31 Mar

Even coaches need coaches

I like to consider myself a runner. Not a very good runner, I am a realist, but a person who enjoys the freedom of being able to go for a run. I started off with a simple objective, I wanted to get fit and comfortably run a few trail runs. After two years of running I found myself no longer progressing, so I decided to get a running coach. I now attend a running clinic once a week.

Why am I telling you this? Well, as a professional coach myself, this role reversal from coach to client was a huge confirmation and reiteration for me, that good coaches are actually damn awesome and can add so much value to your life (personal or business). Everyone needs a coach!

Over the past couple of weeks Dillon, my running coach, has re-inforced a few coaching lessons I would like to share with you. Even though he and I work in different coaching worlds, the following principles would fit into any coaching practise.

1. Show up and be focused

Well done, you joined a coaching group or you signed up for one-on-one coaching. That’s just the first step and unfortunately change or improvement doesn’t just happen via osmosis. You need to show up to the sessions with focus and determination to change your unwanted behaviours. What you put in, is what you get out.

2. The coach cannot do it for you

The only person who can make the necessary changes is you. The coach can help you clarify goals, opportunities, ideas and perspectives which you may not have had before, but the only person who can actually implement the change is you. You’ve heard the saying, “You can lead a horse to water, but you cannot make it drink.” 

3. Practice, practice, practice

The biggest change takes place between the coaching sessions, not during. Outside of the sessions you get an opportunity to mull over or process what you have learnt. To slowly start implementing certain changes and becoming comfortable with new concepts and ideas which you have discussed in your coaching session. If you are not putting thought into your change or actioning change between sessions, you will become frustrated and disillusioned.

4. If you think it’s going to change over night, you are mistaken

I’ve spoken about the dangers of instant gratification before, and I don’t believe I can over-emphasis the damage it can do. Change doesn’t happen over night. It takes time, patience, practice and determination in order to move forward, permanently. Get comfortable with that realisation.

5. Training your brain

This goes hand in hand with practice. By focusing on the new behaviours and mindfully putting them into practice you start training your brain to think and act differently. In the beginning you need to concentrate and put in a lot of energy to change your actions, but after consistently putting in the efforts, your actions will become automatic and new habits will emerge naturally.

6. Be ready for change

As a coach, this principle is probably the most important. By being ready, it means you have acknowledged that something needs to shift. You are not perfect and something needs to be improved and that’s okay. Once you let go of that “I don’t need to change, I am perfect just the way I am” or “ It’s not me, it’s them” mantra it becomes easier to open yourself up to different thoughts, suggestions, ideas and feedback.

So if you want to lift your game and become a more focused and motivated individual in either your business or personal life, try working with a coach, they could change your life!

23 Mar

4 Easy steps on how to manage consequences

Newton’s third law says, “For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction”. In simple terms if you push on anything, it pushes straight back. The bigger your push, the bigger the push back.

Taking that learning into the workplace can be very beneficial for any business owner or manager. Whatever you do within your business, there will always be a push back. Whatever decisions you make or strategies you implement regarding your people and teams, there WILL always be a push back. It becomes your choice as to whether that push-back is positive or negative. Unfortunately tough decisions have to be made from time to time, to enable business growth and survival. Tough decisions will inevitably affect your team members, however the negative push-back can be controlled and managed. This is where you step up and decide how this will be carried out.

Think about the last tough decision you had to make, which ended up negatively affecting your team. What was the initial outcome and did you notice any effects weeks and months after the decision-dust settled? Were you aware that you would receive negative push-back or did it come as a complete surprise?

In both scenarios you are walking into a storm with no safety net. Being aware of the negative consequences, or being taken by surprise, you still land up on the back foot. So how can you prevent yourself from landing up with your picture on the staff break-room’s dartboard?

Take the time to consider your actions. Take the time to consider the consequences. Then ask yourself the following questions:

  1. What would the consequences (negative and positive) be if I implemented this particular change or action? Write these down on the attached worksheet. (Action and Consequences model)

2. What would the consequences (negative and positive) be if I didn’t implement this particular change or action? Write these down.

It is always good common practise to consider the “What if we didn’t implement” scenarioIt provides you with a different perspective, an objective view of things.

3. Go back to questions 1 and 2. If you have documented the consequences of taking and not taking action, what would the consequences of each consequence be? Remember, that you are documenting negative and positive consequences, not just the negative.

Write these down.

This exercise can include as many  consequence levels as you like, it just depends on how far you wish to take it.

4. Once you have outlined the consequences for each level, start looking at how the positive consequences can be leveraged and how the negative consequences  can be managed. You may discover that just by managing the initial negative consequences you can nip them in the bud and prevent further damage from being caused.

Gone are the days of making tough decisions, ignoring the backlash and expecting for your people to “suck it up”. If you want to alienate your people and destroy your business and corporate culture, go ahead and continue with this mindset. However, with the right strategy in place and by taking control and being proactive, you can start thinking and working smarter.

Action and Consequences model

17 Mar

6 tips on how to make meetings work for you

A day doesn’t go by where I don’t have to attend a meeting. On paper, a meeting is a simple, but brilliant concept. You meet with one or more individuals to discuss a specific topic of interest, everyone provides input on their area of expertise and an outcome is derived from this meeting of minds. Simple? Well, not quite.
There have been many times and I am sure you can relate to this scenario, where I have walked out of a meeting more confused and baffled on the way forward with a specific project, than when I initially went into the meeting. I am sure I’m not the first confused and frustrated individual and I know I will most definitely not be the last.
Here are a few things I have learnt along the way that may help prevent some of that “meeting frustration” you could experience in the future.
  1. Make sure everyone is in the room – virtually and physically. This means no access to electronic devises, which WILL distract people in the meeting. Oddly enough, it seems acceptable these days to be holding a separate meeting on your cellphone or tablet, whilst physically being in a meeting. What is that? I believe that if everyone present in a meeting is “present” on the discussion topics at hand there would be way less confusion and time wastage.
  2. Limit the meeting time – There is always a starting time to a meeting, why not have a pre-confirmed end time? It’s bizarre, but when we are not given a time frame we tend to waft and lose focus, we go off-topic and become distracted and waste precious time. If we are aware of a deadline we tend to treat the meeting like an secret undercover government operation. We know we need to get in, secure the mission objective and get out with no casualties, within a specific time limit. So at your next meet up, hand out the camouflage paint and remind everyone of the meeting time frame and watch how people snap into focus-mode. 
  3. Use meeting agendas and stick to them! – If you are the meeting organiser don’t  just provide a meeting subject line, but attach a simple bullet point agenda of discussion points to your meeting invitations. By providing this additional information people are given time to prepare their notes as well as their mindsets. Most importantly the meeting will begin with a purpose. When facilitating a meeting stick to the agenda points and get to the point. This way people will get to know your meeting facilitation style and will appreciate your focused attention. If you have been invited to attend a meeting and they haven’t provided an agenda, ask for one. 
  4. Make people accountable – One of the biggest pet-peeves about meetings is the lack of action and/or accountability after a meeting. What’s the point of having a meeting if nothing gets actioned afterwards? As the facilitator take notes and assign people and deadline dates to tasks. Placing a name and a deadline to an action, personalises the task and makes people accountable. Generally people don’t like to be in the spotlight for non-performance, this could be quite awkward for them.
  5. Take action – After a full day of meetings the biggest ask for some people is to actually action issues that arose within the meet up. If this is an issue for your team, block off 10 to 15mins in the meeting for people to action or start actioning their tasks. Here you are giving them time and also forcing them to action something. They don’t leave the meeting feeling overwhelmed, but they leave feeling as though they have accomplished something.
  6. Give yourself time – We think we are being productive if we schedule meetings and activities back to back. We run from one agenda to another, never giving ourselves time to reflect and process the information discussed. The next time you schedule a meeting, make sure there is enough time afterwards to process the outcome. Hang up your roller-skates, grab a cup of tea and reflect.
11 Mar

Do your support systems strengthen or hinder your business?

When you look at an iceberg what do you see? You would probably say something along the lines of “I see a beautiful, majestic ice mass floating on an icy blue ocean, glistening in the sun.” This is quite a romantic picture, but you get the idea and are probably visualising an iceberg as you read this.
With this in mind, have you ever thought about what is supporting this large mass of ice? If you investigate, you will see that there is a completely different world just below the waterline. An even larger mass of ice, hidden just under the water’s surface is acting as a  support system for this beautiful creation.
Let’s apply this iceberg concept to your business. The tip of the iceberg, the twenty percent above the waterline represents how the outside world sees your business. How your team, your clients and potential clients views how the business operates on a day to day basis.  This is your company’s personality or character.
If you had to stand back, romance aside, and objectively evaluate your business and see what other people see, what would your first impression of the twenty percent be?  How do you see people interacting and communicating with each other? How are things achieved and done within the working environment? What’s the biggest focus, what gets attention and what is ignored? Does your business walk the talk or just talk?
Do the results of your objective evaluation match up to your company’s vision, mission and values? How well your day to day business operations go is directly influenced by your business support systems.
The eighty percent, the mass of ice below the waterline represents your support systems. These support systems are not just your tangible business systems, procedures, protocols and routines. This ice mass also represents your company’s values and how your team lives and practises them in the working environment. The ice mass is your company’s belief systems, communication styles, leadership styles, feedback and coaching techniques practised by your business team-players. If these support systems are strong, well taken care of and developed you will see that the tip of your iceberg is stable, sturdy and able to weather any storm. Your day-to-day business operations are secure.
Is the tip of your iceberg a sturdy, strong ice mass floating on an icy blue ocean glistening in the sun, or are you noticing some sinking and ice erosion taking place? What’s your action plan? What are you going to do to strengthen your eighty percent?
01 Mar

Work with what you have, not with what you think you have

Here’s a thought for you. Instead of just looking at how to improve your team’s weaknesses and fine tuning best practice on how they can overcome challenges, think about how to leverage their strengths.

Constantly looking for weaknesses within the business and within your team is a common mindset of many managers. Rightfully so, in order to achieve the business objectives there needs to be constant evaluation, improvement and streamlining. So, over time the default thinking pattern is continuously shifting to “Where are the weaknesses, shortfalls and gaps?” and “How can these be avoided and improved apon?” The danger of adopting this type of pessimistic mindset is that you start seeing your business and team as “glass half empty” .

Don’t get me wrong this mindset has its place, but it shouldn’t be the only way to analyse  your business and team. Take the blinkers off and stop thinking of just the weaknesses. Start identifying the strengths you already have within your business and amongst your team.

This is an interesting exercise to complete.  Without wearing the critic’s hat, are you able to identify your businesses and your team’s strengths?

Once you’ve completed this exercise. Ask yourself these questions:

  1. Are your team members aware of their own strengths? Are they able to quickly identify what characteristics or abilities makes them an asset within the business?
  2. Besides their own strengths are they aware of each others strengths or is their a continuous focus on the weaknesses?

With the business and team strengths in mind, the next step is to figure out how to develop and grow them. This is a great coaching conversation.

Work with what you have, your strengths. Don’t just work with what you think you have, your weaknesses.