Posts Tagged ‘Coaching skills’

Coaching & Communication 2

Written by Matt Somers on . Posted in Coaching Skills for Managers

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You're empowered to do what I tell you!

You're empowered to do what I tell you!

In part 1we explored six communication styles:

  • Tells
  • Sells
  • Tests
  • Consults
  • Joins
  • Delegates

Let’s now consider the relative advantages and disadvantages of each.

Tells

Managers who use this style prefer to manage by command and control and they are sometimes referred to as autocrats. This style means that the manager can exercise great control as he or she can be sure that work is being carried out in accordance with their detailed instructions. This style also has the benefit of ensuring a consistent approach and is likely to absorb far less time.

However, people who work for managers like this often complain of feeling put upon and unappreciated. They can feel frustrated at not being given a chance to have their say and can end up following instructions to the letter and exercising little if any initiative.

Also, from the manager’s point of view, this style does not really give access to the creativity and experience within the team and assumes that the manager has experienced all the problems and knows all the answers.

Sells

Here the manager is still the one devising the plans and making the decisions, but does consider the needs of the team buy trying to sell the benefits of his or her suggestions. Notice though that it is still his or her suggestions, without much scope for team contributions. Furthermore if the team do not initially buy the suggestion it is likely that the manager will resort to Tell and insist that the team do as they are asked whether they like it or not.

Tests

Tests involves approaching the team with an idea and just seeing what their reaction is. If the initial suggestion is received with enthusiasm, this style of manager is likely to relinquish control to a fair degree and allow the team to undertake the work under his or her guidance. Alternatively, if the initial suggestion is resisted it may be that the manager decides to revisit certain decisions and to see if a more positive way forward can be formulated.

Consults

When we consult, we may prefer to avoid making decisions until after the team has had a chance to discuss matters. This can be a problem in that decisions might be delayed until everyone in the team has had a chance to have their say, and it’s far from certain that decisions made in this way will be any better than if the manager made them on their own. It has been said that a camel is only a horse designed by a committee where everyone insisted on having their bit included!

Joins

Managers that favour this style like to position themselves as just one of the group whose opinions and ideas are no more valid than anyone else’s. This can create a dynamic team atmosphere and leave people feeling highly valued.  It is likely that groups managed in this way will produce a range of creative ideas and relieve the manager of much of the burden of control. However, as with Consults, this style soaks up a lot of time and may not be appropriate when a speedy, emphatic decision is needed.

Delegates

At the other end of the spectrum then is the management style of Delegates. This means that the manager explains the requirements of a task and sets the rules and deadlines, but then leaves the team or the individual to achieve the desired results as they see fit.

This quite clearly emphasizes trust and faith in others but must not be done without some thought. Managers need to know their team well enough to be able to decide who should do what, and they must never seek to delegate accountability. In other words, if it goes wrong the manager carries the can – its part of being a manager!

In a future post I’ll examine how we can use a coaching approach to work with these different communication styles.

 

Coaching & Communication 1

Written by Matt Somers on . Posted in Coaching Skills for Managers

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The communication spectrum

The communication spectrum

Most managers I train as coaches are clear (or have been convinced by their bosses) that they need to take on the role of coach as part of their people management responsibilities. Most are less clear about exactly what this means or how to go about it. There are obvious difficulties in defining coaching with any precision and of incorporating coaching into a general management role.

A useful starting point is to consider coaching as one type of communication and see how it fits with typical management communication that most of us will recognize.

Here we’ll consider six communication styles that differ in terms of the level of control exercised by manager and team member respectively.

Tells

When we tell people what to do and how to do it, we assume total control. This is highly attractive when time is tight or the consequence of error high.

Sells

Here we loosen our control just slightly and involve team members to the extent that we realism that they must be convinced of the merits of an idea before they’ll feel inclined to act upon it with any enthusiasm.

Tests

A further loosening of our control and a greater involvement for team members because we literally test out an idea or decision and accept the risk that the team will not agree.

Consults

I think of this as a meeting halfway, 50/50 kind of style. The team’s input is sought and their ideas considered but it is still the manager that makes a final decision and thus retains a high level of control.

Joins

This is an egalitarian communication style aimed at decision making by consensus. Control has switched. More is with the team members but not all of it.

Delegates

The manager sets the parameters of the task, success measures, reporting guidelines, etc. but control over how to accomplish the task is given to the team member(s). The risks are high but the rewards and long term gains substantial.

A common mistake in considering management communication in this way is to think that one style is necessarily correct. Each has its advantages and disadvantages and the most effective managers adapt their style to reflect the needs of the situation and of the person with whom they are communicating. For example if, as you are reading this, a fire alarm sounded it would clearly be absurd to arrange a meeting to discuss options for evacuating the building. What would be needed is for someone to take the lead and to ensure that people were moved to safety quickly and in accordance with the laid down procedures. Similarly, a new person on the team will need a period of close monitoring and some instruction before they have built up the knowledge and experience required for delegated tasks.

In a future post I’ll expand on the relative advantages and disadvantages of each style and examine where coaching fits.

Coaching at Work: Diary of a training course

Written by Matt Somers on . Posted in Coaching Skills Training

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Good to go!

Good to go!

My client is a prominent provider of social housing in Northern England. I have worked with their senior managers last year and the year before and in 2011 there was another handful of leaders needing to get results through people.

Day one began with a discussion around what each participant was hoping to learn. The list was as follows (with names changed to protect the innocent):

Dave: An understanding of coaching skills to use at work

Dee: Better knowledge and skills around how to help people overcome barriers

Dozy: Fuller, more in-depth understanding of coaching/mentoring

Beaky: To increase motivation, confidence and to help people come to their own solutions

Mick: Skills on how to coach members of staff – in particular, new starters

Tich: Skills for coaching colleagues at work

In the past I have worked with much bigger groups, but have found that a group size likes this makes for a much more intimate and therefore impactful experience.

Here’s a flavour of some of the exercises and learning activities that followed.

We discussed how ‘interference’ prevents people accessing their potential and how coaching can provide and antidote to this.

 

 

 

 

External & Internal motivation

External & Internal motivation

 

We debated how effective motivational tools developed in the 19th century are today

 

 

 

 

 

Get UP!!!!!!

Get UP!!!!!!

 

We lay on the floor to see how flawed the “tell and instruct” style of communication can be

 

 

 

 

 

To me; to you

To me; to you

 

We threw some balls around

 

 

 

 

 

We looked at coaching for team development and rolled around on some planks

Right, er, left, no, right

Right, er, left, no, right

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

After all of that, I collected in he evaluations and everyone went on their way keen to try at their skills and make a difference back at work. I got some lovely comments:

“Excellent and Entertaining”

“Really enjoyed it. Found it very useful and raised my awareness with issues I’ve been experiencing in work”

“Very enjoyable. Mix of activities and classroom work kept it fun and interesting”

 

Until next time……