe “mad skills” which are used to unearth unusual, singular profiles who will serve innovation and regeneration.

Even without this simplified approach by candidates, more Anglo-Saxon than French, it is clear that initiatives to enhance extra-professional skills are indicative of added value. And this, regardless of the form of the CV and its transmission medium. The Citizen CV, a discussion subject in which Grant Alexander participated with Syntec, illustrates this search for meaning.


Finding your way through the jungle of tools and making the most of them has become an extra skill for recruitment firms.
Ultimately, to be able to unearth the hard skills, soft skills and mad skills suited to a position from a CV is still an expertise that requires perspective and moderation, beyond the format.


March 2017

Article contributors: Grégoire BeaurainFrançois Humblot Clémence Simon


A hunter who knows how to hunt

Sourcing is the keystone of a mission. Understanding how to identify contacts on social networks is one thing. Knowing how to find that rare pearl hidden within its current setting, how to approach it and how to speak to it, is another matter. And a job in its own right! Alix de Challemaison, Executive Search Sourcing Manager at Grant Alexander, explains to us why professional, recruitment firm-integrated sourcing is an indisputable asset.  



Having a real internal strike force for candidate research is becoming rare in executive search firms. A strike force is an expert and senior team that possesses all the skills and tools needed to approach the most refined profiles. This is exactly how the executive search sourcing department is set up at Grant Alexander; for the benefit of all!


The researchers at Grant Alexander have made it their profession. Professionals who are experienced in different approach techniques are integrated into the teams, working on each mission in partnership with a consultant. They intervene very early, contributing to the quality of the position’s very definition.

Sector knowledge, access to various research tools, lessons learned and information amassed from previous missions are all assets when it comes to effectively identifying the need with the consultant and, if necessary, suggesting new directions for the proposed targeting approaches. Weekly reviews with an evolving search chart enable clients to be presented with precise follow-up and, if necessary, the relief of any bottlenecks that build up in order to redirect the search.


Sourcing tools are certainly not lacking, especially in the era of social networks. Academic, company and appointment reports, trade press, trade unions, professional websites and databases… Understanding how to navigate among all this media to find that rare profile requires experience and technicality.

Thanks to the existence of a dedicated research department at Grant Alexander, mission after mission, all of these resources are compiled and mastered.

This has also made it possible to build up a highly informed internal database.


Easy access to profiles through new media, such as LinkedIn and Viadeo, leads to an over-solicitation of managers in office. Such approaches, which are not always carried out in a professional manner, can dull candidate receptiveness to new proposals. It can even end up becoming disparaging. In addition, this method of hunting only allows access to the most media-friendly profiles, forgetting all the rare pearls that are well hidden in their current positions.

Understanding how to identify the right candidates and approach them over the phone is a skill in its own right, and one that is cultivated by Grant Alexander.

This is why all of the company’s researchers are regularly trained to discover new tools and optimise their approach techniques by phone. Because they make the difference!


Author : Alix de CHALLEMAISON – December 2016

Optimism: innate or acquired?

I optimism (Carrefour), Happy now? (Fnac), Love is the way (Coca Cola)… We are exposed to countless slogans every day. Used by brands to declare war on doom and gloom and bring light relief to their customers, as well as increase consumerism… That we are sure of, yet, beyond this consumerist logic, optimism is a value that can be worked on individually. 





In humans, optimism is a disposition to look on the bright side of things. This state of mind invites us to perceive the world and universe in a positive light.

The basis for optimism dates back to Socrates, who was later professed by Plato, then Aristotle, who in turn inspired Martin Seligman, the founder of Positive Psychology, whose concept has been developed extensively throughout the world.

Optimism is a mental disposition that generates behaviours that are essential for leadership. According to some experts, it is a key component of emotional intelligence and, as such, a factor that influences success in general.

It is therefore crucial to be able to identify it and understand how to use, deploy and encourage it.



Recent studies have shown that optimism is 50% inherited from our genes, 40% determined by ourselves and the way in which we decide to live our lives and 10% by others (i.e. the environment in which we develop).

So, the good news is that we can act individually on our level of optimism by working on that 40%.

On the other hand, there is less good news for companies because, in spite of all the measures they take to increase happiness at work, they can only make a 10% contribution to a change in their employees’ state of mind. However, that doesn’t mean they should abandon all efforts – on the contrary! We know, for example, that a manager who greets his or her teams in the morning triggers an increase in the happiness hormone (serotonin), a hormone that directly affects stress and anxiety.


The first question we should ask is: how do we perceive the misfortunes that happen to us? Pessimists tend to shoulder an exaggerated amount of responsibility (it’s my fault!), they generalise (it’s always the same thing!) and they interpret their misfortune as something permanent (it will never change!). Meanwhile, optimists tend to recognise that a misfortune has causes behind it, and identify it as specific and transient.

Recruitment consultants are committed to identifying this state of mind, which can prove to be a major asset in a manager profile.


Developing optimism requires working on one’s beliefs: identifying those that limit us in order to be able to eliminate them and strengthening those that help us.

Accumulating success is, for example, an effective means of reinforcing optimism. Rather than setting goals that are too large, too ambitious, and too similar to new year’s resolutions, engage the approach of taking small steps in order to achieve your dreams. If your goal is to run a race, instead of setting out on the first day and running until you cannot go any further, instead set a goal to run for five minutes one day, seven the next, and so on… Every day or week, you will enjoy a dose of positive hormones, as more often than not you will have met your goals.

There are many other actions you could take, but working on optimism development is certainly a lot easier when accompanied by a coach.

As Bernanos said, “an optimist is a happy idiot and a pessimist is an unhappy idiot”. I think I know which I prefer to be…


Author : Véronique BOUNAUD-LEMOINE – November 2016

Athlete Thinking and emotional intelligence

What is the relationship between emotional intelligence and Athlete Thinking? What does this methodology, developed by Grant Alexander, contribute to the efficiency of managers in office and the choice of candidates? Véronique Bounaud, Director of Grant Alexander Leadership Development and HR Consulting, who has worked on the implementation of this detection tool and on the deployment of Athlete Minded leaders, explains these concepts and how to use them correctly.



Since when has emotional intelligence (EI) been considered a key component of efficiency?

Today, EQ is commonly thought to be just as important, if not more important, than IQ in relation to social and professional achievement. However, works popularising EI are relatively recent. The first notions of intelligence in an emotional sense appeared in 1983 with Howard Gardner’s research on multiple intelligences. By highlighting the existence of intra-personal and inter-personal dimensions in intelligence, he opened up the idea of taking into account his own emotions and those of others in understanding and resolving issues. The first studies on emotional intelligence were conducted in the early 1990s by Salovey and Mayer. Their widely accepted definition of EI is “the ability to perceive and express emotions, use emotions to facilitate thinking, understand and reason with emotions and manage emotions in oneself and in others”. The concept of EI became popular in 1995 with the work and publications of psychologist and scientific journalist, Daniel Goleman, which led to it eventually becoming a relevant factor in the assessment of an individual’s overall skills.


How would you define emotional intelligence?

Goleman describes EI as having four dimensions: self-awareness (understanding emotions and recognizing their influence when using them), social awareness (detecting and understanding the emotions of others in order to be able to respond to them), self-management (acting on emotions and being able to adapt to the evolution of a situation), relationship management (influencing others in the promotion of development and managing conflicts). Note that there is overlapping with the four fields of competence and expression: recognition, regulation, self, others. For my part, in the world of recruitment and coaching, I define emotional intelligence as the fundamental ability to recognize strengths and weaknesses and to self-motivate in order to build united teams and to deal with and manage others (employees, bosses, clients) in an efficient, harmonious and productive way. All of these concepts are broken down even more thoroughly in our Athlete Thinking methodology.


Can the Athlete Thinking (AT) methodology determine emotional intelligence and can it act on it?

No, it cannot determine it – it is more of a complementary tool. On the other hand, it can be also be used as a means of working on its more subtle aspects. Among the nine mental characteristics recognised by Athlete Thinking, there are five that are also emotional intelligence resources: self-awareness, self-confidence, adaptation/acceptance, determination/self-motivation and emotion management. However, the AT methodology does not work on intra-personal intelligence. Therefore, in AT there are five dimensions that relate to self-recognition and regulation, whereas there are only two in IE: consciousness and self-control. These are additional levers that we can act on by using this method for identifying and optimizing an individual’s mental dispositions for success. The AT methodology also applies other complementary dimensions: concentration capabilities, and management of one’s environment, resources and teams.


What does the Athlete Thinking methodology offer compared to a method for determining EQ?

The AT methodology is not designed as a means for evaluation in the strictest sense. It enables identification of the mental characteristics that constitute an individual’s strengths and weaknesses. These are never to be taken in the absolute but must instead be put into context. For certain functions, a weak mental characteristic may be more of an asset than a hindrance. Identified weaknesses can also be worked on to achieve an optimal performance. That is what Athlete Thinking is all about: identifying and developing. During testing, it was found that the three priority characteristics are all attributes of emotional intelligence. In order, they are determination/self-motivation, self-awareness and adaptation/acceptance. Indeed, the characteristic of self-motivation is crucial in terms of leadership and success; and specific to Athlete Thinking.

In any case, EI and AT have one thing in common: they identify mental characteristics (the submerged part of the iceberg) that, because of the behaviours they induce (the tip of the iceberg), are fundamental. We all agree that it is these behaviours, so subtle in their detection, that form the crux of the matter. Any means of better understanding and stimulating the interest of those at the highest level, HRDs, recruiters and candidates…


Author : Véronique BOUNAUD-LEMOINE – November 2016

Generations Y and Z: the new rules of I!

Today, recruitment firms are faced with multiple challenges. If the evolution of web tools has changed sourcing methods from one generation to the next, hunting for a baby-boomer versus a generation-Y candidate doesn’t necessarily require the same approach. The motivations of Y’s and Z’s can sometimes be difficult to decrypt for a recruiter of the previous generation…




Today’s young generation Y have set out into the corporate world in a tense economic atmosphere where executive unemployment has surged and where temporary contracts are slowly becoming the norm. Y’s are conscious of the difficulty of achieving the standard of living of the previous generation; they want to feel completely satisfied by every opportunity and are not prepared to compromise on their personal lives for the sake of their professional ones.

At the same time, the assumption of responsibilities happens more quickly and is more opportunistic, in contrast to the baby boomer generation, which often had to climb step-by-step up the internal ladder. Hierarchical relationships are also different. More accustomed to instantaneous interactions, generation Y attaches more importance to reactivity. However, despite these notable differences and preconceived notions, the intrinsic motivations remain the same: employment stability and financial security.


Conversely, the new generation that is ready to plunge into the job market, known as generation Z (born after 1995), is likely to require more profound management upheaval, both for recruiters and companies. According to Didier Pitelet (2016), generation Z is a‘time bomb’ that assumes the corporate world does not place trust in young people. Hardly reassuring.

Freelancers at heart, Z’s have a new vision of work that is more flexible and enjoys a dual status: one of both an employee and a freelancer. This new generation, nicknamed (rightly or wrongly) the ‘zapping generation’, is attracted to small structures that are more reactive and horizontal, where the size of a company’s workforce favours recognition and use of initiative. They rank the civil service at the lowest level of their professional aspirations. Companies must therefore redirect their managerial models towards a more ‘considerate management’.

Unlike Y’s, Z’s blur the boundaries. Personal lives are brought to work, just as professional lives are very much brought into the home. Boundaries are broken down in favour of deliberately chosen freedom.



Thus, head-hunting firms, client ambassadors directing themselves at candidates and candidate promoters directing themselves at clients (yes, it works both ways) must not only rethink their approach but they most also, above all, take into consideration the motivational triggers of this new generation, at the risk of missing out on misunderstood talent.


Author : Clémence SIMON – October 2016

Resilience – a decisive virtue

On the road to success sometimes you also meet with failure. That’s why Grant Alexander is also interested in this aspect of our candidates’ professional trajectory. Far removed from the dated idea that a good leader must only have experienced a faultless journey to get to where they are, it is instead a matter of viewing the failure as a learning step and added value for the future, providing that you can discuss it openly and have a capacity for resilience that enables you to adapt and rebound.




While it is already understood as a natural part of one’s professional trajectory for the Anglo-Saxons, failure is finally becoming politically correct here in France. Democratisation of the concept of resilience itself has enabled it to take off. Originally, the term was used in the physical sciences in reference a metal’s capacity to resist pressure and regain its original structure after having been deformed. In psychology, it was the psychiatrist, neurologist and ethologist Boris Cyrulnik who popularised the concept in France. Now we see resilience as an individual’s ability to develop and succeed in spite of adversity and be able to return to normal functioning after disruption or trauma.


An Athlete Minded manager generally counts resilience among his qualities. His or her behavioural and mental characteristics lead to the implementation of a specific management mode that favours a climate of overall success. He or she also knows how to establish conditions that enable companies to steer through moments of difficulty:

  • Confidence in oneself and in others: believing in a project, involving his or her teams by entrusting them with means of action and sharing a vision with them is to foster a sense of meaning and a desire to act, even in difficult times.
  • Setting clear and shared goals: without any direction, it is much more difficult to know how to deploy suitable resources and be able to weather any storms. After all, doesn’t Seneca teach us that: “If one does not know to which port one is sailing, no wind is favourable”?
  • Intelligent environmental awareness: taking advantage of his or her environment and its evolution by knowing how to identify signs of weakness when they appear is the surest way to avoid obstacles.
  • Accepting teaching failures and managing induced emotions: a mistake can be transformed into success. It is important to encourage the experience by not stigmatizing failures, instead taking into account the added value that they bring with them.
  • Establishing conditions that are conducive to creativity: this is how you can discover the concept of a ‘liberated company’, where tacit admission of the right to make mistakes authorises everybody to speak out, use their initiative and innovate.
  • Long-term perspective: a manager who gears his or her company towards long-term success instead of focusing on immediate performance indicators, such as share prices, has a better capacity than others to overcome the first obstacle along the way.

Here at Grant Alexander, we are convinced that having candidates discuss their failures and the ways in which they overcame them is extremely insightful.


Author : François HUBLOT – October 2016