Brought to you by the Brefi Group: "Developing your business through strategy, facilitation and executive coaching – internationally."
Welcome to this issue of CorporateCoach – a free newsletter for senior executives and teams in organisations interested in using coaching to improve corporate performance. Please share it with colleagues and contacts who will benefit from reading it.
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WELCOME: Welcome to our new subscribers – currently running at more than 40 a week. We are pleased to be in contact with subscribers from all around the world.
HOT TIP: The Brefi Group web site is packed with information – over 350 pages including 80 pages of downloadable forms and learning resources. Remember to use the site search facility. You may be surprised just how much you will find about what you are looking for.
1. Editorial: Education – the foundation of progress
We have passed the stage where a nation's economy is dependent on its raw materials. Oil, agriculture and minerals – even location – are increasingly irrelevant.
Today the most important resource is the talent of the population, and we can assume that all populations have similar potential.
The difference is in the creativity and the competence of the people – a function of culture and education, but primarily education. That apart, success depends on infrastructure – transport, communications, law, banking etc.
It is a tragedy to watch countries either imploding or destroying themselves when they deny rights to educated people, persecute entrepreneurs or physically destroy the infrastructure – often because of prejudice against a different tribe, race, religion or culture, or because corruption takes over from law.
What can companies do to avoid such self destruction and to encourage development of their people?
The metaphor of the Russian dolls is that managers have the choice between recruiting people who are 'bigger' than them – or who are 'smaller'. Done successively, the outcome is obvious. Of my clients some of the most notable have been those who have taken real delight in following the successful careers of ex-employees whom they have recruited and developed and who have since gone on to far greater things.
And then there are others who say "If we develop these people, some of them will leave." Perhaps they will. But, if they have any initiative and you don't give them an opportunity to grow they will probably leave anyway!
Rather, develop them and enjoy the benefit while they are with you. They will attract other bright people and encourage others to make the effort to develop themselves. The result is a general uplift of the aspiration and performance of the organisation.
Companies like Ford of Europe recognised this and set a lead by subsidising any form of training and development for their staff – regardless of its relevance to the individual's job. They believe that all personal development is worthwhile and that if employees start to enjoy learning they will also start to learn on the job.
Perhaps part of the personal development programme could involve making a contribution to local schools or young entrepreneurs, where a partnership will bring benefits to both sides.
In a learning organisation groups can learn together. In this issue Carol Newland describes the benefits of self managed learning. Brefi Group specialises in working with senior people to set a lead in self development for business benefits and in introducing a learning culture throughout the organisation.
BREFI GROUP COMMENT: Nelson Mandela
In the December newsletter we quoted part of Nelson Mandela's inaugural speech. We are grateful to Steve Marsh of Alchemy in Toronto for advising us that the original source was A Return of True Love by Marianne Williamson. Steve is a coach and an award-winning silversmith who has exhibited his work in galleries throughout Canada and the U.S.
Many thanks Steve
2. Coaching notes: Learning together
Organisations these days face growing pressure for increased results from fewer people and therefore need to invest heavily in learning and development. Yet expenditure on training and development does not always produce results for individuals or their organisations. Neither does individual learning always integrate with organisational needs. Something different is needed.
Self Managed Learning is a way of creating a situation where learning is owned by the individual and aligned with organisational needs. Individuals take responsibility for decisions about their learning in the real organisational world. They join groups of five or six people and the group supports them in their learning as well as providing challenge. Individuals negotiate a learning contract and report progress on it. Each group has an advisor to take them through the process, which usually involves meeting about every six weeks over a period of nine months.
Organisations using self managed learning cite business benefits such as cost savings, improved customer relations, lower staff turnover and an improved organisational culture.
BREFI GROUP COMMENT:
The Brefi group can advise on establishing a self managed learning scheme, provide set advisors and a one day foundation skills course for people who join groups. These can be within organisations or one of our business support groups for SMEs in which entrepreneurs meet together to spend the morning learning together and then the afternoon addressing a common problem or coaching one individual on an issue relevant to that person's organisation.
3. Tools notes: Neurological Levels – behaviour
One of the core concepts of Brefi Group coaching is the neurological levels; that an individual or an organisation can be analysed by the six levels of environment, behaviour, competence, values, identity and purpose – and that these should be congruent with each other.
We can use this model to study incongruence, lack of fit of individuals with each other and with an organisation, and to find the best point of leverage for change.
We started by being curious about the environment back in our July newsletter. There is a physical environment, a social environment and an emotional environment. There are also environments at work, at home and elsewhere where you function.
They didn't just happen. You have a relationship with them. Either you formed them, or affected them, or you chose to accept them.
The next level up is behaviour.
So, let's explore it, let's get curious about it. Choose one behaviour, or consider your behaviour in general. Maybe your behaviour at work, or at home, or in a social envirnoment. What do you actually do?
What specifically do I actually do? What does it represent for me? How effective is it? Is it an identity? What does it say about me? What do I say about it? Why? What does it feel like to do this? What might be a better way to behave?
What do I get from behaving like this? What are the benefits? What might be the unconscious benefits? Are they congruent with how I would like to be? What does that say about me? How else could I get these benefits? What other benefits could I get if I behaved differently?
How did it get to be so? How did I get to behave like this? What choices were made? Is this the behaviour I would really choose? What choices do I have now?
What causes or drives it? What is it about me that causes me to behave like this? What are the motivators? Was I aware of them? What additional information can I gather by analysing this behaviour?
Alternatively, consider the behaviours within an organisation. Ask the same questions.
There is a lot you can learn by examining one or more behaviours and asking a few questions. The next question, of course: "Now, what are you going to change?"
4. Book review: High Five
As soon as you learn that High Five is written by Ken Blanchard and Sheldon Bowles you will expect it to be a lightweight easy read story with a valuable lesson.
I chose this book as a set text for a group of individual medical professionals who had been put into team management positions without any preparatory management training. Very much used to having their own way, and without a support structure, they were ill prepared to lead teams or to work together.
High Five captures the power and vision of great teams. It illustrates the dynamics of teamwork and why the collective power of a group outshines individual performances. It combines the spellbinding charm of a parable with cutting edge information about why teams are important and what individuals and organisations can do to build successful ones.
The story is of Alan Foster, who learns about teams through coaching his son's ice hockey team. For me the key event is when the star player Jed was grounded by his father in order to catch up with his homework. The team had to learn to play without him. "Without Jed to fall back on or to set the agenda, the boys began to play differently" The coach changed the rules. Players were rated according to their performance: the player who scored a goal got one point, the one who passed it to him got two points and the one who passed it to that person got three points.
And when Jed returned he had to learn to respond to the new scoring system and set his personal goals accordingly.
Much of the team performance is about setting goals: clarify the goal and then use reward and recognition to redirect the behaviour so that it is aligned with the new goal. Taking a leaf out of the original One Minute Manager: "Catch people doing things right"!
The authors emphasise the importance of training. " Sports people are excited about training . . . Trained people take the team to new levels. That level becomes the norm. If a skilled player leaves, it can hurt the team, but the team will continue to function at a higher level than when it started."
To summarise the lessons of the book:
At the start of the book, Alan got fired. He was a good producer but not a team player. By the end of the book, with the learnings from his junior ice hockey team, he had learned so much that he started a performance management company and was hired as a speaker by his previous employer!
5. Case study: Coach gets into the law
When practice director Brian Herdman met Arthur, Young & Lee were already taking a more active approach to marketing the business. So Brian thought, "We need an effective method to help our senior lawyers". He introduced him to Jon Lloyd, one of the senior partners.
Jon has had several sessions with Arthur, addressing issues with regard to priorities, delegation, work management and communication. Having been a little apprehensive at being selected as the firm's guinea pig he has since found the meetings very productive and stimulating. "Arthur's approach is not in any way threatening and he simply enabled me to talk through the issues and reach my own conclusions." Jon found it a valuable exercise in itself to have someone from outside the organisation to ask questions and to bounce ideas off.
Having won his spurs Arthur was next introduced to the office manager – and then Brian Herdman himself decided to take the medicine. In Brian's case he is working through a tailored programme to make the most of his strengths and understand and minimise his weaknesses. He is finding the programme systematic, focusing on the establishment of the start point, determination and clarification of the outcome he wishes to achieve – and an achievable route map to get from one point to the other.
"The service delivery is intuitive and the pace matches my ability to assess, develop and review how I am getting on. The programme has already made a significant positive difference to me, and I still have a long way to go," he says.
Arthur is trained to be able to interpret the culture and behavioural patterns within an organisation and has already recognised a definite change in the quality of communication within Young & Lee. "It is a brave decision for an organisation to bring in an outsider" he says. "The short sharp bursts of activity, dealing with live issues definitely works for these busy people."
Arthur is looking forward to the New Year when he starts work with Tim Lee, managing partner at Young & Lee.
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Brefi Group is a change management organisation that provides corporate coaching, consultancy, facilitation and training. We can also advise you an your Internet strategy and design web sites.
We hope you enjoyed this issue of CorporateCoach. If you would like to learn more about how we can work together, then please contact me, Richard Winfield:
Telephone: +44 (0) 7970 891 343