Archive for April, 2009

What kind of coaching are you talking about?

Wednesday, April 29th, 2009

The CIPD’s latest learning and development survey has found that 69% of organisations are now using coaching as a development tool. Are you using coaching as a tool in your organisation? If you answer yes, you could still mean something very different by that answer from your counterparts in other organisations.

I think there are three different ways that people in organisations can experience coaching, and managers can be involved in two of them:

1. A coaching style of management, in which managers coach staff when that is the appropriate style for the circumstances, to empower the individual and leverage their own ability to get things done. This seems to be the main focus of the CIPD report. It is probably the best way to build a relationship with a member of staff, and to develop them, but I agree with others that there will be circumstances in which the coaching style may not be the best management option, or when coaching by the manager may not be welcomed by the individual. Training for the coaching style of management may be in the form of a one or two day course.

2. Managers as coaches of people other than those they manage. I see this as a coaching scheme within an organisation, where managers are trained as coaches with a longer course and with supervision. They are then available to coach staff from other departments, providing some confidentiality and working with the individual’s agenda.

3. The external coach provides a level of confidentiality and expertise which will rarely be available from line managers. External coaches are not part of the organisational culture and can therefore help the individual to think outside the organisational box when that is helpful. Individuals at all levels are much more likely to ‘open up’ to an external coach in a way which will enable deeper forms of change, where that is what is needed. I think it is always likely to be the best coaching option for middle and senior managers, although they too will benefit from a manager with a coaching style.

These are all valuable forms of coaching, and I am involved in providing the first and the last, but I think it’s very important that people in organisations understand the different benefits they bring.

Managing people working under pressure – survey results

Friday, April 17th, 2009

The CIPD (Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development) recently announced the results of its four-year research project into how managers need to behave to prevent and manage stress at work amongst their staff. Their findings are not surprising but it is good to have it confirmed that key management skills are:
• treating people with respect
• communicating job objectives clearly
• involving staff in wider objectives
• talking one-to-one
• managing conflict

The psychologist Eric Berne (founder of Transactional Analysis), proposed that people have a need for:

Structure
Stimulation and
Recognition (which he called Strokes)

in life in general and at work. It’s a simple formula which is reflected in the management behaviours identified by the CIPD study. I use it as a basis for developing new managers, and helping them to identify how they can help staff to feel motivated to work effectively and go the extra mile, not just prevent stress. In 21st century terms, we are talking about “engagement”.

Structure means being clear about job roles, boundaries and objectives, reporting lines and career paths. It doesn’t require complicated competency frameworks; it does require managers to be able to be informative and descriptive and to co-create understanding with their staff about the requirements of the job.

Stimulation can mean many different things and will reflect different people’s values and interests. For some it will be pride in doing a good job, following a well-known work routine with expertise; for others it will be challenge and variety; good relationships with manager and colleagues; developing skills; using strengths.

Recognition includes being paid, but pay doesn’t engage the emotions in the same way as praise for good work and a working atmosphere that respects people for who they are as well as what they do. More in depth research has found that a warm “Thank you” from a manager or a team lunch to celebrate a job well done are more effective forms of recognition than an “Employee of the Year” award which is too impersonal and comes too late.

The term “engagement” which has now become the way to describe a mixture of motivation, loyalty and good performance reflects the real recognition that performance is not just about what people do, but what they feel at work. The management relationship is key to that engagement, and thinking about boosting provision of Structure, Stimulation and Recognition can make all the difference to that relationship.

Valerie Fawcett