The principal of her own business, Mary Schaefer is an expert in empowerment and manager-employee interactions, particularly for organizations employing IT professionals, engineers and scientists. She coaches, trains and consults on talent development, performance management and change management. Her clients include Fortune 500 companies, small businesses, nonprofits and government agencies. Mary has a bachelor’s degree in computer science and a master's in human resources. She also holds an HR professional certification.

Previously, Mary worked at DuPont for 20 years, starting her career there as an information systems professional and concluding as an HR manager. Even though she started out in IT, Mary noticed over time that she was more interested in understanding people. She was more interested in helping people with their reactions to how their jobs were changing than in teaching them new computer programs. Mary then pursued a career in HR and obtained her master’s in HR.

As a human resources manager, Mary served a community of more than 500 employees and managers in areas such as performance management, interpersonal relations, leadership, teamwork, diversity and creating a respectful work environment. While at DuPont, Mary received the Crystal Award, designed to recognize “champions of people.”

Mary always found a way to be a part of diverse work assignments that involved helping people move through change. For example, she helped hundreds of survivors of corporate downsizing, through coaching and workshops, to see how they could make positive choices moving forward rather than be overwhelmed by constant job insecurity.

Mary’s speaking, coaching and training are all focused on making the most of what human resources can contribute to an organization through their energy and creativity, while at the same time helping people meet their own specific needs for meaningful work. She focuses on creating a more productive and collaborative work environments through honest, direct interactions. This could involve planning for a tough conversation about work performance or strategizing on how to manage employees’ reaction to changes in their jobs.

Mary has devoted hundreds of hours to coaching hundreds of managers, both as an HR manager and currently through her business, serving clients such as Xerox, Siemens, DuPont, Ahold USA and the State of Delaware.

Mary applies her fierce idealism to create work cultures where organizations and human beings can both thrive. She publishes on this topic and more at, and other sites. She is a co-author of the book The Character-Based Leader. In 2014, Mary delivered a presentation called “GPS Your Career: How to Get From Where You Are to Where You Want to Go” at the Inspiring Women in STEM Conference and another called “Putting the Human Back into Human Resources” at the 2014 TEDx Wilmington (Delaware) conference.

The opinions expressed in this blog are those of Mary Schaefer and do not necessarily represent those of IDG Communications Inc. or its parent, subsidiary or affiliated companies.

Articles by Mary.Schaefer

Win the war for talent by improving employee experience
Navigate the Workplace

Win the war for talent by improving employee experience

Employee experience — it’s similar to employee engagement. It includes perks and casual Fridays, and also how performance reviews are run, and the quality of the working relationship with the boss. How do you do employee experience?
January 27, 2017
One way to be the change you want to see in your life
Navigate the Workplace

One way to be the change you want to see in your life

You want to eliminate an unhelpful habit, address a hot-button issue or negotiate a change at work. You find yourself hesitant and don't know where to begin. There's no substitute for firsthand experience.
December 15, 2016
Navigate the Workplace

What to do when they don’t respond

It can be frustrating when you're waiting for a response from someone, and they're not meeting your self-selected timeline. You may need an answer, but don't make things worse in the process.
November 16, 2016
Navigate the Workplace

3 tips for surviving your current job

You’re tired of dreading work, and an annoying discomfort is setting in. It's easy to say it's only a job and the pay and benefits are good, but the situation is painful. Here are some tips to help keep your head and heart in the game.
October 14, 2016
Navigate the Workplace

Do you know how to get real feedback?

You have enough on your plate without asking for more. Yet, asking for feedback is a habit that can reap magical results.
September 13, 2016
Navigate the Workplace

3 ways to improve employee engagement

Are you getting everything you can from your focus on employee engagement? You may make more impact by rewiring how you think about it.
August 19, 2016
Navigate the Workplace

What to do when your manager is a no-show

Your work objectives and project deliverables are gaining on you. Your supervisor is nowhere to be found to help you prioritize. How do you go about increasing the likelihood of your success?
July 25, 2016
Navigate the Workplace

3 tactics for avoiding burnout and being more productive

Old habits die hard. Sometimes they over-complicate our days because we don't take the time to look at them. Real professionals look at the little things and how they can leverage them for big results. Some methods may seem counter-intuitive. It could be about how you use your communication tools, plan for time-off, or respond to requests. With little effort, you can use these tactics to focus on what's important to you, your boss and the organization. In the meantime, you are getting noticed and taking your performance to the next level.
June 22, 2016
Navigate the Workplace

How to get helpful feedback from your boss

Don't let a lack of preparation on your boss's part stop you. There are a myriad of ways to get feedback on your performance. You deserve to know how you are doing and where you stand.
March 31, 2016
Navigate the Workplace

How to stand strong with a core of confidence

A round of physical therapy reminded me of the importance of engaging my core when facing challenges. The core of our physical selves and our character can keep us grounded and confident when navigating tough terrain at work.
January 11, 2016
Navigate the Workplace

Avoid this pitfall of being a good manager

To be a 'good' manager of people it’s understood that you are responsible for motivating your employees, for guiding them through rough patches, for being there when they need you and particularly to answer their questions. This is great until your good intentions make them more dependent on you than you intended.
September 14, 2015
Navigate the Workplace

Use curiosity to trump conflict every time

When you are experiencing a disagreement, you don’t have to like your alleged opponent. You just have to work through the obstacles with them. Cultivate keen interest in their point of view and you might be surprised at what you learn, and how you solve the problem together.
August 3, 2015
Navigate the Workplace

Why delivering feedback is not a one-way street

Managers, there's more to feedback than the 'what.' The 'how' can make all the difference. When you want your employee to own the feedback and take action, make it a two-way conversation.
June 30, 2015
Navigate the Workplace

How to deliver performance feedback that sticks

Do you wonder why you have to deliver feedback over and over? There's a way to do it and many ways not to. Even if you are familiar with what not to do, it can be difficult to pull together a plan to make it work. Learn some tips here to deliver feedback in a way that your employee might actually hear.
May 28, 2015
Navigate the Workplace

It’s called human resources for a reason

Human resources is not just a name on a door or the department that handles the <em>people stuff.</em> Learn what you can do today give the human beings in your organization who happen to be employees what they need to perform, thrive and be glad they are there. What does this mean? To treat them humanly and give humans at work what they need so they can perform – just like you would give a car the oil it needs on a regular basis, so it has what it needs to perform. You don't need a title or authority. You can make a difference today. Capitalize on what human beings can deliver when they get what they need.
April 27, 2015