+Scott Watson

Tuesday, 21 August 2012

Management Training Course With A Difference

Management Training courses can all too often be too much theory, too many Powerpoint slides and nowhere near enough hands-on, brains-on learning by doing.

We supported DHL Express in Bahrain to develop 25 of their high potential managers, and they absolutely loved being actively involved in team building activities - and personal reflection time throughout their 6 day management training course.

When you are seeking to appoint a management training partner, remember to look beyond the glossy brochure and super-cool web site.  Look for testimonials you can verify and a commitment from your selected partner to transfer knowledge, skills and competence to your in-house team.  That's where you lasting ROI is generated.

SUMMIT Training and http://www.ScottWatson.co.uk/ are the sites you may wish to explore.

Team Building For Managers

Management Training expert Scott Watson presents his unique approach to developing high performing management teams.

Exploring how to improve collaboration, personal ownership of performance and develop high trust relationships, Scott's audience were repeatedly tested in a series of hands-on management team exercises that reflected the daily challenges (and headaches) they face in their workplace.

Find out more at http://www.SummitTraining.co.uk/ and http://www.ScottWatson.co.uk/

Team Building Expert Scott Watson

Team Building expert Scott Watson presenting on why teams fail to deliver lasting value to their organisation - and how to ensure that they do!

Scott had a group of high potential entrepreneurs for one day and helped them to realise that success is not an accident - and neither is failure!

http://www.SummitTraining.co.uk/ is Scott's main site with http://www.ScottWatson.co.uk/ being his leadership development and corporate speaker site.

Monday, 13 August 2012

For The Millionth Time - Stop Exaggerating!

Nothing ever words out for me.  

I'm sure you've heard it.  Perhaps even thought it occasionally.  But this belief is just so inaccurate.  Surely SOMETHING must have worked out for us at some point in our lives?  If it hadn't, it's very unlikely any of us would be here.

We humans have a habit of distorting reality and creating our own meaning about what a certain situation or event means to us personally.  Let me share an example with you from a coaching session with a senior manager at a multi-million pound company.

John was responsible for managing nearly 100 employees and successfully implementing a number of important projects, often three or four projects simultaneously.  During the first ten minutes of our first coaching session, he shared his issues, concerns and troubles with me.  How the performance of some members of his team was becoming a 'BIG' problem and he (the victim) was 'ALWAYS' being let down by some of his more senior, project team members when they didn't meet 'agreed' deadlines.

In his own words he 'Got it in the neck' from his boss who, on more than one occasion apparently, made John shout at his team in an effort to 'Get their heads out of their arses' and focused on their work.  He continued, 'I've warned them that if they keep stabbing me in the back, I'll have to get rid of them.'

Have you noticed anything about the vocabulary John is using here? Yes, they're all imaginary incidents that had never happened in (external) reality - but they were John's reality in the confines of his own mind. For John, it was all absolutely true and accurate.

As I began to politely question and challenge some of John's current beliefs about the terrible situation he found himself in, he stated that without exception, he was always 'let down' by his team.  That 'If it's happened once, it's happened a hundred times' (Note: Has John been counting?).

Unwilling to accept the real source of the teams poor performance, missed deadlines and subsequent reprimands from his own boss, could be more down to his leadership, John continued to hurriedly point his finger at others rather than accept any kind of personal responsibility.  He refused to move from his view of everyone else being to blame - (Note: 'Could John be digging his heels in?').  His tone was becoming quite aggressive towards me personally as well as the situation he was vehemently complaining about.  And this is a challenge that is often encountered when coaching a senior manager who can't see a solution anywhere they look.  It's not usually intentional aggressiveness, just an auto-pilot response with a purpose of preserving current beliefs - even though there's no evidence to support them.

Now, I'm all for helping people to remove barriers, resolve issues and produce better results for themselves and their teams, and I'm really rather patient too - but I can get really fed up, really quickly when someone lets their ego take over.  It adds no value and can do immense harm to relationships, trust and teams if not kept in check.

After a long, deep breath, slapping my hands together loudly as if delivering a single applause, I politely and assertively said 'OK then John, take off your shirt please...AND DO IT NOW'.  John, being quite a bit taller, and a lot wider than me with shaven head and grainy North-East accent wasn't the ideal candidate for this kind of provocative approach.  The look of absolute shock on his face was almost as funny as when Del Boy fell through the open bar in Only Fools And Horses. I expect you remember it well.

John's focus quickly changed from playing a very willing victim in to a state of absolute confusion and disbelief as I continued; 'Come on John, don't be shy, just take you shirt off.  I continued, 'I won't tell if you won't'.  After what seemed like minutes but was perhaps only a few seconds, John's brain was still trying to make sense of my somewhat unusual, and unexpected request.  He asked me in a rather uncertain voice 'Why do I need to take my shirt off?'  I replied calmly...and slowly, 'Because I want to see all of those scars on your back....from all of those knives - surely you will have lots of scars.  Won't you?'

Bursting in to a fit of nervous and relieved laughter, John stood up, leaned over the desk that separated us, and firmly shook my hand. Eager to avoid the possibility of a keen left hook, my leaning to my left was strategic positioning more than anything else.

A few minutes later, John had eased himself out of his previously limiting thinking and moved into a more proactive, responsible frame of mind.  The use of metaphor and polite challenging of John's language patterns has assisted him to learn just how unproductive they were to him improving matters with his team - and with his boss.  There were no scares, just images in his mind of what a certain situation has meant to him.  He hadn't got anything in the neck and neither was he always let down by his team.  It just felt like it sometimes.

What followed was a very productive, collaborative coaching dialogue. John began to make real sense of the reality of the situation and took full responsibility for his part in the problem.  And, from this new, more empowering position, it was easy for him to start being part of the solution.

This is both a simple and true example of how our experience of a situation or a person can be easily distorted by what goes on in our head.  Think about it - how often do you hear people say 'This ALWAYS happens to me' or 'This will NEVER work'?  Also, you could hear comments such as being 'Stabbed in the back' or 'Kicked in the teeth'.

As you begin to spot these patterns of communication at work, whether it is with a frustrated customer or in a sensitive meeting, become more aware of the individual perspectives and understand how they view the experience. Remember that if you do challenge the comment, do it politely and with the other person's best interests at heart.  Just as with John he was experiencing the feelings in his own mind, even though they had never happened in what we like to call 'reality'.

By increasing your awareness of these types of comments you can not only quickly diffuse tense situations, but also, if you are a manager, move your team performance towards better productivity, enhanced quality and eradicate careless errors.  And you can achieve this with just a little awareness and practice.

I recommend that you steer away from inviting people to remove items of clothing, or if you do, stay well out of striking distance!


5 Easy Ways To Manage Your Time More Effectively

'EVERYBODY seems to want my time', was the rather frustrated statement from David, a very professional, and very popular Human Resources Director at a fast-growing digital agency.

David's frustration was borne from the fact that whilst he was the Director responsible for ensuring that the organisation's employees performed well at work, and maintained some form of work/life balance outside of work, he wasn't able to.  The reason?  He was just so popular, trusted, helpful and decent - people just couldn't seem to stay away from him.

So serious had the issue of balancing work and home life that his wife, who he said was one of the most understanding people he had ever met - had stopped understanding and started asserting her right to having a husband (and new father) with them at home - in mind as well as in body.

His wife, Dianne, had apparently claimed in a 'spirited discussion' as David put it, 'Even when you're at home with us, YOU'RE NOT AT HOME WITH US....you're at WORK.'

Haven't you had those moments when, after a(nother) hectic day at work, you get home, walk through the front door and think 'That's it, family time', or perhaps a more accurate thought would be 'What a day, but that's it until tomorrow.'  All well and good in theory isn't it?  But what about in practice?  You know, you're relaxing on the sofa, feet up, perhaps a cuppa..or a cheeky glass of your favourite white - just to wind down of course.

But while your body is relaxed and comfortable, your brain most definitely is not.  It's still thinking.  It's still wondering how you're going to hit that crazy deadline that was imposed on you (but you couldn't say 'NO' to your boss could you?), how you can fit all of those meetings in to your already crammed schedule, how you need to get back to your lovely colleagues who today were so lovely as to ask you the most damaging question that exists in organisations today.  You know the one, it's the one that's nearly always asked in a polite, friendly and on some occasions 'smarmy' tone - and often accompanied by a submissive, puppy dog smile that snaps your parenting instinct right into action. It's the old chestnut... 'Have you got five minutes?'  Recognise it?  Dealing more effectively with this question alone can save you an hour a day.  That's sixty minutes, three thousand six hundred seconds!

Here are some of the practical, easy to apply tools and techniques David implemented to not just help him manage his time, focus and priorities more effectively, but to re-educate an abundance of very decent colleagues on how and when he could be available to assist them.


Sounds quite a challenge doesn't it?  Especially when the person asking (and expecting) you to say 'Yes' is your line manager.

But rather than jumping straight in to the submissive mode of 'Well, I just can't', think of it in another way.  A way that will help you, and your line manager to understand what's really important here.

When you operate on an auto-pilot 'Yes' with your line manager, it could be because you believe you are expected to comply with an authority figure.  After all, if the task/meeting/report wasn't important - s/he wouldn't be asking you to do it, would they?  And here's the really important point to bear in mind on these occasions.

You're not saying 'No' forever.  You're saying 'No' for now.  Until you've understood exactly what's involved, required and timescales.  Of course, there are occasions when you should be saying 'No' forever - for example if there's a more suitably qualified colleague to undertake the task involved.  But if you always perform well, always say 'Yes' without question, clarification or understanding, YOU'RE GOING TO KEEP BEING ASKED!  Why on earth should your line manager (or indeed colleagues) consider asking somebody else to help them when you keep saying 'Yes' to every request and/or demand they make of you and your time?

Here's an easy way to create a few seconds thinking time in the middle of an authority based request or demand.  Don't just read the words, connect with the authentic meaning.

Boss:  I've just been called to a meeting and it is really important I attend.  It'll take all afternoon so will you make a start on the employee training record spreadsheet?  I've not managed to start it yet...I've been snowed under with so many meetings and projects.'

You Normally:  'Yes, no problem, I'll just get this piece of work finished and then I have two coaching sessions with members of my team booked in for an hour each and then a meeting with a manager about a team issue...but when I've done those things I'll get started on the spreadsheet.'

Madness eh?  Especially if your boss then asks you to re-prioritise your schedule, postpone the coaching sessions and use those two hours to make headway on the spreadsheet.  Two things to consider.  One - what message does your willingness to shove your two colleagues out of an agreed commitment send to them?  Two - why did you jump straight in to auto-pilot compliance?  You may think that you're being helpful, but in this instance you're not.  You're being extremely unhelpful!

See Prof. Robert Cialdini's book 'Influence' to see how human beings are generally 'hard-wired' to comply with authority.