Managing and Facilitating People to Maximise Their Performance
In these times of rapid change managers and leaders are increasingly required to ensure their staff are able to give their best, despite the unprecedented challenges we all face. But how do we do it?
The challenge here is to manage and facilitate people to maximise their performance, rather than you (as manager) doing more of the work yourself.
It's a Huge Ask to be a Rescuer for All Staff
It’s so tempting for us as managers to take on the role of Rescuer - offering quick and easy solutions to someone who is evidently struggling. When you yourself are stretched, it’s a huge ask to be a Rescuer for all staff. Whilst your intent is to be supportive, the unintended consequence of prematurely offering staff your own solutions is that it sets you up as the source of answers and solutions - subtly implying staff are unable to address their own issues. This establishes a dynamic where, in the face of a challenge, staff look to the manager for the ‘right answer’ instead of initially looking to themselves for their own possible solutions.
An Example of the Rescuer Dynamic
Take the following example – a manager is supervising a member of staff who explains how stretched she is with meetings involving the development of new services. You’re concerned how this may be impacting her and her other commitments.
Does your conversation currently sound something like this?
Manager: ‘All these meetings must be impacting on you and your other commitments. Are you able to keep on top of everything?'
Staff: ‘I’m working as hard as I can, but the new services are taking all my time.’
Manager: ‘Have you thought about getting your deputy to take on the development of one of the new services?’
Staff: ‘She is really busy with her own work, I couldn’t ask her to do more.’
Manager: ‘What about reviewing all the meetings you have over the next couple of weeks and seeing which ones could be delegated?'
Staff: ‘Ok – but I don’t know if there are any I can miss – it’s really important I’m there.’
Manager: ‘What about your team – is there anyone there who could help out?'
Staff: ‘No, they are all too busy.’
Adopting a Coaching Approach
Or does the conversation go more like this?
Manager: ‘You sound very busy with developing the new services. How is this impacting you and your other commitments?’
Staff: ‘Yes I’m very busy, and I’m struggling to keep on top of staff supervision as well as some of my paperwork.’
Manager: ‘Do you want to explore this struggle just now?’
Staff: ‘I don’t know – I don’t think anything is going to change for the next two months...’
Manager: ‘It sounds like you see this as a time-limited problem and that in two months you will be less busy?
Manager: ‘What support do you need over the next two months?’
Staff: ‘I don’t know...’
Manager: ‘Imagine you woke up tomorrow and this was no longer an issue – what would be different?’
Staff: ‘I wouldn’t wake worrying about all the things I haven’t done.’
Manager: ‘Of all the things you are worrying about not having done – which one concerns you most?’
Staff: ‘Julie’s supervision – she isn’t very experienced and there have been some issues with her team.’
Manager: ‘Anything else?’
Staff: ‘No, that’s the big worry – the other managers are OK – though I could let them know that. Because of the new services I haven’t been able to arrange any supervision sessions and I will struggle until next month. If they have any issues they know they can come to me.’
Manager: ‘What about Julie?’
Staff: ‘I need to make some time to speak with her and see how she's doing?’
Manager: ‘When will you commit to do that?’
Support and Challenge Staff to Think Creatively for Themselves
In the second conversation, the manager has taken a coaching approach – she has used powerful questioning and active listening skills to facilitate greater awareness and clarity about the issue while supporting the staff member to find her own solutions. In the first conversation, the manager thinks of solutions and offers them to the staff member. Each one is rejected. What’s clear is the manager is doing all the thinking - inventing solutions for the staff member to consider. Managers who adopt a coaching approach, know the folly of thinking for staff and instead use their people skills to support and challenge staff to think creatively for themselves. It’s the difference between giving staff a fish and teaching them how to fish for themselves.
The second conversation takes more time in the short term, however it’s a long term benefit since it has staff thinking for themselves and will have greater chance of success, since people are always more committed to plans they have created for themselves. They will also be convinced of your genuine concern for them as well as your belief in their capacity to be personally resourceful.
Increate Your Impact as a Manager - Develop your Coaching Skills
Developing your coaching skills can have a real impact, especially in a climate where managers are expected to achieve more with less. Applying coaching skills, with expertise and confidence, will help you and those you lead to thrive, both personally and professionally.
If you want to develop your coaching skills join us online for our popular Coaching Skills for Managers course in November 2020. Click here and book your place today!
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