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

    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 …)

     
  • Mertxe Pasamontes 9:00 am on July 30, 2013 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , psychocoaching,   

    What is and how to give good feedback? 

    Estimated reading time: 3 minutes

    Editor’s note: Today we’d like to share this post that Mertxe Pasamontes posted on her blog in which she highlights some of the points to remember when listening and collecting feedback from your employees.

    Image of Mertxe Pasamontes

    One of the tools used most in coaching is feedback, that action we perform when we recognize something in someone else, be it their behavior, ability or identity.

    Feedback is not the same as criticism. Criticism is usually a poor instrument for making changes in another person’s behavior as the other person either blocks it or activates submissive, rebellious, angry or resentment behavior.

    What can we do then? Use the valuable tools of del feedback and questions. Questions automatically trigger a response in our brain (though we may not put it into words) and it helps us to seek options. It enables us to activate our resources for improvement. (More …)

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

    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, , 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,   

    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,   

    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,   

    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 10:01 am on March 14, 2012 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , error, , , mistakes, , psychocoaching   

    Look after your employee like you look after yourself 

    Estimated reading time: 3 minutes

    Many companies have gone through restructuring since the economic crisis started. Restructuring in general means “firing” some workers and leaving those left in the workforce with the fear that they’ll be next.

    The “intuitive psychology of the street” makes many think that this helps those that are left behind, making them more motivated.

    Those of you that think that way, I recommend you find out a bit more about it, as most studies indicate that it’s quite the opposite:

    Negative motivation generates fear and fear makes us less efficient, less productive and less creative.

    That negative motivation can cause a quick change, but it is short-lived and has a limited impact. The first thing you need to do if you really want to generate changes is inspire your team to make progress.

    A very efficient method that I have explained in another post is doing it with a mentality of growth: it’s about believing that we ourselves and others can improve in a great many ways if we practise and put our energies into it.

    This way, all members of a team or a company can show room for improvement in many ways, although initially it may seem that things aren’t going well. It’s about seeing how to make that change and give them the tools and time to do it.

    With this type of positive motivation, our brains expand, we extend our repertory of thoughts and actions. The person becomes more creative and has more initiative.

    We must think that the crisis will pass and we’ll have to pay the price for everything we have done during this time. Whether there’s a positive or negative balance at the end of it depends on each company. Perhaps a talented person stays in the same position today because they don’t see many opportunities out there or because they are afraid of not finding a good job. But in a few years, when the situation improves again, if that person feels like they have been mistreated, they will leave without looking back.

    Treating employees well includes allowing room for mistakes: those people that have initiative and seek out innovative solutions need to have the peace of mind that they can make mistakes at times. Read this story that appears in the book Switch and think whether it applies to the place where you work:

    In the 1960s, an executive at IBM made a decision that ended up losing the company ten million dollars (at that time). IBM CEO Tom Watson called the executive in question to his office in the headquarters. The journalist Paul B. Carroll described what happened as follows:

    When the executive appeared, Watson asked him if he knew why he had been called in.

    The man said he assumed he was being fired.

    Watson looked at him, surprised.

    “Fired? Hell no, I just spent $10 million educating you.”

     

    How are people motivated in your company? How is talent managed? And errors?


     
  • Juan Manuel Rodríguez 10:41 am on March 1, 2012 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: focus, , , , , , psychocoaching, quiet leader, quiet leadership   

    Quiet leadership: a new leadership option for the 21st century company 

    Estimated reading time: 6 minutes

    Quiet waterLast February 21, EADA held an interesting conference by Steven Poelmans on the concept of quiet leadership. Steven has investigated leadership in depth in neuroscience, he is coach, partner and director at WIO, he has lectured at IESE and is collaborator at ESADE. He currently is director of the Coaching Competency Center at EADA.

    Here you have a summary of the concepts he explained, which are directly related to organizational changes that are happening in organizations now.

    Quiet” can have different connotations: silent, calm, serene, discrete… These characteristics can be applied to a different type of leader, unlike all the other types that come to mind: omnipresent, extrovert, domineering, and hyperactive.

    Focus to perform better

    That the “quiet leader” emerges now is no coincidence. In a world swamped by infotoxication and constant interruptions, where we are “online” all of the time, one of the missions of the new leader has to be to protect and filter out noise and interruptions (and of course, not add any more), in order for employees to be able to focus and perform better, at the same time be more motivated so that they collaborate.

    Focus is not a trivial issue. Neuroscience shows that we can only perform optimally when we have one idea in mind at the same time. The curve over time of our performance when working on a task has peak shape:

    1. At the start, we need time to gather the necessary information and we do not provide value.
    2. After we perform the task itself.
    3. Finally, adding more time doesn’t mean we’re going to do the job any better… it’s quite the opposite!

    There are shades of gray, like in everything. Apart from individual differences, women in general tend to have a greater capacity to jump from one thing to the next without performance being as affected. But what is surprising is that we would be more efficient without all those continuous changes.

    Multitasking is a “necessary evil” due to the ever-changing environment we live in, but it would be better for all us if we could minimize it.

    If we have constant interruptions (emails, chat, excessive multitasking or the habit of never saying no to anything, or commenting on everything with the person beside us), we are permanently moving focus from one task to another and we never manage to exceed the initial area in the performance curve. The overall result is we spend too much time on that initial phase. The end “sum” of the performance curves at the end of the day will be more horizontal: our performance will be worse than what we could have done without all those changes in tasks.

    As you can see in the post “Time, the last frontier”, many companies are declaring “email-free days” to reduce interruptions and increase productivity. Others like Nike have taken things a step further: when a person needs to concentrate on a long task, they hang a sign saying “Genius At Work”, so that their colleagues are aware of it. These initiatives need the overall culture to support it. It seems that our society nowadays doesn’t tolerate isolation, even if it is temporal.

    What role does the “quiet leader” play in all this?

    Moments of peace and serenity

    These moments are needed to keep focus. Planning and respecting certain limits helps. But we also need to switch off every now and then, as it makes us more creative and efficient. Encouraging these guidelines on a smaller scale (seconds or minutes) or a larger scale (hours or days) is beneficial in the long run. Often it allows us to solve problems that we have been battling to burst for a long time.

    Calm with positive reinforcement

    Dopamine is released when we are relaxed and have rewarding positive experiences. The mission of the leader is to maintain that state in all members of the team. It has been shown that fear only has a passing positive effect and is counterproductive in the long run.

    Empathy

    Simply listening to how someone expresses their fears, frustrations or anger, but also their hopes, expectations and motivations, can be the first step to winning their trust and starting to be recognized as a leader.

    Delegate

    The feeling of having influence, impact, control over things calms the brain and makes us more motivated. The mission of the leader is to delegate enough so that their collaborators feel that ability to influence, and thus create new leaders, as Virginio Gallardo suggests in his post We are all transforming leaders in social networks. A transcultural investigation showed that having impact made people in all cultures feel happier. The concept of intraentrepreneur arises from that plot of freedom, which people take advantage of to start projects proactively.

    The organizational change required

    If we imagine an organization that takes onboard that behavior, obviously it will need some essential ingredients:

    • A business culture that not only tolerates but encourages that behavior
    • An involved management that sets examples
    • Tools that reduce interruptions, encourage intraentrepreneur initiative and increases productivity in those moments where we manage to maintain focus.

    If we talk about the tools required for putting this new style of working into action, environments for gathering corporate information, which are organized, structured and non-intrusive, may be a good solution.

    Enterprise Social Networks like Zyncro address this need for order and structure, and minimize the exernal impact of the chaos.

    Why not try it out?

     

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

    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?

     
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