Manager Coaching Skills : Action Plans

actionjamolukpixabayCoaching meetings succeed when there is meaningful follow-through. Within a coaching meeting, you create a place of safety, focus and transparency. When your team member re-enters their everyday work life, structure and support are needed for results to manifest. An action plan is one way of providing that structure and support.

Action plans should suit the individual situation and be a formal agreement on how your team member will move forward on the items discussed in the coaching meeting. Goals and outcomes should be created collaboratively and fully agreed to by your team member. If there is a disciplinary or low performance issue involved, agreement is needed with the team member that they understand stretching their performance is necessary and the action plan gives them the opportunity to do so. Check-in meetings should be scheduled. As coach, you hold the goals and outcomes at all times. It’s best to not let time slip away, causing missed goals and outcomes.

When individual goals and outcomes are reached, acknowledgement and positive feedback should be given. Formal “closure” should be made when the action plan is completed. In the event of non-performance on the action plan, you can decide next steps.

Action plans are a great tool for clearly setting expectations, encouraging team members to grow and creating movement. Let action plans help fuel the development of your team.


photo: jamoluk,

Manager Coaching Skills: Encouragement

ID-10060465Encouragement is a powerful element of coaching your team. Encouragement can be employed in a variety of ways: to lift a discouraged team member, to motivate, to get a difficult message across, to build confidence or to give support or advice.

Encouragement is not a once-in-awhile thing. It should be used regularly, but not disingenuously. It can be provided one-on-one or in the presence of others. It may be in the form of words, gifts or notable mention in a document or e mail. True encouragement requires attention, emotional intelligence, empathy and observation.

Without encouragement, your team can wither. With encouragement, your team is lifted up, what you value is made known and collaboration is enhanced.


photo: digitalart,

Manager Coaching Skills: Naming It

ID-100125070So many coaching skills involve allowing the person you are coaching to make their own discoveries and reach their own conclusions. It is important to stand back and listen, to allow coaching to progress organically and to keep your biases out of the conversation. However, the success of your coaching depends on keeping things moving.

At times, you may see that something is happening that is sabotaging or delaying the progress of the coaching. You come to the conclusion that you have to “name” what is happening. This takes skill and sensitivity. Say that someone you are coaching is playing a game with you or with themselves, either consciously or unconsciously. Examples may be that they frequently try to change the focus of conversations, use their emotions to disrupt the flow of your meetings or are fooling or are deceiving themselves in some way.

“Naming it” is a tightrope walk – being able to address something but still assuring the safety and effectiveness of the coaching space. One way to walk this tightrope is to direct your questions towards the issue and lead the person to seeing what is happening. Another is to employ your emotional intelligence and bring the issue out in the open. It may take practice, but developing the skill of “naming it” will pay off by allowing you to overcome barriers and to progress in a positive manner with your coaching.


photo: renjith krishnan,

70% Of American Workers Are Not Engaged In Their Work – What Managers Can Do To Change This

Gallup’s 2013 State of The American Workplace report is out and states that only 30% of workers are engaged in their work. Gallup estimates that active disengagement costs the U.S. $450 billion to $550 billion per year. Some other findings in the report:

• The generations at the beginning and approaching the end of their careers tend to be more engaged than those in the middle of their careers

• Millennials are most likely of all generations to say they will leave their jobs in the next 12 months, if the job market improves.

• Women have slightly higher overall engagement than men.

• Employees with a college degree are not as likely as those with less education to report having a positive, engaging workplace experience.

So how are managers to deal with this? Gallup says it has found that managers who focus on their employees’ strengths can practically eliminate active disengagement and double the average of U.S. workers who are engaged nationwide. That’s a lot of pressure to put on managers, but focusing on employee strengths is a start.

This finding is so compelling that it is worthwhile to take a look at your team’s level of engagement in their work. Could increasing their engagement significantly increase productivity?

Here are a few ways to assess your team’s level of engagement:

• In a team meeting tell them about the findings of the report and create an open space for their thoughts about it.

• Ask them what your organization can do to increase their engagement and what the biggest obstacles are to their engagement. Let them discuss in third person so that their individual experiences are not focused on, unless they want them to be.

• Create your own assessment tool through a survey or other means

• Build engagement into performance measures in a positive manner, having the organization share in accountability for employee engagement.

• Keep employee engagement on your radar and actively support it.


photo: David Castillo Dominici,

Sluggish? – 10 Ways to Get The Energy Going Again

There are going to be times when managers and teams lose momentum and drive. Here are 10 ways to revive your energy:

1. Take a group break – have lunch together with no discussions about work

2. Hold a meeting outside of your offices to create a change of scene

3. Stretch or exercise before the end of the day

4. Take a short break from your computer every hour

5. Do something else for awhile, then return to what you were doing

6. Listen to upbeat music that you enjoy, either while you work or during a break

7. Do a deep breathing exercise or meditate

8. Take a power nap, if you have the opportunity

9. Do something creative-brainstorm a topic you enjoy, draw something, daydream

10. Determine if something specific is draining your energy and eliminate it



Please Fire Me

I came across an interesting website – Please Fire Me. Have you ever found yourself wishing that? One of the shirts for sale on the website says “Please Fire Me-My Soul Is Dying”. My wish is that you never feel that way.

If you could say to your organization, “Please Fire Me” with no negative consequences resulting from leaving, would you ask the question? If your answer is yes, it’s worth examining. No job is worth the sapping of your happiness, spirit or motivation. If that is happening, assure yourself that you have choice in every situation. Your choices may take some time to realize, but get started. Being unhappy in your job is a dead end.

You never know, your positive choices could lead to great results as you turn “Please Fire Me” into “Pinch Me, I Never Knew It Could Be This Good.”


Do You Rest?

Our speeding world does not preclude rest, it demands it. Someone said to me that the world          is speeding up to such an extent, that it forces us to find the still point at the center of the storm. How do you rest? Do you crash when you can go no further? Do you schedule time to rest? Have you created a flow between rest and activity? As a manager, rest is an asset, not a distraction. Rest refuels you to go out there again. Rest creates space for creativity and fun and rejuvenation. You are not a machine. Rest, and you will be a better manager.



The Tactic of Dispensability

Much too often, I hear from managers that they are in an organization that is working them to death and, at the same time, communicating that they are dispensable. There’s a major disjoint in this. An organization is asking more of a manager, often way beyond reason, and at the same time is refusing to recognize the extra (and often extraordinary) contributions the manager is making. The dispensability message may be subtle, but is heard clearly by managers and employees. No additional income, no recognition, “bottom line” justifications, more time, less resources, we can find someone else if you cannot do it – a recipe for burnout and frustration. The tactic is weighted significantly in the favor of the organization, at the expense of their employees. Something is radically wrong here.

Are you in a situation like this? Best to evaluate the toll it is taking on you and what your options are. Save yourself. There may be no one else watching out for you. Be confident of your value, set boundaries and don’t let anyone run you into the ground. You are worthy of more than this.


Managers Satisfied

An important step to career satisfaction is to know that satisfaction is possible. Once you know this, it is worthwhile to start exploring. Exploring can be anything you want it to be: seeing what options are out there for you, asking yourself if the work you are doing is what you want to be doing, investigating possibilities or taking some time to dream and see what shows up.

Managers deal with a lot of stress and ups and downs. Sometimes, in the midst of it all, you can forget that career fulfillment is possible. Not only is it possible, but it is waiting for you. You deserve to be a manager satisfied.


Two Managers Heard in Starbucks: Leadership Not Evident

Last week, I stopped into Starbucks for about a half hour while in-between meetings. I settled in near two managers working on their laptops, talking on their cells and communicating with each other. It was clear they worked for the same company and interacted in their work. They seemed rather regular for managers, until one of them got a phone call from a subordinate. Hearing the manager’s end of the conversation, I found him to be dismissive and disrespectful to his subordinate. After the call, he said to the other manager (who appeared to be at a higher level of their organization), “Did you hear that call? ” It would have been hard not to, as his voice was raised during the call, as if he wanted others to hear. He then proceeded to criticize and disparage the person he had been talking to, smiling and appearing to think he was building camaraderie with the other manager. To me, he looked small.

It made me pause, witnessing the disrespect shown by the manager and the use of that disrespect of a subordinate to bond, or look superior, with the other manager.

Leading demands respectful treatment of each individual you work with; especially when interacting in view of others in an organization. Using someone to make yourself feel better, just doesn’t fit. Get over it.

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