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Category Archives: Coaching

What stops us making decisions?

You make a decision when you ‘make up your mind’. The downside of this is that when you make a decision, you have to let go of other ideas, options and possibilities. Some people find this difficult to do. There are many reasons for this, including:

  • Not having good decision-making techniques
  • Lack of confidence, not trusting yourself
  • Lack of information or even too much information to keep in your head at one time
  • Disagreement between group members
  • Level of responsibility – if your decision affects others and carries consequences, you may be reluctant to finalise things
  • Being emotionally attached to a certain outcome that is not the logical choice
  • The opportunity cost of making a decision and thus letting go of other options
  • Uncertainty over the consequences, especially if they seem to lead to a lose-lose situation

Sometimes we mull over the smallest decisions without knowing why. It may be because we have no deadline for the decision and are spending too much time on the details. Some people naturally take more time in making a decision than others; this is not necessarily a bad thing, but if time is critical this can have unfortunate consequences.

Motivation

In order to make a decision, we need some personal benefit for making it. Bear in mind that one major benefit of   making a decision is that you no longer need to expend mental energy on it – it is a ‘weight off your mind’.

So, to motivate yourself to make a decision, you need to focus on how you will feel after making the decision. What will be the benefits of making the decision? In the end, it all comes down to the fear of consequences, which produce anxiety and in turn fuels the fear. To drive out the fear of consequences, look at any decision from these four perspectives:

  1. What would happen if I did?
  2. What would happen if I did not?
  3. What would not happen if I did?
  4. What would not happen if I did not?

Each of these is a subtly different question and you will get great clarity around the consequences of a decision by really thinking about each in turn.

Helping people on your team make decisions

You can lead by example, using decision-making techniques regularly and openly. This demonstrates to your team how important you think structured decision-making is and introduces them to the techniques. When your team has become comfortable with a specific technique and are using it regularly by themselves, start introducing new techniques.

You can provide training in decision-making techniques, either by getting external training for your team or running short, regular training sessions yourself. This introduces them to the techniques and raises the importance of practising decision making in their minds. Alternatively, if one of your team is a natural resource investigator and communicator, why not give this role to them and make it their ‘pet project’?

You can coach your staff individually to be better decision makers. Allocate time to talk with them about their difficulties in decision-making and help them to generate the solutions for their improvement themselves

Over time, the group will develop its own decision-making ‘style’ and even start inventing its own approaches.

Dealing with pressure

Feeling under pressure can disrupt the decision-making process, whatever technique you are using. Applying the techniques in a non-pressured environment will help. Get yourself away from the office and distracting interruptions if possible and concentrate on applying the techniques in a cool, calm and collected manner.

Post courtesy of People Alchemy – to get your free trial of the Alchemy for Managers online resource visit http://www.peoplealchemy.co.uk/catalyst

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How to correct poor performance in the workplace

If a member of your team is genuinely performing poorly in the workplace, then you need to act now. Delay will only make matters worse.

First, look back at the objectives that you set for the person:

  • Were they realistic?
  • Were they achievable?
  • Was the time frame reasonable, given the rest of their workload?
  • Have other priorities taken precedence?
  • Was the objective clear enough?

Second, consider the person:

  • Do they understand the objectives and know what they should be doing?
  • Do they believe and want to do the job?
  • Do they think they have a better way of doing the job?
  • What do they think they will get if they do the job?
  • Does the job overstretch them and send them into panic?
  • Do they think that something else is more important?
  • Are they getting enough feedback?
  • Do they realise that they are underperforming?
  • Are they under stress from factors outside work?

Third, consider the environment:

  • Do they have the tools to do the job?
  • Do the systems and processes allow them to do the job?
  • Do they have the assistance they need?
  • Are other tasks getting priority?
  • What other external things influence their performance?

Remember though, this is only your point of view and the person who is not meeting their targets may not agree with your assessment. Really try to empathise with them and you will better understand why they are underperforming.

It’s also important to be emotionally detached and not get angry about their performance, as this won’t solve anything.

The next stage is to discuss with the underachiever everything we have looked at so far and get their perspective on things. Ensure that they are able to be open and honest with you, even if you get feedback that you don’t like about your own part in the situation. 

Assist the person see the effects of their behaviour from other people’s perspectives, including your own and anyone else who is immediately affected. The reasons for the poor performance will become apparent, and then it is a matter of addressing them.

If you identify that the poor performance is due to lack of knowledge, training can rectify this. There may be a company programme that would be suitable, or it might just be a simple case of the person working with another, more experienced member of staff, shadowing what they do for a while.

If the objectives were not clear to the person, you need to re-set them.

If the person is genuinely unaware that their performance is poor, and yet others think it is, you might consider a 360-degree process, which will ensure they get the broad-based feedback they need.

Note that if whatever it is that is affecting performance is external to the work environment, you may recommend counselling or perhaps the HR department may be able to help.

Whatever you decide to do, you need to create and agree a clear action plan with the person. This should include specific steps and checkpoints along the way to an agreed target and it’s a very good idea to document the plan and even get the person to sign a copy so it has an air of importance to them.

The action plan would also include features to mitigate the risk of a repeat of the poor performance, despite your best efforts. To this end, you need to consider what sort of monitoring needs to be in place, and also what contingency plans.

Post courtesy of People Alchemy – for access to the Alchemy for Managers online resource visit http://www.peoplealchemy.co.uk/catalyst

 

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Employee issues – capability and conduct

Capability and conduct should be treated separately and it’s important to recognise the difference between warning someone for a capability matter or their conduct. Some organisations have separate disciplinary procedures for dealing with capability and conduct.

Capability

Dismissal on grounds of capability could be for one of three reasons:

  1. Lack of or loss of an essential qualification to do the job
  2. Lack of ability or skill – this can be repeated minor incompetence or one serious act of incompetence (poor performance)
  3. Lack of capability because of ill health

Qualification

If an employee loses or fails to achieve a qualification necessary to do his job, he may be dismissed on grounds of capability. However, other options should be explored if, for example, an employee whose job it is to travel to clients loses his driver’s licence for a year. Can they work from home or office? Can they use public transport? Can he do another job in the business while his licence is withheld?

Poor Work Performance

It’s the manager’s job to show that poor performance is the reason for the dismissal and that you reasonably believe your employee is not capable of working to the required standard. Rather than dismiss for a minor incompetence as a first offence, it should be something really serious like a life-threatening action or omission.

You must help the employee by doing everything reasonable to help them meet the required standard of performance by using coaching and retraining and giving a reasonable amount of time to improve. You must warn the employee before dismissal of the consequences of failure to improve.

Ill Health

It is not unfair to dismiss an employee who is no longer capable of working because they are too unwell to do so. In cases of long-term ill health, you should concentrate on investigating the medical facts and consulting with the affected employee about the available options.

A person may be disabled if he has a physical or mental impairment which is substantial and exercises a long-term adverse effect on his ability to carry out normal day-to-day activities.

You must consider all the other options apart from dismissal. It may be possible to find an alternative job or change the job content to accommodate the employee’s changed requirements.

As an employer, you have to be seen to be considering all the options properly and going through a fair procedure to avoid an unfair dismissal claim, even if the end result would have been the same anyway, fair procedure or no fair procedure.

Conduct

Dismissal for a reason relating to the conduct of an employee will be fair, provided the procedure is properly followed. Examples of misconduct:

  • Poor timekeeping
  • Poor attendance

Gross misconduct is a very serious breach of conduct by the employee. It may be an act or an omission, but it is tantamount to a fundamental breach of contract by the employee. Examples of gross misconduct:

  • Theft
  • Fighting, abusive or intimidating behaviour
  • Consumption of alcohol while on duty

Your procedure must list the offences you consider to be gross misconduct in your organisation.

Post courtesy of People Alchemy – for access to the Alchemy for Managers online resource visit http://www.peoplealchemy.co.uk/catalyst

 

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How Coaches Can Help Get Your Business Off The Ground

If you’re an entrepreneur or small start-up, developing your business plan can feel like an overwhelming task. Often, entrepreneurs will be the big visionaries behind a business – the charismatic individuals who can start a business from scratch, spot an opportunity in the market and have the drive, energy and resilience to make it happen. But they are unlikely to be the ‘details’ people.

Successful business planning requires a variety of skills. Marketing input is needed to formulate a strategic route to market, understanding the product’s features and key selling points, its distribution routes, pricing, promotional routes and marketing channels.

Financial input is required to project sales, revenues, costs and margins. Purchasing input is required to understand raw cost of materials, production costs, labour costs and overheads. Operational specialists are needed to advise on the means to get products to market and deliver to time and budget. Additionally, the HR input will be needed to work out what resources are required to deliver the company’s objectives and ensure the right talent is in place.

For a small start-up or SME, this requires input from a range of perspectives, knowledge-sets and experience levels. This is where business plan help comes in. There are a variety of sources for getting planning help; you can pay for consultancy support from a specialist provider, get in a contractor with a specialist planning skillset, or look for a mentor or coach to help you through the process.

Experienced coaches or mentors are ideal, as they will help lead you through the process and develop your own skills as you learn, rather than doing it for you and charging a commercial fee. Many mentors are also offered on a subsidised or even free of charge basis, through schemes run by local economic partnerships.

These ‘business angels’ volunteer their time to help small start-ups and SMEs to grow and they will usually be experienced and successful business people in their own right, with plenty of experience to pass on.

Get in touch with your local business services provider – business link is a good place to start for advice or your local chamber of commerce can help too. There is a regional network of providers that use a mix of government and private funding to offer business services such as mentoring and coaching to local businesses and help them grow and develop the regional economy.

Often, these organisations offer a raft of complementary business services too at subsidised costs, such as training, business advice, apprenticeships, regulatory consultancy and accreditations and alternative business finance access. Networking is usually a big aspect of these services and a great way to swap knowledge and experience with other businesses, meet new contacts, potential suppliers and potential contacts.

So get in touch with your local services provider today to find out what services are available to you to pin down a competitive business plan and take your business forward to the next stage.

Article brought to you by Rob who can recommend contacting Grow Cornwall for free business advice if you are a Cornish based SME.

 
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Posted by on May 23, 2012 in Coaching, Management

 

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Performance management. What are the key skills?

Managing a person’s performance requires a wide range of skills, from the inter-personal through to process skills. The key ones are as follows:

Goal setting

Without setting a goal, you cannot manage a performance since nobody has a yardstick with which to measure achievements. No measurement, no management.

Coaching

Coaching is an essential part of managing staff performance so individuals can learn how things could have been achieved more efficiently. To improve performance, it is helpful to coach them through using questions such as:

  • How do you think you could have done that differently, for a better outcome?

Or

  • Do you think ‘Z’ approach would have been more effective?

This allows staff to evaluate their own performance and helps them consider other possible approaches for next time.

Mentoring

A mentor’s role is that of someone who has ‘done it before’ so they use their own personal experience to meet the same objectives. This is frequently called mentoring, as opposed to coaching.

Delegation

This can be a very useful way to improve staff performance. Even if the delegated work isn’t carried out perfectly, with the right feedback and coaching it can be extremely effective management tool. 

Empowerment

This is used to drive an individual’s performance to new highs because people often respond to the feeling of empowerment to complete a task by performing well, as long as there’s an appropriate level of coaching and feedback.

Feedback

If a person is doing well at a particular task, or just in general, tell them and they are more likely to continue performing to that standard. Positive feedback makes people feel good, giving them a sense of achievement and motivating them to continue working hard.

On the flip side, if a person is performing ineffectively and they don’t know why, won’t improve. Constructive feedback enables individuals to address any problems or challenges and become more effective.

Listening and questioning

When you are listening to someone, focus on them and absorb what they say. Get underneath their skin and understand their perspective.

Asking relevant, probing, open questions allowing for further discussion to get to the core of any problems. This focuses on addressing the causes of issues, rather than unmet objectives.

People will not always tell you the real reasons for issues. For example, they may feel they should have the skills to do their job, but don’t really understand what they should be doing.

Time management 

A person who isn’t managing their time effectively, and therefore not meeting their objectives, may need help to understand how they can manage their time better. You can help your employees by assisting them with things like task prioritisation.

Regarding your own time management, you may need to seek clarification from your manager to ensure priorities have not changed and that you are performing effectively.

Motivation

Motivation is often used to explain poor performance and while there are often many factors, motivation is clearly a major factor in levels of performance. As a manager, you need to know what motivation is and how to encourage it in your people.

Assertiveness

Despite their senior position, many managers are unable to be genuinely assertive. They are either unable to ask for what they want without trampling over the rights of their people or to set firm boundaries and expectations.

360 degree appraisals

This is a useful assessment if an individual is unaware of their performance level or if it differs greatly from how others see it. It can also help when the individual is not receptive to constructive feedback.

It combats this lack of awareness and thus raises the individual’s performance because the feedback is usually supplied anonymously so it’s harder for the individual to dispute the findings.

Post courtesy of People Alchemy – for access to the Alchemy for Managers online resource visit http://www.peoplealchemy.co.uk/catalyst

 

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The Skills/Motivation Matrix – do you recognise any of these?

Skills and motivation are the two key components needed if you want to achieve optimal performance. Having one without the other, both or even neither obviously has a massive impact on what a person can achieve.

As you will see from the words below, depending on the skill/motivation combination determines what kind of approach is required in terms of managing that person and maximising their performance.

Directing (low skills/low motivation)

Raising skills and motivational levels through training of short-term tasks.

The manager helps the person to envision a future they can construct, own and direct, and they set themselves short- and long-term goals to achieve this. Learning is structured through a series of cumulative events or short-term tasks with deadlines.

Guiding (low skills/high motivation)

Raising skill levels through on-the-job training, guidance, envisioning, support and encouragement. 

The manager needs to effect a real commitment to the employee’s vision of their future, ensuring that activity is consistent with this goal and is founded on what this future would really be like if the skills are fully developed and embedded in different practice.

Inspiring (high skills/low motivation)

Increasing motivation through opportunities for short-term successes, brokering resources, making connections.

Find out why there is low motivation. Skill is required to work adeptly on the positives expressed by employee in the dialogue, without being trapped into agreeing with or joining in the dissatisfaction. A range of short-term actions should be agreed that will bring a raft of successes to build on further and generate new enthusiasm.

Delegating (high skills/high motivation):

Exploiting connections, creating rich opportunities, disseminating benefit through delegated freedom to experiment.

The freedom to experiment needs to be well supported to allow mistakes to happen and to gather learning from such eventualities. The manager will be careful not to supervise the processes, but to work alongside with subtlety to evidence their interest, maximise the on-going dialogue about the learning arising from the experimentation.

To find out more about Catalyst’s accredited Leadership & Management courses and for information on our FREE seminars call us on 0207 436 3636 or click here to visit our website.

 

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We could be heroes: Self coaching and how to go about it – Part 2

Self coaching is a very useful tool and if used correctly and appropriately can be very effective in helping you take the initiative and make a positive change. If you missed Part 1 of this blog post, it can be found here.

Now we will continue to look at what tools you can use for self coaching. 

Action Learning Sets

An action learning set is a group of individuals who gather together over a period of time to explore a particular topic. Between meetings, the members of the set go away to explore issues back at work that are related to the topic. They then bring their experiences to the next meeting and discuss them with the whole set. Coaching yourself can assist you in getting the most out of an action learning set and vice versa.

During a 360 degree feedback process

Some organisations use either ad hoc or regular 360 degree feedback processes. If you are actively coaching yourself, this is likely to assist you in completing the 360 degree questionnaire, getting the most out of the feedback from the whole process and acting on it to further develop yourself.

Mentors (real or virtual)

This might be someone within or outside the organisation that can act as a mentor. You can test out with them the ideas and reflections that have come from your self coaching. Nowadays, mentoring can be face to face, on the phone or via email. 

You might be asking what virtual mentors could be. Well, even if you don’t have an actual mentor, or if you cannot contact them when you need to at a particularly challenging time, there is an exercise that can help you to tap into a mentor’s wisdom. Virtual mentors are people who you call on in your mind, rather than in reality. They could be dead, alive, fictional or real, mythical, historical, known to you or famous. Your mentor could even be an animal: for example, some people have a courageous lion or wise owl as a mentor.

The following exercise works well if you have a decision to make or are facing a difficult problem. You can do it either in your head or on paper, and it can work very well if you walk around and step into the different mentors’ shoes. The latter tends to be the most effective way of doing this exercise, so you will need a private space for it.

Exercise

Step 1 Think about the issue or question you are facing.
Step 2 Think of three virtual mentors whose wise words about this particular issue you would like to hear. Perhaps mark a space with paper on the floor where they would stand.
Step 3 Take one of the mentors and step into their shoes, onto the piece of paper on the floor. As you stand in their shoes, imagine you are them. From their perspective, look at you, back where you were first standing. From their shoes, give yourself some words of wisdom, encouragement, support and/or inspiration to help you in the situation you are facing or the decision you are making.
Step 4 Step back into your shoes and take on board these wise words.
Step 5 Repeat steps 3 and 4 with each of the other two mentors.
Step 6 When you are back in your shoes, take on board the wise words from all three of your mentors. Then look up and visualise yourself acting on these wise words.
If you want more information on our coaching courses, or indeed any of our leadership and management seminars and workshops, visit our website or you can speak to one our team on 0207 436 3636.
Post courtesy of People Alchemy
 

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