How to Make the Most of Your Coaching Sessions

Your company has engaged a professional coach for its leaders and high potentials and you are one of them.  How do you make the most of this investment in your personal and professional growth?  Here are a few tips to consider:

  • In the context of your job role and career in the organization, reflect on your strengths and areas for development based on past and present,  formal and informal feedback, from your superiors, peers, and direct reports.  Identify possible developmental goals you may want to be coached on by your professional coach.
  • Talk to your executive sponsors about what they see as your strengths and areas for development that they would like you to be coached on, Take note of where your and their perspectives may be similar or different. Ask questions to better understand the perspective of your executive sponsor and share your own views as well.  Ask about what specifically they would like to see change and improve as outcomes of coaching.
  • If the company invested in a 360 feedback survey as an input to your receiving coaching, learn as much as you can about the tool and what feedback were given to you by the people you selected to be your 360 respondents. Keep an open mind and receive all feedback as the gifts that they are, both positive and negative.  You may not agree with the feedback, nevertheless, that is how you show up to the 360 survey respondents.
  • Remember that our intentions do not always manifest in ways that others perceive them. Sometimes, if not often, there may be disconnects between our intentions and the perceptions people have about us and our actions.  Areas where there are huge disconnects between our self perceptions and that of others are helpful places to start our reflection on how come there are these gaps and what actions we can take, things we can do differently (e.g., start, stop, continue doing), to bridge these gaps.
  • Identify the initial top three priorities you need and would like to be coached on by your professional coach and build agreement with your executive sponsors about these.  If it’s too soon to have specific goals at the start of the coaching, that’s fine. The initial coaching sessions can focus on deepening your awareness and understanding of the situation you are in and what makes sense to work on with your coach.
  • Between coaching sessions, be sure to work on whatever assignment or actions you agreed to do with your coach, and learn what you can from these.  No excuses.  Being a more self-motivated and self-directed adult learner, you take responsibility for yourself. Keep a learning journal to write your questions, perceptions, ideas and insights that can help you move forward with your intentions and goals.

We are all always learning, and brain research shows that we continue to rewire our brains through neuroplasticity and nuerogenesis even as we grow more experienced and older.  (Bergland, Christopher, Psychology Today, 2018) (Bergland, Christopher, Psychology Today, 2017)

Managing Business Performance Using Objectives, Key Result Areas, Key Performance Indicators and Targets

One of the critical competencies for managers and supervisors is managing the business performance of their departments/sections/units.  More often than not, this is one area where coaching and mentoring is much needed.

One basic approach that can go a long way is to learn more about and apply the use of SMART Objectives, Key Result Areas, Key Performance Indicators, and Targets.  While attending workshops are helpful, reading available materials and books are effective ways to learn as well.  Even more effective is to try out the few KPIs that are most relevant in terms of aligning a department’s objectives with the overall strategic objectives and strategies of the company.

Simply put, a Key Performance Indicator (KPI) is a measure of how well something, an objective, is achieved and gives valuable feedback on whether performance is on track or not so that the manager and team can take appropriate action to get back on track.

Not having clearly defined KPIs is like driving without a clear destination and directions to guide you.  Don’t leave results and outcomes to chance.  Plan the work and then work the plan.  Always have measures and get top management sign off.

Here are some useful resources to get you started on your journey of learning by doing and experimentation.

Here’s an article if you would like to discover more resources on KPIs:   Finding the Right KPIs – 5 KPI Libraries That Are Key to Your Performance.

If the subject of KPIs excites you, there are many resources to study and learn from, and help you equip yourself and your team with the knowledge and skills to effectively plan, execute, monitor and control, and realign business performance.

What matters in life?

During the Holy Week, many of us may have vacations, staycations, or just a simple and quite time for reading, prayer, and reflection at home. Checking LinkedIn, I stumbled on this short video by Marshall Goldsmith on “What matters in life”?  Food for thought for us to think about what’s most important in our lives.  For Catholics, the Holy Week is a good time for reflection on this question and what is the meaning of life.

On being Able and Ability as a trust booster, referring back to a previous post on the The ABCD Trust ModelTM, continuous learning is not so much for ourselves alone but to continue to develop so that we have more, new and deeper knowledge, experience and expertise, to put to use in the service of others who need these gifts more than we do.

 

Nurturing relationships to build Trust

It’s easy enough to get tied up and busy with one’s day-to-day work responsibilities and forget to build and nurture key relationships. One way to remind ourselves is to reflect on who and what really matters and then to plan trust boosting activities. Put these activities on your calendar. Blocking off time can help you make sure you do them.

Now, whether you plan to have coffee, lunch or other shared activity, here are some trust boosting  things you may want to consider.

Get to know the person on a more personal level.  Learn more about the person’s career aspirations, work-related concerns, family, and hobbies, and share similar information about yourself.

Show sincere interest by listening well and continuing the flow of the conversation based on what the other is saying. Try listening more than talking.

Take note of things done well by the person, or effort made, and give recognition in public.  Give credit where credit is due.  A short praise and pat on the back in front of the team can go a long way to boost the person’s confidence and nurture trust.

Show appreciation when the person may have done more. Often, a simple “Thank you” or acknowledgment like, “I appreciate (and then mention what you appreciate)” communicates that you don’t take the person for granted.

If you notice that the person seems to be feeling stressed or you sense that something may be amiss, take time to inquire and offer help, if that makes sense, or just be the listening ear.

Get ideas and inputs of the person on pertinent matters such as a challenging issue or problem that she can contribute to solving. This communicates that you care about and value her ideas.

Last but not least, follow through on what you say you will do. And, in case you forget, apologizing and making up for it can help you recover a bit of possible loss in trust.

Are you behaving in ways that build or erode trust?

To say that trust is an important foundation of all successful and mutually beneficial relationships is perhaps an understatement. Trust is key whether we are talking about relationships between parent and child, husband and wife, friends, manager and direct report, consultant or service provider and client.

As we may all know, trust is easy to lose and difficult to earn. Trust can easily be lost as a result of one incident. Earning it back can take time and effort, and a strong desire and willingness to restore it.

How we behave either helps to build and strengthen trust, or erode and weaken it.  One useful little book that can help us assess ourselves and others on trust, and also provide a model and specific actions for building trust, is Trust Works: Four Keys to Building Lasting Relationships by Ken Blanchard, Cynthia Olmstead and Martha Lawrence.

Here’s a snapshot of The ABCD Trust ModelTM from the authors.  In a nutshell, we become more trustworthy when:

  • We are Able, meaning, we demonstrate competence and a high personal standard in getting things done when working with others.
  • We are Believable, meaning, we act with integrity, i.e., we are sincere, respectful and nonjudgmental.
  • We are Connected, meaning we show that we care about others by listening, showing empathy, and giving credit where credit is due.
  • We are Dependable, meaning we show that we are reliable and others can count on us.

Some questions to ask yourself if you want to do a bit of personal reflection are:

  • On a scale of 1 to 10, with 1 being the lowest and 10 being the highest, how trustworthy might others perceive me to be?”  You can think of a specific person as you may impact different people in different ways depending on your usual behavior towards them.
  • How often do I  behave in the listed ways?”  In applying this question to each behavior under The ABCD Trust ModelTM, you can use the scale given by the authors:  H-Hardly ever, S-Sometimes, O-Often, V-Very often, and A-Always. Be honest with yourself in terms of the frequency you actually do demonstrate these behaviors.

ABCD.Model

How people perceive us depends a lot on our behaviors.  Often, there can be a disconnect between our intentions and our actual impact.  I am reminded of the adage “the road to hell is paved with good intentions.” It is not enough to think that we behave in ways that show we are able and dependable. The question is what do other perceive about us?  Trust is a two-way street.

Take stock of your self-rating and ask others to rate you to see if there is an alignment between how you think you show up vs. how you actually do.

The nice thing about the The ABCD Trust ModelTM is that it can be used as a framework to talk about and work out trust issues in constructive ways. Check out the book to learn more about how you can build or rebuild trust through “trust boosters” and avoid eroding trust through “trust busters.”

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Goals vs. Dreams

Kung Hei Fat Choi!  It’s Chinese New Year and the general forecasts from Feng Shui masters can make an interesting read.  For most of us, this is probably more a fun thing to do and we don’t really believe these forecasts.  Or, maybe we choose to believe if the forecasts are positive and about developments that we like, and we choose not to believe when the forecasts aren’t all that palatable.  In any case, we can have fun reading and talking about these.  Is one’s fortune in the stars, one’s zodiac sign and or one’s horoscope? 

In one TV series episode that I recently saw, the protagonist facing an impossible challenge was told that he was lucky that things worked out his way.  He retorted that he didn’t believe in good luck and said that he made his own luck. This mindset of us helping create our own opportunities is definitely better than a fatalistic one where you may believe that you are just at the receiving end of good or bad fortune.  Focus on our sphere of influence, on the things that matter and where we have impact on.

Another line from the same protagonist caught my attention as well, “I don’t have dreams, I have goals. And I’m ready to move on to the next one.”  There’s nothing wrong with having dreams as dreams tend to be bigger and more distant in the future.  But unless you break down your dreams into milestones that drive you forward one major step at a time, then maybe your dreams will remain dreams. 

The morale of the story?  As you review and write down your goals for your development, your career, your life, make it a point to write SMART goals or break them down into specific milestones. That way, you’ve made your own yardstick to know when you’ve reached them and ready to move on to the next one.

On Setting Goals for Yourself and Your Team

Whether in leading oneself or a team, identifying SMART goals can help you focus your efforts and that of your team.  When you feel lost or adrift, having lost your steam, take pause and think about your goals. What do you really need and want for yourself? What do you really need and want for your team?

SMART has become a popular and well known acronym for setting goals that are specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound.  Yet, it is easy enough to forget this and sometimes, when you are not accomplishing anything or when your team is not working together synergistically, the root of the problem may be that you and the team have lost sight of the goals, or the old goals need to be revisited and changed.

If you find yourself getting too busy on busywork, avoid the potential activity trap by taking time out to identify what are truly most important for you.  Who do you want to become?  What do you want to achieve?

What do you want?  This can be a very powerful question that many don’t ask themselves. If you know what you want and why, the rest follows.

So, what do you want this 2016?  How does this fit into your career plans, your overall life plan?  Write down your goals now. Don’t worry about wordsmithing them at this time. It’s more important to capture what’s in your heart. You can always refine them later.

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