Posts Tagged ‘coaching’

When you start out in internal communications it can feel a little bit like everyone wants everything. They want it now and they want you to do it. Or sometimes worse, they want to write it and sing it all themselves and want you to deliver it.

And you’re thinking to yourself: “How do I juggle all this, get some projects delivered and keep sane?”

Or maybe you are thinking: “How do I manage the CEO wanting to write everything in his style, when his style is just going to fall on deaf ears among the twenty somethings who work here?”

These are subtle things that you learn to manage through experience and making mistakes. Sometimes, it’s good to learn from other people’s mistakes, or at least have an idea of real solutions, rather than make the blunder yourself.

That’s why we’re giving you the chance to put all your questions to a panel of experts who have been there, done it and got the t-shirt.

When it comes to providing practical solutions to daily dilemmas our trio of Gurus will deliver the goods.

So book your place – it’s just £15 for members and £20 for non-members, bring your questions and find out more from the Gurus.

And there will be nibbles and drinks to keep you energised for the evening.

Book your place here

Ask the Guru – practical answers to Internal Communications daily dilemmas

Tuesday, 29 May 2012 from 18:30 to 21:30 (GMT)

52-53 Russell Square
United Kingdom, WC1B 4HP


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Watching the Prime Minister’s ‘did he/didn’t he?’ bullying saga this week has been, in some respects,  almost farcical (Peter Mandelson and John Prescott gesticulating and forcefully asserting that Gordon is not a bully) and, on another respect a stark reminder of the impact stress has on organisations and individuals.    

Whether Gordon is a bully or not is a red herring.  Publicly, he is eminently calm and reasonable; publicly Peter and John’s seem defensive and aggressive.  Neither matters because external events, however hectic or unpleasant, don’t determine stress.  What determines stress is how we as individuals react. How we internalise external stimuli. 

Stress has been defined as “a demand made upon the adaptive capacities of the mind and body”.  If these capacities can handle the demand and enjoy the stimulation involved then the stress is welcome and helpful.  Seemingly Peter and John can.  But what if they can’t and find the demand debilitating? 

As internal communicators understanding the physiological responses to pressure and stress must be fundamental to implementing and delivering successful change in organisations.  Bullying is just one of the factors that goes on, often undetected or unrecognised in organisations for exactly the reason that everyone reacts differently and therefore not everyone will exhibit symptoms of stress.  Some may even be surprised by the allegation that someone is a bully.  Frequent clashes with bosses;  overwork and time pressures;  long or unsociable hours are common causes.  And, it’s not hard to imagine that working with a Prime Minister under extreme to extricate UK plc from the economic recession and facing a General Election in a matter of months that the work environment is fraught. 

Effective leaders, and therefore effective communicators, should be aware that certain situations, especially over extended periods will have detrimental effects on proportions of staff which can only lead to dysfunctional people, teams and even businesses. 

The impact is insidious rather than blatantly obvious.  After all, staff being too busy to take time off, bringing home work and being unable to refuse more work happens – often it goes with the territory.  But usually it comes to a natural end and there are periods of comparatively less pressure.  When it doesn’t the symptoms will show as staff complaining about the quality of others work; being unable to cope with the pressure of work or work efficiently – or even using social media sites to let off steam about their organisation.  If it continues, extreme exhaustion and reduced commitment to work become evident until eventually, at the point where HR become involved, absenteeism is rampant.  The reality of the toxic situation is no longer a perception it’s a reality. And, of course, increased sickness levels put additional pressure on those who have been coping .

This economic situation with its ubiquitous re-structures and change programmes has already enabled internal communicators to raise their profile but it also gives us an irresistible opportunity to wrestle the staff engagement agenda, once and for all, from HR.  We have key roles when it comes to the staff surveys by improving channels and communication courses. Yet we leave softer leadership skills, of which communication is one facet, and coaching another, to our HR colleagues, who for the most part, are still adhering to the signs of stress approach: unless you see the effects of stress – absenteeism – there isn’t a problem.   Coaching and developing leaders is ours for the taking and it’ a key part of staff engagement.   Who’s up for it?

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We’re only one month in to 2010, yet the year has already seen the publication of two reports suggesting soft leadership skills are more effective, even during tough times, than the traditional command and control, target-driven styles that are so commonplace.

The first study, the Institute of Leadership and Management’s  (ILM) Corporate Learning Priorities Survey 2010, revealed that 67% of respondents said the development of middle managers was their first or second priority, compared to 35% who will be putting an emphasis on developing senior managers.  It also highlighted that equipping managers to handle change was another priority for 67% of respondents.

The ILM report followed another by The Work Foundation, which involved in-depth interviews with senior personnel from BAE Systems, EDF Energy, Tesco, Unilever and the Guardian Media Group.  Its findings showed that while all the leaders involved in the study said that engaging staff in the company vision, outstanding leaders gave a greater emphasis to the importance of engagement, describing it as something that deeply affected an employee’s commitment.  Penny Tamkin, lead author of The Work Foundation report explains that “outstanding leaders focus on people, attitudes and engagement.  Instead of one to one meetings centred on tasks, they seek to understand people and their motives”.

Softer skills in leadership styles and in coaching bring out the very best in people and facilitate team working and help to equip managers to handle change, another priority cited in the ILM study.  

Coaching is about getting the very best out of someone and enabling them to make decisions that will improve their life – at work or at home – and get the best out of them.   It’s also about communicating, it’s an on-going experience and most importantly of all, it’s about helping people to find their own solutions.  And people who are involved in making the change are more likely to be the change required.  Ultimately it’s a form of change facilitation. 

The best leaders already know this.  So will 2010 be the tipping point for organisations to prioritise soft management skills, or at least give them as much emphasis, as traditional hard business management programmes?  So, do MBAs equip managers to be good leaders?  Certainly the lack of an MBA has not prevented the likes of Terry Leahy, Richard Branson and Anita Roddick being seen as inspirational leaders as well as top business people.

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