Going Public

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Ok so I survived the shoot with the videographer. I’ve got my blogs, my Coaching Minutes and now it’s time to go public. Why am I filled with trepidation? After all, we keep hearing you ‘must be yourself’, be authentic, tell the world who you really are. Expose your brand, blah blah blah.

As a coach who works with a variety of people and organizations in different settings, my brand is still up for grabs.

What I still want to concentrate on is providing value to anyone in transition or stuck navigating change.

Do I need to narrow myself down and call myself “a transformational coach”, “a life coach” (No!), “a positive change coach”, “a sales coach”? I hate being pinned down and excluding helping individuals or companies who come to me wanting to change (or simply improve) something important.

People ask me what industry do you specialize in? What issues do you focus on? My answer to both is that I’m trained as an Adler Trained Coach to deal with a human being in any professional or personal context. You see, inevitably I may work with someone focused on their work but it always comes down to who ‘they are being’, ‘how they are showing up’ at the office or at home. This is what I like the most about this work – it often becomes seamless and clients appear surprised that their work relationship(s) can impact their marriage, their community and vice versa.

It’s kinda like me. I write my script, smile into the camera, hope for the best and pray that my online image represents me as authentically as possible. I’m the same person on camera as in the coaching session minus the make up touch ups and the bright lights! I’m grateful that my personal coaching journey has taught me the importance of bringing myself into the equation despite the absence of a close critic to shoot me down. People may not experience me as authentic but I just hope they’ll give me a chance or at least read or listen long enough to be better informed.

 

 

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To Tell Or Not …

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Recently I was invited to a dear friend’s for dinner and joining us (unbeknownst to me) were the young adult children of my friend’s partner. In my consulting practice I often help Gen X and Ys figure how to survive in the crazy life of job searching (or is it really the crazy job of life searching)?

Anyway, I took it upon myself to strongly communicate the challenges for many young job hunters or the career confused. Post dinner I learned that my words of wisdom (I’m close to being a Boomer) were not received in the vein intended. My friend told me frankly how upset they were by my opinions and advice. They are both in transition and in a cultural industry.

Was I wrong? Well partly yes, because ultimately I feel a deep responsibility to young people as I too am navigating both the complexities and challenges in BOTH organizational life and the labour market. Let alone parenting two spirited Gen Ys. Without sharing the sordid details,  some of the topics I lambasted them with:

  • Always have a Plan B – even as an experienced worker but especially for those under 30
  • Be prudent about spending too many resources that are necessary for overseas higher education – let alone domestic graduate school. (My own teen’s lead teacher warned parents last September that there are plenty of MAs working in Starbucks.)
  • Independence is a good thing – even though it means working hard at unappealing jobs – it helps us to grow. I skipped saying the last bit by the way
  • Be prepared to change and potentially still have a dozen plus jobs post graduation before 35

Leaving home early, paying own way, was a reality when I was coming up – I still believe it is possible even though I repeatedly hear “It’s so different now”. (I’m not convinced but I didn’t say this.)

Yes, I’m sorry that they shut down the minute they felt threatened, I’m also sorry they didn’t argue with me – my kids would have not hesitated disagreeing with me had they been in the room that night.

As a coach I feel slightly guilty that I didn’t know a little bit about these budding youth. I feel bad that they felt bad versus inspired and slightly more informed about the big bad world. I can only hope that they (secretly) didn’t hate me but may have digested snippets of my loaded lament.Everyone is different and I need to remember this and be more careful when I get on my soapbox and actually believe wholeheartedly that I can help by ramming my opinions down vulnerable youth’s throats.

Oh the perils of wisdom and gift of increased self-awareness. Thank goodness for friends who provide ME with an opportunity to come down a notch. I said to my friend I may have very well been been talking out of my hat but no one begged to differ. I choose now to reflect on the adage “keep your knowledge to yourself” especially when it’s my first invite to dinner! Finally, I guess my company GOYAworks – signifying that to Get Off Your Ass works may be a better starting point next time with a known captive audience and microphone!

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Towards Self Care

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It can be as simple as carving out some time …

It’s a cliché to say that many of us are too busy and oftentimes overwhelmed by our inboxes and the crazy lives we often live. We race to our appointments, race home and have lapses in our memories over those silly daily details. We hope that our mistakes are limited to forgetting passwords and not picking up our young children at the end of the day!

One of my mentor coaches said that ‘sometimes having a coach is about making that commitment to simply setting aside a little time.”  To me this means that in order to do this, we need to make a mental shift towards being committed to ourselves first.

Whether we are juggling many of life’s roles as worker, partner, friend, parent, sibling or son or daughter it can be a real challenge to be there 100% for others when we are running around like chickens with our heads cut off.

How can we really give to those around if we don’t start by taking care of ourselves from the inside out? What I’m talking about here is self-care. It might mean different things to different people but I believe the basics are not just eating and sleeping properly, exercise and surrounding ourselves with those we love,  but actually stepping away from all the noise. I’ve noticed in my practice that when people commit to coaching they get even excited about experiencing any or all of the following:

  1. They shut everything out for an hour (I insist on no email, phone calls or interruptions.)
  2. Distance themselves from problems (We stay solutions-focused and positive)
  3. Explore what they may have forgotten that is most important (the chance to constantly reprioritize because we are different all the time)
  4. Having a neutral conversation with someone who is outside of your life (everyone has their opinions about who we are and what we should do with our lives – after all they know us best!)
  5. Breathing out and allowing creative ideas and strategies for moving forward
  6. Learning to live with possibility and choice by looking at life through a different lens – with increased self-awareness

Ultimately coaching is about helping to facilitate meaningful change in life. What might the cost be if we don’t jump off the treadmill of life sometimes? Have you considered lately what it might be costing you?

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IT + Coaching = EI

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It doesn’t seem to matter where I go, the message is loud and clear – in the technology industry there is so much opportunity to develop people in most areas of EI – emotional intelligence and the HR industry continues to advocate how important this is now and for the future success of IT companies.

 Key Factors

  • While technical skill is paramount, rapid growth puts increased pressure on employees as they promote and become managers.
  • Companies don’t have time to train people to meet the increased demands when expansion is imminent.
  • Multi generational workers have communication challenges between them as they are motivated by different factors.
  • Gen X and Gen Ys need development and if they don’t see a career path in a short period of time, both retention and engagement become risky for employers.
  • Globalization puts added pressure on people to learn to communicate more effectively with other countries, foreign stakeholders and teams.
  • Self confidence and self-awareness are areas that contribute to good management and many technology workers need to develop in these areas in order to lead.

Welcome Emotional Intelligence. Psychologist Daniel Goleman identifies five key qualities necessary to demonstrate adequate EI.

These are:

  • Empathy
  • Motivation
  • Self awareness
  • Self regulation
  • Social skills

While most of us have some of these to a certain degree, others need to take up the EI torch in order improve their work environment and especially team collaboration. For some people this means developing aspects of their personalities that have rarely been accessed.

The typical IT professional in the trenches can spend much of their day working on screens and not dealing with relationships and ‘live’ problem solving. Once these folks prove their technical prowess combined with their value as an employee, companies need to consider how they can move them up and empower them to get along with others and increase their exposure to teams, decision-making while developing them to increase their value to the organization. Many of these employees have had little or no management experience and this can create stress and concern to individuals and to companies focused on driving business.

Time is a premium in companies large and small and resources being dedicated to training are often tight or even non existent. People are expected to both mentor and learn on the job. While this is advantageous for many reasons, there simply aren’t the hours in the day if the business is expanding rapidly.

Many workers are motivated by career opportunity and feeling valued, appreciated and listened to. Sometimes it really is this simple. With time constraints many companies don’t spend the time necessary to provide these opportunities to their people. A long list of problems ensues, engagement levels drop and presto! All of a sudden you’ve got people spending more time looking for a new job than doing their current one.

Emotional Intelligence (EQ) is a hot topic in HR circles. In IT there’s no easy fix but engaging an external coach can be part of this development. Helping people to improve their communication is fundamental in coaching and if employers and employees are motivated, positive change can take place in a short period of time. So consider the short term investment or try experimenting with one employee who already brings your organization value. Don’t wait until you’ve got big people problems and disharmony in your culture. I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised what is possible.

It is often said in HR that “you can teach new skills but you can’t change behaviours”. I disagree with this after working in a number of settings and the results can be both exciting and productive both for individuals and companies.

 

 

 

 

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Welcome

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When I consider the importance of blogging and relevance to my profession as a coach and HR nut, my most meaningful resource is the conversations I have with people on a daily/weekly basis. People like HR execs, graduating students in transition, great leaders perplexed by politics and survival, Gen Xs and Ys and the challenge of that magic word ‘loyalty’ … The list goes on.

A close friend who provides cutting edge research to Canada’s elite banking leaders often shares equally his conversations with taxi drivers shaken with his straight up vodka martini. Let alone the added twist that many taxi drivers are overeducated and underemployed, they often share insights from the back seat that are memorable. This feels akin to my experience as I listen, observe and come home with an exploding list of questions about the complex, ever changing workforce.

My brain is like a cup runneth over with ideas, insights, opinions, concerns and downright confusion of the many around me. It doesn’t seem to matter whether people are starting out or looking at retirement options, everyone has one thing in common – uncertainty.

Ok so we’ve all had to deal with the long-standing, post-bubble economy and all the fallout but how do we cope with the daunting combination of pace and constant change?


Where are concepts like stability, loyalty, constancy and environments where we can create our own tribes or build a sustainable, long term, trusting relationship to companies? Those same companies that we commute to and where we stay plugged in even at the hockey arena, the grocery store and even our bedsides.

Perhaps these questions I take with me to bed complement my research process as I help other navigate their own questions in transition? After all I heard another coach say “You’re only as far as your last question”. I guess this could be, yet another test in being fully present in my own life.

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