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It is essential for today’s management to adopt a coaching mind-set

It is essential for today’s management to adopt a coaching mind-set

The working environment has changed over the last twenty years and still continues to do so. What was an acceptable and appropriate leadership style ten years ago is outdated today on both an organisational and an employee level. The time is long gone where leaders could tell their staff what to do, make all the decisions for them, and micro-manage how and when people perform their tasks.

Companies have recognised that innovative, out-of-the-box thinking will make them survive as well as outperform their competitors, and changing the working culture from a stoic authoritarian to a more transparent, fair and dynamic style is certainly a positive and supportive step for their employees. Further flattening the organisational hierarchy structure allows for information to flow faster, freely and more accurately; thereby implementing effective employee engagement and well-being strategies that support and encourage people to be creative in solving today’s working challenges.

Employees are responding positively, albeit sometimes hesitantly, to the change of having permission to actively contribute to finding solutions. Their voices have been stifled for so long that there is doubt and uncertainty if this is for real. Managers play a crucial role in encouraging innovative thinking, employee participation and active voicing of ideas through their leadership styles.

If managers want to remain relevant and be promoted, adopting a coaching mind-set will be of tremendous value to their career and their team’s performance. This will be seen when they encourage employees to think for themselves, make their own decisions and be accountable for their actions. Of course, things won’t always go according to plan, and that is where managers have to shift from a “tell and fix-it” mind-set to a coaching mind-set. A coaching mind-set is built on the foundation of inquiry, listening, questioning and trusting. Let’s explore each one in more depth.

Inquiry: To gather all the facts and establish what happened and what didn’t, without jumping to conclusions or making assumptions. Equally to not judge the person or situation. Remaining neutral, open-minded and detached are learned behaviours that take time to master. Think of it as being a detective who has to find all the facts in a “murder” mystery. The obvious person isn’t necessarily always the murder. During your investigation, you make lots of enquiries, and people will tell you what you need and want to hear. You must be able to see the bigger picture and not be roped into the story.

Listening: To hear and learn something new, which differs from listening to have a fact confirmed. When you listen for what is not being said, you have to focus and tune into the other person’s communication wave length, acutely focusing on their body language, tone of voice, use of words, facial expressions and, hand gestures. In the same process observing yourself and understanding your listening intent, periodically checking in that you remain open-minded, curious and non-judgemental.

Questioning: If the inquiry and listening steps have been done well, the third step may come a lot easier. But a question doesn’t always equal a question. The art to questioning is to formulate your questions in such a way that they get information and an understanding of the person’s thought process. Being curious without blame or accusation is the ideal balance. Reframing from posing closed questions that can be answered with either a yes or no doesn’t help us to get a better understanding of why a person did what they did. The question and listening phase is a gentle dance that continues until an inspiring solution or a new idea forms.

Trusting: The final stage is trusting that through the manager’s enquiry, listening and guided questioning, the employee has established where in their thought process or behaviour they have gone off course, and have identified how to deal with the problem at hand. This will allow the employee to discover their shortcoming as well as how to correct it, and is intrinsically motivating for the employee. In addition, it encourages them to deepen their thinking and find solutions to current working challenges.

Coaching is a very powerful tool that managers can learn and master so that they can drive employee commitment, accountability and job satisfaction. External coach training schools provide excellent in-depth training; however. these may be more appropriate for individuals wishing to pursue a permanent coaching career. There are also many well-written books which cover this topic.

You could also get in touch with us – we are well-equipped to train and instil a coaching mind-set for your managers and your company.

Coaches advice: Tips for living with a workaholic

Coaches advice: Tips for living with a workaholic

Alcoholism is regarded as an illness of the brain wherein the person is unable to control their intake of alcohol. They require more alcohol to maintain their basic need. Alcoholism is often stereotyped by society as a negative condition that aims to suppress behavior such as loneliness, pain or emotional suppression. In contrast, a workaholic has similar symptoms as an alcoholic but society regards it as a super productive, motivated, industrious and conscientious person. But is it?

As trainers and coaches, we know that a workaholic faces the same challenge as an alcoholic as they slowly but consistently get sucked into the vortex of needing continuous work and that all the time. The belief is that work needs me and I need it, having withdrawal symptoms if not having enough work, therefore actively finding extra work and the compulsive idea that work cannot function without them. Both are brain illnesses that are in conjunction created by the environment and ourselves. Organizations to a certain extent, value workaholics but only to the point that the symptoms are under control.

As much as workaholics are applaudable by organizations how does it feel like living with one. The standard complaints are:

  1. The other person never features – you become a silent phantom in the relationship who is never taken consciously aware;
  2. Don’t actively participate in family events or special school functions. Not having the time as a more urgent pressing unexpected meeting just popped up. In those instances you are saying to your family and children as much as conveying the message that you do not matter right now; work does;
  3. Having a marriage with a third person present. A person against which you have no control over or can even fairly compete against;
  4. Needing praise and recognition from your peers and colleagues. Getting the short-lived adrenalin kick of they cannot do without me and I am needed;
  5. Sacrificing your sleep, exercise regime and health for extra time to squeeze in the work. The work gives you a high and becomes your legal drug;
  6. You never switch off your brain. It is on work steroids and every awake moment is spent on actual work or thinking about work. This may result in your sleeping as little as possible. Sleep is regarded as wasted unproductive time.

Why trainers think that work-aholism isn’t admirable

As much as work-aholism may be seen as an admirable trait it cannot be maintained and it comes at a cost that in the end you are likely to be alone. Through your behavior you have pushed your precious family and friends away from you. As organizational leaders we have the responsibility to balance and maintain our employee workloads and not stimulate or even breed workaholics. Sure they have a hereditary component but as organizations we might be exploiting this.

Let us rather foster employees who find their passion and meaning in work without sacrificing their personal relationships. Contact us for more information about coaching and training.

Why money doesn’t buy us happiness

Why money doesn’t buy us happiness

Money is a resource that we all need to have to live and survive on earth. It’s the commodity that allows us to satisfy our needs; well certainly our basic needs anyway. Our “wants” might be occasionally or partially fulfilled. Our needs and wants continue to grow as we satisfy them which brings them into the ever spiralling paradox of scarcity.

Have you ever wondered why money ever came into existence? Surely it was never intended to cause misery, diversity and classification in the world. But it did. We might work to earn money to support our families and lifestyle. We may not even enjoy our work, but we endure it to survive. That is a sad reality for many individuals.

Often we wonder why people haven’t become happier while the world has become wealthier. Compared to seventy years ago, we have much more technology, better health care, and a higher standard of education, etc. The world now is more advanced than what our grandparents ever knew. However, we have not become happier. In actual fact, according to research conducted, we have become unhappier.

Why is that? Let’s look at some facts:

  1. We aren’t comparing like for like. As our wealth increases so do our standards. We can’t compare today with the 1950s because the world has evolved too much.
  2. It’s human nature to use benchmarks to measure ourselves against. When it comes to wealth and especially the more fluid element of money, we use our friends, family and social networks to compare ourselves against. If our friends are wealthier than us it impacts on our happiness. If it’s the other way around, we feel happier. It’s crazy but the saying “Keeping up with the Jones” rings true in this case.
  3. We adapt to having money and need a certain level to remain happy. Building more wealth gives our happiness level a short-term boost of up to four to six months and then we settle back to our happiness level before the boost. Humans habituate quickly and money is no different.

That’s all good, but when does money make us happy?

Money raises our level of happiness under three circumstances.

  1. When we haven’t met our basic needs and acquiring more money enables us to do so. Researchers say that the annual income per person mark is around $20,000, which equates to approximately R350,000. In South Africa the majority of citizens are on $10,000. So for a developing country like South Africa, money matters.
  2. If we share our money with less fortunate people, our happiness level increases because it provides a positive emotion of giving. It’s a reason why the elite wealthy donate money for charitable work. They recall the positive experience which they savour and store in their memory. Money buys happiness if spent on others.
  3. People spend money to savour a long-term experience (such as a holiday). It usually involves a build-up of planning, anticipating and then experiencing, with the end result of having to share and relive the memory with someone. This process builds our happiness with the emphasis being on the experience.

Money creates synthetic happiness that fades quickly and then we need to buy more to keep having these highs. If we are seeking true happiness, we need to look for enduring versus fleeting happiness and we get that from building strong positive relationships with family, friends and social connections, participating in community projects, being physically and psychologically healthy, and experiencing more positive emotions than negative ones. Seek enduring happiness!

Money is like health; absence breeds misery.

Having it does not guarantee happiness.

Contact us for more information about achieving your personal development goals.