Monday, 17 December 2007

Management Training – Making it stick!

How often have you been on a Management Training course and failed to implement what you were taught?

Many organisations struggle with the same issue – there is no point spending time and money on Management Training and Development if the participants don’t put into practice what was learned.

But how can you encourage your managers to ACT?

The key to ensuring Management Training is successful is quite simply to:

1. Make it relevant and useful.
2. Provide appropriate sponsorship, follow up and support.

Make it relevant
It is vital to make the Management Training relevant to the participants by ensuring that they can apply what they have learned immediately when they return to work.

For example, you may send someone on an advanced Excel course so that they can learn how to build complex spreadsheets. However, when they return if they don’t have an opportunity to apply their learning immediately, they will soon forget it. Habits are only formed by people continually practicing what they learn.

The second element to ensuring success of a Management Training programme is sponsorship. To gain commitment from managers to use their learning, it is essential that Senior Managers sponsor the Management Training effectively. For example, senior managers should:

• Demonstrate public commitment to Management Training and the benefits it will deliver to the organisation.
• Regularly review with participants how they have applied their learning.
• Sanction any inappropriate behaviour from the participants (e.g. participants not turning up to training sessions).
• Regularly sell the benefits of training and development.
• Target and hold their managers accountable for delivering improved performance.
• Accept the significance of their role in the success of any Management Training.

By ensuring that Management Training programmes are sponsored appropriately by Senior Management and the content is relevant and useful to the participants, will ensure that the participants THINK and ACT differently as a result of their learning.

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Management Training – Measuring the Benefits

How does your organisation measure the impact of the investment it makes in Management Training and Development?
How much money was spent this year on Management Training and Development and what were the benefits?

To be able to measure the benefits from any Management Training and Development it is important to first be clear about what the objectives of the programme are and what particular people issues need to be resolved by the programme. For example, do managers need to:

• Have a greater impact on the performance of the business?
• Improve motivation and retention to reduce staff turnover?
• Be more proactive in developing their successors?
• Reduce the number of poor hires that they make?

Once the organisation is clear about what issues that need to be resolved, the benefits can be more easily measured. Evaluating and measuring the effectiveness of Management Training and Development programmes and interventions can be achieved in a number of ways.

‘Hard’ measures

The impact Management Training has on the performance of the Business, Function or Team can be readily measured using a range of ‘hard’ operational or financial performance measures such as:

• Staff turnover costs
• Recruitment costs
• Opportunity costs
• Customer service
• Business growth

Benchmarks should be set at the start of the training so that improvements can be easily tracked.

‘Soft’ measures

The impact that the interventions have had on behaviour and culture within the organisation can be assessed through a range of ‘soft’ or more subjective measures. For example:

• The impact the interventions have had on an individual manager’s behaviour can be assessed from observations and feedback from others (for example via a 360 degree leadership questionnaire) as well as on their ability to achieve their personal targets.

• The impact the training has had on teams, functions and the organisation’s culture, relationships, cohesiveness, morale etc can be assessed by using team analysis tools, and cultural and staff surveys and customer questionnaires.

Whatever Management Training and Development your organisation undertakes it is vital that the outcomes are clearly defined at the start and measures put in place to ensure that your investment pays off.

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Wednesday, 5 December 2007

How long does it take to coach someone?

When I first meet with a prospective coachee or their sponsor one of the key areas to address is the timing and duration of the coaching sessions that I plan to provide for them.

I will tell them that ideally I would like to provide 6 x 2-3 hour coaching sessions spread over 6 – 9 months – unless there is a specific development area that could be focused on in a more concentrated time frame.
The minimum number of sessions that I will offer is 4.
This is because of the following factors:-

- it takes the first session to get to know the background, circumstances, general goals, objectives, issues and opportunities of the coachee

- it takes one or two sessions for me to establish the necessary rapport and relationship understanding required for success between us and to get a sense of their personality

- it takes the first 1 or 2 sessions for the coachee to trust and respect me, understand the COACH process and our respective roles and to fell confident to talk honestly and openly with me about themselves and their real issues

- it takes 2, 3, 4, or more sessions for the coachee to fully and effectively to explore their thoughts and feelings about the important issues that effect them and for them to explore their options and to commit to taking ACTION to improve their satisfaction, performance and effectiveness

- it can then take a number of sessions for them to work deeply and successfully on their issues, skills, relationships, plans and opportunities
Coaching is not a one off activity where a person’s effectiveness, behaviours and performance can be transformed in one or two brief sessions.
It also therefore follows that the timing and duration of these coaching sessions is going to be longer, 2 -3 hours, than shorter, one hour or less, and spaced out over time 6 – 12 moths, to ensure action, implementation, monitoring and review rather than completed in a short timeframe e g one month.

There are of course exceptions to these timing guidelines for example:-
• the development need is very specific e g improve presentation skills
• the need is a short term one e g prepare for a launch, a reorganisation
• the work is part of a capability or disciplinary process with a specific timeframe
• Some of the people that I coach are very busy and quick thinking and for coaching to work effectively for them they want to get straight down to the point of the work and they are very clear and decisive about their issues and solutions – so I find a way to work efficiently and quickly with them to get to their bottom line

So overall my coaching approach is about offering a number of face to face sessions to clients over a 6-12 month period but with the prospect of flexibility where it makes sense and where the integrity of my coaching work can be upheld.

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Coaching - is it better face to face or by telephone?

When I first meet with a prospective coachee or with the line management or HR sponsor for this work, the conversation inevitably gets round to the coaching approach that I will take.
My response to this question is based on my preference to coach people face to face in a number of coaching sessions 4 - 6, spread out over time 4 - 12 months. This gives me and the coachee adequate time to establish the necessary relationship, rapport and understanding for them to do the necessary thinking that in turn leads to them ACTING in a new, more confident, focused and decisive way in the areas of work and life that are really important to them.

In my experience that can be done best through this series of face to face meetings, possibly supplemented by e mails or telephone conversations, rather than by telephone coaching conversations alone.

This face to face approach is the way that I learned to coach people 15 years ago and I think that it offers all of the communication benefits of this type of relationship that are not available over the telephone. However I have to recognise that in recent years telephone coaching has risen rapidly in popularity and that it forms the cornerstone of the life coaching industry and of the training courses offered to people who are new to coaching and learning about how to do it.

The potential benefits of telephone coaching are these:-
- no travel time or cost
- it can take place anywhere in the world, day or night
- it provides a concentrated, focused approach
- it avoids other visual distractions
- it provides for a level of personal safety and security.
The drawbacks to telephone coaching are these:-
- it may provide a shield for a person
- all of the body language signals are absent and therefore more than 50% of the meaning & understanding may not be available and transmitted to you as a coach
- some of the key signals between coach and coachee are missed
- the rapport established is different at best and much less effective at worst.
So when I hold these initial, preparatory conversations with prospective coachees, I explain what I do and how I coach i.e. face to face, and I describe how I think that telephone coaching differs from and compares to my approach and I let the prospective coachee or sponsor decide. I do not overtly criticise telephone coaching - but it is not the sole coaching experience that I am prepared to provide

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Linking Competencies to Personal Development Needs

A competency is best described as "the underlying characteristics of a person that cause effective or superior performance in a job”. Competency is about an ability to do something and as such comprises a combination of skills, knowledge and personal motivation that result in particular behaviours (or outcomes) at work. For example, during a person’s life they have an increasing ability to communicate with their fellow human beings:

Increasing levels of ability to communicate


-> Baby gurgling
-> A child speaking their first few words.
-> Is able to read and write.
-> Articulate in discussing simple subjects.
-> Capable of explaining complex or difficult concepts to a wide range of people.

Competencies can therefore set expectations about how managers and staff should behave on a day to day basis in an organisation. Competencies can be set around a range of different areas such as: leadership, team working, strategic thinking, communication etc.

Organisations can readily use the statements to identify how managers and staff currently behave and what their strengths and weaknesses are. However, while development needs might be fairly easy to identify, many managers and organisations struggle to identify what actions they or their staff should take to develop, (without advocating the proverbial training course!). In reality there are many other practical actions that an individual can take to learn and develop. To close this loop for managers and staff, development actions need to be aligned to each competency.

The following is an example of this, for the competency ‘Strategic Thinking’ and development ideas have been set out under four headings:

-Personal actions that the individual can take.
-Coaching/mentoring actions that the individual can take in conjunction with others.
-Reading materials and web resources that would improve the individual’s knowledge.
-Internal and external courses.

The development ideas presented below are not meant to be exhaustive but as an example of what actions could be taken to develop the competence ‘Strategic Thinking’.

Competency - Strategic Thinking

Development Ideas – Strategic Planning Skills

Personal Actions
-Read the business pages of a quality newspaper such as The Times, Financial Times, Telegraph etc. Alternatively subscribe to the Harvard Business Review. Learn about strategies and actions that other organisations have taken to improve their performance. Determine which ones of these would work well within your business.
-Prepare a ‘strategic perspective’ for your business/function. Research what the likely key trends and changes will be in the next 3-5 years? For example changes in technology, applications, competition, legislation, demographics, etc. What opportunities and threats does this provide?
-Research your major competitors and develop a detailed profile of each competitor. What can you learn from them?
-Analyse your customer’s needs. What is it they need and want in your products applications and services now and in the future?
-Volunteer to work on a cross functional business project.
-Learn to play chess.

Coaching Actions
-Discuss with a trusted colleague or your coach your ability to strategize and see the ‘big picture’. Identify weaknesses or blind spots. Discuss ideas to force yourself to move from details to the ‘big picture’ to gain a broader prospective.
-Seek someone who could act as a mentor (either internally or externally) and could guide you through a strategic planning process.
-Discuss with your manager your ability to make sound judgements and business decisions. What feedback can they give you about your effectiveness? What decisions could you have made differently?
-Identify the most important decision that you have to make in the next 3-6 months. Discuss with your manager or colleague the key steps to making the decision and likely information you will need. Start gathering the relevant information.

Reading Materials
-Applied Strategic Planning – Goldstein, Nolan and Pfeiffer. McGraw – Hill.
-Competing for the Future – Hamel and Champy. Harper Business.
-Competitive Strategy – Porter. The Free Press.

External Courses
-Take a course or formal qualification (e.g. MBA) to help you to:
-Formulate and execute strategic plans
-Detect the opportunities, threats, strengths and weaknesses that drive a strategic plan
-Identify strategies to better position your organisation for long-term competitive advantage.

Internal Courses
-Attend our Strategic Leadership programme. Contact Fred Smith 0044 123 456.

Such a document can be provided in hard copy format, for example as a ‘Development Guide’, or alternatively via the business’ intranet site. In this way the link is clearly made between the standards expected from an employee and the actions that they can take to develop themselves.

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Setting Performance Standards Using Competencies

It is vital that managers and staff know what’s expected of them if they are to maximise their own and the businesses performance. Most organisations set expectations, in terms of what managers are responsible for through job descriptions and by setting personal objectives and targets.

However, it is also important to set expectations about how job responsibilities should be discharged and targets delivered as it is unacceptable for staff to deliver these at ‘any cost’.

Setting behavioural expectations or ‘competencies’ are an intrinsic part of managing the performance managers and staff. By setting these expectations the business clearly communicates how managers and staff should behave on a day to day basis. Competencies can be set around a range of different areas such as:

• Team working
Developing people
• Communication
• Ownership
• Improving results
Customer focus
• Diversity.

In addition, competencies can have different ‘levels’ that set expectations for different hierarchy of management responsibility within an organisation. For example, an organisation may wish to set three different levels of competence that apply to:

• Front line managers and team leaders.
• Department managers and functional heads.
• Senior managers and directors.

To help to communicate competencies clearly, they can be set in terms of what’s not expected as well as what is expected. As an illustration the following statements are from a competency describing effective team working:

We expect you to:
• Promote tolerance and respect.
• Take time to understand others cultural norms, perspectives and rules.
• Work effectively across countries and cultures.
• Develop and maintain effective internal and external working relationships.

We don’t expect you to:
• Ignore cultural norms, values and approaches.
• Take a narrow personal view.
• Stereotype the views and contributions of others.
• Put others down.

By defining the competencies likely to produce success in a particular role, the organisation clearly communicates the standards that are expected for successful performance within the business. In addition, competencies provide a means of objectively assessing an individual’s strengths and weaknesses and as such form the basis of personal development.

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Friday, 23 November 2007

Recruiting the right person – define your criteria first!

A survey last year by Right Management Consultants* found that almost 7 out of 10 employers say that it costs them between 2 and 3 times an employee’s annual salary to replace that worker if he or she doesn’t prove to be a good hire, with the higher the position, the more likely the costlier the mistake.

While the survey may have included a number of ‘subjective’ considerations such as recruitment, training, severance and reductions in productivity in the replacement cost estimates, the truth of the matter is that poor hires cost organisations time and money and so it is vital to get it right first time.

The first step in the process to ‘getting the right person’ is to identify a ‘specification’ for the ideal candidate. As a minimum this should be a description of the skills, qualifications, capabilities and experience that a candidate would need to fulfil the role successfully. However, it’s important not just to think about the current role, for example, you may also have a requirement to find someone who has the potential to take on a broader or more senior role.

The following questions are designed to help to prepare an appropriate person specification that can then be used to assess potential candidates against.

1. What technical skills are required for the role?
2. What qualifications are needed?
3. What level of intellect and thinking ability is needed? Does the role include resolving complex and challenging problems?
4.What specific behavioural traits are required? Does the role require big picture and long term thinking, or is it more about the day to day detail and completion of tasks? What type of behavioural profile is most successful in the organisation?
5. What experience is needed? Does the role require international experience, or experience of leading a team or specific sector experience?
6. What level of personal impact and credibility is needed for the role? Will the role holder need to interact with and influence customers, peers, other stakeholders?
7. What are the ideal candidate’s motivations and values? What are the organisations values? How important is it that the role holder can identify with these?

In addition, it is important to identify what ‘standard’ of ability is required. This could be in the form of minimum qualification levels or comparison to internal or external benchmarks.

The above is not meant to be an exhaustive list of selection criteria but a guide on the sorts of criteria that should be considered. Clearly, preparing a list of selection criteria is only half of the task of selecting the right candidate for a role. However, it is the vital first step in ensuring that the right candidate is selected first time.

* Lower Employee Morale & Decreased Productivity Are Biggest Consequences of Bad Hires & Promotions" [Right Management], press release, April 11, 2006

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So what are the benefits of Management Training?

Businesses that invest in management and leadership training and development will find that they are a range of financial and non financial benefits to be gained from it. For example recent research has demonstrated that:

- Firms with high levels of HR practices demonstrate up to 200% greater profit per employee (1, 2)
- Sustained management & leadership development improves organisational performance (3)

This arises from the fact that good leaders and managers have the skills to obtain ‘discretionary’ effort from their staff, which means that their staff will go the extra mile for example to win new business, give outstanding service to a customer, or to ensure that costs are properly controlled.

In addition, there are the real benefits in terms of reducing turnover of staff. People want to work for a good boss and are less likely to be tempted away by a few extra pounds if they feel that they get what they need from their work and their manager. The cost of a new hire can be anywhere between 1-3 times their annual salary by the time all of the associated costs are taken into account. These costs can include:

• The cost of training the organisation has invested in the leaver.
• The cost of lost productivity while the position is vacant.
• The cost of externally advertising the job.
• Recruitment agency costs. (these can be as high as 20-30% of annual compensation).
• Costs of internal or external assessments
• Costs associated with any external medicals, checks and other references.
• Costs associated with the time taken for a new employee to become ‘fully productive’.

There are also real benefits for the individual in terms of improving their own ability to manage conflicting demands on their time, improve performance of their team and as a consequence gain greater satisfaction from their work.

There is also evidence of less direct business benefits. Regular management training and development is seen as a sign of professionalism and helps to create a positive image for the business in its market place, which is an important selling point when recruiting new employees.

Whatever the benefits, it is important that an organisation is clear about the objectives of any management or leadership training and development. Ultimately they should ask themselves, ‘What is it that I want to see differently from this person or group of people?’ In this way it is possible to monitor the impact of training on individual performance and also on the company's bottom line.


(1) Smarter Ways of Working Professor D Guest. Sector Skills Development Agency 2006.
(2) Commonalities and Contradictions in HRM and Performance Research. Boselie, Dietz and Boon. Human Research Journal, 15, 3,67-94. 2005
(3) Management Development Works: The Evidence. Chartered Management Institute January 2005.

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Management Training – The Essentials

Most people think that they are a good driver, whether they are or not, and the same can be said for many managers. Too many managers think that they are good at their job and able to motivate and get the best from their staff, when the reality is often very different.

Unlike driving, where you have to take a test to demonstrate your competence before being allowed to drive, anyone can be appointed to a management position without any formal management training or development.
So what are the essentials for success? The following is a guide to the types of skills needed to be an effective manager:

1) Communicate where the business is going. If you want your staff to be committed to
your organization, they need to know where they are going and why. People need to understand how their work contributes to the company's success. After all, having meaning and purpose in your work is highly motivating and rewarding. The ability to communicate effectively is one of the essential skills that all managers need.

2) Set clear expectations. Be clear with your staff both in terms of ‘what’ needs to be achieved and ‘how’ it should be achieved. Setting clear goals and targets with staff can help them understand what needs to be done and keep them focused. However, it is also important to talk to them about ‘how’ they should go about achieving their goals. For example it is not acceptable to achieve a target at any cost.

3) Regularly review performance. Employees need regular feedback about their performance to improve their skills and grow professionally. Make sure you regularly sit down with your staff (at least 6/7 times per year), to discuss with them what they do will and identify with them what they should do differently.

4) Deal with problems immediately. Stay in tune to your staff so you can be proactive and resolve situations before they escalate. If you notice a change in an employee's work habits, performance or behaviour, try to get to resolve the problem before it starts affecting the rest of your team.

5) Recognize people’s efforts. Everybody appreciates being recognized for a job well done. Monetary rewards aren't the only way to thank employees for a job well done. In fact the easiest way to recognize someone’s contribution is simply saying "thank you" — simple words but too often overlooked.

6) Delegate work. Don’t over control your staff’s work. The more you control others work it will only encourage behavior that necessitates control. Most people want the freedom to complete a task in the way that they think is best.

7) Be a coach and mentor. As a manager, one of the greatest things that you can give an employee is by sharing your knowledge and experience. Showing your employees firsthand how you deal a task, what works and what doesn’t is far more effective than just talking them through it.

8) Be firm but fair. For example, family emergencies other unplanned events will always arise, and its part of a managers role to show compassion by being flexible with work hours and time off so their staff can tend to important matters. Employees always appreciate a sympathetic boss, and as long as your work and business doesn’t suffer, make every effort to accommodate workers who have special needs.

Getting the ‘basics’ or ‘essentials’ right are critical to the success of any manager, and these elements should also provide the basic framework for all management training.

At the end of the day – you have to put in time an effort to be a manager. Too often managers forget their ‘management duties’ and concentrate on completing their own tasks. However, employees depend on their manager’s strength, guidance and support especially during tough times and this takes time, time to listen, time to discuss and time to coach.

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Managing the Performance of Someone with a ‘Bad Attitude’

‘I have just had it with Fred’, said the Manager, ‘He has a terrible attitude to time keeping, he is always late, and I told him so! The problem is we have now fallen out. He claimed he has a good attitude to his work and time keeping, I told him that he hadn’t and it degenerated into an argument, what the heck do I do now?’

This scenario is all too familiar. Managers ‘know’ that a member of staff has a bad attitude towards some aspect of their work. They then decide to sit down with the individual either formally (as part of a performance management or appraisal process) or informally and tell it like it is.

The problem with this approach is that a Manager cannot prove whether someone has a bad (or even good attitude) towards something, any more than the individual can prove their own attitude towards it. The consequence of this is that people become offended (because their attitudes have been criticised), and they immediately defend themselves. The issue therefore doesn’t get resolved and the individual continues with their ‘poor attitude’.

To avoid performance management discussions degenerating into a farce, focus on behaviour, results or approach and not on an individual’s attitude. You might not be able to prove someone’s attitude; but you can prove their behaviour, their approach and the results they achieve.

Do not therefore use phrases such as ‘you have a poor attitude to time keeping or towards meetings.’ Translate your views into specific examples of their behaviour. For example, say, ‘You turned up 20 minutes late to meeting xyz on Thursday, and then 30 minutes late to meeting abc, on the following Tuesday. The consequence of this was that both meetings finished late which impacted on all the other attendees, and the work they had to do that day. It is important that we start our meetings on time – is there anything that might prevent you from attending meetings on time in the future?’

If you think that someone you manage has a ‘bad attitude’ towards an aspect of their work, stop and think before you confront them. Ask yourself, ‘what did they do that caused me to believe their attitude was poor? When and where was it? How can I be specific? What were the consequences? Following these simple guidelines will hopefully prevent your discussions from degenerating into a ‘tit for tat’ argument, and secure a change in the individual’s behaviour.

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Want to recruit the right person – define your assessment process first!

It is well known that the interview is a very unreliable means of selecting the best candidate for a job. The main reason for this is that interviewers tend to make subjective judgements about candidates without having the necessary evidence to back it up. For example, Walt Disney is reputed to have asked actresses to read passages from Snow White from behind a screen so that the decision he made was based on the actress’s voice and character and would not biased by their age or looks.

So can a selection process be truly objective? Clearly subjectivity can never be completely eliminated, however, it can be minimised by adopting the following steps.

1) Candidate Specification. It is essential to first set out a clear candidate specification to enable objective assessments to be made. The specification should contain the essential minimum selection criteria associated required for the role. It is important to note that these minimum must not bias selection against a person with a disability, unless the reason can be justified because of the nature of the work.

2) Company Information. The selection process is a two way and it is equally important for candidates to be able to make the right selection as well as the employer. To this end the selection process should be designed that the candidates have as much opportunity as possible to find out what they need to know about the organisation and role. For example, it is good practice to provide all applicants will a copy of the job description, terms and conditions, a brief history of the organisation, any further relevant information such as values, key behaviours, strategic intent, and a brief on how the role holder is expected to contribute to the business.

3) Initial screening. Ask all applicants to complete a standard application form to enable initial assessment of their capabilities against the job role’s essential minimum criteria, as well as provide proof of any relevant qualifications. This is the easiest way of initially screening candidates.

4) Second screening – At this point it is useful to subject the candidates to a series of assessments: tests, psychometrics and business problems*. For example if the role requires individuals to solve complex problems, or manipulate data, then tests such as numerical and critical thinking should be used. A personality profile will provide information about how a candidate is likely to behave and interact with others, while giving the candidates a particular business or organisational problem to solve will provide information about their business awareness.

5) Interview and meeting – A short list of candidates should then attend a competency based interview with the recruiting line manager and a peer (e.g. HR Manager). This could be followed by an informal meeting with their potential peers to determine fit with organisation’s principles and culture, as well as test other skills such as impact and influence.

6) Final interview and presentation – A final interview with the Line Manager and the Head of the Function or Business should be held with the final one or two candidates. At the interview the candidate(s) should deliver a presentation which demonstrates their capability for the role and a plan for what they will do in their first 6-12 months in role. This provides a final check to determine which candidate is most appropriate for the role.

Adopting some or all of the above principles will reduce the about of subjectivity inherent in an interview process. In addition, as the wrong recruiting decision can cost between 2-3 times the job role’s annual salary, time and effort spent up front to design an assessment process that will enable the right person to be selected will be a wise investment.

* Note - All methods of assessment must be reliable, objective and guard against bias.

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How important is it to establish current reality for a Coachee?

Establishing current reality in the mind of the coachee is where all good coaching sessions start or should arrive at early on in a coaching session. Whilst it is very helpful for the coach to understand where the coachee is at mentally, situationally and emotionally - it is absolutely crucial for the coachee to develop this understanding. It provides a stable base for the coachee’s thinking and ensures that they start off in a realistic place – even if they start to think innovatively or dream of new possibilities later on in the coaching session.
If you want to go from A to B it is imperative to know where A is first, in real concrete terms if you are to be able to progress effectively on your journey towards achieving or arriving at B.
Establishing this stable base of understanding current reality is one of the first parts of the coaching discussion - as well as establishing the necessary rapport and relationship for them to feel comfortable in disclosing and their real issues openly with you. This can be done as part of the same introductory process or these two critical phases could be sequential.
You and your coachee need to judge and feel for this as the session gets underway. Later on I shall look at the equally important aspect for successful coaching of establishing the necessary rapport and empathy.

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Monday, 22 October 2007

Establishing rapport at a coaching session

Establishing rapport at a coaching session.

Establishing good rapport with your coachee is absolutely crucial and fundamental to producing and developing an effective coaching relationship. This seems to be self-evident but WHAT do we mean by this, WHY is it so important and HOW should we set about achieving this? For more imformation on Management training click here.

Good rapport is about you as the coach understanding your coachee and about being in harmony and aware of their thoughts and feelings about their work, relationships, objectives and broader life agenda. It helps to have empathy with them – the power to imaginatively enter into their feelings – but this doesn’t mean that you should over identify with them and become totally sympathetic and complicit with them and their situation. If you do this then there is the danger that you will lose objectivity and clarity about them and their issues, collude with them and their situation and not be able to challenge them appropriately.

It is crucial for the following reasons:-
You need to understand them as a person, their reality and their issues, goals and objectives.
You need to be able to support and challenge them as necessary – but not just in equal measure.
They need to feel confident in you as a person and to be able to be honest and open with you about their innermost thoughts and feelings. Equally you need to be able to be honest, authentic and direct but sensitive with your communication to them.
They don’t have to like you or you to like them (although this helps) but they do need to respect you and the skills that you and bring to them and their situation.
You need to be able to sense and understand what is going on in their mind and emotional self. To recognise mood shifts and to sense the signs of discomfort, concern or elation. You need to know what question to ask next or when to remain silent and wait for a response.
In essence you need to be closely in touch with and attentive to your coachee – it is all about the quality of the relationship that you can establish.

The way that you do this is by using the following approach:-
To explain the approach that you are taking right up front to the coachee even before you start the process. (I give all of my new or prospective coachees a copy of a What, Why,Who, When ,How, Where document explaining this when we first meet.)
To understand their background, how they got to be where they are today, key formative events and relationships for them. It also helps to understand their current sphere of activity – their home life and interests as well as ther work life, in order to understand them as a whole person and to see their work issues and goals within the context of their whole life.
To ask key questions as the coaching process progresses and to actively, really listen to the answers and to observe the body language and behaviours of the coachee. (It is this face to face interaction with the coachee which in my view is so important. This is the primary reason why I think that telephone or e mail coaching processes are a very inadequate substitute for the clarity and quality of communication and relationship that you can derive face to face.)
To summarise in an accurate way or to rephrase in a helpful new way the key thoughts, feelings, issues, objectives, options and ACTIONS that a coachee is facing. I do this both verbally within the coaching session and by writing up and sending them the notes of the session highlighting key points, issues and actions to be taken.

These are the reasons why and how to establish rapport with your coachees. If you achieve this at the outset and reinforce it at each coaching session then you can be a highly effective coach.
If you cannot or don’t establish this essential rapport then you will not get past first base.

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Developing People offer first class management training and development, with a business training course for every level of personnel, helping you increase productivity through employee training, leadership training

Performance Management Appraisal – Practical Hints and Tips for Managers

Many managers (and indeed staff!), dread Performance Appraisals, yet they are a valuable tool in helping people understand how they are currently performing as well as what they need to focus on to improve performance. Often the problem is that managers just don’t have the confidence or haven’t received adequate training to conduct appraisals properly. Sadly, the consequence of this is that too often staff leave an appraisal meeting feeling de-motivated or even angry and managers wonder why they didn’t get the result they wanted!

If you struggle with conducting appraisals, try using the following hints and tips to dramatically improve your ability to conduct an effective performance appraisal.

1) Understand your responsibilities, as a manager it is your responsibility to prepare fully and take a lead role during the appraisal meeting in a way that that encourages the individual to participate fully.
2) Organise review meetings for a mutually convenient time that allows both parties to prepare fully for the development and performance discussions. Don’t do it at 4pm on a Friday in McDonalds!
3) Prepare an informal agenda outlining any critical steps you want to cover. Show this to the individual at the start of the review.
4) Ensure that the room is arranged informally and is free from all interruptions - including the telephone - throughout the discussions.
5) Keep the discussions positive and use open questions to encourage discussion.
6) Ensure that any feedback you give supporting your assessment of an individual is specific (NOT – you did that well/badly!). Stick to observations and facts not inferences. Provide examples of when and how specific work standards were or were not met. If you cannot be specific and factual do not use it.
7) Avoid overstating your case – do not use words such as ‘always’, ‘never’, ‘every time’ and ‘all the time’. Using these words will overstate your points. Overstatements are invariably untrue and people tend to fight them.
8) Consider what training or personal development the individual has been undertaken in the past. How have they used their learning? What does this tell you about their commitment to learning and improvement?
9) When preparing a learning plan, make sure it doesn’t cover more than the next 12 months. It should also concentrate upon the areas of highest priority, where progress and success can be demonstrated. Above all, a plan should be practical and realistic. It is misguided to believe that an overwhelmingly comprehensive plan is better. Such plans are likely to prove very daunting and tend to be put aside as soon as work pressures increase. It is far better to have a small-scale plan that is achievable and can be regularly updated.
10) Finally, avoid "back-to-back" meetings. Give yourself time to reflect on what has been said and also time to prepare for the next meeting.

Performance appraisals will always be a source of challenge and pressure for a manager. However, an effective appraisal is a vital part of improving an employee’s performance. By following the hints and tips above, your chances of getting the right result will be dramatically improved.

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