Coaching helps employees achieve their goals

April 8, 2015

Q: One of my managers is alienating his team with his harsh approach and is in jeopardy of being moved out of his role. To bring his style in line with expectations, is making coaching mandatory the best option?

A:  Executive coaching is an excellent method for developing valued high-potential employees and high performers — to grow their leadership skills, create constructive behavioural change and enhance performance. It focuses on leveraging capabilities and inspiring the coachee to maximize their professional and personal potential.

Frame the coaching as a value-add to support the manager’s success in their current role, rather than a punitive process. When an under-performing employee is sent to coaching to ‘fix’ them, they often resent and resist the intervention.

The employee must perceive a positive benefit for them to fully engage in the process. Ensure the employee knows that even though they and their supervisor create leadership goals linked to the employee’s performance plan, the coaching is confidential. Coaching is never a replacement for a supervisor’s responsibility to set clear, specific and descriptive performance expectations, provide detailed ongoing feedback and conduct regular quality appraisals.

It is the supervisor’s role to identify and reinforce strong performance and redirect where improvement is needed so the employee has the framework to achieve their goals.

Augmenting the supervisor’s role with professional coaching increases the employee’s ownership of their performance, improves their capabilities, meets their current goals and develops them for the future.

Reprinted from The Province, March 15, 2015


Confidence needed to be team leader

February 18, 2013

Q: I’ve been hired to lead a team of directors on a project. I have the specific skills for this role, but I’m younger than everyone. They aren’t taking my direction and I need help overcoming my intimidation of them.

A: It is often easier to believe more in your team’s capabilities than in your own. Remind yourself that you earned the seat at the helm. Trust you know what you’re doing.

Your executive presence is a key indicator of how your team responds to you. Authority matters more than age.

Owning your expertise with confidence will instill their trust in you. Your job is to set strategic direction and motivate the team to own the project and its success. Share a strong vision for success assuring the team you know where you are heading.

Lead expedient meetings that are focused and practical. Welcome ideas and suggestions that further the outcomes, but don’t be taken off track. Your experience will be apparent as you inform the team of potential risks and possible benefits of their contributions. Set clear expectations for deliverables with due dates for each member monitoring progress at subsequent meetings.

Be willing to say no when you know it is not the right course of action. Your team may not like it, but they will respect you. Speak with conviction and surety, being mindful to avoid appearing arrogant or controlling. Avoid voting to achieve consensus. It can lead to division or a perception that you are more inclined to please than to take a stand for what is right. Indecision signals self-doubt and undermines your authority. Focusing on your purpose rather than on other’s opinions will help you.

If insecurity still plagues you, seek a mentor or coach to become the leader the organization knows you to be.

Originally published in The Province, Feb. 17, 2013.

End bullying in workplace

January 4, 2010

 Q: My boss’s friend is disregarding my role as her supervisor, treating me rudely and telling lies about me. As a leader, how can I prevent this kind of behaviour from spreading throughout the organization?

A: Examples of workplace bullying include being spoken to in a dismissive tone (“talked down to”); spreading malicious rumours; gossip or innuendo that isn’t true; character assassinations; an arrogant attitude; screaming; swearing or being hypercritical. Tolerating this type of behaviour from a subordinate will diminish your authority with others. The most effective way to ending abuse is to demonstrate management’s commitment to respect at work.

-Create a workplace code of conduct with concrete examples of acceptable/ unacceptable behaviours and working conditions. Distribute this among staff, encouraging their input and buy-in.

-Set up a written process for recording and dealing with all conflicts seriously, promptly and confidentially without reprisal to the target. Outline the consequences for acts of bullying and the effective start date of the prevention program.

-Initially, targets should attempt to work out situations themselves by firmly telling the bully their behaviour is unacceptable and asking them to stop. They should record abusive events with the date, time and a detailed account of what happened. Maintain copies of all correspondence from the perpetrator.

If the behaviour continues, the complainant should report it to their supervisor. If their concern is minimized or dismissed, they should escalate to the next level of management. An impartial third party should be available to resolve situations when necessary. Retaliation is not an option; when a victim becomes a perpetrator, it can evaluate the situation and make abuse more pervasive.

Originally printed in The Province  January 3, 2010.

How to send your message

December 9, 2007

Q: I give instructions to my team and they just don’t get it. I keep repeating myself yet it doesn’t get any clearer for them, then I get angry and frustrated and nothing gets accomplished. What could I do differently?

A: Before you blow another gasket, know that 85 per cent of business issues are people-related not skill-related. Even clear, direct communication can often result in a different message received. The onus is on the sender to ensure it is received as you intended.

Here are some tips:

  • Begin by clearly stating your reason and the result you are expecting from the receiver. Do you want them to take action immediately, to file this information until required, or is it simply FYI? Explain how following these directions will benefit them, the team, the client or other stakeholders.
  • Many people miss this next crucial point: Step outside of what you want and consider it from your listener’s perspective. Are your instructions clear? Are the outcomes realistic? What vital information must they have to carry out these instructions and successfully meet your expectations? The receiver needs enough detail to deliver on, yet not so much that they get bogged down.
  • Your message requires three key elements: What you want done, when it needs to be finished and how you want to be informed when it’s completed. Empower team members to complete the task in their own way.
  • Now about that tone — yes, even e-mail has a voice quality that telegraphs volumes. If your message is emotionally charged, even the clearest directions will be resisted. Keep your message light and to the point.

Originally printed in The Province, December 9, 2007.