Do You Focus on What’s Wrong—or What’s Right?

Young businesswoman sharing information with businessman. YoungThis guest post is by Lynn McCreery.

Managers sometimes have difficulty focusing on both people and results.  They want associates to feel excited about their work, but also need them to perform. Many managers feel they have to choose—and most choose results, focusing on people only when improvement is needed.

If organizations want to create a more balanced coaching culture, leaders need to change their mindset and behaviors. They must acquire the skills to have effective conversations with their direct reports—conversations that not only make people feel safe and valued but also lead to decisions and actions that help them grow and unleash their full potential.

Madeleine Homan Blanchard, Scott Blanchard, and Linda Miller of The Ken Blanchard Companies have created a simple framework and key skills that enable managers to master four basic conversations.  Professional coaches use these skills all the time. They can help any leader focus on helping people develop and move forward with planned actions.

  • First, create a safe context for a discussion by building rapport through being present both nonverbally and verbally.
  • Second, get the conversation focused around the direct report’s needs by identifying what will be most useful for the person. Be specific about the topic to be discussed without conveying judgment in tone or words.
  • Third, involve and engage the direct report in finding solutions and determining next steps by asking open-ended questions that encourage problem solving.
  • Fourth, reach clear agreement with the person about timelines and help them take accountability for their actions.

With a little practice, leaders can make a positive change—from focusing judgmentally on what is wrong and listening only with the intent to solve the problem at hand to having safe conversations about development and action.

Identifying areas for improvement is a necessary part of coaching. But don’t get so wrapped up in results that you forget about developing your people and helping them move forward.

About the Author

lynn-mccreeryLynn McCreery is a Senior Consulting Partner for The Ken Blanchard Companies. Check out Coaching Tuesday every week at Blanchard LeaderChat for ideas, research, and inspirations from the world of executive coaching. Since 2000, Blanchard’s 150 coaches have worked with over 14,500 individuals in more than 250 companies throughout the world. Learn more at Blanchard Coaching Services.

2 thoughts on “Do You Focus on What’s Wrong—or What’s Right?

  1. Absolutely right in the need to be able to do both.

    One way I see managers can do that is by differentiating between the people and the practices.

    The people, focus on what they do right, what they are good at, what they contribute to the team, how they make things better. That is not false complements, but accurate feedback.

    The practices, is more the behavior, the job being done and there may need to be improvement. Focusing n what those improvements can look like, the steps to getting there, will help to develop a plan the person can implement.

    The balance is important.. We all need the strength to know we have something to offer, but we also need the feedback on how we can do what we do better.

    Thanks for the thoughts, Lynn.

  2. Pingback: Do You Focus on What’s Wrong—or What’s Right? - Starting Sparks

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