Category Archives: coaching

Now what?

You’ve hired good people, set goals, helped them identify development opportunities, scheduled and held performance reviews, managed workloads, and overall avoided the “bad manager” actions Dee Anne described. What else do you need to do to build organizational talent and help your people succeed? Give them feedback on how they are doing!

In his white paper, The Hard Truth About Effective Performance Management, Marc Effron highlights the evidence that on-going coaching and feedback is a requirement for effective performance management. To truly help people improve their performance, coaching must be focused and delivered regularly. To help busy managers coach effectively Effron recommends a process called 2 + 2 Coaching. It has four steps:

  1. Have a dedicated coaching conversation once a quarter.
  2. Schedule it for 15 minutes.
  3. Provide two comments to the employee on their progress towards their goals.
  4. Provide two comments to the employee on what they could do more or less of in the future to be more effective.

Clear and direct feedback has been shown to be a crucial element for high performance and goal attainment. Clearly you will be working with your people to solve problems, develop ideas, complete projects and other on-going tasks. However, carving out time for dedicated coaching and feedback on goals will help you effectively develop and build organizational talent and increase the performance of your people and your team.

Todd Thorsgaard

 

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Let someone else decide?

youdecideOne of the best decisions a leader can make is to decide to let others make decisions and to create a decision-maker culture. That is what Dennis Bakke recommends in his book, The Decision Maker: Unlock the Potential of Everyone in Your Organization, One Decision at a Time.

As a leader, you are ultimately accountable for how decisions turn out. That can cause many people to hold tightly to their decision-making authority. Instead Bakke reminds us that sharing decision-making responsibility actually can lead to better decisions, more employee engagement, develops employees expertise and supports professional development. To help leaders identify the best person, or group, to make different decisions Bakke describes a formal “decision-maker process.” Use the following four elements to guide your selection:

  1. Proximity – how close to the situation is the person and can they also see the big picture?
  2. Perspective – can the person bring a different point of view or utilize multiple points of view?
  3. Experience – does the person have enough experience in the situation to be able to actually make a decision?
  4. Wisdom – will you and others trust their decision?

From my experience, when a leader asks me to make a decision it can feel overwhelming and I may feel like I need to prove my worth by making the decision all on my own! If your people react in the same way sharing decision-making can actually backfire. To help address this issue Bakke encourages leaders to coach their people on how to seek out and take advice when making a decision. He also defines good advice as coming from people who have:

  • Experience – they know or understand the situation.
  • Different positions in the organization – they can provide multiple and diverse perspectives.
  • Responsibility – they have an actual connection to the situation and the decision or outcome.
  • Ownership – they will back up their advice and the ultimate decision.

It can be scary to relinquish decision-making responsibility but it is a risk worth taking!

Todd Thorsgaard

 

Each one, reach one

 Best of 2015, first published on May 4, 2015
I spent most of the weekend shopping to get that “perfect” gift for friends, family, and co-workers. It’s the holiday season. The season where many of us are expressing our appreciation and care for friends and family through gift giving. It made me reflect that one of the most perfect gifts we can give another person is to be a mentor and provide a listening ear and sound advice. Is there someone in your workplace who could benefit from your mentoring? I challenge you to add just one more gift to your giving list this season – the gift of mentoring.
–Anita Rios

mentor 2“Mentoring brings us together – across generation, class, and often race – in a manner that forces us to acknowledge our interdependence, to appreciate, in Martin Luther King, Jr.’s words, that ‘we are caught in an inescapable  network of mutuality, tied to a single garment of destiny.’ In this way, mentoring enables us to participate in the essential but unfinished drama of reinventing community, while reaffirming that there is an important role for each of us in it.” – Marc Freedman

Over the last couple weeks, I’ve been involved in several conversations about the value of mentoring in helping underrepresented faculty, staff, and students feel included and welcome in our campus communities. Not surprisingly, good mentoring helps ALL employees feel supported and valued and promotes their success. I was reminded of this very fact when I met with my mentor last week to discuss recent challenges I’ve faced in my work and strategies for moving forward. Not only did I walk away from that meeting with better perspective and some concrete next steps I could take, but I left feeling more supported and valued.

In talking with colleagues, I’ve been able to identify some successful mentoring efforts happening at a few of our colleges, like a faculty mentoring program or teaching circles that help new faculty build relationships while learning from each other. Or a buddy program that pairs new employees with experienced employees to help introduce them to the campus, its culture, and people they should know.

Most colleagues, however, talked about the challenges of starting and maintaining mentoring programs.  Colleagues who have started formal matched mentoring programs, experience about a 50% or lower success rate, in terms of mentors-mentee pairs who continue to meet and find value from the relationship over time. Probably more troubling, was a colleague who mentioned that with his campus mentoring program there are far more people who want to be mentored, than there are those who are willing to be mentors.

It made me think about what would happen if we began fostering a mentoring culture on our campuses. Much like the “each one, teach one” literacy campaigns around the nation to help k-12 students, why couldn’t we begin an “each one, reach one” campaign, where every employee reaches out to mentor someone else?

Perhaps this is a pie in the sky idea. But given the benefits that could result from mentoring, like making all faculty, staff, and students feel included and welcomed, and supporting their success, wouldn’t it be worth a try?

Anita Rios

Playing to your people’s strengths, part 1

strengthsfinderOne of the keys to driving high performance is understanding and leveraging the strengths of people on your team. As leaders, this means we need to 1) know what the strengths are, and 2) provide opportunities for people to  use them. This post will focus on the first step, identifying strengths.

You may be familiar with Gallup’s StrengthsFinder assessment. This is a useful tool for individuals and teams to identify and support the things that we each do best.  Another list of strengths was developed by leaders in the positive psychology profession. It includes:

  1. Strengths of wisdom and knowledge such as creativity, curiosity, and perspective
  2. Strengths of courage such as persistence and integrity
  3. Strengths of humanity such as kindness and social intelligence
  4. Strengths of justice such as citizenship and leadership
  5. Strengths of temperance such as forgiveness and humility
  6. Strengths of transcendence such as gratitude and humor

These are powerful words. With our stereotypical Minnesota modesty, you may find yourself or someone you are coaching is reluctant to claim them. Here are some signs to help people identify their strengths:

  • Authenticity:  Does it feel like “the real me?”
  • Engagement:  Am I excited to use this strength, and to learn more about it?
  • Rapid learning: Does it come easily to me? Am I frequently learning new ways to display the strength?
  • Inevitability:  Do I frequently find myself in situations where I need to use this strength? Can I “not help myself?”
  • Energy:  Does using this strength recharge me rather than lead to exhaustion?
  • Intrinsic motivation:  Is an opportunity to use the strength its own reward?

Think about your team’s successes over the past year. What did it look like when you saw people using their strengths?

Dee Anne Bonebright

Each one, reach one

mentor 2“Mentoring brings us together – across generation, class, and often race – in a manner that forces us to acknowledge our interdependence, to appreciate, in Martin Luther King, Jr.’s words, that ‘we are caught in an inescapable  network of mutuality, tied to a single garment of destiny.’ In this way, mentoring enables us to participate in the essential but unfinished drama of reinventing community, while reaffirming that there is an important role for each of us in it.” – Marc Freedman

Over the last couple weeks, I’ve been involved in several conversations about the value of mentoring in helping underrepresented faculty, staff, and students feel included and welcome in our campus communities. Not surprisingly, good mentoring helps ALL employees feel supported and valued and promotes their success. I was reminded of this very fact when I met with my mentor last week to discuss recent challenges I’ve faced in my work and strategies for moving forward. Not only did I walk away from that meeting with better perspective and some concrete next steps I could take, but I left feeling more supported and valued.

In talking with colleagues, I’ve been able to identify some successful mentoring efforts happening at a few of our colleges, like a faculty mentoring program or teaching circles that help new faculty build relationships while learning from each other. Or a buddy program that pairs new employees with experienced employees to help introduce them to the campus, its culture, and people they should know.

Most colleagues, however, talked about the challenges of starting and maintaining mentoring programs.  Colleagues who have started formal matched mentoring programs, experience about a 50% or lower success rate, in terms of mentors-mentee pairs who continue to meet and find value from the relationship over time. Probably more troubling, was a colleague who mentioned that with his campus mentoring program there are far more people who want to be mentored, than there are those who are willing to be mentors.

It made me think about what would happen if we began fostering a mentoring culture on our campuses. Much like the “each one, teach one” literacy campaigns around the nation to help k-12 students, why couldn’t we begin an “each one, reach one” campaign, where every employee reaches out to mentor someone else?

Perhaps this is a pie in the sky idea. But given the benefits that could result from mentoring, like making all faculty, staff, and students feel included and welcomed, and supporting their success, wouldn’t it be worth a try?

Anita Rios

Do you have two minutes?

heat_20120607142627_640_480It is over 90 degrees and humid in Minnesota this week. When you step outside it is important to stay focused on your goal and minimize wasted effort, otherwise the oppressive heat can overwhelm you. The same thing can happen when coaching the poor performance of a member of your team.  You feel the heat of the upcoming interaction and avoid taking action or you get overwhelmed and distracted while trying to coach. Either way, you end up drained and the oppressive issue is still hovering “outside” waiting for you.

When you know you have to face the heat and take action I have found that a simple process that helps leaders stay focused and dive in. It’s called the Two Minute Challenge based on The Practical Coach training program. There are only five steps:

  1. State what you’ve observed – what happened.
  2. Wait for their response.
  3. Remind them of the desired behavior, expected performance or goal.
  4. Ask for their specific solutions.
  5. Agree on a solution.

No more, no less! The magic of having a short “script” keeps the coaching focused on the behavior and a solution. It is a roadmap that can provide confidence to start the conversation and the clarity needed to stay on track during the heat of the interaction.

A short time ago I received a call from a leader who told me that he had been dreading meeting with one of his team members. There was a performance issue and he was worried about how the person would react when he addressed it. After learning The Two Minute Challenge he decided to jot down the five steps on his note pad and have the meeting the next day. He stuck to his plan, followed the steps and the meeting did not spiral out of control. It wasn’t fun, but they stayed on track and came up with a realistic plan for improvement. He shared that the meeting ended up being less stressful than the anxiety he experienced worrying about it. He was also confident that the team member understood the importance of the issue and his responsibility for taking action. The five clear steps kept him from getting distracted and able to keep the focus on the employee’s behavior and accountability for improvement.

When you are facing the heat of needing to coach a poor performer take a cool two minute break, review the five steps and then dive in!

Todd Thorsgaard