Thursday, June 28, 2012

You can't change the weather

Too often I hear people complain about things they can't change like :

  • the green light turning red just 2 cars before you arrive at the crossroad
  • the weather
  • traffic jams
  • ...
All this complaining generates negative energy. Energy you'd better use to create new things and solutions. 

Somebody told me once: "you can't change the things that are happening around you, you can change how you react on them". Keep this in mind, and try to seek opportunities instead of blowing up problems. 

Even when it is raining cats & dogs, there are new opportunities. You can start selling umbrellas and make so much money you can move to a nice and warm exotic country :-)

So next time you start complaining, think twice and seek for the opportunity, because some things can't be changed and complaining absorbs all your energy.

Getting involvement during coaching

There are a few important ingredients that improve people's learning curve; fun, good instructions, room for practice, competent coach, ... Today I want to focus on an important ingredient that lies within the person who's learning : INVOLVEMENT. People who are involved/engaged, are open for new things, get energized by the learning and want to apply what they learned.

Common mistake :
When people are coached many coaches come up with the ideas and tell their trainee what to do. We call this the outside-in approach. Mostly these coaches pass knowledge, tips & tricks on to the trainee and they expect the trainee to copy paste this knowledge.

The inside-out approach :
A while ago I wrote on this blog an article about the ASTD session of Alan Fine (author of You already know how to be great) In his book, Alan describes how he uses the GROW model (goal - reality - options, way forward) to coach people inside out. Instead of telling people what to do, he asks them questions and triggers them to find the answer themselves (without making judgements! ). This is also what Ken Blanchard meant in his book "The one minute manager meets the monkey". Coaching is about helping people to find the answer themselves. It is NOT about telling them what to do.
From my own experiences I know this is the strongest approach on one condition ; the person is really willing to learn & grow.

You can use this technique both as external coach or as manager to coach your employees. It doesn't take hours to use this approach. It can even be done in 15min time at the coffee machine. Stick to the 4 stages of the approach, and you'll bear the fruits of it.

Questions to use with inside-out coaching & GROW approach :

  • what do you want to learn during the coaching ? 
  • what are the consequences if you don't learn this ? 
  • where do you want to be in ... time ? 
  • what has been happening ? 
  • what is withholding you from making the next move ? 
  • what is the problem you're facing ? 
Remark : for both topics (goal & reality) as a coach it  is important to push your trainee to make things clear himself. You can do this by asking after every answer "why / how / when, ..." questions. This will sharpen the issue and create focus for the coaching. It will make the trainee think himself. 

  • at this stage you open a brainstorming with the trainee. All options are possible to go from reality to goal. If the trainee can't come up with enough options, ask questions, and push him to new options. Don't tell him what you think the options are, because if you would, you start coaching outside in. 
  • Now you choose what options you'll use / implement and define the action plan to go from reality to goal. 
To conclude :
If you use an inside out approach for coaching you'll get more involvement, more results and motivated people, because they'll realize they have the answers within themselves which increases their faith & fire.

Saturday, June 9, 2012

United we stand, divided we fall - music can save the world

How comes so many people don't realize that collaboration is one of the basic rules for success and growth. I see governments struggling to find a political majority, because parties don't want to jointly govern (I live in Belgium, the country with the world record of longest time to create a government = 541 days!). I see companies loosing money by the millions because departments are not allowed to share ideas and work together. Parents splitting up and fighting for the kids because they don't want to live together. 
(source :

But, I'm hopeful. I see many people getting together. I meet people who want to share ideas and build together in a very constructive way. And that is the only way forward. If you want to learn, talk to people and learn from each other. 

Music is an important channel to speak up and say what lives among people in the street. 
In the 1970's Brotherhood of Man wrote the song "United we stand divided we fall". Later Punk group Sham 69 had a big hit with the song "If the kids are united, they well never be divided". About ten years the Dutch/Belgian punk group de Heideroosjes used this in their song "Time is ticking away" They wrote 

I don't need many friends
but those I have are real
Together we're down for life
United we stand, devided we fall
All for one and one for all

I strongly do believe that collaboration is the way forward and ingredients for this are trust, empathy, forgivingness, putting things in perspective ... Big words and even bigger challenges, but once you apply it, you feel the benefits and start growing. 

Did you know, the most successful companies are made by teams. They help people to meet and collaborate. They support teamwork. 

My advise to you :
Create structures where people can really work together, share ideas, innovate. Invite neighbors for a BBQ party, connect with friends and most of all be open to others. 
So next time you are in a hostile meeting or you end up in a out of control discussion, just stop the fuzz and play one these songs really loud and sing along. 

In case you need a heavy tune : De Heideroosjes

For the quiet version : Brotherhood of Man

Friday, June 1, 2012

Getting the message across

There has never been as much communication as today. The communication wheel spins 24/7. With our cell phones we can dial at any time of the day, receive mails, text messages, twitter, read the internet, check people we don't know on Facebook, network via linkedin, we read newspapers and watch TV (including all the commercials with information on products we'll never buy)... and at work, we attend endless meetings, read 'important' messages from the boss,... and we are supposed to absorb this information. Let me be clear "it is impossible to absorb all that information !"
99% of the information that has been sent out gets lost or doesn't have the supposed impact.
Maybe you get irritated by all these messages and maybe you just want to hear the bottom line of the messages. Believe me you are not the only one.
So next time you communicate to someone, say what you have to say, be clear and to the point in your communication. Don't cover bad news with a long positive introduction, or the bottom line of your message gets lost.
My tips if you want to get the message across :

  1. say what you have to say
  2. be clear & to the point
  3. be clear to whom you want to communicate
  4. think twice before you communicate
  5. be focused when someone wants to tell you something important