The Novaconcept team comprises more than 50 experienced consultants with a range of expertise to guide you in developing your teams and leaders and in meeting your organization’s transformation challenges.

Portrait d'Isabelle Bérubé

Put two curious, enthusiastic and determined people in the same room for an hour, and before the meeting is over, they will have started reshaping the world! Sylvie is very rigorous in terms of content quality. The ideas she presents to me have been studied and tested. Before joining forces with Novaconcept, she took the time to analyze our entire service offering. She quickly realized that our management methods and coaching solutions were in line with her standards, both in terms of form and content. Her desire to join the consultant team arose from the clear alignment of Novaconcept’s values with her own. Passionate about management, she is already looking for the best way to contribute.

As someone who is always on the lookout for better approaches and ways of doing things, I found my meeting with Sylvie Ménard to be a gold mine of new possibilities. Drawing on positive psychology, her long experience in management and her research work, Sylvie shows me a number of ways we can improve our work environment and methods. Her enthusiasm is contagious and I am the perfect audience for her ideas.

Three clear points emerge from this fruitful encounter:

  1. The need to build on each person’s strengths
  2. The need to recreate and maintain good working relationships
  3. The need for informal knowledge transmission

Focusing on strengths

When thinking about improvement, we naturally focus on what is not working and the weaknesses of our team, which can quickly become demotivating and even exhausting. This creates instability, when the aim is actually to improve overall performance. As she explains to me,

“It’s useful and necessary to look at what is going wrong, but the most you will accomplish with this approach is to make people comply with standards. If you really want to go further and improve the level of performance, you have to intentionally identify success stories or areas with high potential and give yourself the tools to develop them. That’s when excellence really comes into play.”

To do this, employers can start by integrating an approach based on strengths and appreciation into their HR processes and management culture. For Sylvie, being a good leader starts with identifying the strengths of each person and putting in place the necessary resources to develop their skills. Building on interests and strengths creates a work environment that is conducive to individual development, impacting the quality of relationships, the work climate and encouraging collaboration. The organization necessarily benefits from the development of this kind of management culture.

Sylvie likens an effective leader to a good conductor. The conductor chooses the music, talks about the intention behind the piece and gives indications for tempo, volume and the entrances of the different sections. But they also know that leaving room for the musicians to interpret the music is the difference between a good performance and a sublime one. They need the space and tools required for adding colour and emotion to the piece, thus creating a unique interpretation. The conductor makes sure that the performance is coherent; the musicians provide the colour. It is the combination of these two elements that makes for an exciting and memorable concert. The same is true for a manager and their team.

The need for good working relationships

According to Sylvie, the effects of the pandemic are still very much present in the workplace. While we have been able to adapt to a new fast-paced reality, and working from home seems to have met the need for a better work-life balance, we still have a long way to go to ensure that this new way of organizing work is productive and stable. As Sylvie points out, we are now missing those moments of informal exchange, although we may not realize it. We sometimes underestimate the importance of having nurturing relationships at work and their positive impact on attendance and performance. It has already been shown that people who have workplace friendships are more diligent and tend to start their day in a better mood. This is in addition to positive effects on collaboration, improved knowledge sharing and the availability of immediate emotional support. People simply have a strong need for relationships, to feel included and to be part of a team. We also want to like our team and to have our team like us. The relationships we develop with our co-workers are key and greatly influence talent retention.

However, moments of informal exchange are not only about creating connections, according to Sylvie. They are also very important for knowledge sharing.

Informal knowledge transmission

Even though we spend most of our days in online meetings, are in regular communication with our teams and clients, and can communicate 24/7 through a variety of channels, it is difficult to really know how our colleagues are doing or how their days are going. Think about it—when was the last time you called a colleague to chat for a few minutes without an agenda? As Sylvie reminds me, it was once the smokers who were the most informed people in a company. During their breaks, they shared helpful tips and information with each other. This informal knowledge transmission allowed for the development and progress of each individual. Sylvie insists that our need to learn from each other without supervision is perfectly natural. There is so much knowledge based on intuition or feeling that cannot be transmitted using procedures. She returns to her musical metaphor—being able to play the notes on a score is one thing, but being able to interpret a piece with emotion is quite another.
In this sense, managers and their teams would benefit from reestablishing moments for informal discussions, even when working remotely. For Sylvie, it is clear that we need to make space for shop talk and the transmission of knowledge between generations. These moments allow us to discuss real situations, to move from theory to practice and to take a step back from our past and future actions. This sharing of experience without an immediate goal creates greater unity and allows us to learn how our colleagues think and work. This in turn leads to greater collaboration and the creation of a bond of trust, both of which feed creativity.

Our meeting is already coming to an end, but I can see that Sylvie still has many ideas and resources to share with me. She suggests a number of articles and conferences to help me further my own thinking. I can’t help but think how lucky I am to work with Sylvie. Her unique style, her professional ethics, her rigour and her desire to develop more positive and caring leadership practices make her a unique speaker and allow her to make a special contribution to the development of leaders and teams.


Did this interview with Sylvie Ménard pique your curiosity? Would you like to learn how to combine performance and kindness in your management practice? Novaconcept and Sylvie Ménard are here to help you develop a management culture based on positive leadership.