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.
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:
The phrase "role-playing" universally tends to conjure up sighs, eye-rolls, and groans. Even though this is the typical case, can we all agree that we don't get better without practice? One of the reasons role-playing get such a negative connotation really has nothing to do with role-playing itself, rather it’s based upon how we give one another feedback.
Confidence is a very brittle thing and can be broken in an instant. One of the most fundamental examples of this is when people role-play or practice inside a corporate meeting. After the practice session is completed feedback is provided and for whatever reason people seem to unload on constructive feedback. They will provide one or two things the person did well and then lead with the phrase such as "here is what I would do if I were you" and then they begin to provide multiple counts of constructive feedback. Rarely do people ever leave these meetings invigorated and the proof is when role-playing or practice is announced most people usually roll their eyes and dread the thought of doing it but why? These sessions indicate people typically do not have confidence associated with practice just due to the nature of how the feedback is provided.
Without practice employees do not arbitrarily improve. Without practice we cannot observe skills and behaviors to reinforce. Without practice employees will not arbitrarily develop confidence. Without practice managers are allowing employees to practice for the first time in front of peers and customers. So what is a manager to do especially when time is limited? Here are five strategies we would encourage you to adopt when it comes to facilitating practice:
When I think about learning I think about employees who have gone to a class or maybe an online course and they’ve experienced knowledge dissemination or skill development. Where does coaching come in?
Let’s take two scenarios to illustrate this point. First, somebody attends an internal corporate workshop where he or she have learned the valuable material and engaged with his or her teammates throughout the company.
We hear it all the time "I don't have time to coach my employees" or "our industry is really different and our managers are working managers" or "we hire really good people" or ???
The fact of the matter is some of the aforementioned reasons certainly have some merit but what if managers could creatively build their own coaching programs and apply coaching strategies even when they're physically not present? What if managers were really taught how to address the two major reasons why they do not coach and provided real world assistance and support?
The Power of Progress! We've been teaching Progress Coaching™ for over 20 years I wanted to share with you a really cool concept: The Progress Initiative. The Progress Initiative is a movement organizations can take for talent development and retention as well as the cultivation of effective leadership.
Often, organizations will deploy a workplace engagement study to ascertain their employee's happiness and level of engagement. This could include their salary, their benefits, their engagement levels, their motivation, their team dynamics, or what have you. The purpose of the engagement study is to find out what's going on in the workplace. Often, organizations will do this on an annual basis which quite frankly is just not enough. Often, the results will be shown to an executive or upper management team only to have it sit there.