Tag Archives: coaching

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.

When you need to fire someone – do so with humanity


By Elisabeth Goodman, 8th March 2020

One of the questions that comes up periodically in our training and coaching work with managers (see RiverRhee), is what to do about someone who is underperforming.

Often, the manager has put in an enormous amount of time, effort and worry to do everything that they can to help the employee.  And yet the individual is still underperforming, does not have the ‘right attitude’ and is generally undermining the morale and productivity of the rest of the team.

The manager probably knows it’s time to fire someone, but they may be worried about the consequences for the individual’s state of mind, and/or the repercussions on the morale of the rest of the team.

I came across David Rock’s (2008) SCARF model whilst reading Jenny Roger’s (2016) “Coaching Skills” and it seems a particularly apt representation of some of the emotional aspects that might be involved.The SCARF modelRogers (2016) describes how helpful the model was when she showed it to someone she was coaching who had been fired.  It helped the individual to understand the emotions she was experiencing and to come to terms with the situation.

Joel Peterson’s (2020) article in the latest issue of Harvard Business Review provides a well thought out series of steps for how to fire someone that touches on how several of these emotional needs might be humanely addressed.

Being clear about the reasons for firing someone

An important first step is for the manager to be clear about why they want to fire someone.  It could be for one of several reasons:

  1. The individual is not a good fit for the job
  2. They are underperforming
  3. There are organisational reasons for changing people’s roles – and there is no good alternative fit for the individual
  4. There are other organisational changes for instance a need to reduce headcount – and again, there is no alternative fit

Being clear about these reasons will help the manager to ensure that they have taken whatever preventative action they can, and to take the appropriate follow-up action.

How to avoid firing someone

The individual is not a good fit for the job.

Obviously something has not worked in the original recruitment process.  Either the manager made an error of judgement, or the individual did.

If the timing for this realisation falls within a probation period, then there is scope for an open and honest conversation about the lack of fit, and both the manager and individual can part with dignity on both sides.

If not, then the firing will need to proceed – see the principles below for how to do so.

The individual is underperforming.

There is a responsibility on the manager to do everything they can in terms of:

  • clarifying the expected performance and attitude for the job
  • agreeing a plan for addressing any gaps – including specific actions, timings, and how both will know that the gap has been addressed
  • providing appropriate training and coaching
  • documenting all of the above and keeping HR informed

Again, see the principles below if none of the above is effective.

Organisational reasons or changes mean there is no longer a good fit for the individual.

Again, open and honest discussion is key to the situation.  The individual may choose to leave.  If not, the next section kicks in.

Sometimes, a combination of reasons might be involved.  I once had a direct report whose underperformance was actually caused by her no longer wanting to do the work.  We were able to have a conversation where she chose to disclose this, and I was able to support her in finding a better fit for her outside of the organisation.

SOme principles for Firing with humanity

Peterson’s (2020) steps for firing reflect some important principles, which I’ve summarised here:

1. Avoid making the firing discussion a surprise (hence my suggestions above on being clear about the reasons, and exploring options for avoiding firing ahead of time)

2. Avoid making any special cases – areas of risk for this are friends and family.  Making these exceptions will not help the individual or the organisation in the long run.

3. Practice what you are going to say ahead of time (maybe with someone in HR or a colleague) and prepare your mindset so that you can exercise the following principles

4. Treat the individual with dignity and respect (see the SCARF model earlier).  There is a place for everyone in work and society, and you have a responsibility to communicate your awareness of that.

5. Show empathy and compassion but without entering into the emotions involved. To do so would not be helpful, could be seen as patronising, and might unnecessarily prolong the discussion.

6. Keep your message clear and short – to give the individual time to take it in and process it.

7. Offer an opportunity for a follow-up discussion to support the individual in working out their next steps.  This may include keeping the individual in your professional network.

8. Be as generous as possible with the severance package – see suggestions in the illustration

CONClusion

Firing someone is not easy, but not to do so can be harmful to both the individual, and the organisation.

Hopefully the reflections above will help managers to do so in a way that creates positive outcomes for all concerned.

Referring to the SCARF model might also help all concerned to better understand the emotions that might be involved.

Notes

References

Peterson, J. (2020) Firing with compassion, Harvard Business Review, March-April 2020: 135-139

Rock, D. (2008) SCARF: A brain-based model for collaborating with and influencing others, NeuroLeadership Journal, 1: 1-9

Rogers, J. (2016) Coaching Skills. The definitive guide to being a coach. Berkshire: McGraw-Hill, Open University Press.

Other notes:

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.

The manager as coach: leadership, management and coaching


By Elisabeth Goodman, 4th February 2020

We had a question during our recent RiverRhee Introduction to Management course about the relevance of learning about leadership skills as part of a management course. (We do have a follow-on Transition to Leadership course.) We believe that the visionary aspects of leadership are valuable ones for managers to bear in mind, albeit their focus might be more on the operational side of things.

I have, coincidentally, just come across a connection with this topic as part of my reading on coaching skills (Downey, 2014).

Leadership_management_coaching per Myles Downey

Adapted from Myles Downey’s illustration (Downey, 2014)

Myles Downey asserts that a manager can usefully draw on skills from all three areas: leadership, management and coaching, depending on the situation and the individual involved.

(This is a slightly different take on Hersey and Blanchard’s ‘situational leadership’ model (Hersey and Blanchard, 2013))

exercising leadership vs management vs coaching in a management role

Referring to my version of Downey’s illustration above, a manager can make good use of their leadership skills to inspire the members of their team.  They can articulate and role-model the organisation’s vision and values.

They can use their management skills to clarify purpose, roles and responsibilities, to define measures for performance and to foster continuous process improvement.

And they can use their coaching skills to assist with the on-the-job and career development of the individuals reporting to them by:

  • providing feedback on their performance
  • listening to understand and asking open questions to stimulate further thinking
  • supporting (rather than automatically advising) them so that they can find their own answers and solutions

An Individual’s authority over their destiny

I remember feeling ‘liberated’ in my last months as an employee to be totally myself, and more in control of my destiny than I had ever been. I did not worry unduly about needing to respect hierarchy and the boundaries between departments, so much as looking for opportunities to collaborate, share knowledge and ideas, and be of value. How different would my life at work have been if I had adopted more of this kind of attitude throughout my career?

Myles Downey suggests that, whilst an organisation (and a manager) have authority about what work an employee needs to do, the employee could have authority about how they do their work.  It’s something that is often referred to as ’empowerment’, and as something that is in the gift of managers to give to their direct reports; or that individuals should somehow take the initiative to acquire.  Wouldn’t it be better if we just assumed that this is the way we work?

Downey also suggests that an individual could think more in terms of whether an organisation will be a good fit for them before they join. They could ask themselves: “does the organisation have the kinds of purpose, values and ways of working that I can relate to?”.

Similarly, he suggests that an organisation, when recruiting new employees, could consider whether the individual’s aspirations, values and approach, as well as their technical skills are a good fit.

Conclusion

Underpinning all of the above is the necessity for a good relationship between managers and their direct reports.  Such a relationship would be founded on mutual respect, trust, open communication, honesty.  Building this relationship is in the gift of both the manager and the individual.

Notes

References:

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

Hersey and Blanchard, (2013). https://www.selfawareness.org.uk/news/situational-leadership-and-developing-great-teams (Accessed 3rd February 2020.)

Other notes:

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 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.

Listening, self-expression, flexibility – three keys to effective interaction with others


By Elisabeth Goodman, 7th January 2020

Quote from: Francesca Gino’s “Cracking the code of sustained collaboration”, Harvard Business Review, Nov-Dec 2019, p.72-81

As we begin a new year, and a new decade, finding ways that we can get on better  with each other at work, in our families, and in all spheres of life has got to be a good thing!

Francesca Gino’s article with her great tips for effective collaboration came out just at the end of last year.  For me they come down to three key concepts:

  1. Listen to really understand the other person’s perspective
  2. Clearly express your own needs and intentions to help others understand what they are
  3. Be prepared to be flexible and adapt to achieve an outcome that works as well as possible for others as well as yourself

Listen to really understand the other person’s perspective

As Francesca Gino points out, there is a lot of emphasis in academia and in business on being able to talk: to make a good impression, to get our points across in meetings, to give effective presentations.

But listening is what makes all the difference to having effective discussions with others.  If we take the time to listen, ask open questions, allow the other person the space and time for reflection, we will better understand their perspective.  The quality of discussion will be some much better.

We can learn to listen empathetically: picking up on their tone and body language for underlying emotions, and communicating our understanding of the other’s perspective and situation.  (This is different from sympathy – we are not required to enter into the same emotional state!)

clearly express your own needs and intentions

A lot of tension, misunderstanding and conflict comes from not wanting to say what we really think or feel. Or we expect others to guess what might be going on with us and then get frustrated or annoyed when they don’t.

So we can develop our skills in expressing what we think and feel, and what outcomes we want, in a way that is respectful of the other person.

Likewise, we can learn to provide feedback, positive and constructive, in a way that is objective, specific and focuses on the other person’s behaviour rather than their personality.

be prepared to be flexible and adapt..

This is all about seeking ‘win-win’ outcomes as opposed to being in a competitive mindset.

We can work on the basis that the other person’s ideas and perspectives will always have some value, and we can look at ways of building on them.

Saying ‘and’ rather than ‘but’ is a very simple although sometimes surprisingly difficult small step towards this mindset.

Francesca Gina also suggests that leaders and managers can learn to follow as well as to lead as another way to cultivate flexibility.  This requires humility for instance in recognising that others might sometimes have better information or insights for making decisions. It also requires trust for instance in being able to delegate rather than seeking to keep control.

conclusion

This is, for me, an excellent collection of tips that leaders and managers can explore as they develop their own, and their team members’ skills in 2020 and beyond.

The tips resonate well with the coaching skills that we share on RiverRhee’s management and leadership courses, and with previous blogs on dealing with difficult situations, people and conflict.

See for example:

Conflict is the “lifeblood of high performing organisations”

Re-building working relationships with emotional intelligence

The manager as coach: creating an environment that is conducive to thinking

What to do when the difficult person is your boss?

Notes

Elisabeth Goodman is the Owner and Principal Consultant at RiverRhee Consulting., a consultancy that specialises in “creating exceptional managers and teams”, with a focus on the Life Sciences. (We support our clients through courses, workshops and personal one-to-one coaching.) 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 Information Management and other business teams on a global basis. RiverRhee is a member-to-member training provider for One Nucleus.

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 CILIP (Chartered Institute for Library and Information Professionals) and of APM (Association for Project Management) in which she was a founding member of the Enabling Change SIG.

The manager as coach: practising situational coaching


By Elisabeth Goodman, 23rd November 2019

What is situational coaching and when to use it?

One of Sir John Whitmore‘s legacies was the GROW coaching model, an apparently simple yet highly effective tool to help managers and coaches: “unlock people’s potential to maximise their own performance.”

GROW coaching model

Illustration of GROW coaching model as used in RiverRhee’s courses for managers

[I’ve written about the GROW model elsewhere, see for example Coaching applied to Project Management.]

One of the common challenges for those involved in coaching is knowing when to provide the answers, as opposed to encouraging people to find the solutions for themselves.  Herminia Ibarra and Anne Scoular, in the November-December 2019 issue of Harvard Business Review, would seem to have the answer. (See “The leader as coach”, pages 111 – 119.)

Styles of coaching

Styles of coaching. Illustration from Ibarra and Scoular’s article “The leader as coach” in HBR Nov-Dec 2019, pp. 111-119

Ibarra and Scoular’s model describes different styles of coaching based in how much information or advice a manager or coach is sharing vs. the insights and solutions they elicit from the person they are coaching.

The directive approach may work best for more junior or less experienced people.

The ‘laissez-faire’ approach is best used when team members are best left alone because to interfere would be to hamper their productivity.

The non-directive approach is the one involving a manager’s or coach’s best questioning and listening skills to elicit the wisdom, knowledge and creativity of the people being coached.

The situational approach is where the manager or coach has mastered the art of judging and balancing when to impart knowledge vs. helping others to discover it themselves based on the situation involved.

Developing managers’ skills in situational coaching

The HBR authors give examples of  the value of the listening and questioning skills inherent to coaching, such as:

  • Enriching the quality of the “high-value” conversations that managers and leaders will have with people at various times in the year.  These conversations may relate to important issues or the exploration of new ideas.
  • Enhancing the skills of those interfacing with clients to arrive at solutions that the clients have helped to shape.

The authors suggest that the best way to develop skills in situational coaching is to first develop skills in non-directive coaching until it becomes second nature, and then balance it with “helpful” directive coaching.

Practising with the GROW model is an ideal way to start.  Here are a few extra tips from the article:

  • Goal.  Ask what they want to get out of the conversation for instance “What do you want when you walk out of the door that you don’t have now?”
  • Reality. Avoid asking ‘why’ as this may lead to non-productive streams of thought such as self-justification.  Focus instead on what, where, when and who to help them draw out all the factual elements of what is currently happening.
  • Options. If people are struggling to come up with options, and broaden their perspective, you could ask something like “If you had a magic wand what would you do?”
  • Will.  As well as asking people what they will do as a result of their reflection, you could ask them how likely they would be, “on a scale of one to 10” to act upon their decision. If their commitment is less than eight it might be worth going through the GROW model again.

Finally, the HRB authors give examples of how leaders can help build coaching capabilities and a culture of learning in organisations by:

  • Giving examples of the benefits of coaching (the “why”), as in the high-value examples cited above
  • Role modelling from the top, as the latest CEO at Microsoft, Satya Nadella has done by soliciting ideas from everyone in a supportive and non-judgemental way
  • Providing opportunities for the development of coaching skills (through workshops, learning programmes and tools)
  • Removing barriers to learning, such as organisational or individual reviews that instil fear rather than a climate of open exchange and reflection.

Notes

Sir John Whitmore and his colleagues at Performance Consultants International, suggest that adopting a coaching approach in organisations will give greater purpose and meaning to the people who work there. (See “Coaching for Performance.  The principles and practice of coaching and leadership” for more on this and on the GROW coaching model.)

Elisabeth Goodman is the Owner and Principal Consultant at RiverRhee Consulting, a consultancy that specialises in “creating exceptional managers and teams”, with a focus on the Life Sciences. (We support our clients through courses, workshops and personal one-to-one coaching.) 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 Information Management and other business teams on a global basis. RiverRhee is a member-to-member training provider for One Nucleus.

RiverRhee

RiverRhee delivers training, workshops and one-to-one coaching in range of management and team member skills

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 CILIP (Chartered Institute for Library and Information Professionals) and of APM (Association for Project Management) in which she was a founding member of the Enabling Change SIG.

The manager as coach: addressing the consequences of limiting self-beliefs


By Elisabeth Goodman, 6th November 2019

helping team members deal with limiting self-beliefs

There are a number of ways in which a manager can help their team members be at their best.  Some of these approaches hover on the border between coaching (where a manager can intervene) and counselling (where it would be best to seek more qualified support).  Limiting self-beliefs is one of these borderline areas.

As a manager, you may be able to help your direct report become more aware of limiting beliefs that are getting in their way.   You may also have more scope to help them address some of the consequences than either you or they think.

However, your direct reports may want to get more specialised counselling to address some of the causes of those limiting beliefs.

This blog explores three examples of the consequences (or symptoms) of limiting beliefs, some potential limiting beliefs, and some approaches that a manager might choose to apply as a coach.

The reflections on limiting beliefs and approaches to address them are based on what I have learnt so far from my NLP Practitioner training, from “The Coach’s Casebook” by Geoff Watts and Kim Morgan, and from “The Chimp Paradox” by Prof Steve Peters.

I have already referred elsewhere to some other very good resources relating to procrastination and productivity. The Mind Gym’s “Give me time” also has some useful insights on limiting beliefs and approaches for dealing with procrastination.

Three consequences of limiting self-beliefs

These three examples (consequences) are amongst the most common that we encounter when working with delegates on RiverRhee’s courses for individual team members, managers and leaders.

1. Feeling nervous about giving a presentation.  As Watts and Morgan point out, 75% of us suffer from some form of ‘performance anxiety’.  It can bring on the various physiological characteristics (sweating, faster heart beat, breathlessness etc.) prompted by our ‘flight, fright or freeze’ responses to perceived danger. The severity of these responses and our direct reports’ ability to deal with them will vary from one person to another.

2. Procrastination is something that many of us will be aware of.  What’s interesting with this is that we do have the option to choose to procrastinate, especially if it results in scheduling a task to a time when we will be more productive.  Or we can be a victim of our own internal productivity sabotaging beliefs and suffer lots of associated stress and anxiety.  Establishing which kind of procrastination behaviour your direct report is demonstrating would be useful to know.

3. Finding it difficult to say no can result in a direct report taking on more than they can manage with further consequences for the quality of their work and their own well-being.

Some limiting beliefs and their potential causes

1.  It’s just the way I am.  Whilst our genetic make-up will have some influence on our behaviour, we have more scope to change it than we sometimes think.  Our beliefs are often shaped by something that’s happened to us, something someone has said to us, or something that we (continue to) tell ourselves.

2. I messed this up last time, so I will mess it up again.  There is of course no pre-determined outcome of our actions.  Our self-talk is getting in the way of recognising that we can learn to do something differently and get a different result.

3. It’s too difficult for me to learn.  It may be something that is too difficult to learn.  But what are we assuming about our ability to learn? We might be able to do more than we think with the right learning approach and enough time and practice.

4. People won’t like me if I don’t do this. This belief seems to rest on another assumption: that people liking us depends on what we do or don’t do, rather than on who we are: our general attitude or behaviour.

5. Something terrible will be happen if I get this wrong or don’t do this. Many of us go through life with a mindset (enforced by the educational system) that we have to get things right and that not to do so is to fail. Prof Steve Peters suggests a different mind-set, which is that: “I will do my best and can deal with the consequences”.  The result, he suggests, is greater self-confidence and reduced anxiety.

Approaches a manager could use as a coach

So a manager could help their team members as a coach by discovering any limiting self-beliefs that might be influencing their mindsets, and helping them towards addressing them.

Approaches could include:

1. Listening, observing, playing back what you notice, asking a clean or critical question. (See Nancy Kline’s “Time to Think” for how to ask critical questions.)

2. Helping your direct report identify and adopt an opposite / positive self-belief. (More about this too in Nancy Kline’s book – she stresses that it will be most effective if the individual comes up with this new belief.)

3. Sharing some calming approaches – such as breathing techniques, anchoring, or mindfulness  (See this lovely video from Pam Cottman on how to build confidence like a superhero).

4. Encouraging a mindset of learning rather than failing – something that will be most influenced by how the manager agrees and reviews tasks and outcomes with the individual.

Conclusion

There is a certainly a lot more to be explored on this topic.  I hope you find these reflections helpful.  I am sure they will trigger more reflections of your own.

Do feel free to add comments to this post, or please get in touch to discuss anything further.

Notes

Elisabeth Goodman is the Owner and Principal Consultant at RiverRhee Consulting, a consultancy that specialises in “creating exceptional managers and teams”, with a focus on the Life Sciences. (We support our clients through courses, workshops and personal one-to-one coaching.) 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 Information Management and other business teams on a global basis. RiverRhee is a member-to-member training provider for One Nucleus.

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 CILIP (Chartered Institute for Library and Information Professionals) and of APM (Association for Project Management) in which she was a founding member of the Enabling Change SIG.

The manager as coach: creating an environment that is conducive to thinking


By Elisabeth Goodman, 6th October 2019

According to Nancy Kline, author of “Time to Think”, thinking for ourselves and thinking well, is what enables us to be effective in anything that we do. And yet many things mitigate against us being able to think as frequently or as well as we could.

Barriers to thinking include:

  • The hectic pace of life and work
  • The frequent, often unspoken, expectation for people to fit in and conform
  • The belief that those more senior or more expert than us know best

Nancy Kline has researched and tested barriers to and approaches for effective thinking over many years and consolidated her findings in this and later books.

Here are just a few ideas, inspired by my reading of “Time to Think” that a manager could begin to implement in a coaching capacity with their direct reports.

1. Create an expectation that people will think for themselves, rather than defer to their manager and others more senior or experienced than themselves when dealing with problems, or otherwise coming up with ideas.

2. Make time to listen to direct reports, encouraging them to talk by asking open questions and not interrupting them until they have completely finished what they have to say. This may include allowing silence as direct reports continue to think something through.

3. Extend this practice of uninterrupted listening to wider team interactions, for instance in meetings. Encourage everyone to have their turn at speaking and being listened to.

4. Make sure there are quiet or communal areas (depending on people’s needs) in the workplace where people can go to help with their thinking, and support them with finding gaps in their schedules to be able to do so.

A place to think. View from one of the 4 castles at Lastours, Languedoc, France

5. Allow people to express their feelings, including anger or sorrow, as a healthy way to release emotions that can otherwise get in the way of thinking. (If the anger is violent then get out of their way and agree a time and place when the conversation can be resumed safely.)

6. Encourage a culture of mutual respect, where people value diversity and express appreciation for what each of their colleagues contributes to the team through their thinking.

Conclusion

Nancy Kline’s book has a lot more to offer for those interested in helping individuals and teams think more effectively.

As she says:

“Team effectiveness depends on the calibre of thinking the team can do.”

and

“Managers of high-performing teams have to be masters of the oxymoron: securing change, committing to uncertainty and requiring autonomy. Formulae and habit won’t do: only thinking will.”

Hopefully you will find the ideas in this blog a useful start. I would certainly recommend you read the whole book to find out more.

Notes

Elisabeth Goodman is the Owner and Principal Consultant at RiverRhee Consulting., a consultancy that specialises in “creating exceptional managers and teams”, with a focus on the Life Sciences. (We support our clients through courses, workshops and personal one-to-one coaching.) 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 Information Management and other business teams on a global basis. RiverRhee is a member-to-member training provider for One Nucleus.

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 CILIP (Chartered Institute for Library and Information Professionals) and of APM (Association for Project Management) in which she was a founding member of the Enabling Change SIG.