AFSM UK Conference

What do humans and birds of prey have in common?


AFSM 2007 Eagle

More than you might think – so guests who joined the AFSM UK Chapter
Event at Festo Northampton in December discovered.

Mark Hemming, Senior Consultant with Festo Didactic and Operations manager with the Association of Field Sales Managers (AFSM) UK gives a personal insight.

Members and guests had been advised in advance that the theme of the event was once again, based around the topic of ‘People Optimisation’.  The planned presentations included the employee engagement /disengagement in the workplace looking at how this state of mind and potential lack of application affects many employees and their ability to fulfil their individual roles to maximum effect.

Something of value

In keeping with the AFSM UK’s aims, these presentations provided practical advice and support enabling the attendees to receive something of value benefiting them personally in their given roles and  companies.  Unusually, the meeting agenda featured presentations by some ‘mystery guests’, who remained so until the very last moment!

85% not engaged

To set the scene I presented the findings of a series of Gallup surveys together with other recognised sources of supporting data. The overlying conclusion of this material was that some 85% of employees in GB companies are either not engaged or can be considered as actively disengaged in the workplace.

Having been presented with these statistics, to introduce the next topic the audience were asked two questions:“… what does this really mean to us, as business managers?” and “...how will this lack of engagement or active disengagement manifest itself in the workplace?”

What do humans and birds of prey have in common?… their personality profiles, of course!

The delegates returned from a short break to be greeted by Ashley Smith, of the The Hawk Conservancy Trust. It was clear from the expressions on many of the faces in the audience that they were caught completely by surprise and perhaps most importantly, were searching for the connection!

Ashley gave an interesting, overview of the work of the Hawk Conservancy which includes conservation of wild and endangered species, breeding programmes, reintroduction, education at all levels and research, to name but a few.

Mystery guests

His overview included an insight into how the personalities of the birds and employees of the Conservancy must come together in order to ensure maximum engagement.

Enter into the room Purdy the Peregrine Falcon, Goose the Bateleur Eagle, Tolkein the Milky Eagle Owl and Morgana the Harris Hawk accompanied by their falconers. If the audience registered surprise as Ashley began his presentation then it was nothing compared to this!  Following the appropriate introductions of birds and people to the audience, the afternoon’s Interactive Workshop began.  Delegates were split into teams and provided with six written personality profiles. Their task was to decide which personality profile belonged to which bird?

Given the particular profiles, how would they go about managing each individual to ensure maximum engagement? It was at this point that some delegates realised that the profiles had been the examples used by Dr James Briscoe in his presentation! Of course, at the time, no one had considered that they were anything other than people.


To find out more about link between birds and humans, please select the link below.

Trends in Automation article.pdf

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