The importance of having either a mentor or coach (ideally both) has always been apparent to me from the early part of my career. When I was qualifying as an accountant in my twenties I was lucky to be working for some great role models who encouraged personal development and growth both from a technical and interpersonal standpoint.
I have a clear distinction in my mind between a persons line manager, a mentor and a coach however for others sometimes the lines can get blurred. If you can create strong relationships with all three of these people at any one time different things can be gained from each. At the same time you will feel both challenged and supported if you surround yourself with the right people in all of these roles.
As well as having all three of these people in your life if you can get the opportunity to act in all of these three roles to aid the development of others this is also very rewarding work and allows you to experience what I think are the differences between the roles. Let’s take each in turn and I will explain how I have experienced them
Line Manager – the most obvious in that organisationally this is who you report too if employed, if self employed this won’t be in place and makes the other two roles below even more important to avoid working in a void. A good line manager will ensure you have complete clarity about that is required from your role, give you feedback on whether you are heading in the right direction performance wise while in addition set you stretching objectives and devise a meaningful development plan.
Mentor – this is someone who has walked the path you want to take and has learnt from experience and willing to share how these experiences may help you follow a similar path. They should be inspiring and enjoy helping you proceed in your journey in your way but with the benefit of learnings they may be able to pass on. This relationship normally is in place for a relatively short time until you have discussed their journey. A mentoring relationship can last for about a year however if there is a big gap between where the mentor is and where you are now the relationship may last longer and move into a more infrequent checkin over a longer period of time.
Coach – this is someone you meet with again over a set period of time anything from 3 months to 9 months typically. The coaching sessions act as safe spaces for you to get clear on your goals (work and non work), explore options for action, any barriers you may be struggling to overcome and any patterns of behaviour or thinking that are either working for you or against you. A coach will use established tools and techniques that include powerful questions to unlock the answers that are already inside you. A qualified coach does not need specialist knowledge about what you want to work on or technical expert subject matter.
My recommendation would be to have at least two of these people in your life and to at least get the opportunity to act as a mentor for others in either a professional or personal area.
Sandra works as a coach and trainer for both business and private clients. More information can be found at http://www.sandrawebbercoaching.com
Recently I have been working with a couple of people that have taken on new roles either from internal promotion or moving to a different company. We have been talking about how important it is to have a plan for the initial few months of the role. For many reasons adopting this methodology is helpful: to create a powerful professional first impression, it helps prioritise your time so that you learn as much as you can as quick as you can and you start building relationships with all the key stakeholders.
So what might this 90 day plan look like ? Take a look at a book entitled The First 90 Days by Michael Watkins for some more detailed material.
It should be a very personally created plan that is tailored to suit both you individually and the needs that success in the role require both short and long term.
As Steven Covey states in his book Seven Habits of Highly Effective People “ begin with the end in mind” even when planning for the first 90 day transition period. A few questions that might help you here are :
- If you imagine the new role in two years time what do you want to have achieved?
- What legacy do you want to leave?
- How can you add value to the role?
- What type of person do you want to be described as by your team/colleagues?
- Describe you short/medium/long term vision for role
- What do your stakeholders want from you
- How can you take the role to the next level
The next element of the plan is to assess the current resources that are available to you both people and otherwise? How well do you understand the different personalities and motivations of the individuals that are critical to your success? If the answers are difficult in this section the first 90 days might include an action to build this knowledge and assess the resources available.
The final element is what actions are required to close the gap and what are the quick wins that can be accomplished in the first 90 day’s. In addition for the longer term action items, when they are broken down into chunks which are the chunks that can be realistically set down as goals to achieve in this 90 day period and which what chunks need to be assigned to the 180 day plus part of the strategic plan
The final step is to pull all the elements of the 90 day plan above into an easy to update one page top level summary that you can carry around with you as a working reminder and communication tool for the next 90 day’s,
Sandra works as a coach with both business and private clients. More information can be found at http://www.sandrawebbercoaching.com
For anyone new into a leadership role or for anyone who has taken over the leadership role of a new team taking the time out to build up a pen picture of each team member is a good first step.
One suggested approach is to create a grid with team members name down the vertical access in the first column and then create a number of other columns across the page where you can note useful information that can help you flex your leadership style in order to get the most out if the individual. Effective leaders have the ability to adjust their approach and leadership style regularly to adapt it to differing situations and the unique differences of team members. Firstly however you need to understand these unique differences and this grid exercise is a way of doing this?
The sort of information that could be useful for the new leader to collect in a systematic way would be
- Personality preferences eg Myers Briggs extrovert/introvert sensing/intuitive/ feeling/thinking judging/ perceiving .
- Motivational and de-motivational indicators for each person
- Development level eg their current way of working from dependent to interdependent
- Have they got a clearly defined and understood job description
- Key objectives
- Key areas of development
- Any other useful misc notes
If this grid is compiled and used as a management tool it is useful as a “My Team on a Page ” part of your leadership tool kit . It can be a useful refresher prior to 1-1 discussions.
Another useful activity to schedule with each team member in the initial few weeks is to allow them un- interrupted time to talk about their personal goals long and short term, for them to share how they prefer to receive feedback and also how happy they are with their current personal development plan. Are they in need of more challenge or more support in their current role. How can you as the new leader be helpful for them.
By taking a genuine interest in what makes each person tick and also how things are currently working out through their eyes it will let them know that you care about them all individually.
Armed with all the above information it will not only allow you to adjust your leadership style accordingly it will also help you understand which developmental opportunities are best suited to which individual in your team. As an effective leader the development and growth of your team should be a key objective.
Sandra works with both businesses and private clients as a coach and trainer. She is also author of the book Own It – regain control and live life on your terms. More information can be found at http://www.sandrawebbercoaching.com or http://www.own-it-book.com
This wasn’t the planned blog subject matter but it has been such an experience that I felt compelled to capture the learnings.
How can some organisations get it so right while others get it so wrong?
Looking after customers or clients , whatever your terminology, with care, effective communication and the personal touch throughout the entire journey is vitally important. I have had two experiences in the matter of weeks which were as contrasting as black and white.
The first experience started well or so I thought with me signing up for a service that appeared to be offering a timely and cost effective solution to my problem (the old saying if it seems too good to be true it probably is now comes to mind). The first problems started to occur when I discovered the timelines of the service provision were very different in actual terms than the one that was originally offered. In hindsight this should have been a warning sign however I proceeded and agreed to a delayed appointment time. The first appointment was conducted but a solution wasn’t fully available at that point so a second visit was required. This is when the problem started as on numerous occasions the second appointment was cancelled, rearranged, not communicated which resulted in time off and loss of earnings by me (the customer) After an official complaint which wasn’t followed up correctly I eventually cancelled the contract and was back where I started 2 months ago.
The second experience couldn’t have been more different with clear expectations, loads of communication, appointments that were kept, problems resolved and a solution in place within an acceptable timescale.
In the theory of customer care training which we deliver as an organisation there is always a chance of “recovery” – taking some action to recover the situation and leave the customer less dissatisfied. To date the first organisation has not taken this route, even after an official complaint and a withdrawal of the contract no one has got in touch to either apologise or offer compensation for inconvenience caused.
If you are responsible for delivering products or services at least learn where the problems are within the system of processes otherwise customers talk and share their experiences good and bad. It’s ok if customers are happy and recommending your services however if they are in the other camp they could be putting potential future customers off and they will look elsewhere. Customer cancellations should always be followed up to find out if “things could have been done differently” and if so extra training or process changes might be required so that the same doesn’t happen again.
Sandra works as a coach and trainer for both businesses and private clients. More information regarding coaching can be found at www.sandrawebbercoaching.com. She has also published a book Own It – regain control and live life on your terms available from Amazon http://amzn.to/2m3l8Vl
Adapting behaviours in order to build better relationships with others is a subject that regularly comes up in both the coaching work I do and also the training workshops.
Regardless of the originating subject matter the topics of relationship building or improving communication between specific individuals is routinely discussed as one of the challenges faced by people in and outside of work regardless of age, gender, sector or situation.
So why is it we often need to take the lead and adapt our approach to improve our interaction with others?
- The first thing to realise is that, unless the other individual has done a lot of self-development work in the area of understanding and respecting the individual differences, we can’t rely on the other person in the equation to change or try a different approach
- If they do then great but we have to assume the adaptation has to be down to us.
- The second thing after realising some changes are necessary is that you have to WANT to experiment with a different approach and you have to WANT to try and improve the relationship. If this isn’t genuine then any adaptation from your standpoint might come across as false or inauthentic.
- The third thing is be prepared to experiment with a few different approaches until you find one that works. It helps if there is a strong reason as to why you want to improve the communication or relationship so that the persistence in trying a few times or with a few different techniques is worth the effort in the long run.
- Try looking at any situation through the eyes of the person you are trying to improve the relationship with. If you were them what might you be thinking, what would you want to change?
I have seen many times relationships between two parties that initially have been very strained and difficult move to a completely different harmonious level once one person has taken the initiative to either be very brave and confront the situation with a very honest and open discussion or tried a different approach (often a few) until a breakthrough was achieved. Often having worked through this initial difficult beginning strong partnerships are forged with much greater appreciation of the differences each party brings to the relationship.
Sandra works as a coach in businesses and with private clients. For more information look at http://www.sandrawebbercoaching.com