Want to be a coaching manager? Here's the magic ingredient...

Want to be a coaching manager?  Here's the magic ingredient...

By Karen Amos

I’m feel fortunate that there are lots of managers who are tuning into in how coaching can help them and their teams.

It’s probably no surprise that I firmly believe coaching can completely transform the behaviour, mindset and performance of teams in the workplace.  In fact, I more than believe it, I’ve seen the results for myself.

The thing is in our ever-busy working lives, time is at a premium, so many people are looking for a magic ingredient that will turn them into a coach.  The magic ingredient that means they can start to reap the benefits.

As a result, I thought I’d bring in a quick reality check around expectations and what you CAN do, to be a great coaching manager.

Let’s start off with a few of the ‘myths’ I encounter…

Myth 1 – Reading a coaching book will turn me into a great coach

Myth 2 – Getting a coaching qualification will turn me into a great coach

Myth 3 – Going on a coaching course will turn me into a great coach

Actually, all of the above will help.   The bad news however, is that reading a book, getting a qualification, or going on a course will never turn you into an amazing coaching manager overnight.

In order to coach, you need to learn the skills and techniques to ask great coaching questions, along with other tools.  But here’s the challenge…

If you don’t actually DO anything differently – if you never practice these techniques and skills, nothing will change.

I had an acquaintance who bought every self-help book known to human-kind – or so it seemed!  The problem is none of it changed her life in the slightest.  Does this mean the books didn’t work?  Not at all.  The fact is, not only did she rarely get past the first chapter, she never put any of her learning into practice – and if she did, not consistently.

So unfortunately you won’t be able to become a better coach through a process of osmosis, where learning will radiate off your bookshelf, or training course and magically transform you into the coach you’d like to be.

If these don’t work – what does?

This means getting out of your comfort zone.  Walking the walk as a manager.  Trying at least one approach, or question very consciously even once a day.

If you’re about to think, ‘Yeah, but it’s not that simple…’, then I would ask you to look inwards.  I’m guessing you want to start coaching to help people change, to improve their performance.  If that’s the case then we need to walk the walk as managers and leaders.  Ask yourself, ‘should I be expecting people to change, do things differently and get out of their comfort zone, if I’m not prepared to do so myself?’

Another thing to consider is to build coaching conversations into your daily interactions.  Any conversation with another person has the potential to be a coaching conversation.  It involves listening and understanding the other person’s point of view, with a healthy dose of curiosity to explore what’s really going on and help them find their own solution to any problems.

Remember that coaching isn't about feeling clever whilst you fire lots of 'challenging' questions at someone.  At it's heart, it's about great communication - taking the time to listen, understand and helping the other person work out a solution.

So go on, give it a go!

Coaching Question:

What one step could you put in place today to help you improve your coaching and communication skills?

If you’d like to know more about how our fully-interactive coaching skills courses can help you implement a coaching approach in your workplace, check out our coaching skills for managers mini-programmes.  There's NO HOMEWORK and NO ROLEPLAY!  Just lots of practical tools, approaches, discussion and practice, so you can put your learning into place straight away.

For schools and education settings

For business and organisations

Or check out our great value in-house training options:

For schools and education settings

For business and organisations

Or call us: 07714 855757

or click HERE to book in a short, no-obligation chat

 

Karen Amos is an executive coach and founder of BrightBird Coaching & Training. She supports leaders and managers to get the best out of themselves and their teams. She brings a down-to-earth, practical approach to improving working lives through better leadership, communication and working relationships. 


3 reasons your team may be resistant to change – and what you can do about it!

3 reasons your team may be resistant to change – and what you can do about it!

By Karen Amos

I’ve been busy delivering the ‘Managing Change’ session from my Effective People Management programmes these last few weeks.  This is definitely one of those subjects that at first glance seems easy, but is a veritable Russian doll when you start to unpack it.

I recall times throughout my career where change has been well implemented and accepted, indeed embraced by teams and many more times when I’ve just emitted an inward (and sometimes outward) groan when informed of yet another new strategy/change/initiative [delete as appropriate].  On that note, isn’t it strange what a word so positive as ‘initiative’ can invoke such an energy dump in a different context?

Whilst the vast majority of change is instigated with positive intentions – i.e. to make things better – it can so quickly invoke a negative response and be the cause of low staff morale and even increase staff turnover if handled badly.

Here are 3 reasons you may be experiencing resistance to change from your team (or even personally) and a coaching perspective on how to address this…

1.  Your team doesn’t understand why the change is necessary

This is about supporting your team to understand the reason behind the change.  There’s an understandable filter that takes place where information is cascaded down an organisation and people in less senior roles are, often rightly, given less detail than people who are more senior.  I do think we need to treat people as the adults they are though.  To paraphrase  Nietzsche, the person with a ‘why’ can tolerate almost any ‘how’.

Solution:

Consider the perspectives and experience of your team.  It’s easy to forget as a leader that we have much more information and control than those we manage.  An honest appraisal, including the benefits of the changes and the consequences of not taking this course of action will always be appreciated.  Over time, your teams will accept you’re trustworthy and there’s no game playing going on.  Remember, if there is sensitive information you can’t share, be honest about that too.

2.  People don’t feel involved or listened to

In the midst of all the activity in implementing a new change, time to discuss, consult and more importantly, listen can come a poor second.  Remember that as manager and leader, you naturally have much more control and usually knowledge, about the change.  It’s easy to forget that your team don’t share this.

Solution:

Hold regular check-ins with your team and allow people to voice their concerns.  It’s understandable that you may not want to seek this out, lest it turn into another ‘moan-fest’, but hearing people out and giving information where needed will prevent people from lagging behind, or at worst being so engaged they decide to leave the organisation altogether.

 

3.  Your people have ‘change fatigue’

Have you ever stopped to consider that change just seems to be a permanent fixture of working life?  Lots of my clients comment that there’s never a pause to take a breath and reflect and let the changes embed.  It’s either one change, then straight into another, or what’s more usual, multiple changes going on at the same time.  It can be hard for teams and indeed ourselves as leaders, to truly evaluate what the impact of the change is.  With this comes a sense of never quite achieving an end result, leading to frustration and low motivation.

Solution:

Ensure you consult with your team to build in mini-goals and celebrate progress and ‘wins’ throughout the change process.  Where possible, give people a project, or part of a project to own and champion, in a way that plays to their strengths and things they enjoy if possible.  That way, they can have more autonomy and also see they’ve played a clear part in achieving the overall goal.  Whilst it’s not always possible, be conscious of implementing multiple changes and reduce these where possible to allow new ways of working to embed themselves, even for a short time.  This will then be assimilated into your organisation’s culture and people will be more enthused for the next change.

I hope that helps with a little food for thought regarding change in your setting or organisation.

If you’d like to know more about how we can support your leaders and teams with 1-to-1 or team coaching, or would like to discuss our in-house live, online leadership programmes, you can:

Email us at:  info@bright-bird.co.uk

Or call us: 07714 855757

or click HERE to book in a short, no-obligation chat

 

Karen Amos is an executive coach and founder of BrightBird Coaching & Training. She supports leaders and managers to get the best out of themselves and their teams. She brings a down-to-earth, practical approach to improving working lives through better leadership, communication and working relationships. 


Introducing coaching at work when you don't have time

Introducing coaching at work when you don't have time

By Karen Amos

‘Coaching’s great, but I don’t have time to coach my teams’.  This is a statement I frequently encounter when introducing coaching as a management and leadership approach. I would argue that in the long run, utilising coaching will actually save time, reducing the amount of frequent, small questions to be fielded and building a culture of personal responsibility.

Let’s be clear, we aren’t talking about managers and leaders being coaches in the same way I work as a professional development coach.  There are many reasons why managers can’t just sit down for a dedicated 1-to-1 session with someone, time being just one of these.  What we are talking about is managers and teams taking a Coaching Approach to their interactions with each other.

Here are a few quick tips to help you begin to develop your coaching approach:

  • Listen and show understanding – How often do we interrupt someone, or merely wait for them to take a breath, so we can astound everyone with our superior knowledge? I’m sure it’s something we’re all guilty of at some point.  The first stage in being an effective coaching leader is to listen – I mean really listen.

Tip - One way of checking you’ve understood correctly and demonstrating this to the other person is to paraphrase at the end of their explanation.  Try something like, ‘So what you’re saying is…’  If you get it right, they’ll feel understood.  If you get it wrong, they’ll correct you.  Win-Win!

  • Begin with the end in mind – Good old Stephen Covey embedded this concept in his 7 Habits of Highly Successful People, and with good reason. Whilst coaching can be and is reflective, its main focus is on what we want to achieve.  Focusing on the solution, rather than the problem.

Tip – Ask, ‘What do I want to achieve here,’ or, ‘What would a good outcome look like,’ to avoid getting caught up in the details of what’s going wrong and indulging in yet another moan-fest.

  • Ask not tell – This is a key factor in coaching – Asking powerful questions. This is not giving advice – e.g. ‘why don’t you do xyz instead?’, or telling people what to do.  This approach is all about asking meaningful, open questions that move the person on to look at the options open to them so they can make a constructive decision.

Tip – There are an endless supply of questions that can be used in coaching.  A few examples would be things like:

o   What’s really going on for you right now?

o   What are the main barriers that are in your way?

o   If you could do anything you wanted, what action would you take?

o   What would your wisest friend do in this situation?

  • Foster personal responsibility – Don’t ‘fix’ – Following on from asking powerful questions, an effective coaching manager will ensure they allow their staff space to work out and try their own solutions. This can be scary initially, particularly when someone wants to resolve things in a way you wouldn’t choose.  Of course, you’ve got to weigh up the risks here – this certainly doesn’t mean you throw caution to the wind if someone is proposing to embark on some highly risky endeavour.  Allowing people to choose their own course of action is extremely motivating though and will result in them taking more autonomy and personal responsibility for finding their own solutions.

Tip – If you find yourself wanting to ‘fix’ someone, stop and consciously ask them what they think they should do.  Questions like, ‘What are the main sticking points for you here?’ and ‘What do you think you can do about this?’ are great ways to hand responsibility back to the person.

Hopefully you’ll find these useful on your journey to embedding coaching in your day to day interactions.  One final tip is not to try all of these at once.  Identify one area you could improve and set out some conscious intentions to work on this in your interactions with a member of your team.  That way you’ll start to get into the coaching habit!

Check out the links below to find out more about our latest coaching-based training courses and programmes.  We also offer individual and team coaching on leadership, interpersonal, communication and performance matters.  

For schools and education settings

For business and organisations

Or call us: 07714 855757

or click HERE to book in a short, no-obligation chat

 

Karen Amos is an executive coach and founder of BrightBird Coaching & Training. She supports leaders and managers to get the best out of themselves and their teams. She brings a down-to-earth, practical approach to improving working lives through better leadership, communication and working relationships. 


3 Reasons Everyone Needs a Coach

3 Reasons Everyone Needs a Coach

By Karen Amos

As Bill Gates said… ‘Everyone needs a coach.’  And who am I to argue?  I mean, the lad’s done OK for himself hasn’t he?

As a coach, I’m often asked, ‘Do you have a coach?’  The answer is, ‘Yes, I have several coaches.’

I have coaches for various aspects of my life and work, depending on what I need.  For example, I have a long-standing coach supervisor who supports and challenges me to improve my own practice as a coach.  I’ve also had business and personal coaches at critical points.

I’m writing this blog, as I had a realisation this morning I needed more coaching.  This time it’s for physical fitness.  Some of you may know I had a hip replacement in the spring.  It was successful and I’m now getting my life and mental wellbeing back, being able to walk up my beloved mountains and get the space, peace and exercise I so need.  (Even though I do spend a disproportionate amount of time asking myself what on earth I was thinking, when finding myself on a steep slope in the pouring rain!)

So back to my fitness coaching.  Most people understandably assume that as a coach myself I’m hyper-motivated all the time and know all the nifty coaching techniques to successfully coach myself to whatever goal I choose.  Which is kind of true, but here’s the problem – I’m only human.

That being human means that sometimes I can be a bit defeatist and even, dare I say it, a bit lazy.  Yep, let’s face it, we all have our excuses ready from time to time don’t we?

To quote another famous sleb, ‘You can have what you want, or you can have your excuses.’  That one’s from good old Arnie and again, he seems to have done OK for himself too!

“YOU CAN HAVE WHAT YOU WANT OR YOU CAN HAVE YOUR EXCUSES”

So, with all that in mind, I’ve called my gym coach to discuss returning to paying her to allow me to complain, swear and turn into a sweaty mess for a couple of hours a week – otherwise known as gym classes.

Now, I have all the equipment at home and knowledge of training routines to crack on and get my fitness up to scratch again, so why don’t I just do that?  Well, the same reasons I would recommend a coach for anyone at work, applies to me too.

1. Challenge

Your coach, whether that’s a leadership, fitness, business or any other type of coach, will push you out of your comfort zone.  That ‘un-comfort’ zone is where the change that needs to happen, does happen.

Let’s stick with fitness as an example – you start off with great intentions, but within a very short space of time, you revert back to what’s comfortable.  That’s just human nature – it’s how we’re wired – but to get meaningful change we have to enlist someone who’s going to challenge us.  This is vital, whether that’s to do that extra set of reps with the weights, or to make that scary decision we’ve been putting off.

The important thing about challenge in coaching is that it’s done with positive intentions and to serve the agenda and goals of the coachee.  This isn’t about the coach getting off on how uncomfortable they can make their clients.  Any old dictator can do that!

2. Mindset

This goes along with the challenge.  A good coach will help you envisage a step-up bigger than you would normally take yourself.  They don’t take ‘no’ for an answer and will help you build a positive, can-do, growth mindset, not based on wishful thinking, but on affirmative, tangible action and results.

In short, a good coach helps you get out of your own way.

3. Accountability

Commitment makes or breaks success.  Doing something once, however well will not bring you lasting success (even if that one thing is buying a winning lottery ticket.  With the wrong mindset, you’ll have blown it in no time).  As the US coach Tony Robbins describes, we need to take small, consistent steps to maintain lasting change.

Working with another person is a fantastic way to help build personal accountability.  This is particularly true if you’re a senior leader or business owner, or even if you’re doing something for you, such as starting a new fitness programme.

The fact is, stating an intention out loud, particularly to someone whom you respect, means you are much more likely to follow through on your actions.  Let’s face it, none of us like to be proved wrong, or wanting do we?

Additionally, paying for this means we feel we have personally invested something.  We have skin in the game.  It’s an uncomfortable fact, but this is why ‘free’ programmes often fail and have much fewer participants at the end.  There’s just not enough investment personally from the participants.  Not enough to lose.  This way, we’re much more likely to dig deeper – if you’re a born and bred Yorkshire woman like me, you’ll always want to get your money’s worth!  This inevitably means better results.

So the question is, how and from whom can you get the right level of challenge, positive mindset and accountability?

Hopefully that’s given you some insights into why all good coaches have coaching.  Why not give it a go?  After all, think of how much you could gain…

Check out the links below to find out more about our latest coaching-based training courses and programmes.  We also offer individual and team coaching on leadership and performance matters.  

For schools and education settings

For business and organisations

Or call us: 07714 855757

or click HERE to book in a short, no-obligation chat

 

 

Karen Amos is an executive coach and founder of BrightBird Coaching & Training. She supports leaders and managers to get the best out of themselves and their teams. She brings a down-to-earth, practical approach to improving working lives through better leadership, communication and working relationships. 

3 Reasons Everyone Needs A Coach


Challenge or opportunity? You decide...

Challenge or opportunity? You decide...

By Karen Amos

As a small business owner, I don’t always have the luxury of lots of spare capacity or fall-backs when things quickly change.  Such a thing happened recently when one of my support team decided to take up a new job opportunity.  Whilst I’m gutted to be losing a key support, I do understand their reasons for moving on and wish them every success.  Inevitably though, this still caused pressures within my business.

After my initial OMG moment, feeling like I should be a model for a Munch painting, I remembered what I did for a living, gave myself a shake and put my coaching hat on.  This helped me to re-frame the situation and ask myself:

Is there another way to see this? 

It was hard not to focus solely on the multitude of upcoming challenges - our brains are wired to concentrate on perceived dangers, so that's our default setting.  Once I'd named what was going on, there were also many positive opportunities for my business that I might otherwise not considered.  These included building future capacity, re-prioritising my offer to clients, revisiting my pricing policy and many others.  It’s easy to just go with the flow, particularly when things are going well, rather than giving things a bit of a shake up.  Let’s face it, who doesn’t like a bit of comfort zone now and again - again, we can thank our brain for this - keeping us out of danger and seeking safety.

It's so easy for businesses and organisations to just grow organically in response to our market or circumstances, in good times and bad, but now and again we need a good reason to go back to the drawing board.

I would just like to add this isn’t about being all Pollyanna about things.  As a slightly grumpy, middle-aged Yorkshire woman, Pollyanna isn’t my default setting I can assure you!  As good old Tony Robbins says, ‘There’s no point standing in the garden chanting “There are no weeds, there are no weeds” when you’re surrounded by freaking weeds!  The only thing that will help is to roll up your sleeves and pull them up!’

So let’s start to see the challenges as practical opportunities for change and getting out of our comfort zone and make the most of things!

If you’re struggling with a challenge or change, ask yourself the following coaching questions:

  • What are the opportunities, or positives in this challenge?
  • Is there a way to slow things down a little to create some thinking space?
  • If so, what are the priority things and what can I put down?
  • If I was starting from scratch here, what would I choose to do?

Have you turned a challenge into an opportunity recently?  Let’s share the positive mindset!

If you’d like to find out how our 1-to-1 and team coaching programmes and training can help you get ‘unstuck’ and move forward this year…

Check out our website:  www.bright-bird.co.uk

Call us: 07714 855757

or click HERE to book in a short, no-obligation chat

 

 

Karen Amos is an executive coach and founder of BrightBird Coaching & Training. She supports leaders and managers to get the best out of themselves and their teams. She brings a down-to-earth, practical approach to improving working lives through better leadership, communication and working relationships. 

 


Feeling overloaded? The solution might not be less work...

Feeling overloaded? The solution might not be less work...

By Karen Amos

I’ve just had a couple of interesting sessions with clients, exploring how to create capacity within their organisation and their life in general.  Many of us know the feeling of being up to, if not over capacity and the stress, pressure and often anxiety this brings.  It’s almost a fact of modern working life - that feeling there’s just no wriggle room and that you daren’t even think about what happens if one more thing goes wrong, or there’s a bout of sickness or a resignation.

I’m a coach not a magician, so I can’t manifest time that doesn’t exist – although it wouldn’t be a bad superpower would it?  What I can do often feels a little magical though in the turn-around it brings people, but there’s no woo-woo involved – I simply help my clients find clarity.

Often when I start working with clients, particularly around any ‘Time Management’ type issues, they expect me to do the usual, ‘Prioritise your tasks… delegate…, etc., etc.’   There's very much a time and a place for these tools and I frequently use these along with other time management techniques, this usually isn’t my starting point.

The fact is that most time management issues stem from a mindset issue.  This is a kind of good news/bad news situation though.

The bad news is that this means the root of the problem lies with how you view it, so no blaming other people for your problems.  You know, the whole, 'My boss is so mean to me' routine.  A bit harder to do when you're self-employed mind.

The good news is that simply changing how we think, can completely transform our situation.

When I work with my clients, we look at what’s going on… then look at what’s REALLY going on!  That’s the key to coaching – getting right down to the root cause of the problem.  We often find this too difficult to do on our own, as we’re viewing the world through a filter of our emotions, values, experiences and expectations.  A good coach will help you work out exactly what your pressure points are and also your priority outcomes. (Hint – we often confuse activity with outcomes and these really, really are not the same thing!)

One of the questions I often ask my clients is:

What would change if you accept the fact there will always be too much to do in any given day/ week/ month/ year? 

Along with:

What would you do differently if you believed your wellbeing and happiness was just as important as everyone else’s?

By asking these types of questions, I can bring a fresh pair of eyes for my clients, helping them make decisions and create the space they need to work on the stuff that really counts.   So to paraphrase that paragon of Stoic philosophy, Marcus Aurelius, the difficulty is often not what's going on around us, but our response to this.

If you'd like to find out how our 1-to-1 coaching programmes can help you get 'unstuck' and move forward this year...

Call us: 07714 855757

or click HERE to book in a short, no-obligation chat

 

 

Karen Amos is an executive coach and founder of BrightBird Coaching & Training. She supports leaders and managers to get the best out of themselves and their teams. She brings a down-to-earth, practical approach to improving working lives through better leadership, communication and working relationships. 


Wrestling the shark - getting to grips with the unknown...

Wrestling the shark – coaching questions to help you get to grips with the unknown…

By Karen Amos

I’ve just been reading an article about Great White Sharks in Scotland (Spoiler – there are some, but not many, so you’re more likely to die of hypothermia!).  As it does, my mind went on a little meander, taking me back to watching the film Jaws for the first time as a kid.  I wasn’t old enough to watch it at the cinema, but later watched when it aired on TV in 1981.  The rest of my family was out and I remember my Mum asking if I really wanted to watch it on my own.  She knew I wasn’t a fan of scary stuff, having been traumatised by the daleks and a pantomime of Beauty and the Beast years before.  (I know, it’s not exactly the exorcist, but I’m a horror lightweight OK!)

The article vividly brought back the suspense in the lead up of the film. The tension, anxiety and fear.  The glimpses, the terror of the characters and of course, the music.  This was going to be horrific – should I be watching it alone?

Then we finally had the reveal and saw the shark in all its terrifying monstrousness… erm, no… I remember laughing out loud.  Special effects weren’t exactly enhanced in those days and Steven Spielberg definitely got the hang of it later, but the sight of the obviously latex shark just took the scariness out of everything.  From that point on I just buckled in for the ride and enjoyed the rest of the film as a bit of a comedy adventure.

This lead me on another little meander to think about how I use this technique in my coaching to help clients with change.  No, I don’t make them swim with great whites (although perhaps there’s a business opportunity in there somewhere…), but the process is the same.  Simply, that

We fear what we can’t see.

Fear is disabling.  We’re all familiar with the ‘fight or flight’ adrenaline response to danger, but there’s actually another, less well-quoted response that’s equally as powerful.  That’s Freeze.

For this response, think rabbit in the headlights.  The rabbit knows the danger is coming and even though it’s naturally built to flee, it just can’t get its muscles to move.  We often have the same response in life and the causes and effects can be quite insidious.  Usually the cause is nothing so obvious as a shark attack, or a car about to run us over – it’s the stuff lurking in our subconscious.  It’s there, we’re largely unaware of it – but it’s controlling our every action, thought, emotion and decision.

This stuff includes fear – particularly fear of failure, or of being judged.  Other things can be good old imposter syndrome, or a past negative experience that we subconsciously don’t want to repeat.  The problem is that we’re often completely unaware on a conscious level of what’s actually going on and berate ourselves for not driving forward in the way we would like.

My wonderful coach supervisor has a phrase to sum this up perfectly…

‘Let’s identify it – let’s name it – then we can control it.’

If you find yourself procrastinating, or tinkering around the edges of a task or project, this could be the root cause.  The fact is that once we name the thing that’s causing the problem, we find, just like with the latex shark, that it no longer has a hold over us.  It’s common for my clients, once they’ve named the issue, to quickly and metaphorically roll up their sleeves and crack on with the task at hand as if there never was a problem.

So as usual, here are some coaching questions to break out of the freeze mode and identify and name what’s really going on.

  • What is it about this task/issue that I find so difficult?
  • What’s the part I really don’t want to do?
  • What am I worried may happen if I do this?
  • What are the risks for me here? (NB: risks can be personal/emotional as well as physical or financial)
  • Can I relate this situation to something that’s happened to me before?
  • What would I be embarrassed to admit about my approach to this?
  • What’s ‘unseen’ or uncertain here?
  • If there was one thing holding me back, what would it be?

It’s a fact that whilst coaching has a focus on action and goals, often the biggest part of the work is around the reality check of ‘What’s REALLY going on here’.  The fears, anxieties and general horrible imaginings that hold us back from getting what we really want.  Do remember that these are also questions you can use to help someone else who seems ‘stuck’ too, whether you’re a manager, a colleague, or just a friend.

If you’d like to find out how our 1-to-1 coaching programmes can help you get ‘unstuck’ and move forward this year..

Call us: 07714 855757

or click HERE to book in a short, no-obligation chat

 

 

Karen Amos is an executive coach and founder of BrightBird Coaching & Training. She supports leaders and managers to get the best out of themselves and their teams. She brings a down-to-earth, practical approach to improving working lives through better leadership, communication and working relationships. 

Wrestling the shark - getting to grips with the unknown


Overwhelmed with work? Treat your to-do list as if you were going on holiday...

Overwhelmed with work?  Treat your to-do list as if you were going on holiday...

By Karen Amos

Is your workload stressing you out right now?

If so, I’d say you’re in good company.  So many people are saying they’ve too much to do and not enough time to do it in.  On top of this, there’s the added pressure of the summer holidays.  Of course, this is doubly significant for those working in education with end of term looming – but it also applies to anyone who has a break booked, but doubts whether they’ll make it in one piece due to the amount tasks they’re facing.

So before we look at what we can do to manage this, let’s do a quick reality check (Magic wands and wishful thinking are very nice, but some things are just fact – albeit slightly uncomfortable ones!).

FACT #1 – There will always be too much work and too many things to do in any given day, week, month, eternity…

FACT #2 – No matter how motivated, or how good your intentions are, you only have a finite amount of energy.  (Sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but you are not a robot!)

FACT #3 – Much of the pressure we feel is artificially created.  It comes from other people, or worse still ‘systems’ and cultures, that we leave unquestioned.

FACT #4 – The more tired and stressed you get, the more ineffective and unproductive you become.

OK, so that’s all the doom and gloom stuff, but does that mean we’re all destined for a life of unproductivity and angst?  Absolutely not!  And the good news is that so much more is in your control than you may believe.

This is why I believe we should take the ‘One week to my holidays’ approach to managing our workload…

So here’s how it usually goes over your last 5 working days:

Day 5 – You’re full of good intentions about how you will clear all those pesky jobs that have lurked on your to-do list all year.  That way you can go on holiday with a clear conscience, self-congratulating at all the amazing work you’ve smashed this week…

Day 4 – You’ve tripled the length of said to-do list, but haven’t actually done a single thing, other than fire-fighting more tasks that weren’t even on there.

Day 3 – You realise that half of these tasks will take at least a week each, so decide to put them off until after your holidays (or even next year!).

Day 2 – You’ve ditched 80% of your original tasks and are now prioritising the the things that will cause disaster/mayhem/get you the sack if you don’t do them…

Final working day – You’re ditching tasks from that list with abandon (many of which will never find their way back onto it, even though you were convinced were non-negotiables three days ago).  You’re becoming slightly delirious and demob-happy and start doing the bare bones of what’s needed and seem to have forgotten about your perfectionist tendencies after all…

Sound familiar?  I know it well!

So if those tasks were so important in the first place, why do some become more negotiable/optional the more time-pressures exert themselves?

Usually it’s because they actually weren’t so important.  They were wishes, they were unplanned and they were good intentions (and we all know what the road to hell is paved with…).

That’s why we should be grateful for that last-minute panic before our holidays.  It helps us shine a light on what’s really important and also what our day is actually filled with.

Here are some coaching questions to help you see your workload in a new light:

1. Realistically, how long will these tasks take me with no distractions?

2. What would I advise the people I line manage if they presented me with this to-do list?

3. What needs to change in order to achieve the more strategic stuff, or the things that will make a difference?

4. What 3 things can I put in place quickly and easily to cut out distractions and fire-fighting?

5. Who are the key people around me who can help me with this?

Hopefully, you’re now able to give yourself permission to take a fresh view of that never-ending to-do list and have a wonderful, restorative holiday!

If you’d like to find out more about our training courses and programmes on time-management, work-life balance and wellbeing please get in touch.  We also offer individual and team coaching on leadership and performance matters.  

Call us: 07714 855757

or click HERE to book in a short, no-obligation chat

 

 

Karen Amos is an executive coach and founder of BrightBird Coaching & Training. She supports leaders and managers to get the best out of themselves and their teams. She brings a down-to-earth, practical approach to improving working lives through better leadership, communication and working relationships. 


Tired of playing the bad guy? Why not play yourself instead....?

By Karen Amos

‘I’m not scared of playing the bad guy’.

I hear this phrase so many times on my travels as a coach and I have to confess, I’ve said it myself in the past.

But let’s just unpick this for a moment. Why when we need to give negative feedback, or have a difficult conversation with someone, do we feel we’ve no option but to be the ‘Bad Guy’? Shouldn’t we just be doing what’s right? I know from my own experience that there are many reasons for saying this phrase.

Here are a couple:
1. Fear – Of what the other person might do or say, or of things getting out of control. Sometimes it’s the fear of not being liked.
2. Lack of options – Often I felt low on resources – either of potential solutions to the problem, or lack of interpersonal skills to deal with this.

The worst part of this was for me, I know I’m not a ‘Bad Guy’. I now recognise I’m a good, kind person, who likes to be fair to others and always tries to do the right thing.  This is most of us right?

This situation is a good example of where Authenticity pays dividends. What if you didn’t need to be the ‘Bad Guy’ and could instead, get the right result just by being yourself? Sounds good? Just think, less anxiety, sleeping well, knowing you did your best, increased personal responsibility for the other person and less of the ‘blame game’…. The list goes on…..

The secret is to take a coaching approach to giving feedback and difficult conversations. This approach means you’re not there to ‘fix’ the person, but to work collaboratively with them to find a workable solution. The first step is to be clear what you and they want out of the situation and to work together to find the solution.

Yes, I acknowledge there may be occasions where the person concerned refuses to accept their personal responsibility and you’ll have to deal with this accordingly, but from experience these people are in the minority.

By implementing this Authentic Leadership/coaching approach, I've found that raising issues with people more often than not, results in a positive, constructive outcome. I frequently hear examples from my clients where they've been dreading a conversation, but by implementing this approach have had surprisingly positive outcomes.  For example, people who have been placed on performance management have still thanked their manager for their support and as a result have addressed and resolved the issues raised.

No-one likes giving negative feedback and certainly no-one likes to receive it, but to know you’ve truly done your best to work with the person to find a positive solution to the problem must surely rest better with you than having had to play the ‘Bad Guy’ again.

If you'd like to find out more about our value for money in-house Managing Difficult Conversations training courses, click here:

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Tel: 07714 855757 or email: karen@bright-bird.co.uk

 

Karen Amos is an executive coach and founder of BrightBird Coaching & Training. She supports business owners and managers to get the best out of themselves and their teams. She brings a down-to-earth, practical approach to improving working lives through better leadership, communication and working relationships. 


Do you walk the walk, or are you just talk?

Do you walk the walk, or are you just talk?

By Karen Amos

I’ve been feeling challenged recently.  What’s new you may ask?  The world feels like it’s going to hell in a hand cart and to be honest, it’s hard to know where to direct your outrage.

I guess I’ve been challenged around my values.  My ethics.  What I stand for.  And mainly that many people who say they stand for a certain thing, do nothing of the kind in practice.  In fact, they overtly and cynically do just the opposite.

So yes, I’m talking about the current government (I won’t expand, as I don’t even know where to start), but also leadership around the world.  Saying one thing – doing another.

But let’s stop a minute in our righteous indignation and look a little closer to home too.  Let’s look at hype, at marketing and advertising.  Then let’s look at our own and other’s behaviour around us, including in the workplace.

This reminded me of a phrase a work colleague, Ursula Wood of Wellbeing Umbrella used to say:

‘Just because someone says it, does not make it so…’

Indeed.

Talk is cheap and all to frequently nowadays, not challenged either.  The fact is we can say anything we like, it’s a free country after all.  So I can say I’m actually 21 again.  There.  Yippee!  But I’m not, I’m 54 and no amount of saying it (or wishing for a bit more youthful vitality!) will make me so.

But this is where it all goes wrong.  People say they’re ethical, honest, authentic (heaven save us from authentic!), caring, compassionate… of course they do.  Who would ever proudly admit to being unethical, dishonest, a liar, a fraud?

The fact is though that unless we consistently back our words up with action – what we do – we are just that, frauds!

It’s an uneasy truth to bear.  There are times when I have been that cowardly person, when I’ve been ‘economical with the truth’.  Often because I was afraid of the consequences, but that’s by the by; these are the times I reflect upon and am most ashamed of myself.  So if we are to be our best selves and leaders, the people we tell everyone we are, and judge others against, we must face up to these realities.

Funnily enough, my inspiration for this post comes not from disingenuous politicians (although they’re not exactly a rare breed, judging by current events), but from the amount of ‘coaching’ purported everywhere and by everyone at the moment.  It’s trendy, it’s the thing to have, it’s a requirement and applauded in many sectors, including education.

As a coach, that really should be making my heart sing!  So why not?

The problem is that everything appears to be named ‘coaching’ nowadays.

So, instructing, mentoring, advising, teaching, training and plain old directing… all become ‘coaching’ – but they’re not.

They’re also not ‘wrong’ or ‘bad’. 

All these approaches have merit in the right situation.  I use them all in my own practice.  That’s how I give my clients most value.

It is however, vitally important that as a leader for example, if you say you take a coaching approach, you have a good look inwards.  Do you actually coach, or are you just directing with a very loaded question?  The former hands the control to the person being coached, the latter is a leader who hangs onto the control, but denies or disguises this as something else entirely.

As an example of coaching, here are a few coaching questions to get you started:

  • What words would I use to describe myself and my values and against which I judge others?
  • What evidence do I have that I practice these consistently?
  • Would other people around me agree?
  • Are there times my values become less ‘mandatory’ to me?

If you would like to find out more about coaching and how this differs from other approaches, check out our latest FREE Introduction to Coaching webinars. 

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Get in touch for a no-obligation chat if you'd like to find out more:

Tel: 07714 855757 or email: karen@bright-bird.co.uk

 

Karen Amos is an executive coach and founder of BrightBird Coaching & Training. She supports business owners and managers to get the best out of themselves and their teams. She brings a down-to-earth, practical approach to improving working lives through better leadership, communication and working relationships.