11/08/10

By Brian Chernett, Founder, The Academy For Chief Executives

I know a lot of Chief Executives who consider themselves to be good leaders but feel they could be better at managing and motivating their people. Like any other skill, managing key people well can be learned and through practice mastered. One technique for doing that, in my experience, makes a large difference.

You probably schedule regular one to one meetings with your top team and sometimes those meetings won’t happen. The real world gets in the way and nothing beats the adrenalin rush of crisis management. Don’t let that happen. The first rule is simple, regular meetings must happen regularly. They may be weekly, fortnightly or monthly but they must happen regularly.

The second rule is that the agenda for those regular meetings, after the first, will always be the same. For the first meeting your team member should come with a list of the actions they intend to take over the period before your next meeting. As you discuss them, letting the team member explain how and why they intend to achieve each task, offer help and support where you can.

For subsequent meetings, the team member brings two lists — the list from the previous period as well as the list for the next one. Not everything will have been done and some tasks will have been more difficult (and some easier) than expected. Use the previous list for learning and not to blame or accuse. Understand whether the team member is prone to over ambition or under achievement and coach him or her where needed. The aim should be that each new list is stretching but not impossible and that it is relevant to the objectives of the company. Over time, you will find you need to say less as your team member comes up with his/her own solutions and insights.

Coaching generally involves a structured process such as that employed by the G R O W model developed by Sir John Whitmore and is aimed at short to medium term performance improvements. There will be a number of steps through which problems can be explored and solutions developed. GROW for example identifies the Goals to be achieved, the current Reality of the situation, explores opportunities to overcome current problems or delays and comes up with an action plan (What’s next in the GROW model). Once solutions have been agreed, they can be monitored using the same process.

Coaching elicits a wide range of reactions amongst business people. Some can see no place for it in business - it is too ‘touchy feely’ and ‘real’ managers just get on with it, do their jobs and “don’t need all that stuff”. Others ignore the ‘new age’ connotations of coaching and recognise that good sportspeople become great sportspeople with the right coaching and that good businesspeople also need help to become great. Coaching is as much about having the right attitude as it is about training.

If you are already a good listener — to verbal and non-verbal communication — the chances are that you already coach people and help them. The key to applying coaching across your business is to do it in a structured fashion and to do it consistently. There are many techniques that will help you to refine your coaching skills. Open questioning encourages the person being coached to seek their own answers and Neuro Linguistic Programming (NLP) or Psychology courses can help you with picking up on the often underlying issues that people cannot or will not volunteer to you.

Once it works for the top level, encourage team members to try it with their own direct reports. Then just watch the motivation happen — not from any Shakespearean speeches and exhortations - ‘once more unto the breach dear friends’ - but from within the teams themselves.

Watch a video of Brian Chernett explaining how The Academy For Chief Executives inspires business leaders.

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Brian Chernett is founder of The Academy for Chief Executives (ACE) - He has 43 years' experience as managing director of private and public companies, including subsidiaries of Booker Bros McConnell, the Landmark Group, and several other major companies. Find out more at www.chiefexecutive.com. We always welcome your feedback on the articles. Email them to brian.chernett@freshbusinessthinking.com

The Academy community provides a great place to build your leadership skills and learn more about motivating and developing your people, and how to focus the top team for the good of your company. As the leading providers of experiential learning, the purpose of the Academy is to inspire leaders to achieve their dreams by sharing and learning from real life experiences.


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