Tag Archives: coaching

The manager as coach: tuning into and exploring metaphors with clean language


By Elisabeth Goodman, 16th December 2020

I had the opportunity to attend Judy Rees’ Metaphorum annual digital conference this year as a volunteer co-organiser. Now in it’s fifth year, and unlike many conferences that have been organised this year, Metaphorum has always operated on a digital platform. It was fascinating to see all the ground-breaking online techniques that Judy and the team were using to create as collaborative and participative an experience as possible.

More importantly though, Metaphorum is an opportunity for those practising and / or interested in Clean Language and metaphors to learn from and share ideas and experiences with each other. The approach to the conference was that people could suggest topics that they were interested in hearing about or facilitating, and then choose which of the multiple parallel and successive sessions to attend through the full thirteen hours of the event.

Being new to the conference, I asked if it might be possible to ‘go back to basics’ and have a session each on metaphors and Clean Language – and these were indeed provided by Angela Dunbar (2020a) and Doris Leibold (2020). I also attended a further session by Dunbar (2020b) on the use of objects for metaphor.

In addition, I had a really helpful exchange of learnings with fellow coach, Tim Hedin, who had attended another session on “Effortless Metaphors” by Wendy Sullivan and Paul Field (2020).

These sessions alone provided me with some great insights that will be helpful to me as a coach, and may also help managers when having coaching style conversations with members of their teams. (For those who would like to find out more on the topic, there are books on the topic for instance those referenced in my sketch-notes above, and YouTube videos including those linked to from this blog.)

Metaphors and why working with these is so valuable

Most of us use metaphors as part of our everyday speech. We might enjoy them as colourful additions to our own and others’ speech, but don’t often explore the full potential have to offer us.

When we say: “I’m in two minds about this”, or “I feel like my head is exploding”, or “It’s as though I was walking on air” – the words conjure up an image or a feeling that could be a very helpful resource.

Metaphors are a way of expressing something that could be important to us, that connects to something in our subconscious, that we haven’t necessarily fully articulated in our conscious minds.

Exploring our metaphors with a coach can help us to access the senses and emotions associated with problems, potential solutions and desired outcomes. The richness of metaphors can enable us to access our creativity, in a way that more literal linguistic descriptions might not.

Metaphors will pop up in things that we say, but we can also use things external to ourselves to create a metaphor. So for instance we might articulate a problem that we have, or a goal we would like to achieve, and then pick up a seemingly random object in the room. Or we might be out for a walk, and our attention could be grabbed by a splash of colour in a tree.

Clean language and how it can help to access metaphors

Clean language, and more specifically clean questions, enable the questioner to explore someone else’s ideas without putting any of their own content into the exploration.

For a coach, or for a manager adopting a coaching style, it means that we are truly facilitating the other person’s thinking.

A classic clean opening question, to get at an individual’s goal is: “What would you like to have happen?”

Sullivan and Field’s (2020) session at Metaphorum was a wonderful demonstration of how we can help an individual to drill down from the more abstract to the more specific, and transition their thinking from concepts in the real world, to metaphors.

The key is always to quote the individual’s actual words back to them and then ask further questions to access more specific information and attributes about (or qualities of) their concepts and metaphors:

  • “What kind of [thing] is that?”
  • “What shape or size does [that thing] have?” or “Is there anything else about [that thing]?”

We can also ask about the location of the metaphor (if this seems relevant):

  • “Where is [that thing]?” or “Whereabouts is [that thing]?”

Once the metaphor is so specific and the attributes so clear that you could almost draw it, then it may be time to ask the individual to consider how the metaphor relates to their original goal:

  • “How does this change things?”
  • “Is there a relationship between [metaphor] and your desired outcome?”
  • “What do you now know about your goal?”

I’m starting to explore metaphors now in my coaching conversations with clients, using Clean Language to support that and the effects are really powerful.

How to get started with metaphors?

Metaphors are all around us. We can start by noticing when we and others that we talk to are using them. We can spot them in articles that we read, in conversations on the radio or on the television. And we can ask others even just one question such as “what kind of [thing] is that?” and see where that leads us!

NOTES

References

Dunbar, A. (2020a) Metaphors. Back to basics. What, how and why. Presented at Metaphorum, 2020

Dunbar, A. (2020b) Using objects. Presented at Metaphorum 2020. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xoi_jxicQZg&feature=youtu.be

Leibold, D. (2020) Clean language. Back to basics. Presented at Metaphorum 2020.

Sullivan, W. & Field, P. (2020). Effortless metaphor with clean Word Net – a practical tool for choosing what clean question to ask. Presented at Metaphorum 2020. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iRsKii9KWLg&feature=youtu.be

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 coaching, courses and workshops, 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 be true to themselves and exercise choice in the workplace by enhancing their leadership / management, interpersonal and communication skills, and their ability to deal with uncertainty and 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.

Giving feedback from a mindset of positive intent


By Elisabeth Goodman, 30th November 2020

Giving and receiving feedback is a challenging skill

There’s a lovely question in a variation of a 360 degree feedback tool that I share with my coaching clients:

“What one thing could I change for my own benefit?”

Barefoot Coaching, 2020

This is one of five questions in a Barefoot Coaching (2020) tool-set that we can ask of five people who know us well, and that are focused on understanding our strengths.

This particular question implies a couple of things:

  1. That the person requesting feedback is open to receiving it
  2. That the person providing the feedback will consider the recipient’s needs, rather than their own agenda in delivering it

How to give positive and constructive feedback is one of the management skills that attracts the most interest in our management training. It’s a performance-related skill that people are often uncomfortable about both delivering or receiving.

Reading Mike Robbins (2020) “We’re all in this together” really heightened my awareness of why this can be so difficult, as well as giving me some very helpful insights about how we could do this better. (Robbins’ books has quite a few other insightful gems, that I will explore in some later blogs.)

Start from a position of trust

Robbins’ (2020) language is more blunt, but basically, when someone gives us feedback, it’s easy to respond with some fairly strong, automatic, emotional responses along the following lines:

  • Fight: What right has this person to ‘judge’ me?
  • Freeze: I really don’t know how to take this feedback
  • Flight: I’m hopeless / no good

All of this can happen in micro-seconds, will block an individual’s receptiveness to feedback and can be a long way removed from a manager’s intent, which, ideally, would be along the lines of:

Here’s some feedback that I’m sharing with you in good faith, and that might help you to learn, develop and grow

One of the things that often impresses our delegates, when my colleague and I demonstrate how to conduct an appraisal discussion, is that we end with the manager asking their direct report:

What could I do to support you better and to help you be even more effective in your work?

What Robbins (2020) also advocates, is that giving feedback should be a two-way process between a manager and their direct report.

For me, this immediately changes the tone of the relationship from an autocratic (or parent-to-child) one, to one that is more in the nature of a partnership, collaboration, adult-to-adult one.

If a manager models their receptiveness to feedback as an opportunity for their own learning and development, then they will make it easier for their direct report to do the same.

Practise giving positive as well as constructive feedback

Another thing that we notice, when delegates ask us for help in developing their feedback skills, that their focus is often on how to give ‘negative’ feedback. What we also often find, is that they are not used to or comfortable with giving positive feedback.

What Robbins (2020) also reminded me is that leaders, managers and high performing teams are skilled in balancing “care and challenge”.

Caring for each other includes finding ways to express our appreciation – giving positive feedback is one way of doing this. Robbins quotes a Glassdoor Employee Appreciation Survey which found that 53% of respondents would stay longer in their company if they felt more appreciated.

When we feel valued, when we feel that the person giving us feedback cares about us, and expresses it with positive feedback, then it will make it easier to receive constructive feedback.

Giving constructive feedback then builds on the concept that it’s healthy to challenge each other to learn, develop and grow so that we can be at our best.

This focus on giving positive feedback is what makes Barefoot’s (2020) “Ask five people five questions” approach so effective.

Robbins (2020) takes this further and suggests that teams take the time to stop and share what they value and appreciate about each other, not only in team-building offsite activities, but on an on-going basis.

Concluding notes

There are a lot more useful insights in Robbins (2020) book, and I will cover some of them in future blogs. For the meantime though, here is a nice wrap-up on a possible way to develop a culture of giving and receiving feedback from a positive mindset of positive intent.

Robbins (2020) suggests that managers and their direct reports routinely ask each other the following feedback questions:

  • What can I start doing that would make me more effective in my role and in working with you?
  • What can I stop doing that may be getting in the way of being as successful as I could be and as easy as possible for you to work with?
  • What do you suggest that I continue doing that is allowing me to be effective in my work and helpful in my partnership with you?

What approaches to giving and receiving feedback could you adopt to foster high performance teams from a position of caring for and challenging each other?

Notes

References

Barefoot Coaching (2020). Course Tools Booklet issued during the PG Certificate in Business and Personal Coaching.

Robbins, M. (2020). We’re all in this together. Carlsbad, CA: Hay House

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 coaching, courses and workshops, 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 achieve authenticity and autonomy in the workplace by enhancing their management, interpersonal and communication skills, and their ability to deal with uncertainty and 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: an overview of resilience


By Elisabeth Goodman, 27th September 2020

neither endurance nor unqualified positivity

Resilience is something of a buzzword at the present time, and yet there are some misunderstandings of what it is about.

As my Barefoot Coaching tutor, Diane Hanna (2020) reminded me in a recent group supervision session, it’s not about just gritting your teeth and enduring.  Nor is it about a mindless striving for positivity and happiness. 

Indeed, as author Susan David (2016) asserts, happiness or joy is only one of about seven basic emotions.  The other six are all variations of negative emotions, many of which are in fact more effective moods to support our awareness of what’s happening around us and for making effective decisions as a result!

For me, resilience is the ability to adapt, persevere and grow when things go wrong, through self-awareness and self-compassion.

Diane Hanna recommended Reivich and Shatté’s (2003) book “The Resilience Factor” for a definitive ‘how to’ overview of resilience, and I drew out some of my key insights from it as follows.

Interpretation of Reivich and Shatté’s (2003) The Resilience Factor – by Elisabeth Goodman

I’ll draw out a few of the principles and strategies in this blog but first just want to relate it to the workplace.

The relevance of resilience in the workplace

Reivich and Shatté (2003) have done some considerable research on the typical situations that arise in the workplace and I have adapted these slightly to put them in my own words and added a sixth.

  • Restructuring or other job loss
  • Having to do “more with less”
  • Work culture getting in your way
  • Interpersonal conflict
  • Juggling work and home life
  • Issues at home affecting mindset in the workplace

As a manager or leader you may find yourself not only dealing with the impact of one of these on your own mood, but also needing to support members of your team experiencing any one of these too.

So how do you develop your resilience?

As with all things in life, it seems to be a combination of developing self-awareness and strategies to support yourself.

Welcome to the ABC (DEF) tool and mindfulness as a couple of ways to do this.

ABC – DEF

Our resilience is challenged when something happens – Reivich and Shatté (2003) call this an “Adversity” – the A of ABC.  Our brains being wired the way they are, this tends to trigger a “Consequence” (C): an immediate emotion and associated behaviour, which we might in calmer moments choose to say or do otherwise.

The trick is to tap into “B” – the beliefs or thoughts that are running through our brains – and hit a ‘pause’ button so that we can work through the DEF part of the strategy as shown in this illustration adapted from Barefoot Coaching (2020) set of tools.

Practise your ABCDEF – adapted from Barefoot Coaching (2020) set of tools – for use in RiverRhee’s training on resilience.

An individual can work with their manager, a coach, or someone else who would like to support them, to:

  • ‘play back’ the ‘ticker tape of thoughts’ that ran through their heads as a result of the triggering event,
  • what beliefs if any underpinned those thoughts
  • what might help them to dispute those beliefs
  • what new beliefs might serve them better
  • what new (hopefully positive) feelings these new beliefs might engender

Working on your resilience in this way is not an instant solution, although it has surprised me how it is sometimes possible to make significant progress through these steps in a 30-60 minute conversation.   

The approach is grounded in Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, with an addition of Positive Psychology.

The original beliefs are ones that we are likely to have formed from childhood.  They served us well then, but might not be serving us so well now – so there is long-term value in exploring them.

We are also on a fine line here between coaching and counselling, so it’s important to recognise if we are connecting with something that an individual might prefer not to explore at this time, or benefit from more specialist help with.

Mindfulness

Mindfulness is about building our awareness of what is happening in the moment.  We may need to calm ourselves down in order to achieve that: give ourselves a bit of distance from our emotions, from where we can then refocus on our thoughts and beliefs. 

There are various tools for achieving that calmness, variations being concentrating on our breathing, tensing and relaxing each part of our body in turn, or visualising a restorative scene from a holiday or other positive experience.

Conclusion

I chose to write this blog as this is a topic that I am exploring at this time for my own personal development, as well as something that I am supporting my clients with through one-to-one coaching and in RiverRhee’s courses and workshops.

I particularly enjoyed learning about Reivich and Shatté’s (2003) concept of ‘reaching out’: how we can go beyond reacting to what is happening to us, by identifying what brings meaning to ourselves and connecting with others, nature, the universe.

How are you supporting your own and others’ resilience?

NOTES

References

Barefoot Coaching (2020) Tool Book

David, S. (2017) Emotional Agility: Get Unstuck, Embrace Change and Thrive in Work and Life. Penguin Books Ltd

Hanna, D. (2020) Barefoot Group Supervision 24th August 2020

Reivich, K. and Shatté, A. (2003) The Resilience Factor. Three River Press, New York

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 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 achieve authenticity and autonomy in the workplace by enhancing their management, interpersonal and communication skills, and their ability to deal with uncertainty and 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.

From alpha to beta and back again – 21st century leadership


By Elisabeth Goodman, 14th September 2020

Expanding established leadership models

I referenced Dr Jeffrey Hull’s FIERCE model of leadership in an earlier blog (Flexing your leadership style for greater inclusivity, inspiration and impact) after hearing him speak at a conference in June.

Jeffrey Hull’s (2019) F.I.E.R.C.E. leadership model – illustration by Elisabeth Goodman

I have since read Hull’s book (2019), and found that it both expands and adds depth to other well referenced models for leadership such as:

  • Hersey and Blanchard’s (2013) Situational Leadership. This guides a leader through directive, coaching, supportive and delegating behaviours depending on the skills and motivation of those they are working with.
  • Daniel Goleman’s (2000) six leadership styles (which I referenced in Keeping hold of your authenticity as a leader, manager and coach). These include the coercive and pace-setting styles which can be described as short-term directive approaches for immediate results, and the authoritative (visionary), affiliative, democratic and coaching styles which are longer-term approaches.

Hull (2019) contrasts and compares alpha and beta styles of leadership, and suggests that both have a role to play in today’s workplace.

Jeffrey Hull’s (2019) alpha and beta leadership styles – interpreted and illustrated by Elisabeth Goodman
  • Alpha leadership, is the more traditional style of directive leadership. It can provide valuable structure and drive to ensure productivity and delivery of results.
  • Beta leadership reflects the more collaborative nature of the modern workplace, where everyone’s potential is able to come through, there is a mind-set of continuous growth and creativity can flourish.

These two styles have strong echoes in Hamel and Zanini (2020) recently published “Humanocracy”. It is a ‘call to arms’ to transition from old bureaucratic models: “How do we get human beings to better serve the organisation?” to a ‘humanocracy’ that “elicits and merits the best that human beings can give”.

It is certainly a theme that I recognise working as I do with managers and leaders in the dynamic world of start-up, small and medium Life Science / Biotech organisations.

The skill, for a leader, is to understand your default leadership style and use it effectively, whilst also being able to flex and effectively use features of the opposite style.

A foundation in coaching

Jeffrey Hull’s (2019) book has a foundation in coaching in more ways than one. Like Hersey and Blanchard (2013) and Goleman (2000), he includes coaching as part of a leader’s necessary capabilities.

He also developed his model on the basis of his own and his colleagues’ considerable experience of coaching leaders, and on evidence from wider research. These experiences echo and cast light on the conversations I have been having with the managers and leaders that I train and coach.

Last but not least, Hull’s book is designed as a self-coaching guide for leaders. It is packed with case studies and tips to support and illustrate his approach.

Jeffrey Hull’s (2019) self-coaching model for leaders – interpreted and illustrated by Elisabeth Goodman

In true coaching style, Hull (2019) begins by encouraging self-diagnosis and self-awareness around what he describes as three types of “leadership energy”:

  • Are you cerebral? With an emphasis on thought and logic, facts and data, theories and models, science and technology?
  • Are you empathetic? With an emphasis on feelings, relationships, metaphors and analogies, art and music?
  • Are you somatic? With an emphasis on ‘doing’ and action, what’s practical and pragmatic, physical activity, sports and hobbies?

[These descriptions are analogous to those I have encountered in personality tools such as the Belbin Team Roles and Myers Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) and others.]

According to Hull (2019) a leader’s ability to tap into and expand their cerebral, empathetic and somatic energies will help them to achieve each of the six components of F.I.E.R.C.E. So for instance:

  • Getting the right balance between a focus on results and establishing consensus (for flexible decision-making)
  • Establishing emotional connection: leading with the “why” (for intentional communication)
  • Balancing authority (or perceived competence) with a willingness to be vulnerable: being transparent and having humility (for real authenticity)
  • Recognising that collaboration requires an effective use of a leader’s power (of which there are 10 different types!), and working in partnership with others
  • Building engagement from a foundation of both purpose and passion

As Hull points out, leaders are faced with numerous paradoxes or polarities for flexing their styles – where the choice is not so much ‘either/or’ but ‘and/both’. This is something that Emerson and Lewis (2019) also address in their book on navigating polarities in a way that enables people to find a richer middle or ‘third way’.

Six levels of engagement to enrich the whole

Steven R. Covey (1989) wrote about how important it is to “Sharpen the Saw” by drawing on and continuously developing our mental, emotional, physical and spiritual faculties.

Hull (2019) takes this a step further through his six levels of engagement which delightfully draw together many of the threads in his book, as shown in this illustration.

Jeffrey Hull’s (2019) six levels of engagement – interpreted and illustrated by Elisabeth Goodman

He encourages leaders to begin with the heart: the ‘why’, and then work through each subsequent layer in a way that accesses, optimises and balances all of the resources and energy available to us. The final level – the universe – is a reminder to us all to enjoy and “stay connected to the vast unknown, to tap into [our] spirit of exploration”.

Conclusion

Dr Jeffrey Hull’s (2019) book is a tightly crafted blend of insights for how the most effective and inspirational leaders (and their coaches) can and do navigate seemingly contradictory approaches to leadership.

It is a deep reflection about how leadership and organisations could adopt a more enlightened approach to working life: one that values each person – and both challenges and supports people to be at their best.

Dr Hull’s book is one to experience with the mind, the heart and one’s whole self.

NOTES

References

Covey, S.R. (1989) The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. Powerful Lessons in Personal Change. Franklin Covey Emerson, B. and Lewis, K. (2019) Navigating Polarities

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

Hamel, G and Zanini, M. (2020) Humanocracy. Creating Organizations as Amazing as the People Inside them. Harvard Business Review Press, Boston, MA

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

Hull, J. (2019) Flex: The Art and Science of Leadership in a Changing World. Tarcher / Putnam

Hull, J. F.I.E.R.C.E. leadership assessment – https://www.jeffreyhull.com/quiz (Accessed 13th September 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 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 achieve authenticity and autonomy in the workplace by enhancing their management, interpersonal and communication skills, and their ability to deal with uncertainty and 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: micro-management, empowerment or ownership?


By Elisabeth Goodman, 7th August 2020

I hear a lot about micro-management in my work with managers and team members: managers worrying that they are being too directive and “hands on” but finding it difficult to delegate with confidence. Individuals frustrated that they don’t have the level of autonomy that they would like.

And I still hear that word that makes me cringe: “empowerment”. It feels too parental somehow: like something that a manager needs to convince or nurture their direct reports to take on; whereas the will to do so has often been knocked out of them.

Of course where we all want to get to these days is “ownership” – individuals just getting on with what they are best placed to do, and managers being available to support them if and when needed. Having a coaching mindset will help a manager to get everyone to this point.

Illustration by Elisabeth Goodman

A case study on how to move towards ownership via ‘responsabilisation’

I’ve enjoyed Gary Hamel’s articles for Harvard Business Review in the past (see for instance Why is employee engagement such an important topic, Maintaining employee engagement in growing and large organisations. You might also want to read The soul of a start-up, nimble leadership, flexibility and control on a similar theme.)

In “Harnessing everyday genius”, Gary Hamel and Michele Zanini (2020b) explore how Michelin has challenged outdated top-down bureaucratic approaches to management, and thereby “dramatically increased the authority and accountability” of all individuals in the organisation. They do admittedly use the term “responsabilisation” (from the French) which equates to “empowerment”, but none-the-less there are some good lessons to be learnt for moving towards a culture of what I’ve called “ownership”.

Hamel and Michele break down what Michelin achieved into headings that include:

1. Launching the movement

The company recruited volunteer teams to trial a new way of working, where teams were encouraged to “be bolder and more creative” and find their own solutions. (This is a classic coaching approach.)

Team leaders were to shift their role from “deciding” to “enabling”. They could ask such questions as: “What decisions could you make without my help?” and “What do I do today that you can imagine taking over tomorrow?” as ways to achieve that.

2. Converging on a shared view

Monthly phone conferences, shared online spaces, 3-day workshops to share experiences and develop ‘signature’ practices for more autonomous teams all helped with building a shared approach.

The learnings gained clustered around such themes as shared mission and objectives, developing competencies, coordination with others, managing performance.

3. Scaling up

Approaches for scaling up included day-long employee brainstorming sessions that generated more than 900 ideas, which were translated into themes that teams then took forward.

At one of the plants, in Poland, mindsets shifted to one of implicit trust in everyone – where it was “up to the individual to lose trust based on his or her actions”. This in itself had a “big impact”.

4. Redefining boundaries and roles

There was a big emphasis on developing skills that would enable managers to shift from “boss to mentor”, through training programmes on emotional intelligence and on “leading from behind”.

Being freed up from their more micro-management approach enabled those with the expertise to address the frontline work, whilst managers could focus on such areas as building team skills and resource planning.

Other interesting points and conclusion

The article covers a lot more than I’ve included here.

One of the notable points that the authors make is that companies around the world that have adopted this more enlightened approach to management:

“share a deep belief that “ordinary” employees, when given the chance to learn, grow, and contribute, are capable of extraordinary accomplishments. That conviction, when consistently acted upon, produces a workforce that’s deeply knowledgeable, relentlessly inventive, and ardently focused on the customer.”

They also reference Buurtzorg, a Dutch home-health-care provider, and how they train all employees in peer-coaching and other skills that enable them to hone their interpersonal and problem solving capabilities.

Why would managers not want to hone their own coaching skills to enable their direct reports in this way?

Hamel and Zanini’s (2020b) publication “Humanocracy: Creating Organizations as Amazing as the People Inside Them” would seem like a very worthwhile next read to find out more about this!

NOTES

References

Hamel, G. and Zanini, M. (2020a). Harnessing Everyday Genius. How Michelin gives its frontline teams the power to make a difference. Harvard Business Review, July – August, pp. 86-95

Hamel, G. and Zanini, M. (2020b). Humanocracy: Creating Organizations as Amazing as the People Inside Them, Harvard Business Review Press.

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 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: helping your team find new meaning


By Elisabeth Goodman, 6th July 2020

The pandemic is by no means over, and everyone is experiencing it in different ways and at different paces. Whether your team has just kept going, somehow, or is only just beginning to emerge into a different way of working, two articles in the latest issue of Harvard Business Review have some great insights for your role as a manager.

Recognising that what we are all going through is some form of grief

David Kessler (2020) puts it with great humanity: we will all be experiencing this pandemic in our own ways. It is a trauma, and each of the ways in which we are experiencing it can be legitimately described as a form of grief.

There are the worried well who are healthy, have not experienced sickness or bereavement, but will still be grieving losses in various aspects of their way of life.

The affected will have been ill themselves or know someone who has. They have recovered or are recovering. They have suffered trauma and will be looking for ways to deal with that.

And there are the bereaved who will be mourning someone who has died, and will continue to do so for quite some time.

I’ve written about how managers can support people through grief before (Goodman 2019). Kessler, who was a co-author with Elizabeth Kübler-Ross’s (2005) of the five stages of grieving, adds something more.

He suggests that we can help people move beyond acceptance to find new meaning: a sixth stage of grief that has been accepted by the Kübler-Ross foundation, and also features in Richard Tedeschi’s (2020) article in this same issue of HBR.

First connect

Reaching out to the members of your team is probably something that you have already done, and are continuing to do. It is a common theme in both HBR articles.

I was fortunate to be able to work with some of my clients in the early stages of the pandemic. They recognised that bringing people together, whether at work or furloughed, through some form of learning over the internet, would help them to connect and continue to feel part of a community. I certainly saw some of that connection in practice, and indeed have benefited from it in working online with my clients, and through other communities that I am a part of.

Tedeschi (2020) suggests that your connection with your team can go further. It takes courage, and it involves communicating at many levels. And it’s the kind of thing a manager can do with a coaching mindset.

In the last part of this blog I take Tedeschi’s (2020) five steps and put a bit of my spin on it: how you can make this connection with your team, and how it can lead to finding new meaning.

Five steps to healing, meaning and growth

1. Learning and re-imagining.

What we have all been through has been a tremendous time of learning at so many levels: about ourselves and our values, as well as what we’ve discovered is and is not possible. Managers can act as coaches in helping the members of their teams reflect about these things, derive strength from doing so and take their learning further in terms of what might be possible going forward.

2. Emotional regulation

This is about being aware of and acknowledging how we are feeling (as managers) and giving ourselves the time, space and resources (e.g. mindfulness, focusing on successes, exercise, sleep) to help ourselves recover. This bring us to the next point – disclosure and listening.

3. Disclosure and listening

It takes courage to communicate how we are feeling and what we are doing to help ourselves. Doing so will help others too. And of course so will just listening – such an invaluable coaching skill for managers. Just having someone hear how we are feeling is an invaluable step towards healing.

4. Develop your stories

Turning this whole experience into a story for yourself, your team, the organisation – what happened and what emerged from it – could be a great source of inspiration going forward. Tedeschi (2020) references “stories of crucible leadership” such as those around Nelson Mandela and Johnson & Johnson as examples of people and organisations that have emerged more strongly from crisis.

5. Find new meaning

Tedeschi (2020) suggests that finding work that benefits others can be a great source of strength after a trauma. We’ve seen and heard lots of examples of that in what key workers have done, and how others have supported them. I have found it in just being able to continue to provide training and one-to-one coaching online to some of my clients during this time.

As a manager working with your team, you might want to tap into the ideas that people have to do things differently, or to do new things. As Tedeschi (2020) says: coming through a crisis can be a bonding experience; look for personal and shared missions that will energise the team further and help it to find meaning.

Conclusion

What are your thoughts on the above? What have you found useful that you might follow-up on?

But also, be aware that people’s experiences of the pandemic are not yet over – they may be at an earlier stage of the grief curve. If that is the case, give people time.

NOTES

References

Goodman, E. (2019) The manager as coach: when your direct report is grieving – https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/manager-coach-when-direct-report-grieving-elisabeth-goodman/

Kessler, D. (2020) Helping your Team Heal. Harvard Business Review, July – August: 53-55

Kübler-Ross, E. and Kessler, D. (2005) On Grief and Grieving: Finding the Meaning of Grief Through the Five Stages of Loss. Simon and Schuster

Tedeschi, R.G. (2020) Growth after Trauma. Five Steps for Coming out of a Crisis Stronger. Harvard Business Review, July – August: 127-131

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 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.

Flexing your leadership style for greater inspiration, inclusivity and impact


By Elisabeth Goodman, 1st July 2020

My copy of the July-August issue of Harvard Business Review has arrived and it includes a great read about power in leadership (Long Lingo and McGinn 2020) that dovetails nicely with one of the presentations at the recent “Coaching in the Workplace” conference (Hull 2020).

The days of control over others as a source of power are long gone

Jeffrey Hull’s presentation referenced his book (Hull 2019), a copy of which I have ordered and am eagerly awaiting. He suggested that the days of the authoritative and heroic leader are long gone, and it is now time for a more holacratic approach that relies on inspiring and involving others, whilst taking a wider perspective of the overall system in which we work.

Elizabeth Long Lingo and Kathleen McGinn (2020) have completed many years of research and consulting with senior leaders and they also assert that “the traditional concept of power… may not even be an option”.

Inspirational and situational sources of influence – connecting with “purpose”

I’ve written before about the nature of inspirational leadership (Goodman 2019).

Daniel Goleman et al (2017) for instance defines inspirational leadership as:

“..the ability to inspire and guide people to get the job done, and to bring out their best.  With inspiration, you can articulate a shared mission in a way that motivates and offer a sense of common purpose beyond people’s day-to-day tasks.”

Long Lingo and McGinn (2020) suggest that a leader’s ‘power is situational“. It depends on thinking about the goal that you want to achieve in the context of what’s important to “your colleagues, your company, and society”. This sounds to me like the systemic basis of Hull’s (2020) holacratic approach.

Long Lingo and McGinn also talk about the importance of understanding the environment in which you would like to make things happen, what barriers might be present, and how articulating the “why” (akin to Goleman’s “purpose”) will help you to win people over.

Lastly, Long Lingo and McGinn talk about aligning with the “bases of power” in the organisation, which include shared values as well as other existing practices and commitments that you can build upon. With shared values you can understand and identify with what is important to you and your colleagues and essentially be seen as one of us.

Building on existing practices and commitments is a bit like building on the opportunities in a SWOT analysis (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats). They are the ‘open door’ that give you the opportunity to continue an existing conversation.

Inclusivity is another aspect of influencing through ‘relational’ connectivity

Matthew Lippincott (Goleman et al 2017) references relationship management as one of the key aspects of emotional intelligence for inspirational leadership.

Long Lingo and McGinn (2020) also assert that “power is relational” and Hull (2020) cites collaborative skills as one of six key dimensions for leadership.

Long Lingo and McGinn (2020) encourage leaders to understand, develop and work with their network: those who will help them to achieve what they want, those who might resist or otherwise affect their plans.

They suggest various ways to choose who you interact with and how for instance by:

  • Including key players in developing your ideas and solutions will help to build buy-in
  • Finding opportunities to support and help others succeed, whilst recognising how others can help you will create a stronger climate of interdependency
  • Bringing people strategically together to achieve specific goals (and also deliberately choosing when to keep them apart!)

Keeping things under dynamic review

Having a dynamic approach is the third of Long Lingo and McGinn’s (2020) definitions of a leader’s sources of power, and indeed no-one’s job is complete without continuous review.

In this case it is about:

  • Taking time to pause, reflect, and evolve your approach based on changes in the environment or in your network.
  • Carrying out small scale experiments to test ideas and build support
  • Giving people who resist time to adjust to your ideas and approach
  • Generally looking for ways to help people buy-in more easily in the future

Working with a coach to flex your strengths and achieve greater impact

What kind of leadership style are you adopting? How could you flex your strengths to achieve the kind of impact that you would like to have?

Hull (2020) described 5 other key dimensions of leadership in addition to the collaborative one mentioned previously:

  • Flexible decision making
  • Intentional communication
  • Emotional agility
  • Real authenticity
  • Collaborative
  • Engage

(The terms are chosen so that the first letters spell out F.I.E.R.C.E!)

All of these would seem to relate in some way to: being inspirational / situational; deliberately including and involving others / being relational; taking a dynamic approach that takes account of significant changes.

Leaders are likely to be on a spectrum for these dimensions that bring them closer towards the heroic or the holacratic polarity of leadership.

Working with a coach can help leaders to develop greater awareness of where they are in relation to these dimensions, and how they could flex their approach to achieve a more inspirational, inclusive and hence more impactful approach.

I’m looking forward to reading Hull’s book to find out more.

NOTES

References

Goleman, D. et al (2017) 12. Inspirational Leadership, in Building Blocks of Emotional Intelligence, Key Step Media

Goodman, E. (2019) Inspirational Leadership through the Lens of Emotional Intelligence – https://elisabethgoodman.wordpress.com/2019/02/05/inspirational-leadership-through-the-lens-of-emotional-intelligence/

Hull, J. (2019) Flex: The Art and Science of Leadership in a Changing World. Tarcher / Putnam

Hull, J. (2020) The Six Key Dimensions of Leadership in Coaching in the Workplace. Performance. Culture. Mastery. Association for Coaching and Institute of Coaching (digital conference).

Long Lingo, E. and McGinn, K.L. (2020) A New Prescription for Power: spend less time exerting control and more time mobilizing energy and commitment. Harvard Business Review, July – August: 67-75

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 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.

Fostering individual and team learning from outside our comfort zones


By Elisabeth Goodman, 27th June 2020

I enjoyed my first experience of “Coaching in the Workplace, 2020” this week: a joint conference by the Association for Coaching and the Institute of Coaching, delivered this year through a digital platform.

I learned about more than can be covered in just one blog, but was particularly drawn to this  blog’s theme that applies not only to coaches, but to any individual and team in the workplace.

VUCA and the DNA for learning

Inevitably, at this time of Covid-19, a common theme of the conference was that of VUCA (Volatility, Uncertainty, Complexity, Ambiguity), and how our individual experiences of the pandemic have accelerated our learning in so many ways.

Illustration based on my notes from David Peterson’s presentation at “Coaching in the Workplace” 2020.

David Peterson’s DNA (Diversity, Novelty, Adversity) model is a very useful synthesis of how the nature of the pandemic has accelerated our learning through adversity.

In response to a question from me during the Q&A session after his presentation Peterson suggested some playful small ways in which we can do this:

  • Read a novel or magazine that you would not usually read.  Think about the target audience and what value they would derive from that. [Diversity and Novelty]
  • Challenge yourself to only use 3-word questions in your coaching interventions. (Tell your client that you are planning to do this before-hand!). [Novelty]

Peterson summarised this perspective for learning in terms of:

“There’s no comfort in the learning zone, and there is no learning in the comfort zone.”

I’ve been reflecting on how I’ve been experiencing this form of learning during the last 3 months or so.

For example:

  • It has coincided with completing the taught component of my PG Certificate in Business and Personal Coaching with Barefoot Coaching, and the University of Chester.  Completing a course of this nature involves a lot of personal reflection on every aspect of one’s own life and nature – and that process is continuing.
  • This was accentuated during the pandemic by the abrupt interruption of the end of my course, and then being plunged right into the experiences and insights of a completely different set of people with whom I completed the course.  How I responded to this emotionally was a surprise to me and another source of learning.
  • I found myself PIVOTing (another popular acronym at the moment – Purpose, Innovation, Vulnerability, Opportunities and Threats) and converting my courses so that I could deliver them via the internet. This involved rising to the challenge of learning new technology and how to use it effectively to deliver a positive learning experience for my clients.
  • And of course there has been further reflection associated with working from home, the changes in the dynamics of interactions with family and friends, changing the nature of my leisure activities – experiences very familiar to all.

The Summer issue of Project (the APM’s journal for project professionals) abounds with stories of how project managers and their teams have accelerated their learning during this time.  It includes some individual learnings that project managers have shared as tips for the present time, some of which will continue to apply as we go forward:

  • Create positive habits such as having a designated workspace if working from home; using the time saved from commuting for learning and development; develop a routine; take regular breaks and exercise; ensure you schedule in time to keep connected with your colleagues.
  • Put extra measures in place to provide direction and support for your employees such as regular one-to-ones, company-wide updates, newsletters that celebrate employees and provide resources for wellbeing, in-house training.
  • Make the most of video calling to reduce travel time and the environmental impact of travelling.
  • Take the time to personally engage with each person that you interact with, and say thank you, every day.  It helps people to feel valued, they feel good, they will be more motivated.

How have you been experiencing VUCA and what learning have you been gaining associated with the DNA of it? To what extent has this stretched you outside of your comfort zone?

The “antidote to VUCA” and learning in teams

I was excited by the “antidote to VUCA”, which came up in a session at the conference that featured Georgina Woudstra, Founder and Principal of Team Coaching Studio, in conversation with Carroll Macey.

They described this antidote as:

  • Vision – to anticipate issues and shape conditions
  • Understanding – to know the consequences of issues and actions
  • Clarity – to find coherence, align expectations and check for understanding
  • Agility – to prepare, interpret and address opportunities

Woudstra’s organisation focuses on team coaching, so it’s perhaps no coincidence that her antidote sits well with what would also foster a collaborative and learning approach in teams.

In fact there are strong echoes for me with the “5 Behaviours” developed by Patrick Lencioni and colleagues (https://www.fivebehaviors.co.uk/), and which I and my Associates at RiverRhee are starting to explore through team coaching with our clients.

The “5 Behaviours” are those that enable a team to:

  1. Start from a position of trust where people have the courage to be their authentic selves (equates to ‘Clarity’)
  2. Be comfortable with conflict in the form of open and honest discussions that take account of everyone’s views (equates to ‘Understanding’)
  3. Be committed to priorities and decisions made by the team, without them needing to be reached by consensus, and to review these on a regular basis (equates to ‘Vision’)
  4. Be individually and mutually accountable for following through on commitments, and to learn from the impact of these (equates to ‘Agility’)
  5. Achieve results through the previous four behaviours

Woudstra (2019) describes team coaching as :

“Partnering with the team, unleashing its potential to collaborate, to achieve its collective purpose.”

Accelerated learning at this time, as exemplified by the many case studies in the current issue of Project is surely at the heart of a team’s ability to achieve it’s purpose.

Has your team been operating outside of its comfort zone? To what extent are you adopting the “antidote to VUCA” to support your team’s learning?

NOTES

References

Peterson, D. (2020) The DNA of VUCA: coaching leaders to deal with chaos, complexity and exponential change in Coaching in the Workplace. Performance. Culture. Mastery. Association for Coaching and Institute of Coaching (digital conference).

Project Me (2020). Project, Summer, Issue 3030: 63-64

Woudstra, G. (2019) cited in Woudstra, G. (2020) Sitting in the Fire: the journey to team coaching mastery in Coaching in the Workplace. Performance. Culture. Mastery. Association for Coaching and Institute of Coaching (digital conference).

Woudstra, G. (2020) Sitting in the Fire: the journey to team coaching mastery in Coaching in the Workplace. Performance. Culture. Mastery. Association for Coaching and Institute of Coaching (digital conference).

The Five Behaviors – https://www.fivebehaviors.co.uk/ (Accessed 26th June 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 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: helping others find their goal


By Elisabeth Goodman, revised 11th June 2020

(Originally posted as “Developing your coaching skills as a manager” 18th January 2017)

Helping people perform at their best – where to start?

We teach coaching skills in  RiverRhee’s Introduction to Management  course and also in Coaching Skills for Managers.

We also apply these skills ourselves as coaches.

The result is a double benefit: it enhance managers’ performance and it gives them a tool to develop their direct reports’ performance.

[You can read more about some of these coaching skills in my blog on Appreciative Inquiry which also references the GROW model of coaching.]

Michael Bungay Stanier’s  (2010) “Do more great work” is proving to be a valuable starting point for helping people who are making decisions about their direction in life: what they want to achieve.

Helping people to articulate what they want to achieve

This the Define step in Appreciative Inquiry, or the Goal in GROW.

What you’re looking for, in terms of a coaching conversation, is what will help the individual define, in positive terms: what they want to move towards, rather than away from.

Adapted from Michael Bungay Stanier, 2010

Ask them to think about what’s currently happening: find the great work and what makes this so

Use this 3-part circle to help individuals differentiate between the aspects of their work that is OK, that they don’t particularly enjoy, and that is ‘great’.

(This equates to the Reality step in GROW).

What you’re after are the instances of great things that happen for them in their work.

  • What are they doing when they are feeling wonderful?
  • What do they really enjoy?
  • Feel fulfilled about?
  • What are they doing when they are completely “in the zone” or absorbed in their work?

Then ask them to differentiate what they are doing in terms of:

  • How it relates to interaction with others – is there any interaction; does it involve training or mentoring; working things out together; anything else?
  • The kind of thinking they are doing – does it involve researching; creating new theoretical models; evaluating alternatives?
  • What they are practically doing – is it hands on work; making or testing things?

Helping them to drill down in this way will help them to identify the kind of work they might want to focus on going forward:

  • What they value most about their work
  • What motivates them
  • What their particular strengths are that they would like to use more fully

What to do once someone has discovered what makes their work great

Stanier (2010) gives us a 4-box grid which compares and contrasts the things that an individual cares and does not care about, with those that their organisation does or does not care about.

I have super-imposed the grid with the 5-Ds’ from the MindGym’s (2006) “Give me time”.

So this becomes a useful tool for discussing what options the individual has for doing their ‘great’ work within or outside of the organisation.

(‘They’ is the organisation. ‘I’ is the individual.)

taking-action-on-great-work

Michael Bungay Stanier’s (2010) ‘caring’ 4-box matrix overlayed with the 5Ds (in blue text) from the MindGym

At this point, the person you are coaching may be ready to consider what they will do…

The ideal is of course is to achieve the dream scenario: a perfect match between what the individual cares about, and what the organisation expects.

(The dream scenario fits nicely with the Dream step in Appreciative Inquiry.)

The reality is that we tend to have a mix in our work – and the individual may need to decide what they want to do about that.

(These are the Design / Deliver steps in Appreciative Inquiry or the Will step in the GROW model.)

If they arrive at the conclusion that there is not a good fit between what they want to do, and what the organisation expects from them – then that is a useful realisation in terms of their onward career planning.

Conclusion

Having this kind of coaching discussion with your direct report might assume a high level of trust between you.  It could equally be a way of building trust: you are demonstrating a real interest in what they value in their work.

Your ability to respond to the outcome in a positive and supportive way will also help to reinforce that trust.

Using this approach will enable an open and honest conversation about your expectations and theirs, and their options within or outside your organisation as a result.

As always, I’d be interested in hearing what readers think of these tools and approaches.

NOTES

References

Stanier, M.B. (2010) Do More Great Work. Workman Publishing Company, Inc.

The Mind Gym (2006) Give me Time. Time Warner Books.

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.

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.