Posted by: Liza | July 7, 2010

Work – life balance – who has it?

Some time ago I heard an interview with a writer, Kennedy Douglas. He said that “People who say that they have balance in their lives are either liars or they don’t know what they say”. It kept me thinking about what he said. It is true that sometimes when you read or hear people reassuring others that they are happy or balanced you wonder why they keep saying that again and again. The happiest people I have met in my life were those not saying much. On the other hand when somebody asks you: “Do you feel balance in your life?” What would be your answer? Remember that saying “Yes” to this question could make you a liar or ignorant. What if saying “No” could make you a liar or ignorant as well. How do you know that you have balance? Does having balance mean sleeping 8 hours each night? Napoleon slept only 4. Does having balance mean working 40 hours a week or not working at all? Is my life balanced? Is your life balanced? Is his life balanced? Who has the right to judge?
Maybe what Kennedy Douglas meant was that having balance was a process. Balancing is being in a process. When you say ‘I have balance’, it is like stopping something that should be in motion. Have you ever tried to stay still on your bike without touching the ground with your feet and say: “look at me, how I balance my balance……”? Before finishing your sentence you would be on the ground again. You need to ride your bike to keep balancing. Is any reflection on balance allowed at all then? Maybe it’s better not to open your mouth while riding your bike…….

“Leadership can be thought of as a capacity to define oneself to others in a way that clarifies and expands a vision of the future” said Edwin H. Friedman and I totally agree with the statement. It is not the whole truth about leadership though. A wonderful vision is not enough to make people follow it. We know sad examples from our history when a vision was awful, but people followed it anyway, because something else was present, it’s the ability to make people believe the vision is great and that it will work. What kind of skills do leaders need to make people believe in the vision they created?
“You do not lead by hitting people over the head – that’s assault, not leadership” said Dwight D. Eisenhower, but many managers don’t know about it apparently. You cannot force people to follow you. In organisations if people want to keep their jobs, they may pretend they follow your vision, but only till 5:30 pm. After 5:30 pm your leadership is gone till 8:30 am the next day. Is that leadership?
What makes a good leader become an excellent leader? Is it their vision? Or is it their charisma to inspire other people. Managers can learn how to motivate others, how to convince them to their vision, but real leadership is recognised by the passion of making that vision come true. Is it passion of a leader or passion of followers that makes it come true, or is it their passion together?
You don’t have to use many words to convince someone to your vision, but the words you are using need to be filled with enthusiasm. That is how people sense the spirit of leadership. Does it mean that leadership development programs should include teaching competencies such as enthusiasm? Some people do not consider enthusiasm as a competence at all. However, being able to enthused yourself and enthuse others is a definitely a competence. If enthusiasm is the competence, this means it can be measured, developed and finally measured again. Good leadership development programs can be assessed in terms of their effectiveness, even when it comes to developing passion in leaders.

Posted by: Liza | March 9, 2010

Performance coaching

Is performance coaching something that exists only in corporate environment or is it a natural element of each and every coaching process? I would say that it is the natural element of each and every good coaching process. The world around us is interested only in our performance, because this is the way we communicate with the world. Your manager, your colleagues, your friends, your partner and even your children, they all want certain things from you that you could call performance. Whether you deliver the report on time to your manager or help your colleague with the new application or go out with your friends on Friday night or read a book to your child, it’s all about how well or bad you perform. The evaluation of your performance is not always made by others, sometimes it is your own opinion about your performance that comes in your way to achieve what you want. Sometimes people are not pleased with their own performance but sometimes they are very pleased with it and they want to excel even more. Sometimes you don’t know how you should perform and sometimes you know but you don’t want to perform in this way. That is why when people come to coaching session they talk about their performance. They say how they perform right now and how they want to perform instead. Even if they don’t use this kind of terminology, you need to hear them in terms of their performance, because this is the only way coach can communicate with his client. If we concentrate on performance as the end result of coaching process we can talk about evidences of coaching work. Our client can see, hear and feel the difference after coaching sessions. They know that they are moving forward and the effects of their work are tangible.
It’s easy to talk about performance coaching when the client says: “I never deliver reports on time to my manager and I would like to change that in my performance”, but usually we don’t hear that. What we hear is: “I really don’t like my job, I think I have too much things to do and I don’t think they really recognise me as a professional”.
Let’s see what happens if we don’t concentrate on performance:
Client: “I really don’t like my job”.
Coach: “So what do you want?”
Client: “I don’t know, maybe this job is not for me.”
Coach: “What kind of job is for you?”
Client: “I always wanted to be writer.”
Coach: “Do you want to become a writer? Is that your goal?”
Client: “Oh no, I’m just saying I don’t like my job”.

Coaching concentrated on performance:
Client: “I really don’t like my job”.
Coach: “So what do you want?”
Client: “I don’t know, maybe this job is not for me.”
Coach: “How do you know that?”
Client: “I never manage to do things right”.
Coach: “What things?”
Client: “For example, I am supposed to deliver reports on Fridays, but I’m always late. There are simply too many things to do. My boss gives me everything he does not want to do”.
Coach: “So what is that you want in your job?”
Client: “I want to do things right.”
Coach: “What does it mean?”
Client: “To deliver reports on time and to be noticed as a professional in my field.”
Coach: “What do you need to do in order to do that?”
Client: “I don’t know. There are simply too many things to do”.
Coach: “What do you need to do to deliver reports on time and be noticed as a professional while having so many things to do?”
Client: “Maybe I could talk to my boss about it? And probably I could plan better?”
Coach: “What do you want to say to your boss? And what it means to plan better? How much better? What exactly you need to do?
Client: (client builds his plan of action and we continue working on his planning skills, assertiveness, and building his image as a professional in his work environment)
What I presented above is an element of performance coaching which focus on evidences of our behaviours. We look for signs of performance in client’s talk: “How do you know that?”; “What things?”; “What does it mean?”. And we guide client to focus on performance: “What do you need to do in order to do that?; “What do you want to say?; “What exactly you need to do?”.
Performance coaching is natural element of each and every good coaching process. That this is how clients can recognise if they are moving forward and if they are closer to what they really want to achieve.

Is it possible to measure the results of coaching? In business environment the answer can be only one. Of course it is possible and not only possible, it is necessary to know if your work as a coach was successful. In order to capture the whole coaching process and its results, you need to do assessments before you start coaching sessions and once the process is completed. It is important to choose a proper measuring tool that would meet your needs. If you work in an organisation where coaching is supposed to be applied to develop competencies of the group of people, one of the useful assessment tools that can be used is Assessment / Development Centre (AC/DC). Assessment / Development Centre usually consists of case studies or tasks to be completed by AC / DC participants in order to assess specific competencies they have. The biggest advantage of AC/DC is that you can create assessment environment that would be very similar to participants’ natural work environment. You can actually see how your managers cooperate with others. You can see how Sales Representatives negotiate with clients. You can see how Customer Service Consultants handle claims. It is crucial to know what competencies we need to develop working with each person individually and what level of competencies they already have. Thanks to AC/DC we have all the information at the beginning of the coaching process and at the end. We can confirm if coaching sessions were successful and to what extent. If we do not coach the whole group of professionals but only individuals, usually we cannot apply all AC/DC tasks but only some of them. Assessment of some competencies can be difficult, especially if you cannot apply group tasks. It is necessary to have a measuring tool that can be applied both to groups and individuals. When measuring coaching results, I usually apply IWAM (Inventory for Work Attitude and Motivation) which is my number one tool in showing how successful coaching can be. I decided to share my experiences from working with IWAM and you can find some materials from the 2009 JobEQ Conference held in Belgium (below). I was invited to the conference by Patrick Merlevede the author of “Mastering Mentoring and Coaching with Emotional Intelligence”; “7 steps to Emotional Intelligence” and creator of IWAM.

Posted by: Liza | February 26, 2010

There is time for everything

According to Thomas Edison:“There is time for everything”. According to George Head:“If time be judiciously employed, there is time for everything”. There is also an entry in a bible that says “Everything has its own time, and there is a specific time for every activity under heaven”.
“Judiciously employed” (…) means someone needs to make a judgement if this is a right time for that “specific activity under heaven”. Who specifically makes the judgement? Who decides which activity when?
Who decides what you are reading right now? Who decided about watching TV yesterday? Who decides when to relax and rest?
Of course you can read during the night, sleep during the day, sing when you eat and eat when you read and “if time be judiciously employed, there is time for everything”. If we would add to our judgement that knowledge about “specific time for every activity under heaven” maybe deciding every single time which activity I want to choose would be easy.
Is this a right time for what I am doing right now? When is the right time for what I want to do? There is time for everything ….but WHEN specifically? And for WHICH activity specifically?
One of my clients came to me after few sessions and said: “I haven’t reached my goal yet? “When did you want to reach it?” – I asked. “As SOON as POSSIBLE” – he answered.
“Maybe it was not POSSIBLE” or maybe “SOON” lasted longer. How long is “SOON” for you by the way? Is it long enough to make reaching your goal possible? There is time for everything. There is specific time for every specific thing. There is time for everything under heaven. So what do you choose and when?

Posted by: Liza | February 23, 2010

Everything was important … How to outsmart time.

You are at the airport. Your gate is closing in 20 minutes. The sign says you have 20 minutes walk from here to your gate. But you wanted to go to the toilet before your flight. You also planned to buy a new perfume from a custom free shop which is on your way to the gate. You were also considering purchasing a new book to have something to read on your long flight. Hmmm , what to do? You don’t want to give up anything. Everything is important: toilet, perfume, book, flight. So what do you do? You start to reckon: “Maybe when they were measuring how much time it takes to get from here to the gate, they were walking slowly….., so maybe I can walk really fast and …buy a perfume.”
Then you think: “They estimated the distance while walking, so if I run I can even buy a new book on my way.” And then you come to the conclusion: “If I run really quickly, I can even go to the toilet, if there is one next to the gate!”
Let’s be honest, it’s not about the lack of planning skills, because everybody can plan if they want to. It’s because everything is important and you don’t want to give up. You want to outsmart time! You do things faster and faster! You do more and more things within the same amount of time! I know, I understand you, Everything is important … Everything was important. Have they waited?
I’ve been on my way to the gate. I accepted time. I’ve chosen to walk. I knew they wouldn’t wait and I did not stop to write my blog. Now I’m back …flying. And maybe I will buy my perfumes at the next airport. Anyway, views are beautiful.

Posted by: Liza | October 1, 2009

Feedback and self-esteem

different_1

A: You are going in a wrong direction.
B: Honey, I know where I’m going.
A: … in a wrong direction.
B: Honey, pleeease!
A: …
B: O Gosh! I went in a wrong direction.
Only “A” would not be quiet after “Honey, pleeease!” and “B” would not admit that he was wrong.

Ok, I made my decision: ‘I’m writing today about getting feedback, asking for feedback, accepting feedback and avoiding feedback. First thing I did was to google phrase “Do you need feedback?” I clicked on the first link that popped up on my screen, it was Wiki Answers and what I’ve read next was: “THE QUESTION HAS NOT BEEN ASWERED YET”. I bet it has not.

Let’s experiment. Imagine that someone you know from your work or previous work (think about real person and put her name in blank space) …… (he/she) approaches you and says: “I would like to give you some feedback”.
What is your first reaction? Do you feel happy? Excited? , Anxious? Or Scared? Not everyone reacts exactly like you’ve reacted. I know people who would be excited. I know ones who would be anxious about getting feedback. For some people getting feedback is related with learning and development and for some people it is related with being criticized and that is why they want to avoid it.

Psychologists’ research proves that it may be correlated with our self esteem. In simple words people who experience low self esteem (who are also experiencing instability in their life) may develop self-protecting strategies like not accepting negative feedback. For ones with high self –esteem (who are also experiencing instability in their life) positive feedback may encourage them to perform even better.

In my practise I met people who had high self esteem and were not accepting or searching for feedback. Those people were very decisive managers and they were very effective in crisis situations. However when the crisis was gone, the cooperation on the daily basis with such people seemed very difficult, not to say impossible.

I met people whose self esteem was very low and because of that, they did not trust their own decisions. They had a tendency to keep asking and confirming their opinions with the supervisors and colleagues which drove the latter crazy. They simply were not able to make decisions independently and if they did they felt a discomfort. They usually continued to ask and confirm with others if the decisions they took were the right ones. Those people though were achieving very good results, improving their self esteem through coaching sessions, because they were learning quickly.

It was more difficult to change their self esteem for ones with the low self – esteem and low tolerance to feedback. It was a longer process however it was still possible.

80 % of the managers who were assessing by their subordinates as good leaders and able to motivate their team were ones with high self- esteem and high preference for accepting and searching feedback. (source: my own research conducted on 70 managers for one of my clients – private corporate company).
If you want to check how your self esteem is correlated with openness to feedback feel welcomed to write to me and I would be happy to send you questionnaire assessing patterns that measure it.

Right now you can do a short self – assessment:
Do you think you need feedback?
Are you interested in searching for feedback?
Would you accept every kind of feedback?
Would you accept feedback from everybody?
Do you like to discuss your decisions with someone before you make them?
When was the last time you asked someone for feedback?
Do you think your opinion is important?
What do you do if you have different opinion than others?

After answering to those questions what you would say about your openness to feedback and respecting your own opinions?

Posted by: Liza | September 22, 2009

Secrets of Successful People (Part 2)

pozytywne_2

He is so successful …He has a good job, lots of money and beautiful wife. She is also very successful … She has him. Their friend is even more successful he has no job, some money and he is single. His sister made her dream come true … she has a baby. What is success? How do you define it? A few years ago I was asked to prepare a presentation for the conference dedicated for women and it was called: “Women of Success”. The presentation was supposed to be about … SUCCESS. At the beginning I was trying to define ‘success’ and understand in what moments of my life I felt the most successful. The first answer that came to my mind was …”when I hug my child”. I felt the most successful in my life when I was hugging my child. I thought to myself, “this is not what they are expecting”, “they asked me to have a presentation on success and they invited a lot of businesswomen ….. I bet they don’t want to hear about hugging a kid”. So I decided to do some small research and I called a few friends friends: “Hi, this is me, I know you’re busy, but can you just quickly tell me when you feel the most successful? And what does ‘success’ mean to you?”. Imagine that you are my friend, who wants to help me with my presentation for this conference. Can you just quickly tell me when you feel the most successful? And what does it mean ‘to be successful’ to you?
Success is something different to everyone. For some people ‘divorce’ will mean a failure and for some it will be a sign of success, for some people accepting CEO position will be a sign of success and for some, it will be a sign of weakness, because “I could not say NO, even though I knew I was not ready”; “I could not say NO, even if I did not want this position, I knew it would influence my life work balance negatively.”

Successful people are not only FOCUSED on what they want, they also KNOW WHAT THEY WANT and that’s why they have a VISION OF their SUCCESS.

It was another common thing for all successful people that I met in my life. They all had ….a VISION of their SUCCESS. You won’t believe me how different those visions were, but again there were a few things that were the same and common in all cases.

WHAT EXACTLY? -  A DETAILED VISION OF SUCCESS

Their VISIONS could be precisely described by them, because they actually could SEE IT in their minds. Some people could see themselves in expensive suits, in a luxury car with a beautiful wife sitting in a car. Some of them saw themselves in a T-shirt and shorts, doing nothing, resting at the beach (and knowing exactly what they had to do to be in that place). Some of them were seeing themselves with family and kids around. The common thing was, that they all had a VISION which they could see and describe in detail.
HOW EXACTLY? – STRATEGY OF SUCCESSFUL STEPS

They all knew as well HOW they are going to MAKE a VISION come true. They knew what their STRATEGY is. They had small visions of each step of that strategy in their minds.

WHO EXACTLY … CAN DO IT? – YOUR INFLUENCE ON YOUR SUCCESS

They also knew they could do everything that is depended on them. SO if they wanted to earn a lot of money, the question they asked themselves was Does it depend on me? Yes, I can do it. What I need to do is to increase sales in my company.
Hmmm, Increase sales in my company means I want my customers to buy more. Does it depend on me? Hmmm … It depends on your customers how much they buy…BUT you can make it depended on you. You can ask yourself a question: What can I do to make my customers buy more? Now, this is something you have influence on….

WHAT EXACTLY WILL HAPPEN NEXT? – CONSEQUENCES OF THE SUCCESS

What I’ve learned from successful people I talked to, they always think about the “good” and “bad” consequences of their successes. They think: “What will happen if I achieve what I want?”; “What will happen if I don’t achieve what I want”; “What will not happen if I achieve what I want?”; “What will not happen if I don’t achieve what I want?”.

The CEO guy would know what to do years ago If he had asked himself that four last questions.

What I said during the presentation was that: “Success is a state of mind. You can be successful all the time no matter what you do. Once you feel successful, it is so easy to see your vision, it just comes to your mind with all its successful steps, with all answers what you need to do to convince others and it’s so easy to do that and so easy to see all the consequences of it and feel exactly what you want to feel right from the beginning.”

Posted by: Liza | September 15, 2009

Secrets of Successful People (Part 1)

focus_

What do you do when you meet very successful people in your life? I ask them the same question: How do you do it? I’ve been looking for things that are common in their answers and I’ve found something. BEING FOCUSED! That’s what I heard most often.
You can ask: But HOW can I BE FOCUSED? I know that some of you will say: I am focused, I do many things, I’m focused on my work, family, friends, my studies, my husband’s studies, my children, my career, my hobby, my music, books, movies, my emails, my calls, shopping, jogging, drinking water, watching news, watering flowers, losing weight, having shower, having sex, reading blogs and brushing teeth. Maybe the only thing hard to BE FOCUSED on is sleeping, but besides that I am focused … on many things. Believe me, people I asked the question, they sleep well, because THEY ARE FOCUSED. THEY A R E F O C U S E D.

NOW, I want you to tell me three criteria you use when you are committing yourself to something. What are three things you consider when undertaking and activity. Sometimes those criteria are called values. It does not matter how we NAME THEM if only we can NAME THEM now. You can WRITE THEM DOWN. 3 words!

I’m waiting ________________________________You’re writing._______________________________________________________You’re writing _______________________________________I’m waiting _______________________________________________ You’re writing _____________________________________________________ 3 words ______________________________________________That’s ok! _______________________________I’m waiting ____________________________________________ And You’re writing them down.
I’ll give you an example: development, fun, result. Another example: pleasure, money, respect. What about yours? ___
If you cannot NAME THEM, spending some time to define them would BRING YOUR LIFE to the track YOU WANT TO CHOOSE.
If you’ve you found them, you can filter every single project, every single task and each little thing that you spend your time on using your 3 criteria.
I’m focused on my … and it gives me …
Work development – YES, result – YES, fun – NO Decision?
Family development – YES, result – YES, fun – YES Cool!
Friends development – NO, results – NO, fun – YES Decision?
My studies development – YES, results – YES, fun – NO Decision?
My husband’s studies development – NO, results – NO, fun – NO Decision?
Even if your results are YES, YES, NO or NO, YES, NO you still can continue with BEING FOCUSED on the task or thing because one YES can be enough. However if you put 3 times NO with some projects or tasks, my question is: Are there any decision you want to make? BE FOCUSED and SLEEP WELL unless you decide differently.

Posted by: Liza | September 3, 2009

I’m unemployed. Why?

pionki_1

I understand, but WHY me? I understand rationally, but I keep asking myself WHY? WHY? WHY? WHY? My question to you is: Where it leads you? Where ‘WHY’ question leads you? What happens when you ask yourself a question: WHY? WHY leads you to the PAST. ‘WHY’ focuses your attention on things that have already happened. Your mind starts analysing past experiences when you ask WHY questions. Is that what you want? Do you want to live life in your PAST or do you want to live life NOW and build your FUTURE.
It’s your choice. You can choose where you want to live in your PAST, PRESENT or FUTURE.
If you choose to live in your PAST, continue to ask yourself Why questions. If you choose to live in your PAST stop breathing. If you choose to live in your PAST stop feeling. If you choose to live in your PAST be critical to everything that’s new. If you choose to live in your PAST, forget about your FUTURE.
IF you choose to live NOW, take care of how you FEEL. If you choose to live NOW, make sure YOU FEEL GOOD and ready to ACT. If you choose to live NOW, HAVE A GOAL. If you choose to live NOW, TAKE ACTION. If you choose to live NOW, FEEL GOOD BECAUSE YOU HAVE A GOAL AND TAKE ACTION. If you choose to live NOW, BUILD YOUR FUTURE.
IF you choose to live in the FUTURE, THINK ABOUT IT NOW. If you choose to live in the FUTURE, RAISE YOUR HEAD AND LOOK AHEAD. If you choose to live in the FUTURE, LET GO OF THE PAST. If you choose to live in the FUTURE, START NOW!
How much time do you spend thinking about PAST? Is it good for you NOW?

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