I think every company has the role of leader by the water cooler at some point. What is meant by water cooler leadership? Water Cooler leadership is an event that occurs typically near the water cooler where people complain and gripe about a new policy or maybe even people at the organization. The water cooler is typically a resting place for the disgruntled, but rest assure water cooler leaders have an impact in the face of change and things people go through. People will gravitate naturally to the negative cause. Often the negative takes less effort. It's easier to complain then to overcome change and challenge and do the right thing. Every organization has water cooler leaders. Some people call them the elephants in the room, but there's an important question to ask. Why do people go to the water cooler versus just doing the right thing and going to the source and working through things or overcoming change and challenge?
There are two fundamental elements of great employees, elements that are rarely taught to them- how to overcome challenges and accept change! Everyday people who have gripes or discord with people and/or work typically are as a result of people fighting challenges or are not focused on overcoming the challenge. We train employees on job-specific duties and rarely teach them behaviors and skills associated with handling inevitable change and challenges they will encounter in the workplace.
The number one skill leaders should possess is the ability to converse and thoughtfully react to situations. We call this the Situational Coach.
Situational Coaching is having the ability and agility to converse with people no matter the situation. This requires a coach to know what questions and what strategies to utilize specific to the situation. For example, let's take two various situations that are typical in today's workplace. First, what if we have an employee who's really performed well and is considered a high potential talent, but there are no job openings in terms of promotions? You know that this person might start to look for jobs due to the lack of opportunities, but you know that down the road that this person is a keeper and more importantly that the organization would benefit by maintaining this talent. What does that conversation look like? How does one even have that conversation? How does a coach even start that conversation?
The number one skill seems so simple, but so many factors are against it! People cannot do it well at all. Many things get in its way, like our own thoughts and objectives. People rarely do one valuable thing that builds clarity and trust- that's active listening, where you state back what somebody said during dialogue. Active listening plays a huge role in having effective conversations, which many people struggle with.
We invest a lot of time and energy into figuring out how to best operate our businesses. From lean consulting down to employee performance improvement plans, we seek to figure out the best solutions to our most common workplace problems. We're able to spend millions of dollars a year on these practices, but we're omitting something vital when it comes to getting at the heart of what's going on at our companies- we're forgetting the "why".
“What do I do when I feel as though my relationship with my coaching candidate is not bringing about the results I’m looking for? I feel as though I’ve been working with them forever but not finding success!”
Communication is key, right? It's often the answer to relationship problems with a partner, the issue that comes up when we use emails too frequently, and it's the tool we use in the corporate world to stay in touch with our fellow employees, managers, and teams. But what's the difference between quality and quantity when it comes to communication? Is it really the be-all-end-all that brings a manager and employee together, or is constant communication more aptly named "conflicting"? Here are some common themes we see with communication at Progress Coaching that get in the way of successful employee and manager relationships:
When we think about what motivates us in our jobs, it comes down to something we want to achieve – the next big promotion, a pay raise, or the respect of our peers. But what is really behind those things? What do we truly want to accomplish for ourselves? That promotion may really mean job security for some, or a sense of progress for others. The pay raise? Financial security or savings for something big for yourself or your family. And the respect of our peers can stem from our need for approval from others. There is generally an emotional attachment to your goals, and even by setting them in the first place you have taken the first big step toward accomplishing them. Everyone has a goal, including the individuals on your team – all you have to do is ask the right questions.
So many times in my job, I get a lot of questions like, “how do you coach to engagement study results?” Questions like that remind me that so many engagement studies are based on personality tests, blanketing entire groups of individuals who are just that – INDIVIDUAL! So how can an engagement study accurately portray the personalities of each person on your team by putting them into categories rather than coaching to the individual themselves? Just a heads-up on that one – most of the time, leaders will adjust their coaching only to the groups of personalities that the engagement study believes that people with all sorts of different personalities might fall into. That strategy is time-effective, sure, as you can coach the individuals in each category the same, but not the most accurate strategy out there.
When thinking about coaches of athletes, we typically picture the in-game situations. High-intensity, focused instruction paired with cheers and positive affirmations are the general structure of a coach’s interactions with players in a game or match. But what about practices? How does the coach play a part outside of the intense game play in helping the individuals they are coaching become better at their craft? And how do they get the individuals to remain ENGAGED?
I think every manager, leader, supervisor, trainer and coach has had this thought at some point in their career: What do I do with someone that isn’t engaged – are they even worth coaching? Gut instinct says, “You can’t change the way a person is.” However, after some consideration of a strategy, you can help the individual find their place. Often, lack of engagement comes from either lack of understanding or lack of knowledge on how they play a role in the company. And, for the record, every person is worth coaching to some degree. It all depends on how far you’re willing to reach to find their true motivation.
I've been in the practice of teaching and training managers how to coach their employees for over 20 years now. One thing that's been around even longer than that are assessment tools. Those tools are quite valuable, but we started to realize something. Many of these assessment tools are based on personality, and the output is usually canned pieces of information that require managers to interpret the data on their own in order to create a plan or coaching strategy specific to what they learned. This can be very complicated, convoluted, and quite frankly very difficult for managers, especially those who aren't yet skilled in coaching. In order to make this process easier for managers to immediately apply assessment results to tangible coaching strategies, we at Progress Coaching have created the Dual Assessment Strategy.
While the industry has many valuable tools there is a tremendous opportunity of using a dual assessment strategy to bring the manager and employee together for common ground, greater understanding of one another, and a framework to apply coaching strategies. Progress Coaching has created such a strategy using two custom assessment strategies: