In a recent coaching session, the client asked me, “Simon, how do you deal with a performing staff but always take sick leave?”. Contradicting statement, isn’t it? How can someone performs well yet absent at work frequently?
In manpower short-handed situation, bosses sometime hesitate on making their firm stand when they see thing doesn’t go right with their people. Worrying they will quit the job under pressure. So, bosses tend to remain silent, tolerant, holding on, and finally ‘let go their steam’ when they can’t stand their wrongdoing anymore. Condone is the name. Who is more damaging in this case, you or the staff?
Back to the question, it depends on how you handle the situation. If you are being judgmental and keep drilling on why they keep taking sick leave; telling them how important they have to stay focus and manage their personal problems. Chances are, they will take your ‘advice’ for granted and continue taking sick leave. Because there are things at personal level probably you don’t know about. Sick leave is the symptom, not root cause. Since you don’t care to know, they don’t care to tell either.
“But if you don’t manage and control them, you gain less power in your leadership”, said the client. Our minds determine our actions. Why do you want to manage them? Why control them? Why want to gain power on them? They are working adults. No one enjoy being managed and controlled. Why not empowering them?
Empowering means give your people the benefit of doubt. In your one-on-one conversation, use non-judgmental words; ask to appreciate their personal well-being and health condition in this case. Show your genuine concern and interest before passing judgment. If what they say is contradicting, point out the gap rationally, not emotionally. At the same time, be assertive. Be clear to them on the negative impacts of their actions. Show them data or facts how work productivity and team morale has affected them. Ask how they feel if they need to shoulder on extra workload constantly from their colleagues. Hold them accountable by asking feedback what they will do to improve the situation.
It sounds like a straightforward step-by-step conversation. No, it is not. It is not a checklist conversation. The art of doing it is establishing trusting relationships way before the conversation. Without trust between both of you, the conversation is heading nowhere. If you have not been building trust with your people all these while, they can quickly sense something fishy going on in the conversation. They are not going to open up to you no matter how genuine you try to be.
The conclusion is, it takes time and effort to build trust in relationships, any kind. It also takes courage to become an assertive leader. Trust building and assertiveness are complementary leadership competencies. Show it naturally in your leadership presence, anytime, anywhere, and in any situation.
In the previous posts, we talked about establishing coaching agenda, elicit self-limiting beliefs, and co-create realistic coaching plan. These are critical steps in holding a powerful coaching conversation.
DASHBOARD is the final step in A.B.C.D. coaching model. Like dashboard in automobile, it is a control panel placed in front of the driver. The instrument cluster contains steering wheel, gauges, warning lights, and navigation systems. It is up to the driver steers and controls the direction and speed of the vehicle. At the same time, he needs on-going feedback on the instruments performance. Keeping him moving forward (sometime backward), safe and sound.
Essentially, dashboard in coaching is a measuring and feedback system on coaching plan execution. It stresses accountability, an imperative building block for coaching results. It consists of hard and soft measurements. Hard measurements include quantifiable results, achievements, task, action, deadline, and other definable parameters; whereas soft measurements include emotions evaluation, performance satisfaction, motivator, de-motivator, and other state of mind appraisal.
Often, there is not enough effort done by the manager to hold the subordinate attention and leave responsibility with him to take action. There are three common reasons to this situation.
The first one is, your subordinate still engage with negative self-talk at this point. The negative energy makes him less motivated and committed to take action. So, go back to BELIEF coaching step. Connect to his emotions. Kick out the devil inside him. Shift his disempowered self-beliefs to empowered self-beliefs.
The second reason is, you lead a patchy and unstructured conversation. Both of you are lofting everywhere in the conversation. It is either both of you get carried away with the conversation and overlook the coaching agenda; or he is talking too much and you keep listening without interjection. Consequently, be mindful about getting the big picture without losing the details. It is a balancing act of snapping both satellite and helicopter views.
The third reason is, your assertiveness. This requires your personality strengths on managing progress and accountability on your subordinate. Hold him accountable for the agreed promises and actions. Being assertive does not mean you frown your eyebrow, being fierce, or raise your voice. It is simply helping him to take specific actions. Help him own up his actions for the outcomes and consequences.
To establish an assertive coaching conversation, ask yourself some of these questions:
Well, we have covered all the four coaching steps in A.B.C.D. coaching model. Remember, it takes ALIGNMENT BELIEFS CAPABILITY DASHBOARD steps in holding a powerful coaching conversation.
Coaching conversations take place almost everywhere in our daily life. It is not just an office communication skill, but also a living skill. Turning what you have learnt into action is always the best way to validate how powerful the model is. Practise these coaching steps in conversation with your subordinate, be it in a formal or informal occasion. Feel free write to me and share your coaching experience.
The next coaching step in A.B.C.D. coaching is CAPABILITY. This is a part where you collaborate and create a coaching plan together with your subordinate. In the process of doing so, you stretch his ability and strengths for performance breakthrough.
To establish a realistic coaching plan, get prepared and ask yourself some of these questions:
Ownership is the key to create a realistic coaching plan. Help him be specific on his action plans. Help him to visualise how these specific actions lead to achieving of the end results. In the conversation, help him to smell the aroma of success; experience the joyful sensation of making things happen. Help him to feel proud and excited about his own creation and achievements. Most important of all, help him hold accountable of himself for his actions and results.
Well, the job is not over yet. A successful coaching plan is a sustainable plan. DASHBOARD, the next coaching step helps you to manage progress and accountability of your subordinate’ performance. In next posting, we will explore DASHBOARD in detail.
This is the third part, continue from our previous post: Holding a Powerful Coaching Conversation. Read the post and find out how to align coaching goal to meet your subordinate expectations in a coaching conversation.
In this part, we will talk about the second coaching step. B stands for BELIEFS. It represents our intention, beliefs, values, assumptions, perceptions, self-image, and motives for our actions and behaviours. Coaching is a behavioural change effort. Changing from disempowered self-beliefs to empowered self-beliefs. Negative self-talk to positive self-talk. A shift of mindset removes the self-limiting beliefs.
Interestingly, powerful questioning alone is not good enough to generate deeper awareness for change. You need to establish trust in the conversation. Trust that creates safe and comfortable environment. A moment that allow your subordinate express his thoughts and feelings freely. To establish the trusting moment, listen to the meaning of his words, and also the emotions behind on how he says it. Acknowledge his non-verbal cues. Nod your head, enthuse, pause for response, are some of the powerful techniques on establishing trusting moment.
Certainly, you need to ask powerful questions to evoke deeper awareness for change. Typically, before the conversation, you probably plan and prepare some questions to ask him in the conversation. In my coaching experience, powerful questions are not planned. They are elicited from our genuine interest and curiosity about the person’s well being. This requires you to demonstrate an open-mind, active listening, and willing to explore the unknown without leading him where we think he should go. Above all, your non-directive approach will generate deeper buy-in and ownership from the subordinate.
Be prepared and ask yourself some of these questions:
Often, managers get little buy-in while making countless of effort convincing their subordinates on mindset change. A powerful coaching conversation that evokes deeper sense of purpose, meaning, and ownership require trusting moment and powerful questioning generate by the coach.
Stay tune. We will talk about the next coaching step, CAPABILITY in the next post.
In the previous post, we talked about Coaching begins with the end in mind. Once the coaching objective is determined, we need to communicate our objectives and expectations to the subordinates.
A.B.C.D. coaching is a systematic coaching model. Coaching steps to hold a powerful coaching conversation. They stand for ALIGNMENT BELIEFS CAPABILITY DASHBOARD. In this session, we will focus on Alignment; which is how to align your coaching goal to meet your subordinate expectations in the conversation.
Establish specific conversation goal. Mentally rehearse your conversation. A conversation started with small talk and set coaching agenda. State clearly your purpose, expectations, process, and desired outcomes.
To achieve a well-aligned coaching conversation, ask yourself some of these questions:
That’s all for the Alignment. In the next posting, we will talk about BELIEFS in A.B.C.D. coaching for managers. Stay tune!