Wednesday, 20 May 2009

Make yourself an asset and not a liability

Some people believe that if you put your head above the parapet at work it will only result in it being “shot off”. But is keeping a low profile at work really a good idea, or should we be more proactive?

On the basis that you only get out of something what you are prepared to put into it, then work is no different. Great sportsmen and women didn’t become great by waiting at home for someone to find them, they worked hard to improve themselves and put themselves about so that they were known.

Gary Player once replied to a gentleman who claimed he made a lucky shot out of a bunker “Well, the harder I practice, the luckier I get”. Work is not different, if you want success and promotion you need to “put your head above the parapet”.

The key thing to do is to make sure you sell yourself on a regular basis. Too often people think that all they need to do is a good job. While this is clearly vital, if no one knows that you have done a good job you may as well not have bothered in the first place. It is exactly the same in business – you may have come up with the best product in the market, but if no one knows about it they won’t buy it! This means that you have to let your manager and others know when you have been successful. Whilst publicly bragging about your achievements will just alienate your colleagues, a simple email to your boss outlining the success you have had in a particular area will probably suffice.

Equally important is building a network in your organisation. By getting to know colleagues in other areas of the business, you may find opportunities to expand your role or develop yourself further. Again it is unlikely that these opportunities will be handed to you, you have to go out and find them. Get to know the senior management in the organisation, demonstrate to them that you are interested in helping the organisation to achieve its goals and objectives. Show them that you care and talk to them about how you might help.

It’s never really a good idea to keep a low profile at work and it is probably even more so in the current climate. Many organisations are actively seeking to reduce costs and cut jobs, so make sure you don’t become one of the statistics and make yourself indispensible.

Tuesday, 12 May 2009

Do you have to like the person coaching you for it to be effective?

This would be nice to achieve but is not essential with every coaching relationship and it is unrealistic to expect this in every case. What is essential is a respect for each other and for what you can bring to the executive coaching relationship. What is key is respect for your skills as a coach and for your communication ability. You need to help the coachee to think differently and to look at things with fresh eyes and to provide a new perspective and to be a catalyst for them to ACT on this new thinking.

You may not actually greatly like or warm to the person that you are coaching, nor they you. We are all different individuals and there is ample scope for us to recognise the different perspectives, ideas and beliefs that other people possess. Where this can become difficult is in the area of values, behaviours, management styles and standards. I would find it hard to coach or be coached by a person who lacks fundamental integrity, who was rude to or dismissive of me or his/her people or who wanted to manipulate them or me to do something negative or illegal or completely against their will. If their style is completely autocratic and controlling and if they could not see the possibility of leading and managing in a more positive, democratic way then I would not be able to build and sustain the required rapport and positive relationship with them that I need to establish for me to be an effective support to the people that I coach. I

nterestingly enough, if I look back on the hundreds of people that I have coached over the past 15 years I realise that there have been very few coaching assignments where I have not felt that I could establish the necessary relationship and rapport with my coachee. I suspect that this is largely because the pre-coaching engagement routine that we go through with new people would discourage those with inappropriate values, styles and expectations and that both they and I self-select out of a coaching relationship with someone that we cannot identify with.

Thursday, 7 May 2009

Can coaching just be "done" to people - or do they need to know that it is happening to them?

Yes they do need to know that they are being coached. How else can they be expected to play their part in this complex process? How will they understand the approach and techniques that the coach is using? How else can they be expected to be willing to take responsibility for their own issues, learning, thinking and actions?

If you don’t tell them upfront that they are being coached then there is little or no chance that they will play their part in addressing their issues and actively and purposefully work at addressing their issues and acting to resolve them. Furthermore when they do eventually find this out might they then feel manipulated into doing what you want them to do rather than what they really want and need to do? Is this necessarily a bad thing anyway? Well not if you are happy to be manipulating them to take action in the short term that will help you to achieve your goals. But in the long term, when you are not around and leading and controlling their behaviour then how will they act and react and what will their motivation be to do the best job that they can?

In the short term some managers have said to me that they are taking this coaching approach automatically with their employees within the day to day managing of their people. This is true to some extent where they are using the core skills of a coach in their role as manager.

However this is not the same thing as genuinely and openly executive coaching them to improve their performance by using the COACH technique or similar process to address their own issues and objectives, take responsibility for their performance – and not just working to achieve the basic objectives those chosen for them by their manager.