Coasting can be a good thing to do at times. Other times, it may not be. There are right times for coasting: to give yourself a breather, when demands on you are lighter or when you’re on a roll and moving forward requires less effort than usual. Coasting can be harmful, however, when you have someplace to go and are slowing yourself down, when your motivation is low or when you are lost.
The downsides of coasting when you have someplace to go are that you are not getting where you want to be, your resistance can build and you can start falling behind.
Let yourself coast when it makes sense. Otherwise, keep your momentum and focus going so that you can get where you want to be.
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It is a common phrase to say one is going back to the grind of their work. For me, the phrase infers that one is going back to low level, repetitive work that is not terribly exciting. Going back to the grind is okay every once in awhile, but not as an every day thing. Your work as a manager should be challenging, diverse, collaborative, motivating, sometimes frustrating and inspiring. If it is not, it is worth some reflection on what is happening.
Is your work fulfilling or is it a grind? If it is a grind, what are the elements of your work that make it so? Have you lost your enthusiasm for what you do? Sure, on projects there are always periods of hard work that can be a grind, but they should be short ones, leading somewhere, with a good end in sight.
If your work has become a grind, do something to wake it up. Examine your own contribution to making it a grind, as well as your organization’s. Life is too short to do lackluster work. It will wear you down and deprive the world of your unique gifts.
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Encouragement 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.
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All careers have a flow to them. Careers go through phases, as well as ups and downs. Sometimes, without your realizing it, your career can start to fade. By fading, I mean that your career starts losing momentum. There can be any number of reasons for careers fading: a decline in motivation, a person or situation presenting an obstacle, complacency, bewilderment, lack of interest, blindness, not knowing what to do to change a situation or fear.
What is the state of your career today? Is it bright and promising? Or is it beginning to fade? Do you need to pay some attention to your career, so that it maintains its momentum and employs all that you have to offer? Fading is dull and boring. Keep your career vital and you’ll find yourself fulfilled.
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Do enthusiasm and work go together? They should! Enthusiasm is defined as: intense and eager enjoyment, interest, or approval. You can lose your enthusiasm or you can maintain it – it’s up to you. Perhaps you rarely feel enthusiasm for your work. If that is the case, take another look – what has happened? Did you start your career with a perception that work is drudgery? Did something dampen your enthusiasm? Is what you are doing each day not in alignment with your likes or interests?
If you have enthusiasm for your work, kudos to you! You put a lot into your work each day and enthusiasm assures your engagement and motivation. You deserve to be Working Happy!
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It is challenging for change to occur without motivation. As you set your goals for coaching a team member, think about their level of motivation as they come into the coaching relationship. Are they motivated? Demotivated? What is their level of self-confidence in their skills and ability to perform? Determining this will inform your coaching strategy, as well as your initial expectations for the success of the coaching.
Motivation is often an inside job. However, you can still provide incentives that are intended to motivate. To develop the incentives, look back on your experience with the team member and what you think will motivate them. Engage the team member around the subject of motivation by including them in setting up the goals and approach for your coaching relationship and asking them directly what motivates or demotivates them.
Examples of motivating approaches that are a win-win for you and your team member include: training or another type of skill and confidence development, praise for work well done (past or present), bonuses for results and expressing your confidence in their ability to meet the goals of your coaching.
Without assessing motivation, there’s a chance that the coaching will stall before you start. Recognizing the importance of motivation provides a significant advantage to you and your team member.
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Motivating yourself and your team is a huge part of managing. Often, organizations offer uniform rewards, incentives or money as motivators for a job well done. That works some of the time. But the key factor here is that sustained motivation comes from within.
How does that affect your role as a manager? One thing it does is to cause you to look at your and your team’s intrinsic motivations. What motivates you? Do you know what motivates your team members?
It is worth the effort to find ways to motivate each team member individually and to know what drives your and their performance. There is no reason for organizations to look at incentives as “one size fits all”. Motivation is an inside job and the best and most productive organizations know this.
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It is useful, every now and then, to pause and take a look at your motivations and perspective. Whose expectations are you meeting? Yours? The expectations of your organization? The expectations of your parents or other past or present authority figures? Imagined ones?
It is not solely about the expectations others have of you. What’s important is to know whose expectations matter for your performance, consider them, and decide for yourself what you will give weight to.
The expectations that serve you best are the ones you choose. What expectations guide your managing?
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How do you engage your team? Sure, they get a paycheck. But, what ensures that they fully participate, bring their best to their work and continuously improve their skills for the best possible outcomes?
Have you determined what motivates individuals on your team? That is a key to their engagement. It is not one size fits all. You can observe their behavior, or ask them directly, in order to find out. An engaged team makes managing easier, all around.
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Once you are in a coaching relationship with someone, your understanding of his or her motivations, emotions, personality traits, and communication style becomes a factor in your ability to coach productively. One coaching method that allows you to gain this deeper understanding is to practice the skill of exploring.
There are many ways to explore: asking questions (see previous post on Asking Powerful Questions), listening carefully to what they are saying or getting to know more about what interests them. Often, as a coach, you are looking to unlock underlying attitudes or perceptions that are “driving” the person’s behavior or performance. Exploring is often indirect and not necessarily something that you highlight. It is a way to gain insights about the person so that you can improve the effectiveness of your coaching and, hopefully, allow the person to gain insights of his or her own. Sometimes, directly questioning a person regarding emotions or motivations, for example, can disrupt the coaching process by creating a subtly uncertain or threatening environment for the person being coached. The person may not understand their underlying emotions or motivations or they may feel you are going to too “personal” a level. By being indirect and not going straight to the point, you receive the insights and retain a safe space for the coaching (the subject of a future post-stay tuned).
Managing people is about so much more than surface appearances or actions. Using the skill of exploring within your coaching relationships allows you to go below the surface and to find root causes of behaviors, thus leading to a deeper understanding of the person and greater opportunities for change.