Conversations about leadership, learning, coaching and change.

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The promotion precipice

The promotion precipice

by Moyra Mackie on July 17, 2016

In simple terms, we can usually divide our careers into two parts.  Before we managed people and after.

The first part of our career is usually spent building and honing our skills.  We may start off as generalists, but gradually as we get recognised and rewarded for what we do well, we focus on our strengths.  Perhaps without realising it, we become an “expert” in a particular area.

After a time, if we do this well enough we usually get given people to manage.

Promotion and progress are linked to managing others

Without knowing it, we’ve arrived at the Promotion Precipice.  It’s a place of great opportunity, but also one of great unknown and potential risk.

Why?

Because in the eighteen years I’ve been coaching leaders and their teams, I’ve met only a handful of people who received any form of training BEFORE they were given people to manage.

Yet everything has fundamentally changed

http://www.coachwiththegreenhat.com/emotionally-intelligent-management/From now on a manager cannot just focus on developing skills related to their task – the WHAT.  Now they have to focus on the HOW, on building the skills of others.

Of course our Before Management career has involved people skills, but it’s different.  Let’s take the example of an orchestra.

Before management you played the trumpet.  You needed to be good at playing the trumpet, but also mindful of how you kept time and tune with the rest of the brass section.  You also had to pay attention to what the rest of the orchestra were doing.

You keep your place by being a good solo contributor and by fitting in with the rest of the team.

Management requires you put the trumpet down and move to conducting the orchestra.

Once you’re a manager you’re responsible for co-ordinating multiple relationships – down, across and up the organisation.  In fact, getting things done requires that you increasingly look up; that you develop a bigger picture view.

Without training or coaching new management can feel precarious

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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Beware the victim…and the rescuing hero

Beware the victim…and the rescuing hero

by Moyra Mackie on July 10, 2016

What happens when you experience conflict at home or at work?

If you’re directly involved, do you feel helpless and put upon; pretty certain that there’s nothing you can do?  Or do you feel angry; blaming the other side for everything that has happened?

Perhaps you’re slightly outside the direct conflict – a concerned friend, family member or manager.  Do you jump at the chance to help solve the problem?  This might mean taking sides or taking responsibility for coming up with a solution that seems right to you.

If any of these sound familiar, welcome to the Drama Triangle

Conflict is something that very few of us feel comfortable with.  Our emotions – whether we acknowledge them or not – are heightened. Dr Stephen Karpman,  a psychologist as well as an amateur actor, observed in his research that people in emotionally charged situations often feel they have only three positions open to them.

Karpman called the framework that emerged from his research the Drama Triangle, when it might well also be called the Conflict Triangle.

We choose an approach that feels instinctive but is learnt

Karpman’s research showed that when we feel under pressure we step into the triangle, rather as an actor steps onto the stage.  We play a role.

We may be entirely unaware it’s a role that we are choosing, because it’s a role that we feel strongly attached to.  It’s hard to recognised the choice we have because we’ve likely been responding to challenging situations in similar ways since we were very young.

The Victim

Victims believe they are not in charge of the speed or direction of their own choices.  They feel oppressed, helpless, hopeless, powerless and ashamed.  They seem unable to make decisions, solve problems or achieve insight. They are stuck.

Significantly, if Victims are not being persecuted, they will seek out a Persecutor and a  Rescuer who can save the day. This serves to preserve the Victims’ negative feelings and give them some kind of unconscious reward for staying stuck. 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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What children can teach us about change

What children can teach us about change

by Moyra Mackie on July 3, 2016

Yesterday was a big day for our family.  My twenty-year old son moved into a flat.  With his girlfriend.

He’s studying Economics and Finance at university and his third year is a placement in industry.  Tomorrow he starts work in the Finance department of an international car manufacturer, whilst his girlfriend looks for work in a new town, knowing no-one.  They’ve yet to get a broadband connection or work out which utility companies they want to use or even where they will shop for groceries.

That’s a lot of change

Yet, as we spent the day unloading boxes I noticed how easily all of this seemed to sit with them.  This is when I was reminded of the work of Dr William Bridges who makes a key distinction between change and transition:

Change vs Transition

These two twenty year olds had already made that psychological transition, before they’d even packed a box, let alone unpacked it.

Our youth is full of involuntary change

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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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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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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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What is coaching?

What is coaching?

by Moyra Mackie on June 4, 2016

Coaching can be a powerful catalyst for personal and professional growth.  The challenge is that there are so many people calling themselves coaches, and probably as many definitions of coaching as there are coaches.

What is the purpose of coaching?

Coaching encourages deep thinking and strengthens self-awareness and insight.  It’s a form of courageous, high quality conversation.

So what is coaching?

As an Executive Coach, who has worked with individuals and teams for over eighteen years, here is my definition. 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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It should come as a surprise to nobody that work can stress us out. Stress isn’t always bad; stress can motivate us, and help us prepare for the unexpected.

However, chronic stress can have a dire impact on our personal well-being — which can in turn impact the performance of our business or organization. This is what we call organizational stress, and it should come with a toll big enough to grab the attention of employees and managers alike.

The high costs of high stress

When we’re stressed out, it can tax our bodies and minds to surprising lengths. Organizational stress has been demonstrated to increase costs through higher health benefit payouts, more absenteeism, higher turnover, and increased workers’ compensation claims.

Researchers estimate that the combined cost of employee stress in the United States rounds out to around $300 billion per year. Regardless of your workplace’s management style, this fact alone should make stress management a priority for everyone involved in your organization — and this begins with effective management.

Management strategies to reduce organizational stress

Managers have the power to reduce stress in a number of ways, and it all starts with open lines of communication. (And this means much more than a passive ‘open door policy’.) Leaders need to regularly reach out with employees to share ideas, concerns, and constructive feedback.

They should not only measure and facilitate performance, but also resolve obstacles and other everyday stressors that might impede an employee’s workday. Employers can also reduce stress by offering greater flexibility, ample rewards, and motivational strategies.

The infographic below, produced for the Online MBA Program at Pepperdine University’s Graziadio School of Business and Management, illustrates the impact that organizational stress can have on businesses, and what we can do about it to make employees happier and more productive at work.
read more…

Tim Wayne

Tim Wayne

Tim Wayne is a digital content marketer and contributor to several healthcare blogs. He is interested in healthcare, education, and small business management. Since graduating from USC with a Bachelor’s Degree in English Literature, Tim has worked with websites across a wide range of industries in writing website copy and promoting content online.

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How do we get to trust?

How do we get to trust?

by Moyra Mackie on April 23, 2016

“I don’t trust you”, she said.

A colleague and I were working with a group to understand more about their responses to an employee engagement survey.  We’d been hired by the management team because we had coached them and they, well yes, trusted us.

So how would you respond?

When it comes to trust words don’t work

I could recite the code of ethics I sign up to as an Accredited Coach.  Or I could point out that we wouldn’t last very long in this business if we couldn’t keep what we were told confidential.

I begin with the truth.

“Thank you.  That must have taken  a bit of courage to say that to us and in front of the group”

Don’t get me wrong, as she had said those words, I feel a sharp pain in my stomach, as if she’s physically punched me.  I’m aware my chest is tight and my palms are sweaty.

This person, who I will call Verity, had struck at the heart of who I believed myself to be.  As a coach, building and maintaining trust are essential for my work.

Yet feedback is always a gift.

What gets left unsaid is more toxic than what is brought into the open. Raising tough issues, especially about negative feelings, takes courage.

As I say those words of thanks I can feel my stress reducing.  I now process the thought that something about how we are as coaches and how the group is, has allowed Verity to take a risk and speak out.

Trust requires personal risk

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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