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The latest from the team at MLP Training

Coaching and mentoring: is it all about the question?

03/12/2014

Most employees are asked to coach or mentor a junior member of staff – I’ve been doing it for years without any real training or guidance. I thought the MLP Coaching and Mentoring course would be more of a refresher than a learning experience.

 

Not so. The course reveals how coaching and mentoring can support business growth by getting the best out of a company’s assets – its people.

 

Coaching focuses on a specific task a person needs to learn, whereas mentoring looks at the entire individual, providing guidance, direction and purpose.

 

There are clear differences between the two disciplines; coaching is a short or medium term process which identifies an opportunity to learn and is approached by joint problem solving. Mentoring develops the individual’s long term career prospects and helps to develop a shared vision for the future.

 

Key elements of coaching include:

·         Each task has a learning target

·         Regular meetings to review progress

·         Asking the right questions

·         Listening and supporting

 

Key elements of mentoring include:

·         Establishing a strong relationship and trust

·         Challenging, questioning and providing choices

·         Establishing goals and a plan

·         Reviewing and evaluating progress

 

One key thing I learnt from the course was the importance of listening and asking the right questions. Often in a time-pressured work environment, less time is given to coaching and mentoring but it’s essential that the trainer has the time to plan for those sessions, listen to the individual and explore options for either the coaching or/and mentoring process.

It’s very easy when working with someone to give them the answers and expect them to develop skills simply by being told how you would tackle a task. A much better way is to ask the right questions and allow them to work through the process, arriving at the answer with insight and understanding, rather than simply being given the information.

Coaching and mentoring deserves time and commitment from a business but it’s time worth investing. Listening to employees builds better working relationships and environments, and helps develop key skills. Ultimately it benefits the bottom line; a motivated and skilled workforce performs better, delivers great service to customers and has some fun along the way.

It’s time to start asking the right questions.

Are Your Best People Too Good For Your Training Budget?

13/11/2014

Whether your company recruits school leavers, graduates, or only those with relevant workplace experience, the chances are that most of your training budget is focused on ensuring those on the lower rungs of the career ladder have the skills they need to climb it.

A clear development path has become an important part of attracting and retaining the best candidates, which makes it an important part of any company’s HR strategy. But what about the talented people that have already proved their value to your organisation? Shouldn’t you be investing in ensuring that you maximise their value with courses that focus on leadership, time management and mentoring?

Many companies have a policy of promoting from within, which can have significant commercial advantages.  However, promotion from a ‘doing’ role to a managerial role is often awarded without any investment in management training – which means that the individual may not have the skills they need to adjust to their new responsibilities and the company may not benefit from their full potential.

Even the most talented and experienced people in an organisation sometimes need to take a step back and examine how they can do things better. Just one behaviour change as a result of training can have a significant impact on productivity and the ability to add value.

There may be barriers to this, not least in a reluctance from busy senior people to take time out of their schedule to spend on training.  However, by selecting an outcomes-based training model with clear goals and a defined follow up process, any objections can be overcome and any time invested will be more than recouped in greater efficiency and productivity day-to-day.

Many of MLP’s training courses have been designed with these goals in mind, including our Leadership Skills and Coaching & Mentoring one-day programmes.

A culture of continuous improvement can only thrive in any organisation if there is a commitment to developing the skills of those who run it.  If UK companies are serious about building on their success in post-recession Britain, training needs to be high on the agenda at the highest levels of the career ladder.

The importance of being assertive by Emma Brereton, account manager at The Write Angle

24/10/2014

When I was offered a place on an assertiveness course with MLP Training I thought the room would be full of the meek and mild.

How wrong I was. Developing assertiveness skills is not just for those who have trouble standing up for themselves, it's also important for people who come across as aggressive – both of which can be extremely detrimental in the workplace.

Assertiveness is about looking at ways of dealing with certain situations and different people whilst remaining firm but fair.

During the day's course we analysed what aggressive, passive and assertive behaviours look like. For example,

Aggressive behaviour:

  • Getting your own way no matter what and winning at all costs
  • Getting your point across at another person's expense
  • Making people do things they don't want to do
  • Being loud threatening and violent

Passive behaviour:

  • Keeping quiet and avoiding conflict for fear of upsetting people
  • Always saying yes
  • Not expressing your true feelings
  • Apologising excessively

Assertive behaviour:

  • Listening and showing an understanding to other people's point of view
  • Being able to reach workable compromise solutions
  • Dealing with conflict
  • Being able to recognise your mistakes and recognise your limitations

Analysing these behaviours really helped the group to understand what it is they need to do to change the way we are in the workplace. To achieve the optimum level of assertiveness, we were told, there are a number of things you need to think about; as maintaining good posture, making good eye contact, having a balanced tone of voice and controlling gestures that we do subconsciously like twiddling hair or clasping hands. These subconscious actions are often very revealing and are things that need to be controlled.

Developing good assertiveness skills leads into the ability of being able to say no, dealing with criticism and confrontation. Essentially it's about keeping a level head, being confident in what you're saying and calmly standing your ground.

I learnt a lot about myself on the day and I think I definitely have a good foundation for becoming an assertive person in the workplace. There are 10 rules I now try to abide by to make sure I'm keeping on top of what we learnt.

1. Respect myself and the choices I make

2. Take responsibility for my actions

3. Recognise my own needs and wants independently of others

4. Make clear statements about how I feel and what I want to do

5. Enjoy your successes

6. Ask for time to think things over if needed

7. Set clear boundaries

8. Don't worry about the mistakes I make

9. Be clear in asking for what I want

10. Respect others and their right to be assertive.
 
Click on Assertiveness Skills for more information.  

How to be a High Achiever In Three Easy Steps

20/10/2014

Let's start with a question: how often do you get to the end of the day and wonder where the time went or wish you could find a few extra hours from somewhere?

Sometimes? Often? Everyday?

The desire to recoup the ‘missing' hours that have somehow melted away in the frenetic activity of a busy day is not an uncommon sentiment. The reality is that everyone gets the same allocation of hours each day, however if you feel like you never have enough as you scramble to achieve as much as possible, it's because you're not managing your time effectively.

Effective time management is one of the aspects of professional behaviour that sets apart high achievers and makes them more productive in the workplace. And to manage your time, the first thing you have to do is set goals and stick to them.

High achievers focus their time on high priority areas, which means they step away from the firefighting, distracting activities and the urge to respond immediately to every request they receive in order to remain focused on a task and use their time wisely to complete it.

Step One: As any management coach will tell you, 80 per cent of your results are generated from 20 per cent of your activities, so your first step towards becoming a high achiever is to identify which activities drive your 80 per cent.

Step Two: Once you have identified those priority activities, the next step is to set goals to help you remain focused on high value tasks: goal setting is the master skill of time management and time management is the master skill of all high achievers.

Step 3: With clearly defined goals in place, you then need to develop a critical path to goal delivery which will help you align the available time to the tasks you need to complete, ensuring you remain focused and don't fall into the distraction trap.

The average household spends 1,460 hours a year in front of the TV box – four hours a day. And sometimes we watch it without even realising. A TV Licensing Authority survey found people underestimate their TV viewing by up to 20 hours a week.

Now I am not against TV but I know in my heart there are people saying ‘I'd like to play the piano but I don't have the time'. They have the time they just choose to spend that time watching TV.

Here is a great question for you to ask yourself. "Is what I am doing or about to do taking me towards or away from my goal?"

High achievers have clearly defined goals and they know what they need to do to achieve those goals and they have a plan.

High achievers know you can't make or control time. You can't have a short hour for the bad things and long hours for the good things.

As much as you might like to, you can't control time, but you can control how you spend the time available to you. It's up to you to manage your environment, your systems, your work habits and how you deal with interruptions, maximising the value of your time by ensuring you don't fritter it away.

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