Coaching without trust

Professor Stephen R. Covey

Stephen R. Covey

Ever try to coach someone who didn’t trust you? How far did that get? How about when someone you didn’t trust tried to coach you? Felt awful right?

As Stephen Covey says “Trust is the glue of life. It’s the most essential ingredient in effective communication. It’s the founding principle that holds all relationships.”

When I think about a person who I trust at work, I think about my colleague Michael who I had the pleasure of working with in the same department, leading different divisions of products for 7 long years.

Here are the reasons why I trust him and why anybody who works with you would trust you: Continue reading

How to have the “ugly” performance conversation

Do you remember something called the ‘Bell Curve’ from your school days? When applied to work performance, it basically means that most people (68%) are in the middle and have average quality of work while 16% are high performers and naturally the other 16% are low performers.

“We fire all our low 16%” laughingly said a friend who owns a successful mid sized company. I knew what he meant because some work cultures have little resources to waste on investing in low performers to get them to become average. Don’t you wish you worked for him?

I’ve long been singing the praises of the use of coaching skills to develop leaders such as intentional listening, questioning and acknowledging skills but what do we use for those average and low performers?

In my workshops, I teach managers about a tool called DIRECT (a pretty acronym for an ugly conversation). DIRECT is used in performance management conversations where an expectation is not being met and needs to change. Continue reading

Is there such a thing as a “bad question”?

Circle-no-questions

Image via Wikipedia

In my world, YES. Within the context of being a “coach manager” (someone who not only allows others to come up with the solutions but actually facilitates others in creating the solution) you can actually do more harm than good if you ask a bad question.

What’s a bad question?

In one lunch and learn about this topic, when I asked the audience of managers “what question do you generally ask your staff?” one woman proudly said “I ask them if they understand what I want them to do and have them repeat it back to me.” I cringed deep inside because clearly I had my work cut out for me in explaining what type of question would allow her staff to excel and develop.

Imagine riding in a convertible car. You can feel the rain on your face or the sunshine if you’re lucky. You can let the wind play with your hair (if you have enough of it) and smell the skunk that just went by. This is what asking a good question, an open-ended question feels like. It lets in data and feelings that a closed ended (a regular car in the above analogy for those who haven’t had their cereal this morning) would never grant you access to. Continue reading