Why would your people jump ship? (#donttelljustcoach)

the officeA couple of years ago, when I was co-leading HP’s internal coaching network, a new manager sent me an email asking for some tips on getting started in leadership. He said something like:

“Hello John, I am so excited about my promotion. I have 6 resources working for me. Do you have any useful tips?”

His request made me cringe and my response to him was:

“Congratulations on your promotion. My first tip for you is to remember that your “resources” are actually people. So, you have 6 people working for you. Would you like to discuss this further?”

He didn’t respond, and I wondered what kind of a boss this guy might turn out to be; just who exactly are these 6 “resources” going to be reporting to?

And only last week in the Business section of the Bristol Evening Post, there was a review of a recent report from Investors in People “Job Exodus Trends 2016”, with some interesting conclusions.

  1. Getting a pay rise would not solve the problem of being badly managed or feeling unvalued. Pay is important to employees but it’s clear that it’s not the only answer.
  2. Long standing issues around poor management and how valued people feel in the work continue to make UK workers miserable.
  3. Bad leadership along cost the UK £39 Billion a year.
  4. “The one thing (other than a pay rise!) that employers can do to increase overall happiness, according to employees, is ‘say thank you more’.”

These two stories are closely connected in the way that managers too often neglect the culture in the work place. And rather than use their people skills to develop great working relationships with their staff, they fail to connect, they remain isolated, aloof, unapproachable and sometimes over-demanding.

So what can managers do to build those relationships, to build trust and respect as foundations for how things get done at work?

One really important people skill is being able to give feedback in an authentic way. There are some simple steps, and the same steps can be applied for praising good performance as well as for noting where improvement is needed.

Here they are; think S B I. SBI: Situation, Behaviour, Impact.

Situation: Think here about the environment, the venue, the people involved, the customers involved, the business scenario, the original intent.

Behaviour: It’s essential here to focus on labelling the specific behaviour(s) and not the individual. Exactly WHAT did the person do?

Impact: Consider now what happened at the time you observed the behaviour, as well as what could happen in future.

It’s worth taking some time to prepare for what you need to say, and here are a couple of examples; first where Jane did a great job with a customer presentation; second where it didn’t go so well for Bob.

“Hi Jane. That presentation you did upstairs yesterday on future products got the MD and finance director really interested. You aimed to get their buy in and it worked. I liked how you explained the main features and their market appeal. They asked you lots of great questions and I think they will approve the budget we are after.”


 “Hi Bob. That presentation you did upstairs yesterday on future products didn’t go down well with the MD and finance director. You seemed to lose their attention after the first few minutes, I guess because you didn’t seem well prepared and had your notes scattered all over the desk. We haven’t got the budget approved yet, so you will need to be more convincing next time. I want to help you to do that, so let’s set up some time for another dry run.”

 These are the words (above) that you could use, but how comfortable do you feel about saying the words and meaning them, about looking the other person in the eye to show that you are serious about your message? You might need some practice.

My next workshop, Coaching Others to Be Their Best, provides the opportunity to learn and practice some key skills of coaching, feedback being one of those skills. You can meet other like-minded professionals too, share experience, and learn from each other in a safe and fun environment.

Please join me at The Watershed in Bristol on 24th March, 9am to 1pm.

Check out the hash tag #donttelljustcoach for short tips, and then book here or directly from my website events page. http://bit.ly/1OwHgPn