Q: While I received overall positive scores on my annual employee opinion survey, a couple said they wanted more coaching. As the Head of Finance, I don’t want to be the kind of manager that people leave the company because of. How can I be a more effective coach?
A: Employees are most engaged and satisfied working for leaders whose focus is on developing and supporting them to be successful. Here are four coaching concepts you can implement immediately.
Believe in your people: Maintain the mindset that they are totally capable. Really. It’s harder than it sounds. Give them tasks that are a stretch, show them how to achieve the target, then trust they will be successful. Don’t doubt them. Be available for help along the way. Avoid relying on the same dependable team members every time.
Recognize and acknowledge often: Creating a culture that focuses on strengths and successes will generate even more. Build confidence by acknowledging sincerely and publicly, giving developmental feedback respectfully and privately. When individuals mess up they forget they are also competent. In those moments remind them of how valued and capable they are. Reinforce the invisible — attitude, character and qualities.
Move them up and out: I know, you want to keep good people you have groomed. Admired leaders find opportunities for their people to grow beyond their role by recommending them for high visibility initiatives that match their talents and aspirations and by placing them in front of influential decision makers.
Hand over responsibility: Share the vision and how their work is imperative for its success. Set clear expectations, hand over ownership of the deliverables and responsibility for accomplishing it. Then back off. Give them room to figure it out and rescue them — shame free — if needed.
Watch the uptick in engagement and loyalty.
Reprinted from The Province, October 23, 2016.
Q: Our company recently acquired another business. Workload and pressure to perform have increased. My team knows it’s temporary, however if we don’t manage our stress I’m afraid we’ll implode.
A: Your awareness of your team’s ability to cope is the first important step to managing this transition. When the brain is overstressed, executive functioning shuts down. People experience foggy thinking, poor decision making and memory loss. They are less patient, more reactive and make knee-jerk actions they often regret later.
THESE FIVE STEPS WILL HELP THEM DEAL WITH THE STRESS
1) Articulating emotions calms the brain so people can address it rather than bury it. Name what the team is experiencing in meetings or conversations. Suppressing reactions doesn’t work. They leak out in reactive ways when not acknowledged.
2) Ask the team what support would help with workflow: Getting temporary support, reprioritizing projects or negotiating delivery dates. Do whatever you can to make it happen, so your team feels some sense of control over their situation rather than being a victim to it.
3) Hold an inspiring vision. Keep the team focused on the big picture, the rewards and significance of their work. When people understand the ‘why’ they are more motivated to contribute to the larger purpose.
4) Reframe negative to positive, challenges to opportunities, hard to manageable. Reappraising from half empty to half full whenever possible feeds and maintains momentum.
5) Mindfulness is the most effective de-stressor. Focusing attention on the present helps let go of past regrets and worries about the future — which breed paralysis. Check in regularly with where people are at; ask what is working and what they’re proud of. Encourage frequent breaks, fresh air at lunch, leaving work at the office so people can recover to calm and their brains can reset.
Reprinted from The Province, March 27, 2016.
Q: I’m working at a startup where the owners keep adding to my workload without increasing my salary. I’m starting to feel frustrated and resentful but afraid to talk to the owners because they keep telling us they aren’t drawing salaries. What else can I do but quit?
A: Remember why you joined in the first place. It’s almost a given that you will be paid less at a startup than you are worth. However, for many the chance to wear many hats and the potential for huge financial rewards later when the company gets traction outweighs the lower initial salary.
Other rewards of working at a start up are: greater autonomy and authority, variety and stimulating challenges, flexibility with less bureaucracy, a hands-on business education and a chance to shape the enterprise.
The benefits that will help your future marketability include greater responsibility, more visibility in a broader range of skills and a higher title sooner than is likely in a larger company.
While long hours and pitching in wherever needed are job requirements, an honest conversation with the owners about the impact the increased workload is having on you and the quality of your work could provide them with valuable feedback about the needs of their growing business.
Be calm, tactful and unemotional. Ask if they would be willing to reassign some responsibilities, hire additional support or increase your pay.
There are many creative options beyond salary that could be more economical or advantageous to a company with tight cash flow.
Flex hours, extended delivery deadlines, telecommuting, additional holiday time, dividends, profit sharing, health benefits, fitness membership, car/phone allowance or an assistant. If you continue to feel under valued, you may decide you’re better suited to a more structured workplace and exercise your option to leave.
Reprinted from The Province, February 21, 2016.
Q: Each year I’m quite successful without a professional plan. I’d like to create one this year to see if I can improve my results. But making resolutions doesn’t work for me. What do you suggest?
A: You’re not alone. One-third of all New Year’s resolutions are abandoned within the first month, and the majority within six months. For a greater success follow these five simple steps.
Take stock of 2015. Record your successes, accomplishments and breakthroughs, as well as your failures, disappointments and misses. This focuses your attention on what is rewarding and lessons learned for the coming year.
Now write out three to five themes, intentions or categories to focus on for the year. Some examples: professional development/education, developing others/mentoring or strategic planning/systems thinking.
Next, reflect on who you need to “be” throughout the year to be come successful in your themes. Write the characteristics or qualities of that type of individual. For example: proactive, visionary, empowering others.
Create a list of goals you want to achieve by the end of 2016 and that you would expect of the person above. For example: delegating 80 per cent of the work below your role, spending 60 per cent of your day planning strategically rather than being a hands-on leader, coaching team members to find their own solutions 75 per cent of the time.
Finally, break the goals down into specific manageable activities with measurable targets such as: take a coaching course by March 31, bite tongue at meetings so team members contribute first.
Resolutions typically fail when you try to achieve too much too fast. This year, focus on rewiring your brain and implementing new habits to achieve ongoing success.
Reprinted from The Province, January 10, 2016
Q: My new role will require a lot of travel. What tools will keep me on track while I’m on the road?
A: These indispensable travel apps are like having your executive assistant by your side while on the road.
TripIt is a mobile travel organizer that links your email flight, car and hotel reservations and saves them all to one itinerary in chronological order which can be forwarded to others. It updates any flight delays and changes that are emailed to you.
To book or reroute your flight compare airline rates with Google Flights, then select the best available seat using SeatGuru — which has aircraft configurations showing superior to substandard seating. While waiting on a layover at an unfamiliar airport, GateGuru displays a terminal map, a layout of amenities in the airport near your gate as well as restaurant ratings.
It also shows security wait times, flight delays, gate changes and layover updates.
For driving in an unfamiliar location, Waze is a must. It’s a community driven app providing the quickest route in real time, including traffic speeds, delays and detours. Beware: it’s a battery hog even if it’s just running in the background.
Out-of-country roaming charges rack up quickly. J Wire will pinpoint free nearby urban wireless hot spots in 140 countries — downloadable for off-line use. Wi-Fi locations are filtered by location type — hotel, café, restaurant. WhatsApp automatically downloads your contact list and will allow you to SMS message via Internet free.
Tongue tied in a foreign language? Google Translate can rapidly translate whole paragraphs of text or even the spoken word. Say a phrase in English, and it will repeat it the 57 foreign languages of your choice.
No matter where you travel these handy apps will make your travel experience less stressful and more productive.
Reprinted from The Province, December 13, 2015.