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  • Pedro Amador 9:00 am on May 13, 2014 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , psychocoaching business   

    Expectations or How to Setting Real Goals 

    Estimated reading time: 12 minutes

    Expectations or How to Setting Real GoalsCongratulations! Welcome to my second post! You must be thinking: – Of course! What a silly observation! – Are you sure? Have you ever stopped to think of the reasons why you like a book? Why do some of them keep you reading from beginning to end? Is it the cover, the introduction, the author? There can be many answers. Some readers may also influence other readers. Then there are some people who are so busy they never open a book. There are also people who feel obliged to read a book until the end, even if it bores them to death.

    Let me raise the following question: What is it that makes you go on reading this post? Take your time to answer sincerely. As you know, there can be several different answers, such as: I had nothing better to read, or I was bored, or someone told me I’d love this post. Again, it’s only your answer that matters. It’s important to keep your answer inside your head until the end of this post.

    What’s the proper meaning of the concept of expectations and how do we control these expectations? In order to find the answer we could look the word up in a dictionary, or we could look it up on the Internet, but it’s always better if we use an example.

    Imagine a hot summer day; the kind of day where you can’t stop drinking cold water. Once you have run out of water, you go into a shop to buy a bottle of water. There’s a sign in the shop that says: “Large bottle of water, 1 dollar.”

    You ask the shopkeeper for a large bottle. Well, what do you know? The problem has begun and it’s possible that you haven’t even realized. What is the exact meaning of “large?” Does it mean the same thing to the shopkeeper as it does to you? It’s only an example but for me, a large bottle is a 1-liter bottle.

    (More …)

     
  • María Teresa Farfán 9:00 am on May 27, 2013 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , psychocoaching business   

    Improve your organizational culture in 8 steps 

    Estimated reading time: 7 minutes

    Organization culture is the values, habits, traditions, feelings, etc. that certain groups share within the organization and represents the unwritten rules that guide employees’ daily behavior.

    If the organizational culture is aligned with the objectives, it can help to achieve these objectives more efficiently and effectively. For this, it is important to take the culture into account when measuring or planning business objectives.

    The organizational culture is the face of the company, comprised of basic elements:

    – Shared values and beliefs. Affirmations of what is right and wrong in the organization and the consequences that the actions of each element making up the organization have. They define the expected behavior and are shared by most members.
    – Own identity. The way in which employees identify themselves, providing them a specificity, identity and coherence towards the outside.
    – Persistence. Although it evolves constantly, it is resistant to brusque changes.

    Apart from these basic elements, there are differences between the culture in each organization in which each individual has a certain level of responsibility, freedom or even independence to assume risks or that ensures innovation, taking into account the number and quantity of rules with which employees’ behavior is governed.

    Each organization also differs due to the level of identification of its members with other members and how they relate to each other. Is there any favoritism? In terms of the services, is there any discrimination? Are employees perceived to be honest and hard-working? Do employees communicate among themselves? What is the customer service like? And even, what is projected from the employees when you enter the company’s buildings?

    If you want to improve the organizational culture, there are a number of basic points for achieving it:

    1. Answer basic questions. What culture would you like there to be in your company? How do you want the company to be seen by others? How would you like employees to interact among themselves? These are the questions that you need to answer to know what direction to take.

    2. Ask your own employees What would they improve in the company? How would they like to be seen? What would make them feel at ease? Take into account the comments they share with you.

    3. Don’t be afraid of criticism. Many people are afraid of change and probably will oppose any reformist ideas you present. Don’t pay too much importance to them and let the change flow.

    4. Plan. All changes need a plan of action; find or create a plan that best suits your requirements and find a way to get the most out of it.

    5. Act. Don’t waste time and get the plans rolling; if they don’t turn out like you planned, change the direction and put it into motion. Don’t be afraid of errors and let you and your team leave the comfort zone.

    6. Communicate. Since you have taken the opinions of your team into account, communicate the actions to be taken to them and allow them to digest the changes.

    7. Be patient. Don’t expect them to get used to it in a day, don’t seek radical changes in a short time either. Gradually you will start to see the difference without having to pressurize.

    8. Be the example. You can’t ask your employees to be honest and encompassing if you and the other executives in your company aren’t. Lead by example and behave in the way you want “your company” to behave.

    Ma. Teresa Farfán (@MomBita) is a psychologist graduate from UNAM, with experience in practising psychology both publically and privately in which she seeks an ethical practice and in favor of improving the quality of life and ensuring an integral experience of those with whom she works, be it individuals or companies, looking for teamwork, professionalization, and standardization She has experience in the area of culture, organizational communication, consumer and sales psychology. She participates actively in social undertakings such as Átomo Educativo and is co-founder of khÜn Psicología, a company that seeks to bring psychology to companies and individuals with a multi-disciplinary approach.

     
  • Mertxe Pasamontes 9:00 am on October 11, 2012 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , psychocoaching business   

    Seven characteristics of a high performing team 

    Estimated reading time: 4 minutes

    Nowadays, it’s not enough to build teams in organization that are more or less efficient. They need to meet the task. For that reason, as Ken Blanchard says in his book Leading at a Higher Level, we need to have high performing teams. A lot of this has to do with coaching as a methodology, as according to Blanchard the first thing that a high performing team needs to have is a clear goal. Once the goal is clear, seven essential characteristics have been identified. They create the acronym PERFORM:

    1. Purpose and values

    A high performing team shares common values and goals. What’s more, they have a clear view of their vision and mission. Without these shared values, the link that brings all members together in harmony, like a well conducted orchestra, is missing. The lack of shared values makes the team go off key.

    2. Empowerment

    We’ve already talked about the idea that to lead, you need to empower. A high performing team is made up of empowered individuals, who are confident about their abilities, who feel they can work independently, who share information with others without fear, who operate horizontally leaving the person with the best skills to lead in each moment of the project.

    3. Relationships and communication

    In a high performing team, communication flows freely, individuals listen more than they speak and share thoughts and emotions. Members don’t have to be “friends”, but true colleagues who support, know and respect one another. Difference is valued as a source of creativity and new options.

    4. Flexibility

    As I’ve said before in the previous points, a team of these characteristics is flexible; they exchange roles, they respect opinions. They are people with a wide and flexible mental map, which enables them to exchange roles when necessary and incorporate the vision of others without their ego feeling hurt.

    5. Optimum productivity

    A team of these characteristics wouldn’t make sense if it didn’t give extraordinary results. They are people who are immersed in a process of continuous improvement, who comply with deadlines and objectives, and don’t settle for doing “just enough.”

    6. Recognition and appreciation

    Feedback is essential in order for a high performing team to work. We cannot progress in a project if we don’t have any feedback on what is happening and recognition for our efforts and contributions. This feedback must come from both colleagues themselves, the leader or manager, as well as the organization.

    7. Morale

    When the six previous points are in place, the morale of the team climbs naturally. People feel motivated and encouraged in their daily tasks. Each member feels part of something more, but at the same time, their role is an essential cog in making that machine operate.

    A leader who operates with coaching skills will encourage his/her colleagues to work like this and will accompany them on the process to make sure this is possible.

    What type of leader are you? Or what is your team like?

     

     
  • Mertxe Pasamontes 9:00 am on July 25, 2012 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , psychocoaching business, resilience   

    Rebuilding confidence 

    Estimated reading time: 3 minutes

    Seven months into 2012, we can safely say that we’re overwhelmed bad news, both on the economic and job front. The subventions that were promised for entrepreneurs do not seem to materialize, at least in the medium term, and the forecasts for the upcoming months are nothing to write home about apparently; that is to not say, they are complete rubbish. Meaning we’re faced with a dire panorama.

    For that reason, now is the time to “utilize our resilience.” Resilience is that ability to move forward after major crisis. That inner strength that makes you struggle on despite all sorrows, thinking that there are still good things to discover beyond those difficult moments, and that while you are alive, you can find happiness although it may be on an unexpected bend in the road. That encourages you to give it your all, to soldier on. Realizing that no matter how hard the situation is, complaining (not objecting, they are different things) won’t get us out of the mess we have got ourselves into.

    For that reason, we need to learn to rebuild our confidence, if not in the institutions that have fallen somewhat into disrepute, in ourselves, in our work colleagues, in the people who want to create new project, in those who want to share, in those who innovate, in those who take risks, in those who reinvent themselves every day, in those who smile despite everything, in those who look for solutions and above all, in our own inner resources that we each have to escape from a bad situation.

    I don’t know whether you’re going away on vacation this year, whether you’ll have vacations at all or whether you even work for that matter. Obviously, the first option is the one everyone wants, and the one that will make things easier for you. But whatever your situation, I suggest that you take advantage of the summer, the long days, the extra hours of light, to think, even if it is just for a short while, in what you are going to do to rebuild that confidence and change whatever makes you dissatisfied. Be it by doing more or wanting less. Be it just you or with other people.

    And if you’re not sure how, read this small Zen tale:

    During a momentous battle, a Japanese general decided to attack. Although his army was considerably outnumbered, he was sure they would win, but his men were filled with doubt. On their way into battle, they stopped off at a religious sanctuary. After praying with his men, the general took out a coin and said “Now I will toss this coin. If it is heads, we win. If it is tales, we lose. Now destiny will be revealed.”

    He tossed the coin into the air and the men watched carefully as it fell. It was heads. The soldiers were filled with happiness and full of confidence that they vigorously attacked the enemy and returned victorious. After the battle, a lieutenant told the general “No one can change destiny.” “Absolutely true,” replied the general while he showed the lieutenant the coin, which had heads on both sides.

    Despite the difficulties, what we are going to do is continue living.

    What are you going to do to rebuild that confidence?

     

     
  • Mertxe Pasamontes 9:00 am on June 20, 2012 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , psychocoaching business   

    How to (de)motivate your employees 

    Estimated reading time: 3 minutes

    I’ve given the post a shocking title on this occasion, but I think that by simply doing the opposite of what many companies do, it will be extremely clear what motivates employees and what to avoid at all costs. To explain it, I’ll give some examples of incidents that happen in some call centers, because I think they give a great illustration of what we are talking about and how it not only affects employees, but also customer service and how the customers perceive that service. With its nuances, it will be useful for any other workplace, be it a company that sells services or products.

    The examples I give below are based on “real facts” although like in the movies, with the necessary distortions to protect the privacy of the people involved and their confidential nature. So here it goes:

    • Use technology resources that don’t work properly. In this case, the IT program for checking data and making appropriate changes should work like clockwork. I can understand that a program has occasional faults, but if it freezes frequently or goes too slow, the people providing the customer service can’t do their job properly.
    • Apart from that, in many campaigns calls need to be as short as possible, so it just makes things even more complicated. You are putting employees under a strain that they often can’t deal with. It’s extremely frustrating to receive a “lecture” for something that does not depend on you.
    • Frequent campaign changes without all the necessary information. Your company may work in a changing environment, but you need to understand that this places your “employees” under extra pressure. If this is the case, make sure that at least everything is clear when there’s a change.
    • Changes in the “way of doing things”. Constantly changing the procedures creates confusion. There are cases where even two different procedures may contradict themselves and no one knows which is the right one. You need to know how to inform. From the top-down.
    • Create false hierarchies. If you give a person greater responsibility or make them the “coordinator” or “supervisor” of a team, their pay package needs to change substantially. If not, you are basically asking for more responsibility for practically the same salary and that will grate on their mind.
    • What’s more, if a person goes from carrying out an operational position to a people-management one, the most logical thing to do would be to give them some training for it and follow up. And with a little consistency, please.
    • Having a suggestions box and reporting faults that will never be answered. If you don’t plan on answering me, don’t ask.

    Making employees do arbitrary tasks so as it doesn’t appear that there are moments when they are not working. This is so absurd that it’s not worth commenting.

    • Special mention should be given to tactics that border on mobbing like: maybe we’ll send you to another city, we can change your shift whenever we like, we don’t pay you to think, etc.

    I’d be happy to hear that you saying that those things don’t happen in the place where you work. Maybe in the 2.0 environment many of these practices seem last century. But I assure you, they happen in more places than you can imagine. Many defend themselves by saying that what I am asking costs money. What they don’t think is that behaving like that also costs money, more than it appears at first sight. A dissatisfied customer is a ticking bomb without a set time to go off. But they will eventually, one way or another. It may be easy for you to keep your employees with the recession, but when the recession passes, don’t be surprised if the best ones, the ones best trained or simply those that are sick of the company’s ways end up going. Everything has a cost.

    What things are they doing in your workplace to motivate the group?

     

     
  • Mertxe Pasamontes 9:00 am on May 16, 2012 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , psychocoaching business   

    Do you ignore the “little people”? 

    Estimated reading time: 3 minutes

    Allow me to use the same term as Tom Peters, “little people”, because I think it’s easy to understand what and who we are talking about. Just to clarify, in case someone thinks otherwise, I don’t use it in the derogatory sense, rather to get us all on the same level that we can understand.

    Let’s, however, give some examples of those “little people”: in a company, a boss could consider “little people” to be those below them, who they consider to not affect them at all. They could be the cleaning lady, the window cleaner, a telemarketer or the last sales clerk to start working at the “yellow arches.” If we look at Social Networks, a “guru” or someone with many followers could consider “little people” as being someone with fewer followers or an apparently limited repercussion.

    When someone labels another person like that, several things happen. One is they are not showing their moral demeanor (maybe we can’t see it if we aren’t close to that person or their attitude isn’t very obvious publically). Another is they act in line with that label of the “little people” that they have given others, doing things like: ignoring that person, showing disdain more or less subtly, not taking in account what they might say or contribute, etc.

    I’m not going to go into that for the moment, or the ethical considerations of that behavior or even in what that tells us about the person doing it, rather only into several practical issues. The first is that person who has been dubbed “little people” may have greater influence that the other arrogant individual believes. And that can happen in several ways: maybe that last employee in the chain of command is responsible for complying with the strategy that the “egomaniac” has proposed. If that’s the case, I can assure that in the short or long term, the “narcissist” will have problems. Maybe those people labeled as “little people” do not have direct responsibility, but hold influence over people that do and who take their opinions into account. In a Social Network that becomes even more evident, as behind a determine profile, there is often much more than we are capable of seeing.

    I think it would be very naive to think that there aren’t people like that and that anyone, to a greater or less degree, can fall into that behavior on occasions. Although at first sight, we find the whole idea detestable. We humans have the tendency to compare ourselves to others and label them in some way. That false superiority dehumanizes the other and is something that people notice. It says very little about what they do and indicates much insecurity and egotism that others can recognize. What’s more, that “distain” leaves a mark on the person scorned, which is much deeper than we realize.

    When it comes down to it, the problem results in leaving a trail of bitter people in your wake, which is a poor investment for the future. As the well-known expression goes: Be nice to people on your way up because you’ll meet them on your way down. Remember, at some stage or another, you’ll find yourself somewhere else, no matter how high you are now. If you have left a bitter trail in your wake, don’t complain about your bad luck or how badly the others treat you, you’ll have earned it.

    Have you sunk to that attitude with others at some time or another? Do you know anyone that does it?

     

     
  • Mertxe Pasamontes 9:20 am on April 11, 2012 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , psychocoaching business   

    Empowered workers or “quack quack” employees? 

    Estimated reading time: 3 minutes

    Some time ago, I talked about one of the keys to leadership, what we know nowadays as empowerment. Let me recall briefly the three steps that give empowered employees according Ken Blanchard:

    • Sharing information with everyone
    • Creating independence
    • Replacing hierarchies with self-managed teams

    These principles and other interesting thoughts can be found in Leading at a Higher Level by Ken Blanchard. Because although empowering employees may seem like an optional task, it’s not. Imagine an everyday situation like shopping in a grocery store: A difference arises over the marked price of a product and that given on the cash register (which is more, obviously). The sales clerk has to call her supervisor because she doesn’t have sufficient authorization to correct the price, which is the one shown on the label. This increases the waiting time, not only for the customer being attended but also for those waiting in line. All just for the sake of a few cents. It’s a situation that Blanchard describes as the duck pond. Instead of being empowered, the employees are restricted in their decision-making capacity. When this happens, Blanchard says that the only response left for the employee is a “quack, quack.” The energy that should be focused on satisfying the customer has been dedicated to “satisfying” the policy.

    The problem is that nowdays, where there is usually more supply of products and services than demand, you can only compete on price, exclusivity or added value. Competing on price is not usually a good idea. You can only do it by exclusivity if you have something really special and difficult to copy to offer. So the best way is to offer that extra that makes the difference. And do to that, you need to have empowered employees. Because a single person with the ability to decide, a certain level of independence and the necessary information can give that extra value to the customer at the right time.

    Companies often forget that it is that “employee” that gives the “official face” of the company at that moment. When you ring customer serice, for example in a telecom company, the voice that answers your call is the voice of the company. When that person has so little room for maneuver that you have to make several calls and put up with long waits for an apparently simple ction, the impression that you will be left with of the company will be poor. Many think that as most customer service hotlines are scarce, it won’t matter if yours is like that too. But I can assure you that that experience will be left in the customer’s front of mind, and sooner or later you will pay for that inefficiency, for being in the “duck pond.”

    Do you think you empower your employees? Do you feel empowered by your “bosses”? Do you know a “quack-quack” style company?


     
  • Mertxe Pasamontes 8:43 am on February 17, 2012 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , psychocoaching business,   

    Collaborate to grow together 

    Estimated reading time: 3 minutes

    In his book Cognitive Surplus, Clay Shirky helps us understand how Internet communities operate, the reasons why thousands of people share information and knowledge with others and how this could be done thanks to the fact that the social structure of Western society enables greater free time and with it, a “cognitive surplus” allowing us to choose what to occupy our time with.

    Obviously, this exchange between people is possible thanks to the appearance of technologies that allow it; any user on the Net can publish contents, hold a discussion in a forum, share photographs or documents with relative ease. In most cases, only a basic user level is required to do so. In this post (in Spanish), you can read a bit more about the book’s contents.

    Creating an Internet community nowadays is possible and there are many tools to do it: from creating public communities or forums with programs such as vbulletin or Buddypress if the platform is WordPress, to private communities that operate like an Intranet for companies, like Zyncro.

    But what is not as easy is making those communities work and achieve their purpose. For that reason, based on Dominique Foray’s studies (The Knowledge Economy), Shirky recommends four conditions for making a community work:

    1. The community’s size. The size must be directly proportional to the knowledge being shared. As he himself quotes, a community to share versions of Happy Birthday can be much bigger (as anyone can understand it) than one talking about poetry written in Sanscrit.

    2. The cost of transmitting knowledge. In this case, technology as I’ve mentioned previously helps in making the exchange simple and cost-effective. This means that the number of people coming together to share interests has grown, as they can do it from the comfort of their own home, at a low cost, and achieve the pleasure of sharing with others in exchange.

    3. Clarity in the knowledge shared. Knowledge expands quicker in a community if the members are capable of expressing it in a way that is easy to understand: straightforward points, lists, tutorials, etc.

    4. Having a common culture. In this case, culture refers to the shared suppositions of a community on how it should work in terms of the tasks and relationships between members. People not only must understand the shared knowledge, they need to understand each other.

    Therefore, you’ve no excuse for not having your own community or work group on the topic that interests you. It can contain 3 or 5000 members, but the option is there. The best thing is that when we share with others, following these four conditions, the result of that act of sharing can be quite different to what we imagined at the start.

    If I’m left to my own thoughts, those thoughts can only increase as I receive new information. But if I share that knowledge with other people, not only is a quantitative change possible, but also a qualitative change, from which new, transformed knowledge will emerge. So collaborating allows us to grow together.

    Do you have a community you share interests with? Are they generic or specific also?

     
  • Mertxe Pasamontes 10:37 am on January 11, 2012 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , psychocoaching business   

    Is your company within the new paradigm? 

    Estimated reading time: 3 minutes

    The new postmaterialistic paradigm bears its head every so often in the media, almost too timidly for my liking. Postmaterialism is a concept defined by Ronald Inglehart where current societies tend towards a society which is based more on the ideas of self-expression and participation (“postmaterialism”) than on previous values, economic security and citizen security (“materialism”). Postmaterialism is based on values (Spanish)  like participating in work decisions and policies, progressing towards more human values, looking after the environment, freedom of expression… If you want to delve further into the idea of postmaterialism topic,  Jordi Pigem, author of La Buena crisis, is one of the philosophers working on it.

    The vast part of the global economy struggles and tosses about like a fish out of water, taking its last precious breaths while waiting for an economic growth that never seems to come. Maybe because this growth won’t be exactly the same as how experts had anticipated (infinite growth) and maybe it’s not about quantity of life but quality of life. Quality of life is more associated with “Being” rather than “Having”.

    Some companies have already started to understand this, although not many. They have started to understand that CSR (corporate social responsibility) is not something just for selling a good reputation (because later, if they’re caught, the consequences are worse), but it needs to be something real. A way to start is by applying those ethical principles and values internally, with the employees themselves. The indexes indicated by Best place to work gives us an idea of how there can be a good working atmosphere in some companies and this obviously is better when people feel well looked after.

    The key lies having leaders that are more organizational culture directors than bosses. Employees that become involved feel well looked after, recognized and valued, and align their values with that of the company. Those values need to be real, the company needs to have something valuable and useful, a reason for being beyond just earning money in the short term. A company needs to earn money to survive but that can’t be its only purpose. It is within this context where Philosophy 2.0 takes its true meaning. It’s not about having a Twitter account and a Facebook page, but being really 2.0, collaborating and sharing.

    These companies are the ones that start to understand and apply the postmaterialistic era. These are the ones that will continue in the future because they apply leadership by values, companies that are based on ethical principles, that collaborate and share, create value. They invest, seeing themselves to be metaphorically investing in “Gross Domestic Happiness”, like they have done in Bhutan, rather than in “Gross Domestic Product”. They comprehend Plato’s quote that says: May I do unto others as I would that they should do unto me.

    Now ask yourself, if you are an employer: Is your company within the new paradigm?

    And if you’re an “employee”: What type of company do I want to work for?

     

     
  • Mertxe Pasamontes 10:29 am on December 21, 2011 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: intelligent optimism, , psychocoaching business   

    Optimism in work 

    Estimated reading time: 4 minutes

    Since 2008, we’ve been shrouded by recession and uncertainty, which brings us down, making us feel pessimistic and hopeless about everything and everyone. Bad news happens… and at times, it seems it leaves little room for being positive. No doubt, the situation is nothing to write home about, but there are also many people and companies that are doing well. What’s more, sulking in a corner complaining about the situation isn’t going to get us anywhere and help us solve anything.

    Before starting to talk about optimism, I’d like to talk about humor. Although it may seen rather trivial initially, having a sense of humor is more important that it appears. It may see a little trivial because some people associate humor with not being very serious (or maybe we need make a more suitable comparison) but being serious is not the same as being boring. You can be extremely serious and great fun at the same time. The apparent contradiction disappears if you really consider what each means.

    Taking things with a sense of humor means giving importance to the things that are important, relativizing and being capable of looking at things from another perspective. In other words, what we really mean is “not taking ourselves too seriously”. Bring this idea to intelligent optimism, it means being aware of a situation, but in spite of all the difficulties, it’s about trying to find ways out. Not becoming obsessed with what is not working, but as the authors of Cambia el chip (in Spanish) point out, it’s about paying attention to that is working, no matter how small it is: the positive exception, those small gestures that change things, those small things that can even change the world.

    Intelligent optimism (in Spanish)  is not a dull, naif approach to life, but being convinced about our own abilities and resources. Maybe things don’t turn out exactly how we had planned, but we’ll still find a way of moving forward. We may have to stray off the initial path or even change the goal. We may even have to give up some of our expectations, but we won’t give up on trying. A quote from Herodotus comes to mind here, which the El economista observador (in Spanish) always quotes in his Spanish blog. It goes: The destiny of man is in his own soul.

    These people, intelligent optimists, are ideal colleagues both in work and in life. Although it may come easier to some people than others, we can all be a bit more optimistic if we work on it, if we are capable of focusing our efforts and attention on the things that we can change. For this reason, why not start 2012 with that proactive attitude to find what you are looking for? With the spirit of taking things step by step. With the desire to fix anything necessary. And above all, with the urge to laugh loudly.

    Happy 2012!!!

     
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