Blog Categories: Productivity

Here’s how to avoid “Death by PowerPoint”

Posted on May 31, 2019

We have all been there:  presentation coming up, need to develop slides, how to make them interesting, not cluttered? Where to begin, end? What is too much and what is too little on a slide?  How many slides are needed? Here is an article written by an expert on Powerpoint who offers advice and, introduces new technology in PowerPoint, e.g., morph, reuse slide, and text icons–all of which can support efficient and interesting slide deck development for a presentation.

How to get emails returned

Posted on May 31, 2019

With the opportunities to write through social media and email, we are awash in words, some communicate well, others don’t. This quick read article offers some strategies for how one might write in emails in a more compelling and authentic way–which might be more interesting to read.

The Need for Managers with Coaching Skills

Posted on April 1, 2019

Managers who effectively harness their coaching skills reap multiple benefits. Their employees are more committed, willing to put in greater effort and are less likely to leave.

Most managers have had some training in coaching people for high performance. Ten years ago, 73% of managers received some form of training, according to BlessingWhite, a global leadership-development firm. But the firm’s 2015 report reveals that employees who receive regular feedback through coaching conversations are in the minority.

Why Don’t More Managers Coach?

Managers usually cite lack of time as the main excuse for failing to coach employees, but the real reasons may be different, note John H. Zenger and Kathleen Stinnett in The Extraordinary Coach: How the Best Leaders Help Others Grow (McGraw-Hill Education, 2010).

Three common barriers stand in the way:

  1. Misconceptions of what coaching is
  2. A desire to avoid difficult conversations
  3. No clear game plan for initiating and framing coaching conversations

The Manager-Fixer

Despite good intentions, the manager-fixer creates numerous problems:

  1. Quick fixes don’t teach people to think for themselves.
  2. When work is challenging, employees will look to their managers for an easy fix.
  3. Managers who fix problems encourage dependency, thereby creating additional work for themselves.

Let’s address the reasons why managers fail to coach.

  1. Misconceptions of What Coaching Is

Coaching isn’t instructing, mentoring, counseling, cheerleading, therapy or directing, although there are some similarities. Coaching skills include:

  • Clarifying an interaction’s outcome and agreeing to a conversation’s goal
  • Listening to what is—and isn’t—said
  • Asking non-leading questions to expand awareness
  • Exploring possibilities, consequences, actions and decisions
  • Eliciting a desired future state
  • Establishing goals and expectations, including stretch goals
  • Providing support
  • Following up on progress
  • Setting accountability agreements
  1. A Desire to Avoid Difficult Conversations

Coaching conversations require time and energy, but they’re the only way to gain trust, honesty and transparency. If you’re unwilling to invest the required time and effort, coaching will inevitably fail.

  1. No Game Plan for Coaching Conversations

Many coaching models exist, but the best are short, simple and easy to employ. With a solid framework, you can achieve results in as little as 10 minutes.

GROW Model

One of the original coaching frameworks is the GROW model, created by Graham Alexander, Alan Fine and Sir John Whitmore:

G Goal The Goal is where the client wants to be. It must be clearly defined so people know when they’ve achieved it.
R Reality The Current Reality is where the client is now. What are the issues and challenges? How far away is Goal achievement?
O Obstacles What Obstacles are stopping the client from reaching the Goal?
Options Once Obstacles are identified, the client finds Options to deal with them and make progress.
W Way Forward The Options are converted into the Way Forward—action steps that map the way to reach the Goal.

 

FUEL Coaching Conversations

Zenger and Stinnett suggest using the FUEL model in The Extraordinary Coach:

  • F = Frame the Conversation. Set the context by agreeing on the discussion’s purpose, process and desired outcomes.
  • U = Understand the Current State. Explore the current state from the coachee’s point of view. Expand the coachee’s awareness of the situation to determine the real coaching issue.
  • E = Explore the Desired State. Articulate your vision of success in this scenario. Explore multiple alternative paths before prioritizing methods of achieving this vision.
  • L = Lay Out a Success Plan. Identify the specific, time-bounded action steps to be taken to achieve the desired results. Determine milestones for follow-up and accountability.

Face the Coaching FACTS

While people enjoy receiving their managers’ support, they also want to be challenged, note John Blakey and Ian Day in Challenging Coaching: Going Beyond Traditional Coaching to Face the FACTS (Nicholas Brealey Publishing, 2012).

Blakey and Day developed the FACTS coaching model from frontline observations:

  • F = Feedback: How can coaches provide challenging feedback that informs and inspires? How can we ensure that praise and recognition are balanced with honest feedback on mistakes?
  • A = Accountability: How does a coach hold people accountable for commitments without blame or shame? How can accountability be extended from personal commitments to alignment with the values, strategy and ethos of the wider organization?
  • C = Courageous Goals: How does a coach move beyond incremental goal-setting models to those that engage the right-brain attributes of courage, excitement, inspiration and transformation?
  • T = Tension: When is tension constructive? How can coaches practice creating and holding tension without risking burnout in key performers? How can the tension in a conversation be calibrated and dynamically adjusted to ensure peak performance? When does tension go too far and damage the underlying relationships?
  • S = Systems Thinking: How can a coach stay sensitive to “big-picture” issues like ethics, diversity and the environment without losing focus on bottom-line results? What can be learned from the world of systems thinking that enables the coach to be a positive agent of change for the wider organization?

Powerful Questions

Managers who avoid coaching often struggle with starting a coaching conversation. In the absence of deep, hour-long coaching sessions, you can use key questions to realize change and growth.

Michael Bungay Stanier shares seven core questions to open coaching conversations in The Coaching Habit: Say Less, Ask More & Change the Way You Lead Forever (Box of Crayons Press, 2016):

  1. What’s on your mind?
  2. What else?
  3. What’s the real challenge here for you?
  4. What do you want?
  5. How can I help?
  6. If you’re saying “yes” to this, to what are you saying “no”?
  7. What was most useful for you?

Use these 5 scheduling methods when a to-do list just isn’t working

Posted on March 27, 2019

I frequently look for new ways to schedule my “to do” tasks…good ideas here…I have used the MIT’s method for years and find it rewarding as at least at the end of the day, I can say I accomplished my Most Important Tasks. Read more about these 5 scheduling methods and possibly find one that works for you.

The Busier You Are, the More You Need Quiet Time

Posted on March 6, 2019

The more I read about leadership, self-development and thriving, writing, and finding work-life balance…the more I find this concept of carving out time to quiet. Our biggest thinkers, innovators, and creators, whether past or present, all agree…take time for quiet reflection and calming oneself.

Why You Should Put a Little More Thought Into Your Out-of-Office Message

Posted on October 14, 2018

This HBR article written by Michelle Gielan,

Positive Psychology researcher gives a surprising view of Out-Of-Office (OOO) messages.  She gives ideas as to how we can use the message to build social connections which, research finds that social connection, which adds meaning and depth to our relationships, is the greatest predictor of long-term levels of happiness, and can be a major contributing factor to our performance at work.  She also offers some creative examples beyond the boring OOO that can forge conversational sharing and ways to be offer resources to your clients while letting them know that you are away.

Benjamin Franklin built his character around 13 virtues — and following his weekly plan could change your life

Posted on January 19, 2018

 

When I start to work with a client, I ask them to define what their values/virtues and strengths are — taking the VIA strengths survey helps to determine them.  Then I ask them to rate their top 6 values each day on a scale of 1 -10.  This exercise was also practiced by one of our founding fathers, Benjamin Franklin.  Read this article on how esteemed Mr. Franklin defined his values and then contemplated each day how he used them.  How many years later and we are still talking about Ben?  I would say his method of defining his virtues and living them out served him well … and us.

Turning Negative Thinkers into Positive Ones

Posted on August 3, 2017

We all know negative thinking when we hear it, the challenge is managing our own negative thoughts even in the face of hearing the “half empty glass” dialogue of others.  This article by NYT health editor Jane Brody describes the compelling research of current social scientists whose data suggests that developing positive emotions in oneself promotes healthy bodies, minds and more life satisfaction.

This is How to Be More Productive: 4 Secrets from the Stoics

Posted on June 12, 2017

The Stoics were those Roman and Greek philosophers who flourished in and around the 3rd Century. The Stoic philosophers promtoed ways to manage one’s minds to have a better understanding of the natural world, to be open to a broader view of life beyond pleasure and pain and, to treat others in a fair and just way.

Sounds like a great formula for team work?  Yes, and we can also learn a lot from the Stoics about choosing the right actions and priorities which can aid our productive habits.  Read on about tips regarding how we think about our time and effort can lead to being  more productive, ultimately leading to contributing your talents most effectively.