31 May

Can you coach your subordinates?

Quite simple, the answer is no you cannot coach your subordinates. Why, you may ask?

A coaching relationship is seen as an equal partnership between two people and unfortunately whichever way you dress it up, you and your subordinates within the business environment are not equal parties. You are their boss.

It is therefore recommended that you take on a mentorship role, which is the type of relationship which works extremely well in this type of situation as the mentor’s job is to impart their knowledge, experience and learnings onto a less experienced mentee. The relationship is equal in respect, but not in status.

If however you want your team members to engage in a positive and impactful coaching experience then you must accept that you are not the right person for the job and that a colleague from another department or an external coach should be earmarked for the job.

You may have the most genuine of intentions to enter the coaching relationship completely open, unbiased and non-judgemental. You may even verbalise this genuine intent to your subordinates. However, a positive, trusting coaching relationship starts with the coachee feeling completely free to talk about their own experiences, feelings and goals and unfortunately doing this with their boss is not a winning formula. In their eyes, you are not an equal or an unbiased objective voice. They see you as the boss, the person who completes their performance appraisal. The person who they seek advice and guidance from during challenging times. You may merge some coaching techniques into your management style, which is extremely commendable, but it doesn’t make for a coaching relationship.

You may disagree, so for arguments sake let’s turn this scenario around and answer these questions.
1) How comfortable would you feel if you were being coached by your boss?
2) How truthful would you be about how you felt if you were coached by your boss?
3) How would you feel about your relationship with your boss outside of the coaching relationship? Would you be able to draw a clear line between boss and coach?
4) How truthful would you be in the coaching session, if your boss was your coach?

Remember, coaching is not about what you or the business wants for the coachee or what you think is best for the coachee. It’s about them and what they want. Doing what’s best for them, may just include the option of bringing in an external coach.

24 May

Dealing with Imposter Syndrome

I have the privilege of coaching some amazingly talented individuals. From all walks of life, cultures, ages and skill sets. Everyone’s goal is unique and every coaching session is different. You never go into a session knowing how it will end, it is always an interesting journey of discovery.
It’s a beautiful experience to be invited into their space of vulnerability, curiosity and exploration. I always feel very honoured to bear witness to some amazing transformations.
As much as everyone is unique in their ways there is one common thread I see quite often in coaching sessions. Something that affects both men and women, but in my experience, an issue which predominately affects women. That is Imposter Syndrome. The feeling of not being good enough and that one day someone will “catch you out” for not being the person you say you are. It doesn’t matter how talented or brilliant the individual is, they still believe that their career advancements and accolades came from pure luck or being in the right place at the right time.
As a coach, I have pondered this issue many times and what I’ve deduced is that one of the main reasons why people suffer from this syndrome is because they believe they need to be perfect. They strive everyday to achieve this unattainable goal of becoming the “perfect person”. When they have failed they seem to fall deeper into the idea of being an imposter.
The reasons behind this could come from many sources. However in coaching we look at the present and build new habits and strategies to help us move forward. Here are a few techniques you could look at implementing into your life, should you be someone who suffers from Imposter Syndrome.
1) Environment
Who you spend your time with and the people you surround yourself with everyday is a key influencer to how you see yourself. Don’t get me wrong, you don’t want people pandering to your every whim or agreeing with everything you say. You want people in your corner who will add value, who will help you grow, positively challenge you and support you. People who genuinely believe in you and your goals.  Are you keeping good company?

2) Acknowledge and accept your weaknesses

We all have weaknesses, whether we like them or not, they are part of who we are and make us unique. By ignoring our weaknesses and sweeping them under the carpet we prevent ourselves from accepting who we are. We  create a very distorted picture of ourselves, believing we are perfect. Acknowledging our whole being, our faults as well as our strengths allows us to create a realistic picture of ourselves. No filters, lies or stories. By facing our weaknesses we are not only able to start improving ourselves, but we can comfortably accept that we are not perfect and challenge the idea of being an imposter.
3) Celebrate your successes
We strive to achieve our goals everyday and when we do achieve them, we either ignore them, glance over them or challenge their credibility. Why? Stop it! Get into the habit of celebrating your successes everyday and every week, even the smallest ones. A win is a win and should always be celebrated. By acknowledging your successes you are re-enforcing the fact that you are not “winging it”. You are debunking the idea that your successes came from pure luck.
4) Partner with a coach or a mentor
Sometimes we need a sounding board, an objective voice who is not a family member, friend or colleague. An independent person who will provide you with that safe space where you can unload, question yourself and develop good strong habits.
Asking for help or guidance shows strength and is another way for you to shift your mindset out of thinking you are an imposter. It’s okay to not be able to do it on your own.
If you suffer from Imposter Syndrome, make the decision today to start taking control of your future. You get to decide on who you want to be, nobody else.
17 Mar

Does your business have a safety net in place?

In today’s working world, independent self-motivated employees want flexibility. They don’t want a drill sergeant dictating to them on the small stuff, such as time keeping, working hours and when to take their tea breaks. That cramps their style, demotivates them and drives them to look around at greener pastures. Gone are the days of employees working in their little grey cubicles from 8:30am to 5:00pm. They require freedom and flexibility in certain areas of the business and in today’s ever-changing environment it makes sense to allow for this extra flexibility.

If you’re granting people freedom though, you should also provide a safety net. The safety net is there to provide your team members with some structure and boundaries. Having this structure prevents you from having to “step in” suddenly to bail out a team member.

So how can you apply this approach? How can you give people freedom to work in the way that suits them, but be there with a safety net all ready to go.

Here are some ways you can build a strong communication platform in your business. Your “safety net” starter kit.

  1. Weekly team meetings – Reporting back to your team on your area of responsibilities every week is key to maintaining a focused and responsible employee. If your team members know that it is not just you their boss that requires feedback, but the team as a whole is counting on them for results it definitely shifts from a “you and I scenario” to an “us” scenario.
  2. Utilise an external coach or apply coaching techniques – Don’t try and solve your team members problems for them. Coach, support and guide them. Get them to come up with their own solutions. This results in them taking ownership and builds motivation. If you are unable to coach them, then engage the services of an extremal coach.
  3. Introduce an accountability buddy system – Pair your team members up. It may be a mentor-team member relationship or a peer-peer relationship.
  4. One-on-one sessions – Depending on the type of job and responsibilities there should always be a time and place to check in. One-on-one time is not a formal event, but a chat over a coffee and a place to discuss the current status (professionally or personally) of your team member. Once a month, once a quarter it’s your decision.
  5. Answer their emails and queries in good time – In most organisations the turnaround time for external customer feedback is immediate. This is good customer service isn’t it? Your team members are your internal customers and they should be presented with the same courteous treatment. By responding in good time shows you care and that they are important to the business.
  6. Business culture – Build a culture were your team feels safe to talk, discuss, debate, challenge and provide feedback about the business goals. Where they feel accountable for their actions.

To build a flexible working culture there is definitely work to be done. Establishing the  correct systems and processes in your business allows you to develop self-motivated, focused and responsible team members.