We recently decided to have our driveway at home redone and I invited three local companies to quote. The contractors arrived on time and all appeared keen to get the job. After receiving their quotes, I invited each contractor back to explain how they would do the work.
I made my choice and awarded the contract to one of the three companies. A few days later, a friend asked me how and why I had chosen that particular contractor. I realised then that although I had initially thought the price would be the deciding factor, my choice was actually based on trust.
Listening is essential for establishing trust
Contractor A was the quickest to respond and had the cheapest quote but he didn’t get the contract. He was extremely confident that his company was the best for the job and he repeatedly told me so. So focused was he on delivering his pitch, that he didn’t listen to anything I said. By the end of his second visit, I still wasn’t confident that he had any idea of what we wanted.
Trust requires honesty
Contractor B in contrast, did listen to what I had to say. He listened carefully and checked for understanding. We had excellent rapport. His price was higher but still within budget and for a while I was really keen to have him do the work. Unfortunately, it was during his second visit, that he lost my trust.
As we chatted, I asked him to explain in more detail exactly how he would carry out the work. With a little more questioning, it became apparent to me that he had not included everything in his quote. It seemed that there were several essential ‘extras’ that would make a substantial difference to the final spend.
Trust takes time to develop
So contractor C got the job, in spite of coming in with the highest quote originally. He listened carefully to my requirements and made several good suggestions about things I hadn’t considered. He brought a hand drawn sketch of his proposed plan to the second meeting, which was really helpful. He explained exactly how the work would be done and patiently answered my queries. He seemed to care about what we wanted and he delivered on his promises.
I liked what I saw and heard and felt confident that he would build a driveway that would last and we would love. Although price was a factor, it was actually the respectful and trustworthy behaviour of Contractor C that clinched the deal.
To what extent are your decisions based on trust?
Jenny Johnson, CDI London Business Coach
They were able to describe the problem and show how it was impacting on their daily results but they didn’t have the power to resolve it. The issue had been reported several times but the senior leader was avoiding the problem because it was painful for him.
The business had grown from a small enterprise to a medium sized business. While much of the change was positive, there was still a historic process being managed by someone who had been with the business since start up.
The process was outdated and inefficient and the manager unwilling to embrace any change. The senior leader was emotionally attached to both the process and the manager. This increased his reluctance to get involved and consequently help the team solve their problem.
I got thinking about Peter Koeestenbaum’s ‘Leadership Diamond’. Which of the Leadership model’s 4 essential characteristics, Vision, Ethics, Courage and Reality was this leader not demonstrating?
The most obvious was courage. By avoiding an unpleasant situation, the senior leader was definitely not showing courage. Avoidance is the opposite of action and action is essential for progress. No action equals no change which in the case of our team, meant a continual recurrence of a problem.
Vision represents the leader’s ability to see the big picture and create a vision that inspires his followers. Our senior leader appears to have narrowed his vision and was consequently unable to see the whole picture.
Avoiding the reality of a situation makes it easier to evade decisions. If our senior leader had listened to the team and focused on the facts, he would have been more inspired to take action.
The senior leader was also not really demonstrating the ethical aspect of the ‘Leadership Diamond’. Yes he was concerned about the welfare of the manager who had been with him for a long time. However, he was overlooking the needs of the team members who were requesting his help. Ethical leaders demonstrate genuine concern for everybody.
Coaching gives leaders an opportunity to reflect on how they are leading. If you looked in the mirror what leadership characteristics would you see?
Jenny Johnson, CDI London Business Coach
Imagine switching on your TV to watch your favourite team playing. The game has started; the players are chasing the ball across the field. As you settle into the sofa to watch the game, what information do you look for? The chances are you will look for the current score and the amount of play time left.
Imagine if this information is not available to you and all you can see are the players running around the field. How will you feel and how will this influence your enjoyment of the game?
Waiting until the game ends to hear the results is too slow and frustrating. As a spectator, you want to be involved in the game and for this to happen you need access to all the relevant information. Knowing their measures or how they are doing, is just as important for the players on the field; it keeps them motivated, focussed on the game and able to function as a team.
Teams in any environment need to know how they are performing and whether they are winning or losing.
Teams need to know how they are performing; are they winning or loosing? Keeping the score in the work place is just as critical for business. When work place team members know their team results, they are engaged in the team’s purpose and they become energetic, motivated and competitive.
Clear visual management of team results and performance is powerful. It helps the team to keep themselves in control and ensures that team members know how they are performing. It enables them to quickly identify problems and areas for improvement.
Teams need to measure their performance in order to achieve outstanding results. The measures need to be accessible, relevant, understandable and above all visible to everyone.
Getting the visual measurement process right is the cornerstone of a team becoming world class. It ensures the team members focus on achieving their goals and it motivates them to continually improve their team results.
Can your team see their results? Do they know if they are winning or loosing?
Terry Johnson, CDI London Business Coach
Coaching is a fundamental part of the improvement process in any business.
World class companies embed coaching at all levels, creating a coaching culture throughout the organisation. So what is coaching in a business context, and how do we coach someone? At its simplest level coaching is a structured conversation, where the coach helps the coachee (the person being coached) to discover the path to a goal. The goal in this case can be anything achievable, for example solving a technical problem, attaining a new skill, finding a different way to communicate, or learning how to prioritise.
O – Options
W – Way Forward
The model helps the coach structure their questions to ensure that the coachee is crystal clear about what they want to achieve and has written down specific actions to get them there.
In the Goal phase, the coach asks questions to ensure that the coachee has a goal that is specific, measurable, achievable, and time-bound. The coachee needs to to write down their goal in a form that is personal (something they and not someone else will do), in the present tense (written as though they’re doing it now not something they will do in the future), and positive (write want they do want rather than what they don’t want).
In the Reality phase the coach asks where the coachee is now in relation to their goal, what have they tried already? What has worked? What hasn’t worked? What obstacles do they face? We’re establishing the gap between where the coachee is now and where they want to be.
In the Options phase the coach asks the coachee to generate as many solutions to bridge the gap as possible. Rather like brainstorming, the ideas don’t need to be realistic at this stage, we just need as many ideas as possible.
In the Way Forward phase the coach asks which of the potential solutions the coachee wants to select, becoming specific about exactly what they will do and when they will do it.
You will not necessarily work through the GROW phases sequentially. Often we start with discussing the reality of a situation before formulating a goal, and as the coachee moves through the model the goal is refined or on occasion is changed completely. The beauty of the GROW model is that the structure encourages clarity and supports a decisive outcome with a plan for action.
As you read through the GROW model you may feel it lends itself to 1-2-1 meetings with your staff and you’d be right, but actually the model can be used in both informal and formal settings.
The next time someone tells you they’ve got a problem; don’t give them your answer, ask them to tell you more about the problem, and then ask them… So what is it that you specifically want to achieve?
Adam Jones, CDI London Business Coach