Merge's Blog

Tag Archives: coaching employees

What school teachers already know about employee training

classroomAs a leader, you recognize the value of investing in training for your employees.  A skilled workforce leads to improved performance and productivity, which means that your staff can do their jobs more effectively on a day-to-day basis.  When people understand their roles, they know how to achieve positive outcomes, and operate more productively.  When you equip your employees with the skills they need to embrace new techniques and procedures, you also maintain your competitiveness.  And when you invest in employee training, you positively impact employee morale and commitment, and eventually performance levels.  All of which means that you want your investment in employee training to not only be useful in the short-term but also last in the long-term!

What makes employee training effective?

So what does it take to make employee training effective?  What is it that ensures that your people are able to understand what is being taught AND influences them to take action?  The answer, not surprisingly, can be found in the education profession.  School teachers are well aware of the value of formative assessment tools to help students learn more effectively.  Essentially, formative assessment strategies are a range of procedures used by school teachers to progressively modify teaching and learning activities when working with students.  And these same tools can be just as powerful when it comes to employee training.  Here are four strategies that teachers use with school children that can be just as effective for leaders to use in the workplace with employees. Continue reading

Improve your coaching skills by asking this one simple question

coachingBack in 2012, I posed this question on the blog: When your employee comes to you with a problem, do you tell or do you ask?  My point was that so many leaders have the tendency to “solve” our employees’ issues rather than coaching our employees to resolve the problems themselves.  Over the years, I have discovered one very simple, yet powerful, phrase can make the difference.  Ask: What do you think?

A powerful coaching moment

When an employee comes to you with an issue, don’t fall into the trap of thinking that you need to provide an answer.  Instead, use the opportunity to create a very powerful coaching moment.  The chances are high that your employee already has a very good idea as to what the solution should be, and only really wants to discuss it with you and get your concurrence.  When you ask “What do you think?”, you are opening the door for a dialogue that not only will lead to a solution, but will also build your employee’s self-confidence as well as enhance problem-solving skills.  Continue reading

Why you shouldn’t fall prey to “reverse delegation”

ReverseDelegationAbout a year ago, I wrote a column for Profit MagazineHow to Stop Doing Employees’ Work For Them – about how not to fall into the classic leadership trap known as “reverse delegation”, which is the natural tendency that many leaders have to “help” a struggling employee by taking back a task that’s been assigned to him/her.

Reverse delegation occurs far more often than you might realize (or that you are willing to admit), and usually strikes when you fall into the mindset of “It will be faster and easier to just do this myself.”  But it’s not good leadership … for two reasons.  First, reverse delegation doesn’t permit you to build skills and confidence in your people (a very important job for leaders), and two (and perhaps even more importantly), it simply causes your personal workload to escalate.  Continue reading

Need to have a difficult conversation with an employee?

Mgr-Emp-1Difficult conversations are just that … difficult … which is why so many of us keep putting them off. Has this ever happened to you? You have a problem or an issue you need to bring up with one of your employees – perhaps it’s a missed deadline, or constant tardiness, or a complaint from a customer – but things are overwhelmingly busy around the office and you can’t seem to make the time. Plus let’s face it, you’re not exactly looking forward to the conversation. So you might do what so many others in your situation do – you say, in passing, to your employee “We need to talk, but now is not a good time.” Don’t.

Why? Well, for one, the anticipation of not knowing what’s going on (even though your employee likely has some idea) will make your staff member feel apprehensive. Essentially you will be creating unease and anxiety without providing an opportunity to alleviate it. If your goal is to resolve the situation or get the employee to change their behaviour, then you’ve created a losing proposition before you’ve even started. Two, Continue reading

Feedforward – stay future-focused when offering feedback

forwardGiving negative feedback to employees is one of the hardest things that leaders have to do, so I often offer up how-to tips and ideas on the blog. One of my (many) past suggestions has been to stay future-focused in your conversation. Well I recently heard a new term to describe this approach – feedforward – and I liked it so much, I thought it was worth revisiting in today’s post.

Feedforward is focused on offering an employee suggestions for the future with a goal of helping them as much as you can. Supporters of the feedforward model suggest that because feedback focuses on the past, on what has already occurred, it is limited and static. Whereas feedforward, because it focuses on the infinite variety of opportunities that can happen in the future, is expansive and dynamic. Now I don’t think it really matters what word you choose because “feedback”, if it’s done well (and is future-focused), is just “feedforward” in disguise. But I do acknowledge that the word “feedforward” is an obvious and visible reminder of the importance of looking ahead rather than into the past. So let’s call it feedforward.

Here’s how it works. Continue reading

Why CEOs should not take a vacation

My latest Leadership Lab column for The Globe & Mail is up in cyberspace!

Why CEOs should not take a vacation

Executive coaches often encourage CEOs in growing organizations to work “on” their business instead of “in” their business. So far, that’s pretty good counsel, and I don’t disagree. It’s the frequent follow-up conversation that gets me all twisted up though! Advice such as “You should be able to go on a two-week vacation and never have to check back into the office; the mental break will allow you to return refreshed, ready to take your company to even greater heights” or “Your time is better spent networking at the golf course or at industry events because that is where you’ll discover new business opportunities and further build existing relationships” may sound textbook-perfect, but quite frankly it’s idiotic and a sure-fire recipe for failure. I explain further on The Globe‘s site.

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Well, what you think? Are all those executive coaches right after all, or do you agree with my contrarian point of view? Please share your views directly on The Globe‘s site so that your insights are available to their significant readership. Or if you wish to comment in a more targeted way, drop me an email or send me a tweet (@mergespeaks). And please … do tell me if you speak as a CEO, an executive coach, or from another perspective.

And one last thing — do me one HUGE favour – help me get the word out … share the link with your staff and colleagues (easiest directly from The Globe‘s site using the share icon at the very top of the article). My objective is always to get the dialogue started so the more people who join in the conversation, the more I’ve succeeded in achieving my goal.

I’m looking forward to hearing from you. Here is a direct link to the article in case you need to cut and paste it elsewhere: http://tgam.ca/EMtM

Developing people requires adaptability in your leadership style

JimClemmerAs regular readers of the blog know, I am a huge fan of metaphors. My most well-known metaphor of course is the title of one of my most requested keynotes (and my first book) – Why Does the Lobster Cast Off Its Shell? So it’s not a surprise that I am absolutely delighted that our guest blogger today is using a metaphor to illustrate one of the most important skills in leadership – adaptability when it comes to developing people. Jim Clemmer is the founder of the Clemmer Group, a firm that focuses on making people better for organizations and organizations better for people. He is also the author of seven international bestselling books and I’m proud to call him my professional colleague. His post today uses the metaphor of perennial gardening to offer an important lesson in leadership.

Leaders Grow People To Their Full Potential

I enjoy perennial gardening in our yard. As I have tended our gardens over the years, I am continually struck by how some plants will do well in some locations and terribly elsewhere in the garden. Each spring and fall I move plants around to match their preferences for particular soil, wind, and sun conditions, as well as their proximity to other plants. Continue reading

Five things every leader should know about giving negative feedback

The thumb down icon. Rejected and no, negative symbol. FlatIf you’re in a position of formal leadership, then it’s your job to offer feedback, both positive and negative, to your staff. The positive feedback is easy – it’s the thank you’s, the pats of the back, the kudos to the team. But offering negative feedback isn’t so simple, often because many leaders don’t know how, don’t have the time, or both. Yet it’s your job to deliver your message in a way that is constructive, heard and acted upon. So can you effect positive behavior change, rather than create anger and resentment? Sure you can, and in the past I’ve often blogged about it (see Giving negative feedback: focus on facts instead of opinions for one example. But today, I thought I’d summarize five must-do’s that every leader should know about giving negative feedback. Continue reading

Positive role models exist everywhere!

A couple of years ago, I posted a video on the blog under the title of You are a role model. The video had a lot of great messages in it, but more than anything else, it illustrated something that I repeatedly tell leaders – “You are role models.  Whether you want it or not, whether you like it or not, your people are watching you, and your behaviour and actions will determine how they behave and act.”  And it really doesn’t matter if it’s at home or at work!

Recently I came across another video that conveyed the same message (and brought a tear to my eye) so I couldn’t resist sharing. Here it is (it is in Thai, but it has English subtitles):

My primary reason for sharing the video with you is to illustrate the importance of being a positive role model in all arenas of your life. But I know there is more than one leadership (and life) lesson to be learned here. What did you get out of this video?  Please share by adding to the Comments below.

P.S. In case you were wondering, this is actually an advert for a Thai mobile company. Cool, huh?

Overcoming reverse delegation

My latest contribution as a member of ProfitGuide.com’s panel of business experts launched into cyberspace this morning. Frequent readers of the blog will recall that since May, I have been writing regular columns for the online version of Profit Magazine. And in case you didn’t know, Profit Magazine is a sister publication to Canadian business magazine giants Canadian Business, MoneySense and Macleans, so I’m pretty chuffed to be in such esteemed company. Today’s column is titled:

How to Stop Doing Your Employees’ Work For Them

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It spells out how to avoid falling victim to the classic leadership trap known as “reverse delegation”, the natural tendency to offer assistance by taking back a task you’ve assigned to someone else.

Reverse delegation occurs far more often than leaders realize (or that they are willing to admit). But if you are committed to not allowing your personal workload to escalate AND to building skills and confidence in your people, then it is critical that you know how to respectfully and effectively push back when it occurs.

Take a read-through please (How to Stop Doing Your Employees’ Work For Them) and then come on back to the blog and share your thoughts. Have you fallen victim to this classic leadership trap? If not, what has been your approach to avoid reverse delegation? Please share so that we can all learn from one another.