Archive Monthly Archives: October 2020

How to choose the right style of coach for you

How to choose the right style of coach for you

Have you ever wondered about how this Podcast got its name?

For me, whenever you step into a leadership role at any level there is an amount of uncertainty about the situation and about what specifically great leadership is going to look like for you as a leader for that team and that set of circumstances. And that uncertainty is a good thing, it creates the space for you to get inquisitive, to discover everything you can about the people you work with, about the company, about the industry, the businesses your company works with, everyone's specialisms and so much more - you get the idea! This curiosity keeps you learning, it allows trust to grow, it enables you to find the best and most engaging solutions to the challenges you and your team face. And those are just some of the reasons I consider curiosity a key value.

But amazing though the skills of curiosity are, they alone are not enough. What you do with what you discover is what matters. In every situation we have a choice about what we do, and once we understand that we are then able to make conscious choices about the things we find when we get curious. Making choices creates action and ultimately delivers results.

I believe that these two ideas underpin leadership and being the best leader you can be, they are the foundation that allows you to add the leadership theories and practices and styles that work for you.

And those two ideas also carry over into my coaching - They are how I approach doing what I do - I coach to make others shine and I do it by helping them get curious and then make choices. I work with them to look at what they know from different perspectives, to work out what they need to find out, what options they have and then to decide which option is best and what they are actually going to do.

So let's take a moment to get curious about coaching itself, so you can make some choices about what kind of coaching is right for you and when.

There are so many people calling themselves coaches, how do I choose?

With so much change going on around us both at work and in the world, in general, it's not surprising that more people are looking for answers and are looking for help with their work, their leadership and their business.

And there is no shortage of people offering to help them, advisors, consultants and coaches. Some days it feels like everyone you meet or see in your inbox, on LinkedIn, Instagram, Facebook and anywhere else you look is calling themselves a coach. And that's why we need to talk about coaching - what it is and what it inst!

And that's where it gets a bit confusing - you know they are not all offering the same thing in the same way, and what they are calling coaching and what they offer varies hugely. And some market themselves so that you think you can't possibly manage without them, playing on your fears and insecurities, narrowing down your thinking, belief and options. Some coaches are clearer than others about how they can help you.

So if you are looking for support in your business and are considering a coach how can you make sure you get the right kind of coach for you and your situation? 

We are going to take a look at two things I hope will help you, firstly how to get clear about what you are looking for from coaching and then secondly we are going to talk about the coaching continuum which is a way of understanding the different types of coaching.

What are you looking for in a coach?

I've always loved the quote from the Cheshire Cat in Lewis Carol's Alice in Wonderland, 'If you don't know where you are going any road will get you there' Finding the right coach for you can feel a bit like that too - if you don't know what you are looking for, how will you know when you find it?

So before you start looking for help in your business, especially coaching help you need to think about what you really want from coaching, so in the spirit of getting curious here are some questions to help you with that.

  1. What difference do you want the coaching to make?
  2. How much do you already know about the subject - are you looking for someone to fill in some knowledge gaps or are you looking for someone to help you apply what you already know to your current situation?
  3. What kind of person brings out the best in you?
  4. Are you looking for someone to take the problem away, to help you with it or to help you work out what you need to do?
  5. Are you looking to fix one very specific thing, to learn how to fix this and other similar problems or to apply what you already know?
  6. To what extent do you want to be challenged and what extent do you want to be supported?
  7. How will I know if this is the right person for me to work with and what questions do I need to ask them to work that out?

And if you are thinking that seems like a lot of thinking and I don't want to do that much work, you may well find that coaching is not the right option for you at the moment and you may be better off paying someone to come in and do the work that needs doing to solve the problem.

What is coaching?

Being coached is a very active process and the more you put into it the more you will get out, regardless of the type of coach you choose to work with. It's not turning up and offloading your problems to someone who is going to fix them, It's not just about fixing things that are broken, it's not just talking and it certainly isn't therapy. Being coached isn't remedial, it is about boosting performance.

So what is coaching? The definition I use is based on Sir John Whitmore's who popularised the GROW coaching model. For me, coaching is the art of unlocking someone's potential and facilitating their performance to maximise their success.

And that still leaves a lot of scope for different types of coaching and I promised you a way of understanding the different types of coaching available. So here we go!

The different styles of coaching

Now I want you to imagine a graph, on the left-hand side the axis is the lasting impact that coaching can have with the impact increasing the further up the axis you go. Along the bottom are the different styles of coaching. The styles have been broken into four groups to make them easier to talk about, but in reality, they blend from one to the next and it's a continuum that builds from left to right. The four groupings are from left to right, Show and Tell, then Teach and Advise, then Mentor and Consult and finally on the right-hand. end Coaching Expert. We will talk more about the characteristics of these in a moment, but here is a diagram to help you picture it.

The Impact of different coaching styles

The final piece of the graph is an exponential, so S-shaped, curve which starts a little way up the left-hand side and shoots upwards significantly somewhere in the Mentor and Consult section of the graph.

Below this line represents how much lasting impact you can expect each kind of coaching to have.

So let's look at each in turn.

The Show and Tell Style Coach

The Show and Tell type coaches will be saying things like I've done this, let me show you what I did. This type of coaching is right for you if you don't know anything about the subject, or you are just starting out with a company and you are looking for actionable tactical advice for a specific situation.

The Teach and Advise Style Coach

Moving along the continuum, we then have Teach and Advise. You will be able to spot those teaching and advising as they will be saying things like 'I've built some knowledge and some experience around this, let me teach you what I know. This type of coaching is right for you when you are looking to build your expertise in a specific area.

The Mentor and Consult Style Coach

The Mentor and Consult type coaches will be saying things like 'I've built considerable experience in this as you can see from my career history. I can diagnose your exact problem and suggest things that will help you resolve your issues.' This kind of coaching is right for you if you know about your subject and your situation and are looking to refine your knowledge and for hints and tips about applying what you know to your situation.

The Coaching Expert Style Coach

And finally, on the right-hand side, we have the Coaching Experts, If these people were not busy asking you lots of questions to help you work out what you are looking for, these people would be saying things like 'I have all the things the other three groups have plus the skills and techniques to help you work things out for yourself. They are experts in coaching, and may also be experts in particular topics. Working with this kind of coach is right for you when you are ready to take action, to make lasting changes happen, to be challenged to think differently while being supported as you do, when you are looking to stretch your perspective and apply what you know in new and different ways.


All of these fit within the definition of coaching being the art of unlocking someone's potential and facilitating their performance to maximize their success. The art is knowing which type of coaching to use when. If for example, a fire alarm is going off in an office you are visiting you don’t want a coaching expert to ask you if you notice anything different about the environment at the moment, what happened when you noticed something like that before, what options you have and which one you are going to pick. Instead, you want someone to use show and tell type coaching and get you out of the building immediately!

What changes with the different styles of coaching?

So what changes as you move from left to right on the continuum? Typically the amount of coaching experience that someone has grows from left to right, but there are some fundamental differences in the way they will work with you too. Understanding these five criteria will help you know what kind of coach is going to best meet the needs you identified when you answered the questions earlier.

The five criteria are:

  1. Who sets the agenda for the work you do together, towards the left of the graph at the show and tell end, the agenda will be set by the coach, and you will be setting the agenda more and more as you move to the right-hand end where you are working with a coaching expert.
  2. The same pattern is true for the second criteria, who is making the decisions about what actions you should take, the show and tell coaches will do this for you, while the coaching experts will facilitate you choosing the next best step and the decision will be yours.
  3. Those are both reflected in the third criteria, who does most of the talking during your sessions together, generally, the closer someone is to coaching expert, the less they will say, instead they will focus on listening and enabling you to articulate your thinking.
  4. The fourth criteria that changes as you move along the continuum is how prescriptive the process is. The closer your coach is to the show and tell end of coaching the more defined your work together will be and the less room there is for it to be personalised to your requirements or situation. The coaching expert on the other hand will have a huge array of tools and techniques that they can switch between depending on what you need and what is working for you in that moment.
  5. The fifth and final criteria that changes is how you will be able to apply what you are learning and working out with your coach. In show and tell coaching you will learn what to do in a specific set of circumstances, and how widely you can apply what you are learning grows as you move towards the coaching expert.

Interestingly price is not an indication of what type of coaching you are going to get - given that the impact of working with your coach grows exponentially as you move to working with a coaching expert, it might be logical to assume that you would pay more for it, but my observation is that very often that's not the case. I've seen people who are very firmly in the show and tell category of coaching and with very little experience charge thousands of pounds to be in a group programme of coaching while for those who are coaching experts coaching is a vocation and it is part of who they are, so probably shows up in every conversation you have with them.

These are the coaches who are demonstrating curiosity and helping you do the same, and working with they may well be not only cheaper than you think but also higher impact in terms of results both now and in the future than you think. I had a lovely catch up with an ex-client of mine recently - it has probably been 15 years or more since we last worked together and he reached out to let me know that the things he worked out and learned from our time together have supported him throughout his career and enabled him to now be the Group IT Director for a multinational engineering supplier.

Summary & Taking Action

So we have covered a lot in this episode, why being curious and making choices matters in leadership and how that shows up in coaching, and in the coaching I do . We have looked at the range of different things coaching is, form showing and telling, through teaching and advising, then onto Mentoring and Consulting and finally onto where it is all about Curiosity and Choice, coaching experts. And we have looked at how to work out which kind of coaching is right for you right now and how to tell the different types of coaching apart.

The things I share in this podcast are based on my experience. Some will be more relevant to you than others and it's up to you to decide what you are going to do with them. My hope is that you will find something you can take and apply. But that's up to you and it's exactly what being a Curious Choice Leader is all about, getting curious, building your understanding and then making some choices about what's best for you, your team and your business.

So the question I would like to leave you with is 

Which kind of coaching would benefit you most right now? 

If you found this episode useful and thought-provoking I would love it if you subscribe and share it with others who you think would find it useful too. It would also be brilliant if you could leave a review where ever you listen to podcasts

If you would like to know more about my coaching and implementing these ideas please get in touch and let's talk about how you can become an even better leader, one curious choice at a time. Thank you for listening, and until the next time stay curious and I look forward to talking to you again soon.


How to show you are trustworthy as a leader

How to show you are trustworthy as a leader

In the last episode, we talked about trust and how working environments with a high level of trust between people makes everything else is easier, so naturally, we want to cultivate more of it.

Trust is a living organic thing that grows between people, and despite what I commonly see talked about you can't manufacture it and you can't force someone else to trust you. Instead, we need to be trustworthy and that's based on four foundational cores - integrity, intent, capability and results.

We talked about those in the last episode so if you missed it or want a refresher you can always go back and listen again. In this episode, we are going to explore how you can bring those four foundational cores to life, the behaviours that demonstrate them as a leader and the ones that undermine them and can have a negative impact on the trust in your relationships.

So are you ready? It's time to get curious about the behaviours that make you trustworthy and make some choices about how you show others that they can trust you?

Why do we even need to talk about being trustworthy as a leader?

I think we all like think that we are trustworthy, very few of us set out to betray someone else's trust so this may seem like a strange topic to discuss. And if we were all perceived as being as trustworthy as we like to think we are cultivating high trust work environments would indeed not be a good subject for discussion.

Yet somewhere between the principle we set ourselves to be trustworthy and how trustworthy we are perceived to be something goes wrong.

And those things that go wrong are down to the things that we do to demonstrate those four foundational cores of being trustworthy. We can't control how someone else sees and interprets our behaviours but we absolutely have a choice about how we behave, the things we say and the things we do.

It is also worth saying that we are not going to get this right all the time - and probably the most useful way I have come across for thinking about trust is to think of it like a bank account. You can do things that make a deposit and you can do things that make withdrawals from this trust account. To get a dividend from having a high trust working environment we need to keep this account in credit and as far in credit as possible so if we accidentally make a withdrawal we don't go overdrawn and start to pay penalties and make everything we do harder. As a leader, we need to actively manage those trust bank accounts with each person in our team and with the team as a whole.

The idea of the four cores of being trustworthy comes from the book The Speed of Trust by Stephen MR Covey and Rebecca R Merrill and it's a book I recommend if you are looking to dig a little deeper into these concepts.

Demonstrating integrity as a leader

The first foundational core of trust is integrity, that is being honest and then standing by your principles even if there is a personal cost to you, it's doing what you say you will do when you say you will do it. The key behaviours here are being honest, telling the truth and keeping your word. As a leader, it is about being clear where you stand on issues and being open and genuine and transparent.

When your team knows what matters to you and what is and is not OK with you it's much easier for them to trust you and to perform well. It's the equivalent of them knowing what court they are playing a game on and avoids them say trying to play tennis on a football pitch.

Obviously, the opposite of these kinds of behaviours are telling lies, being deceptive and covering things up, but there is also a dangerous middle ground where you are trying to appear to be clear and transparent but in reality, you are spinning facts, positioning yourself, following a hidden agenda and withholding information. These behaviours all erode trust over time. I'm sure you can all think of a manager who has spun facts to you and then spun them differently to someone else, how bad that left you feeling and how you trusted them less as a result.

And as leaders, the watch out here is that this can happen over even seemingly little things like telling someone they are important and then taking a call in the middle of your conversation with them.

Acting with integrity as a leader also shows in how you hold yourself and others to account. How important are deadlines? How do you keep the commitments you make to the team? Obviously, we want to avoid breaking our promises so we need to make commitments with care, but we also need to avoid being evasive and only making vague commitments that can't be pinned down. We need to avoid playing the blame game and pointing fingers when things go wrong. When we do we make a huge withdrawal from the trust account not only of the person we are blaming but also from the rest of the team who will see what has happened.

So when things do go wrong, as they inevitably will, we need to make sure we don't sweep it under the carpet but that we tackle the issues. We need to admit if we have made a mistake, we need to apologise quickly, we need to put things right as fast as we can. As well as holding ourselves to account when things go wrong we need to do the same for the people in our team. We need to make it easy for them to tell us when mistakes happen, our reactions in that moment matter and will impact how likely anyone in the team is to talk to you about these kinds of things in the future.

Another way we show our integrity and make it easier for those around us to trust us is the way we talk about people. When we show our loyalty and talk highly of people, especially when they are not there, when we speak up for others who are not present and when we pass the credit to the person who deserves it, other people will be more confident in you. I remember one very senior leader I was doing some work for who when I was in the room was full of praise for what I was doing but who I later found out was taking the credit for himself in front of his boss, the CEO. I was very hurt, not because the recognition itself was important to me, but because I felt betrayed, and it certainly left me very wary of him in the future and less motivated to work with him.

Demonstrating your intent as a leader

The next foundational core is intent. What are your motives for doing what you do? If people believe your intentions are good they are more likely to trust you. We find it harder to trust say politicians whose intent we thing is self-centred and whose motives we think are about gaining power. That's also a dynamic we see play out in the workplace.

There are two elements we need to consider with intent - what our intent actually is and then how people perceive our intents and our leadership need to reflect that.

Firstly as leaders, we need to check in with ourselves about our intents. Why really are we doing the things we are doing. This is one of the many areas where applying our curiosity inwards is important with some good reflective practices. This can be as simple as just asking ourselves at the start of each meeting what our intent is in that meeting.

I also think it's a really important question to ask yourself when you are planning anything, by knowing what your intentions are as well as what you are going to deliver with this plan you can make sure you deliver the right things in the right way.

How someone perceives our intent is going to be personal to them, their beliefs, their values and their previous experiences. We can't change those but we can be very clear and very consistent about our intentions. We talked before about being transparent and clear, well stating and being clear about our intentions is important too and we can weave this into our day to day management practices for example when we delegate explaining why things need doing in a certain way and what we are trying to achieve by doing them. Being really clear about our expectations also helps people understand our intentions.

We also demonstrate our intent in how we treat people. Are you consistently respectful to everyone? Even those who can't help you? I know of more than one company who ask the receptionist to feedback on interview candidates for this very reason - if someone behaves differently with someone they perceive not to be part of the interview process this throws up red flags to the interview panel.

When we are looking to create a high trust environment one of the most powerful ways we can share that intent is to extend our trust to others first. It's very tempting, especially when someone is new or when lots is changing to micromanage or delegate without giving someone the authority to do things, but when we do this we are actually signalling that we don't trust them. Yes, our teams need our support and help, especially when something is new, but we can grow trust in those moments by how we extend trust through the delegation process while keeping just the right amount of control overall so someone can learn without things going catastrophically wrong.

Demonstrating our capability as leaders

The third foundational core is Capability. This is about having the skills and knowledge to do what you do, it's about using them and about keeping them up to date. We trust people who have the capabilities we need and use them appropriately.

This is an area where your skills as a curious choice maker are really going to come to the fore. When you ask great questions and listening to understand the answers, exploring your area of expertise and seek input from others about theirs, when your team see you working on developing your own skills and knowledge, not only will they do the same but they will also know you value learning and your know your stuff so are worth listening to.

This isn't about showing how expert you are by giving your opinion at every opportunity, it's about listening first and then building a shared understanding rather than listening to give your answer. It's about being able to continuously improve what you and your team do, not learning for learning sake, it's about learning and being curious, then making choices so you can get great results.

Demonstrating trustworthy results as a leader

Which leads us to the fourth core foundation, results.

As leaders, we will be more trusted when we have a track record of getting great results, when our reputation is one of getting things done well, on time, on budget and in the right way. We need to balance what we are promising with what we deliver, when we over-promising and under-deliver people's belief in our ability is dented. And when we under-promise in the first place we won't be trusted with bigger projects or roles since if we don't think we can why should they, even if our track record is one of over-delivering.

A big part of delivering results is creating the right environment for people to perform - creating that high trust environment in the first place. So bringing all the things we have talked about into play is part of delivering results.

Getting curious about the situation you and the team are in, confronting the reality of the situation and working on the right things, not avoiding the difficult parts, delegating authority as well as tasks and then being loyal to your team, making the decisions you need to make and being clear on your intent when you do, these are all going to help you build the high trust environment that you need to continually be building in order to be a high performing team.

Summary & Taking Action

So in this episode, we have looked at how what you do as a leader directly impacts the levels of trust in your team and with the people you work with. We have looked at how while you can't make someone trust you since that is their decision alone, you can show them that you are trustworthy, that is't OK to trust you. How you demonstrate the four foundational cores of trust, your integrity, your intent, your capability and your results matters. Done right trust grows and you are continually topping up the trust bank account you have with people, done wrong and that trust leaks out of the account eventually leaving you either overdrawn or totally bankrupt.

The things I share in this podcast are based on my experience. Some will be more relevant to you than others and it's up to you to decide what you are going to do with them. My hope, my intent, is that you will find something you can take and apply. But that's up to you and it's exactly what being a Curious Choice Leader is all about, getting curious, building your understanding and then making some choices about what's best for you, your team and your business.

So the question I would like to leave you with is 

What behaviour do you need to change to better show those around you that they can trust you?

I suggest you pick one at a time, get really good at it and then pick another to work on.

If you found this episode useful and thought-provoking I would love it if you subscribe and share it with others who you think would find it useful too. It would also be brilliant if you could leave a review where ever you listen to podcasts

If you would like to know more about implementing these ideas please get in touch and let's talk about how you can become an even better leader, one curious choice at a time. Thank you for listening, and until the next time stay curious and I look forward to talking to you again soon.


The problem with how we talk about trust in business

The problem with how we talk about trust

and increasing it in business

Let's talk about trust. It's one of those things that we intrinsically know if it's there or if it's not. We know that without trust we don't work effectively with others, we won't support our leaders and we won't willingly purchase things from people we don't trust.

So I probably shouldn't be surprised by the amount of information that is out there about trust.

But a lot of it worries me and as an advocate of growing high trust working environments, I wanted to understand why.

So I did what works best for me when I need to work things out, I got curious, I pondered it for a while, dug into my book collection, tuned into to what people were saying a bit more, drank coffee and walked the dog, always good for letting ideas brew nicely!

Are you ready? It's time to get curious about trust and make some choices about how we can develop trust in our working relationships.

What difference does trust make?

For many people trust is a bit of an abstract and loose concept, we know it's a good thing but it can be hard to explain what trust actually is. Ultimately it's about how believable we think someone is and effectively how much confidence you have in them.

The level of trust there is in our working relationships matters - it impacts everything from how we delegate, how we communicate, how we lead, how we work with customers and suppliers, the number and type of controls we have in our business, to how we get results and ultimately to how profitable our businesses are.

But how does that work? Well, the more confidence or trust you have in the person you are working with the quicker and easier it is to get things done. You are not going to spend as long checking what they have or have not done and communication is clearer and more effective when you trust the person you are talking to.

In the book 'The Speed Of Trust' Stephen R Covey and Rebecca Merrill share the idea of a trust dividend being applied in situations where trust is high and a trust tax being in force when trust is low. They give the example of the time it takes to clear airport security. After the terror attacks of 9/11 the time it takes to clear security significantly increased as trust declined thanks to the attacks. 

We see the trust dividends and taxes in operation all around us every day, when we work with people we trust we can work quickly to get good results with very little bureaucracy, we benefit from that dividend, but when we work with people we haven't worked with before or who have let us done in the past, everything is harder, we want more controls in place and we pay the tax for the lack of trust.

So what's the problem you have with trust?

Given that there is no doubting how important trust is, part of me is glad that so many people are talking about it and encouraging us to develop trust.

Where it starts to break down for me is how people are talking about it and how actually some of the ways they are talking about it and developing it are fundamentally floored.

That is what's been bothering me and which as a result of a conversation with Maggie at Small Business Boss about some of the things we were seeing, I came to think of as actually broken. 

In some of the examples we were discussing, the advice people were being given so they could 'manufacture trust to get people to buy things or do things' actually fundamentally erodes trust.

With all the uncertainty in the world at the moment, there is a kind of longing to have something or someone we can trust and to be living with more trust in our relationships both at home and at work. And when you are hearing that the thing you need to do is to manufacture trust to get more sales, to be a better leader or to work better with your stakeholders, so to secure your future you are going to listen.

You can't manufacture trust - it is impossible - let me explain why

But let's stay curious when we hear messages like this and question what we are hearing before we just accept it as fact and let's keep making conscious choices.

So some thoughts about trust and why some of the things we are being told about manufacturing trust actually erode it.

Firstly, you can't make someone trust you. If, and how much, they trust you is their decision, not yours. You can only create an environment that makes it possible for them to trust you, by extend trust and trusting them first and by making sure you behave in a way that is entirely trustworthy.

Secondly, you can't manufacture trust. Trust is a living organic thing, it ebbs and flows and it lives and breathes as part of every relationship you have. And living things can't be manufactured. You can't make eggs for example, well except for Creme Eggs and those may be delicious to eat but they never hatch. Yes, you can intensively farm to increase the quantity of eggs you get but when you do that the quality of the eggs you get goes down.

With trust, we need quality and not just quantity to sustain our relationships in the long term. It's a living thing that we are looking to grow by nurturing it and taking care of it.

Manufactured trust has no foundations - and we know what happens when you build something without foundations - it is likely to fall.

Talking about building trust feels a bit better to me - at least there is the implication of those foundations being present and it reminds us that it's a cumulative process. If you are looking to build trust (as all marketing gurus tell us to) remember that it needs to be built on strong foundations.

The Foundations of Trust

So what are the foundations of trust? For me, the best description comes from the Speed of Trust where Covey and Merrill describe what they call the Four Cores, Integrity, Intent, Capability and Results.

We need to model all four of these, demonstrating them as behaviours consistently for people to be able to trust us, leave any one of them out, even for a while and the roots of the trust you are growing will be damaged badly and the trust you are growing will be damaged too. As with anything you are growing being consistent in how you look after something is important - a plant won't do well if you give it a year's worth of water all at once, keeping the water level consistent in the soil works much better for the plant. It's the same for trust.

Integrity

The first foundational core of trust is integrity, that is being honest and then standing by your principles even if there is a personal cost to you, it's doing what you say you will do when you say you will do it. In the book, they give the example of the tennis player Andy Roddick who was given a point when his opponents shot was called out. That point would have given him the match, but he told the umpire that the ball was good and the game continued. Roddick eventually lost the match but his integrity was very much intact. Longer-term that meant match officials knew they could trust his word on future line calls.

Integrity starts with the little things, do you keep your commitments to yourself, do you get up when you say you will, do you deliver work when you say you will, are you a person of your word? Each time you are, each commitment you keep, you are building your integrity.

Intent

The second foundational core is Intent. What are your motives for doing what you do? We are more likely to trust a charity whose motives are helping others than we are for example to trust a politician whose motive would seem to be power.

It's another reason I'm sceptical about the concept of manufacturing trust and using it as a sales tactic - if your motive for developing the trust is self-serving it totally erodes this foundational core. If the trust you have built is without this foundation it will fall away quickly which often leads to long term damage in the relationship. In a sales situation, this can be buyers regret at having given you their business, on a project it can be stakeholders and users feeling resentful towards what is being implemented and from a leadership perspective, it can lead to polarised factions in your team.

You can manage this foundation by checking your intentions before you act and sharing those intentions. When people understand your intent they are more forgiving should you act in a way they consider untrustworthy.

Capability

The third foundational core is Capability. This is about having the skills and knowledge to do what you do, it's about using them and about keeping them up to date. We trust people who have the capabilities we need and use them appropriately. You may have a friend who is an excellent chef and who is great with a knife. No matter how much you trust them when it comes to making a meal you are unlikely to trust them to perform surgery on you, even though they have those great knife skills you know they don't have the other capabilities a surgeon needs.

We maintain our capability levels through continual learning, by being curious, by reading, listening to podcasts and having great conversations with other knowledgable people. We also learn by using what we learn, by actually doing - that builds our own trust in our abilities as well as the trust of others.

Results

The final foundational core is Results. We are much more likely to trust someone with a track record of getting results, that's why we need to look after the results we get when we work with people. That's why we see a lot of inflated performance and results claims on people's CV's, on LinkedIn, on people and company websites. However, if you do inflate claims in order to demonstrate results, you compromising on that first core, integrity, you are taking out two pillars of your foundation and suddenly being worthy of trust is looking very precarious and you are at serious risk of paying a tax for the lack of trust!

Summary & Taking Action

So in this episode, we have talked about how fundamental trust is to getting great business results. In high trust environments, we can make things happen quickly and with the minimal amount of process controls, we get a dividend in terms of business performance. However, when trust is low we pay the penalty, or rather an ongoing tax in terms of costs and motivation.

We talked about how this is leading to some people encouraging us to manufacture trust and why that simply isn't possible since we can't make people trust us and you can't manufacture something that is a living thing. We talked about how instead we need to make sure the foundations for being trustworthy are in place, how we need to focus on acting with integrity, making sure our intent is good and is clear, on building our capabilities and on getting genuine results. Demonstrating to others that it is OK to trust us, that we are trustworthy is all about how we behave and we will look at that in a bit more detail in the next episode.

The things I share in this podcast are based on my experience. Some will be more relevant to you than others and it's up to you to decide what you are going to do with them. My hope is that you will find something you can take and apply. But that's up to you and it's exactly what being a Curious Choice Leader is all about, getting curious, building your understanding and then making some choices about what's best for you, your team and your business.

So the question I would like to leave you with is 

What are you doing to build your strength in each of the four foundational cores of trust, integrity, intent, capability and results?

How to Combat Change Fatigue When You Are Leading Change

How to combat change fatigue

when you are leading change

Are you finding the amount of change you are dealing with exhausting? If you are you are not alone! Judging by the reactions I have seen, heard and personally felt to the current business environment and the rapidly changing government rules and guidelines, the onset change fatigue is definitely setting in.

Change fatigue is nothing new, especially to those who work in and around projects, but right now we are dealing with it not only in our work lives but also in our lives in general.

So what can we learn from our previous experiences of change fatigue to make coping easier? Are you ready to get curious and make some choices based on what you find?

What is Change Fatigue?

There is no doubting that too much change for too long is exhausting. When things change we become more conscious of how we do things, things that were automatic or semi-automatic now require thought and more energy to make them happen. We expend even more energy wondering how to do things, working out how to get things done and quite possibly worrying too. Add in a big dose of uncertainty both personally and economically and it's not surprising that we are all experiencing a degree of change fatigue.

But how does that change fatigue impact the people you work with, do you know the symptoms? They can be very broad from general despondency, to disengagement, stress and a prolonged drop in performance even when the dip that comes with the change curve has passed, but most often it starts as grumblings and moaning about what is happening.

It can impact individuals, whole projects, whole organisations and now it seems to be impacting society generally. It's clear to see when we get more government announcements but I've noticed that it's also there when anything new is mentioned. It can be a subtle eye roll, resigned look, a feeling of 'oh no another thing to think about', which ever symptoms you are seeing, they are certainly becoming more prevalent.

What can we do about Change Fatigue?

So what can we do about it? Change management offers us some ideas and solutions, and some of those can be applied relatively easily while others need some tweaking.

There are two underlying causes of Change Fatigue, too much change in too short a time, and how we lead change.

We can certainly control and change how we lead, but, as is the case at the moment, we can't always control how much change there is.

How can we control the amount of change we are experiencing?

The amount of change being imposed on us at the moment makes the classic advice for reducing change fatigue by reducing the amount of change and it's impact rather redundant.

That said while we have to deal with the changes being imposed on us by the government due to Covid and the changes to our trading environment with not only the economic impact of the pandemic and any government schemes which can help us but changes to legislation like IR35 and of course BREXIT which are all going to be on us before we know it, we can, however, choose how many other change initiatives we are introducing, others could be put on hold or stopped altogether.

We do have a choice about that.

A Change in Perspective

I also think it's time to remind ourselves and our teams that we have been dealing with what we called the VUCA world, the volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous world, for a long time now. As managers and leaders, we have been striving for continuous improvement for even longer, and what is that if not incremental changes for the better.

Maybe it's time to stop framing everything that is happening around us as abnormal and waiting for the level and amount of change to go down.

We are going to need to keep dealing with rapid change, just as we have since before the pandemic, the impact of new technologies and new players in our markets didn't start this spring. We knew how do deal with that. We need to keep adjusting our course and continually improving what we do, just as we always did. What we need to do now is do the two together.

 A change in our perspectives and helping our teams see things from an alternative view, setting that vision and demonstrating those working principles will help you and your team see this as a series of smaller but importantly linked things that become easier to manage and don't feel like as many changes, thus helping us reduce our change fatigue.

Prioritise the Changes

That bigger picture, organisational and societal view, finding and communicating connections between the different moving parts in your working world will also enable you and your team to prioritise the different changes that you are reacting to.

Not all the changes you need or want to make are equal, some are urgent as they impact how you serve your customers or clients, or the overall viability of the company, others fall into the nice to have category, and some will be somewhere in between. Knowing where what you are working on sits on this scale and having a shared view on that, allows you and the team to manage your energy and time effectively.

Prioritising your projects and putting them on a road map of changes helps people see how things fit together and how some of the items further down the road are ideas, places you might visit, projects that can and probably will change in scope and outputs by the time you get to them, but also that they are still important enough not to be forgotten. It allows you to make sure you are fixing the things that matter most first.

Long Term Direction

At the moment for most businesses, the planning horizon for detailed plans is relatively short as it should be when there is a lot of uncertainty, and since this uncertainty is likely to continue, knowing what direction you are heading longer term helps us make decisions that are in line with that longer-term direction.

As leaders, we need to keep reminding people about that long term direction. Often when I'm talking about this with my clients, they tell me they have told them, and that is great, but we need to keep reminding people. And if change fatigue has set in then its almost certainly time to talk about it some more. If you are feeling like you talk about nothing else you are probably nearly doing this enough.

Find ways to tie it into the other conversations you are having with your team, for example when they come to you with ideas ask them how it fits with the long term plan, things like that all help us all grow our understanding of the direction we are going.

How you lead change to reduce change fatigue

So the second area to look at when we are looking to reduce change fatigue is how we do what we do as leaders. We have touched on some of them already, and in general the better you get at leading change and applying the change leadership lessons you are learning along the way, the bigger impact you will have in terms of reducing change fatigue.

We have talked already about communicating the long term vision, where you and the team are going, your team values and what really matters, we have talked about linking all the changes to this long term vision and talking about it a lot.

Lead through to the end of each change

One thing I have noticed many managers and leaders do, is only to think they are managing change and only considering something a change until they personally have processed that change.

As leaders of change we often start our journey with that change much earlier than our team, so we tend to get to the point where we think it's all done before our team and sometimes before some people have even started. We need to make sure we are still thinking of changes as changes and supporting our team accordingly until the last person in the team has reached the finish line.

What happens if we don't do this is that we may experience just one or two changes at a time but our team are left facing a backlog of changes which are all getting to them at the same time, multiplying the fatigue they feel around change.

Listen to your team

Alongside that, it is important to listen to your team. How are they? What is concerning them? What do they think?

When your team feel really heard and understood, it helps them feel valued and involved. And when you know how important you are to the team and have helped design what you are all doing it is far less exhausting than when change is being done to you.

Listening to your team and involving them in the changes will help reduce change fatigue.

You can find out more about how to be a better listener here.

Having great and open conversations with them will also help you empathise and deepen the trust in your team.

Manage everyone's expectations

By talking and listening you can manage people's expectations on things like how much is going to change and how fast. You can also help them understand what is expected of them and what doing a great job means in practical terms for their role.

Talk about Change Fatigue

You can also help your team manage their levels of change fatigue by talking about it, helping them understand what is happening and sharing ideas for managing it.

What is working for one member of the team may work for you or for someone else in the team and knowing you are not the only one struggling with this can make a big difference.

We can also support our teams by noticing when they are not looking after their general well being, or maybe working too many hours, the better we are at managing our energy the better we perform and it's often easier for someone else to see when we are overdoing things than it is for us to see it ourselves. A quiet word, letting someone know you appreciate them and you have noticed they seem exhausted can make all the difference.

Summary & Taking Action

So in this episode, we have talked about change fatigue and what we as leaders can do to help manage it and the impact it is having on us and on our teams.

We talked about breaking it down and stopping thinking of the level of change as unusual, rather an extension of our continuous improvement work and our ability to deal with a rapidly changing world. We talked about the two ways to reduce change fatigue, reducing the amount of change at any one time and improving how we lead change, and some practical things you could do in both those areas right now.

The things I share in this podcast are based on my experience. Some will be more relevant to you than others and it's up to you to decide what you are going to do with them. My hope is that you will find something you can take and apply. But that's up to you and it's exactly what being a Curious Choice Leader is all about, getting curious, building your understanding and then making some choices about what's best for you, your team and your business.

So the question I would like to leave you with is 

What are you going to do today to reduce change fatigue for yourself and your team?