11 December 2023

Top 3 Learnings from 2023 with the Harvest Team

Ancora Imparo, ‘Yet, I am still learning’ – Michelangelo (age 87) 

Learning and development in Harvest is managed through our Continuous Professional Development Programme called Ancora Imparo. Ancora Imparo is a mindset that places the responsibility of improving oneself in the hands of each employee. It is demonstrated by a thirst for continuous development both personally and professionally. Ancora Imparo is a commitment to life-long learning or refuelling of oneself in all aspects of personal, professional, and business effectiveness.  

In keeping with this and as we are coming to the end of another exciting year, we thought it would be useful for our Learning Specialists to look back over the year and share with you what they have learned about Learning and Development in 2023. 


Sarah Lennon, Harvest Learning Specialist 

1. Purpose and meaning for employees are visibly evident now moreso than ever before. Being able to connect the ‘why’ into what you’re doing makes it easier to connect the dots, drives that sense of belonging and gives a sense of reasoning – no matter what type of day is happening around you.  

2. Flexibility, autonomy, and trust are top of the agenda for employee’s needs. Not the one-hour wellbeing sessions, workshops focused on ‘soft skills’ but rather honing in on the fundamentals for their ways of working. Flexibility on working hours, days, place. Autonomy over their workload and opportunity to grow and relearn within this and on top of it all – establishing trust to make sure this can all be executed with ease.  

3. Career change is still a focus for many employees but with the uncertainty around the job market/economy, many are holding off until they find the ‘right opportunity before making a move. Making sure they have the offer secured and signed before jumping ship. Establishing just what is the ‘right opportunity involves pre-work prior around reflection, research, and conversations. 


Glyn Billinghurst, Harvest Learning Specialist 

1. The power of AI – for me specifically Chat GPT 

  • As a research and ideation tool 
  • To stimulate ideas 

2. The importance of reconnecting 

  • Follow-up training to embed learnings 
  • Second or third round sessions with teams – re-enforcing learnings 

3. The power of storytelling 

  • stories are more than examples 
  • they are powerful 
  • they bring life to the conversation 
  • they stimulate ideas 
  • they demonstrate and share experiences 


Justine McGrath, Harvest Learning Specialist 

1. L&D is most effective when the theory is put into practice.  For example: there is little point in delivering a course on Emotional Intelligence if the competencies are not practiced. As one manager said, ‘this became real for me when I was able to use my knowledge and test it in a managerial meeting.’  

2. It is essential to be aware of neurodiversity when delivering training courses and adapt where necessary.  

3. There are still too many leaders using an overly directive style of leadership when it comes to managing others.  Emotional Intelligence is an essential part of addressing this issue.  


Eamonn Eaton, Harvest Learning Specialist   

During 2023 I worked on a wide range of projects and programmes across a diverse range of industries and sectors. As a Learning Specialist I am privileged to have the opportunity to gain exposure the business challenges and opportunities that our clients face on a daily basis and also see firsthand their capability and expertise at play as they strive to achieve their strategy and ambition in the complex environment, we are all working in.

1. The first stand out moment was a visit to the Civic Waste Management facility in a major European City. Here I experienced firsthand the Circular Economy at work. Sustainability and working to halt climate change are topics that are constantly debated on the global political change and as individuals we believe that more needs to be done to save our planet for future generations. I experienced first had recycling at the front line. At the facility, workers were opening and sorting ‘green waste’ that had been collected through the city domestic waste collection system. What I observed was all types of waste materials from children’s nappies to non-recyclable waste to hazardous liquids and chemicals mixed up in the green waste. It reinforced for me the challenge of ‘Behaviour Change’ that’s required by everyone and how we all have the power to make a significant positive contribution to improving our own carbon footprint through the simple action of taking responsibility for our own waste recycling. Like many challenges we face in our programme delivery, behaviour change by individuals is often the secret to unlocking sustainable change.

2. This year I undertook a certification programme in Team Coaching delivered by David Clutterbuck. The focus was on working to continually enhance and support teams, increasing their ability to work at their best as individuals and as a collective, to harness and maximise their talents as a high performing team. The standout take away from the programme was the importance of Psychological Safety as the basis for trust and respect in high performing teams.

At the recent L&DI conference I was fortunate to meet and hear Amy Edmondson who has done extensive work in this area. During the year working with teams, I have observed and experienced psychological safety in the real world and with real teams. Where the team culture and environment support teams to learn from mistakes and having the ability to ask questions without negative consequences, the permission for candour exists. This shapes the learning behaviour of the group and in turn unlocks high performance for the team and the organisation. Working with senior leadership teams in multiple industries and sectors I have observed the power of this first hand. It’s an area for increased focus in 2024.

3. Working with Insights Discovery I continue to see the power of the tool to support individual and team development. I have delivered and facilitated Insights Discovery workshops with teams right across Europe and in North America. I continue to unlock new layers within the tool and this year have really seen how it works across geographies, languages, and cultures. This year I have helped many teams to really work at how they can recognise the Insights Discovery energies in other people, from teams to customers to key stakeholders. Insights Discovery starts with self-understanding however expanding an individual and teams’ ability to read and connect with the energy flow in others is a powerful force to improve interpersonal dynamics. Since the pandemic many of us are working in a remote or blended working environment and are missing the day-to-day physical contact we had with colleagues in the past. Different people and teams react and respond differently to the challenges of this new working environment. I have found Insights Discovery a valuable tool to help individual and teams explore how they can adapt and change to maximise their effectiveness in the new world of work.


Aoife Donovan Lee, Harvest Learning Specialist  

1. The Power of ChatGPT: This year, I began using ChatGPT which has been a game-changer! I use this AI tool daily to generate ideas for training materials, create scenarios for role plays, keep up to date with industry trends and brainstorm creative solutions to training design and delivery challenges.  

2. To Embrace Technology and Digital Learning: During the Pandemic, I embedded many new technologies into my training practice. This year, as organisations have begun to shift back to in-person training, I’ve found that these newly adopted technologies work just as effectively face-to-face, and participants love them! 

3. Peer Discussion is Essential in Leadership Development: This year, I have made more space in my leadership training programmes for group peer discussion. Collaborative discussions allow leaders to collectively address challenges, solve problems, share insights, and give and receive feedback. Because of the busyness of a leader’s role, combined with the challenges that a blended working environment presents, peer discussion is a rare opportunity that is welcomed by programme participants.  


Ann Green, Harvest Learning Specialist 

1. Listen = Silent. Every voice has a place, even the negative ones. Allow space to let them vent, then use their insights to seek opposing/alternative views from participants.  

2. Model vulnerability: Sharing personal stories, especially ways to navigate challenging situations, encourages participants to share their experiences. 

3. In virtual workshops, regular breakout sessions, with focused activities and assigned roles, ensures engagement.  


Barbara Irwin, Harvest Learning Specialist 

1. The impact on their teams of people managers and leaders being more self-aware, should never be underestimated. 

2. Investing in team morale always yields returns. 

3. Generation Z are entering the workforce, and they have different priorities which organisations need to embrace if they are to attract and retain employees. 


Aoife Coonagh, Harvest Business Development Manager & Learning Specialist 

1. The importance and impact that managers and leaders can have through using coaching and mentoring skills and behaviours with their teams. Developing these skills and then using them daily with colleagues can accelerate development and performance in a collaborative and supportive way.  

2. Learning in Action allows participants on my programmes to apply their learning and develop through skills practice on the day, follow-up assignments to try out back on the job, action learning groups/sets to facilitate peer learning and reflection in the organisation. 

3. Through coaching, the joy of supporting people find their purpose and to explore their life, personal, and career goals and help them to plan and create a roadmap for themselves that is aligned to their values, purpose and aspirations.