Business Mentoring & Coaching

Business Mentoring & Career Coaching
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Effective leadership is arguably the holy grail of business and makes all the difference in whether a business thrives or merely coasts. Many books, papers and articles have been written on this topic over the years which creates the dilemma of which is likely to be informative and inspiring and which is destined for the recycling bin.

Read on for our selection on which leadership books are, in our opinion worth reading for insight and inspiration, whether you are an experienced CEO or just starting out on your leadership journey.

1 Learning to Lead by Ron Williams with Karl Weber

Growing up in segregated Chicago was no barrier to Ron Williams getting to the very top of his field in health care and this book sets out to share his personal philosophies as well as useful tips on how to put yourself in the right place at the right time to progress your career.

2 Excellence Wins by Horst Schulze with Dean Merrill

The hotel business is more than most subject to the vagaries and whims of passing trends and a successful hotelier is all too aware that the hotel business is only as good as the quality, enthusiasm and ideas of their employees. Former Ritz-Carlton president Schulze understands the power of a fully committed and engaged staff who contribute towards the success of a business when their ideas and experience are taken on board by managers.

3 Extreme Ownership by Jocko Willink and Leif Babin

The two ex US navy seal officers who gained valuable leadership experience and more when they led special operations units during the Iraq war bring their unique perspective on how to structure your team for success. Strong leadership is essential whether in the field of war or otherwise and the authors illustrate perfectly how to lead under fire whether real or metaphorical.

4 The Fifth Risk by Michael Lewis

How many of us have worked for a company or organisation where the management and leadership was at best sporadic or even non-existent and how many of us have been the ones gallantly struggling to keep things together for customers or other stakeholders. The Fifth Risk offers an insight into how much better and more successful an enterprise can be with the right leadership and support.

5 Leadership is an Art by Max De Pree

This book by the former CEO of the highly successful home and office furnishings company Herman Miller Inc is probably the definitive work on how to build the success of your business through not only hiring the right creative minds but also through placing trust in your employees and nurturing relationships. He makes the point that great leadership is not just about ‘wielding the big stick’ but instead building solid foundations from top to bottom.   

Whether you’re just starting out and unsure of your talents or whether you have innate, instinctive leadership skills we feel sure that there is always something to be gained from the wise words of those who have mastered the art. 

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Mentoring always creates expectations for both parties involved, and it is important as both a mentor to understand which of those expectations you should reasonably expect to fulfil. While many believe that having a strong mentoring program within your business is most beneficial in improving workplace culture, how can you be sure there are no misunderstandings or disappointment, when it is felt by either party that expectations are not being met? 

We look at some tips to help you work out what is reasonable or unreasonable and how to set boundaries.

In the beginning

Before clarifying your mentor relationship with the person you’re mentoring, you should seek to answer some basic questions yourself. Entering into the initial mutual discussion understanding your own expectations and what you hope to achieve, as well as defining what you expect to be offered from the mentoring relationship will give you a good starting point. Once done you will be better placed to have the critical mentor meeting as you embark on the program. 

Understanding Expectations

Seek to answer these questions:

  • What do I expect of the other party?
  • What do I think they expect of me?
  • What are my expectations of the mentoring program?
  • What should the mentor expect of the mentored person’s immediate manager to support them to succeed in the program?

Once you have the answers, you have made progress to understand your own expectations. You should then seek to align these with your counterpart.

At the outset of the mentoring process sit down with the person you’re mentoring and discuss the expectations you have from the relationship, before you progress any further.  As the mentor you should lead the conversation, but you must allow space for the other person to articulate their needs and expectations.

Following these three steps will help you cover some of the key areas you need to clarify:

  1. As the mentor, state your expectations, and allow the other person to ask questions and clarify what is offered and what your expectation means.
  2. As a mentor you are seeking agreement on the expectation. Agreeing a common definition and understanding for every aspect of the mentoring partnership in advance will avoid potential confusion or feelings of resentment later through the mentoring program.
  3. If you cannot agree on any of the expectations or feel that they are not realistic at this time or are not appropriate, you can mutually decide to put them to one side to be revisited at a future time. As the program moves forward there may be a chance for agreement later on or for a mutually agreed adjustment.

As the mentor you are there to guide the person you’re mentoring through the targets and make progress as expected. This role is often used to foster career development, which is of benefit to both parties enabling them to grow within the business and as a person. However, sometimes employees may not progress in as short a time as you think they should, which could cause anxiety on both sides.  Understanding how to mentor an anxious employee is a useful skill to have, allowing you to manage their expectations and your own, so that things do not become problematic.  

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Your new employee has accepted the job and it is now their first day.  They are bound to be nervous and the longer this lasts, the more their productivity and motivation for their job will be affected.  So what can you do to minimise this, and help them to settle as part of the team more quickly?

Create understanding

Spend time showing them the whole picture. Knowing how they fit into the organisation and how their contribution makes a difference will help them to feel valued and inspired to pitch in. Teach them about your company vision and values.  Understanding the purpose of their role, knowing the progression route that is achievable for them will help them to settle and see a future for themselves.

Keep up the energy

If you present a picture of energy and enthusiasm for your job, the company and your team, this will be contagious.  If you see your new recruit in difficulty or looking hesitant, ensure they know who can offer assistance.  Resolve any issues they have quickly and keep the momentum going.  

 

An open-door policy

You know that the reality of the job is often not quite that given in the interview picture, your new recruit will be aware of this too, so why not be open and honest, remove the surprises and chances for uncertainty to creep in.  

A team that feels their boss is open, approachable and honest will pull together through good and bad.  If a new recruit sees this, they will feel less intimidated and grow in confidence, which will help their performance. 

Individual attention

This is especially important for new recruits. No matter the size of your team or how quickly the new recruit settles into their role; it's essential to keep conversations about development going.

Learn about the strengths and weaknesses of your team.  You may have a little gem in your new recruit that takes them far beyond the role you employed them for.  

Encouraging them, allowing them to learn a little about you, and you about them, not just work personas, will allow for a free flow of feedback and encouragement.  

Inviting workspace

Your workspacee has to accommodate many different pieces of equipment, but placement and lighting can help to make the area more inviting, and the more comfortable, inviting and friendly your set up is, the more you productivity is likely to improve.

You are more likely to recruit and retain employees if they love their environment.  If your new recruit sees others happy at work, then they will be more likely to relax and follow.

Create social events both in and out of the work place, hold regular team building meetings, and show your new recruit their opinion is as valued as that of a long-standing employee.  After all fresh eyes can often see what older ones miss. You may learn something worthwhile too.

Track progress and reward

Do not be afraid to monitor progress and reward your new recruit, recognise small achievements, whether by a comment or more formal reward. You will help keep your new recruit engaged and motivated when they see you notice. 

It will also help you step in early should their need to be changes, before it becomes a bigger issue that requires more drastic actions.

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According to the HSE, in 2018/19, there were over 600 thousand employees suffering with anxiety, depression or stress in the workplace. Whether they're a new recruit or an old hand that's suffering, looking after the mental health of your employees is as important as their physical health.  Wiht this in mind, what can you do within your business to help anxiety levels in the employees you mentor?

Clear Company Policy

One of the first and perhaps the most important factors is to ensure that your entire business is open to mental health awareness. Maintain a clear visible strategy to show staff that both mental and physical wellbeing is important and they can be confident to speak, through established channels when they need help or believe another member of staff may.

Mentoring junior employees can help greatly in reducing their stress levels, which in turn gives them more confidence and ultimately leads to greater productivity and help them to settle into their work.  

When handled sensitively, a mentor can be the difference between an anxious employee succeeding in your company or crumbling under the pressure.

Mental Health Awareness

Managing mental health in the workplace requires a strategy that promotes wellbeing for all staff. It is important that staff who require additional mental health support feel they can speak out, be listened to and receive support. It is important to focus on what employees can do, rather than what they cannot. 

Providing a mentor for an anxious employee will provide them with the security of support from someone who will get to know them and be able to personalise the support they give.  It can be as simple as giving feedback on a task more regularly than they would normally receive, or simply an ear to discuss concerns they are having whether it is in work or their private life.  

Action Plans

Mental health can affect an employee differently from one day to the next. By supporting your managers to work with those suffering, developing an action plan in advance with tailored support ready for the times they feel they are not coping so well, will ensure you are able to respond quickly as issues arise.  Creating practical and agreed steps in advance gives both the employer and the employee a basis for review and monitoring. It should cover triggers and warning signs, so that both learn to recognise the onset quickly. Is should also recognise the impact an occurrence may have on their performance and what support can be offered to reduce the effects and lastly cover what workplace changes may be needed to facilitate the support. 

It should also identify positive steps that the individual can take to safeguard their wellbeing, and manage their anxiety.

Changes

Many of the changes required are often small and inexpensive, but will require some thought. Perhaps scheduling a catch up meeting to help prioritise workloads, offering flexible working to facilitate causes of anxiety outside the workplace, allowing adjusted working hours or an additional break which can help some individuals cope, especially those on medication. 

Your company will benefit by fostering a caring attitude for staff and reduce the number of staff that may be unable to continue working if no support could be offered.  Anxious employees will often thrive, grow in confidence and ability and provide many years of loyal service if the right support is given by their emplpyees and those that mentor them.

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Are you looking for your next promotion, the next step in your career or a leadership role? Are you concerned that as an introvert you are not a natural leader? Well, fear not, as introverts have personality traits that can lead to great leadership skills. 

Here are some leadership tips that will help you secure your next big role and be successful in it. They are simple and easy to implement. 

1. Listen skills

The ability to listen to others is a powerful skill that introverts have and comes naturally to them. This will allow you to listen fully to your team then acting instinctively. You will be able to listen to all viewpoints when making various decisions. This will enable you to lead your team in a positive way.

2.Thinking skills

As an introvert, you are more likely to enjoy spending time on your own than with others. This can allow you time to think and contemplate. This could aid you in making better decisions and could lead you to consider ideas more, instead of jumping in with little thought!

3. Writing it down

It is probably easier as an introvert to write things down then speaking about them. This can be used to your advantage. We don’t always remember what we would like to say but writing them down on paper allows as to come back to the ideas and not forget them. 

4. Meetings

It is key that you prepare for meetings so you don’t feel overwhelmed or nervous talking in front of a large audience as this is something which you are not used to. It may also be productive to practice beforehand the agenda that is to be discussed. This will give you more confidence in the delivery. 

5. Get to know your team

You may find it difficult to socialise, as this does not come naturally to introverts. However, if you plan for this through after-work events or even allow times during the working day this will help you build positive relationships within your team. 

6. Recognise different personalities

It is probably likely that there are many other introvert personalities within your team. Recognising this will allow you to hon in on each individuals strengths, regardless of their personality. This will give them the best possible chance of success. 

7. Professional Development

Always remember that professional development will allow you to further develop your skills in leadership and get better at the things you are not particularly good at. Look at the skills you want to develop and take action. This can be through taking on a public speaking course, taking the lead on the next big project and more. 

So, as an introvert, you have an abundant set of skills to take on your next leadership role. Some of these skills come naturally and others can be developed and refined. Remember, through time there have been plenty of famous introverts such as Albert Einstein and Bill Gates, who have revolutionised the world in their field, and you could be up there with them!