There are always more options than obstacles – trust me I’m a Coach

Most of the readers of this blog will know by now that my day job is that of being a coach – a management coach, leadership coach, executive coach – call it what you will. The reality is that most of the people that I coach face the same issues regardless of who they are or position that they hold. One of the most common is being stuck in a place that they don’t always want to get out of.

I can recognise the ‘stuck conversations’ coming as it often starts with ‘well, the problem is’ or ‘it’s different here ‘. Generally, people want me to solve their problems, or quite often to agree with them that it is a problem about which nothing can be done. Unfortunately, I don’t subscribe to this way of thinking. The problem is that there is always something that can be done but people don’t always want to hear that. Many are very happy with the status quo and comfortable having the same things to worry about, they also fear letting go.

Here’s an example; ‘I can’t delegate to my team because they are too busy/ too slow/ not able to do it / tell me they will do it and it doesn’t get done.’ Delete as applicable. My job is to get to the actual truth here and it can be several issues which are not always evident. The solutions usually lie in one of the following – learning how to delegate properly, identifying employee skill gaps and starting from where they are, not from where the manager wants them to be, getting the manager to understand what they will replace the delegated task with, recognising a passive aggressive when they see one and getting to the bottom of their issues.

Many managers sit on the surface of managing the team and don’t delve beneath to find how it could all be better or different; this will usually stem from the fact they are used to having to give the answers. The technique to learn is how to ask the right questions and to recognise when you are letting something move ahead too quickly. Give the answer and the other person will struggle to become independent and the manager doesn’t hear about new ways of doing things. Move too quickly and the skills are not practised or embedded, either way the manager remains stuck.

Learning to ask questions takes time, learning to listen to the answers takes even more time but it is a skill that will never leave you. Letting go of tasks is also essential in order that a manager can take the time to really develop the skills of the team. If they can recognise the value in this and do it, they will reap much greater rewards as they will succeed through the strength and power of the team.

Here’s a couple for you to ponder:
• What could you do for the business that would have the biggest impact?
• What do you excel at?
• How do your employees view you as their manager?

These are good strong open questions designed to make you think and not to just come up with simple answers – find ways to substantiate your response, if you can’t, think harder. This is what coaches do, they make people think and then think again. The quality of solutions becomes greater, trust me.

Penny Whitelock August 2019

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