Tag Archives: coaching

Developing your coaching skills as a manager


By Elisabeth Goodman, 18th January 2017

There are so many resources available to help managers perform at their best.

We teach coaching skills in  RiverRhee’s Introduction to Management  course and just one of several frameworks available for that.  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.

I’m always looking out for new resources to develop my own performance as well to pass these on to the scientists and managers that we work with.

I recently wrote about Appreciative Inquiry and how this could be applied to the GROW model of coaching.

I’ve been re-visiting Michael Bungay Stanier’s “Do more great work”, and it seemed a very good fit with the Discover phase in the 5-step model that I learnt about in Appreciative Inquiry. (This phase equates to the Options step in GROW.)  I tried some of this out with someone I was coaching and really liked the result.  This is how a couple of Stanier’s tools could be used in the Discover or Options steps.

Make sure you have helped the person you’re coaching articulate what it is they want to achieve

This the Define step in Appreciate Inquiry, or the Goal in GROW.  In particular, help them to articulate this in positive terms: what they want to move towards, rather than away from.

Ask them to think about what’s currently happening: find the great work and their values

They might dwell on the things that are going OK, or the things they are not happy about.  (This by the way equates to the Reality step in GROW).  What you’re after are the instances of great things that are happening, even if only once!

Getting them to jot down their thoughts can be a good aid to their reflection.

illustration-for-doing-more-great-work

Illustration of the tools in Michael Bungay Stanier’s “Do More Great Work” for exploring great work.

Exploring why the individual has selected that or those examples of great work will reveal what they value most about their work, what motivates them, what their particular strengths are that they would like more of.

What to do once you’ve discovered what makes your work great!

I also like Stanier’s 4-box grid which compares and contrasts things the individual cares and does not care about, with those that their organisation do or don’t care about and thought it could be usefully super-imposed with the 5-Ds’ from the MindGym’s book “Give me time”.

So this becomes a useful tool for discussing what options the individual has in relation to their aspiration for doing more great work.

taking-action-on-great-work

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

The ideal is of course the dream scenario, but the reality is that we tend to have a mix in our work – and we may need to decide what we want to do about that.

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

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

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

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

About the author

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 use training, facilitation, coaching, mentoring and consulting in our work with our clients.)

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 support supplier for One Nucleus and a CPD provider for CILIP (Chartered Institute for Library and Information Professionals).

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 and of APM (Association for Project Management) where she leads on Membership, Communications and Events for the Enabling Change SIG committee.

 

 

Appreciative Inquiry – a tool and philosophy for positive change


The Appreciative Inquiry five-step model

The Appreciative Inquiry five-step model

By Elisabeth Goodman, 5th November 2016

Asking questions sets the tone for what will follow – start from what’s working well

It seemed obvious from the moment that our facilitator, Andy Smith (Coaching Leaders), mentioned it at the start of the two day course on Appreciative Inquiry (AI) that I attended this week. The minute you ask someone, or a group of people a question, you have influenced their mindset. Ask them what they like about something, or what is going well, and the chances are they will relax, open up and be in the mood to be creative. Ask them what’s not working and they may get defensive, close up and descend into despondency.

That’s a simplification of course as people may want to air their problems before they can open up to explore solutions, and they may automatically rise to the challenge rather than wait to be asked the right question. But the general premise of AI is to focus on what’s working well, on what people do best and on everyone’s potential to do so much more and better. Asking the right, open, positive questions will enable this to happen.

There are implications for coaching and personal development, for team building, for problem solving, decision making, innovation, knowledge and project management and for managing change! This blog just highlights a few of the ways to do this. There’s obviously a lot more about this that I will weave into RiverRhee‘s work and that you can find out about from some of the references below.

A new five-step model

The illustration at the start of this blog is of the five-step model. (Andy calls this ‘the 5 Ds’ but I already have a different 5D model that I refer to for time or productivity management so I will keep these distinct.)

Define the topic to be explored in an affirmative way: so it is stated in terms of what you want to move towards, rather than the problem to be moved away from. Focus on the vision and your mind and body will be already working out creative ways to achieve it.

Discover all the things that you are already doing well towards achieving that vision. This is where the affirmative questioning really starts to kick in.

Dream what it would be like when you achieve that vision: what will you hear, feel, see, think? What would it be like if a miracle happened overnight? This step engages the emotions: the heart as well as the mind and creates a really compelling vision.

Design all the possible alternatives (without evaluating at this stage) for achieving the dream. Build on what’s going well and stretch beyond that.

Deliver – this is the point at which you evaluate the alternatives and decide on the next steps to achieve your vision.

Applying Appreciative Inquiry to coaching

People familiar with the GROW and T-GROW models of coaching will have spotted that define equates with setting the topic (T) or goal (G). Discover equates to reality (R) but with a focus on what’s working well rather than on what’s generally happening. Dream is an enhanced version of the goal. Design equates to options (O) but holding back on evaluating those options. Deliver equates to will ( W ).

The slightly different order of the AI five-step process means that the aspirational vision or dream can build on the positive mood generated and so be more creative than the early definition of the goal permits in the GROW model. Although, in practice, either model can be iterative in a coaching situation.

Appreciative Inquiry and team building

The five-step model could also be used with a group of people in a team situation, to explore how a team can become more effective and attain, or sustain high performance. It could be used ‘live’ within a workshop, as an alternative to using pre-workshop diagnostics or temperature checks as described in some of my previous blogs for team development.

So the team can define in real time what it wants to achieve, discover all the things it is currently doing well, dream of what it could do, brainstorm how it could get there (design), and then agree the actions to take forward (deliver). The team could use rating scales (1 to 5, 1 to 10 etc) at any point in this discussion to make their assessments and goals more tangible.

Appreciative Inquiry and problem solving, decision making, innovation, knowledge and project management

As the previous sections demonstrate, the five-step model has built in approaches to aid with problem solving, decision making and innovation. Focusing on what has gone well and using the dream steps arguably allow people to go beyond just fixing the problem into new realms of creativity.

Apparently others have already explored how to apply AI in Lean and Six Sigma, and I shall look into this more. Certainly, exploring what has gone well and why, in the Measure and Analyse phases of the DMAIC are possibilities that I do already touch upon in my RiverRhee courses. We also sometimes use ‘blue sky’ thinking to imagine a ‘to be’ way of working in the Improve phase.

De Bono’s Six Thinking Hats, and the SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats) analysis also encourage equivalents to the Discover step (yellow hat, and Strengths respectively), the Dream step (green and Opportunities), and Design (green again, and the actions arising out of the SWOT analysis).

Andy also mentioned SOAR (Strengths, Opportunities, Aspirations, Results) as an affirmative alternative to SWOT and which should give more scope for the Dream step!

Finally, knowledge management techniques will obviously benefit from AI, especially as having a productive conversation is at the heart of sharing knowledge between people. After Action Reviews, Learning Reviews or Retrospects (or Lessons Learned exercises in Project Management) already explore what went well. So AI techniques and philosophies would enhance the outcomes in these areas too.

Appreciative Inquiry and managing change

Last but not least, AI has something to offer those leading or dealing with change and so support one of my missions which is to create ‘navigators‘ as opposed to ‘victims’ of change! We can aim to understand and look for ways to maintain, enhance, or at a minimum, compensate for the best of what people previously had in creating whatever the new situation might be. And we can ensure that that new situation is as compelling a vision or ‘dream’ as possible.

In conclusion

There are lots of opportunities to apply Appreciative Inquiry tools and ways of thinking in our working and home lives.  I am using some of these applications already, and looking forward to exploring more with with clients, colleagues, friends and family!

I’ll try not to be a “rose-tinted evangelist” though: we still need to acknowledge the very real problems and challenges that people experience and how they feel about them.

How might you apply AI?

further references

ABOUT THE author

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 use training, facilitation, coaching, mentoring and consulting in our work with our clients.)

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 support supplier for One Nucleus, a quality assured training provider with Cogent Skills and a CPD provider for CILIP (Chartered Institute for Library and Information Professionals).

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 and of APM (Association for Project Management) where she leads on Membership, Communications and Events for the Enabling Change SIG committee.

Super Conscious Thinking: 5 Steps to Access Your Genius


A view of the winter garden at Anglesey Abbey, Cambridgeshire

A view of the winter garden at Anglesey Abbey, Cambridgeshire

Guest blog by Anne Scott, 24th October 2016

why this blog?

Editorial note by Elisabeth Goodman

I met Anne Scott through David Gurteen’s Knowledge Café and was attracted by her alternative approach to coaching individuals.  As readers of my blog will know, a lot of my work with RiverRhee focuses on introducing tools and ways of thinking to help managers and teams tackle the challenges that they encounter in their day-to-day work.  We do this in our training courses, workshops and one-to-one coaching.

Anne seems to have something quite original to bring to this mix, so I asked her to write a blog that would provide some insights on her approach.

an intuitive consciousness is available to all of us

It was Daniel Pink in his book A Whole New Mind who said the “The future belongs to a very different kind of person with a very different kind of mind—creators and empathisers, pattern recognisers, and meaning makers.”

The only thing we can be certain of is change. Whether we are living in a time of more or less change is immaterial what is important is that we can be comfortable with it, work with it and ultimately welcome it. When we do this we make connections that haven’t been made before and these connections facilitate us to bring something new into being. Then we become one of the ‘different kind’ of people who belong to the future because we have created it.

We are led to believe that genius belongs to an elite. That people like Steve Jobs (1) or Elon Musk (2) are one-offs: that what they do and how they do it is not repeatable but it was Jobs that said “I began to realise that an intuitive understanding and consciousness was more significant than abstract thinking and intellectual logical analysis.” (3)

Whether we believe it or not this kind of consciousness is available to all of us and whether we like it or not it does influence our lives. It is the quiet voice that we hear in meditation, when we choose to be mindful or perhaps unexpectedly when we spontaneously disengage from the cacophony of life. This is the voice of true intuition – what the mind apprehends before rationalising. A voice that we oft times ignore but in hindsight realise it’s truth.

We can all become super conscious thinkers

We all have the faculty and capability to become super conscious thinkers. My invitation to you is to cultivate a super conscious connection to proactively access your own well of unique potential. To embody super conscious thinking cultivate a daily practise. Meditation is the process but the end result is wisdom. Start with 5-10 mins in the morning, somewhere quiet where you can be comfortable and preferably close your eyes. Here are some easy guidelines to follow:

1. Be curious: you don’t have to believe or know to check out what super conscious thinking is about. There is no condition that precludes you from being able to access your genius. Consider what if……what if you were a genius and a super conscious thinker what would life be like then?

2. Acknowledge your thoughts and feelings: your thoughts and feelings do exist but they are not a reflection of true reality. They are a reflection of your past experience, your fears, your doubts, a reflection of the world as you learnt to see it. Remember the quiet voice I talked about earlier – well thoughts and feelings are what drown out the quiet voice. Acknowledging them turns down the sound.

3. Choose yourself: this time IS about you, about accessing your gifts, your talents and ultimately finding out what is important to you. It is NOT about planning your day, working out the logistics of your home life or solving the problems of the world.

4. Let go of the need to know: Nothing has to make sense or to be worked out. That is for later on in your day!

5. Connect with your genius: imagine a golden circle or if you are not visual just know it is there and choose to step into it. Remember the first thing that your mind apprehends is the gold nugget of the super conscious thinker. Be with that, you don’t need to know what it is or what it means. Ask yourself what it feels like to be here in your genius. Choose that emotion for the day.

What you will discover

You will discover that super conscious thinking doesn’t just put you in touch with your deepest self but – and this might seem a bit out there – like a sci-fi version of the internet it will connect you to all that is, in a place beyond the space time continuum. From here it is possible to create what really matters to you because you are guided by the engine room of your soul.

References

1. Steve Jobs best known for Apple and Pixar believed in selling dreams and was continually reinventing himself and his company until his death in October 2011

2. Elon Musk founder of SpaceX, Tesla and SolarCity was initially ridiculed for his radical ideas for the space, car and solar energy industries. He continues to push the boundaries with his ideas for a Hyperloop transport system between Los Angeles and Las Vegas and for his ultimate dream of colonising Mars

3. In the authorised biography of Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson

About the author

Anne is an experienced innovation and technology professional with over 30 years experience. A hallmark of her experience is the early adoption of new technologies such as hand held computers for revenue collection, the first paperless office in the UK and workflow systems for offshore business process outsourcing. Involved in a number of global projects Anne had to lead virtual teams from a variety of vendors challenged by time zone, language and cultural differences. She was compelled to find tools to bring the best of diverse contributions and talents to together and she learnt about the subtle power of coaching to create synergy. Anne now refers to this as the ‘Technology of Superconscious Thinking’ and has evolved a way of bring all her experience together to create end results that can often appear to be impossible. She works with a number of private clients in the UK, US, Singapore and Australia making personal and career transitions and with companies who are willing to innovate and commit to the potential of people in their organisations.

For more information on how to create super consciously email your details to anne@crossingfrontiers.co.uk and Anne will get back to you for a 15 min consultation on how the technology of super consciousness can be applied for you personally or your business.

About the editor

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 use training, facilitation, coaching, mentoring and consulting in our work with our clients.)

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 support supplier for One Nucleus, a quality assured training provider with Cogent Skills and a CPD provider for CILIP (Chartered Institute for Library and Information Professionals).

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 and of APM (Association for Project Management) where she leads on Membership, Communications and Events for the Enabling Change SIG committee.

The power of quiet questioning


By Elisabeth Goodman, 25th April 2016

2016-04-23 12.50.10.jpg

Taking time for some quiet reflection on Brighton beach, April 2016

Why quiet questioning?

Two of the most powerful resources available to us as managers, and as members of a team are questions and silence.

The ideal dynamic, when we are working with others, is to have a natural back and forth of conversation: each person comfortably expressing their views, their feelings, their ideas and listening, responding to, and building on the other’s.

That ideal to and fro of conversation occurs when each person is taking ownership for their part in whatever is being discussed, is fully motivated, and has no trouble being assertive; when there is good rapport.

But we know that this ideal scenario is just that, that there are times when it does not happen, when it is hard to know what to say, when emotions get in the way, when the other person cannot or will not play their part.

This is when asking questions, asking the right questions, and being comfortable with silence can really make a difference.

Click here for information on RiverRhee's management training course

Click here for information on RiverRhee’s training courses for managers

Asking the right question

We already know that open questions (those starting with Why, What, How, When, Where) are much more effective in engaging others in conversation than closed ones (that elicit only a Yes or No answer).  It’s so easy to slip up and ask a closed question such as:

“Are you feeling sad?” as opposed to, for example: “What are you feeling sad about?”

I’ve been learning about ‘clean’ questions: those that contain as little of the questioner’s bias as possible.  So for example the question:

“What are you feeling sad about?” includes our interpretation that the other person is sad.  It may be that they have told us this, in which case it may be an appropriate follow-up question.

But if they have not told us they are sad, we may be making a big assumption based on their facial expression or body language – but we don’t really know and we are not mind-readers.

So a clean question would be: “How are you feeling”?

And if they do say “I’m feeling sad”, then another suitable ‘clean’ follow-up question might be “What kind of sadness is that?”,  or “In what way are you feeling sad?”, or even just “Sad?”  So you are reflecting back on what the other person has said, rather than inserting your interpretation.

Caitlin Walker’s “From Contempt to Curiosity” has some terrific structures to help any manager or individual use questions to foster open dialogue and build rapport between individuals and within teams.

Rachel Alexander’s and Julia Russel’s “And the Next Question is – Powerful Questions for Sticky Moments” has a rich selection of different questions to use in different situations.

And we can learn so much from NLP (NeuroLinguisticProgramming) too about spotting the assumptions that we and others make in our language, and how to ask questions to get past those.  For example if someone is saying to you: “This kind of situation always makes me sad”, we can ask “Always?”, or “What kind of situation is that?” or even “In what way?”

Using quietness, or silence

Even when we’ve developed the skill to ask the right questions, we can destroy the effect we’ve tried to create by jumping in with our own suggested answer!

Silence is so powerful: it gives the other person time to reflect and come up with their own answer.  It tells them that we care and want to listen to what they have to say.  It encourages them if they are feeling hesitant.

Silence can be companionable too.  Sometimes just working alongside the other person on something in which you are both involved, or going for a walk together, will create the conditions for the other person to open up and say what they have to say.  You may not even have to frame a question!

Click here for information on RiverRhee's training courses for managers

Click here for information on RiverRhee’s training courses for managers

Developing skills in quiet questioning

I’m still learning and practising the art of quiet questioning.  It’s something that we can not only apply at work, but in our interactions with people at home too.

I will continue to reflect upon and share my experiences in my work with managers and teams.  It would be great to hear about your experiences too.

About the author

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 use training, facilitation, coaching, mentoring and consulting in our work with our clients.)

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 support supplier for One Nucleus, a quality assured training provider with Cogent Skills and a CPD provider for CILIP (Chartered Institute for Library and Information Professionals).

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 and of APM (Association for Project Management) where she leads the Internal Collaboration theme of the Enabling Change SIG committee.

 

Difficult people are not necessarily being difficult!


By Elisabeth Goodman, 31st March, 2015

How to work with difficult people is a subject that many managers struggle with

How to work with “difficult” people is one of the topics Janet Burton and I explore in RiverRhee Consulting’s 3-day Introduction to Management course , and in our tailored in-house supervisor and line manager courses. I also previously referred to this subject in one of our newsletters on the subject of creating exceptional managers.

Elisabeth Goodman presenting the Introduction to Management course

How to work with “difficult” people is one of the most popular aspects of our courses, being one that many new and even more established managers can find quite challenging. I wonder whether it’s because the whole area of managing interpersonal relationships, dealing with conflict, emotional awareness and intelligence is something that is largely neglected in our educational system. We are so focused on academic achievement, that this essential aspect of work and indeed home life can be under-developed, unless other people in our lives have helped us to learn about it, or we have taken the initiative to explore it ourselves.

Difficult people may just be being different – we should take time to understand them

As I wrote in the newsletter, difficult people are not necessarily being difficult, but just different! Our different personalities, perspectives on, and beliefs in life will lead us to approach our work differently, communicate differently and generally act differently. At any moment in time, there will also be other circumstances happening in our lives that might be influencing how we think, feel and behave.

When faced with what seems to be a difficult situation or person, we would do well to step back and reflect on why they seem to be difficult, and to also step forward into the other person’s shoes. It may indeed be some aspect of our own behaviour that is creating or at least contributing to the situation.

We all make assumptions and try to mind read. One of the most obvious solutions, but also the one a lot of people will avoid, is to actually have an open conversation with the person concerned, to understand their perspective as well as communicate our own. Several of the managers we’ve worked with have dared to have those conversations as a result of what they’ve learnt on our courses and have been greatly relieved by the outcome.

Other strategies and tools to help us understand “difficult” people

There are various other strategies at our disposal, such as active listening, coaching and assertiveness that can help us to better understand what is leading to people being “difficult” as well as helping us to influence any associated behaviours and situations in a positive and constructive way.

We use various psychometric tools in our training ranging from Honey and Mumford’s Learning Styles, to NLP representational (or communication) styles, Belbin’s Team Roles and MBTI (Myers Briggs Type Indicator). These can be very illuminating in terms of understanding our different perspectives and approaches to life and work.

I’m in the process of reading “Working Together”[1], a book about transactional analysis (TA) in the workplace. TA, and the “OK corral”[2] originated with Eric Berne in the 1970s. It’s about understanding our beliefs about ourselves and how we believe others view us – often something we have inherited from childhood – and how that influences our behaviour and interaction with others. It can lead to individuals being generally passive or aggressive rather than assertive in their behaviour, or to responding passively or aggressively in certain situations.

The OK Corral - based on the work of Eric Berne

The OK Corral – based on the work of Eric Berne

In an organisational setting, the nature of the “OK” dynamic between individuals can influence the dynamics within teams and make a difference between a dysfunctional team and one that thrives on open discussion and attains high performance. The open and positive behaviour of senior and middle managers can make a difference between engaged and ‘empowered’ individuals in what Wickens (1995)[3] calls an “ascendant” organisation, and one where people are alienated, acting in an anarchic way, or where there is total apathy.

In conclusion – it’s worth spending the time to understand people, to create a more positive working relationship

As one of my own exceptional managers once told me, the work of a manager can be as much as 80% about people, and only 20% about tasks. If people are being “difficult” we should take the time to understand why they appear to be so. The root cause may be something that we can do something about or otherwise influence.

As Mountain and Davidson point out: people working together don’t have to like each other to still be able to work effectively together. In my own experience, better understanding can lead to something that is more akin to liking (if that was not there already), and certainly to a more positive working relationship.

[1] Mountain, A. and Davidson, C. (2015) Working Together. Organizational Transactional Analysis and Business Performance. Farnham, England, Gower

[2] Eric Berne’s 4-box matrix matches the various combinations of “I am OK”, “I am not OK” and “You are OK”, “You are not OK”. The “healthy position” being “I am OK, You are OK”.

[3] Wickens, P. (1995). The Ascendant Organization. Basingstoke, England, MacMillan Business

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Elisabeth Goodman is the Owner and Principal Consultant at RiverRhee Consulting, a consultancy that helps business teams and their managers to enhance their effectiveness for greater productivity and improved team morale. (We use coaching, training, mentoring and consulting in our work with our clients.)

Elisabeth founded RiverRhee Consulting just over 5 years ago, 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. 

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) where she leads the Capabilities & Methods pillar for the Enabling Change SIG.

Managing change, communities of practice, coaching for project management and more. Elisabeth Goodman’s 2014 blogging year


The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2014 annual report for this blog.  The most popular topics were ones carried over from previous years: managing change, communities of practice and coaching for project management.

Many thanks to my readers and to my guest bloggers too!

Here’s an excerpt:

The concert hall at the Sydney Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 12,000 times in 2014. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 4 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.

Preparing new managers to be effective coaches


Guest blog by Sean Conrad, Halogen Software

Note from the Editor, Elisabeth Goodman

Every now and then, people approach me (or I approach them) with a suggestion for a guest blog.  Anything that can bring insights for helping teams, or team leaders to work more effectively is potentially of interest.  What I like about this blog is the recognition that managers have a role in coaching, as well as in directing the work of their teams.  It resonates with some of my earlier blogs on the different roles managers need to play as their teams go through the various stages of team development.  Team members particularly need the support of their managers when they are going through the ‘storming’ and ‘mourning’ or ‘renewing’ stages.  The role of the project manager as coach is also something that came up in one of my recent blogs.  Read the rest of this blog to find out what Sean Conrad, of Halogen Software, has to say.

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Preparing new managers to be effective coaches

Like anything in life, doing something for the first time can be a little daunting. Becoming a line manager for the first time is no exception. While many organisations have some excellent programs in place to develop, groom, shape and mold individuals to become great people managers, sometimes a key aspect of training is overlooked. I’m referring to the need for organisations to provide their managers-to-be with the knowledge, skills and tools they need to become not only good managers but also great coaches to the members of their teams.

Why is coaching so important in the workplace?

When managers do receive the training they need to be great coaches, the benefits to the organisation can be many. In particular, developing effective coaches can lead to:

  • Improved employee engagement and higher performance
  • More meaningful annual performance reviews
  • Better conflict resolution or resolving issues before they happen

If there are some new wet-behind-the-ears managers in your organisation looking for ways to improve their coaching skills, here are a few ideas.

Teach them to coach rather than clone

One of the most common mistakes managers can make is using themselves as the yardstick to measure their employees’ progress and performance. They look at their employees, their work, how they handle situations, and they think about how they (i.e., the manager) would have done it differently. Then the manager gives their employees feedback and coaching based on these reflections (e.g., “That’s not how I would’ve approached it.”)

What’s wrong with this scenario?

For starters, these well-intended managers end up trying to create clones of themselves rather than coaching employees to be their best and put their best skills and talents to use for the good of the organisation.

How can you help ensure your new managers are coaching rather than cloning? First, and foremost, it’s critical to recognise that everyone is different. That’s right, no two people think or process information in exactly the same way. Equally important to remember that the perspectives, motivations and responses of others aren’t any better or worse than ours, they’re simply different.  We need to value our different ways of thinking, perceiving, solving and acting. Often we can achieve the best results when we consider all perspectives, and use a combination of approaches to the situation.  Not surprisingly, there isn’t a one-size-fits-all approach. This means that managers need to get to know their employees as individuals.

Building good manager-employee relationships

At the risk of stating the obvious — but sometimes forgotten — here are some ways your new managers can get to know their team members while also positioning themselves as trusted and effective coaches.

  • Show interest in what motivates employees by asking them questions about a particular work situation and why they handled it a certain way (this can reveal a lot about an individual). Determine their aspirations, interests, preferences, strengths and passion (and encourage them to bring this passion to work each and every day).
  • Give employees meaningful feedback on an ongoing basis by increasing the frequency of employee reviews and one-on-one meetings.  Ensure that you provide regular recognition/praise for achievements. Consider gathering input from others. Feedback from multiple sources is broader and more objective, and helps you and your employees get a more accurate view of their performance.
  • Maintain an ongoing, two-way dialogue about employee performance where you share expectations, provide coaching, answer questions, support employee performance, and solicit feedback on your own performance. During these conversations, you should remember to be an active listener not an active talker (avoid the autobiographical overlay).
  • Provide employees with ongoing development opportunities, both formal and informal. Everyone needs to know where they are and where they’re going (i.e., that they have a future with the company). Work with them to determine and plan training and development activities.

Regardless of approach, techniques or individual differences, a good manager will work with employees to listen, question and “coach” them to be the best they can be, leading to greater engagement, higher productivity and improved organisational performance.

Notes

  1. A senior product analyst and Certified Human Capital Strategist at Halogen Software, Sean Conrad regularly writes about talent management trends and issues in industry publication and the Exploring Talent Management Blog.
  2. Elisabeth Goodman is the Owner and Principal Consultant at RiverRhee Consulting, a consultancy that helps business teams to enhance their effectiveness for greater productivity and improved team morale (and using coaching as well as training, mentoring and consulting).