Brought to you by the Brefi Group: "Developing your business through strategy, facilitation and executive coaching – internationally."
Web site: /coaching
Editor: Richard Winfield, email@example.com
Welcome to this issue of CorporateCoach – a free newsletter for senior executives and teams in organisations interested in using coaching to improve corporate performance. Please share it with colleagues and contacts who will benefit from reading it.
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HOT NEWS 1: Management Skills Analysis goes on-line. A major attraction of the Brefi Group web sites has been the free management skills analysis, which has brought enquiries from all over the world. We are pleased to announce that this is now available on-line. Click on the 'free analysis' button on the top bar of any page and you can access four questionnaires: Personal Effectiveness, Managing Communications, Managing People, and Corporate Culture. Complete the questionnaire of your choice. Then click on 'display results' and you will receive a graphical representation of your strengths and an explanation of the results. You can complete the questionnaires on or off-line.
This offers a tremendous FREE automated facility for individual managers, coaches and human resources departments. We can also provide company specific surveys, including customised, 180 and 360 degree versions.
1. Editorial: A lesson in the fingers
My fingers sometimes compete to see which hand can reach the key first – with unfortunate results in my spelling. I was checking the web site recently when I spotted a common transposition in the word 'from'. The title to the page read "Learning Resources form Brefi Group". I was about to change it when it occurred to me that it was a very good description of what we are about. We are a learning organisation, and we are influenced by the learning resources we discover.
Our reviews this month feature Tim Gallwey's Inner Game. He believes strongly in a balance between the rewards that come from performance, the enjoyment that comes from the experience and the learning or growth that takes place. He says "When performance alone is the goal, and learning and enjoyment are neglected, it isn't long before performance itself evens off or sometimes declines." I have met several organisations recently that are very target and performance driven – and where senior staff are concerned about imminent collapse through burn-out. Coaching is a way for individuals to get their work into balance and maintain energy and enthusiasm.
An example of where enthusiasm can revive an organisation is MG Rover. For much of my life the Austin Longbridge plant, which is now the home of MG Rover, was held up as a symbol of all that was worst in British industry. BMW failed to turn it round and wrote it off as 'The English Patient'. Then last year, in the face of threatened closure, a small under-funded consortium led by John Towers took it over. I was privileged last week to have a tour of the plant and talk with Towers. What a lot they have achieved in only nine months!
This week they launch a new range of MG vehicles, widely praised by the motoring press. Their next challenge is to replace the Rover 45 model. General opinion is that there is no way that they can fund a new model. But Towers disagrees. He believes there are real advantages in being a small company. He claims that the MG developments could not have been achieved by a traditional company, with their committees, marketing departments and focus groups. He told his team. "You know what MGs should be. Now go away and create them. There will be no formal presentations, but we will keep in contact and my door is always open." And . . "If anyone is found near a focus group they will be sacked!"
MG ROVER is part owned by its staff and by its dealers. Towers believes that he has already proved that if engineers and designers are allowed to get on with their jobs, use their own judgement and work in partnership with suppliers, then great cars can be developed at low cost.
Here is an organisation that is learning as well as performing – and clearly enjoying the experience. And I noticed that the new cars carry a Union Jack.
2. Coaching notes: Accelerated Induction
Recruitment is becoming an increasingly important part of a manager's job. And, according to Fortune Magazine, senior managers fail, more than any other way, by failing to place the right people in the right jobs – and the related failure to resolve ?people? problems in time.
Recruitment is expensive:
– and that is assuming that the new employee performs well and stays.
Including coaching in the recruitment process can significantly reduce the total cost of replacing key staff by managing the induction process to ensure that the new incumbent becomes effective in the minimum of time. Ideally, this can be reduced by half.
Coaching the existing team
Management teams are rarely taught the skills of recruitment, interviewing and induction – and once selection has been made they tend to focus back on their own day-to-day responsibilities. Induction coaches take over responsibility from the recruiter for supporting the team and helping them prepare for the arrival of the new team member. They clarify immediate expectations, agree an induction programme and discuss team re-building opportunities.
Coaching the new incumbent
It is unlikely that the new employee will arrive fully capable of the job – that might imply that the employer has over paid and the post is insufficiently challenging. More likely he/she will need to hone some skills and gain some specific experience on-the-job. The coach helps identify needs and supports the employee in filling the gaps.
New employees want to make a good impression, and may be unwilling to ask for information, clarification or help. A coach can act as an independent go-between.
In many cases a new director will be getting his/her first experience as a board member. This represents a significant change from being a manager, and early coaching in director responsibilities and skills will significantly enhance his/her performance. Often this is an opportunity for the whole board to review its processes, and for some general director development.
HOT NEWS 2: Brefi Group have just launched a major development of www.careersnet.com, the web site of Career Design International. Careersnet has been providing careers advice and coaching for ten years and has had a web site for the last four. The new site has five streams that focus attention on the company's specialities: careers for MBAs, careers for executives, individuals facing redundancy, and HR departments. The 100-page site includes a summary of the acclaimed Career Design Manual, a range of free resources and gives access to a CV register.
3. Tools notes: Neurological Levels – environment
One of the core concepts of Brefi Group coaching is the neurological levels; that an individual or an organisation can be analysed by the six levels of environment, behaviour, competence, values, identity and purpose – and that these should be congruent with each other.
We can use this model to study incongruence, lack of fit of individuals with each other and with an organisation, and to find the best point of leverage for change.
So let us start by being curious about the environment. There is a physical environment, a social environment and an emotional environment. There are also environments at work, at home and elsewhere where you function.
They didn't just happen. You have a relationship with them. Either you formed them, or affected them, or you chose to accept them.
So, let's explore them, let's get curious about them.
What does this environment represent for me? Is it a function? Is it functional? Is it an identity? What does it say about me? What do I say about it? Why? What does it feel like to experience this environment? What does it look like? What does it look like to an outsider? What does it say about me? What is my relationship with this environment? How could it be better?
What do I get from this environment being how it is? What are the benefits? What might be the unconscious benefits? Are they congruent with how I would like to be? What does that say about me? How else could I get these benefits? What other benefits could I get if the environment were different?
How did it get to be so? How did this environment get to be like it is? How did I get to be in this environment? What choices were made? Is this the environment I would really choose to inhabit? What choices do I have now?
What causes or drives it? What is it about me that causes me to be in this environment, or this environment to be how it is? What are the motivators? Was I aware of them? What additional information can I gather by analysing this environment?
There is a lot you can learn by just looking around and asking a few questions. The next question, of course: "Now, what are you going to change?"
HOT NEWS 3: Whitewater Training has launched an executive search service though its new Brefi-designed web site at www.whitewatersearch.com. Whitewater trains managers to use POWER Hiring™ and ?Pure Search? techniques to recruit superior people to key positions to achieve your corporate goals and targets. This enables you to attract stronger professional candidates, reduce staff turnover and build stronger teams.
4. Book review: The Inner Game
Since it is summer, we thought we would give you something that would help you with your sport. In, fact, in this issue we are giving you two books. Tim Paget has read The Inner Game of Tennis and I have read The Inner Game of Golf.
Anyone who has ever picked up and used a tennis racquet will know how it feels when racquet and ball meet exactly at the right spot with the ball just where it needs to be for a perfect hit and follow through. You may well know the light almost springy feel in the handle of the racquet firmly gripped as the ball bounces off the strings. The clean clear sound which disappears rapidly, and the beauty of the ball soaring fast and straight, just millimetres above the net and perfectly within court on the other side.
What feeling inside the player goes with this? An inner comfort perhaps? A knowledge that all is well? Maybe, for some, a feeling of success. For many, an anticipatory feeling of future success. Maybe a vision of uncertainty turning into a clearer picture of winning the point, game set or even match.
Tim Gallwey's book The Inner Game of Tennis explores the importance of these thoughts and feelings in a way that helps the reader understand an important spiritual side to almost any sport, and further, to any activity.
Gallwey uses the medium of tennis to help us understand where coaching succeeds and fails and how we can all use our own inner resources to best effect, not just for tennis but for anything we want to do successfully. In a nutshell, what he discovered when coaching in tennis was a means by which we can help the machinery of our mind do the work it is best capable of.
Our mind is capable of ensuring our body performs the most complex actions. Conversely our mind can get in the way. Have you ever wondered why, sometimes, the more you try to do something the worse your efforts get? Gallwey explains the difference between two conflicting influences in our mind and how, through understanding them and the games we play internally, we can profoundly influence the game we play externally – be it tennis or golf or a less 'pastime-oriented' and more 'business-oriented' game such as creating and delivering an effective board presentation. His book is a short read with some important messages about 'Self 1' and 'Self 2'. Self 1 is our highly conscious mind which beats up on us for thumping the ball with the neck of the racquet and tells us to watch the ball and not misjudge the distance. It creates the voice in our head which helpfully repeats "hold the racquet firmly and keep the follow through "hold the racquet firmly and keep the follow through"
Now does that sound helpful?
Well, actually it?s your worst enemy!
What do you do? You get all anxious, hit the ball with the neck (again!) and into the net.
Self 1: "Told you!"
Now doesn?t that feel better!
So how can we harness the power of our mind and stop Self 1 from getting in they way? An important lesson is to let Self 1 do the work it does best – goal setting. Another is to ensure that Self 1 lets Self 2 get on with its job. The book describes techniques in tennis which help the 'letting go' process.
I used to think I couldn?t swim crawl. I would drink most of the pool in a few strokes and my kind tutor would tell me to move my legs from the hips and move my arms without creating turbulence and any number of other valuable tips; but how was I to apply them and avoid drinking the pool? The inner game has moved me some significant way towards the goal, along with watching others such as olympic swimmers and the more competent folk at our local pool. A key principle of Neuro Linguistic Programming (NLP) applies here, modelling; I could visualise myself doing what I wanted to do from these excellent examples. I then distracted Self 1 by watching the tiles drifting by at the bottom of the pool (Gallwey advocates watching carefully the seams of the ball) and I could then feel the change and be aware of the differences in terms of what I could see, hear and feel with various parts of my body. Yes, I have improved considerably. But it?s not just about the swimming, of course, it?s the principle of learning that is so valuable.
Are you working with a coach or coaching others yourself? It?s well worth understanding the Inner Game to truly add value to the process.
The difference between tennis and golf: tennis forgives a few mistakes; golf forgives none. The pressure is constant. The difference between readers: Tim plays tennis, I don't play golf. But nor did Sir John Whitmore, many years ago, when he used the golf swing to teach me Inner Game coaching techniques.
The purpose of the Inner Game is to learn to get out of one's way, to overcome the self-interference of tension, self-doubt, fear of failure, anxiety and a limiting self-image.
The Inner Game of Golf must be a fascinating read for a golfer as it spends much time exploring the attraction and the frustration of the game, with anecdotes of how people teach and learn to improve the all important swing.
My interest was in the psychology. The thesis of the book is that the secret to increasing control over our bodies lies in gaining some measure of control over our minds. One becomes a player of the Inner Game only when one is willing to see the existence of mental self-interference.
When faced with the unknown or the uncertain – a common condition – human beings tend to enter a state of doubt and tighten instinctively to protect themselves. When we doubt the sincerity of another person in a close relationship, we tighten our hearts. When confronted with an idea or perspective that seems to run counter to our picture of how things are – or should be – we tighten our minds and are called "closed minded". When we are confronted by a customer who looks sceptical, our sales presentation tends to become strained.
But, when we have faith, we stay open. A child is constantly confronted with the unknown but is a sponge for all kinds of experiences until at some age he begins to learn to doubt himself.
It is the questioning of whether we can meet a given challenge that seems to trigger the tightening action.
Inner Game learning involves three steps: first, to increase awareness of what is (and decrease interferences that distort perception); second to increase awareness of our goal or purpose (and decrease interferences with clarification of goals); third, to trust the natural learning process. No wonder the Inner Game is applied to executive coaching as well as sports.
Awareness is the internal energy that makes it possible to see through our eyes, hear through our ears, feel our feelings, think our thoughts, and understand what we understand. It is the light that makes our experience knowable. To some extent we have control over our focus of awareness through a function called attention, a primary tool of natural learning.
Concentration occurs when you allow – not force – yourself to become interested in something. One of the greatest obstacles to relaxed concentration is over concern about results.
Gallwey's concept of the awareness instruction avoids the state of doubt by removing concern about results. It asks only one thing of the conscious mind: pay attention to what is happening. There is no doubt because there is no right way or wrong way, and there is no fear of failure because there is no externally implied standard for success.
Any human activity offers three different kinds of benefits: the rewards that come from performance, or the external results of the action; those produced by the experience of performing the activity; and the learning or growth that takes place during the action. Generally a person focuses on only one of these three benefits in any given activity. We tend to work at our jobs for the rewards promised by successful performance; we play more for the experience; we read a book or attend a workshop for the sake of learning. But any activity offers all three kinds of satisfaction, and if we focus on only one we are short-changing ourselves and are bound to be somewhat dissatisfied.
For example, when learning becomes the only goal, you tend to develop the ivory tower syndrome: lots of knowledge but ineffective action and lack of enjoyment. When enjoyment is sought and excellence forgotten, boredom eventually results. When performance alone is the goal, and learning and enjoyment are neglected, it isn't long before performance itself evens off or sometimes declines.
Gallwey claims that this last is the most prevalent imbalance in our goal oriented society. Many organisations, he says, are now facing the consequences of an overemphasis on valuing external results. But some companies recognise the value of quality of work life. When this is taken seriously and sincerely, it has revolutionary results. When the employee is considered to be more important than his work, it's not surprising that the quality of work rises, he says.
In conclusion, Gallwey claims "It seems clear that the breakthroughs of the next age must come in the form of advances in our individual and collective abilities to tap existing human capabilities, and to overcome the negative internal forces that interfere with their expression. Just at there is more to learn from golf than golf, there is more to the work day than simply getting the job done. Besides attending to results, two questions must be asked: (1) What is the worker learning while performing? (2) What is he experiencing? These questions will provoke steps that can solve the serious motivational problems that stifle efforts to raise productivity levels."
Ask what you really want and then make conscious choices. This question always leads to "What do I want to do, to learn and to experience." When one of these is missing or is significantly low, start thinking about how to redress the balance, he says.
Not bad advice for work or for life.
HOLIDAY READING: We have been doing some research for a scenario planning workshop and have put together a list of thought provoking books for delegates to read beforehand. We thought you might be interested:
Details of the books can be found on our books pages.
5. Technical tips: Hits, hosts and statistics
Many web sites quote their success in terms of 'hits'. We do sometimes – people expect to be told about hits. But don't believe anything you read. 'Hits' statistics are meaningless. The Internet was not developed as a business medium and one of its weaknesses is its inability to monitor activity.
So what can you do? Obviously, the best measure is how many enquiries and how much business your site generates. But this might not apply for information sites, and until you know how many visits you are getting you cannot measure effectiveness.
We monitor 'distinct hosts served'. This tells us the number of individual computers that downloaded files from our web site . . . unless they used AOL . . . or accessed a cache. We also study the search phrases used.
If your statistics program claims to measure hits, it probably means files downloaded. Our web site pages generate many files, because we use graphics buttons; the Careersnet site, although similar in structure, uses HTML buttons and would record many times less hits.
So the number of hits depends on the design of the page.
Whatever is claimed, no program can tell you how many visitors your site has had. You can guess by looking at the number of distinct hosts that have requested things from you. But this is not always a good estimate for three reasons. First, if users get your pages from a local cache server, you will never know about it. Secondly, sometimes many users appear to connect from the same host: either users from the same company or ISP, or users using the same cache server. Finally, sometimes one user appears to connect from many different hosts. AOL allocates a different host name for every request so that each graphic download appears to be an individual visit.
So, study the statistics but remember that they can be no more than an indication of how popular your site is. And don't believe what any other web site claims!
The Google Toolbar
You can download the Google toolbar for free at http://toolbar.google.com. This puts Google on your browser and gives you various additional facilities like searching within a web site.
We aim to make the Brefi Group web site family the premier UK developmental site for teams and individuals in organisations, so do please send us your suggestions and requests for further development. And let us know what you think of this newsletter, and comment on the content.
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Brefi Group provides corporate coaching, consultancy, facilitation and training. We can also advise you an your Internet strategy and design web sites.
We hope you enjoyed this issue of CorporateCoach. If you would like to learn more about how we can work together, then please contact me, Richard Winfield:
Telephone: +44 (0) 7970 891 343