The number one problem in coaching and corporate America today- managers are not engaging in critical conversations. What’s keeping managers from having this dialogue? It’s not lack of time, even though that’s usually the first block that comes up. It’s not that they are unqualified to be partaking in crucial conversations. What is the issue? Managers don’t know what to do and what to say when having crucial conversations that tie training objectives and coaching together. So, how do you provide managers with the skills and practice needed to become agile when it comes to having these conversations?
I'm going to say something that's controversial- asking your employees to be positive can be condescending. With outside stressors influencing our lives on a consistent basis, when a manager or boss says to me, "Hey, let's put on our happy face and be excited to be here today!", my immediate reaction is, "Yeah, ok," followed by me falling back into my daily negative thoughts. Let's face it, we all have things that make focusing on our work and being mindful of our impact on the work and our workplace extremely difficult- student loans, emergency bills, that one family member who constantly causes stress, endlessly comparing ourselves to everyone else on social media... the list can go on and on. So, instead of continuing to fall into the trap of cyclical self-pity, what can I do to combat these stressors in a meaningful and lasting way? Here's how you can infuse positivity into your workplace in a way that impacts each of your unique employees:
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".
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:
As I was scrolling through my phone this morning, I came across a recent article on Forbes, "Doing This for 5 Minutes Every Morning Can Make You Nearly Twice as Productive". Turns out my daily ritual of scrolling my phone before I even consume coffee isn't setting me up for success. Luckily, I'm not alone. More than 7,000 people have taken the free online test “How Do Your Time Management Skills Stack Up?” 66% of people check their email, while only about 34% make a plan for the day. How does this translate to your day? Check out the article above for some really interesting data analysis.
Throughout my daily life, I try to illustrate connections between great customer service and coaching. It's apparent when a company truly embraces what it means to have a great culture when you experience it consistently across an organization. I welcome the millennial stereotype of brand loyalty when it comes to working with or spending money with companies that move beyond simply "talking the talk" and wholeheartedly take on the "walking the walk" piece. It's easy today to fall into a trap of simply believing a company's promise, whether it's a proclamation that their green initiatives go above and beyond their competition, or that their attention to detail and lack of frivolity is why you should purchase their product. The way I sort through this over-saturation of abundant promises is through speaking with a customer service representative.
I'm going to say it- it's easier to coach someone else than it is to coach yourself. Just think about it, how often do we latch on to giving our two cents when it comes to anything? From giving our friends some advice on a new diet, telling someone how to optimize their workflow, to relationship advice and how to handle conflict at work. All of these things require little or no acceptance or awareness of how we execute any of those things. This distancing is why we prefer to focus on others rather than ourselves- it just feels better. You feel like you're being helpful, you're accomplishing something by giving someone advice or coaching someone, you're fostering a relationship, be it at work or in your personal life. But, when's the last time you asked yourself this question: Did this person really need to hear what I just told them, and why did I feel it was necessary to share that with them?
As someone with a background in counseling, and as a citizen who pays attention to the world around them, the world can be a tough place. Instead of avoiding difficult subjects, we know that genuine human connection can help ease some of the burden. Some of these difficult subjects like workplace culture, engagement studies, and emotional intelligence are trending for a great reason- companies are owning the fact that embracing each of these areas is key towards their overall success as a company. So, you know you need to focus on these things because they keep popping up everywhere- the news, social media, word-of-mouth around the office, mandates from upper management. Great! You've embraced the first step of the process, which is gaining an understanding. Then that begs the question- now what?
Have you ever had a friend or coworker that seemed to have it all, the great job, loving family, nice car, you name it? Has that same person still, despite all of their assets, lacked confidence? You can try telling that person that they have every reason to be confident in their life, many times having things that others only dream of having. It comes down to one simple fact: Confidence can’t be bestowed on someone; they have to foster it themselves. Just like Maria, from the Sound of Music, motivation comes from within. We all understand that confidence in your job leads to many successes, from pay to simply job satisfaction.
"In a culture where being social and outgoing are prized above all else, it can be difficult, even shameful, to be an introvert. But, as Susan Cain argues in this passionate talk, introverts bring extraordinary talents and abilities to the world, and should be encouraged and celebrated."
There’s a certain stigma surrounding the field of therapy, negative connotations arise when someone mentions the word, and begins to wonder the mental stability of the person in question. However, while it still maintains this stigma, the results of therapy have produced wondrous outcomes for the people who have taken advantage of it. The same can be said for a business that takes advantage of a coach. If you, like myself, have trouble distinguishing between the two, here’s a couple of key differences between coaching and therapy.