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Working Out Loud

Since 1830 farmers have been trying to protect their sheep from parasites by dipping their whole flock in troughs of fungicide and insecticide.  At the time it was innovative, quick, compulsory and cost-effective.  Over time, however, it’s become clear that this well-intentioned process has not eradicated the targeted diseases and has proved toxic to many of the people working with it (not to mention the costs to the environment).

Are modern companies stuck in 1830?

I see the connections between real sheep dipping and the metaphorical sheep dip approach so many companies take to training and organisational change.  Every year organisations spend billions on top-down culture change initiatives and on large scale training programs.  Over half of them fail to achieve their aims. 

There’s money in sheep dip

You just have to see the offices of the world’s most “successful” consultancies.  The sheep dip approach  appeals to the command and control impulses that linger in many boardrooms.  These programs show the outside world that “something is being done,” whilst being a lot less scary than addressing how leaders are leading through one to one executive coaching.

The sad truth is many organisations – and by that I really mean the people in charge – don’t really want to change.  I have a check list here for you to see if you are inadvertently working for an organisation like this.

Many companies have dumped the dip approach for something better

Fortunately, there are courageous, far-sighted companies out there who know that dipping is not the answer.   read more…

Moyra Mackie

Moyra Mackie

Moyra Mackie helps leaders and teams to work with courage, compassion and creativity. She is an executive coach and consultant and the founder of Mackie Consulting.

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From the outside it looks as if the majority of organisations are in a mess.

Surveys tell us that only a third of workers bring their A-game to the office.   More and more time is spent at work, or working via the umbilical cord of our smartphones, yet productivity is stuck in the pre-digital era.

Stressed and overwhelmed

To make things worse,  more people at all levels in organisations are reporting excessive levels of stress.  Both  employee and company suffers; when we are under stress our brain prioritises survival, and reduces our capacity to think clearly or creatively and to make rational decisions.

Grand initiatives haven’t made a dent in the discontent and disengagement

Everyone seems aware of the problem and a whole industry has sprung up, with million dollar consultancies and business schools clamouring to fix the problem.

However it isn’t working.  Three quarters of those expensive change initiatives fail and it doesn’t seem managers with MBAs can transform the way their teams feel about work either.

So where’s the real problem?

When we at Mackie Consulting listen to people in organisations through our Clarity Survey, and through our coaching work with teams and individuals, people tell us that they are not having the conversations they should be having. What we hear supports the Ken Blanchard Leadership company’s research that shows the extent to which conversations are avoided:

  • 81% say their boss doesn’t listen to them
  • 82% say their leaders don’t provide appropriate feedback
  • 28% say they rarely or never discuss their future goals with their boss
  • only 34% meet with their boss once per week

While people talk a lot, they have lost the habit of having meaningful, quality conversations 

In all too many organisations, meetings are long and formulaic. People come to meetings either to transmit information or receive it. Dialogue seems to have been substituted by the “let-s-read-this-presentation-together” practice.

Meaningful conversations are frequently avoided, and the more challenging conversations are saved up for those zinging e-mails or vented to the wrong person at the coffee shop or water cooler.

Is it time to get back to being human?

read more…

Moyra Mackie

Moyra Mackie

Moyra Mackie helps leaders and teams to work with courage, compassion and creativity. She is an executive coach and consultant and the founder of Mackie Consulting.

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Reflections on Working Out Loud:  Getting started

Reflections on Working Out Loud:  Getting started

by Moyra Mackie on June 11, 2016

“It’s as if we’re teenage boys who want to ask a girl for a dance.  There are no guarantees she’ll say “yes” but we won’t know unless we try…”

So began our check in on Week Two in my Working Out Loud Circle.

It seems that we might not have been teens at the school disco this past couple of weeks, but we’ve certainly been dancing with our inner critic to the tunes of vulnerability and risk.

For those of you who are not familiar with the concept, a Working Out Loud Circle is a guided, structured process developed by John Stepper. It’s a peer support group of four or five people which meets for an hour a week for 12 weeks to address these questions:

  • What am I trying to do?
  • Who is related to my goal?
  • How can I contribute to them to deepen our relationships?

Simon Terry explains more in his WOL Week posts:

“Working out loud should be directed to some end.  Working out loud cannot be a random broadcast of activity. We share our work visibly and narrate our work so that others can benefit, whether through a greater understanding of our work, through opportunities to collaborate or have input or through learning about the process we take when we work.

Working out loud challenges us to think of the role these networks play in our work and the role that we play in our networks….[it] does not demand that we engage the whole world all day. Working Out Loud asks that we share with those in our networks for whom our work matters in a meaningful way.”

The power of structured purposeful discovery

I felt that three people I trusted and respected in my network – Lisa, Joy and Abigail – would all enjoy the process of being connected together and that we could all do with a structured way of thinking about our networks, our role in them and what we had to contribute.  So last month I asked them to create a circle with me.

Let’s meet the dancers (in Berlin, London and Kuala Lumpur)

First there’s me.  It’s not as if I haven’t been making my work visible or practising generosity.  I’ve been writing blog posts on leadership and coaching for two and a half years and sharing my thoughts and those of others across LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter.  Although I felt awkward and self-conscious at first, I soon grew to enjoy the acts of Liking, Sharing and Commenting.  And connecting other people.  I love connecting other people.

There’s Lisa and Abigail, with long successful track records in HR in banking and law respectively. Both took the big step to leave the safety of corporate life for the riskier path of being independent change agents.  They’re looking for new ways to use their energy and experience to change the way organisations think about change, business development, innovation and leadership development.

Then there’s Joy who like Lisa, Abigail and me believes in making organisations meaningful, humane places. He works at the Global University of Islamic Finance, which wants to make its own particular dent in the universe.  He has a way with words and ideas and is looking for other ways to share what he is passionate about.

We all believed in this stuff; it was going to be fun!

This is what I have learnt so far: read more…

Moyra Mackie

Moyra Mackie

Moyra Mackie helps leaders and teams to work with courage, compassion and creativity. She is an executive coach and consultant and the founder of Mackie Consulting.

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That’s what vulnerability feels like according to Brené Brown.  She also says:

“Vulnerability is the birthplace of connection and the path to the feeling of worthiness….The intention and outcome of vulnerability is trust, intimacy and connection.”

The problem is we all have our naked in public memories

This is mine:

When I was at junior school I loved to spend school break times on the climbing frames in the playground.  I grew up in Zimbabwe and my memories are that climbing trees and building forts were equal opportunities activities – we weren’t locked in a pink ghetto back then.

However, being a girl did present some challenges.  This was the seventies and school uniform was a very short blue and white checked dress.  The answer was that we all also wore school issue matching “knickers” to preserve our dignity, if not our sense of style.  This allowed me to indulge my eight year old passion for hanging upside down or swinging round and round on high parallel bars.

Except one day, as I flung my legs over the bar and let myself fall upside down, I realised something felt different. read more…

Moyra Mackie

Moyra Mackie

Moyra Mackie helps leaders and teams to work with courage, compassion and creativity. She is an executive coach and consultant and the founder of Mackie Consulting.

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Change:  who’s faking it and who isn’t?

Change: who’s faking it and who isn’t?

by Moyra Mackie on May 14, 2016

Each time I write about leadership or change, I get notes from readers that go something like this:

“I love what you write – it makes sense and it’s backed up by research – but how come I don’t see it put into practice?  Is it the case that managers don’t read any of this stuff?”

Why is change so hard?

Change management is a huge failure. More than 70% of change initiatives are still not delivering, despite the billions spent every year.

As a coach I’ve seen that it is possible to help leaders and teams achieve real change, but why does this happen so rarely?

The answer came in a brilliant post on the subject by Diane Dromgold who, in her no-nonsense Aussie way, got straight to the heart of the matter in her post Culture Change. Seriously? We’re still talking about that?

Change isn’t happening because many leaders don’t really want change

Diane recounts how consultants who tell clients the truth about change management meet resistance.  These consultants present a case based on simple behaviour change,  yet the client rejects this solution for a much more expensive “program with metrics and levers”.

This is how Diane puts it:

“A thought comes to [the consultant], and a moment of clarity. The client doesn’t want change at all. The consultant had answered the wrong question. The question being asked wasn’t how to make change happen but how to get people to love the way things are.

The whole change management conversation could turn on a pin. It’s not that hard. Real change takes modelling from the top and reinforcement of wanted behavior and outcome. It’s not hard, it’s not expensive and change starts immediately. Acceptance of what is requires marketing, and that’s easier and less expensive than one of the full blown change initiatives we see.”

We’re really talking about acceptance management, not change management

I’m guessing Diane’s post was the result of a real-life conversation. Heck, I’ve had so many of those conversations myself, but never been able to pinpoint the fact that all this time I’ve been asking the wrong question.

So now I feel duty bound to help those readers who have faithfully followed my writing.  Let’s address the right question.

Five questions to discover if your company is faking it or not

read more…

Moyra Mackie

Moyra Mackie

Moyra Mackie helps leaders and teams to work with courage, compassion and creativity. She is an executive coach and consultant and the founder of Mackie Consulting.

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Vulnerability AND strength: The walls we build

Vulnerability AND strength: The walls we build

by Moyra Mackie on March 21, 2016

I’ve been thinking a lot about defensiveness this week. About how and why we build the walls we do and what the impact of this is on ourselves and our relationships at home and at work.

We build walls because they protect us

The town I live in has a castle dating back to the 11th century and spending some time there yesterday it struck me that groups of people have been building metaphorical and actual walls for centuries.

Before I continue, you might be expecting a castle like this:

Vulnerability, the walls we build

When Berkhamsted Castle actually now looks like this:

https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Berkhamsted_Castle_Jan_2007.jpg

This file is licensed under the Creative Commons. Attribution: Winstainforth at the English language Wikipedia

Its current state belies a muscular history that began when the victorious French king, William the Conqueror, accepted the English surrender after the Battle of Hastings.

We build walls out of a desire to both control and protect

Yesterday, as I stood against the rough flint exterior, I noticed the cold in the shadow of the high stone wall, eclipsing the view of the sky above. These walls, together with the moat and the other earthwork defences were designed to keep people safe at a time of great doubt and insecurity.  And it must have been formidably difficult to attempt to attack this place.

The trouble is your protection can become your prison

Which is what happened in Berkhamsted in 1216 when the castle came under siege for two weeks and eventually the occupants had to surrender.

As I sat on the hill overlooking what is now a rather benign scene I remembered a client – who I will call Daniel – who came to my office for coaching.

Change and insecurity trigger defensiveness 

read more…

Moyra Mackie

Moyra Mackie

Moyra Mackie helps leaders and teams to work with courage, compassion and creativity. She is an executive coach and consultant and the founder of Mackie Consulting.

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It was a sunny Saturday morning in Shoreditch. Thirteen of us sitting in circle in a light filled room, heads down writing.

All strangers.  No introductions, no knowledge of what might connect us or divide us.

The only thing we knew for certain is that this was day 1 of a weekend Freefall Writing as Creative Therapy class.

Moments before, we had taken our seats, whispering hellos. Politeness, anxiety and curiosity hanging in the air.

We needed to leave the safety of our heads and jump

Our facilitator, Angelika Wienrich, invited us to think of her approach to writing as similar to parachuting.  Sitting on the edge might be scary, but the falling could be an intense experience that moves us beyond the rational to access our emotional and physical responses.

The aim of the next two days was to break down our fears, suppressed feelings and self-imposed ideas about what “good” writing is in order to tap into our creative potential.

We needed to start viewing writing as a physical activity

Which meant taking a pen to paper and not stopping writing until we were told to do so.
read more…

Moyra Mackie

Moyra Mackie

Moyra Mackie helps leaders and teams to work with courage, compassion and creativity. She is an executive coach and consultant and the founder of Mackie Consulting.

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Feeling engaged? Why we all need a blue piano

Feeling engaged? Why we all need a blue piano

by Moyra Mackie on March 29, 2014

What’s it like where you work?

I don’t just mean how you relate to your boss and the people you work with.

I mean the space.  What’s it like?

Is it a space where you feel your needs can be met?  The need for connectedness and collaboration and a space that allows you to do that in comfort and ease.   The need for confidential conversations and focussed work, without having to book a windowless meeting room six months in advance.

Have you ever thought the way you relate to people at work is connected to the space you do it in?

read more…

Moyra Mackie

Moyra Mackie

Moyra Mackie helps leaders and teams to work with courage, compassion and creativity. She is an executive coach and consultant and the founder of Mackie Consulting.

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Why we all (still) need a dream

Why we all (still) need a dream

by Moyra Mackie on March 15, 2014

Do you have a dream?

I’ve come to believe that we all need to have a dream if we are to make the right choices for ourselves and those we care about.  This is what life coach and writer Martha Beck calls Finding Your Own North Star.

Here’s why I think we all need a dream before we can succeed.

Moyra Mackie

Moyra Mackie

Moyra Mackie helps leaders and teams to work with courage, compassion and creativity. She is an executive coach and consultant and the founder of Mackie Consulting.

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Why everyone should be working out loud

Why everyone should be working out loud

by Moyra Mackie on March 1, 2014

I’ve been working out loud.

Wikipedia defines working out loud like this:

“Working Out Loud is working in an open, generous, connected way so you can build a purposeful network, become more effective, and access more opportunities.”

From this definition you can see a balanced combination of giving and receiving

I’ve been a passionate believer in this concept since I was introduced to the idea by John Stepper.  Like John, my clients tend to work for large multinational organisations where the sheer size and complexity of the business threatens to overwhelm the human connections essential to a fully engaged workforce.

Wikipedia again:

“Working Out Loud…synthesizes a number of vast challenges found in large organisations such as the need for increased transparency…, team productivity and motivation, effective leadership and communication”

Every large company that cares about its people should be working out loud

read more…

Moyra Mackie

Moyra Mackie

Moyra Mackie helps leaders and teams to work with courage, compassion and creativity. She is an executive coach and consultant and the founder of Mackie Consulting.

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