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Anytime Coaching

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Transform Your Workplace with Anytime Coaching

The Practical Leader series offers a roadmap for individuals striving to achieve leadership effectiveness within the context of today's complex world. Each book explores a different essential element of successful leadership, providing readers with insightful, real-world perspectives, as well as practical tools and techniques, to help them maximize their potential—-personally and professionally.

Real-life stories, practical tips and techniques, and the Anytime Coaching model equip managers with a set of coaching tools they can use immediately to transform the way they work with employees and colleagues. This second edition describes how recent findings in neuroscience support the effectiveness of Anytime Coaching practices. You will also discover how the practice of mindfulness can enhance your ability to observe yourself and others. Practical tools and exercises to help you be more present, aware, and focused in day-to-day interactions are included.

Whether you lead a cross-functional team on a short-term project or formally manage large groups of people on a daily basis, Anytime Coaching will help you improve performance and achieve results.

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7 Chapters

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Chapter 1: It All Begins with You

ePub

“We must be the change we wish to see in the world.”

—MAHATMA GANDHI, INDIAN SPIRITUAL AND POLITICAL INDEPENDENCE LEADER

As a well-known saying goes, “No matter where you go, there you are.” Amusing and paradoxical as it may be, the saying is true. After all, it is you who shows up at work every day and you who returns home, listens to music, watches a movie, or goes out with friends. Learning more about yourself is a good starting point for your journey as an anytime coach. What you learn will add to, modify, or replace beliefs, knowledge, and skills you have now.

We first ask you to think deeply about the “self” you bring to Anytime Coaching. You will complete several informal self-assessments that focus on your beliefs about work and managing others, as well as your skills, knowledge, and preferences. Then we encourage you to reflect on what you have discovered. You might even want to retake the assessments once you have implemented some of the Anytime Coaching practices.1

 

Chapter 2: The Practice of Observing

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“Accuracy of observation is the equivalent of accuracy of thinking.”

—WALLACE STEVENS, AMERICAN POET

Now that you know that coaching begins with you, as the manager or team lead, you are ready to begin exploring the practices of Anytime Coaching. These practices will guide you in creating new ways of interacting with your employees—ways that enhance their performance and your relationships with them. You will learn and use new and powerful approaches to observing, inquiring, listening, and responding.

Our first stop is the practice of observing, because it is by observing that you create an effective foundation for all the other practices.

What is the practice of observing? Webster’s New World Dictionary defines observing as “the act, practice, or power of noticing.” Observing requires you to accurately and objectively notice the people, activities, events, and communication around you with a fresh perspective. Through close observation, you will notice qualities in your employees you may have missed before, and you will pay closer attention to nonverbal cues and emotions. The practice of observing intensifies, widens, and deepens your focus.

 

Chapter 3: The Practice of Inquiring

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“Judge others by their questions rather than by their answers.”

—VOLTAIRE, 18TH CENTURY FRENCH ENLIGHTENMENT WRITER

The practice of inquiring provides tools, a structure, and discipline for asking powerful and insightful questions in your coaching. Anytime coaches recognize that these kinds of questions often lead to important conversations with employees; the practice of inquiring will encourage employees to communicate more openly with you. In fact, the practice of inquiring is at the very heart of Anytime Coaching. All the practices matter, but you cannot coach without inquiring.

PRINCIPLE

Anytime coaches recognize that questions are the doorway to meaningful conversations with employees.

Inquiring offers many benefits. Effective questions are essential tools that help those you coach think differently—more critically, creatively, and strategically. Good questions help others open up new mental pathways as they clarify problems and tasks, help make decisions, implement new solutions, and learn from performance gains. Improved employee performance is the ultimate aim of Anytime Coaching.

 

Chapter 4: The Practice of Listening

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“No one ever listened themselves out of a job.”

—CALVIN COOLIDGE, 13TH PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES

Anytime coaches build on skillful observing and inquiring by enhancing their listening skills. Ordinary listening is not enough; anytime coaches employ extreme listening.

What is extreme listening? It is the ability to listen without bias, with the voice in your head turned off, and with complete attention on what the speaker is saying and what he or she means. Extreme listening is particularly difficult in today’s work environment because of the omnipresence of technology, the fast pace, and constant interruptions. The myth of multitasking has encouraged people to pretend to listen to others while texting, reading email, or doing a variety of other tasks. But with extreme listening, you can only listen—with complete and total attention on the person speaking to you.

Think about it: Without extreme listening, how can we ask our employees the most appropriate questions? What we observe with our eyes is only part of the picture. We might unwittingly misinterpret an employee’s words if we do not listen fully. Extreme listening is the prerequisite for any effective conversation. And in today’s world, conversations are the means by which much work is accomplished. Improving our work conversations rests squarely on being able to listen intensely with the intention to understand.

 

Chapter 5: The Practice of Responding

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“Speech is the mirror of the soul; as a man speaks, so is he.”

—PUBILIUS SYRUS, 1ST CENTURY BC LATIN WRITER

Once you have mastered extreme listening skills, you are ready to move on to the next practice in the Anytime Coaching model, the practice of responding. When you respond to someone, you deliberately consider what words or questions will move the conversation forward, encourage learning, and create the desired results. As an anytime coach, you will want to learn how to redirect dead-end conversations as well as to expand your repertoire of productive conversation tools.

Partner to—and one outcome of—extreme listening skills is good responding skills. The best responses reflect careful consideration of others’ statements and an intention to move the conversation forward in a positive direction. Anytime Coaching conversations are like a fluid dance between two partners, listening and responding. Because Anytime Coaching conversations are purposeful and intentional, they require thoughtful and proactive responses as well as the deliberate avoidance of unhelpful comments and questions.

 

Chapter 6: Improving Day-to-Day Performance

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“Don’t lower your expectations to meet your performance. Raise your level of performance to meet your expectations.”

—RALPH MARSTEN, AUTHOR OF DAILY MOTIVATOR

You have learned the four fundamental Anytime Coaching practices—observing, inquiring, listening, and responding—which create powerful coaching conversations when used together. You have seen how the research in neuroscience validates the effectiveness of coaching behaviors. You have learned the value of being present, aware, and focused for each of the four practices, along with some simple techniques to help you cultivate mindfulness.

Now you have reached the point where these powerful coaching conversations begin to produce positive shifts in employees’ workplace performance. These day-to-day performance improvements lead to stronger organizational results over time.

When Anytime Coaching helps employees focus their attention and make choices that lead to performance improvements, learning and change create new patterns of thinking. “We know that it’s not hard to change your brain. You just need to put in enough effort to focus your attention in new ways…. When you change your attention you are facilitating ‘self-directed neuroplasticity.’ You are rewiring your own brain,”1 writes David Rock, founder of the Neuroleadership Institute. With such self-directed neuroplasticity, people create change, grow, and develop, and the new learning is deeply embedded. This explains why it is essential to their long-term development that employees make small but significant performance improvements on their own.

 

Chapter 7: Your Path to Becoming an Anytime Coach

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“To get through the hardest journey we need take only one step at a time, but we must keep on stepping.”

—CHINESE PROVERB

Why become an anytime coach? Quite simply, because today’s workplace demands it. Every work-related conversation you have with your colleagues, your managers, or your employees is an opportunity to show interest in others’ views, clarify assignments, and create a work environment that promotes collegiality, mutual respect, and performance. Technological advances, challenges to work-life balance, the presence of multiple generations in the workplace, and a greater focus on results have all changed the workplace and work itself. These factors also exert pressure on managers and other leaders, influence what they say and how they say it, and necessitate changes in how they manage people.

The four practices of Anytime Coaching give managers ways to interact with others that lead to day-to-day performance improvements. Expert use of the practices also promotes healthy working relationships and creates a positive workplace for everyone.

 

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