Use Care When Introducing Coaching Skills to Managers

Posted in Aktuellt, Leadership / Ledarskap on juni 29th, 2020 by admin

As a learning and development professional, how do you introduce coaching behaviors to your managers?

“Carefully!” says Madeleine Blanchard, director of coaching services at The Ken Blanchard Companies. “It’s easy for a good thing to go sideways.”

“A lot of bosses have read somewhere that they need to ask more questions. Or listen better. Or provide better feedback,” explains Blanchard. “But without training and a solid plan, it is easy to swing from one extreme to another. The goal is to create a leadership curriculum that helps leaders develop balanced skills, meets people’s needs, and also gets real results.”

That starts with goal setting and direction, says Blanchard.

“If someone is brand new to a task, you don’t ask questions; you tell them what to do. When people have more experience, that’s when you’ll ask the questions.”

Blanchard shares an example.
“Let’s say a manager in a hospitality industry is instructed to do more asking instead of telling. That manager may think it’s okay to ask ‘How do you think we should go about setting up the banquet room for this event?’ to someone who’s never done it before. That’s exactly the wrong thing to do with someone who is new to a task—and it’s a complete waste of everyone’s time. What that manager needs to say in this case is, ‘We are having this many people, which means it’s that many tables.’ Clear, step-by-step: ‘This is how to do it.

“A lot of bosses who think they should be asking questions don’t really understand when and how to do it. They’ll say, ‘I’m asking a lot of questions because I want to have buy-in from people. I want to make sure they feel like they’re included.’ That’s all fine and well, but those people need to have the experience and expertise so that their feedback will add value, versus wasting everybody’s time.”

Blanchard says listening is another skill that can go awry if managers aren’t taught how to keep the conversation on track.

“It’s critical for all managers to develop better listening skills. The problem is if you listen just to listen, some people will go off on tangents and hours will fly by. As a leader, you have to listen for things that will move the conversation forward. Listen so you can steer the discussion toward the area you’re trying to focus on. You may have to call a time out—step in and redirect by saying, ‘May I interrupt? Can we get back to the point?’

“Better questions—what and how questions—can help here. The questions need to be short and targeted specifically toward problem solving and moving people into action.

“Coach-like managers are always moving toward clarity, focus, or action. One of the most common rookie coaching questions is ‘How do you feel about that?’ I know you mean well, but that’s a therapy question, not a coach-like management question. Your goal as a coach-like manager is to clearly pursue what already has been agreed upon by you and the other person.”

Blanchard explains that as a leadership, learning, or talent development professional, you are always looking to help your leaders develop a dual focus on people and results. The same is true when learning how to deliver effective feedback.

“For example, I’m the boss and I go to Ryan and say, ‘You were supposed to be here at 9:00 but you weren’t. What’s going on?’ Ryan says, ‘Oh, my mother’s sick and my car broke down.’ I offer to help him troubleshoot the problems and ask, ‘Would that be helpful to you?’ He says, ‘Yes, please. Let’s do that.’ Then we talk about his transportation issues, or the fact that his mother’s sick and he can’t get out the door because there’s nobody else to take care of his mother. ‘That’s a real problem—let’s talk about that.’ Both parties have to agree on a solution.”

“If a person comes to me and says, ‘It’s really hard for me to talk to customers at the front desk. I’m in a constant state of panic.’ Then I can say, ‘Okay. Let’s talk about that. How might I be able to help you with this?’ Or, ‘What would be helpful to talk about?’ Like that. But we still need to agree.

“It gets trickier when you are offering feedback that is more subjective like teaming, collaboration, or communication skills. You have to ask for permission to share observations in these cases. As a coach-like manager, you say, ‘This input isn’t a request or a requirement, it’s a suggestion. It’s more for your own wellbeing and long-term success, not necessarily for me.’

“When you are offering subjective feedback, look for opportunities to say, ‘I’m glad you’re here. I’m glad you’re on my team. I know you can do this because I saw you do that other thing that was hard. You had the will, you persisted.’ It’s important to remind people of good qualities you’ve observed in them.”

Finally, for L&D professionals looking for a way to promote more coach-like behavior in their organizations, Blanchard suggests a clear starting place.

“Encourage your managers to set aside a little extra time in their one-on-ones—10 to 15 minutes—to ask coaching questions. At The Ken Blanchard Companies, we’ve been beating the drum about better one-on-ones since the beginning of time. How to be a good boss? Check in!

“Good questions could be: ‘What’s most interesting to you about your job? What do you like most about the job? What do you like the least? What would your dream job be? What would you really like to be doing someday?’ That will get the conversations moving in a new and motivating direction.”

Source:, August 2019

Use a High Involvement Approach When Leading Change

Posted in Aktuellt, Allmänt, Leadership / Ledarskap on juni 6th, 2020 by admin

“What will social distancing look like for us?” “Who have you consulted with?” “How will our performance goals be adjusted?” “What if I don’t have access to childcare?” “What precautions have been put in place to make sure it’s safe to return to work?”

These are just some of the questions leaders need to be prepared for as they consider how they are going to re-open their businesses, says Blanchard change expert Judd Hoekstra.

“The biggest mistake leaders can make is to assume that everyone in the organization is as far along the change process as they are,” says Hoekstra. “It’s easy to forget that while the senior leadership team has been reviewing the data and having planning meetings, the same isn’t true for rank and file employees.”

Hoekstra explains that people have five predictable stages of concern—and corresponding questions—when evaluating a change: information concernspersonal concerns, and implementation concerns followed by impact concerns and refinement concerns.

“When the senior leadership team begins asking people to come back to work, it’s important to allow time to address people’s first three stages of concern. These are the stages that leaders often bypass or don’t spend much time on, mainly because they personally have already worked through them over many weeks of discussions. Because they’ve done it, they mistakenly underestimate the time that others will need to process the same concerns. Our research shows that during change, leaders need to meet folks where they are. So people’s information, personal, and implementation concerns about change are critical for leaders to address right away.

“One of the worst things a leader can do is initiate a change without first addressing people’s concerns. Pushing ahead for the sake of expediency causes people to think ‘My manager hasn’t thought about me at all in this. They haven’t thought about how this is going to impact me.’ On the other hand, when leaders talk about those concerns, people think ‘My manager cares about my concerns—and about me.’

“Leaders have a tendency to want to move fast during change, often by using a top-down approach. While they can make decisions quickly using that approach, it’s likely to slow down or possibly derail implementation of the change because they won’t have the commitment level from people in the company. At best, they’ll have compliance, which won’t be enough in the long term. But if leaders slow down a little bit on the front end by involving more people, giving them a voice in the process, and getting dialogue going, the change implementation will move faster and results will come sooner.”

One of the questions Hoekstra often hears from leaders who are considering using a high involvement strategy is how to make the needed decisions to keep moving forward.

“Even though everyone needs to be involved in the process, that doesn’t mean everyone’s going to have a vote. In our Leading People through Change® training program, we discuss the difference between having a voice and having a vote. While few organizations would allow employees a vote in the change process, all organizations have an opportunity to give people a voice. And that voice goes a long way in lowering people’s resistance to the change. Just knowing that the leaders initiating the change are taking input from a lot of different sources and different people goes a long way. People see it as more of a smart process and are better able to understand the rationale for the decisions being made.”

Hoekstra emphasizes that change is a process done best with people, not to people. He points to Gartner research that shows how the most change-adaptive organizations rely on their workforce—not just their executives—to lead change.

“Change leadership teams that encourage open and honest communication have far better results than those that don’t. It’s the free-flowing sharing of information and being in a dialogue, not a monologue, that is key.

“Gartner’s research shows that a high involvement strategy improves engagement, retention, and ultimately implementation speed by up to 33%. So people are more highly engaged, there’s a greater likelihood they will stay with the organization, and the implementation will happen faster.”

For organizations looking to improve their readiness for a short-term change initiative and a long-term change-ready organization, Hoekstra suggests several different strategies.

“Improving leaders’ change readiness skills can be done a few different ways—through training, consulting, or coaching. In every case, leaders must be educated on people’s predictable stages of concern and on communication skills for addressing each stage effectively.

“Change works fast when you’ve won over people’s hearts and minds—and the way you do that is through dialogue. Our ongoing response to COVID-19 provides leaders with an opportunity to keep trust and engagement high by using a high involvement approach.

“The battle hasn’t been won yet. As people come back to the office, there’ll be many questions and concerns as we step into our new normal. It will be critical for leaders to be prepared to address those concerns and lead their organizations forward.”

Author: David Witt
About the author:

David Witt

David Witt is a Program Director for The Ken Blanchard Companies. He is an award-winning researcher and host of the companies’ monthly webinar series. David has also authored or coauthored articles in Fast CompanyHuman Resource Development ReviewChief Learning Officer and US Business Review.

Coronavirus: 15 emerging themes for boards and executive teams

Posted in Aktuellt, Allmänt, Board work / Styrelsearbete, Executive Team / Ledningsgruppsarbete on juni 2nd, 2020 by admin
As Winston Churchill said, “Now this is not the end. It is not even the beginning of the end. But it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning.” We are seeing some faint signs of progress in the struggle to contain the pandemic. But the risk of resurgence is real, and if the virus does prove to be seasonal, the effect will probably be muted. It is likely never more important than now for boards of directors and executive management teams to tackle the right questions and jointly guide their organizations toward the next normal.Recently, we spoke with a group of leading nonexecutive chairs and directors at companies around the world who serve on the McKinsey Resilience Advisory Council, a group of external advisers that acts as a sounding board and inspiration for our latest thinking on risk and resilience. They generously shared the personal insights and experiences gained from their organizations’ efforts to manage through the crisis and resume work. The 15 themes that emerged offer a guide to boards and executive teams everywhere. Together, they can debate these issues and set an effective context for the difficult decisions now coming up as companies plan their return to full activity.

Managing through the crisis

1. Boards must strike the right balance between hope for the future and the realism that organizations need to hear. There are many prognostications on what comes after COVID-19. Many will be helpful. Some will be right. Boards and managers may have some hopes and dreams of their own. Creating value and finding pockets of growth are possible. It is important to have these aspirations, because they form the core of an inner optimism and confidence that organizations need. However, leaders should not conflate aspirations with a prescience about the future.

2. The unknown portion of the crisis may be beyond anything we’ve seen in our professional lives. Boards and managers feel like they might be grappling with only 5 percent of the issues, while the vast majority are still lurking, unknown. Executives are incredibly busy, fighting fires in cash management and other areas. But boards need to add to their burden and ask them to prepare for a “next normal” strategy discussion. Managers need to do their best to find out what these issues are, and then work with boards to ensure that the organization can navigate them. The point isn’t to have a better answer. The point is to build the organizational capability to learn quickly why your answer is wrong, and pivot faster than your peers do. Resilience comes through speed. This may be a new capability that very few organizations have now, and they will likely need to spend real time building it.

3. Beware of a gulf between executives and the rank and file. Top managers are easily adapting to working from home and to flexible, ill-defined processes and ways of working, and they see it as being very effective and also the wave of the future. Many people in the trenches think it is the worst thing to happen to them (even those that are used to working remotely). Remote working is raising the divide between elites and the common man and woman. There is a real risk of serious tension in the social fabric of organizations and in local and national communities.

4. Don’t overlook the risks faced by self-employed professionals, informal workers, and small businesses. These groups are often not receiving sufficient support. But their role in the economy is vital, and they may be noticed only later, when it is too late.

5. Certain industries and sectors are truly struggling and require support. Several disrupted industries and many organizations in higher education, the arts, and sports are severely struggling and require support to safeguard their survival.

Return to work—the path ahead

6. Mid- to long-term implications and scenarios vary considerably. It’s important to differentiate between industries and regions. Some industries may never come back to pre-COVID-19 levels.

7. What went wrong? Boards and executives, but also academics, need to debate the question. Where should we have been focusing? Take three examples. Why did companies ignore the issue of inadequate resilience in their supply chain? The risks of single sourcing were well known and transparent. Also, why did we move headlong toward greater specialization in the workforce, when we knew that no single skill was permanently valuable? Finally, why did we refuse to evolve our business models, although we knew that technology and shifts in societal preferences were forcing us down a treadmill of ever decreasing value-creation potential?

8. How can we prevent a backlash to globalization? The tendency toward nationalism was already strong and is growing during the crisis. The ramifications will be challenging. For example, in pharmaceutical development, residents of the country where a pharma company has its headquarters may expect to get the drug first. Global companies, despite their experience, may find it harder to address and engage directly with diverse, volatile, and potentially conflicting stakeholders. In such times, societies may need someone to mediate between the private sector and some of these stakeholders.

9. Companies need help with government relations. Strong government interventions are occurring on the back of a serious loss of confidence in free-market mechanisms. There is little question that different governments will land on different answers to the debate around how free markets really ought to be structured. The corporate community has been thrust into a new relationship with government, and it is struggling. The government landscape is fragmented, with highly varied approaches and competencies. Companies are looking for a playbook; no one has an infrastructure to manage this complexity.

10. Where will the equity come from, and with what strings attached? Governments are propping up various sectors with new capital. What will they receive in return? Will they distort markets? How can companies manage this process carefully to emerge from the crisis with a stronger balance sheet? Further, much more capital is likely needed; presumably some of it will come from the private sector. Will capital markets be effective and trusted in such times? Who governs this overall process, and what role should the government play? Is it the time for more state funds?

11. The balance between profits and cash flow is tricky, and essential to get right. Many companies are caught right now and are sacrificing their bottom line in order to pay for their financing. That’s not sustainable; companies will need guidance on how to balance the two.

12. It may be time for responsible acquisitions, including to help restructure certain industries. Many “resilients” have “kept their powder dry,” and are now ready to acquire. But they need to be sensitive and allow sellers a good path to exit. We need guidelines for responsible acquisitions.

13. Cyberrisk is growing. Remote working increases the “attack surface” for criminals and state actors. Both are more active. Chief information officers and chief information security officers are grappling with the overwhelming demand for work-from-home technology and the need for stringent cybersecurity.

14. Innovation may never have been so important. Innovation has always been essential to solving big problems. The world is looking not just for new things but also for new ways of doing things (especially on the people side, where we need new behaviors, long-term rather than short-term), capabilities, and work ethics.

15. The path ahead will surely have ups and downs and will require resilience. As lockdowns are relaxed, and segments of the economy reopen, viral resurgences and unforeseen events will keep growth from being a straight line going up. It will likely be a lengthy process of preserving “lives and livelihoods” over several months, if not years. The reality is that many or even most business leaders made choices over the past decades that traded resilience for a perceived increase in shareholder value. Now may be the moment to consider that the era of chipping away at organizational resilience in the name of greater efficiency may have reached its limits. This is not to say that there are no efficiencies to be sought or found, but more that the trade-off between efficiency and resiliency needs to be defined far more clearly than it has been in recent years.

It is the board’s responsibility to coach and advise its management team, especially when the terrain is trickier than usual. However, boards should not mistake the need for vigorous debate with the need for consensus. More than ever, a bias to action is essential, which will frequently mean getting comfortable with disagreement. Apart from all the operational focus needed for the return to work, it is even more important that boards and management teams take a step back to reflect upon these 15 core themes. In summary:

  1. Take the time to recognize how the people who (directly or indirectly) depend on the company feel.
  2. Have aspirations about the post-COVID world, but build the resilience to make them a reality.
  3. Strengthen your capability to engage and work with regulators and the government.
  4. Watch out for non-COVID risks, and make sure to carve out time to dedicate to familiar risks that have never gone away.
  5. Find out what went wrong, and answer the uncomfortable truths that investigation uncovers
Source:, June 2, 2020
About the author(s): Cindy Levy is a senior partner in McKinsey’s London office,
Jean-Christophe Mieszala is a senior partner and the global chief risk officer 
in the Paris office, Mihir Mysore is a partner in the Houston office, and 
Hamid Samandari is a senior partner in the New York office