Managers and Working Cultures:

I have seen it mentioned many times about the need for coaching and how managers and leaders could fill this need, so as to build greater connection with their staff in efforts to improve working cultures. With many staff however, the coaching required is more personal and goes beyond the Business Coaching boundaries.

There is a dire need in many companies to improve the relationships with staff or as a minimum offer a free from retribution process, that allows an employee to speak about and express how conditions are affecting their (and others’) capacity to perform to their best.

Staff who feel uncomfortable or unwilling (consciously or otherwise) to commit to doing their best is a real challenge, because the real problem(s) are often not communicated due to fear, so resolution can be an ineffective process, if the focus is on the symptom.

The challenge with coaching as with all problem solving, is to ensure there is awareness of the real issues. With staff, the answer is not what you see – it’s what is driving what you see.

It’s similar in psychotherapy – to obtain lasting change in a client, it’s important to get to the core issues that are driving a clients’ thought patterns and behaviours. The challenge (and often the time-consuming aspect) is filtering through the intensity of the emotions and information pouring out from the client. Again, what is being presented are the symptoms not the cause.

It takes experience, targeted and subtle questioning to clear the way to understanding what is really going on, in order to help by coaching.

Managers as we know, must manage ‘up’ as well as ‘down’ and personalities can dictate how well this is achieved. Added to this is a little matter that is usually at the heart of how cultures develop and what behaviours and communication types prevail – it’s called the “Triple Constraint” and is part of Project Management life.

It is a Company ‘Triune’ that is problematic, as it affects the way work is done, the Manager and their capacity to influence how work is done.

It’s where delivery date expectations dictate the pressure, while jiggering the available resource alongside the volume of work, whilst worrying about the quality of work, personal accountabilities and perceived capability.

This has a great impact on physical and mental health and the capacity to ‘perform’ and get the work done to the required expectations. It is frequently based upon poor decision making outside the control of those who must perform the work.

This is how reactive and pressure filled work cultures develop within organisations and become the ‘Norm’ – “…so get used to it”. A common adjunct to justifying excessive pressures.

So how does the manager ‘Coach’ around these types of conditions? Particularly when they are fully aware of the conditions that prevail.

These are the questions that require answers because the working cultures develop based upon the experiences an employee is having. Under these circumstances the business coaching model can prove ineffective.


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