Strength Based Development for Managers

Strengths based development is nothing new in sports coaching and development; you don’t train someone with a talent for sprinting, how to be a marathon runner. You identify what someone is good at then in the case of a sprinter you develop and coach them to get better in order to get quicker.

Yet as leaders in business, we have possibly all been managed by someone who will look at a development plan as an instrument to develop weaknesses! This flies in the face of research that shows that when you manage people who are using their strengths they will be up to 23% more productive, they are more likely to stay with the company and be true advocates for that company. If they are more productive and engaged they are less likely to be absent from work. All of these things have the potential to add to your bottom line.

If you don’t believe me, simply reflect on what percentage of your strengths you use at your work then think about what you could do at work if you used more of your strengths.

Ok, you say thats great in theory, but how do you do it?

Get to know your team

1. Use a Type indicator e.g. MBTI, DISC etc. They give an indication of how people like to communicate with the world, what energises them. They aren’t about skills you say, and you would be right, however, it will help you and your team enhance how you understand and communicate with each other, but also what gives them energy and energy at work is golddust!

2. Find out what their values are, not the companies. People are more and more looking at the purpose of their / their companies role over and above the ‘widgets’ they produce. This is especially true of Gen Y and they are if they are not already the future of your company. Help them link their values to working in your team.

3. Get everyone to do a SWOT analysis and do one for the team. Strengths, Weaknesses (what they are not good at but can do) Opportunities (strengths they haven’t as yet been able to utlise in the team) Threats (things they don’t like doing, arent that great at doing and developing these skills will be a waste of everybodies time)

4. Development plans – Concentrate on developing Strengths and Opportunities. Only develop anything under the other two headings if they are crucial to the role.

5. If you can allocate work according to strengths then do so in a fair way.

6. Review, reflect,give and receive feedback on a regular basis about how it is working.

It would be great to hear your thoughts on Strength based development, so feel free to comment.

Hope you have a fantastic weekend

Finally, as a tradition on my site I like to add a TED video.

Simon Sinek has a simple but powerful model for inspirational leadership all starting with a golden circle and the question “Why?”  His examples include Apple, Martin Luther King, and the Wright brothers

If you hire people just because they can do a job, they’ll work for your money. But if you hire people who believe what you believe, they’ll work for you with blood and sweat and tears.” (Simon Sinek)

It’s not about the coach

 

When running and observing coaching sessions I am asked ‘what would make me a better coach?’. In the majority of the situations I give the feedback… listen more, use silence more and stop asking leading questions which lead to the coach giving advice.

This usually happens as the coach is a leader or manager and they have an agenda, genuinely want to help or dare I say it… let their ego get in the way

Direct or Push style coaching can be useful if the coachee is inexperienced, however too much use of this style can result in:

  • Coach becoming a ‘knowledge crutch’ for the coachee; with the coach / manager being continually asked for advice when the coachee encounters challenges
  • If the advice doesn’t work out the coachee can blame the advice rather than the way it was put into practice
  • As coaches we cannot know all the answers so it puts pressure on us to be the expert

So to increase the effectiveness of your coaching try a few things

 

  • 70 / 30 or 80 /20 percentage of the coachee talking
  • Hold back on suggestions unless the coachee asks you directly for them
  • The coachee tends to have lots of ideas on how to improve, take time to explore these so they have a plan b or c if the plan a doesn’t work out
  • The coachee may have a reflective personality so let them think in silence, dont assume that you need to ask another question or offer an answer
  • Let them take responsibility, replace ‘we’ with ‘you’ e.g. what can you do to….?
  • If asked for feedback, reverse the question and ask them what they thought of their performance
  • At suitable stages in the session get the coachee to summarise the points coverred rather than you do it.

 

To identify what your style of coaching is, have a look at the coaching spectrum below and note down the techniques you currently use. Try using some of techniques you dont use when applicable.

 

 

If you have any questions or want to share your thoughts on coaching, feel free to use the comment box below.

 

 

Motivation in the workplace

Traditionally, many managers use the carrot and stick motivational techniques

‘do better or I’ll get someone else’

‘sell / do more and you’ll make a bonus’

Research has shown that incentive type rewards will only work in ‘mechanical’ type jobs as soon as rudimentry cognative processes are required monetary rewards actually get in the way.

If you want to help motivate people then you need to find out what really motivates them outwith monetary reward or benefits. Hetzberg referred to them as satisfiers.

So when you are having 1:1’s or team days take time to ask your team what these are and ask them about how you can help bring these into their work life.

Or if you are de-motivated at the moment do the exercise yourself and talk to your boss about how you can do this.

For a slightly different slant on motivation

Career analyst Dan Pink examines the puzzle of motivation, starting with a fact that social scientists know but most managers don’t: Traditional rewards aren’t always as effective as we think. Listen for illuminating stories — and maybe, a way forward.

For apple users (or if you fancy a change from the normal TED presentation) who can’t see TED videos on my blog try here on youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u6XAPnuFjJc

Let me know your thoughts on motivation, hope you have a great weekend 

 

Top 10 characteristics in a great boss?

I have been lucky enough to have some great managers in the last 21 years and I thought that I would capture what made them great bosses in a top 10, because by understanding what makes a great leader for me will ultimately help me be a better leader.

1. Took the time to get to know me and my motivations and aspirations and linked these to work I was asked to do

2. Treated people in the orgainisation as peers; everybodies job was important and contributed to the success as a whole from cleaners to CEO’s

3. Set down clear expectation around my role and targets and then gave me the autonomy and trust to go and do it, however, they were there if I needed support

4. Introduced me to their network. They always looked to work across departments in a collaborative way rather than view them as competition.

5. Encouraged discussion, feedback and new ideas

6. Forgive and forget – if I made a geniune mistake I received support to fix it and it was never cast up again.

7. They had my back and had little toleration for disfunctional behaviour against a member of their team

8. Encouraged me to develop myself

9. Helped me see the positive in situations and the value of positive thought in life

10. Let me know the big picture and what was my part in it

How do you rate yourself against this top 10?

What would you add to this list?

What would you take out?

I would love to hear your comments, hope you have a great day

Rework your development

I love reading books that inspire me and my most recent is rework. This book is aimed at businesses, however I wanted to write about how some of the controversial ideas could be adapted for your leadership development

The book has essentially 7 chapters (I am only going to look at a few in this post)

  1. Ignore the real world
  2. Planning is guessing
  3. Start making something
  4. Embrace constraints
  5. Make tiny decisions
  6. Underdo your competition
  7. Build an audience

Ignore the real world

Many of us unfortunately work in enviroments where the atmosphere is less than positive and new ideas are greeted with ‘that wont work in the real world’, however, if you look at the truly innovative ideas and products of the last 20 years they probably met with the same response.

Routine will severley damage you as a creative, thought leader. If you make the same noises at work as everyone else then be prepared to be seen as part of the group not a leader and individual

Planning is guessing

Now the book controversially advises against long term business plan and as a executive coach you may be surprised that I kind of agree when it comes to development. I have met people that have 5 year plans and that works out for them but it isn’t for everyone.

To test the theory ask yourself, am I where I wanted to be after the last 5 years? Has the business stuck to its long term plan?

Have a Vision of where you want to be eventually, however concentrate on what needs to be done now take action to meet to immediate needs, stay flexible so that you are open to unexpected opportunities.

We all change as people as we get older we should acknowledge this and change our plan as appropriate.

Start making something

Leaders hate problems and love solutions… so if your call to arms to change something in the workplace falls on deaf ears it is because you aren’t presenting solutions.

Start making the solution, this could be a short presentation, run a pilot using your ideas, putting an unofficial mentoring programme in place etc.

Then when you have the facts and can show success then people will be more open to your ideas. I am always amazed when there is a success then people start talking about how they were involved, when they weren’t that interested in the first place.

Embrace Constraints

Learning& development budgets are currently been slashed in spite of recent research showing that companies that spend on development have better productivity, but rather than dwell on this it is time to be more creative.

Development that costs nothing but a little time

  • Coaching, mentoring and shadowing – eitheir ask for it or put yourself forward to help other people
  • Challenge people to get involved in projects outwith their job role
  • Introduce ‘stretch’ concept into 1:1’s, talk about the added value you bring or challenge people to bring added value to their role
  • Access to the internet – you be amazed how much free stuff is on here e.g. follow a leadership blog! ;)
  • Give groups of employees time to work on anything apart from their existing role to come up with ideas that will increase efficiency, productivity,reduce costs,increase employee engagement etc (it worked at google)

Make Tiny Decisions

Sometimes wholesale change in your life can be overwhelming and it allows our inner critic to step in an scupper our motivation. Also if things go wrong on what you see as a massive goal it can become a source of embarassment, the critics in our reality have won.

So, make small changes in your life and stick to them and once it has become the norm add another before long you will have made a massive change.

Another tip is not to talk to much about the changes as it may lessen the energy of the idea, just keep doing it and you will start to hear people commenting on your positive change.

You can find more on rework here (I am in no way related to the authors or publishers, I just liked the book)

http://changethis.com/manifesto/68.01.37Signals/pdf/68.01.37Signals.pdf

http://www.amazon.co.uk/ReWork-Change-Way-Work-Forever/dp/0091929784

Please let me know what you think for or against this book

If your are thinking about buying a new book, here is a link to someone who read 200 and his thoughts.

http://inoveryourhead.net/lessons-i-learned-reading-over-200-books/

Sunday Reflections

I always find sunday’s are good for reflection which I believe is an important part of being a leader as it allows us to take stock before we move on.

The above Modified Aristotle Bancale Venn Diagram By Dorothy Shapland was posted on Toforius facebook page. Wonderred what you thought?

 

Tofurious has a great facebook page and blog. He is a photographer however there is alot of business crossover and he is very knowledgable about using social media

http://www.tofurious.com/blog/

Dorothy’s blog

http://askmsdorothy.blogspot.co.uk/2011/09/reflecting-on-what-i-do.html

Hope your weekend is going well

Raising your profile with Social Media

In these tough economic times we need to use every advantage we can get to raise  our profiles whether we are a business or employed, however when networking the traditional way I have noticed that many people are not using social media to raise their brand awareness…professional or business

When I meet leaders I always have a look at their Linkedin profile, website and if they have a blog because 1. I am genuiely interested in people and what they do 2. If / when I meet them again I can have a more informed chat with them 3. Steve Jobs always reccommended looking outside your own industry for inspiration 4. I am nosey!

Some trends have struck me

  • Linkedin – No photo or sometimes worse a horrendous one (I am a photographer as well, so I always unintentionally critique photos),or the profile hasn’t been updated in ages with what they are doing, skills, description, no recommendation’s etc. A Linkedin profile is like a CV – one that the world can see!
  • Websites – They take too long to load (you have between 3 – 5 secs before someone will give up on your website). Bland, uninteresting or hard to navigate. If you had trouble getting into a store and couldn’t find anything, would you go back? Lack of pictures, I am a visual learner so pictures are a must for me
  • No Blog – If your website is your virtual market place, then your blog is the voice of your business. People buy from People… always. Your blog gives you a virtual personality.
  • Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest etc People tell me I don’t have time for all these, well if you set up your blog correctly it will update some of these automatically. Imagine for a moment that most people on Facebook have between 20 – 500 ‘friends’ if they like your facebook post then think how many people that could reach. It costs nothing, but a little time

If you are currently employed you maybe thinking, I don’t have a business, this doesn’t affect me, well something to consider is

  • Most recruiters will search on the web for applicants, if a recruiter searched for you what would they find…
  • Research has shown that potential recruiters are actually suspicious of people who don’t have a web identity
  • How safe are anyone’s job these days, it better to be ahead of the competition

As part of a stand alone package or as part of a coaching package I will help you increase and enhance your social media profile; please see my page http://mcdougalldevelopment.com/social-media-raising-your-professional-business-brand/

email me at mcdougallmartin@aol.com

Still need convincing watch this youtube video

http://youtu.be/1aconjR6uH4

Oh in the spirit of this post, please feel free to contact me on Linkedin, Like my Facebook page at the bottom of the home page, tweet, wordpress – like / press this or share in any other way! ;)

Linkedin hints & tips

http://www.informationweek.com/thebrainyard/news/social_networking_consumer/231900330

Let me know what you think about using social media

The Sisyphus Trap

‘In Greek mythology was a king punished by being compelled to roll an immense boulder up a hill, only to watch it roll back down, and to repeat this throughout eternity.’

‘In experiments that test how workers respond when the meaning of their task is diminished, the test condition is referred to as the Sisyphusian condition. The two main conclusions of the experiment are that people work harder when their work seems more meaningful, and that people underestimate the relationship between meaning and motivation’

Sometimes as individuals and leaders we fall into this trap, we tried to change things and it didn’t work, this caused us to be fearful so we resolved not to let that happen again and took the safe route. We make compromises with our values, we start saying things like ‘another day another dollar’ (or equivalent currency), ‘I wish I had a job that I enjoyed’

I wish means: wouldn’t it be nice if … If you always make the right decision, the safe decision, the one most people make, you will be the same as everyone else. Always wishing life was different. (just like Sisphus) Paul Arden

In fact our brain is hardwired to seek stability and not change as it takes more energy to build new synapsis that are required to retain new information and ways of doing things. Don’t believe me, then think back to when you had to study some new process or qualification, did you feel tired?

To start avoiding the Sisyphus Trap you need to consider

Values & Beliefs Attitude Behaviour

Your values and beliefs influence your attitude and these manifests in your behaviour to yourself and others. When you compromise these too much your attitude will become less positive and this will affect your behaviour.

So step 1 is for you to identify your values e.g. honesty, being creative, team player, recognition, autonomy etc.

Then look at how many you have given up in your current work / home environment. Then plan how you can start to overcome barriers to being ‘valued’ in your life and work. Start with small steps e.g. talking with your boss about other opportunities to be more creative or greater autonomy. When you start planning solutions on how to create links from what you do to your values, you will notice your attitude and behaviour will start to change.

If you are a leader and you notice that your teams attitude, behaviour and motivation is not where it should be then it maybe down to their values being overly compromised. Find out their individual values and help them to see links to what they do. I have run a values exercise with leadership teams many times and it is amazing what sharing values in a safe environment can do.

Summary to escape the Sisyphus Trap

  1. Re-identify your values
  2. Make a plan to connect your values to what you do and take action
  3. Bring meaning and purpose back into what you do in your life through your values
  4. Recognise and appreciate that people’s values are different
  5. Be tenacious and recognise the successes you make

Please use the comment box if you have any questions or have experience of this happening in your working world.

If you would like to talk to me about coaching or team development please contact me at mcdougallmartin@aol.com

It’s Better to Regret What You Have Done Than What You Haven’t

I wanted to leave you with this great Ted video

Tony Robbins discusses the “invisible forces” that motivate everyone’s actions

Important Numbers in Life – the clock is ticking

 

29500 Average life span in days of a woman in the western world

26500 Average life span in days of a man in the western world

100,000 estimated hours you will work in your lifetime

Now some people will argue with my math, however, in this instance my grasp of figures doesn’t need to be perfect, so whats my point?

29500 & 26500 where are you on that scale? life is short and the only certainities in life are death and taxes as Daniel Defoe eluded to.

So what are your goals? Life & work? the clock is ticking… right down 3 that you haven’t achieved and want to.

Now pick the most important to you.

Now your probably saying yes, but… I can do that when I retire, I have a family to support etc

Have a look at this article about top 5 regrets taken from Bronnie Ware who worked in palitive care http://www.inspirationandchai.com/Regrets-of-the-Dying.html

Makes you think…

You don’t have time for regrets, we have all made the best decisions we could, at the time, either that or we wouldn’t have made that decision. Let go and move on

What I am not saying is give everything up this instant, what I am asking is for you to consider is how you can make changes in your life to help you achieve your goals.

So ask yourself; what is the reality of your situation, opportunities,challenges, current skills, desire to attain these goals?

How do you enchance the pro’s and mitigate the con’s?

So what can you do about it? what are your options for taking things forward? Which is best for you now?

Ok, what are you going to do first, how can you plan the steps you need to take, to stop it being overwhelming? How do you know your getting there? What is it going to feel like when you reach each step and ultimately you end goal?

Be honest with yourself, whats stopping you?

Finally, thinking about 100,000, its a hell a long time to do something that you hate doing but it will go in the blink of an eye if you enjoy or do I say it love your job!

Congratulations… (not just for reading as far as this in my blog!)… If you have answerred the questions above, then you have had a short coaching session with yourself. If you would be interested in knowing more about coaching please contact me at mcdougallmartin@aol.com

I know January is nearly finished and so will many resolutions, however if you read through this article and you want to tackle your career here is 5 things you might want to think abouthttp://www.linkedin.com/share?viewLink=&sid=s842636350&url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww%2Eforbes%2Ecom%2Fsites%2Fdanschawbel%2F2012%2F01%2F23%2F89-of-new-hires-fail-because-of-their-attitude%2F&urlhash=Cb_j&pk=nprofile-view-success&pp=1&poster=54966038&uid=5567707556568104960&trk=NUS_UNIU_SHARE-title

photo credit <p><a href=”http://www.freedigitalphotos.net/images/view_photog.php?photogid=1526″>Image: Paul / FreeDigitalPhotos.net</a></p>