Five common missteps organisations make when building a robust coaching culture

Building a strong coaching culture in an organisation is an excellent way to drive performance against strategic goals, create a point of difference and improve engagement, productivity and retention. However, when endeavouring to create a coaching culture, there are five main missteps that organisations make that can sabotage the process, despite the best of intentions.   Misstep 1: Developing a coaching culture is untethered from the organisation’s strategic goals.  If the goal of developing a coaching culture is seen as independent from the organisation’s other strategic goals, values and vision, it’s destined to fail. A coaching culture must be aligned and utilised as a means to drive progress against strategic goals. Is the desired coaching culture a vehicle to improve performance? Engage or empower employees? Support a change management process? Upskill teams? Deliver more innovation?   Organisations should start by considering their short–, mid– and long–term strategic goals and how developing and embedding a coaching culture will help achieve those goals. As coaches, we can query this from the outset to make sure the organisation is on the right path.   Misstep 2: People in the organisation aren’t upskilled in coaching.  A true coaching culture is more than just bringing in external coaches — it’s about building the capacity to coach others at all levels of the organisation. Developing this skill is essential for truly embedding coaching into the organisational culture.   The process of upskilling an organisation in coaching will usually involve engaging external trainers to upskill managers on how to utilise coaching as a leadership tool. While this may seem like a quick way to put us coaches and trainers out of a job, it’s actually quite the opposite. When delivered effectively, our role becomes that of a strategic partner who guides the organisation to maintain the coaching culture over time.   Misstep 3: Coaching isn’t structured and woven into the learning and development process.  Without using coaching to help apply training and identify and overcome blind spots, learning and development (L&D) can suffer. Too often organisations invest in structured training programs only to see the trainees fail to apply the learnings and fall back into old habits. Leaving it up to the employee to change their behaviour in line with the training and be accountable to making those changes stick won’t always work. Why do we expect employees to be able to quickly unlearn old behaviours and adopt new ones with very little support?  This is where having a coaching culture in place can help. In coaching cultures, coaching will be a necessary and structured step in the L&D process. The Center for Creative Leadership recommends a 70-20-10 split between on-the-job training, developmental relationship learning (such as coaching) and formal training. Through coaching, employees are supported and held accountable throughout the learning process to apply the learnings gained in formal training in on-the-job settings.   Misstep 4: Senior leaders aren’t driving the coaching culture.  Efforts to develop a coaching culture often don’t start at the top. Rather, employees try to push the approach up the ranks. Without senior leaders backing the move to adopt a coaching culture 100% and also modeling it to the organisation, the employees driving the process can become unmotivated and the desired coaching culture may never come to fruition.   To develop and embed a coaching culture, it needs to be clear to everyone in the organisation that coaching is a top priority. The only way to do this is to have the process driven from the top down. As coaches, we can help by finding ways to gain buy-in from the leadership team early in the process. Often this starts with executives experiencing coaching and seeing the benefits firsthand.  Misstep 5: There isn’t the right balance between individual coaching, group coaching and team coaching.  Many organisations that say they want to develop a coaching culture overlook the importance of providing a cross–section of coaching options including individual, group and team coaching. All three are important and if the incorrect balance is struck, it can impact the value of coaching in the organisation.  For example, individual coaching may help each employee perform better and remain accountable to their goals. It may also help them relate better to other people in the organisation. But what it won’t do is create cohesion and direction for a team or give coaching recipients the opportunity to learn from others in their group while still pursuing their own purpose. This is where team or group coaching can add important additional dimensions.   Aspiring to develop a coaching culture is a worthy pursuit; however, if the incorrect steps are taken, it can fall apart before it takes hold and employees can become disillusioned. A true coaching culture relies on fully prioritising and committing to the process. Avoiding these common missteps is a good place to start.   First published in Coaching World in April 2021, published by the International Coaching Federation. © 2021 Marianne Bateup, Abilitise Pty Ltd, Some Rights Reserved.

How can job seekers counteract radio silence?

Have you ever applied for a job and never heard anything back? My advice for job seekers who don't know why they weren't successful for a desired role is to utilise the contact details they have available for the application and query what they might be able to improve on to enhance their chances for the next opportunity. Many job seekers are uncomfortable asking this question however, I recommend them to simply consider: What is the worst thing that might happen? - They might not get an answer. And what good things might come from it? - They could receive valuable information on what could be improved on their cover letter, resume or interview.- They could find out that they nearly got the job, but somebody with more experience or a more specific education was selected instead; thus, providing clear feedback on what the candidate could focus on, e.g. adding to their experience or to their education in this regard.- They might even develop further rapport with the employing person, leading to other employment opportunities in the future. Employers like interested applicants who want to improve themselves. By demonstrating this behaviour, the candidate can enhance their prospects for future opportunities. Job seekers can also work with career coaches on enhancing their employability skills. This might include exploration of career goals through open questions, personal and professional values exploration, self-reflection and insights; review of cover letter, resume and interview skills; and considerations of any learning gaps, and what skills, mindset and actions are required to align with and attain the coachee's career goals. Abilitise can provide you with career coaching support during your job search. Get in touch to find out more: AU: 1300 To Enable (1300 863 622), Int: +61 2 9521 7767, ​

Using the Wheel of Life process to ascertain your personal priorities following a year of uncertainty and change

With 2021 now upon us, many of us will be turning our attention to planning and goal setting for the year ahead. But what goals do we set when our priorities might have shifted drastically over the last year as a result of the pandemic and related changes? Personally, I like the Wheel of Life [1] process - to firstly understand my priorities and then set my goals and plan how to achieve them. I also use this tool during coaching sessions with clients to facilitate the process for them. What is the Wheel of Life process? The Wheel of Life is a visual representation of your high-level priorities and your level of satisfaction with each priority at any given time. It’s a simple way to identify which areas may require more attention. Our priorities aren’t fixed. There are any number of milestones in life which can shift what’s important to us such as changing jobs, starting a business, having a baby, relocating, a pandemic and many more. One of the benefits of this process is that it is flexible enough to be revisited regularly to ensure you’re on track with your priorities and pivot quickly when your priorities change. I recently looked back through my wheels from previous years and could see how my priorities have shifted quite significantly from year to year. One of the other benefits of the Wheel of Life process is that you can use it at a macro or more micro level. It can provide a helicopter view of your life, but it can also be used to break down the priorities within one area of your life (such as your career) or even for a project. The process can be used with the help of a coach or on your own to give you clarity when understanding your priorities and setting your goals. Here are the steps for creating and plotting your wheel. Step 1 – Create the wheel Start with a blank sheet of paper. Write today’s date at the top of the page. It’s important that you know when this process was undertaken so you can compare the results the next time you complete the process. Draw a circle and divide it into eight segments (you may find you need less or more – generally it will be between six and ten segments). This will become your wheel (see figure 1).   Figure 1 - Wheel of Life - segments Step 2 - Identify aspects of your life Brainstorm six to ten aspects of your life for each of the sections of your wheel. These should be the things most important to you. Be specific and authentic to what is truly important to you. The benefit of this process is that the wheel can and should be completely tailored to what is meaningful to you. If you need some thought starters, here are some common areas people may address on their wheel, however it’s important you name each section on your wheel how you feel fits best for you, it is your own personal wheel. ●      Family●      Love and relationships●      Friends●      Career●      Education and professional development●      Wealth and finances●      Creative expression●      Physical health●      Mental health●      Hobbies, recreation and leisure●      Spirituality●      Community engagement●      Public service●      Pets●      Attitude Add your top six to ten aspects of your life to the wheel (see figure 2).  Figure 2 - Wheel of Life - aspects of your life Step 3 - Rate your satisfaction with each aspect of your life The next step is to rate how satisfied you are with each aspect of your life at the current moment. With 10 as the highest and 0 as the lowest, the scale can roughly be broken down as follows: 0 - Extremely dissatisfied1 - Very dissatisfied2 - Dissatisfied3 - Somewhat dissatisfied4 - Neither satisfied or dissatisfied5 - Somewhat satisfied6 - Satisfied7 - Very satisfied8 - Extremely satisfied9 - Almost fully satisfied10 - Fully satisfied Assuming the outside of the wheel represents a 10 in satisfaction level and the midpoint of the circle represents a zero in satisfaction level, draw a line in each segment to highlight how you’ve rated your satisfaction with that aspect of your life (See figure 3).  Figure 3 – Wheel of Life - current satisfaction ratings for aspects of your life  Step 4 - Assess the desired levels of satisfaction The next step is to consider how satisfied you would like to be in each aspect of your life. You shouldn’t necessarily attempt to achieve a rating of 10 in each segment. Not all of your priorities will be equal in weight and therefore trying to be wholly satisfied in each segment won’t be desirable nor achievable. You only have so much time and energy to give to each aspect of your life. Draw a line in each segment to represent the ideal satisfaction rating (See figure 4).  Figure 4 - Wheel of Life - desired satisfaction ratings for aspects of your life In Figure 4, the person has identified they would like to see improvements in each aspect of their life, with some aspects achieving a higher rating than others. Sometimes even a modest improvement in an area will make a big impact. The goal is to see the areas where you’re not as satisfied as you would like to be, to give you an idea of where your attention may be required. If you complete this process with a coach, this is when they will ask you clarifying questions to really dig deeper on your level of satisfaction in each area and where and how things need to improve.  Step 5 - Develop SMART goals The Wheel of Life process enables you to develop goals that are actually in line with your priorities and discard those that aren’t actually important to you. This is a useful way to identify where things don’t need to change as well as where they do. Have a look at your Wheel of Life and consider which area you would like to work on first. This can be an area with a large gap between actual and desired satisfaction, but it could be any of the other areas as well. Again, this is your personal Wheel of Life, so you can approach it in a way that works best for you. Now that you know which areas require your attention, you can start developing goals for the respective aspects of your life to help you achieve the desired level of satisfaction. Ensure the goals you are setting are SMART goals [2]; Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Time-bound. Your goals should take account for what is and isn’t within your control. For example, in Figure 4 we can see that health, community and hobbies require the most attention. For this person, their goals in these areas may include: -        HEALTH: To complete 60 minutes of exercise (either going for a run or completing a gym class) twicea week, for 12 months-        COMMUNITY: To volunteer at the local women’s refuge for half a day, once a month, for six months-        HOBBIES: To undertake a pottery class, once a week, for 12 weeks  Step 6 - Revisit the wheel To remain accountable for and energised by your goals, and to reconfirm your priorities, it’s a good idea to regularly revisit your wheel. Placing your wheel somewhere visible to you is a good way to be regularly reminded of your priorities and to stay on track. If you need help identifying your priorities after a year of such significant change and uncertainty, you’re not alone! The Wheel of Life process can be a useful tool to help you understand what’s truly important to you and create relevant goals accordingly. Abilitise can help you with your personal and professional planning through coaching sessions as well as strategic planning sessions for individuals and teams. Get in touch to find out more. [1] http://www.coactive.com/toolkit[2] https://www.mindtools.com/pages/article/smart-goals.htm  ​

How to plan for 2021 amid uncertainty

Over the last few weeks many clients have queried whether planning for 2021 is beneficial in our uncertain COVID-19 world. The truth is, even prior to the pandemic, change has been exponential. Planning will enable our businesses as well as our personal lives to maintain direction and stability while also providing contingencies and risk management solutions. Here’s how to approach your planning for 2021. Reflect on the prior year When it comes to planning for the year ahead, the best place to start is to reflect on the previous year. What were your goals? Did you achieve them? What worked? What didn’t work? Why? It’s important to acknowledge what was and wasn’t under your control. We can’t have control or influence over everything - certainly COVID-19 has proven that. While we shouldn’t hide behind excuses or blame external factors for our missteps, we also shouldn’t be hard on ourselves when things have genuinely been out of our control. Be honest with yourself and think about what you have learned from the past year. Consider your vision What’s your vision for the business? What about your personal life? How would you like things to look in 6 months? 12 months? 24 months? Envisaging where the business is at and how your life will look at the end of the planning period will help you craft the right goals and actions and keep you more motivated to reach them. Establish goals Set your goals based on your vision and your current situation. Consider “well-rounded” goals, which address both the business side, as well as your and your employees’ mental, emotional and physical health and wellbeing. Baking the latter into your goals will strengthen the business, enhancing the business’ and employees’ ability to successfully manage through change and uncertainty. Ensure the goals you are setting are SMART goals [1]; Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Time-bound. For example, a restaurant may have pivoted successfully to delivery over the last year. A goal may be to boost delivery by 20 percent over the next 12 months. When it comes to personal goals, a goal may be to attend a yoga class twice a week, every week. When you reflect on the achievability of your goals, start to consider contingencies and risk management solutions in this step of the planning process. This will enhance your ability to manage through potential changes as they arise. Even if your goals don’t seem that exciting, don’t be deterred. Many businesses will be scaling back or resetting and that’s ok. In the current environment we may need to adjust our expectations. After setting the goals, consider how their achievement will make you feel different, and how it will impact you as well as anyone else. You can then reflect on your progress towards this as you go. Create an action plan After you’ve set your goals, think about how you can achieve them. Come up with an action plan which breaks down each goal into smaller, actionable deliverables which are measurable with timeframes and responsibilities. Without viewing your goals this way, they can feel too big or daunting, which can prevent you from achieving them, and sometimes even attempting them. Also ensure your actions are realistic, considering any other commitments you or your staff might already have. Measure progress & remain accountable to your goals The value of having measurable goals and action items is that you can measure your progress in achieving them along the way. If they aren’t measurable, then how will you know if you’ve achieved them? You should be able to measure progress through quantifiable measurements such as a percentage boost in sales for example, or an achievement of a qualification. It’s important you revisit your goals and action items on a regular basis. How regularly should depend on the goals and action items and your preferences. You may find it useful to have your goals and action plan visible every day, on a whiteboard for example or in your mobile phone, rather than just buried in a project plan. This can keep you and your team motivated, inspired and on track. Adapt and pivot as needed If this last year has taught us anything, it's that the only constant is change. It isn’t just pandemics which can create drastic change, there are countless other factors which can create change and uncertainty. That could be anything from competition and industry disruption, to changing consumer preferences or technological innovation. The key is to identify possible changes and prepare to adapt accordingly. The planning process can help you in this regard. This is why every goal you set should have contingencies and risk management solutions built in. This will enable you to pivot and adapt your goals to changing circumstances. For example, for a revenuegoal, consider various scenarios which could cause the business to underperform against your revenue forecast. How could you pivot to adapt to those scenarios? The qualities which enable people to adapt, known as the Adaptability Quotient (AQ) [2], are now considered some of the major defining characteristics of successful leaders. AQ involves leaders being comfortable with change, being able to adapt and pivot, and driving change as a change agent. When organisations are led by leaders with AQ, their chances of success are much higher. Celebrate success Many business owners and business leaders forget to celebrate their successes. This is especially true for personal goals. Have a think ahead of time of how you plan to celebrate the achievement of your goals as this will give you an incentive to work towards and something to look forward to. It can be something as simple as taking the team out for lunch or taking a long weekend. It’s important that we give ourselves a pat on the back for what we’ve achieved. We deserve it! Abilitise can help you with your planning processes through running coaching sessions to help you and your team develop and remain accountable to your goals or running strategic planning sessions with your team. Get in touch to find out more. [1] https://www.mindtools.com/pages/article/smart-goals.htm[2] https://www.bbc.com/worklife/article/20191106-is-aq-more-important-than-intelligence 

How to improve the job seeking process

When it comes to finding a new role, does a weekly job-search routine help? Establishing a weekly or even daily routine for job seeking is very beneficial. If the job seeker is currently not working at all, it will help them to maintain a routine, which is an employability skill to maintain, and help with their health and wellbeing.  How much time should you set aside to look for jobs? The amount of time job seekers should set aside will depend on their other current responsibilities such as working, running a household, childcare or other caring responsibilities. For someone not currently working, a couple of hours each day would be suitable. What pursuits and activities should job seekers include in their routine? This should include: - Applying for jobs online, e.g. via LinkedIn or Seek,- Contacting businesses who rejected a job application for any learnings,- Reaching out to prior professional contacts,- Connecting with new contacts on LinkedIn,- Contacting businesses they are interested in working for directly,- Networking at networking events within a COVID-19 safe environment. Other pursuits and activities job seekers should include in their routine include: - Focussing on their health and wellbeing,- Upskilling where and as appropriate to achieve the desired position,- Utilising career coaching with the goal of professional advancement or attainment of a new position or career direction.​

How should leaders approach the process of making people redundant? (Part 1)

A question that has been coming up quite often this year during coaching sessions with executives has been how to best handle the process of making people redundant. As the economic fallout from COVID-19 continues to result in downsizing activities, leaders are uncertain about how to approach impacted staff and how to maintain the morale, engagement and productivity of the remaining team. When redundancies are undertaken without sufficient planning or forethought, serious issues can arise - including a decline in staff engagement and productivity as well as reputational damage to the company. It's little wonder those tasked with making the difficult decision to make people redundant are concerned with how to approach the process sensitively and productively. When I coach a leader on the redundancy process, there are a few priorities which will tend to pop up time and time again. Here’s a high-level snapshot of five key priorities leaders should focus on throughout the redundancy process. 1)     Engage experts As a first step, management tasked with making decisions about redundancies should engage with HR and legal. HR and legal will ensure that any decisions made by management are legal and appropriate. They can also offer advice on how to word any communication with staff. Engaging a consultant to plan downsizing or rightsizing is also a good idea. This will ensure the business has the ideal structure going forward. 2)     Don’t make assumptions about how exiting staff members are feeling While it may seem that the staff members being made redundant will always feel unhappy or angry, this isn’t always the case. In reality there will be a myriad of emotions experienced - sometimes even satisfaction or relief - so it’s important to not make any assumptions. In many cases management can project their own feelings or anxieties onto the staff member, which will inform their assumptions about how they are feeling. The goal should be to step into the staff member’s shoes and really listen to gain an understanding of where they’re at.  A coach can work with the executive on focusing on the staff member’s frame of reference rather than on their own. 3)     Don’t forget how the remaining staff members are feeling Throughout a redundancy process, the remaining staff members will also be affected by their friends and colleagues losing their jobs and the concern that they may be next. While you may expect them to feel relieved to have kept their jobs, they may also experience confusion, anger, resentment or anxiety. It’s important to support remaining staff members through this process to ensure they feel appreciated and that their motivation and productivity doesn’t take a significant dip. It’s also important they know that efforts have been undertaken to support the staff who were made redundant. This will maintain loyalty and minimise negativity. A coach can help remaining staff members work through their feelings and regain their morale, motivation and productivity. 4)     Communicate authentically and often One of the most important parts of improving the redundancy process is good communication. When undertaken well, communication will be as honest and authentic as is possible given the situation. Management should make sure they communicate frequently and well. Any communication should take into account how the recipient is feeling at that moment in time and be tailored accordingly. Communication should also be undertaken within any legal constraints, so it's best to defer to legal and HR on what can and can’t be communicated. 5)     Provide support It’s important that any staff members exiting the business feel supported. The goal is to ensure that the staff member feels like the company still has their back and that the company will support them with the process going forward. Ongoing support can include an outplacement program, coaching or training. Another example of support is Qantas taking up an offer from Woolworths to redeploy stood down staff members in roles at Woolworths to ensure they remain employed throughout these turbulent times. Support mechanisms will ensure that former staff members get the best outcomes and will mitigate risks to the company such as reputational damage or a loss in productivity among remaining staff members. This article is part one in a series on the role of coaching throughout the redundancy process. Check out part two which looks at the value coaching can provide to employees being made redundant.    

What’s the value in coaching staff members who are being made redundant? (Part 2)

The redundancy process is generally challenging for all involved - from the staff members being made redundant, to the staff members watching their friends and colleagues lose their jobs while worrying about losing their jobs as well, to the management responsible for delivering the news. Luckily, there are ways to make the process easier on everyone. This is where coaching can play an important role. Coaching can be employed to support the staff members exiting the business to exit successfully and transition into a new role as part of an outplacement program. The value in this approach is that it shows that the company is invested in its people – even those they need to let go – and will treat them fairly. This minimises any reputational damage and ensures that the staff members left behind remain loyal and productive. When it comes to coaching the staff members exiting the business there are generally three high-level priorities: 1)     Attitude Naturally when someone finds out they’re being made redundant they will experience a range of emotions such as shock, sadness, anger, confusion or even relief. The role of a coach is to guide the individual through a process towards acceptance or even excitement. By helping them overcome any negativity such as bitterness, resentment or feeling not needed, it will give them a more optimistic outlook which in turn will open them up to future career opportunities. 2)     Career coaching Career coaching involves coaching the exiting staff member with the goal of professional advancement or attainment of a new position or career direction. Through open questions, personal and professional values exploration, self reflection and insights, career coaching will reveal where the coachee is currently at, if they have any learning gaps, and what skills, mindset and actions are required to align with and attain their career goals. 3)     Integration The integration process begins once the former staff member has been onboarded in a new role elsewhere. It involves following up to ensure the transition is as smooth as possible and revisiting the career goals to check if the person is where they want to be. This closes the loop on the coaching process to ensure it has been effective and will go a long way to ensuring the former staff member feels supported by their previous company. This article is part two in a series on the role of coaching throughout the redundancy process. Check out part one on how leaders should approach the process of making people redundant.

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