I was floored to find out that an anonymous employee had contacted my boss with some disturbing news. Allegations were made concerning my job performance that I could hardly believe. Poor communicator? No follow through? No way!!! ~ I didn’t get to be a supervisor without being able to handle this stuff. Where were they coming from?
Then, the ‘opportunity’ came. Work with a coach and get some new ideas about how to connect with this team or face some even more unpleasant consequences. I wasn’t too sure that coaching would help me or my team but hey, I wanted to keep my job. So I agreed to give it a shot and to show up for three sessions.
I went to a place set up for this Results System™ work. There was a lot of blank paper – meaning I had to answer a lot of questions. We spent a half-day assessing my goals, values, and work/life patterns. Some of the assessment pieces made sense right away, some didn’t. But I could see far enough into it to know there might be something to this coaching thing. I could also see that it involved a different way to learn. Even though there were a lot questions, no one was telling me what I had to do. I liked that.
Another thing. After a few sessions I started to understand how other people viewed my actions differently from the way I did. I mean just plain old everyday actions like saying “I’ll get back to you”. Doesn’t everybody say that? I thought that was an OK way to respond when people throw things at you that don’t expect, or that you don’t have time to deal with right away. Turns out that short statement can get you into a lot of trouble if people think you don’t follow through.
Or take another everyday action like talking. I’m really busy, so I don’t waste too many words at work. When we examined the complaints and compared them against my preferred way of communicating, it was pretty clear. People felt like their complaints weren’t being taken seriously, even though I thought I was taking them in. Apparently my outward reactions weren’t reflecting my inward reactions ~ or something like that.
So we came up with a plan that included a few differences in how I communicated every day. Simple things mostly, like recording concerns on the spot, making routine rounds even when I didn’t think I had time, and developing a system to monitor feedback. Gradually, but consistently, I worked at showing them I could act and react differently.
In the end, I just made some small changes. But the payoff for me was big. I knew I was a good guy and after the coaching, I also knew more about how I could be a better manager. I think this is called ‘social awareness’ in EQ language, and I guess I picked up some of that. I also picked up a little more self awareness too, probably not a bad thing good thing for my career. I’m feeling pretty good about it all now, but I know there will be more work to do. Good thing I’m not afraid of a little hard work….
Editor’s note: Five years after this initial coaching, Miguel is still on the job he enjoys and is demonstrating solid work performance. He got very clear on what was needed, and produced it. Good for him!
#4 in the series