Archive for ◊ June, 2016 ◊

• Tuesday, June 21st, 2016


In this fast paced life being busy is a badge of honour. But sometimes doing nothing is the best way to be productive. Slowing down gives us a chance to reset our stress response, get breakthrough ideas and avoid burning out at the end of the day.

Here are some things to consider.

The Problem with Busy
If you’re busy doing the really important stuff (not just busywork) then that’s fantastic. It’s great to work at your limit: you get more done, you work with urgency and you most likely fit in more before lunch than most people do in a day. But prolonged periods of heightened attention, madly rushing from one thing to the next have been shown to increase stress chemicals. Being under constant pressure fires up our fight or flight response.

While this boosts urgency and helps us get more done, it has a bad effect on our quality of thinking: our problem-solving and short term memory suffers, we make more errors, and we find it more difficult to control our emotions and behaviours. Sometimes you work with greater intensity, but the quality suffers as we switch on the reactive areas of our brain.

Operating with a moderate level of constant stress has also been shown to stop our ability to get ‘A-ha Moments’ or breakthrough ideas. For these to happen, we need time to reflect (often sub-consciously) on the problem at hand and this allows us to ‘connect the dots’ that might be just beneath the surface.

You see, even though your effort remains extremely high throughout the day, your quality of works goes down…. and down….. and down….

Step One: Slow Down
Here’s a way you can combat that constant pressure that is sapping your productivity and quality of work.

Build in three, 10 minute breaks throughout your day. Research shows we need these ‘recovery’ breaks about every 2 hours to maintain peak performance.

In these breaks, you need to do some really simple things:

1) Slow Down
Don’t take a break from work stress just to add a different stress. If you’re running around doing personal errands, it’s not working. Do something to slow down. Or better yet – do nothing.

2) Disconnect Physically and Electronically
Get away from your workspace, and turn off your electronic pings and notifications. These tend to still create the stress response because they scream for our attention.

If you think you can get more done just by sitting at your desk for longer, you’re wrong. It’s a false economy. Try these simple 10 minute breaks throughout the day and see how it affects your productivity once you sit down and get back to work.

• Tuesday, June 14th, 2016

The objective of coaching in the workplace is pretty straight forward. It’s not just to improve performance, or to change someone’s behaviour. It is to make this change last. In short, the objective of coaching is to make yourself redundant.

Anyone can get someone to change behaviour short-term, but to really get people to learn and affect lasting behaviour change, we need to coach effectively. We need to have conversations that enable the person being coached to do some very specific things.

If you seem to be having the same coaching conversations over and over again, then obviously whatever you’re doing isn’t working. You haven’t made yourself redundant at all – in fact you need to be there over and over again in order to get the person to make the change. So maybe your coaching technique needs some attention.

Or maybe you’re not actually coaching at all?

The #1 Rule of Coaching

Next time you engage your staff member in a coaching session (this can be a formal coaching session, but is more likely informal) take note of one simple thing: who’s doing most of the talking?

You see, the number one rule of coaching is simply this:
If you are doing all the talking, you’re not coaching.

Taking ownership is important for people to change behaviour. If people merely listen to what you are saying and nod in agreement every now and then, then chances are they aren’t really taking ownership of the situation. In fact, they’re probably not trying to solve the situation at all – they’re probably just trying to please you, so you go away and leave them alone. Nodding heads and agreeing will tend to have that effect.

But, if your staff member is talking about the problem, the solution and setting themselves deadlines for actions, then they tend to take more ownership.

So, here are three typical things that we need to be mindful of when coaching. Three parts of the coaching conversation, three potential mistakes that coaches make, and three potential solutions. Try these:

Part 1 – Owning the problem:
Mistake: “When you don’t get your report in on time, I can’t get mine done on time either”
Change to: “Do you know what happens when you don’t get the report in on time?”

Part 2 – Owning the solution:
Mistake: “Next time, put a reminder in your diary and get me the draft two days before the deadline”
Change To: “What do you think you can do next time so this doesn’t happen again?”

Part 3 – Owning the action:
Mistake: “So you need to have this done by next Friday, OK?”
Change To: “When do you think you can have this done by?”

The IKEA effect
People, who build their own furniture, value it up to 65% higher than people who have bought furniture pre-assembled. When we feel ownership and involvement in the creation of something, we tend to value it more.

This little psychological nuance also holds true for coaching. When people own the problem, the solution and the action, they place more value on changing to rectify the situation.