conversations | the fierce newsletter


November 2014 Edition

Welcome to the November edition of Conversations, the Fierce newsletter.

This November, we highlight ideas on how to create an open office environment that works. We also share a special invitation to a webinar you won't want to miss, an article from Entrepreneur, and more. Additionally, the Fierce in the Schools team shares updates.

As always, we're interested in hearing your thoughts on our Fierce blog, and don't forget to check out upcoming workshops, webinars, and other events.

1. The Open Office: Making the Concept Work
2. Fierce News!
3. Fierce in the Schools News!
4. Fierce Events: Save the Date

1. The Open Office: Making the Concept Work 

According to the International Facility Management Association, more than 70 percent of employees work in an open office environment, yet many are dissatisfied due to a number of challenges this concept creates. From distractions and lack of privacy to the one-size-fits-all cubicle approach, there is a lot to consider when ripping out the walls in favor of sharing one space. Whether or not you have already gone this route, here are some powerful considerations for ensuring your open plan workplace is, indeed, a place that supports getting work done, not just one that looks cool.

Cut the cord and go untethered

One of the largest benefits of an open office is the ability to maximize space. Given the wide popularity of telecommuting, flex-hours, and more generous PTO policies, it is extremely rare that all employees are in the office, occupying the same space on a daily basis. In fact, companies with fixed desks – where an employee is permanently assigned to a particular desk – average 25 to 50 percent of unused workspace on any given day. That’s a lot of wasted space!

Due to the ever-increasing cost of real estate, it makes sense to create an untethered environment where employers can host a higher headcount in less physical space. The benefit for employees is they are then able to plug into a workstation best suited for their needs on that particular day. Which brings me to…

Create task-based zones

Now that you’re dealing with a wide-open space in which you are not required to plop down one workstation for each employee, you are free to create work “zones” or environments that are conducive to common tasks within your organization. Is there a need for a quiet, focused work area where folks can process information and respond? What about opportunities to collide and collaborate with other employees to generate new ideas or problem solve? How about a casual space to come together before and after meetings to ensure everyone is on the same page before running off to take action?

Herman Miller, a well-known and innovative office design organization, provides a helpful guide, “The Living Office”, that illustrates common needs so you can consider and address those that pertain to your business. Be sure to include codes of conduct for the different zones, as some may need quiet whereas others are expected to be highly collaborative and loud.

Maintain space for privacy

One of the biggest gripes of the open office is complete lack of privacy. So before you knock down every single wall, seriously consider leaving some up. Creating small “phone booths” that offer privacy when individuals need to make personal calls or focus on a client. It doesn’t take up much space, but covers a lot of ground in addressing employee needs.

And if you are an executive and have an assigned office with walls, consider offering it as communal workspace when you aren’t in. Invest in locking file cabinets to keep confidential material safe and open the door to guests.

The open office offers a lot of advantages for employers. It’s cost efficient, promotes collaboration and teamwork. It has the potential to afford employees a work environment that’s “just right” at the right time through hot-desking and zones. As with anything, it requires thoughtful planning. Your workplace is a delicate ecosystem that can thrive given the right conditions. So before you send in the construction crew, get with your employees and a planner to design an intentional space – one that’s open and conducive to the real needs of employees.

Halley Bock, President & CEO is a contributing author for It was originally posted here.

2. Fierce News! 

Having It All: 4 Conversations to Make it Real

What is plaguing real women when it comes to work-life imbalance? Halley Bock, President & CEO of Fierce, Inc. and Mitch Shepard, Founder and Creative Force for the Women in Real Life Summit come together to share takeaways from real life examples that you can apply at work and home.

Attend the webinar

Don't Let These 5 Excuses Keep You From Networking

This article shares tips on how to network the right way and leave your excuses behind.

Read the article

Iowa Department of Education

This case study highlights how Iowa improved evaluations, developed teacher leaders, and changed lives.

Read the case study

Blog Posts

Three Gratitude Exercises for Leaders to Embrace- This blog shares ideas on how to fill your workplace with words of appreciation.

Fierce Tip of the Week: Give Positive Feedback– This week’s tip encourages you to give positive feedback.

Fierce Tip of the Week: Make a New Connection – This week’s tip encourages you to make new connections, you never know what you may be missing.

Become a More Effective Leader by Using Space – This blog shares tips about how to use the space around you during meetings.

Fierce Tip of the Week: Celebrate Purpose – This week’s tip is in appreciation of Veteran's Day and looks at what motivates us.

Our Relationships Succeed or Fail, One Conversation at at Time- This blog shares tips about the importance of conversation in the classroom.

Fierce Tip of the Week: Thank a Teacher – This week’s tip is to thank a teacher in your life, maybe it's someone who helped shaped who you are today.

What People are Saying

"My team can match any team. There is no question that the "Fierce Conversations" program was a significant contributor to our success and the key to many good decisions. Now our goal is to drive this down into the organization. It is timely. In an industry as growth-oriented and competitive as ours, we can’t afford not to have conversations like this every day."
– Peter Neill, Executive Director- Network Engineering, AT&T Wireless

"I loved both the rigor and support offered in this certification process. It called me to show up in a way that got into my bones and perhaps more importantly, it fed my soul.…I 'got' fundamentally what it means to be Fierce."
– Valerie Hunter, National Consultant for Organizational Learning, National Alliance on Mental Illness

"Fierce models save time by providing practical, straightforward tools that quickly prepare managers for the full range of employee conversations -from developmental to disciplinary."
– Jennifer Fox, Media, Getty Images

3. Fierce in the Schools News! 

We continue to be inspired by Fierce in the Schools partners who are bringing conversations to states, districts, schools, educators and students, along with the partnerships we continue to forge that support student development.


Gwinnett County Public Schools, Georgia

Gwinnett County Public Schools have made incredible strides this year and we love our partnership. Through their Wallace Foundation grant, they have been able to begin the process of training all of the principals and assistant principals in the district, which totals over 600+ administrators.  At the same time, there are 2-3 administrators being certified to train in Fierce Conversations each month, which will total 15+ certified trainers in the district by the end of the 2015 school year.  We are both excited and inspired by the commitment level and passion of the Director of Learning and Development, Kendra Bass, and her department!

They have modeled the vision of equipping every educator with skillsets to have these conversations that are critical to the success of all staff and the students they serve.  As stated by one of the administrators attending last week’s workshop:

As a result of learning from this session, I know how to address "the elephant in the room" or tackle those major issues which maybe impeding the growth and progress of an individual staff member or the whole school at large. I know the importance of building capacity by monitoring my delivery as I hold "Fierce" conversations. I know to make sure it is a "conversation" versus a "versation." I want to make sure that I am speaking "with" an individual as oppose to speaking "to" them.

National Sam Innovation Project (NSIP) Partnership

This month we continued developing our collaboration with Mark Shellinger and his SAMS team!  SAM is a professional development process using a unique set of tools to change a principal’s focus from school management tasks to instructional leadership, and is in more than 400 schools in 15 states and growing every year.  We have created a Fierce/SAMS 1 day Feedback session that we have brought to many districts this past year, as well as state and district conferences, and the National NSIP Conference.  In November, we presented at the Charlotte-Mecklenburg School District SAMS Conference, and have also brought the Feedback session to their teams this past year.  Coming up in January 2015, we will be attending the NSIP Conference in Ft. Laurderdale, and our SAMS master facilitator Deli Moussavi-Bock will be facilitating sessions throughout our 3 days there.  To read more about SAMS and the incredible work they do, please go to:


What People Are Saying

“Fierce is a game-changer. We started implementing this workshop just last year. At that time it was strictly added as curriculum in our established leadership development cohort programs. Then word got out about how fabulous it is. Now we offer this as a course for school-based and central-office leaders. As soon as sessions are advertised, they fill up within hours!” 
– Jamie Luerssen, Manager Professional Development, Fairfax County Public Schools, VA

“Many of us also feel as if our lives have changed. Over the past few days, when I had conversations with the State Coaches it appeared they had already begun using the strategies you shared with them. I was able to enter into several conversations that I needed to have and that were past due, with courage. And, the results were positive. So, you have equipped me with the tools and confidence I needed to be a better leader.” 
– Felicia Cummings-Smith, K-12, Kentucky Department of Education, Reading First

“When the models are practiced, coached, and reinforced, they become second nature. That's when lives change, and we see what a powerful difference Fierce makes.” 
– Troyce Fisher, Executive Director, School Administrators of Iowa

4. Fierce Events: Save the Date 

Attending one of our workshops is a wonderful way to evaluate Fierce for your organization. If you would like more information, please click on the options below.

December 5th Online

Taste of Fierce Confrontation (8-9:30 AM PST)

December 15-16th in Seattle, WA

Fierce Conversations Workshop (2 Days)

January 12-13th in Seattle, WA

Fierce Conversations Workshop (2 Days)

January 26-27th in New York City, NY

Fierce Conversations Workshop (2 Days)

February 9-10th in Seattle, WA

Fierce Conversations Workshop (2 Days)

March 9-10th in Seattle, WA

Fierce Conversations Workshop (2 Days)

March 16-17th in New York City, NY

Fierce Conversations Workshop (2 Days)


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