The Coaching Wheel

Sometimes known as the Wheel of Life, this is a tool that can be adapted to many aspects of life. Coaches use it very often as a starting point for conversations around priorities and values. It’s easy to allow the minutiae of everyday life/work to mask the things that we hold to be really important; all too easy to forget why we’re doing what we doDEVA Wheel web.

Using the Wheel is always a personal thing: the idea is to assign to each section an aspect of your own life, whether it’s working well or not. My headings are only suggestions, but they are those typically chosen by many coachees.

The next step is to assign a value to each aspect, where 0 is lowest and 10 the highest. Again, this is subjective. It’s about how that aspect of your life is satisfying you at the present time. Be honest, and question what lies behind your response in each case. You will find that reflecting honestly on all aspects helps identify where changes need to be made.

The Wheel is a great tool; you can develop your own Management Wheel, with aspects such as Sales, Delegation, Communication, etc. and use that to develop insights into how to prioritise and develop your team or department.

For more information on how coaching could help you personally or professionally, visit our website or give us a call on 07834 706553.

Change and curiosity

“The only constant in life is change”. This is so often quoted and most of us aren’t quite sure who said it – sci-fi genius Isaac Asimov, French philosopher La Rochefoucauld or your Auntie Maud? Actually it was Heraclitus, a Greek professor who lived from 535 BC to 475 BC, who is first recorded as having written it.

Greek philosopher Heraclitus

Greek philosopher Heraclitus

People deal with change in different ways: some welcome it with open arms, embracing opportunities at every turn. Others try to resist change, sometimes expending a lot of energy in doing so.

Most of us are somewhere in between. When we are in control of change, we can adapt even to the more uncomfortable aspects of what needs to happen. It’s when change is decided and implemented outwith our control that the trouble starts, and stress can often be the result.

Coaching, whether for career or other life decisions, helps people to take back control and find a way to make positive changes. The emphasis is on personal choice, values and accountability. A good coach knows that you have the answers and resources you need – and she’s very curious to know what those are. The curious coach will ask you the important questions without trying to provide the solutions; she knows that you just need to step back in order to make the choices that are best for you.

Find about more about our coaching programmes here.

Confident Interviews

Many of Scotland’s Colleges of Further Education are currently undergoing tremendous change.  A number have merged to form larger organisations with multiple campuses, which will make learning more accessible to a greater number of people. As with all mergers and reorganisations, however, this has meant uncertainty for staff members, even though they are working hard to deliver business as usual for their students and clients.

One of the aspects that many people dread when such restructuring takes Interviewsplace is having to apply for their own job or for a job that is very similar to their current role. Worse, they feel, is having to be interviewed for the job that they are already doing. They fear the “Dragons’ Den” effect which can leave the bravest soul tongue-tied. Having recently developed and delivered a workshop on this subject, I thought it worth sharing some of the common themes that emerged:

•    It’s crucial to turn the spotlight away from yourself and how you feel. Consider the needs and wants of the manager or team interviewing you. What are they looking for; what can you provide that will make their job easier to do?

•    You’re in the best possible position to understand the requirements of the job, even if it will be different in some way from the one you currently do. Show how well you understand its importance, and the way it fits in with the organisation’s wider aims (do your homework on this aspect if you haven’t already).

•    Competence-based interviews sound intimidating and they can be if you’re not prepared. Reflect on occasions when you have achieved an outstanding result, and make them into  short stories. Focus on the challenge, what you did and the outcome. Have four or five of these up your sleeve, well-practised and tell them with enthusiasm.

•    Watch your body language – literally. Find a mirror or a webcam and see how you come across. Check out your voice – deep breathing will help you relax and your voice will sound more authoritative as a result.

Finally, remember – you do know what you’re talking about!

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A zest for life

At 99-years-old my friend’s father has travelled further than most on life’s proverbial journey. Bas

Now the nonagenarian might just be about to rack up more miles than most too, as National Express is today (Tuesday, December 17, 2013) giving him a year’s free coach travel – so he can carry on with his adventures well beyond his 100th birthday.

Mr C has been travelling on National Express coaches for 20 years, and several times a year he makes an impressive 420 mile round trip by coach from his home in Sheffield, to Kent to see his friends and family.

Three years ago the pensioner became a firm favourite with National Express staff after writing to them asking if they could suggest a better way to get to get to Shipbourne, Kent.

Mr C had always travelled from Sheffield to London Victoria coach station by coach and caught a train to Kent, but he found changing difficult while carrying an unwieldy suitcase.

National Express staff were touched by his letter and amazed a person of his years had the confidence and independence to still be making such a long journey.

As well as recommending him a convenient coach service to take him closer to his destination, they decided to provide him with a year’s free travel pass, and the pass has been renewed each year since.

Despite his years, Mr C’s enthusiasm for travel has not diminished and he likes to travel around the UK to see his large family, which includes four children, six grand-children and five great grandchildren.

The power of positive thinking? I’d like some of that.

Hogmanay hugs

Hogmanay 2013

Hogmanay 2013

One of the many things I like about living in Scotland is the way people say “Happy New Year” to one another the first time they meet after The Bells (midnight on 31st December). This can continue for the whole of January and occasionally beyond. It’s a custom that may be dying out in younger generations but I hope not. It still takes me by surprise, as an ex-pat, reserved Englishwoman of 30 years’ standing, to be greeted that way well into the new year, with a warm handshake, or more often a hug.

Remotivating yourself after a holiday is not so pleasant. For those of us lucky enough (or unessential enough!) to take a longish break, starting back can seem hard. All of the tasks you didn’t finish are still waiting, together with a full Inbox and (probably) an internal voice telling you to turn over some kind of new leaf; that is, to make New Year resolutions and (harder still) keep them.

Overwhelming? It can be. Let’s remember, though, that “resolution” originally comes from the verb “to resolve”. It has a number of meanings including “to solve a problem” and “to make a firm decision”. Why not single out the one thing that you really want to change this year – just one. Make it a specific goal:

Not ” I should spend more time with the kids”, but rather “I want to do something really special with them every week”.

Not “I need to connect more with my customers” but  “I will call one of my customers or good contacts every day no matter what else I’m doing”.

Changing “need to” and “should” to “want to” and “will” is a great start. Being specific about what you will do differently makes it far easier to decide how you will go about making the change.

Have a very Happy New Year – and consider yourself hugged!

 

 

 

Christmas is coming for sure

Reflections

No-one seems quite sure where 2013 has gone. It seems only last week I Reindeer, Glasgowcommented that February had come round quickly. Now December seems to have followed on even faster! For many people, this is a time to reflect, and it’s too easy to focus on the things we didn’t achieve.
What are you most proud of having achieved this year? Take a moment to think. It could be a small thing, but significant to you.
What is the most important change you want to make in 2014? Note it in your pristine new 2014 diary – electronic or not. Tell a friend. Make it happen.

Real life heroes
Glasgow isn’t short of real life heroes; when the helicopter struck the Clutha Vaults on the Clyde, nine people died. Instead of running from the scene, though, Glasgow’s citizens came running into the danger zone to help people out.

Day in day out, people are committed to the business of helping people out. This year, I had the privilege of working with a number of organisations in the city, all very different, and all with a robust social agenda – that is, a real intention to help people change their lives.

Glasgow Wood Recycling produces beautifully crafted furniture and garden furniture from wood that would otherwise go to landfill. At the same time, this social enterprise provides excellent volunteer and training opportunities to local people, as a practical way of tackling poverty and social exclusion. (Well worth a visit for last minute shopping!)

It is estimated that 4 million people in the UK cannot afford a healthy diet; at the same time many tonnes of food go to landfill every week. FareShare Glasgow delivers quality surplus food and related support services to a number of organisations supporting vulnerable people in Glasgow and the West of Scotland. At the same time FareShare provides opportunities for disadvantaged young people across the city.

I was privileged to work with The Women’s Centre in Maryhill this year; this is a dynamic centre dedicated to helping people move on in their lives through a raft of programmes from storytelling to soup making, from poetry to wellbeing. The Centre offers a safe, positive, accessible environment to empower women to develop confidence, raise aspirations and fulfil their potential.  I’m all for that!

Last but not least, Gorbals Recycles is yet another dynamic and ambitious organisation. Dedicated to upcycling everything from bikes to furniture, their three outlets not only provide quality goods at fair prices, they also run exceptional learning opportunities for people to train in new skills and develop their prospects of employment.

If I were a Glaswegian, I’d be proud. As it is, I can only admire.

The gift that really countsHot chocolate
From Secret Santa gifts to too much boozy rouge, the Christmas lunch season is upon us. Make it an opportunity for some gift networking. Pass contacts to one another – search your database – who just might need help from whom? Send them a Christmas email with the gift of a new contact (or two). Follow up with hot chocolate meetings in the chilly days of January/February. What’s not to like?

Wishing you a very happy Christmas, and a successful year in 2014.

Presenting? Ask this question

Oh dear! I have again sat through two tedious, colourless presentations by senior people who should know better. They may well have had an interesting message – there may well have been a compelling reason for me to take note and further action – I did neither. And I have to wonder how many other people in the room did or how many, like me, were just waiting to get to the coffee and shortbread.

My heart sinks when people begin by telling me “how I got involved with this project”, or “a bit about my experience in this field”, or even “the outcomes of the work we’ve done to date”.

I’m a typically self-centred business person, with little time to spare and thousands of data competing for my attention. Guess what I want to know, first, foremost and last when you sit me in front of a big screen and a presenter?

What’s in it for me?

That’s right folks. Whether you’re seeking to inform, inspire or just entertain, first put yourself in the seat of your audience and answer that question.

When you can answer that, it’s worth your while to speak, and it’s worth ourSpeaker while to listen to you. Make an impact with a great opener, and stick to the point. If the outcomes really matter, your background, or how you got involved are adding to the message, use them. Otherwise focus on your audience’s wants and needs and leave them out.

Have a strong beginning – start as you mean to go on. Some great openers for presentations are:

“Imagine cutting your monthly costs by 50%. Here’s how”

“Get access to some of the best business minds in the world – for nothing”

“I’m going to tell you how you can change the world you live in for the better”

Be bold. Make an impact. As a presenter, it’s what you’re there for.

 

Coaching for managers – what it is, and is not

Recently, I’ve been involved in helping a group of twelve experienced managers from a large financial institution to develop their coaching skills. We delivered a blend of interactive workshops, one to one telephone coaching, and support for the managers to develop their own coaching relationships with team members in between learning sessions.

Many organisations are now looking at coaching as a tool for empowering and motivating their teams and it is true that, done properly, coaching can be a powerful tool in encouraging responsibility, Picture in frameimproving individual performance, and freeing up managers’ time. It isn’t hard to see how organisations can use coaching to become more competitive, more profitable and better able to build long-lasting relationships with customers.

What may be more difficult to take in, though, is that coaching is not just another way of ensuring that people do what you want them to. While coaching can produce sustainable behaviour change in any environment, it provides a challenge for some managers – and some organisations – because it requires a new and different mindset. For example:

  • Coaching must be based on a relationship of mutual respect and trust; it only works if both parties want it to
  • Coaching is distinct from training, managing or mentoring
  • Coaching is about helping another person to learn; it promotes his or her sense of self-worth through the use of questioning, listening, challenging and agreeing the way forward
  • Coaching allows a person to improve performance using his or her own natural abilities.

Eight key skills underpin effective coaching; while we can train in these skills, the only way to embed them is by practising them in different situations. They are generally agreed to be:

  1. Self-awareness leading to flexibility in your own behaviour
  2. Effective preparation in developing your skills, and delivering coaching sessions
  3. Building genuine rapport with the person that you are intending to coach
  4. Questioning from a position of curiosity, without anticipating the answers
  5. Challenging in a way that is both assertive and supportive
  6. Listening at a level which allows you to understand the real concerns
  7. Observing and providing balanced and objective feedback
  8. Empowering the person to take forward actions.

For more information, get in touch. Our details are shown below.

Confidence, Coaching and Wigwams

What have these in common, you may ask? A lot, we hope, as we embark on a new venture which brings people and positive thinking together.

I love examples of the workings of serendipity, so when I got a call from Kath Lord-Green of Insight Coaching, I shouldn’t have been too surprised. I had been connected with Kath via  a personal recommendation and then through social media but we had never met. I’d decided to ask Kath if I could be interviewed on the radio show she was then hosting, and talk about the use of coaching to help people, especially women, develop the confidence to move on.

Before I could phone her, Kath called me. She had been contacted by Wigwam Holidays (also a virtual connection) about the possibility of piloting a short confidence building course at one of their sites: did I want to partner her in the venture?

dscf0733Did I! Scottish countryside, fresh air, fresh thinking and a little glamping thrown in. It sounded amazing – and it still does! Kath and I are raring to go, having put together a great set of eight sessions, designed to promote and develop confidence in six participants. At the same time, Lesley at Hilly Cow Farm provides a real country welcome, excellent food, and the space to …just be who you are!

To book a place (and you’ll need to be quick) call Kath Lord-Green on 07921 072792 or email her at kath@insightKLG.co.uk. For more details about the course itself visit http://www.wigwamholidays.com/courses

 

Upping your game

Recently, I have co-presented a couple of training sessions with other experienced trainers. It’s an interesting experience, and I asked myself why I felt more nervous that I normally would. Is it because I found myself suddenly under a spotlight – possibly being judged (and found wanting!) by a fellow professional? Or because I feel obliged to stick to the training “script” instead of improvising as I often do?

Actually, it’s a veryWorking women enjoyable experience; watching others I respect presenting information or facilitating discussion in their own way always brings new ideas. Seeing how someone else handles a difficult question, or chooses to structure a session is part and parcel of my own learning – and it’s free!

In business, this is one of the cheapest forms of training there is; yet many businesses never take advantage of it.  I’m not suggesting that busy executives spend half their lives shadowing each other or duplicating effort; what I do think is worthwhile is the odd “refresher” day,  built in to everyone’s CPD plan, where we simply watch another professional at work. The advantages could be:

  • If you’re the one shadowing, you will inevitably learn something new
  • If you’re being shadowed, you will up your game, and be conscious of how you do things
  • Working with a peer can provide some of the best feedback you will ever have – if it’s given and received in the right spirit.

Of course, there has to be a degree of trust and respect built in; at the same time, this process of peer mentoring helps to build trust and can improve communication, for example, between whole departments. At a time when training budgets (what are those again?) are so tight, it could be very well worth making the time for in your business.