Behind the scenes in talent management and development: Alison France’s story

Anthony Haynes writes: One of the aims of this blog is to show behind the scenes at FJWilson and introduce our team of staff and associates. Here we introduce Alison France.

Q. You’re the founding director of evosis: what does evosis do?

Evosis designs and delivers organisational change and leadership development programmes for companies in the UK and Europe.

Our projects are characteristically −

  • Bespoke – designed specifically for each organisation and their individual goals;
  • Strategic – linked directly to the overall business strategy;
  • Measured – with outcomes identified at the beginning of the project and evaluated throughout;
  • Positive – undertaken with a view to develop the organisation’s strengths;
  • Experiential –with the focus on practical activity;
  • Collaborative – involving current employees throughout, enabling their development.

Q. And what is your role with FJWilson?

I’m head of coaching and leadership development for FJWilson, providing services for their clients to develop their talent.

The coaching I undertake is usually for job seekers and senior executives who may want to gain additional clarity in their career or build confidence or who find themselves in a redundancy or restructure situation.  Positive, humanistic coaching nurtures the individual’s strengths to enable them to achieve their goals.  It is also affordably priced, recognising that it is often the individual who is paying for their own development.

The leadership development part of my role entails consultation, design and delivery of development programmes for FJWilson clients.  This is a natural progression from hiring the right talent – nurturing them!  Programmes can be anything between 2 hour and 3 day sessions (as well as coaching for individuals) and are aimed to enable leaders achieve their organisation’s strategic objectives.  Typical content includes strategy development, organisational change, nurturing innovation, authentic leadership, effective networking and engaging communications.

Q. What does this work entail?

Thankfully my work days are extremely varied, so here’s a week in the life of…

  • Monday – Coaching day.

I’ll be spending half of the day in a coffee shop with one of the directors I’ve coached for a while.  Last session we agreed he needs to reorganise how he spends his time and review his job role in line with the strategic direction he wants to take his company in.  So I’ll be mostly listening and asking the odd question to provoke his thinking and enabling him to develop some concrete actions to achieve his goal.

I have a Skype call in the second half of the day with another coaching client.  She’s a senior executive who is currently considering taking voluntary redundancy.  I’ll be enabling her to build her confidence in her skills, review what she wants to do in her future role and ultimately making her decision.

  •  Tuesday – Leadership development, Day 1

Today I’ll be co-delivering training for twelve leaders which will involve a mixture of introducing theory and practical activities to enable the leaders apply it to their work environment.  Activities include and individual session in mindfulness, a pair activity about authentic leadership plus group sessions on strategy development and implementing change projects.

  •  Wednesday – Leadership development, Day 2

As a follow-up to the first day, today I’ll be facilitating a session for four leaders enabling them to explore their behaviours, attitudes and emotions in a real situation.  We do this by using actors to recreate an exchange with someone they know well.  The group (including the actor and their colleagues) provide feedback to enable the leader to improve the interaction.

  •  Thursday – Organisation development

I’ll be spending today facilitating a number of meetings with directors, HR and operational staff from a mid-size company.   This is the beginning of a year-long project to develop and establish their people management, learning and development, leadership and engagement strategies.  We’ll be taking this opportunity to establish a culture based on positive psychology principles and clear organisational strategy.  Most of the day I’ll be chairing meetings, establishing the agenda, engaging individuals in our project and learning as much as possible about this new client!

  •  Friday – Reading and writing day

Whether it’s writing a blog or an article for an HR magazine, sharing updates on LinkedIn and Twitter or reading the latest book I’ve bought, today I’ll be learning and sharing my knowledge and experiences with other leaders and professionals.

Q. What makes your work satisfying?

People!  I view everyone I encounter as a wonderful, individual human being who needs to be recognised, valued and fulfilled in their own unique way.  Groups of people create fascinating dynamics based on the needs of each of the individual members.  Organisations create cultures, norms and memes based on their leaders.  Each layer of these dynamics fascinates me.   I find that having an influence on these individuals, teams and organisations, enabling them to grow and achieve their goals, is endlessly fascinating and fulfilling.

KhardunglaQ. What’s your own career story?

My early career was spent in retail where I managed stores in the healthcare sector as well as overseeing P&Ls for the north-west of England.  This experience provided me with strong commercial acumen as well as customer focus which today translate to an unswerving focus on business strategy and building strong client relationships.

A stint in a global company as a business development researcher for civil engineering across EMEA gave me an appreciation of global cultures.  A discussion with their VP of People in the US provided me with the motivation to return to university to gain my MSc in Occupational Psychology.

Since then I have worked in-house as a change consultant running multiple HR process and culture change programmes and as an external consultant for a small occupational psychology consultancy where I specialised in the design and delivery of senior leadership training.

I founded Evosis just over 2 years ago, which has enabled me to continue working in leadership development as well as return to organisation development (change) work with my own clients.  We have also expanded to work with leaders across Europe.

Q. And outside work?

My biggest passion is experiencing new cultures and lifestyles.  I’ve travelled across Europe, Peru and India as well as to San Francisco and Istanbul.  Gaining an understanding the lifestyles, practices and beliefs of people across the world provides me with personal development as well as informing my professional practice.  I also enjoy riding my motorbikes on UK roads (Ducati Monster) and European tracks (Suzuki GSX-R).

This year I combined my passions riding a Royal Enfield across the Himalayas in India.  I traversed Khardung La (one of the highest motorable passes in the world at 5,300 meters) and the Rhotang Pass (translates as pile of corpses).

I also enjoy yoga, meditation, swimming and horse riding to keep physically and mentally fit and volunteer on a LGBT help line providing emotional support and information to callers.

Q. What single piece of advice would you offer to any business embarking on a process of organisational development?

Great question.  Be brave!

The whole point of organisation development is to create change.  Whatever pace and size that change is (e.g. evolution rather than revolution) it can still be scary.  It can threaten even the most confident of leaders and the resulting uncertainty sends ripples across the whole organisation.  When senior leaders are united behind a clear goal, demonstrate confidence and momentum to move towards it, the rest of the organisation can galvanise behind them.   You can read David Rock’s SCARF model based on neuroscience to understand why this happens and how you can combat this further (

However, senior leaders are still human beings (despite what your employees may think), so it can help if you have at least one trusted advisor who has both strategic insight and credibility to challenge the status quo whilst providing support to the senior team.


Other posts in our ‘behind the scenes’ series include: ‘Who is Dilly Clack?‘ (26 April), ‘Who is FJWilson?‘ (12 April), ‘Who is Phil Wolfenden?‘ (1 August), and ‘Who is Tony Walsh?‘ (19 September).

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