An unconference experience

What happens when we connect and discuss our challenges and opportunities in a place where there’s safety, freedom and no judgement.

A bit of a different post for me today. Sharing my summary from co-hosting an Unconference in Leicester just over a week ago for LnDConnect.

The Curve Theatre, Leicester with clear blue sky background
Image by Mark Gilroy

It was a beautiful sunny day at the Unconference last week and the Curve was a brilliant venue for us! Thank you to Mark Gilroy for his amazing photography beginning with this gorgeous one of the venue. read more

Why don’t they take responsibility??

A couple of weeks ago it was CIPD NAP – an amazing event on the CIPD calendar! All organised from start to finish by volunteers, all of whom have a huge passion for making work better, and created for a community of generous, friendly, positive and helpfully curious delegates. But no event is perfect. Nothing in life is. And something which wasn’t so perfect on the Friday night prompted a connection for me back into work and a challenge I often hear from leaders…….

Why don’t they take responsibility??

At the gala dinner on Friday night there was some serious squealy feedback from one of the mics. And it went on for quite some time. It was really unpleasant!

In response to that, the majority of the room sat with hands over ears, screwing up their faces, giggling at the ongoing discomfort.

One person (thank you David D’Souza) got up and helped to solve the problem and make it stop (i.e. turn off the mic!).

So why didn’t anybody else do this? Why did we all just sit there in discomfort?

One part of it might have been connected to this fable…..

A man walking down the street encountered folks sitting on their porch and a dog lying on the porch whining and groaning.

He asked the folks why the dog was acting that way . . .

“Because he’s lying on a nail” they replied.

“Why doesn’t he get up?” the man asked.

“Because it’s not hurting bad enough” they replied. . . . . read more

#cipdnap17 : It’s all about community

The CIPD Northern Area Partnership Event is back on 9th and 10th June with a focus this year on Enhancing the Employee Experience.  The thing I love most about NAP is the sense of community it creates, and so the purpose of this post is, yes, to tell you about what I’m up to at NAP this year, and it’s also to tell you about all the many, many ways you can connect with the fantastic HR and L&D community both online and in real life to extend your learning.

So first, what I’m doing at NAP this year……I’m running a reflection session during the lunchtime fringe on both days – this is to provide time for delegates to pause, process and reflect together on what’s been heard.

Conferences are a great way to learn because you get so much content in such a short space of time.  And conferences are a dreadful way to learn, because you get so much content in such a short space of time!

And so the point of these sessions is to prevent you leaving with a head full of stuff and no idea what to do with any of it.  Which can often result in nothing being done at all.

The sessions will be informal and interactive with delegates listening, asking and sharing in small groups for as long as is useful to them.  Pressure well and truly off!

If you’re joining on either or both days I really look forward to seeing you there!

Now to the wider community which, if you’re not tapping into, please please do!  There are so many great, and many free, chances to connect with others in the HR and L&D space to take time to reflect more often.  If we don’t stop to get perspective and think then we’ll keep doing the same stuff and expecting different results.

So, places you can go for more….. (and please tell me what I’ve missed and I’ll get it added on).

On Twitter

#LDNights – Tuesdays at 8pm (from @LnDConnect)

#HRHour – Thursdays at 8pm (from @HR_Hour)

#LDInsight – Fridays at 8am (from @LnDConnect)

Regular-ish Meet-ups

Connecting HR (@ConnectingHR on Twitter) – usually drinks and chats in nice bars with fellow professionals – now established in Manchester, York, Leeds, Bradford and the North East

LnD CoWork (#LnDcowork) – for anyone around the L&D space that feels they’d benefit from working in a different environment, with different people – either just to work knowing people are on hand if you want advice, or to get input and ideas, or generally catch up – now established in Manchester and London, Leeds recently launched and Birmingham is on it’s way!  Website here.

Regular Learning Events

Learn > Connect > Do – my event! For people pros who care about making work better to share and learn in a fun & informal way with profits going to charity.  It runs quarterly near Leicester.  Next one is 8th June about coaching cultures. Follow me @wildfigsolns or #LearnConnectDo or go to the website here.

Facilitation Shindig – “A gathering space for change practitioners who facilitate team and group conversations to share ideas, experiences and learning.”  Next one is 6th July with the theme of “Outside”. @Shindiggery1 #facilitationShindig and website here.

CIPD Annual Conference – check out the fab free fringe sessions Doug Shaw and Meg Peppin run (similar to what I’m doing for NAP)

Less Regular Learning Events

LnD Connect Unconferences – where the delegates decide the agenda – no speakers on stage, no sales pitches, just professionals learning together to explore shared challenges.  These mostly run in Manchester and London but sometimes in the Midlands and the York/Leeds area. Follow @LnDConnect for latest news.

Street Wisdom – using the streets as a source of inspiration – check out @Street_Wisdom or sign up on their website for when the next ones are running.

Art of Innovation – run by Doug Shaw with more info here

Meg Peppin is also cooking up something else!  She says to follow her to be the first to hear more…..!

Calendar of L&D Events

Check out this great resource from Fiona McBride: an L&D Calendar of events for conferences and things.


And there are lots of general chats and questions asked on Twitter from the broad and varied community on there.

So much to choose from – why not experiment and give something a try!




Shifting ideas of leadership

Last week at the CIPD L&D Show I – not surprisingly – was drawn to a number of sessions that were talking about coaching cultures and developing leaders as coaches.  After day 1 Simon Heath posted his reflections from what he’d heard – and then drawn – and which I shared with this thought…..


#cipdldshow – Developing line managers for coaching conversations

Final session of the show!  It’s been a ball!!

This one is with Sandra Nixon of QVC and Rhonda Howarth from Nestle who are talking about how to develop line managers to have effective coaching conversations.  A coaching leadership style is essential to operate effectively in today’s world and for a line manager it can’t always be about sitting for hours having in-depth coaching sessions but about making it a fluid part of your everyday way of working.  I’m interested to see what QVC’s and Nestle’s takes are on it.

First up is Sandra from QVC who’ve been going through a 10 year programme including investment in line manager skills which are being delivered in a sustainable way.  She’s going to talk about embedding a coaching environment, some of their lessons and how they’ve made it sustainable to keep it alive.

They’ve followed the McKkinsey 7S change model and at the centre has been the focus on shared values.  they believe in investing in their people for success.  They bring their values into performance management, reward, recognition, a 2-day culture programme that everyone attends.  They believe in creating a great employee experience to deliver a great customer experience – woop!!!

When they started the change they were getting good feedback from employees and customers, sales were in growth, new tech was being introduced, things were feeling very positive so to take the next step they started thinking about the future.  They had a lot of senior people who’d been promoted from technical roles without any development and without clarity of what leadership means in QVC.  They started to shape leadership as a role where you’re there for your team to help support, develop and grow them – woop again!

They did their first employee survey in 2007 which cemented an opportunity to focus on skills of frontline leaders.  they has about a third of responses sitting around neutral they could see moving to positive.

They decided they wanted to move to a coaching culture to improve employee experience – although without any idea what their strategy might be – except that they saw it as enabling a great relationship and a skill that transfers across any employee-manager conversation – absence, performance, career….

So they thought about what they wanted to achieve – what does it look like if we have a coaching culture, what will be different, how will we know we’ve got there, what will we see, hear & feel, what do we want to keep hold of and what are we not doing.  Then what do we want to achieve in Year 1 and by Year 3?

Sandra’s using the analogy of white water rafting to explain the start of the journey.  That was how she felt and also that’s how their managers approached it.  Do I have the skills? What if I fall out the boat?  What if I lose my job? And others were raring to get in the boat – give me the paddle, I’ll give anything a go.  they recognised they needed everyone on board before they started out so the business was clear about what the expectations were of the future and that their opportunity would be to learn towards that and make mistakes along the way without losing their jobs.

There were lots who already thought they did coaching – what they were actually doing was giving them feedback (this is a common experience of mine too) so they needed to first of all be clear about coaching, mentoring and giving & receiving feedback – with constant reiteration of the definitions to be clear what they were talking about as an organisation and to shift mindsets.

They developed coaching skills (see photo) – first of all doing this with the HR team so they could be ambassadors and role models.  Senior leaders were involved to set the scene at the start of the learning programme to set expectations of the learners and emphasise this wasn’t going to be a fad or the latest thing. some leaders chose to leave – which is fine.  It wasn’t for them.

They found that leaders weren’t aware of their skills gaps or weren’t prepared to be vulnerable and admit they had gaps.  this led them to move into developing leaders into emotional intelligence, self awareness, self regulation, liming beliefs….Refer back to earlier session.  the depth and quality of coaching is enhanced by the strength of relationship and so this work really needed to be done first.

Sustainability – workshops, e-learning, have used every opportunity to reinforce.

They wondered how they could assess how effective their leaders were being.  They decided to get Ops Mgrs to observe Team Leaders when they’re coaching their team members to see in real time the way they’re behaving together.  Scary but a great way to get real feedback, raise awareness, learn and improve.  (Our best learning comes from discomfort.)

They had feedback that they had too many models so they decided to become masters of 1 or 2 models.  Giving too much was clouding things for them.

They introduced Lean 6 Sigma – another opportunity to use coaching to say How do you do things on a day to day basis, how could you improve that.

ROI – employee survey – improvements year on year, improvements in attrition, in business results.

When they started in 2007 they were QVC UK and other countries operated separately but now they’re a global, matrix org so looking to how to be more effective and productive in that new world.  Many of the leaders chosen to lead the matrix org have come from the UK and you can see a significant difference in their capability compared to their global colleagues because of their greater emotional intelligence.  So now they’re back to strategy – how can we influence the global agenda and how will that look?


Next up, Rhonda from Nestle who’s going to talk about the role of a manager in their business and how they’ve supported leadership development through coaching networks.

Nestle already has a global approach to coaching and a strategy. Rhonda & her team’s job is to make sure managers are equipped to coach to ensure a coaching culture throughout.  They’re a business created by lots of separate businesses that have been acquired but they’re looking to standardise expectations and standards across.

Expectations are that they engage and inspire their people, grow and develop their people, support their career.  Variety of ways people join the programme : Apprenticeship, Graduate programme, Existing workforce, Direct entry – so leaders need to flex to different needs and priorities.

Their anchor for leadership programme:

As an individual – Know yourself

As a line manager – Coach and Develop

Senior leader – Develop org capability

They also have NCE – about driving improvement, consistency, quality, safety, lean – done lots here around coaching to engage operators in solution finding.

They’re about to launch Purpose and Values.  Their new global CEO wants to anchor people to this.  Purpose “Enhancing quality of life and contributing to the future.”  Sso now with coaching they want to bring people back to these and to the values.

People Development and Performance – in Nestle they’ve fine tuned their appraisal process rather than removing it – but they have made it more frequent so people have check ins through the year.  They have a holistic assessment at year end – the overall goals & performance of day job – and feed that into reward.  Coaching is essential in check ins so people are having quality conversations which feeds satisfaction with end of year outcomes around reward – they intend this at least as they’ve not come to the end of the first year of this new cycle yet.

Their coaching is based on GROW supported by skill development in listening, questions, giving feedback, providing challenge.  they’re also helping leaders with mindset so they go into conversations with employees clear about how they want to be and therefore the impact they want to have.

The senior leadership have also taken coaching on board, have developed their skills and are co-coaching each other as well as using a coaching approach more in day to day.

Nestle have a Global Coaching Network, Peer to Peer Coaching that can happen on factory floors and in the next level of supervisors, Coaching Groups connected to the Accreditation Pathway so they learn to be a coach and alongside that are these groups to continue learning.  They’ve gone with ICF Accreditation for their formal qualifications.

Some Q’s:

How does being a coach marry with them delivering their operational job? > In Nestle it’s been a behavioural shift by helping them stand back from problems, find a different way of solving by enabling the team to learn and self-solve through coaching so next time they self-solve with more confidence next time.  Creates more time / less pressure for the long term.

QVC have learnt that leaders need to recognise when they need to coach, when to mentor, when to give feedback.  You can’t coach all the time as a line manager.  Also needed to help with how to performance manage with this coaching approach – it didn’t mean we aren’t doing that now, it’s just we’re doing it with a different style.  And it takes time and practice because when the pressure’s on we revert to control and tell.


This post has been live blogged from a session at CIPD Learning & Development Show. I’ve shared as I’ve heard it so there may be typos and I won’t have captured the whole thing but the intention is to give you a good sense of what was shared.

#cipdldshow – How to develop self-awareness for better leadership

Session by Susan Kahn from The School of Life.

Susan says she constantly comes across the burden of self on others and the need for commitment and courage to look to yourself to uncover your strengths and weaknesses so that you can learn how to be your best to have your intended impact on others.  This is especially true for leaders who have a proportionately greater impact through how they behave.

At the School of Life, knowing yourself is at the heart of greater Emotional Intelligence – understand our impact and make us better leaders.

Amongst philosophers, neuroscientists, and others it’s consistently recognised that emotion drives a lot of our actions.  Going to look at unconscious attitudes, beliefs and behaviours.  Look at what they are for us and how they impact us being the leader we want to be.

First – why is it so very difficult to be self aware?

Susan has shown us this image and asked for people’s thoughts on what they’re seeing, how they interpret it.  The older one giving the younger one advice, the older one saying something the younger one doesn’t like.

It doesn’t matter what’s correct or not, what we know is that we elaborate the image from a point of self – from what we project into these two individuals.  What we see in terms of gender, seniority, compassion, tec.  We see in others what we push out from ourselves.  From childhood we carry stories, narrative and ideas that were given to us in childhood e.g. the teacher that told us we were hopeless at maths, very creative, that we’ll go far, that we’ll never amount to anything, that we’re the naughty one or forgetful one.

We carry these narratives with us and especially when we meet people in authority we project those qualities we experiences.  It’s only by recognising that that & appreciate this person in authority is different to those we experienced in childhood and we can choose to behave in a different way.

As a leader we can be seen as capable of things that we don’t see in ourselves.  So projection isn’t always about bad experiences but we need to still be aware of them.

Look again a the image and think – what was it you saw that said something about you?

Susan’s now sharing an iceberg image.  We have operating in us at all times are our conscious and unconscious – all our encounters and experiences.  If we tapped into everything that we were attuned to we couldn’t manage it.  we can’t have everything above the surface.  But we can have things that can emerge into our conscious selves that makes us better leaders, friends and partners to be around.

Aware of unconscious bias?  It’s a good way of exploring some of the notions of unconscious.  Female insurance house leader – she noticed that her top team were 5 men of a certain class, age, colour and she decided that she would change this – recruited a new top team of 5 different people and it was only when one of her colleagues commented that she’d replaced one set of biases with another – 5 women of similar status, class, colour – that she became aware of her own unconscious bias.  We want to be politically correct but in us are unconscious urges that lead us to make assumptions about the young, about the musical, about the creative – be careful because they can lead us to unhelpful decisions.

Freud as the father of the unconscious – he contributed a huge amount to our thinking and is a very helpful theorist because so much is going on under the surface in our workplaces – we come with so much anxiety, narratives and influences from outside of work.  We do ourselves a disservice by assuming we can operate in work with what’s above the surface.  one way of accessing this is by choosing to notice our dreams to see what’s going on under the tip of our iceberg.

Now going to talk about a notion of resistance – taking what’s in the unconscious into the conscious realm.  Think of a time in the last week when you were most worried for another person.  Examples given by the audience e.g. worry for wife who was sleep deprived and needing to look after two young kids, worry for an unwell father.

Is it possible that the worry that you’ve expressed has something to do with you rather than the other person.  For example, if I express concern for a colleague who’s over-worked, what I might be saying is that I couldn’t cope with what they’re doing, I would be feeling like I’m heading for a breakdown.  If a colleague’s not being recognised for his efforts – is that really because I want recognition.  And does thinking about that feel rather uncomfortable?  Does it make YOU feel uncomfortable about being left while sleep-deprived with 2 kids?

Freudian Resistance is that we pull away from something we know in our gut / unconsciously.  We might, for example, when we’re afraid to face something that we go rather manic.  A new leader comes in and wants feedback really quickly, wants things done really quickly.  They’re resisting being able to hold still and embrace leadership and being able to acknowledge that they’re really scared of failing, scared of being seen as not bright enough, not good enough.  We can push against things.

We might have desires or feelings that we’re reluctant to acknowledge.  This is when it’s useful to work with a coach or therapist who can reflect back what they see and the impact it’s having.

One reason we often have this resistance is the inner voices we hear – we all have an inner voice – you’ll never amount to anything, you’re dreadful at figures, you’ll never manage a senior role, someone else is better that you, risks are dangerous, you can’t deal with stress.  Or the converse – you are smart, beautiful, there’s nothing you can do that’s wrong.  Both sets can be equally destructive because they divert us from what’s going on in our encounters.  We need to allow ourselves to recognise where these voices come from – usually our experiences in childhood, or maybe jobs, traumatic experiences in and out of work  and they become self fulfilling prophecies unless we bout out hand up and say – np I’m not going to listen to that anymore.

Exercise to look at inner voices

What do you say to yourself….. when you mess up at work?  Audience sharing their critical voices.  A more helpful inner voice would be Everyone makes mistakes, even the most successful people do.  You can learn from this.  The world hasn’t ended.  These aren’t the automatic voices we hear but we can cultivate them with practice.

Other examples to help explore this : When someone gives you a compliment?  When you’re working on a project, you’re exhausted but it’s nearly there.  When you email a colleague about something exciting and relatively urgent but it’s almost a day and they haven’t replied back?  When someone offers you a role in a risky but exciting new venture?

We can learn to be kind to ourselves, to think about what could actually be true e.g. the person who’s not replied might just be really busy, and to recognise where the shame comes from that causes us to speak to ourselves in this way so that we can choose as an adult whether we still want to believe or listen to that voice of shame.

When we speak to ourselves in this unkind way we feel concerned, worried, anxious, we feel uncared for, unvalued which influences how we behave in the situation and the results we get.

Susan’s now encouraging the audience to think about the inner voice that’s informing their response to these scenarios.  Who or what in your past is directing the way you’re thinking and feeling?

Which inner voice would you like to hear less of?

Which inner voice would you like to hear more of?

Susan highlights that a man has shared an inner voice of imposter syndrome as his example of what he’d like to hear less of, and that, although it’s assumed to be a more female syndrome, men equally experience it.

Watch out for shifting to an inner voice of “you’re perfect” – it’s a huge burden to carry and live up to and then brings as many issues as the unkind words.  Nobody’s perfect and nobody ever will be.

Exercise to raise self awareness.

  1. What do you think people would first notice about you.  Note it down.
  2. Now introduce yourself to someone and each write down the first 3 things you noticed about the other person.
  3. How did your predictions differ?
  4. Experiment again with someone else.

How do people experience you?  Does that match with how you think you’re experienced?  Does it match with how you want to be experienced?  Before we can make these decisions we need to get feedback to raise our awareness and then make choices.

Find a critical friend who you can trust to give this feedback – a friend, a good colleague, a coach, a mentor.  You might want to be clear that you need your critical friend to share their observations with care and support.

Discover your authentic self and get comfortable with that being who you really are.  When we access that, the people who we’d want to be drawn to us are drawn to us.

Exercise in Philosophical Meditation

The School of Life have developed Philosophical Meditation (or what could be described as self-coaching). It’s a 3 stage process.

Take 20 mins a couple of times a week and note down:

  • What or who is making you anxious / concerned?
  • What’s upsetting / troubling / bothering me at the moment?
  • What motivates me at the moment?  What am I really excited about?  What am I looking forward to?
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    #cipdldshow – Decision Making Under Pressure

    Session 1 of Day 2 at the L&D Show and I’m in a session about Decision Making Under Pressure with Prof Vincent Walsh (@vinwalsh) of UCL.  Nice that he’s also given his email for contact

    Health warning – As you read further there are men vs women statements.  These are shown in research to be the broadly consistent behaviours observed across the genders.  And they aren’t exclusively true.  Please don’t believe these are “rules” which apply to all the men or women all the time, they do however apply to most people most of the time.

    In his work he’s been in a team to design a brain stimulation machine that helps depression, and he does work on sleep – a critical part for health.

    I like that his aim is to have us leave here feeling inadequate – nice disorientating learning coming up then I hope!  Embrace discomfort to learn.

    Vin’s saying we don’t need to learn to think better but we need to decide better.

    Sometimes to solve problems we need to find the right framing – put it in a less formal, more familiar term e.g. equate a business decision to an everyday situation.  Thatcher used to put economic decisions in the frame of normal household economics to make them easier to understand.

    Ways that we think irrationally:

  • We’re wired to see in certain ways.  Our brains assumptions based on perception; it fills in gaps and makes leaps to make things seem familiar.
  • We’re also irrational because we’re impressed by big infrequent things (the bright & shiny bandwagon?) e.g. lottery wins, 9/11, terrorism (all terrorist attacks since 9/11 total less than the number of people killed by handguns in America).  If something is there in front of us we attribute importance to it.
  • We attribute self-servingly – if someone we hire is good we say it was our hiring technique but if they don’t succeed then it’s their abilities at fault.
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    #cipdldshow – The Psychology of Coaching

    My second session of the day is with Jeremy Snape from Sporting Edge @thesportingedge – ex England cricketer and now a sports psychologist – and holds the world record for the slowest bowler!

    The CIPD use some of Jeremy’s models and approaches in their L&D qualification.

    Jeremy’s big failure on the cricket pitch raised the question for him about what it is that means people thrive or fall in those situations when the pressure’s on.  This led him to study sports psychology at Loughborough Uni (great university! #biased!).  Reminds me of Kim Morgan’s piece for the #blogcarnival about the conditions needed for learning to occur.  In addition to psychology he’s spoken to neuroscientists to get a rounded view.

    Jeremy sees the problem being that orgs think coaching is a ‘thing to do’ instead of seeing it as a ‘way of being’.  This is so so true.  Coaching is a mindset and a skill.  An art and a science.

    So we can put a new skill into an org – e.g. to coach – but if stress levels rise then we’ll revert to our previous behaviours.  Neuroscience has shown that these 3 factors cause stress: novelty, uncertainty and uncontrollability.

    When our perceived coping skills are in balance with the perceived challenge around us we work in flow and at our best.  But if the balance tips with challenge outweighing our perceived coping skills we go into threat state and we become stressed, fearful and our capacity for creativity and awareness of others decreases.

    Jeremy showed a video of Matthew Pinsent from the gold medal winning race – the coach was working with what he could see and what the team were telling him directly.  The coach took Steve Redgrave to one side who was ‘staring down the barrel of the pressure of his 5th gold medal win’ and asked him to speak to James to help him feel OK because it was his first Olympic race.  The purpose wasn’t about James – James was fine – but it took Steve’s attention away from his own concerns and gave him something to keep occupied as they waited for the race.

    Groups are now talking about:

    1. What was the coach’s mindset on the finals day?  2. What skills did he use?  3. What impact did it have?

    1. Mindset – My job is to help my team perform at it’s best.  How can the most senior person take responsibility for the team?  How can they do that together without me being involved?  I’m not getting in the boat so how can I stay out of the boat / outside of the team to distance from the pressure and emotion of the situation?  > Usually when under pressure, leaders grab hold and control the living daylight out of things.  Being an effective coach requires you to take all emotional attachment off the outcome the team are going to achieve, or not.  Your work as a leader, developing your team should be done before it gets to any crunch points.

    2. Skills – Getting the team to support each other.  It’s a few words or a question all the time – it’s not an end of year review approach when you bring out your coaching skills.

    3. Impact – On James – it would have boosted and inspired him that he was being valued, that the most senior was giving something to him.  It also takes the emotional attachment for James away from the outcome, he encouraged him to focus on the process – focus on your stroke, focus on your rhythm.  It wouldn’t have had the same effect if Steve had said “come on, you can do this, we have to win this” – that just increases the emotion and pressure.

    Video of a great dance coach – her view is that great coaches display : Extraordinary respect for detail, Inspiring for their passion, A core desire to see the person they’re coaching get better, Acknowledgement that it’s exhilarating for you as a coach to see others succeed, Allow others to discover for themselves, Calmness, Simplicity, Create the environment so the dancers learn for themselves.

    Sharing a performance curve from research that shows the best results are achieved in a context of High Challenge and High Support.  The worst performance is when there’s High Challenge and Low Support – the environment when threat state is most highly triggered and people will shut down, they won’t experiment, they won’t be creative or find new solutions, they won’t say if they think a decision is missing critical information that they hold.  And people will leave – either physically or mentally.

    Coaching is the root to achieving this because as a coach you believe in your coachee’s ability to learn and succeed for themselves, they talk as if the person’s already two steps of where they currently are, they feedback changes they’re observing in the coachee.

    Empathy is the critical skill because you need to understand different needs and preferences, and as a coach you have to identify them and anticipate and work with those strengths and weakness, their sensitivities and preferences, and to their ability to handle challenge or provide extra support if that’s what they need at that time.  Don’t just sit down and start with the G of GROW.  Think about this person, what they prefer, what’s going on for them just now, what might they most need from me just now?  This is an intuitive place to operate from.  And you can ask them too – how are you today?  What do you most need from me in the conversation?  You don’t need to always guess.

    Boris Becker video – notice the person, when they need to be in the gym, when they’re OK for a conversation – be on your toes the whole time and sense when the time is right to disrupt, to interfere, to make an observation.  Not a stale meeting – be in the moment, be aware, respond to the needs of your team.

    Where’s the coaching in your org just now?  Structured and formal or Unstructured and informal?  Regular or Occasional?  Where do you want or need it to be?

    Coaching Indian players and he’d wait for these informal moments to happen so that you drop questions at informal times – ask a question just before they’re about to get on a coach or plane so they can reflect on the journey.  Then ask them what they think at the end of the journey.

    Video of Baroness Sue Campbell – you can’t change someone’s desire to succeed unless you create the environment – the coach isn’t the centre of attention.  You’re the enabler.  She had feedback years before – she was very “tell”, fast paced, she was in a show-off mode.  the person who’d fed back to her asked her “where are you when the game starts” – on the sidelines – “who’s in charge when the games happening” – the team – and “when do they get the chance to practice that skill if you’re always telling them” – oh.  You’ve got to help them do it for themselves and not take over.  Otherwise you create people who need constant spoon-feeding in the short term because they have no ability to figure things out and make decisions over complex situations that will create a successful business for the long term.

    Respect the power of silence to let people think and do the inner work that they need to hear the question, process, reflect.  This is where the most powerful coaching moments happen.

    Create the environment where failure is supported – otherwise people won’t try, they won’t stretch themselves out of their comfort zone.  Set experiments where people can fail safely and learn about the gaps they have in their abilities or knowledge.

    Key points:

  • Empathy builds trust
  • Be a detective looking for clues of what to say when and how
  • Ask questions to increase awareness
  • Listening shows respect and allows synthesis
  • Balance challenge and support
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    Poetry in Learning #blogcarnival #cipdldshow

    Today I’m delighted to introduce a “first” to the #cipdldshow #blogcarnival series by sharing a wonderful poem written by Kirsten Holder on the topic of making every day a learning day.  I will say no more as it speaks beautifully for itself.
    An idea set in motion

    a thought, discussion or debate

    Illumination on a problem

    an excitement to create

    A brilliant coaching question

    a reflection, change in state
    A book, a tweet or just a photo

    a nod in agreement or hackles raised

    A room filled with inspiration

    questions, answers, opinions swayed

    A difficult decision, a day that didn’t go to plan

    a chance to ask, a chance to listen – having courage, feeling brave.

    Every day’s a learning day – guest post

    I’m delighted to be hosting a post from Andrew Page (@drewrachpage) a senior leader in Anglian Water who’s written with his take on learning every day for the CIPD L&D Show #blogcarnival (read more about that here).  For Andrew, learning every day in fact means pushing the boundaries to fail every day – otherwise how can you learn?

    Every day’s a learning day…..

    Or more accurately, every day I am reminded that I’ve learnt that before haven’t I?

    Last week I completely peed off Mrs P at 0530am. Obviously I didn’t mean to. I thought it was caused by me waking her up when I accidentally knocked my glasses onto the (wooden) floor in our bedroom. I blurted out “it was an accident.”

    Thing is, Mrs P knew that. All she actually wanted me to say was “I’m sorry”. But I didn’t. I got all defensive. So for the rest of the day, there was tension and anxiety. Wholly avoidable tension and anxiety. Anxiety? Yes, because I spent the whole day wondering if I was still in the dog house when I got home.

    Well guess what…? There are many parallels in the world of trying to be a leader. Yep. I know.

    Why did I immediately go on the defensive? Do I replicate this behaviour in the workplace? Probably. Assuming I do, what effect does that have on the people around me? Hmmm I’m going out on a limb here – it probably causes tension and makes them anxious..

    If people are tense or anxious do they perform at their best? Not usually if I’m honest. Instead of being innovative and creative with no boundaries I find them… well let’s be kind… playing safe. Trying to not do the wrong thing, rather than trying to do something great. I confess: I don’t think I always remember the learning. Sometimes its obvious when I’m heading down that defensive road – I hear myself using defensive language and haul myself back from the brink. But sometimes, you know… Sometimes I just know best. So stop arguing with me! Is that the learning? Accept that arguing is a negative so I need to change my recognition emotions – its not arguing, its an opportunity to learn and so something great

    A long time ago, I learned that failures are the best thing for me. Because I do ‘things’, ‘things’ go wrong. If you are always pushing the boundaries of accepted norms then your opportunities to embrace failure are increased. So, imagine an approach where we LOOK for failures in every day of our working lives.. things that may appear to be small/inconsequential get ignored on a regular basis. But what if there were several small gem sin there that we are missing because we just don’t look? Be in no doubt this is a gift, particularly in a collaborative working environment. Never ever miss the opportunity to fail in a collaborative group.

    I work in an environment that champions collaboration across many areas – internally and with our supply chain. It is hard work but I love it. What makes it easier is… learning. Every day. But this becomes nigh on impossible if you forget the first thing you learned about collaboration.. the need for absolute alignment and commitment to wanting to collaborate, to be an alliance. Because that’s important when you want to learn. Without that you have no foundation. In that situation, when people get defensive about something you cant remind them of why you are all there. Its harder to push for innovation and creativity against a door that’s marked ‘The Way We Do Things Round Here’ than it is on one marked ‘Lets do something great together’ .

    I reckon I’ve got this sussed. They aren’t arguing with me they are giving me opportunities to work with them on something great. In order to do that, I’m going to fail. Every day.

    And there’s no point you trying to change my mind on that.


    Check out more posts on the topic by following #cipdldshow, and I’ll be curating them all in a post on here in the first week of May.