Management skills

September 25, 2018

Are you really coaching your employees?

Famed NFL coach Tom Landry said, “A coach is someone who tells you what you don’t want to hear, who has you see what you don’t want to see, so you can be who you always knew you could be.”

coaching word cloudLandry’s words apply in every coaching situation, from coaching football players, rising executives, or the employee on the front line. It’s all about how the coach approaches the coachee.

In his book, Primal Leadership: Learning to Lead with Emotional Intelligence, emotional intelligence guru Daniel Goleman identifies six leadership styles that he categorizes as resonant and dissonant styles. In other words, six styles that either “prime good feelings in those we lead” or they don’t.  One of the four resonant leadership styles is coaching.

We use coaching in the workplace to develop employees as well as to address performance problems. When we coach, we

  • help employees identify strengths and weaknesses to determine what to develop.
  • encourage them to work towards long term self-development goals
  • provide assignments that stretch their abilities.

I have been fortunate in my career to have had a couple of managers (Deborah and Hunter) who did a great job at coaching me to stretch myself, to do more, to be more. When I think back on what made them so good at coaching, three things come to mind right away.

Coaching tip: Build Trust

First, I trusted them.  Both earned my trust by showing me that they cared about me both professionally and personally.  I could talk with them about anything and know that they would hold what I shared with them in absolute confidence.

Coaching tip: Ask Questions

One mistake that managers make when they think they are coaching is that they simply tell the employee what to do. Real coaches ask questions.  The two managers who effectively coached me did so by asking me questions, such as:

  • “What did I think about XXXXX.”
  • “How did I think I could best achieve YYYYY.”
  • “What roadblocks do you see?”

Coaching tip: Provide Feedback

Lastly, Deborah and Hunter provided ongoing feedback. With these two, performance review time never held any surprises. If there were issues, they gave me feedback at the time the issue arose.  If there were opportunities for growth or improvement, they were giving me that feedback in the moment.  And their feedback was always specific, always included examples, and always helped me grow.

Coaching is a powerful tool for performance development. Every manager needs to have this skill as a tool in their toolkit.  That’s why we coach managers individually and also train managers and leaders on how to use this tool more effectively.  If we can help you or someone on your team, contact us.

July 9, 2018

Set priorities to manage your overwhelming to do list

You know the saying: If everything is important, nothing is important. That has never been more true than it is today. We are living in an overwhelmed society with lots of conflicting priorities. We continue to be asked to do more and more in less and less time.  Technology helps. But it also creates part of the difficulty.

We are in constant communication with every aspect of our lives. We have our “to do” list or lists at our fingertips wherever we are, always there, always ready for another item or 10 to be added.  We have task lists in our electronic calendars, reminders and notes on our phones. Some of us even maintain physical paper lists just so we can have the physical pleasure of checking off something when it is actually done.

With all of this coming at us, sometimes – no, often – we forget to take the time to really look at the growing list and refine it.  What do I mean? We need to really examine our growing lists of tasks frequently and set priorities. We need to see which ones absolutely must be completed by us right now and which can wait a bit, which ones can be delegated, and which ones just be shoved off the list altogether.

Set priorities

If prioritizing your tasks sounds like just one more thing to add to your to do list, let me assure you that this one has great value. You can do it fairly easily by using an Urgent/Important matrix.

Draw a grid with four squares, two rows and two columns. Along the top, write “urgent” over the left column and “not urgent” over the right column.  Along the left side, write “important” beside the top row and “not important” beside the bottom row.

Now take the top 10 things on your To Do list and begin placing them in these four categories on the grid:

  • Box 1, top left: Urgent & Important
  • Box 2, top right: Not urgent & Important
  • Box 3, bottom left: Not important & Urgent
  • Box 4, bottom right: Not important & Not urgent

Once you have divided your tasks into these four categories, here is what you have decided.

  • Tasks in Box 1: You should do those now.
  • Tasks in Box 2: You can decide when to do those.
  • Tasks in Box 3: You should delegate those.
  • Tasks in Box 4: You don’t need to do these at all. Delete them.

Once you have categorized your first 10, continue the process with your remaining tasks. Completing this process will dramatically increase your level of productivity.

Using the Urgent/Important matrix is one of the skills we teach in our Rising Stars Women’s Leadership Boot Camp and in our Managing Productivity workshop.  It is a powerful tool for individuals and teams. If you like this, check out our website for information on the boot camp and our Great Managers workshops where you will get even more tools to improve your performance as a manager and leader.

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