Show Belief in your Employees

October 23, 2016

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.

Coaching a sign you’re valued

July 21, 2014

Q: I am a new team leader and feel I am being pressured by my boss to take coaching. I don’t feel I need it, but they are insisting I take it. Since the external coach has been hired by the company, I am suspicious that he will try to force the company’s agenda on me. Do you agree I should be concerned?

A: Coaching is a sign that the organization values you enough to invest in you because it is intended as a developmental, not a remedial platform.

Organizations commonly sponsor coaching to support the employee’s performance, career objectives, role confidence and management competencies.

If coaching is part of your company’s leadership development strategy, get clarity from your supervisor about their expectations for the engagement. Organizations often hire external accredited coaches who have no roles or influence within the organization so they can provide objective feedback and perspectives and avoid conflict of interest.

While the organization pays for the coaching and the supervisor and coachee may together determine the coaching goals, the conversations between coach and coachee are confidential.

The coachee, not the coach, reports out any results.

During the sessions, the coach does not direct, advise or tell the coachee what to do. They develop the client’s ability to make decisions, address key concerns, and develop themselves – to get feedback, to determine priorities and set the pace of learning, to reflect on and learn from experiences.

It is the coach’s duty to advocate for the coachee.

Surveys have shown 85 to 95 per cent of coachees have been satisfied with their coaching experience and return on investment to the organization can be as high as 800 per cent.

Reprinted from The Province, July 20, 2014.

Hints to help bump up 2012

January 16, 2012

Q:  I love my work, team and organization, so I don’t understand why I’m feeling so
stagnant and bored. I’d appreciate some suggestions to kick start my year.

A: Sometimes we need a change and a challenge. Here are some ideas to make 2012 a
motivating adventure.

– Take on something completely different at work. Step up for an acting role, a
secondment to a project, or an assignment in new department where you would be
shaken out of your com-fort zone, challenged and grow.

– Initiate a cause in your organization that’s meaningful to you. A client of
mine led a team to build a school in Kenya.

– Hire coach to give you a shot in the arm, a kick in the butt and explore more
of your potential!

– Mentor someone who you really want to see succeed at work or in your community.

– Take an intensive leadership pro-gram, get a degree, learn to conquer a fear.
Engage your mind in new ways.

– Set a lofty career aspiration with an unrealistic timeline and ask a mentor to
hold you to it.

– Take a sabbatical to work with a community that would benefit from your
expertise. Nothing is more humbling or rewarding than serving those who attempt
to do so much with so little.

– Transfer to another geographic region or business partner. Be bold. Go
somewhere you don’t speak the language.

– Write a professional bucket list and start tackling it NOW. If you only had one
year left at your company what would you want your legacy to be?

– Email me what you choose and in December let me know how it went. Make it a
breathtaking year!

Originally published in The Province, January 15, 2012.

Set the tone for meetings

September 26, 2011

Q: My staff’s harsh criticisms of different viewpoints are preventing the sharing of innovative ideas in meetings. How can I create a more open exchange of dialogue?

A: Besides bringing in a neutral systems coach trained to resolve the team’s underlying conflict, role modelling by a leader is an effective way to achieve behavioural changes. The coaching skills of listening and asking curious questions would help break through the resistance.

Clear out your thoughts and agenda to focus attention on the speaker. If you are sorting and assessing the speaker’s message while they are speaking, you are NOT fully hearing them. You are filtering communication through assumptions and opinions. Listen beyond literal words, voice tone and their delivery. What is the underlying message they are trying to convey? What is their good intention beneath the words? What are they not saying?

Asking simple curious questions in a matter of fact manner will flush out their point of view. Seemingly obvious or dumb questions posed with sincere curiosity will encourage the speaker to disclose even more. Open ended questions that steer toward the positive in their viewpoint and begin with “what” will expand the conversation. For example: What is superior about this solution? What is the benefit? What would this afford us?

Avoid “why” questions that may make the speaker inadvertently feel interrogated or defensive. If the meeting becomes heated, neutralize it by curiously questioning the conflict – ensuring you are exhibiting judgment-free listening and dispassionate questioning. Your consistent follow through will demonstrate new meeting expectations promoting trust and safety so staff are motivated to contribute their ideas.

Originally published in The Province, September 25, 2011.

Managers lead by example

June 21, 2010

Q: I’ve just been promoted into my first management position. Without technical to-dos to check off the list each day, I don’t feel I’m accomplishing anything. How do I ensure I am adding value to my company?

A: It’s a common mistake for new managers to gravitate to tasks instead of people. You got the job because you accomplished things in an outstanding way. Now your role is to support others to produce results and reach their potential. Your success depends on your team’s performance.

Great leaders model and mentor others to achieve their goals effectively. Find out what matters to your people then advocate for the resources and tools they need to flourish. This may mean helping them leverage their strengths, reach their career aspirations or work smarter not harder.

While you have the experience, you’re not the expert. Valued managers coach their people to perform at ‘their best’ by listening more, talking less. Set clear expectations, empower them to do their job, then stand back and let them do it as long as their output meets the expectations. Give direct feedback on areas for improvement privately in a way that motivates them to rise to the challenge rather than discourages them.

Your role is to make sound and often tough decisions with which others may not agree. Create an environment of trust and respect, demonstrate desirable behaviours and foster collaboration by being an example.

A leader’s responsibility is to be the keeper of the vision. Hold the big picture and articulate it in a way that inspires the team. You provide individuals a sense of purpose so they are engaged and aligned with the organization. Valuable leaders have the ability to make their people feel valued.

Originally printed in The Province, June 20, 2010.