Starting a coaching relationship is not always easy to do and one of the things we teach in the progress coaching training system is something we call the awareness stage. The awareness stage is when we make someone aware of the opportunity to improve but the language and approach we use is as critical as anything. The goal of this stage is not to convince somebody that they have to improve, rather it's to make them aware of the opportunity, seek their emotional commitment to the area of opportunity, and ultimately establish a cadence associated with getting together.
The goal of coaching is ultimately to get people to look in the mirror step one and then take step two which is to take action on step one. The funny thing is very few people do step one very well. It's hard to be honest with yourself.
Here are a few examples of the challenges people have as it relates to being honest with themselves. Let's take a salesperson who's had a great year and when you ask that salesperson why they had a great year they tend to talk all about themselves. The next year they have a down year and you ask them what happened they tend to bring up extraneous things such as the economy or pricing issues or product issues. The funny thing is good salespeople sell during tough times.
Recently, I had a conversation with an organization where one of the managers felt like there would be greater traction with their end of the year engagement study results if upper level management participated in coaching and mentoring. He presented a true fear of having such a conversation as it was filled with political potholes and risk. What is a manager to do?
Supplements are so prevalent here in the United States that they have their own storefronts, loyal fan-bases, and are even touted across cable networks due to their popularity. Scientific evidence shows that some of these are beneficial to our overall health, but on one condition- they are most effective in conjunction with overall healthy behavior like diet and exercise. You can't take a magic diet supplement, for example, and expect to lose weight, all while pounding cheeseburgers and beer (wouldn't that be AWESOME?). So, in order to get the most out of your supplements, you need to support it with a healthy lifestyle.
I recently read an article written by Travis Bradberry entitled, "Nine Types of People Who Never Succeed At Work", and it immediately got me thinking. This quote stood out to me: "None of these behaviors are a career death sentence because they can be eradicated through improved emotional intelligence. All it takes is a little self-awareness and a strong desire to change."
Let's face it- we all work with people who fit the characteristics that Travis details in this article. But this begs the question- do you simply wait for the employee or coworker to become self-aware on their own schedule, or do you intervene and propel the change?
Coaching is the new leadership. The days of leaders commanding and demanding people with little to input are way behind us. People crave strong leaders, but they also want an opportunity and a platform to share their ideas and insights.
When you think about conflict, or confronting someone, does it make you nervous? Doesn't it make a lot of people nervous? I want to share a notion with you that conflict, in certain moments, can be unbelievably healthy. Let me give you a couple of examples.
One of the toughest things that we go through is our ability to recruit employees. The toughest thing we need to consider is that the world is shrinking and it is very easy for candidates to find out what our organizations are like as well as specific managers and their leadership styles. A brief example might be a candidate going to work for a company and not knowing much about the company. What will the candidate do knowing he or she may have multiple offers from different companies? They may go to LinkedIn and see if they know anybody at the company. This is where a manager's personal leadership brand becomes evident or least it’s perception. A candidate might call someone at the company to find out what that boss is like. On one hand what if the boss has a reputation of not being very engaged and occasionally flies off the handle yelling in staff meetings? On the other hand what if the manager is engaged and has developed a relationship of being positive in a great developer of talent?
The most fundamental mistakes managers make when they're coaching is that they coach to the situation and not to the issue(s). Let me give you a brief example. Let's say you walk by and you hear three people at the water cooler gossiping and talking negatively about other people. You hear them demonstrating very mean spirited comments. They are really being poor teammates and employees. Often, we might address those situations feeling like we've corrected them when in fact we have not even started to coach to the real issues which might be poor attitude or a lack of teamwork or not upholding corporate values and principles. We tend to have managers thinking about coaching as an apparatus to fix things or to adjust people.
What's been a pleasant surprise in the last two years is that the coaching industry and the coaching movement has gone from this concept of, "It would be nice to coach if we had time," to organizations stating, "We must coach our employees." This has been, needless to say, refreshing.
This still begs the question- how do we motivate our managers to coach?
This article is not about how to coach, but how to continue to push our managers up that hill, since time is not an ally when so many managers today wear so many hats.
I bet when you first read the title you thought it was over the top. This is from a company we worked with years ago that had less than 15 people when I first started working with them. I'll never forget the day this conversation took place. It still reminds me of the value of teaching coaching and what I do for a living.
A manager of one of our clients sites was extremely upset with one of his employees. He was in the "lobby", but due to the small size of the company, everyone could hear what was being said. The manager got in the employee's face, began to yell, literally called the employee stupid and began to use profanity. In the spirit of time I'll cut to the end of the story. The employee was extremely upset and abruptly left the company quitting without a two-week notice.
When we have to do something associated with conflict and confrontation, people tend to get very squeamish and hesitant to even do so. But, in the meantime, they'll go off and tell others of their frustrations, resulting in "Water Cooler Talk"!
One of the questions I receive frequently from managers is about getting their managers or executive team to coach them. They often fear retribution if they bring it up- as if they are crossing a line. When we provide our program to organizations, everybody says you should start with the executive team, which I agree with, but often it gets pushed down to management levels below the executive team. Executives are incredibly busy today, but so are managers below this level!