Category Archives: Developing managers

Keeping hold of your authenticity as a manager, leader and coach


By Elisabeth Goodman, 24th May 2020

Many of the people that I work with, on RiverRhee’s management courses, and also in one-to-one coaching, are either relatively new to management, or transitioning from a management to a leadership role.

One of the things that we stress in our leadership course is the importance of being authentic: being true to yourself.  People respond to who you are.  If this is at odds with what you say and do, this can not only cause stress to yourself, but also affect other people’s trust in you.

So how does this sit with Goleman’s (2000) description of different leadership styles, and the suggestion that leaders should flex their style to meet different situational requirements?  And how does that sit with the concept of a manager as coach?

Daniel Goleman's leadership styles

There may be some answers from Frei and Morriss (2020) in their HBR article: “Begin with trust.  The first step to becoming a genuinely empowering leader”.

Authenticity

Authenticity is when you are being “the real you”: in terms of what you know, what you believe, what you think and how you feel.

Many of us are aware that we are different when at work to how we are at home. Why is that?  What is making us behave differently?  What are we holding back of our better selves in one or the other environment?

I’d be intrigued to know whether the “current situation” (as many of us are calling it), where many people find themselves working from home, or otherwise dealing with exceptional circumstances, is making a difference.  Are we being more open, more genuine, more consistently our true selves?  If so, what difference is that making to the quality of our interactions with others? Is it creating more trust?

Empathy

Empathy is the second of three components that Frei and Morriss (2020) suggest are essential for creating trust.  It’s an easy quality to recognise that managers and leaders have needed to tap into at the present time.

Many people are juggling so many conflicting demands: looking after children at home or worrying about elderly parents whilst still trying to meet expectations for their work.

Empathy sits well with the affiliative leadership style where people come first. It relies on creating harmony and building emotional bonds. It’s great for motivating people during times of stress.

Empathy also sits well with a coaching style of leadership: one where you are paying attention to an individual’s strengths and values as well as their feelings, and supporting them in their development.

Could a leader, who is not naturally empathetic, argue against digging deep within themselves to find some empathy when a situation demands it on the grounds that this is not their authentic self?

Perhaps their loss of authenticity, and the risk to how others trust them, would be to go overboard with the empathy, rather than not demonstrating any at all when the situation does demand it?

The role of logic

Logic is the last of the three components in Frei and Morriss’s (2020) triangle of trust.

Logic is needed to be able to effectively communicate the information and data supporting a course of action that you are advocating.

Logic is an important asset for the authoritative style of leadership: where a manager or leader is communicating a vision to encourage people to adopt a new way of working for example. Interestingly, Goleman also lists empathy as one of the qualities for authoritative leadership.

The democratic leadership style also relies on information and data: where a leader is seeking input to shape the new way forward. Although Goleman does not emphasise empathy as a component of this style, it is a collaborative one.

So, can a manager or leader (or coach) be authentic and still switch into either one of these two other styles of leadership, using logic effectively, when the situation demands it? Without acting against their character, and without jeopardising trust? Again, to be able to do so would seem both desirable and possible and, in the right situation, likely to inspire trust in the leader.

It may be that being able to access and communicate information and data at the necessary level of detail is not something that comes naturally to all managers and leaders. In which case, the important thing is to be conscious of this and either develop this ability, or ask for support from others in the team.  Pretending to be more knowledgeable, or being otherwise misleading would certainly jeopardise trust.

A look at coercive and pace-setting leadership styles

These two styles are described as ‘negative’ ones in that they demand instant action and cooperation from the team.  There is no room for empathy, consultation or collaboration.

These are perhaps the two styles that raise the greatest questions, for me, about authenticity.  If either one is someone’s natural style, then it will be harder for them to switch to any of the other four.  And vice versa.

We know why managers and leaders need to be able to switch into the other four, as described above.

There may also be occasions though when the coercive or pace-setting styles are appropriate:

  • The coercive style of leadership may be needed in a crisis, when time is of the essence, when health, safety, security or the company’s reputation are at stake
  • The pacesetting style of leadership may also be appropriate when time is short and work needs to be delivered to a specified quality or turn-around time.  It’s likely to work best when everyone knows exactly what they need to do and are competent and motivated to do so.

By definition both these leadership styles would seem to be ones to adopt in the short-term, before reverting to one of the other four more collaborative or empathetic styles.

Could a manager or leader (or coach) still feel they are being authentic if they were to switch into one of these two styles, if it was not their most natural?

Conclusion

How are these reflections resonating with you?

Who is the authentic you?

Do you inspire trust in your team as a manager or leader, or in the people that you coach?

What role do empathy and logic play in this?

Do you, or could you flex your leadership style?  What would be the impact?

Notes

Acknowledgements

Thank you to Liz Mercer of Perla Development, and to Nicki and Tim Hedin (my learning buddies from Barefoot Coaching’s Cohort 57) , for helping me to reflect on the concept of authenticity and its link to leadership and coaching.

References

Goleman, D. (2000) Leadership that gets results. Harvard Business Review, March-April,

Frei, F. and Morriss, A. (2020) Begin with trust.  The first step to becoming a genuinely empowering leader. Harvard Business Review, May-June, pp. 112-121

About the author

Elisabeth Goodman is the Owner and Principal Consultant at RiverRhee Consulting., a consultancy that specialises in “creating exceptional managers and teams”, through courses, workshops and one-to-one coaching, and with a focus on the Life Sciences. RiverRhee is a member-to-member training provider for One Nucleus.

Elisabeth founded RiverRhee Consulting in 2009, and prior to that had 25+ years’ experience in the Pharmaceutical Industry in line management and internal training and consultancy roles supporting teams on a global basis.  She is developing her coaching practice, with a focus on helping individuals to develop management, interpersonal and communication skills, and to deal with change.

Elisabeth is accredited in Change Management, in Lean Sigma, in Belbin Team Roles, MBTI (Myers Briggs Type Indicator) and is an NLP (NeuroLinguistic Programming) Practitioner. She is a member of the APM (Association for Project Management) in which she was a founding member of the Enabling Change SIG.

Elisabeth is also a member of the ICF (International Coaching Federation) and is working towards her PG Certification in Business and Personal Coaching with Barefoot Coaching and the University of Chester.

Starting from a position of choice in manager-employee relationships


By Elisabeth Goodman, 17th May 2019

An article in the latest issue of Harvard Business Review has, as is often the case, triggered some lateral thinking on my part.  Borys Groysberg (2020) explores a case study of whether a manager should fight to keep a star employee who decides to leave the organisation without any apparent prior indication of wanting to do so.

There follows some very valid discussion, from the author and from two contributing experts, on the merits or otherwise of various remedial-style actions.

What are your options when an employee says they plan to leave your employment?

As the manager you can:

  • Make various forms of counter-offer to the employee
  • Find out why the employee is leaving and see if the reasons can be addressed in a way that would stop them doing so
  • Promote their colleague to stop them leaving as well, and to fill the gap even if they might not (yet) have the necessary skills
  • Give their colleague the incentive to work towards promotion by developing their skills to fill the gap
  • Put your own work to one side in order to fill the gap until someone else can be found to fill it

What the article also begins to explore is what preventative actions the manager could have taken which might have prevented the employee wanting to leave in the first place, or helped them to be better prepared for them wanting to do so.

What are your options to pre-empt an employee taking you by surprise with their career choices?

I believe that such preventative options could be even better positioned were managers and employees to adopt the mindset that:

  1. People work for a company by choice, just as a company chooses to recruit people for specific jobs
  2. The relationship between an individual and their manager is a collaborative one, which combines meeting the organisation’s requirements and supporting the individual in their personal development plans
  3. An individual may find that their personal development is best continued elsewhere
  4. A company’s requirements from an individual will also evolve over time

There are various tools that can support discussions between managers and employees about their respective expectations. Most important is to have the conversation itself. [Illustration based on various RiverRhee courses for managers.]

How to start from a position of choice in manager-eMployee relationships?

If we start from a position of choice in manager-employee relationships, then some good practices, which the HBR article does mention, could be re-cast as follows:

1. Have regular one-to-one discussions which are not only task-focused, but also reflect on how things are going in terms of :

  • The individual’s expectations for their personal development
  • The organisation’s requirements from the individual

2. Discuss succession planning:

  • How the individual’s career might evolve within the organisation in terms of potential gaps from other people leaving
  • What the individual could do to develop others who might fill their role if they move to other roles within or outside the organisation

3. Perhaps most importantly of all, regularly demonstrate, through positive feedback, how much you value the individual’s contribution to the company

notes

Reference

Groysberg, B. (2020) Case Study: Should you Fight to Keep a Star? Harvard Business Review, May – June

About the author

Elisabeth Goodman is the Owner and Principal Consultant at RiverRhee Consulting., a consultancy that specialises in “creating exceptional managers and teams”, through courses, workshops and one-to-one coaching, and with a focus on the Life Sciences. RiverRhee is a member-to-member training provider for One Nucleus.

Elisabeth founded RiverRhee Consulting in 2009, and prior to that had 25+ years’ experience in the Pharmaceutical Industry in line management and internal training and consultancy roles supporting teams on a global basis.  She is developing her coaching practice, with a focus on helping individuals to develop management, interpersonal and communication skills, and to deal with change.

Elisabeth is accredited in Change Management, in Lean Sigma, in Belbin Team Roles, MBTI (Myers Briggs Type Indicator) and is an NLP (NeuroLinguistic Programming) Practitioner. She is a member of the APM (Association for Project Management) in which she was a founding member of the Enabling Change SIG.

Elisabeth is also a member of the ICF (International Coaching Federation) and is working towards her PG Certification in Business and Personal Coaching with Barefoot Coaching and the University of Chester.

Working with diversity in thinking, learning and interpersonal styles


Elisabeth Goodman, 9th May 2020

I’ve been doing a bit of reading and thinking about the impact of diversity in how we think and learn and how this might play out in our interactions with each other at work, or indeed at home.

A look at Neurodiversity

There is a lot that we can learn from people who are described as ‘neurodiverse’, given, as Nancy Doyle (2019) says, that:

It is estimated that just 59% of people can be considered “neurotypical”. With prevalence data like that, we have to assume that neurodiversity is a natural variation within the human species.

People who are ‘neurodiverse’ include those “with autism, Asperger’s, dyslexia, ADHD. They have a cognitive profile of extreme strengths and weaknesses and in how they think, and in how they interact with others. People who are ‘neurotypical’ tend to score about the same on all measures of their cognitive profiles.

According to Genius Within , the cognitive strengths of the ‘neurodiverse’ cover a plethora of intellectual and interpersonal skills (or intelligences) such as problem solving, holistic thinking, verbal skills, visual thinking, mechanical skills, creativity, attention to detail, hyperfocus, empathy, persistance etc.

The list represents all the different skills that we would want in the workplace the difference being, Doyle (2019) suggests, that individuals who are ‘neurodiverse’ will specialise in some of these, whilst those who are ‘neurotypical’ might be more generalist. Or would they?

Insights from personality tools and learning styles

We have a vast choice of personality tools available to us to help us understand our individual strengths and those of others.

MBTI summary slide

MBTI summary slide from RiverRhee’s training courses, with illustrations by Nathaniel Spain

What we can learn from personality tools is that we are all diverse in terms of which cognitive and interpersonal skills come to us most naturally, and which ones we have learnt to develop over time.

Kolb, and Honey and Mumford add yet more perspectives to this in terms of our different learning styles such as:

  • experiential or activist
  • reviewing or reflecting
  • concluding or theorising
  • planning or pragmatism

Are we simply talking about different types of intelligences?

In digging deeper on this whole subject, as part of carrying out my research for my PG Certificate in Business and Personal Coaching, I came across Watagodakumbura (2014).  His focus is on the need to address all of these differences in terms of education.

He quotes, amongst other really useful things, a range of intelligences: linguistic, spatial, logical-mathematical, musical, bodily-kinesthetic, intrapersonal and interpersonal, naturalistic and existential.

Watagodakumbura also reminds us, as Grandin (2013) does, that a lot of the differences in our cognitive and interpersonal skills can be related to differences in brain development. This opens up further questions for me about what we are born with, and what we can develop over time.  What role does neuroplasticity for instance play in all of this?

Conclusion: So what can we do with this understanding of diversity?

I personally find this whole area tremendously fascinating and exciting.  There is so much we can learn about ourselves and the people around us.

We can use this knowledge in a way that is enriching for ourselves and to enhance our interactions with others. We can make conscious choices about how to develop ourselves, and how to take advantage of opportunities that make the best of our strengths.

There is so much more to learn about this area.  I’m looking forward to finding out more.

Notes

References

Doyle, N (2019). Making the invisible visible – supporting neurodiversity in the workplace. Personnel Today, 1st Feb. https://www.personneltoday.com/hr/making-the-invisible-visible/ (Accessed 9th May 2020)

Genius Within – https://www.geniuswithin.co.uk/infographics-and-literature/neuro-diversity-venn-diagram/ (Accessed 9th May 2020)

Grandin, T. and Panek, R. (2013). The Autistic Brain. Rider Books.

Honey and Mumford – https://www.open.edu/openlearn/ocw/pluginfile.php/629607/mod_resource/content/1/t175_4_3.pdf (Accessed 9th May 2020)

Kolb – https://www.simplypsychology.org/learning-kolb.html (Accessed 9th May 2020)

Watagodakumbura, C. (2014). The need to address psychological and neurological characteristics of learners in the mainstream education system. Journal of Studies in Education, Vol 4(1), 94-108

About the author

Elisabeth Goodman is the Owner and Principal Consultant at RiverRhee Consulting., a consultancy that specialises in “creating exceptional managers and teams”, through courses, workshops and one-to-one coaching, and with a focus on the Life Sciences. RiverRhee is a member-to-member training provider for One Nucleus.

Elisabeth founded RiverRhee Consulting in 2009, and prior to that had 25+ years’ experience in the Pharmaceutical Industry in line management and internal training and consultancy roles supporting teams on a global basis.  She is developing her coaching practice, with a focus on helping individuals to develop management, interpersonal and communication skills, and to deal with change.

Elisabeth is accredited in Change Management, in Lean Sigma, in Belbin Team Roles, MBTI (Myers Briggs Type Indicator) and is an NLP (NeuroLinguistic Programming) Practitioner. She is a member of the APM (Association for Project Management) in which she was a founding member of the Enabling Change SIG.

Elisabeth is also a member of the ICF (International Coaching Federation) and is working towards her PG Certification in Business and Personal Coaching with Barefoot Coaching and the University of Chester.

The manager as coach: working across generations


By Elisabeth Goodman, 25th April 2020

I’ve been enjoying being a student on the Post Graduate Certificate in Business and Personal Coaching with Barefoot Coaching and the University of Chester. The course has brought me new insights as well as very helpful reminders of the key principles and techniques that go into making us more effective coaches.

One such set of principles or techniques is encapsulated in Eric Berne’s (Berne 2016) Transactional Analysis.  It’s something I have been using for a while with people that I coach, and also in RiverRhee‘s training course on Assertiveness.  And it’s something that has huge relevance for managers working across generations, as well as for interactions between generations at home.

 

Screen Shot 2020-04-21 at 15.11.23

We are at our best when we are making a conscious choice about our behaviour

Have you ever noticed, when you have been away from home and the other people who live there for a while – perhaps on holiday or on a work trip – that you come back a bit different, slightly changed?  Perhaps more confident, more assertive?

It’s certainly something I used to notice as a student when I returned home on holiday from university.  For a short while, I saw the dynamics that went on between the various members of my family more objectively, more clearly.  And I initiated and responded to conversations in a more open, more direct (in a respectful way), more resourceful way.  I felt like a better version of myself.  Then, after a while, I slipped back into my old patterns of behaviour that I had known as a child – this seemed easier if not nearly as positive. I was often glad to get back to university where I could  return to what felt like my better ‘adult’ self.

Our behaviour can influence the behaviour of others

As a parent, it can be difficult to recognise, respond to, and encourage that more ‘adult’ behaviour in our young people at home.  To listen, really listen to them.  To treat their ideas, opinions and feelings in the same way that we would treat those of say our adult friends, or our colleagues at work. It can also be difficult to retain that more ‘adult’ behaviour when we interact with our parents.

In the language of Transactional Analysis, if we act as an over-controlling ‘parent’ towards someone, someone that we manage, or a young adult at home, their automatic response can be to behave as a rebellious ‘child’.  If we act as a helpless ‘child’ towards our manager, or towards our parent (even if we are an adult) then we can bring out their overbearing ‘parent’ behaviour towards us.

[N.B. ‘Parent’ and ‘child’ behaviours do have their positive as well as their negative sides.  So ‘parent’ behaviour can be constructive or nurturing, as opposed to controlling or overbearing.  ‘Child’ behaviour can be creative or responsive, as opposed to disruptive or helpless.  I am putting a greater emphasis on the negative interpretations for the purpose of this blog.]

Is this something that you have noticed?

Imagine the added complexity of working across generations at work:

  • Do you project your ‘parent’ behaviour onto younger people who report to you?  What effect does that have?
  • Do you project your ‘child’ behaviour onto older people who manage you? And what effect does that have?

choosing a more open and collaborative behaviour

Interacting in ‘adult’ to ‘adult’ mode can promote openness and a more collaborative behaviour between all those involved.  But doing so takes awareness and effort.

As a manager, parent and coach, you can help yourself and those that you interact with to have a more open and collaborative interaction through:

  • Self-awareness during, and reflection after, your interactions with others
  • Maintaining an attitude of respect and ‘unconditional positive regard’ (Rogers 2012) towards those that you interact with
  • Listening, really listening to others’ ideas, opinions and feelings
  • Taking the time to express your own ideas, opinions and feelings to others in a way that shows that you value their attention and response
  • Keeping the lines of communication open between you: being prepared to ask “How could we work (or interact) better with each other?”

Conclusion

What have you noticed about the dynamics between generations at work or at home?

How much of this might be down to your own behaviour?

What could you change?

Notes

References

Barefoot Coaching (2020) Post Graduate Certificate in Business and Personal Coaching

Berne, E. (2016) Transactional Analysis in Psychotherapy: A Systematic Individual and Social Psychology. Reprint.  Pickle Partners Publishing

Rogers, C. (2012) On Becoming a Person: A Therapist’s View of Psychotherapy. Reprint. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

About the author

Elisabeth Goodman is the Owner and Principal Consultant at RiverRhee Consulting., a consultancy that specialises in “creating exceptional managers and teams”, through courses, workshops and one-to-one coaching, and with a focus on the Life Sciences. RiverRhee is a member-to-member training provider for One Nucleus.

Elisabeth founded RiverRhee Consulting in 2009, and prior to that had 25+ years’ experience in the Pharmaceutical Industry in line management and internal training and consultancy roles supporting teams on a global basis.  She is developing her coaching practice, with a focus on helping individuals to develop management, interpersonal and communication skills, and to deal with change.

Elisabeth is accredited in Change Management, in Lean Sigma, in Belbin Team Roles, MBTI (Myers Briggs Type Indicator) and is an NLP (NeuroLinguistic Programming) Practitioner. She is a member of the APM (Association for Project Management) in which she was a founding member of the Enabling Change SIG.

Elisabeth is also a member of the ICF (International Coaching Federation) and is working towards her PG Certification in Business and Personal Coaching with Barefoot Coaching and the University of Chester.

The manager as coach: visual thinking tools and the wheel of anything


By Elisabeth Goodman, 13th April 2020

Visual thinking tools are something that many of us use in our day-to-day work

Visual thinking tools

Visual thinking tools – illustration by Nathaniel Spain in Elisabeth Goodman’s “The Effective Team’s Facilitation Workbook”, RiverRhee Publishing 2018

Readers might remember when Tony Buzan’s mind-maps (Buzan, 2000) were all the rage, and in fact you may use them still for planning out pieces of writing, taking notes at meetings, or revising for assessments.

Edward de Bono’s “six thinking hats” (De Bono, 2016) are very popular too for facilitating creative group thinking, and he has written at length about a range of other thinking tools (DeBono, 2006, and Goodman, 2015).

Anyone who has experienced a Lean and Six Sigma workshop (Goodman, 2015), or a Knowledge Management workshop (Goodman, 2016) will also be familiar with visual tools for instance to improve processes, to solve problems, or to reflect on what they have learnt.

The advantage of visual thinking tools is implicit in their description:

  • They enable all those involved in a discussion to express and to see exactly what is in everyone’s mind
  • They make it easier to draw out and make new connections between everyone’s ideas

There is room for all sorts of different thinking styles.

Those who are big picture thinkers will be able to see the big picture.  Those who pay more attention to detail will be able to work in the detail.

Those who need to see things to help them think, will certainly see what’s involved.  The group’s conversation around what is being shared will help those who need to hear it.  The conversation will also help with the active exchange of knowledge, ideas, opinions.

In face-to-face discussions, those with a more tactile approach will have the pens, flip charts etc. at their disposal, and of course all those involved will feel the mood too.  (These last two are more difficult where meetings are conducted virtually as in the current pandemic, but we facilitators, group coaches and one-to-one coaches are working on that!)

So a manager has a wealth of potential tools to choose from to support visual thinking with individual direct reports, or with their teams.

The “wheel of anything”

Readers might have come across “the wheel of life” which is a very useful tool for those who are, literally, at a cross-roads in their lives.  It helps you to explore the balance between what is happening for you for example at work, with your family and friends, with your health and well-being.  Reflecting on this balance helps you to consider what you would like to do to adjust that balance: what you would like to put more or less emphasis on, and how you will do that.

The wheel of life

The idea of a “wheel of anything” (Barefoot Coaching, 2020), enables you to populate the different segments of the wheel with all the topics that you would like to explore, using any number of segments.

I have found that the “wheel of givens” (adapted from Human Givens, 2018) has been particularly apt with some of the people I have been coaching at this point in time, when everyone’s lives have been affected in some way or other by the Covid-19 pandemic.  The topics this explores are:

  1. Security
  2. Attention
  3. Autonomy
  4. Community
  5. Privacy
  6. Meaning and Purpose
  7. Intimacy
  8. Status
  9. Achievement and Competence

The definitions used by the Human Givens organisation for these nine emotional needs are quite specific but, as with everything to do with coaching, they could be adapted to suit an individual’s preference.

Adapting the wheel for your use as a manager

As a manager, you can choose to use any version of the wheel that seems most helpful to your direct report, or to your team.

For your direct report you can ask them for example: “What’s important to you at this point in time?”  They can then divide their wheel up into the appropriate number of segments, label them with each item they’ve identified, and then evaluate each in terms of how well they are going, and what they would like to do differently.

For your team, you might want to use a version of the 14 team practices as shown on my website (RiverRhee, 2017).  Or you could facilitate a conversation amongst team members, using the wheel, to identify and evaluate the team norms or values (Goleman et al, 2018 and Goodman, 2018) that will help the team to be at its best.

Conclusion

There is a lot of scope for managers to have a coaching style conversation with individual direct reports, or with their team as a whole.  Visual thinking tools such as “the wheel of anything” can help to create a more energetic and productive conversation.  What tools are you already using?  Which ones will you now consider?

Notes

References

Barefoot Coaching (2020) Post Graduate Certificate in Business and Personal Coaching

Buzan, T. and Buzan B. (2000). The Mind Map Book. (Millenium Edition) BBC Worldwide Limited.

De Bono, E. (2006) Thinking Course: Powerful Tools to Transform your Thinking. BBC Active

De Bono, E. (2016) Six Thinking Hats. Penguin Life

Goleman, D. et al (2017)  Building blocks of emotional intelligence. 11. Teamwork: a primer. Key Step Media. More than Sound

Goodman, E. (2015) https://elisabethgoodman.wordpress.com/2015/01/24/de-bonos-thinking-course-an-essential-facilitators-tool/ (accessed 13th April 2020)

Goodman, E. (2015) The Effective Team’s Operational Excellence Workbook. RiverRhee Publishing

Goodman, E. (2016) The Effective Team’s Knowledge Management Workbook. RiverRhee Publishing

Goodman, E. (2018) https://elisabethgoodman.wordpress.com/2018/06/03/defining-team-norms-for-high-performance-teams/ (Accessed 13th April, 2020)

Human Givens (2018) https://www.hgi.org.uk/sites/default/files/hgi/Emotional-Needs-Infographic-2018.pdf

RiverRhee (2017) http://riverrhee.com/blog/temperature-checks-or-diagnostics-high-performance-teams (Accessed 13th April 2020)

About the author

Elisabeth Goodman is the Owner and Principal Consultant at RiverRhee Consulting., a consultancy that specialises in “creating exceptional managers and teams”, through courses, workshops and one-to-one coaching, and with a focus on the Life Sciences. RiverRhee is a member-to-member training provider for One Nucleus.

Elisabeth founded RiverRhee Consulting in 2009, and prior to that had 25+ years’ experience in the Pharmaceutical Industry in line management and internal training and consultancy roles supporting teams on a global basis.  She is developing her coaching practice, with a focus on helping individuals to develop management, interpersonal and communication skills, and to deal with change.

Elisabeth is accredited in Change Management, in Lean Sigma, in Belbin Team Roles, MBTI (Myers Briggs Type Indicator) and is an NLP (NeuroLinguistic Programming) Practitioner. She is a member of the APM (Association for Project Management) in which she was a founding member of the Enabling Change SIG.

Elisabeth is also a member of the ICF (International Coaching Federation) and is working towards her PG Certification in Business and Personal Coaching with Barefoot Coaching and the University of Chester.

The manager as coach: pros and cons of internal vs external coaches


By Elisabeth Goodman, 17th March 2020

Many organisations are developing their managers to be internal coaches, as an alternative to hiring external coaches to develop their staff.  This blog explores the pros and cons of doing so.

Coach – meaning ‘to carry’ a definition originating from Kocs, a village in Hungary that used to make carriages

Why develop your managers to be coaches?

According to Downey (2014), managers ideally combine leadership, management and coaching skills in order to fulfil their role. This gives them the flexibility to use the appropriate intervention to support the learning and development of their direct reports (see Goodman, 2020).

We know from adult learning theory (Stober and Grant, 2006) that adults are self-directed in their learning.  They are often more motivated when they have greater autonomy and freedom of thought and action (Pink, 2010). And creating individual awareness and responsibility is at the core of effective coaching (Whitmore, 2009).

In addition, where team members are more independent thinkers, managers no longer need to tell them how to do things, nor do they need to micromanage them.  Coaching enables managers to focus on developing rather than controlling their team members (Rogers, 2016), and so also frees up more of their time for strategic activities.

when does coaching by managers not work?

Coaching requires fine-tuning of some basic interpersonal skills, many of which are closely linked to good leadership skills (Peltier, 2010).  These include:

  • Integrity and the ability to inspire trust
  • Emotional maturity or intelligence (being able to notice and manage / respond appropriately to their own and others’ emotions)
  • An ability to establish strong collaborative relationships (see also Starr, 2008)

If a manager does not have these skills, or is not able to apply them appropriately, then it will be difficult to have the kind of open and honest conversation that is a hallmark of effective coaching.

This collaborative relationship can also be adversely affected if a manager feels the need to revert to a disciplinary style of management.

Lastly, an individual may not be comfortable raising more personal issues for coaching discussions with their managers.  Or both parties might find it difficult to revert to their original collaborative approach after having discussed deeper, more personal, issues.

When might external coaches be more useful?

External coaches might be most useful:

  1. To develop a manager’s coaching skills
  2. As coaches to managers
  3. To provide on-going support for managers who are coaching (this is also referred to as ‘coaching supervision’)
  4. To fill a gap until internal coaches become available
  5. For more personal or non-task related coaching

Note that an organisation could also develop other members of staff, for instance in HR, or other managers, to fulfil any of the above.

COnclusion

There are some very real benefits of developing your managers’ coaching skills – for both developing and motivating the members of their team.

Some circumstances might make it difficult for managers and their team members to have the level of trust that’s required for the open and honest conversations that effective coaching requires.

External coaches can provide value in developing and supporting managers for their coaching roles, and as an alternative source of coaching when required.

Notes

References

Downey, M, (2014). Effective modern coaching. London: LID Publishing.

Goodman, E. (2020). The manager as coach: leadership, management and coaching. https://elisabethgoodman.wordpress.com/2020/02/04/the-manager-as-coach-leadership-management-and-coaching/ (accessed 17th March 2020)

Peltier, B. (2001). The psychology of executive coaching: Theory and application. New York: Brunner-Routledge.

Pink, D. (2010). RSA Animate: The surprising truth about what motivates us. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u6XAPnuFjJc (accessed 17th March 2020)

Rogers, J. (2016). Coaching skills: The definitive guide to being a coach (4th ed.) Berkshire: McGraw-Hill Education.

Stober, D.R. & Grant, A. (2006). Evidence based coaching handbook: Putting best practice to work for your clients. Hoboken, N.J.: John Wiley & Sons.

Whitmore, J. (2009).  Coaching for performance: GROWing human potential and purpose: the principles and practice of coaching and leadership. Boston: Nicholas Brealey

About the author

Elisabeth Goodman is the Owner and Principal Consultant at RiverRhee Consulting., a consultancy that specialises in “creating exceptional managers and teams”, through courses, workshops and one-to-one coaching, and with a focus on the Life Sciences.

Elisabeth founded RiverRhee Consulting in 2009, and prior to that had 25+ years’ experience in the Pharmaceutical Industry in line management and internal training and consultancy roles supporting teams on a global basis.  She is developing her coaching practice, with a focus on helping individuals to develop management and ‘soft’ skills, especially associated with change, and with Neurodiversity.

Elisabeth is accredited in Change Management, in Lean Sigma, in Belbin Team Roles, MBTI (Myers Briggs Type Indicator) and is an NLP (NeuroLinguistic Programming) Practitioner. She is a member of the ICF (International Coaching Federation) and of the APM (Association for Project Management) in which she was a founding member of the Enabling Change SIG. RiverRhee is a member-to-member training provider for One Nucleus.

Giving feedback – making informed choices about intention vs impact


By Elisabeth Goodman, 12th March 2020

Professor Yeun Joon Kim and Junha Kim feature in an interview in the latest issue of Harvard Business Review (Meeker, A. 2020).  Their conversation, based on a study in a Korean health-food company, and amongst students at a North American university suggests that feedback might have a different impact depending on whether it comes from superiors, peers or direct reports.

Their results suggest that individuals might react more defensively to negative feedback from line managers and peers, whilst their creativity might be boosted by negative feedback from direct reports. (Although there could also be negative repercussions on those giving such feedback.)

They thought that positive feedback could be good for creativity, and might help people feel valued and more motivated as a result.  But they also thought that the effect of positive feedback might wear off as people got complacent about their performance.

These conclusions raised a couple of questions in my mind:

  1. Would these conclusions hold true in other cultures and in other kinds of organisations?
  2. Might any of the results vary depending on the personality of the recipient and their receptiveness to feedback?

I did a mindmap of what I’ve read, know about and thought about on giving feedback.

Giving feedback - intention vs impact

Giving feedback – a mindmap of intention vs impact

Understanding your intention for giving or collecting feedback

I know from people that I’ve worked with through RiverRhee, as a trainer and as a coach, that individuals value getting feedback, albeit for different reasons.  For some people it is an extrinsic motivator:

  • It’s reassuring to know that they are doing well
  • Or they thrive on receiving suggestions about what they could work on to be even better at what they do
  • It can help them to feel valued

At the same time, there are people who don’t welcome feedback:

  • Positive feedback can feel uncomfortable or patronising
  • Or they can feel threatened by what feels like negative feedback

Tools such as the MBTI (Myers Briggs Type Indicator) can give some insights on what people’s feedback preferences might be.  They could well be different from those of the manager!

For managers and leaders, giving feedback can feel like an essential tool for developing the performance of their direct reports:

  • They might use positive feedback to reinforce new or improved behaviours that have been agreed with an individual
  • They might use constructive feedback (an alternative definition of negative feedback) to highlight gaps in performance or further discussion

There are several options for how to give feedback, and who to get it from

These options are summarised in my illustration above, so that I will just pick out a few of the points.

Evidence-based immediate feedback

The most effective feedback, in my experience, is that linked to evidence, especially when given as soon as possible after an event.  These are central tenets of the “STAR-AR” model that we use in RiverRhee’s management and appraisal training.

For positive feedback this works as follows:

  • Cite the SITUATION or TARGET relating to the feedback that you wish to give – for instance a presentation that the individual gave yesterday
  • Describe the ACTION that they took – for instance a  request to the audience that answers be kept to the end
  • Describe the RESULT that you observed – for example the audience’s level of engagement

For constructive feedback the model starts in the same way – with STAR.  But then, if the result could have been improved upon it follows with:

  • An ALTERNATIVE action they could take in the future
  • What the anticipated RESULT of that would be

Self-reflection by the individual

An ideal approach to take with any form of feedback, for more buy-in and more effective development of the individual, is to invite them to reflect on what they noticed about an experience, and what they would like to do differently or the same next time as a result.

This more effective approach to feedback is also described in one of my earlier blogs (Goodman, 2019).

However Carucci (2020), suggests that people are often unaware of the gap between what they intend to do, and the actual impact that it has, so that some form of external feedback is essential to close this gap.

5 questions from 5 people (or Ask five people)

Is a tool for gathering feedback that we have been trying out on the Barefoot Post Graduate Certificate in Business and Personal Coaching that I am currently completing.

It has a more positive and empathetic slant than other tools that I’ve come across. The questions are:

  1. What one word of phrase describes me best?
  2. What do you think is my greatest achievement?
  3. What do you value most about me?
  4. What one thing could I change for my own benefit?
  5. What do you believe to be my greatest strength?

I have found the insights gained from the people who answered those questions about me very enlightening, affirming and also useful in my further development.

Collecting feedback from project managers

This is just a quick reminder that many of the companies we work with operate a matrix structure, whereby people spend a lot of their time working with project managers who are not their line managers.  It is therefore invaluable for many reasons to obtain feedback from these project managers too.

The impact of feedback

My earlier blog (Goodman, 2020) also includes a reference to the neuroscience of the impact of feedback, which I will re-quote here.

Buckingham and Goodall (2019) cite the following insights:

  • When we focus on areas that we need to correct, our sympathetic “fight or flight” survival system kicks in and actually impairs learning.
  • When we focus on  dreams and how to achieve them, our parasympathetic or “rest and digest” system is stimulated and fosters openness to learning.

So their take is that people are more likely to be receptive to feedback and more open to learning if the feedback is framed in a positive way – a finding that partly confirms, and partly contradicts this blog’s opening references to Meeker (2020).

Conclusion

Some possible next steps are summarised in the illustration at the start of this blog.

It does seem as though having a clear appreciation of the purpose for collecting and giving feedback will help to inform what is collected, and how it is given.

Understanding what form of feedback will be most effective for an individual, and actually having a discussion with them about this beforehand would also seem like a recipe for success.

It may be that individuals will benefit most from a coaching approach and self-reflection.

Finally, as with everything to do with managing people, this is an area that is ripe for continuous evaluation so as to ensure that the intent of giving any feedback does indeed have the desired impact.

Notes

References

Buckingham, M. and Goodall, A. (2019)  The Feedback Fallacy. Harvard Business Review, March-April: 92-101

Carucci, R. (2020) Giving feedback to someone who hasn’t had it in years. Harvard Business Review, January 22nd. https://hbr.org/2020/01/giving-feedback-to-someone-who-hasnt-had-it-in-years (accessed 12th March 2020)

Goodman, E. (2019) A more effective approach to feedback? https://elisabethgoodman.wordpress.com/2019/03/04/a-more-effective-approach-to-feedback/ (accessed 12th March 2020)

Meeker, A. (2020) A subordinate’s criticism makes you more creative.  Harvard Business Review, March-April: 30-31

About the author

Elisabeth Goodman is the Owner and Principal Consultant at RiverRhee Consulting., a consultancy that specialises in “creating exceptional managers and teams”, through courses, workshops and one-to-one coaching, and with a focus on the Life Sciences.

Elisabeth founded RiverRhee Consulting in 2009, and prior to that had 25+ years’ experience in the Pharmaceutical Industry in line management and internal training and consultancy roles supporting teams on a global basis.  She is developing her coaching practice, with a focus on helping individuals to develop management and ‘soft’ skills, especially associated with change, and with Neurodiversity.

Elisabeth is accredited in Change Management, in Lean Sigma, in Belbin Team Roles, MBTI (Myers Briggs Type Indicator) and is an NLP (NeuroLinguistic Programming) Practitioner. She is a member of the ICF (International Coaching Federation) and of the APM (Association for Project Management) in which she was a founding member of the Enabling Change SIG. RiverRhee is a member-to-member training provider for One Nucleus.