Conversations about leadership, learning, coaching and change.

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How not to suck at feedback

How not to suck at feedback

by Moyra Mackie on October 8, 2018

When I ask groups how feedback should be given, there’s always someone who mentions the Hamburger Approach.

This is the theory that you should start by saying something positive (the white bread), move on to what you really want to say – apparently often negative – and then close with something a bit more positive (more refined carbs?).

But what appears to be a balanced diet is just junk food

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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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What advice would you give your best friend?

What advice would you give your best friend?

by Moyra Mackie on April 2, 2018

Most have us have known that feeling when we’ve got a lot on our plates; challenging targets, multiple demands (often a combination of work and home) and tight deadlines.

Yet sometimes this just helps us focus; makes us resourceful, creative, efficient. We’re resilient in the face of pressure.

Sometimes it does the opposite. We feel stuck; as if we’re going to fail at something (possibly lots of things). The pressure overwhelms us.

The impact of Control, Choices and Competence – or lack of it

I held an interactive webinar for the Time to Think group on Facebook to find out what caused them stress and how they dealt with it. Reflecting on the experiences and wisdom, I asked myself what they all had in common.

This is when those three Cs seemed significant.  Pressure is a form of stimulation, which we can use to help us, just as long as we think we have at least one (preferably two) of those elements.

I think that unconsciously we ask ourselves:

  • Do I feel as if I’m control?
  • Do I think I have choices?
  • Do I believe I have the skills to complete the multiple demands being thrown at me?

Notice the role of our emotions, thoughts and beliefs

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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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We need to talk:  Rekindling quality conversations at work

We need to talk: Rekindling quality conversations at work

by Moyra Mackie on February 28, 2018

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?

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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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Calling all managers: how not to suck at coaching

Calling all managers: how not to suck at coaching

by Moyra Mackie on February 19, 2018

How many times in a week do you get asked for advice?

If you’re half-way good at your job, I’m going to guess that the answer is “frequently”.  If you’re quick to offer your advice I’m going to be blunt:  you’re not helping.

I’m going to argue that most people who ask for advice are really asking for clarity and for the confidence to make a decision.

And by clarity, I don’t mean clarity about knowing what you think or what you think should happen.  I mean clarity in the asker’s own mind.

Advice doesn’t give clarity or the confidence to act

These things are not in our power to bestow on others – they come from within.  Clarity and confidence come when new insights emerge, motivating the asker to act from their own conviction.
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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Workplace conflict – more please?

Workplace conflict – more please?

by Abigail Hunt on February 12, 2018

Conflict: the context

Stupefyingly difficult people cross and re-cross our path – the ridiculous boss, the toxic colleague, the impossible line report…

We also work with a much larger group of talented people who simply think, communicate and behave in a way that is very different to our own.

Workplace conflict and related tension are inevitable given the potent mix of our different personality types, backgrounds and strengths. Many of us suppress and so magnify a lot of our feelings because we:

  • fear conflict
  • don’t think it is acceptable to speak up
  • don’t trust ourselves or the other person to manage conflict well
  • feel trapped and powerless to change anything

How many difficult colleagues have you worked with?

More than 3? Less than 10? How many conversations did you have with these people about the issues, the resulting personal and commercial impact, your differences, new insights and possible solutions?

Few people relish workplace conflict

However, if we don’t tackle this important issue what is the impact on us as individuals, leaders and team members?

Are we also missing out on the competitive advantage and cultural benefits of encouraging differences, a more questioning approach and more constructive, if sometimes difficult, conversations? How many valuable new ideas and insights go un-shared in favour of mid-ground/status-quo thinking to avoid “rocking the boat”?
read more…

Abigail Hunt

Abigail Hunt

Abigail Hunt helps leaders to have courageous conversations. An Innovation Consultant and Executive Coach, she is an associate at Mackie Consulting and a member of Bridge Collaboration and Møller PSF Group.

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Is real change possible if we can’t forgive?

Is real change possible if we can’t forgive?

by Moyra Mackie on January 18, 2017

Recently a coaching client told me:

“I’m really trying to be more collaborative but I can see it in their eyes; they don’t trust me.  They remember the old me – how can things get better if we can’t get beyond this?”

This is not the first client who has found it hard to change because others still remember the past

Which brings to mind my favourite Tony Robbins quote:

“Everybody’s got a past.  The past does not equal the future unless you live there.”

It strikes me that any kind of change – whether inside you, within teams or even between whole nations – involves the ability to let go of the past.  I think change requires forgiveness.

What I learnt about forgiveness by going home

It was April 1989 and I had been looking out of the airplane window, ever since we crossed the Zambezi River from Zambia into Zimbabwe.  It was autumn and the bush below was losing its summer green, revealing small settlements, the occasional herd of elephant and long, straight gunmetal grey roads breaking up the red earth stretching all the way to the horizon.

As the plane bounced down onto the runway, I realised that I had been away for half my life.

But I felt that I was coming home 

Walking across the tarmac I wondered what lay ahead. I was a white woman with a British passport – I potentially represented colonial white privilege.

Was the past another country?

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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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Team work isn’t optional.  Management theorists tend to over-complicate things by differentiating between groups and teams, but I like to keep it simple.

I frequently work with leaders and teams who ask me a version of this question:

“What if we’re not a great team and we don’t all really trust each other?”

Which is a necessarily honest and courageous start.

In my work I encourage my clients to consciously re-think what we mean by “teams”; to go beyond the idea that a team is only the group of people who report to one manager or one project lead.

We all belong to multiple teams

If you need other people to contribute to your output at work, then you’re part of their team.  Their contribution might be time, advice, encouragement or materials and the contribution may be big or small, consistent or intermittent.

Team work is about co-operation and contribution

Great teams work well when the individuals have the mind set:

“What can I contribute?”

Not:

“What can I get out of this?”  or “How can I get other people to do what I want them to do?”

Don’t obsess about trust

Of course, trust is a fundamental aspect of a high-performing team, but the reality is that we all have experience of belonging to teams where trust might not be optimal.

Virtual teams, matrix organisations and a tendency to promote managers without formal training; mean that politics, turf wars and competing agendas are bound to get in the way of team work.

Teams don’t have to be perfect

I think that we have a tendency to romanticise the ideal team, when “good enough” is sometimes a lot better than average.

Instead of waiting for some magical time when trust will emerge or crossing your fingers that you’ll get some budget to hire an outside coach to help you strengthen those bonds, you could just do five things.

The  real world guide to “good enough” teams

Five things any team can (and should) focus on to get great results 

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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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What’s the greatest gift you could give?

What’s the greatest gift you could give?

by Moyra Mackie on September 19, 2016

The other day my twenty-year old son baked a cake for the 18th birthday of his girlfriend’s sister.    This was the first cake he’d made since he was little and we used to bake together – him standing on a chair, with a grown up’s apron folded over to fit him.

Suddenly, like it was yesterday, I see him learning to break eggs that are as big as his toddler hands. I can hear him laughing as he turns the electric whisk to High on purpose just to see the resulting cloud of flour and sugar.

Moments together AND the subsequent memories are great gifts

Along with kicking endless footballs and counting and categorising dinosaur and train collections, I took up baking as a way of spending quality time with my son. But as he grew out of needing a chair to stand on, he outgrew the desire to spend time doing this and I lost the chance to spend that time, just him and me.

Sometimes we mistake a gift for a burden

Whilst I can see those moments as clear and precious gifts now, I didn’t always appreciate them.  I turned down moments because I was too busy, too tired and – yes sometimes –  just a little bit bored.

Great gifts last for a long time

I was surprised that after more than a decade my son was choosing to go back to baking.  It wasn’t an easy choice as he had to borrow everything he needed.

Instead of Google, he rather touchingly turned to me for a recipe and advice; phoning me half way through beating the cake mixture to check what it should look like.  He was using a wooden spoon, so it was demanding patience and elbow grease.

What impressed me most was that this was not necessary

He could have easily bought a cake or some other gift.  But he chose to give his time and his effort.  In the process he pushed himself to try something outside his comfort zone.

What gift could you give?

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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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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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How much are you worth?

How much are you worth?

by Moyra Mackie on August 6, 2016

If I asked you the question “How much are you worth?”  what would you take into consideration?

Would you think about how much you earn or how much you own?  Would you think about what’s in the bank, or how much you owe the bank?

Or would you dwell on what other people might think you’re worth?

How long did it take you before you valued yourself?

Not just in this exercise above, but in your life?

The trouble with external valuations – like everything in a market – is the value can rise or fall without really having anything to do with you.

We’ve been judged and labelled all our lives 

Sporty, smart, arty, eccentric, funny, beautiful, introvert, extrovert, people person, shy, bossy, go-getting.  These (e)valuations are set by other people, or agreed by us in some kind of unconscious negotiation with other people.

 http://www.coachwiththegreenhat.com/growth-mindset-how-much-you-worth/After a while we may even take on that label; wear it like a suit of armour.  You might begin sentences with:

“you see, I’m an X kind of person.”

We limit our worth by overlooking our value

Being an “X kind of person” makes sure that we limit ourselves before someone else does.  It’s a bulwark against rejection.

It’s why I think psychometric tests are such comfort blankets for corporations; they’re grown-up labels where it’s ok to put people in boxes.  The focus is on a fixed point. Nowhere are we considering our value; what we’re offering or what we have in common.

Most of the coaching conversations I’ve ever had – whether I have been the coach or the one being coached – has begun at the point of being frustrated or comforted with a label.

The biggest value of coaching or therapy is that it allows us the space to examine our own assumptions and unpick the tapestry of labels and self-limiting beliefs we’ve stitched together over time.

How to set your own value

Setting our value, establishing our own sense of worth, is not an easy task.  Especially when we’ve got used to other people doing it for us.

We could all value these things more:

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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