Creating a New Model for Organizational Improvement.

Written by Caroline Lavigne on February 22, 2020.

The famous American architect and systems theorist Buckminster Fuller said that “you never change things by fighting the existing reality. To change something, build a new model that makes the existing model obsolete.” When it comes to organizational change initiatives, centering your people makes this insight even more relevant. This gets us here: “engage and inspire people to co-create a new model that makes the existing model requiring change obsolete”.

Acknowledging the clichéd but true insight that “change is the only constant,” organizations need to develop a workforce that is willing and able to evolve toward new and better models. In a change-driven reality, the goal should not be to push change onto people and encourage them to adopt it, but rather the goal should be to shape an engaging and collaborative culture, where the people initiate and own constant improvement.

Our change-driven reality does mean that organizations must constantly maneuver multi-level changes. Here, I offer a navigational metaphor for implementing different types of change, including consistent, constant, evolving, and transformational change. This can be used to guide organizational leaders in first identifying the type of change required, and then inspiring their workforces to co-create responses to change.

  • Consistent change is persistent change for betterment; it’s the combined efforts of people invested in ongoing improvement, often made possible with a resilient workplace culture.
    This change is the needle in the compass that is constantly micro-shifting to point due north toward the destination (i.e., the desired future state).
    • HOW: Provide an environment (structured as required) that encourages employees to identify, then test consistent improvements to the model. This will surface efficiencies while helping to shape an engaged and motivated workforce that feels empowered.
  • Constant change is the continuous adjustments and course corrections required to effortlessly adapt and pivot when faced with opportunities and risks.
    This change is the action of steering the wheel (i.e., making decisions) to adapt to the curves and signals on the change journey.
    • HOW: Ensure a psychologically safe environment where employees feel comfortable raising instances where adjustments are required, as much with their peers as with their leaders.
  • Evolving change is the change that is required to adapt to the evolving external conditions of the journey.
    This change is the GPS recalculating, maybe due to a missed turn or an unforeseen construction zone, to ensure realignment on the journey towards the destination.
    • HOW: Engage people in co-creating the journey towards the destination, resulting in shared awareness, buy-in and ownership in the future state.
  • Transformational change is the organizational learning that occurs within the organizations’ practices, processes and culture, as a result of the other active changes.
    Transformational change is like the Artificial Intelligence (AI) that enables a GPS to be more responsive and adaptive based on learnings from user behaviours.
    • HOW: Beyond the continuous learning and evolution of the workforce gained through the other change levels, investing in the learning and development of the people, especially in softer skills that bolster abilities to effectively communicate and collaborate, to ensure a sustainable resilient culture and workforce.

To quote Thomas Edison: “There is always a better way!” So, the key question is: What can your organization do to create an environment and a culture where people desire and seek constant improvement? Studies do show that desire is created through engagement, and employee engagement is much higher in psychologically safe and inclusive environments.

Organizations must consider their current state, current workplace environment, and current culture before embarking on an initiative to transform their change culture. Working with organizations, we meet leadership and people where they are, to support them on their journey to where they want to go. If aspects of this evolving state concept are of interest to you, please reach out. It would be my pleasure to have a discussion with you and help you figure out where you are and what you will need to move forward on your journey.

Penelope – NewLeaf Performance's Corporate Persona. Illustration work by Samantha Leggatt.

A Corporate Persona: A touchstone to improve culture, wellness and performance.

Written by Caroline Lavigne on September 24, 2020.

Introducing Penelope – our NewLeaf corporate persona.

Penelope came about as I was working on our Brand Positioning. I thought to myself: How can we ensure that our employees’ personal and professional actions reflect the essence of the NewLeaf brand?

I initially started with writing down principles to guide our team’s activities. The list of adjectives to frame NewLeaf’s desired radiated tone evolved into a list of humanistic characteristics. Having previously read about, thought of, and imagined similar concepts, I was finally putting “pen to paper” to what I’ve long envisioned as an Organizational Persona.

Funny story about Penelope’s name. Us Leafers (as we happily call ourselves) sometimes refer to our organization as NLP (NewLeaf Performance). As I brainstormed the list of adjectives, I thought to myself…

  • NLP is authentic…
  • NLP is informed…
  • NLPEnellepe’s persona is called Penelope.

With a name, Penelope became a person; I could see her in my mind. I found a few inspirational characters to put a face to Penelope before scheduling a LeafStorm (NewLeaf’s version of a brainstorm) to bring the team in on it.

Corporate Persona Profile - Penelope

Profile of NewLeaf Performance’s Corporate Persona – Penelope.

I facilitated an interactive process which enabled us to co-create her from our shared values, beliefs, goals, priorities; everything that composes our organization was inspiration for who Penelope is. She quickly grew and evolved into the definition of the “Aspirational Leafer”.

Then, we worked with an awesome illustrator to bring Penelope to life. It surprised us how quickly Penelope became part of our team. We automatically found ourselves saying things like “What would Penelope say?”, “What would Penelope do?” and “How would Penelope show up in this interaction?”

A corporate persona acts as a touchstone for employee actions and behaviours. Beyond that, Penelope is a friend that we all have in common. She guides us towards our common vision–our common goals. We all look up to Penelope and can relate to one another, through her.

Before Penelope, we never knew we needed a corporate persona; now that we have her, we can’t imagine our organization without her. The facilitated process of co-developing a corporate persona can have an incredible impact on employee commitment and dedication, which improves culture and wellness, resulting in better performance. 

If you would like to know more about effectively developing a corporate persona, please don’t hesitate to contact us and it will be our pleasure to chat with you.

Photo by fauxels from Pexels

New Website RFP: Leafers Looking for Webers

NewLeaf Performance is a business management consulting firm that collaborates with clients to create sustainable human centric solutions to meet performance goals.

We see ourselves as our own laboratory, through which our humanistic management approach enables us, and our organization, to continuously learn, evolve and co-adapt to the environment. We define ourselves as open and collaborative, aiming to empower and foster continuous learning for our peers. We enjoy our work, we value making a difference for our clients, and we do so while having fun.

As our firm continues to flourish, we have now outgrown our current website and are looking for a solution adapted to our environment.

The NewLeaf team (or Leafers as we like to call ourselves) is now looking for an awesome web design and development team (or Webers as you may (or may not) like to call yourselves) to work on our new website.

If you would like to receive our website RFP (Closing date: August 31th, 2020), please send an email to to request your copy.

Photo de Matthew Henry de Burst

Feeling Fulfilled and Productive as an Employee during COVID-19: 10-Step Cheat Sheet

Written by Virginie B. Locas on March 21, 2020.

With many workplaces shifting to a work-from-home model as a result of COVID-19, employees may feel an added sense of uncertainty around adapting their space at home to suit their work needs. Here is a list of 10 tips for employees transitioning to this new reality:


1. Workplace.

Choose a designated workspace in your home that enables you to be productive and effective. Select a room with good natural lighting, calming setting, and good internet connexion.

Have you heard the good news? All major internet providers such as Videotron, Rogers, Telus and Bell have suspended data limit caps for their existing members!

Setting up a workspace helps you close the door and relax at the end of the day. Shutting off work is a very important part of the job!


2. Schedule.

Keep a realistic schedule on tasks and deadlines that will help you get through the day. Monitor your progress and keep your focus by adapting your schedule to reflect the hours that you feel most productive, always keeping in mind that you be available to your employer for the designated working hours. This said, working remotely can be your newfound freedom!


3. Balance.

Allow yourself to take breaks when you need to, whether it be enjoying time with your family, revisiting an old project of yours, doing some yoga stretches, or even trying a new online app. Here are some good ones to try, guilt-free:


4. Get some fresh air.

Taking a walk while maintaining social distance is a great way to set out of your space have a change of scenery. Outdoor activities such as walking your dog, going for a bike ride, or listening to birds can help refresh your mood and ideas.


5. Connect.

Take the time to connect with your colleagues to discuss projects, timelines, and tasks at hand, or simply to check in on how they are doing. Keeping in touch will break the monotony of the day and enrich your teleworking experience.

Video conference apps are easy to access and use, and most are free! Have you tried Zoom, Teams or Skype, yet?

Check out our Work from Home Tech and Tool Blog for more information on how to connect.


6. Learn.

You now officially have time to take advantage of your employer’s online learning tools and training programs to update your professional development curriculum.

Ask your employer for available options for you and your team members or consult with them to look at other options for online training, or simply venture yourself for your own personal benefit.

NewLeaf Performance is an authorized dispenser and facilitator of the following introspective assessment tools:

  • Strength Deployment Inventory
  • Learning Style Inventory
  • Barrett Values Centre
  • Myers Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI)
  • Emotional Intelligence (EQi)


7. Reach out for help.

Co-workers and Managers are on your side. Working collaboratively is extremely important in times like these. Sharing resources, tools and helpful tips with your community will go a long way. If you have a question or a concern about something, most likely someone else does too!


8. Accept that your work will be different – and not everything is possible!

Not all tasks can be adapted for telework, and that is okay! Understand that not everything will be possible, and some things will have to be delayed. Although perhaps a little counter-intuitive, letting go of some control can translate into more freedom and peace of mind.


9. Be safe and respectful. 

Respect you own boundaries and those of others. Awareness of current limitations brought on by current public health challenges and their impacts on our own lives or on those of others and their loved ones is important. Let us all be patient and understanding of each other.


10. Play. Have some fun!

Find creative ways to make your new workspace and virtual job fit with your personal and professional styles! This is all about making you succeed, individually, and as a team.


NewLeaf Performance works with individuals, teams and organizations to help them
Lead. Engage. and Act. to Fulfill™. their worklife.

Photo par Christin Hume, Unsplash

Navigating a New Reality: Helpful Tech to Support Working from Home

Written by Leigha McCarroll on March 20, 2020.

The COVID-19 pandemic has rapidly brought many workers around the world into a new working from home reality. While this way of working presents many benefits, it can also cause anxiety related to feelings of isolation, or to feeling uneasy in the face of the avalanche of productivity-boosting technology on offer.

As a business that has operated virtually since our beginnings, we at NewLeaf Performance have tested a wide range of tools to boost connection and productivity and have landed on the approach that simplicity is best. We recognize the importance of adopting new tools that can support enhanced communication among colleagues while keeping the learning curve for new tech minimal. To that end, we’ve come up with a list of tried-and-true tech recommendations to support a balanced digital culture in the workplace:

1. Virtual Collaboration Software

We recommend ensuring that your team is set up with an omnichannel virtual collaboration software. This type of software provides an integrated one-stop-shop for communication, often equipped with chat features file-sharing, and video calling built right in. Integration can help minimize tech overwhelm amongst employees while facilitating easy access to multiple aspects of your team’s work. Look for software that can integrate with systems that you already use. For example, Glip by RingCentral and Slack readily integrate with the Google Suite of tools, Office 365, and Webex, along with a variety of project management apps such as Asana and Trello. Read more about these collaboration software to find the right fit for your team:

2. Video Chatting Software 

Seeing colleagues’ and clients’ faces is a simple way to establish connection and minimize feelings of isolation. While many virtual collaboration software have a video chatting function built in, you may want to explore others that could work with your system. Here are some video chatting software to check out:

3. The Hardware

Setting up an organized and technologically well-equipped home office can help you to feel connected and on the ball. If your budget allows for extra software, here are a few items we recommend:

  • Monitor: Adding a portable second monitor to your laptop provides extra screen space and multiple viewing angles.
  • Webcam and speakerphone for video calls: Built-in laptop webcams and speakers are often sufficient for video calls. If these are not satisfactory for your professional needs, purchasing an external webcam and microphone will take your video calls to the next level.

4. The Extras:

  • Krisp: This app allows users to mute background noise during calls.
  • LiveBoard: This app provides a collaborative virtual whiteboard technology.
  • Voice Typing: Using speech-to-text software such as Voice Typing for Google Docs can help boost writing efficiency.

Looking for more? Here are some additional resources on tech supports for working remotely:

The Tech Headaches of Working From Home and How to Remedy Them

Remote Tools Rising Stars — Best Tools For Remote Workers To Watch In 2020


NewLeaf Performance works with individuals, teams and organizations to help them
Lead. Engage. and Act. to Fulfill™. their worklife.

Photo by Sarah Pflug

Leading from a Distance: Tips for Supportive and Compassionate Leadership During COVID-19

Written by Marie-José (MJ) Bourassa on March 23, 2020.

Are you leading an offsite team? Perhaps for you, leading virtually is old hat, or perhaps it is your first time navigating this type of work environment. In times of uncertainty, caring and effective leadership is critical to maintaining workplace and employee wellbeing. Here are some basics to generate trust and demonstrate compassionate and supportive virtual leadership.

1. Be socially present.

  1. Write a short good morning and good evening email or message to your team.
  2. Acknowledge receipt of a team member’s message, especially if you cannot get back to them with a full response just now.
  3. Get familiar with free social media connectivity options – Zoom, Skype, What’s App and use these where appropriate – and use them (while respecting workplace information protection policies)!

2. Be empathetic.

  1. Recognize that your staff may experience a range of feelings that may or may not resemble your own. You may feel energized and challenged by the new dynamics of working from home. Or you may feel unsure, overwhelmed, and demotivated. Your team members may feel isolated, disconnected, and disoriented, or they may feel calm, energized, and committed. Once you recognize this, you can adjust your expectations and interactions to meet your employees where they are at.
  2. You cannot assume how people feel. So, ask them! Reach out to your team members for one-on-one chats. “Hey, I am checking in to see how you are…how are you feeling?  How are you setting yourself up at home?  What are some challenges and how can I help?”

3. Create inclusion and virtually shrink the social distance.

  1. Invite team members to share pictures of them working at home! We are all human. Don’t worry about the dust bunnies or the pile of books in the background!
  2. Start and end your team calls and meetings with a one word “check-in” and “check-out”. Here’s how:
    • Make sure everyone has a list of participants.
    • Say that from this point forward, you will start and end meetings with a one-word check in and check-out.  It can be a feeling, a thought, a verb, a noun, any one word that conveys your “personal space there and then.”
    • State that the word “pass” is appropriate if you wish to pass.
    • Go first to model the exercise (the first few times).
    • One word only, and others listen in silence.
    • Name someone on the participant list to go next.
    • Invite that participant to name someone else on the list, and so on.
    • After all participants have shared, including “pass” answers, express thanks and make an appropriate comment or offer based on what has been said.
    • Remember to check-out at the end of the call.
    • Make this a practice and move beyond the initial discomfort. You will see how it helps to keep connected and real.

4. Mind your etiquette.

  1. Re-read your emails and texts before pressing send, noting:
    • Did you include the right people?
    • Are you mass-emailing for ease when you should first write one-on-one for respect and clarity?
    • Is your tone only matter-of-fact or is it also caring?
  2. If you are holding offsite business meeting with select team members, ask yourself: Am I doing this because I am personally closer to them or is this something I do in the normal course of work? Please be transparent to others that you are meeting. As part of building and maintaining trust, it is important for staff to know where the team members are, what your own schedule is and if you are meeting with teammates.
  3. Remember: Accord praise and encouragement in public and keep personal learning conversations private.

5. Get comfortable managing for results, and not bums-in-seats.

  1. Where and when people perform their work is secondary. It is what they produce that counts.
  2. Ensure you and each of your team members have clear and shared understanding of the work at hand and the targeted progress for the week. Try to avoid day-to-day micromanagement; people need space to manage their new daily reality.
  3. Remember: Trust breeds trust. Mistrust breeds mistrust.
  4. Encourage your team to share their working patterns to help them find their groove at home. Some may work 3 hours in the early morning before the kids get up, 1 hour during the day when they are at play or napping, and 3.5 hours after they have gone to bed. Respect the accommodations that people must make in this new reality.
  5. Don’t expect all your team members to all be online and available from 9-5 as usual. Learn their schedule and agree to a common time where it makes sense for key people or the whole team to connect in the day or during the week.
Be open. Know your weak spots. Work on them. Build trust. Learn and grow. Build a better workplace.

NewLeaf Performance works with individuals, teams and organizations to help them Lead. Engage. and Act. to Fulfill™. their worklife.

Leadership and Mental Health in the Workplace

Wellness in the Workplace

Picture of rocks

Just like the ever-changing seasons, organizations must constantly adapt to their environment, whether it be strategic objectives, human resources or organizational climate. Because an organization is only as effective as its employees, it is necessary to take care of them.

Mental health is an important element of employee well-being and effectiveness. When employees feel that their voices are no longer heard, that their skills are not valued and that leadership does not align with their personal values, the effects can be disastrous on work climate.

Leadership, therefore, has a direct impact on workplace climate, health and well-being. Leaders must be humble and open. They must also consider the importance of future generations. Students and future employees are much more exposed and aware of all aspects of mental health. Because it is a subject that is much less taboo for them, they will expect an organizational culture that takes it into account.

It’s Never Too Late to Do Some Good

I still hear executives expressing that they are not there to be liked by their employees or to contribute to their personal fulfillment. Hearing that saddens me every time. Leaders need to understand that they can really make a difference in the lives of employees.

Here are some ways that leaders can make improvements:

  • Recognize the humanity of each individual and his or her skills
  • Know and perfect your own emotional intelligence
  • Do not let your fear of seeming incompetent take over
  • Align shared employee values with the company’s mandate
  • Be present with employees, greet them, engage them in discussion and include them with authenticity
  • Organize short quarterly meetings with all your employees
  • Organize an annual retreat

The gap in performance and well-being between a team focused on control-and-task and a team focused on innovation-and-empowerment is enormous.  Research shows that the ROI in a healthy workplace can be up to sixfold.

We Listen to You!

We favor self-determination by our clients because they are best positioned to know that something is not working optimally in their organization or in their management team, for example. Tell us about your observations, fears and objectives for yourself as a leader, for your team and for your organization.

An analysis of your cultural values will provide an excellent starting point for identifying the issues and initiating a dialogue with you and your team.

Article published in the journal Le Droit-Les Affaires (summer 2017)