Episode 32 – Retention

Episode 32 – Retention

Sandi and Jen meet to discuss retention of employees in the workplace and what that looks like in 2023. With much of the workforce now remote, what can managers and leaders do to keep them engaged, and what does that look like versus those who wanted to come back to the office? Tune in to hear how things have changed and how to navigate the waves of management.

Episode 31 – Strategic Whiplash

Episode 31 – Strategic Whiplash

Jen and Sandi discuss VUCA-Volatility, Uncertainty, Complexity and Ambiguity and what the impact of changing strategies can bring to the pace of our lives and the business world. What events in the workplace give us whiplash, and how do we come out of it?

Episode 30 – Neuroscience of Accountability

Episode 30 – Neuroscience of Accountability

Sandi and Jen interview Reut Schwartz-Hebron. Reut Sandi and Jen discuss how accountability interacts with neuroscience and how that affects work and life. Reut trains and supports coaches, consultants, and HR leaders to complete their Certification in Applied Neuroscience.

Click Here to learn more about Reut Schwartz-Hebron

Coaching vs. Managing

Coaching vs. Managing: Developing Your Organizational Coaching Culture

Companies are looking for managers to get better at developing people, not just managing them. This shift is geared toward improving feedback to be more consistent and frequent between employees from managers. 

It’s fair to say that most people do come to work and they want to do a good job. So how do we keep ramping that up? By coaching your employees, however, most companies need some guidance to wrap their heads around the idea of coaching culture. This concept has been on the uptick over the last several years.

 What’s So Hard About Coaching?

Coaching culture has garnered this reputation for impacting performance. It’s the next big strategy. More and more organizations are investing in coaching skills for managers. Over the last five years or more, companies have paid a lot of money to train managers how to coach, but they’re still struggling to achieve change in how managers actually engage in coaching.

The problem for most organizations is twofold. 

First, results always come first and hold the most sway when managers are evaluated on their performance. Did the team deliver on that expectation? Did they reach the target dollar amount in revenue or cost savings? Did they implement quickly and on target? Did they reach their goals? The qualitative data always trumps development efforts. 

Second, managers are rarely held accountable for coaching their employees. They talk a lot about it, and they use the word coaching, but there’s little accountability actually engaging in it. So there’s no doubt that managers are either having difficulty understanding the difference between coaching and managing or are simply choosing not to do it consistently or with any frequency.. 

The bottom line –  there’s increased conversation about coaching, but the conversations aren’t making that big of a difference.

There have been a few studies that analyze the effectiveness of coaching skills for managers and overall the results aren’t great. 

Organizations think it will be tremendously different when they start implementing a coaching culture. They’ve seen it work with external coaches. It’s a proven method and by providing the tools to managers they rightfully think they’ll get amazing results, but it’s proving to be somewhat disappointing when you look at the results of their actual internal coaching effort and the underwhelming return on investment.

Part of it is a semantics issue, which is impacting the expectations and the results that they want. For the most part, people see ‘“coaching” as feedback skills, and those terms have started to be used interchangeably.They might be getting better at feedback, but it really doesn’t translate into performance development or significant improvement. Employees might be getting better information about what they’re doing or not doing, but that doesn’t mean they agree with what they’re being told, or that they’ve been given any support or direction to improve on it.

Coaching Culture is Not the Same as Feedback

Coaching and feedback are not the same things. For example, a lot of large companies have invested in the GROW model training for managers:





It’s meant to simplify the coaching into a conversation that targets the goal, change, or improvement against the reality. What are you doing, and what can be implemented or changed? What are the options? What are the steps for the actual change? Do you, and your team, have the willpower it takes?

There are certain things about this process that initiate a huge conversation. Some managers are intimidated by what that model is asking them to do. It feels messy and time-consuming, and maybe it’s more information than they’re interested in knowing or spending time on. Especially when the pressure organizationally is more about the results not the development–the “what” not the “how.”

The important question is, who owns the coaching culture? Is it the coachee? Is it the manager who owns the coaching? Responsibility is important because this process can feel overwhelming. If you have multiple employees, it could be exceptionally daunting. There’s all this other work that needs to get done, and the temptation to return to managing is real. It’s easier to tell somebody to do something, rather than having a conversation that will motivate them and potentially change their perception of the work they’re doing.

They’ve got to be willing participants. That’s the first role of coaching when you come in from the outside. You can’t start with somebody that is disengaged, because chances are the coaching is too little too late. If you’re looking for managers to engage development, they need a mindset and a belief in the value of it first. You’ve got to have willing participants. They’ve got to be willing to take the time and see it as a l priority. 

The Dilemma of the Internal Coach

One of the issues is that people always want to do it internally. Of course, if possible, you absolutely should. However, especially in big companies, confidentiality and the sharing of information of coaching engagements must be addressed.

With an external coach there’s a release valve there for people to be able to speak their mind, to really get to some of the things that need to be dealt with. Whereas when you’re trying to do that internally, confidentiality can create an issue. For example, if somebody you’re working with says something that could potentially be an HR issue, what then is your obligation to say something to HR? It can get pretty mucky, internally. But the whole idea of the coaching is to have an open dialogue. 

To be able to have open dialogue for topics of a more difficult level, managers need to break through the uncomfortable, unfamiliar level first. Usually, after a company has used an external coach, they’ll want to find out what they can do on their own. If you’ve had good external coaches that have made an impact on the business, it’s a natural progression to want to run it internally.

Employees want more engagement relative to their skill development, as opposed to just being sent for training. Similarly, leadership doesn’t want another no-impact program to add to the budget.  However, they’ll buy-in to coaching efforts as an investment in their management development. Why? Because coaching is personalized and very targeted to specific roles and circumstances, which training programs don’t always provide.

If as a manager you start getting good as an internal coach, it creates a supportive, disciplined environment. It makes it easier when you get frustrated, stuck, or stymied. You’ve got an internal structure to pull a coach in when there’s a problem with a team. 

When we compare coaching to managing, managing is really about the work, tasks, and projects. It’s about setting the expectations, modifying the expectations, giving feedback about how you’re doing against those expectations. Putting that into a basketball metaphor, managing is more like the scoreboard and the referee. How are we doing? What’s the score? Are we fouling out? Are we playing by the rules? 

Coaching, on the other hand, is the conversation that takes place during the timeout to evaluate the situations and strategize the improvements to get better results in the moment. 

When you call that time-out, in less than a minute, everyone agrees and makes the appropriate changes. Coaching culture is disciplined ownership of the input provided. It’s the feedback, but it’s also the acknowledgment and the initiative of the player to take on the subsequent actions and engage the change.

A lot of businesses can do the feedback, but it’s the discipline of engaging the change that generally misses the mark. Feedback is paramount to that coaching relationship: being able to listen, engage, and provide notes for people’s personal development. 

To get ownership of the coaching, you have to understand the “why” of their organization’s desire to move into a coaching culture. Why is your organization doing it? Are they doing it because it’s the flavor of the week? Are they doing it because they want to really shift the organization and move the level of their management staff in terms of their conversational skills? You have to be fully engaged in the internal processes. 

Keeping the Momentum 

If you employ accountability for coaching, you’re probably not employing accountability for managing. If you’re going to shift to a coaching culture, the only way you’re going to get there is to deal with your accountability problems first, because that discipline and accountability is as much a coaching skill as anything else. Usually, that’s why you pay a coach from the outside to come in as they are more likely to hold the proverbial feet to the fire. 

Part of the coaching experience is knowing the rest of the tools in addition to coaching. Learning the communication styles, team behaviors, emotional intelligence, and how to empower others to own their work. 

There are so many pieces that have to be in place to actually make it work, and make it work well. Organizations that get it are able to step back and plan for the transformational shift. It’s not a one-and-done thing. There has to be process and rigor behind it. What is the benefit to your organization to go down this path? When you’re clear on why you’re doing something, it’s easier to put the pieces in place. 

For more on coaching culture, check out the OT Kung Fu Podcast.

Jen is the owner of Management Possible® focused on training and coaching multi-level management and leadership individuals and teams nationally and globally. Sandi is the owner of Satori®  Consulting inc. a global consulting firm focused on helping organizations solve complex problems in strategy, leadership and governance.

The Hybrid Workplace Challenge

Strategy and Decision-Making

What does going back to work look like? What is a hybrid workplace, at its core? What does all of this mean for leaders? What do we have to do differently? 

These are the top questions we address in today’s episode of The OT Kung Fu Podcast.

This is the time to get rid of the policies that don’t work and the systems that are no longer serving the team. Question everything before reopening, or introducing big changes like a hybrid workplace.

There’s no going back to normal. You’re never going back to the same thing. It’s not going to be the same because no one is the same. We are all thinking differently about work. We are all feeling differently about what’s important. Just by virtue of changing as people, how we think about work, what work needs to be for us, and what’s going to create meaning for you, has shifted. Just because you’re returning to a building, doesn’t mean the job, or the environment, will be the same.

There’s a big balancing act between the short-term and the long-term when it comes to leading and decision making. What are the short-term decisions that have to be made? What are the long-term decisions that have to be made? Do they conflict? Will they be too much to handle at once? How do they relate to one another?

Reshaping Your Organization

The changes that have occured in the last few years have been a challenge, but they have also created  an opportunity for companies to rethink how they want to structure their culture. It’s an opportunity that most leaders never get: the chance to restart, a totally clean slate. The things that we previously held as gospel truth have now been proven incomplete, and companies must respond in a fearless, open-minded way.

Communication and Leadership

These two come hand-in-hand when it comes to successful restructuring. Making changes, while necessary, can be incredibly difficult without support and unity, both within leadership and the team as a whole.

What is most important to your employees? What has their experience as a team member in the last couple years taught them? 

How are you starting the dialogue and conducting the conversation? Are you just sitting in a room of leaders making decisions on your own? This might have been necessary as teams and companies had to simplify to survive, but for growth, you need as much information as possible.

Moving out of Crisis Management

Next, it’s time to move on from the strategies that worked when you were in crisis-mode. 

For a while now, the norm has been a group of four or five people making the decision for the whole organization, without engaging with the rest of the team. While this is helpful to keep things moving in complicated times, this tendency isn’t good for the long-run. 

Many leaders were so focused on pushing through, and were often so desperate to keep their organization alive, they’ve now continued to use the same strategies. 

As companies are focusing on transitioning out of this phase, they are tapping into their workers, doing a lot of tiny pulsing and surveying, and are investing in their employees as people.

Before, leaders simply told them what to do, but now the principle of leading with empathy is considered a necessary and important piece of success.

Essential Skills

Empathy is a great example of the shifting values and essential skills in the workplace. 

Across the board, flexibility has been identified as the number one skill for effective leading.

Especially in the United States, there’s this idea that, when it comes to empathy, wellbeing, health, and problems in general, “there’s a department for that”. It’s not necessary to make it a priority, and the leaders certainly don’t want to “waste their time” talking about things that aren’t directly business-related. 

The conversation really starts there: how do you really allow people to be forthcoming?

Things that would have been the typical water cooler talk back in the office are even more underground because it’s an online chat now, or a text between coworkers, sharing their discomfort with returning to the office.

From a manager’s perspective, the training that is needed is on flexibility and empathy.

Addressing Burnout

In Jen and Sandi’s experience, 100% of people they’ve talked to have experienced burnout.

People feel exhausted, overworked, overwhelmed, even to the point of hopelessness. Burnout, naturally, leads to a series of questions:

Can I keep going like this?

Do I want to?

Burnout is a huge thing, and utilizing a hybrid workspace hasn’t been the solution to that problem.

In fact, all of the over-communicating, the distractions, all of the ways life begins to blur into your workspace, the disconnectedness, the isolation, and even the apathy that can grow over months all adds fuel to the fire, leading you closer to complete burnout.

You’re pushing outside your own comfort zone. You don’t feel like you’ve mastered anything, and you’re not sure what’s permanent and what’s temporary.

While there’s only so much that can be done to help, there are practical ways for leadership to invest in their team members to lend support and prevent burnout. 

When it comes to maintaining those work/life boundaries, having a designated home office space is incredibly important. Unfortunately many people are still working from the kitchen table, in crappy chairs. 

The goal is to avoid death by a thousand paper cuts. 

It’s all the little small things that pile on top of each other that leads to burnout, when a small gesture of empathy can relieve the burden.

Going Forward with a Hybrid Workplace

Even in the hybrid workplace, new cultural norms are being built up. Right now, individuals, teams, and leaders are both actively and passively deciding what is now acceptable and what’s not. 

Is helping your kids in the middle of the day an acceptable thing in your work environment? Maybe, maybe not. They probably won’t be using online school anymore, but they may still have toddlers at home because daycare isn’t an option anymore. 

All of these pieces need to be considered when deciding what works for your organization. You can put together what you think is a good, meaningful, purposeful strategy for their organization and yet still lose some critical talent because they want to work on-site 100% of the time, or because they feel too insecure with the technology when it comes to working remotely.

Sandi and Jen believe there’s going to be a huge shift or upheaval of key talent, unless you can master your strategy. As a whole, this process is a test of test of your values.

You have to ask yourself, your leaders, and your employees what is really important. There’s been a change in what we see as doable, which impacts what is actually doable. People have taken stock of what is truly important to them, organized their priorities, and values, and they’re able to stand in them a little bit more than before. 

The question is, will workplaces respect their newfound priorities, and empower them?

Short-Term vs. Long-Term

In general, the best thing you can do is encourage the heart. The whole practice of supporting people, developing their skills, and creating meaning with them in the organization requires critical conversations. 

You need to balance the ability to make the best short-term decisions while maintaining the best long-term vision you can.

There are very few people, very few leaders, who are actually skilled in this way innately. Training these principles should be commonplace, rather than a last resort. 

When shit hits the fan two years from now, or whenever the inevitable issue arises, will your leaders and employees have the skills and tools they need? Will they be able to hit the ground running?

Regardless of what stage your business is at, building and maintaining your team is the key to short-term and long-term success. There needs to be a creative, open, flexible environment where no one is getting judged for their differences in perspective, opinions, needs, or skills. 

You have to create an environment that will utilize opportunities to reshape the hybrid workplace culture into something empowering, something your team can believe in and dedicate themselves to.

For more resources like this, head over to OT KungFu’s website for podcasts, blogs, and more. To find more about Sandi and Jen, you can find them on their respective sites: Satori Consulting, and Management Possible.

Jen is the owner of Management Possible® focused on training and coaching multi-level management and leadership individuals and teams nationally and globally. Sandi is the owner of Satori®  Consulting inc. a global consulting firm focused on helping organizations solve complex problems in strategy, leadership and governance.