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How the MAGIC formula can transform the way you work

How the MAGIC formula can transform the way you work

Many of us are sensing that something is amiss with work, but putting our finger on the exact issue seems to be the problem.  This sentiment holds true for both individuals and those managing teams.

What I observe repeatedly is a tendency to adopt a scattergun approach — making numerous changes without first identifying the root causes of the problem.

In my book Work Your Magic, I delve into the existing threats and provide a framework for systematic problem-solving. It aims to offer tailored solutions for individuals, teams, or entire organisations, providing a road map to get work to work again.

First and foremost, it’s crucial to acknowledge that change is impossible without identifying and naming the underlying issues. Research underscores the positive impact of actively engaging in meaningful work on overall wellbeing.

However, many individuals view work as a source of negative impact on their lives, manifesting in headaches, loss of appetite, sleep disturbances, and reliance on substances for stress relief. These scenarios, while becoming normalised, are not the way work is supposed to be.

It’s evident that the problem extends beyond the immediate impact of the pandemic, as workplaces were facing challenges well before COVID emerged. In Work Your Magic I explore the pre-existing threats to workplace wellbeing, including the:

  • Mental health epidemic
  • Tech epidemic
  • Loneliness epidemic.

While some might argue that these are not strictly work-related problems, they undeniably morph into work problems. Success at work often translates to success in personal life.

Key pillars of the MAGIC framework

There are some key pillars of MAGIC framework, and they revolve around the following:


Simply put, if you and your team are uncertain about your direction, reaching your destination becomes near impossible. Ask: why do you engage in the work you do?

This is something you can do both individually and collectively as an organisation. However, it often gets overlooked because of the pace of our lives.

With so much uncertainty in the world, understanding the purpose becomes paramount. It provides something to tether ourselves to and this feels good.

Another reason we tend to sidestep the exploration of meaning is the potential for it to feel overwhelming.

To navigate this, start small with the following questions to yourself and your teams:

  • What does a win look like?
  • What characterises a good week?
  • What characterises a good day?

These questions serve as a compass, helping you piece together the puzzle of what holds the most significance for you.


Authenticity serves as the bedrock of ‘psychological safety’, creating an environment where individuals can express themselves freely without fear of repercussions, ensuring that everyone’s voice is valued.

To assess the authenticity of your culture, ask the following questions:

  • Do you feel comfortable being yourself in your workplace, and is such authenticity actively encouraged?
  • Is your workplace a secure space where admitting mistakes is met with understanding rather than retribution?
  • Does everyone truly have a voice, and is there a genuine encouragement for people to express themselves, or does it follow a rigid, ‘my way or the highway’ approach?

And, perhaps the most important question: How effective are you and your colleagues at active listening?

These questions guide you to understand the degree of authenticity within your organisational culture. They encourage an atmosphere where individuals feel secure in their authenticity and empowered to contribute their perspectives, fostering a culture of openness and collaboration.

Ground rules

Your third point of exploration within the MAGIC framework is ground rules – crucial at a time when there is so much flux. I draw a parallel to standing in the centre of a seesaw, which feels good as a child but exhausting as an adult.

Ground rules function as the stabilising blocks under each end, offering the much-needed stability. These rules can relate to your personal or professional life.

Without well-defined ground rules, burnout becomes inevitable, as our energy is depleted in attempting to anticipate what lies ahead. The key lies in establishing rules that are flexible enough to accommodate everyone’s needs while leaving room for innovation, enabling an organisation to adapt and evolve in changing times.

To assess how your organisation aligns with ground rules, ask the following questions:

  • What ground rules do you have around communication, specifying dos and don’ts?
  • How are conflicts resolved, and what principles guide decision-making?
  • What are the organisational values that ground rules uphold?

If hesitation arises in answering these questions, it may signal an area needing focused attention.

Additionally, it’s crucial to recognise that amid uncertainty, our brains seek certainty. Providing clarity through well-defined ground rules can significantly impact your team’s ability to navigate ambiguity successfully.

Ground rules are equally applicable on a personal level, acknowledging that the support structures often take a back seat when life gets hectic. Therefore, emphasising and upholding personal ground rules becomes essential, especially during busy periods.

Work Your Magic by Sharon Darmody

Work Your Magic by Sharon Darmody.

The concept of ‘I’

Let’s reintroduce the ‘I’ back into the workplace and acknowledge the person behind the position.

Dr Michelle H Lim MAPS, the Scientific Chair of the Australian Coalition to End Loneliness, identifies loneliness as the next public health epidemic of the 21st century.

Did you know there is even a Minister for Loneliness in the UK? Take a moment to reflect on that.

Given these findings, it becomes apparent that the workplace, where individuals come together, even if only virtually, provides a unique opportunity to address the loneliness epidemic and its impact on our health and wellbeing.

Consider asking yourself:

  • How do you foster connections within your team?
  • What do you genuinely know about your teammates beyond their professional roles?
  • In what ways do you celebrate individuality — do you understand your team’s unique strengths and talents?


My final cornerstone of the MAGIC framework is curiosity, born from witnessing the myriad ways workplace communication can go astray.

I’m consistently amazed by the assumptions we make and how swiftly these can escalate tensions in the workplace. The simple act of asking a question and gaining a better understanding of the other person’s perspective can change everything. This is why I regard curiosity as a superpower.

In recent years, with increased knowledge about the brain and its workings, I’ve observed how curiosity can help us sidestep the amygdala hijack, steering us away from fight-or-flight responses and propelling us toward greater understanding and collaboration.

Consider the following if curiosity holds significance for you:

  • Does your team possess the ability to respond thoughtfully rather than react impulsively?
  • Are you comfortable initiating difficult conversations in pursuit of positive change?
  • How do you actively encourage and foster new perspectives within your team?

I often hear about what is not working in workplaces. Instead of quick fixes, take the time to assess what truly matters, consider your identity, define routines that suit you, understand how your team best connects, and embrace a new perspective.

Hopefully MAGIC will guide you in developing a road map to make work functional once more.

Sharon Darmody

This article was written by Sharon Darmody, an organisational coach, author and mediator.

An expert in workplace wellbeing, Sharon aims to help support people to be more engaged at work so that they can thrive professionally an personally. Her book Work Your Magic: Create a Better Business Community That Works For Everyone is available to purchase now.

Guest Writer