Tips for Effective Coaching

Since traditional training methods may not always be effective, coaching is one technique leaders can use to bring about growth, and influence the next generation of an organizations management potential. What are the essential components of a coaching relationships and how can leaders utilize these elements to positively impact behavior in the workplace?

Define the boundaries of the coaching relationship. If coaching is to be effective, the coaching role must be established between the parties involved. For example, leaders can provide coaching for various reasons, such as obtaining 360-degree feedback, or developing actions plans to increase leadership capabilities. Whatever the reason, the coaching role must be agreed upon between the two individuals.

Build a partnership, rather than control. The HR Manager or leader should be seen as a resource to help the individual accomplish his/her goals. In other words, leaders who are coaching should not seek to control the actions of the person being coached. Ideally, the coach should develop a partnership which enhances personal growth for the individual, resulting in good choices for the organization.

When in doubt, be honest. When you don’t know the right answer or you are speculating the right course of action, tell the truth. It is better to say you don’t know, and get back with the person than to appear to have all the answers and give bad advice. Your role as a coach is to strengthen the individual’s competencies, rather than demonstrate your level of knowledge.

Help the individual own their solutions. People typically know the right thing to do. A coach’s role is to draw the right course of action out of the individual. The more answers you provide, the less likely the individual will take ownership. A good coach will provide options, or recommendations but ultimately, the answer lies within the individual. Asking questions such as “Have you considered doing…?” or, “What do you need to do?” can help the individual own the solution.

Coaching helps individual’s discover what’s important. It doesn’t bring answers, but rather brings a process for individual’s to discover answers…click here for more information on developing leaders in the workplace.
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Stress Reduction Tips

Stress is a routine expectation in everyday events and can be very persuasive in overwhelming every other aspect of life. However, with successful stress management strategies, most people can overcome or at least minimize their stress levels to a significant extent. Effective stress management is all about taking charge of your lifestyle, emotions, thoughts and the approach you take to cope with problems.

Limit Self-Judgment. Talk kindly to yourself and turn off the negative tape player. Saying things such as “I am stressed, and this too will pass.” Reverse negative ideas and focus on positive outcomes to help reduce tension and help you to achieve goals.

Get help from others. Tap into support systems to help you feel understood, capable and nurtured. Oftentimes, expressing your feeling will help lower your stress.

Express your feelings. If you can’t express feelings with a support network, express them through writing a journal or compose a letter that is never mailed.

Do just one thing at a time. Switching from one task to another wastes time and decreases productivity. Start a new assignment only after you’ve completed the first one. Your stress level will only increase when you are overwhelmed by many things that need to done at the same time.

Make it a priority to do something low pressure and enjoyable. Get crafty, listen to music, get outside or give yourself a few minutes from what you are doing and simply do nothing.

Be present. Slow down and take five minutes to focus on only one behavior with awareness.

Learn to practice relaxing. Relaxation is the body’s antidote for stress reduction. Relaxation lowers blood pressure, respiration and pulse. Combining several techniques such as deep breathing, muscle relaxation, and mediation can significantly reduce stress.

Know and accept your limits. Learn to say no to those things that are not really that important and focus only on what is really important.
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Communication Styles in the Workplace

Every leader has a primary style in which he/she communicates.  On the other hand, every employee will use one of four styles of communication.  Knowing your own personal style, can help to differentiate your communication style from others.  In other words, effective communicators have learned to adjust their communication style to others, to better communicate their message.  What are the four basic styles of communication, and how can leaders utilize these methods to become more effective communicators?

Dominators or controllers want the facts.  They are task-oriented and desire to get to the point. Dominating behaviors include lecturing, arguing, defending, belittling, labeling, or attacking.  Dominators typically do not like to be wrong and do not like to lose. Their strategy is to convince or coerce others into thinking and doing what they want them to do.  They communicate the message that “if you don’t do what I want,” I will intimate or coerce you until you do.

Accommodators put the feelings and needs of others ahead of their own.  Such behaviors include deferring to others, silence, appeasing, taking the blame or apologizing.  Whereas dominators don’t like to lose, accommodators don’t like to be disliked or rejected.  In other words, what others think about them is more important than what they think about themselves. These individuals may bend over backwards to make their employees happy and in the process undermine their own authority.

Avoiders detach themselves from key moments by minimizing the concerns of others and themselves.  They may often deny the seriousness of a situation, suppress their feelings, become overly apathetic, or act as if business is as usual.  They do not like conflict, so they pretend that everything is okay.  Therefore, they may minimize what is happening in hopes that things will improve over time.ƒ

A fourth and better alternative is collaboration.  Collaborators care about outcomes but they also care about people.  These leaders recognize their own authority and do not allow pleasing others to override their opinions.  They are optimistic about people and their capabilities, and therefore approach them directly to work through situations.

Their communication is grounded in core skills which is the hallmark of an effective leader. They support others in ways which promote trust, support, and goodwill. They address sensitive issues directly, such as “I want to talk to the two of you about the issue that I confronted you about in the breakroom earlier this week. “   “I would also like to talk with you about some of my concerns as your new supervisor.”

Maintaining a collaborative communication style helps leaders maintain control and set themselves apart. Click here for more information on developing leaders in the workplace.

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Developing Effective Performance Management Processes

Effective performance processes create the biggest impact on sustainable growth in an organization.  Unfortunately too many companies rely on rigid, outdated management models which fail to adapt to ongoing changes in a competitive environment.   What steps can leaders take to implement effective performance management processes?

Clearly define performance standards and expectations.  While a job description, or major job duties tell an employee what is to be done.  Performance standards provide the employee with specific performance expectations for each major duty.  In other words, performance standards communicate expectations.  Furthermore, good performance typically involves more than technical expertise, it also includes behaviors such as punctuality, or courteousness.  Behaviors such as these, often determine if performance is acceptable.

Use merit-based systems to differentiate between high and low performers.  Employees typically focus their efforts on areas of work that generate the greatest rewards.  Therefore, companies must carefully define the desired results to ensure it achieves its goals.  For example, if a company pays a bonus based solely on the overall performance of the company, many employees view it as a windfall, since factors influencing success are too remote from their individual effort.  On the other hand, merit based systems are more effective since the success or failure of an objective, lies within the employee’s span of control.

Develop transparent reward systems. Reward strategies should demonstrate transparency and real value, rather than simply a tool used to recruit or retain employees.  Organizations should link performance management and reward systems to show greater external corporate responsibility and incentivize employees internally.  By aligning the two, companies can develop compensation policies that are consistent with compliance and risk management.

To overcome economic challenges and capitalize on new opportunities, companies must establish organizational cultures that will help ensure sustainable growth.  Thus, leaders must continuously raise the bar by encouraging higher performance from themselves and their teams. Click here for more information on developing effective performance management processes in the workplace.

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Building High Performance Organizations

Many organizations experience chaos.  However, companies that are unable to respond successfully as a result of chaos become stagnant, resulting in insufficient productivity.  Successful organizations model effective stages of organizational growth and development, moving from chaos to stability, to high performance.  What steps can leaders take to move beyond, chaos to high performance?

Chaotic organizations operate from day to day, without a clear plan in mind. Chaotic companies are typically reactive and manage by addressing issues at the moment.  Expectations and policies are unclear, and generally poorly enforced.  Employees operate out of self-protection, by blaming and criticizing others, and typically operate through perpetual fear. These organizations lack routine, and clarity, and need more formalized structure, routines and accountability.

Stable organizations are characterized by predictability and control.  Structure, routine and policies have been established to remove ambiguity.  Goals are clear and employees understand who does what. The major goal of a stable organization is to safeguard daily efficient operations. People typically expect fairness and are generally dutiful.  Stable organizations are limited in the sense that efficiency becomes more important than innovation and development.  As a result, many of these companies are often left behind because customers find more competitive competitors. Stable organizations need to become more vision-oriented, and individuals should be given more independence and decision making.

High Performance organizations demonstrate shared ownership.  Employees are seen as partners in the business and assume responsibility for success. These organizations are highly collaborative, and members have extensive decision-making and problem-solving responsibilities.  High Performance organizations are mission-driven, rather than being driven by rules and polices. Processes and systems align with the values of the organization, and the company adapts a long-term point of view.

Senior leaders who are operating with chaotic organizations, need to return to the basic of managing through good structure and order.  On the other hand high performance begins with defining and inspiring ideas and values based on the beliefs of the organization. Click here for more information on developing high performance organizations.

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Developing High Impact Learning Cultures

Generally speaking, companies that value learning outperform those that don’t.  Research shows that it pays to invest in practices which focus on people, including developing learning capacity, knowledge accessibility, and professional development.  In essence, companies that make the greatest investment in human capital reap the greatest financial rewards.  How can leaders increase their organization’s capacity to learn, resulting in high impact learning cultures?

Establish a personal mission.  As a leader ask yourself, “how can I personally increase my companies’ ability to learn?”  In other words, don’t dismiss the responsibility of learning off to HR or another department.  Rather, accept the fact that education is as much your responsibility as anyone else’s.  Your orientation to learning will set the context for how other’s around you behave and prioritize learning.

Become informed. Gauge your companies’ learning environment by conducting an audit to assess your learning environment.  Audits can assess an organization and its leader’s orientation to learning.  In other words, it can characterize cultures that encourage learning, versus those that do not.  By taking your organization through an audit, organizations can begin to demonstrate their willingness to answer tough questions, responding with honest answers rather than reassuring reminders.

Take action. Even if you don’t have all your “ducks in a row” do something to take action. If nothing else, examine your own learning habits and try some new approaches. Then, take small action steps and learn something new so others can see  you and follow.

Be consistent. As long as an organization views learning in terms of the latest fad, it will never become a true learning environment.  Culture is a real and changeable part of any organization.  Building a culture requires a day-in and day-out shift in thinking.  Culture is created by, reinforced by, and destroyed by leaders.  Leaders must be consistent in establishing and carrying out behaviors and processes which impact their organizations’ success.

High Impact learning cultures increase efficiency, productivity, and profit. Click here for more information on developing high impact cultures.

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Monday Morning Coffee: Performance Management Trends

Recent trends indicate that many companies are reevaluating the way they evaluate employee performance.  According to the Deloitte 2017 Global Human Trends Capital Report 79% of executives rate redesign of performance management a high priority.  When it comes to performance management trends, what strategies can leaders utilize to improve performance management cultures?

Provide more positive feedback.  Annual reviews are being replaced with more agile performance review strategies, since employees typically require more frequent communication.  Deloitte Studies show that 90 percent of companies report employee engagement improvement and 83% report improvement in the quality of conversations between employees and managers.

Provide less managing and more coaching.  Employees typically feel more valued and contribute more when they feel invested in, and receive more individualized attention relating to personal job growth.  The Deloitte Report indicates that an increased number of companies are placing more emphasis on coaching and development versus management and supervision.

Increase peer evaluations.  Peer evaluations can encourage transparency and open communication, since peers can add a different perspective from that of a supervisor.  For example, Facebook incorporates peer reviews with performance appraisals which are used to conduct fact-to-face meetings between managers and direct reports.

Increase team building rather than forced ranking.  “Pitting” employees against each other can risk creating an environment which promotes prima donnas rather than team players.  If a company is hiring properly, all of its employees should be strong performers.

Outdated performance management cultures can put companies at risk, causing high turnover resulting in increased cost and time. Click here for more information on developing strong performance management cultures.

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The Art of Effective Planning

Nothing helps move things along better than an effective plan.  It helps to guide those who are working under the plan, as well as maximize resources.  Since most effective projects begin with a good plan, what steps can leaders take to get things done faster, and anticipate problems before they occur?

  1. Outline the tasks of the project.  Ask questions such as, what do I need to accomplish?  What are the goals and objectives?  Within what time-frame does the project need to be completed?  What resources do I need to complete the project, and how many of those resources do I control?
  2. Establish the plan.  Utilize a flow chart or invest in project planning software to map out the project and communicate your plans to others.
  3. Track progress.  Set measurable goals and objectives.  Establishing goals will help keep projects on time and on budget. Establish goals for the entire project, then set up objectives or sub-goals.
  4. Establish sub-plans to manage complex projects.  Complex plans require leaders to manage multiple tasks at the same time.  Therefore, establish parallel tracks to help decrease the chances of spreading yourself to thin.
  5. Match people and tasks.  Employees are different, with different levels of knowledge and experience, and strengths and weaknesses.  Assign tasks according to individual capacities.
  6. Envision worse-case scenarios.  Consider the possibilities of what could go wrong and rank the problems from the highest to the lowest. Then, think about what you would do if the highest to the lowest worse-case scenario occurred, and create a contingency plan for each.
  7. Set up a process to monitor the progress of the plan.  In other words, how do you know if the plan is on time?  Establish an estimated time-frame or percentages to complete the plan.
  8. Ask for feedback.  Find someone who is better at planning and model how it is done.  Set goals and strive to increase things they are doing.  Also, ask for feedback from those who have had to follow your plan.

Good planning leaves more time to do other things, while ensuring that things are on track…click here for more information on developing effective plans in the workforce.

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Leading Through Collaboration

Today’s organizations operate in an increasingly complex and ever-changing environment. As a result, leaders need to rely on the aptitude and resourcefulness of their employees.  Since collaboration is not something that is simply “nice to have,” rather essential for organizational survival and success, what tips can leaders utilize to build collaboration within an organization?

First, leaders should recognize that silo mentalities can destroy a business. Many employees feel the need to hoard information, and do not wish to share with others in the company.  These behaviors are typically associated with power struggles, loss of corporation, and lower productivity.  Operating with such mentalities can result in profit loss for the company, and workforce loss for the employees.

Second, leaders should recognize that successful collaboration is a human issue. Companies can invest millions of dollars in portals, software and intranets.  However, collaboration is more than the technology that supports it, or the strategies directed at optimizing organizational experience.  Collaboration is a change in individual behaviors, which strives to capture and communicate collective wisdom.

Third, leaders should see collaboration as a change strategy.  No matter how intelligent, or savvy a leader may be, he or she cannot change an organization alone.  Organizational change requires the commitment of a team, allowing individuals to be involved in the process from the beginning.

Fourth, leaders should recognize that collaboration makes visioning a team effort.  Successful leaders guide their companies through a shared-purpose rather than command and control.  In other words, they adopt and communicate a vison that is focused on the future, in which employees have a part in creating.

Collaboration promotes an inclusive environment, which energizes teams, and releases creativity. Click here for more information on building collaboration in the workforce.

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Developing Employees Though Effective Feedback

As a leader, a part of your role is to provide effective feedback in the workplace.  Employees not only need to know what they are doing well, they also need to understand where they need to develop. Unfortunately, many leaders are either very poor at giving feedback, or fail to give feedback at all.  What are tips leaders can utilize to provide effective feedback in the workplace?

  1. Catch employees doing the right things.  Many leaders fall into the trap of giving feedback only when things go wrong.  Make it a point to give feedback when people are doing things right, such as taking on an extra project, or hitting their sales goals.
  2. Notice when people are asking for feedback.  Many employees will not directly ask for feedback, they are more subtle in seeking feedback.  Know your employees well enough to understand when they are seeking information concerning their jobs.
  3. Provide feedback as early as possible.  Although many companies provide annual or bi-annual appraisals, feedback should be provided on an ongoing basic.  Whether feedback is positive or negative, always provide it as soon as possible.
  4. Focus on how individuals behave.  Workplace behavior will either have a positive or negative impact on a company’s objectives. Productivity comes down to behavior.  Leaders must reinforce the behaviors they want to see, rather than those they do not want to see.
  5. Check to see that feedback is understood.  In other words, ask individuals to repeat what has been stated, to clarity they have understood.
  6. Give employees the opportunity to provide input regarding their feedback which helps demonstrate authenticity, resulting in increased productivity.
  7. Use language that is non-threatening.  Leaders should choose their words carefully when providing feedback.  The goal is to make consequences clear, in a non-threating way.
  8. Lead by example and be a role model.  One of the most effective ways to demonstrate being open to feedback, is to seeking it yourself.
  9. Avoid feedback that cannot be acted upon.  Don’t give feedback, you know you are not going to carry  out. Be sincere, and do what you say you will do.
  10. Set a date to follow-up.  Let your employees know you are committed to supporting them by setting an appointment to follow-up.

Although providing feedback may be challenging, providing effective feedback can result in increased performance….click here for more information on developing employees in the workplace.

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