When Your Values No Longer Line Up With Your Company

How well do your values align with your company?

It’s not always something that leaders stop to consider, but when your values don’t line up with your organization’s values, your career can feel unfulfilling or even draining.

Perhaps there is an obvious disconnect; for example, you are passionate about the environment and your organization puts profits before environmental stewardship. We’ve talked with leaders who describe their organization’s mission or their corporate goals as “soul-less” or completely contrary to what they personally hold to be important. Working without passion is miserable, but working in ways that are contrary to your belief system also feels duplicitous, inauthentic, draining and heart-breaking.

Other times, leaders feel out of sorts but can’t articulate what is wrong at work. We’ll hear them mention that they don’t feel appreciated or that they’re not feeling they have purpose — they might have an important or high-paid position, but the work they do lacks meaning. That feeling of despair or being disconnected or disengaged happens when your values are out of step with your professional life.

How do you know if a values misalignment is at the root of the problem? Well, figuring out your goals helps you know where you’re headed while knowing your values helps you figure out why. Creating a personal vision statement for your career is one way to evaluate whether decisions align with your values and aspirations. It’s helpful to have clarity around your core values.

Once you’ve done that self-reflection work, consider your company.

How well defined are your organization’s values? When was the last time there was discussion about what the values are and how they can be put into action? We’ve worked with leaders who know the values statement their company hangs on the wall, but who don’t see it being lived up to in practice.

When an organization’s value and vision don’t line up, it’s challenging for leaders to foster a strong and successful organizational culture. There are times when we’ve worked with organizations to clearly define their values and find ways to live them. This way, folks feel the values are attainable — values they support and that align with their own — not just platitudes.

Anyone who drives knows how tires that aren’t aligned can wreak havoc on the vehicle, no matter how carefully you drive. Getting a proper alignment ensures your car will perform better.

Similarly, when values are not aligned, organizations might be able to keep pushing through to some success but it feels like a struggle for those driving. In contrast, life and work feel smooth and satisfying when everyone is working toward the same goals with shared values that are being demonstrated in the day-to-day work.

When your values align with those of your company, benefits include:

  • Feeling motivated to work and inspired that their performance matters
  • Increased employee satisfaction and employee retention
  • Improved teamwork and commitment
  • Better communication (with plenty of good conflict to challenge ideas)
  • Stronger work relationships
  • Increased productivity

When we feel good about priorities and our role in achieving success, we show up and work hard. As leaders, we’re going to be better able to inspire others on our teams to find inspiration and passion in their work.

What happens when your values and company values don’t align? Typically this is when we see:

  • Disgruntled and unhappy leaders and team members
  • Unhealthy competition
  • Poor communication
  • Low productivity and little dedication or accountability
  • Trouble meeting business goals

Realizing that your values are not reflected in the organization where you are a leader is sobering. What now? There are a few options.

  • Try to influence change. As a leader, could you initiate some discussion about company values? Perhaps this is a good time to nudge the organization toward transformation in ways that match the values that matter to you. Change happens when people speak up and advocate for it. Can you suggest a value shift?
  • Take stock and bide your time. It’s possible that you are at a point in your leadership that you can’t make the changes you’d like to see — and it’s not a good time to make a leap to another company. After reviewing positives (perhaps a good salary, flexible work arrangements, better opportunities elsewhere after a few years in this role), the conflicts between your values and the company might be tolerable for now. You can use this time to work toward what you’d like in your career.
  • Look for a new company. If you’ve tried to influence some level of change and you know that it’s highly unlikely that your company will change enough that you can reconcile your life’s work with your personal values, it may be time to consider a career move. There are times that a lateral career move makes sense and this might be one of them. You can prioritize your own core values as you research potential companies. During interviews, you can ask the interviewers to describe the company values and culture, as well as for examples of ways they do things that are important to you. For example, an organization might say they work hard and play hard. If one of your values is to have work-life balance and a fun work environment, that could sound really positive. But what does that look like in practice? Does the boss support flexible work arrangements or value face-time in the office? What does a typical work week look like? How do they celebrate successes?

It’s a struggle when your values no longer line up with your company, but you get to decide what kind of leader you will be.

Coach’s Questions:

How well do you understand your values? Do they align with your organization’s values? Are there ways your company’s values could be refined or changed? What can you do to align your values with your work?



How to Get Buy-In On Big Ideas

Big ideas come from inspired, creative thinking. But having that idea and thinking it through, doesn’t take it anywhere. The next is figuring out how to pitch your idea and get buy-in.

If you really want to create change, you need support from folks across your organization. If you can’t get buy-in, your idea (even if it’s REALLY good) may not get the traction it needs to be fully realized.

Without buy-in from others, big ideas can be met with resistance to change, avoidance to new ways of thinking or doing things or apathy for yet another “flavour of the month” initiative.

Being able to get buy-in isn’t just desirable, it’s crucial. John Kotter, a Harvard Business School Professor, lectures internationally on leadership and change. In his book, Buy-In, Kotter mentions research shows that 70 percent of organizational change initiatives fail — 70%! He identifies lack of buy-in from enough people to be a major reason for big ideas faltering.

How do you secure buy-in when you bring your big idea to members of your organization? And by this I mean people actually embracing it, promoting it, and actively participating in it — not just giving it lip service.

It’s less about polishing your sales skills and more about involving others in the idea process.

Here’s what change experts recommend:

Articulate your vision. It helps to have a very clear way of stating what your idea is and why it matters. Just as screenwriters create an elevator pitch to share a story idea with movie producers in a few minutes, you’ll benefit from being able to briefly articulate your idea and why it is important to the future of your organization. What makes your idea revolutionary, essential or innovative? What will it do or fix? How is it attainable and what is their role in its execution? If you can help others imagine this idea and understand what problem it solves, you’re more likely to pique their interest. Even better, you might help them see how this idea can make things better for them (and they will have an interest in helping you bring this idea to fruition). Pro tip: aligning vision with organizational values can drive change.

Involve others in the process. To get buy-in, you need more than a sales pitch. You need to help others on the team or across the organization recognize they have a say. What this looks like might be inviting others to discuss the idea, encouraging constructive feedback and actively seeking viewpoints from diverse sources. (What about your idea would benefit from brainstorming or input? Is there anything that’s problematic, uncertain or risky that could use the hive mind?) Remember that good leaders are open to criticism and benefit from hearing the good AND the bad. Not only will you cultivate support from stakeholders, you’ll benefit from opinions and ideas that can help you refine and improve your idea. People generally feel better about accepting (and even embracing) change when they’ve been informed, consulted and have an interest in the outcome.

Harness dissent and use it. We’ve discussed before how leaders benefit from building a culture of conflict around ideas. Healthy conflict allows for honest conversations about challenges so that your organization can be better and stronger. When you encourage this kind of conflict, you’ll be able to work through issues that you might otherwise have missed as they were whispered behind closed doors. This is an opportunity to get buy-in from nay-sayers who are able to bring concerns out into the open for discussion. It requires that we as leaders let go of needing to have all the answers. Try asking:

  • What have I missed with this?
  • Can you see any weak areas?
  • What could make this idea stronger?
  • What do we need to be careful of, if we were to proceed with this?

Really listen to critics of your idea. We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again (and again!): Listen with the intent to understand, not the intent to reply. Be curious and make sure you know what they’re saying. Recap what folks share, giving them the opportunity to clarify what they’re thinking or confirm that you’re on the same page. Seek clarification by asking people to tell you more or walk you through what they mean. This helps to encourage people to share what they’re really thinking, which gives you as the leader the opportunity to incorporate some ideas you otherwise might not receive.

Watch your wording. Once you’ve got people involved in the process and you’re starting to get buy-in for your idea, be mindful of your language. It started as your idea, but now it’s time to move from “me” to “we.” Talk about “our goal” and “our thoughts” and “our plan.” If you retain ownership of the idea and speak about it in the first person, you’re pushing the people you’ve been trying to bring onside over to the sidelines. This underscores the feeling that this isn’t you pushing your agenda but rather that everyone is now working to have this succeed so that the organization achieves success.

Keep the lines of discussion open. Implementing an idea takes time. What bugs are there that need to be fixed? What other issues that have become apparent that need to be addressed? How are we measuring success? Keep everyone on the team involved in updates about how things are going — and involved in potential refinements. Again, when you keep involving folks and listening to their input, they’ll feel a sense of ownership that helps people buy-in more readily.

Coach’s Questions:

What big change ideas have you seen embraced? Which have you seen that failed? What was the difference in approach? What can you do to lead change and get buy-in for your big ideas?



Back to The Office or Work From Home?

So many leaders we are talking with these days are consumed by the same issue: What does “back to the office” look like for their organization?

Determining what back to the office looks like (should look like/could look like/needs to look like!) and how to implement it is a big challenge. There’s a lot for leaders to consider when thinking about returning to work.

We’ve heard of organizations who are declaring the office obsolete and embracing work from home.

We’ve heard of other leaders who say it’s time to get back to the office and order all their staff to return.

Of course, we’ve heard of many using some sort of hybrid, including things like:

You must be in the office at least X days per week.
Everyone has to be in on Tuesdays and at least one other day.
All of our offices are now hoteling spaces that you have to book online ahead of time.
Or, or, or…

The possibilities are infinite. The one common thread is that determining what the office will look like is stressful.

We’re not going to say any option is right, though I am going to come out of the shadows on this one. I will say that ordering everyone to work from home is almost certainly wrong and ordering everyone back to the office full-time is almost certainly wrong.

Why? Because the people working for you are all motivated by different things and because they’re all grown-ups. If nothing else, the one thing we have (or should have) absolutely learned by living through the last 18 months is that measuring productivity by the number of hours that people are at their desks in the office wasn’t helpful. It was never particularly helpful, but it’s what we were used to.

Having everyone work from home or everyone at the office are opposite ends of a spectrum, and there’s a lot of uncertainty between the two. So, how do we figure out what is best for the organization and your employees?

I recommend talking casually with employees and getting a sense of what people would like to see – remembering that you may hear complete opposites from two different people – and that’s okay. (Pro tip: Read our strategies to avoid miscommunication with your team before you have these conversations!)

When you speak with folks, you’ll want to know what would be ideal for them, but let them know that while you’re taking their wishes into account, it’s unlikely that you’ll be able to accommodate the ideal for everyone. Tough decisions are often tough because there’s no way to make everyone happy. But as a leader, your job is to consider all viewpoints and then make the difficult decision.

It’s very helpful to work through your decision with a pen and paper. So, for starters, let’s divide a sheet of paper into 3 columns ( or click here to download one ).

In the first column, start with your “Goals.”

What do you want to achieve in the end? Make a list down the first column, including not only your deliverables but your cultural objectives, too. What do I mean by that?

Well, the list might start with:

We want to return our sales to 2019 levels.
We want our leaders to make good decisions.
We want to innovate and improve our products.
Some staff want to work from home all the time.
Some staff want to be back in the office full-time.

AND the list might continue with:

We want to nurture cohesive teams in each division and a cohesive team at the leadership table.
We want an organization where people reach out for help when they need it.
We want people to take informed risks.
We want our staff to feel a sense of commitment and ownership.
We want our customers to have options in how they engage with us.

What’s on your list? Make it as long as it needs to be.

Thinking about the “WHY?”

Now, in the second column, I suggest also thinking about the “WHY?” of each statement from the first column. Sometimes the answer(s) might feel obvious, but think about each one and jot down why you would want that goal to be achieved.

Sometimes thinking about the “why” behind our wants leads us to rethink the wants or to rewrite them. For example, if you put “I want people at their desks!” as one of your “Goals” then thinking through the “why” might help you formulate the need further. In that example, you might come up with “why” things like, “I want to know they’re working on the right projects” or, “I want to know they’re not slacking off on company time.”

Of course, thinking through the “why” makes us realize there may be other ways of achieving that goal without requiring that people be at their desks in the office for X hours each day. For example, are there ways to measure productivity other than hours at the computer screen? Are there outcomes we can look for that confirm we’re getting what we’re paying people for?

You may find as you go through the exercise that your first column also includes conflicting goals. This exercise will help you prioritize. For example, you might want “to save on rent by reducing our office footprint” and you might want to, “develop/maintain a culture of cohesion and cross-functional synergy.” At first glance, those goals may feel like they’re in conflict. Perhaps digging deeper into why you want those goals will help you understand which takes priority or ways to achieve both to some degree. Your “why” might be you trying to solve a problem you’ve noticed or trying to double-down so something good comes out of the pandemic. Have some teams shown themselves to be cohesive via Zoom or Teams? Have others started to fracture?

Working through the “HOW.”

Once you’ve thought through, and written down, the “why” behind your goals and made any adjustments needed, you’re ready for column 3. In column 3, write the heading, “How.” Start thinking through options that can help you achieve your goals from Column 1 that also take into consideration the “why” behind them that you detailed in Column 2. This will help you define for yourself what a hybrid workspace might look like.

This list could include things such as:

This team in the office on that day
All leaders in the office on another day
A minimum requirement or maximum requirement of days in the office
Frontline staff in certain hours or certain days or alternating?
Could you have some frontline staff serve clients from elsewhere?
Are there activities front line staff could take on for “home days” rather than direct client interaction?

And finally, once you have filled your “How” column, walk away for a bit and let it percolate in your mind. Muse about it. Think about it. When you’re ready, return to your list, or get a fresh sheet of paper, and start writing out what feels best. What might achieve many of the goals you and your staff have, without ignoring critical corporate goals, and that doesn’t try to satisfy everyone?

Once you’ve got that, you might be ready to start rolling out the plan, or at least rolling out the idea to get a sense of where you’ll need to support people as you roll it out.


Coach’s Questions:

What are your own feelings about returning to work? Have you talked with others on your team about their feelings? What else do you need to consider?


14 Strategies to Avoid Miscommunication With Your Team

When communication is effective, you’ll typically see flourishing teams and businesses. When it’s poor, you’ll see conflict, tension, missed deadlines (or opportunities!), mistakes, inefficiency and other mayhem.

Learning how to avoid miscommunication is key.

In our work with leaders, we’ve seen some common areas where communication can be problematic. Here are some of the challenging trouble spots for leaders:

  • Lack of clarity. Sometimes the message is not delivered well and folks are confused (or they think they understand and don’t realize what they’ve heard is not what was intended — either way, problematic!). Communication — whether you’re speaking to someone or to a group or sending an email or text — needs to be clear to be understood.
  • Hesitating to be direct. Call it what you will — waffling, sidestepping, spin or just “trying to be nice. When leaders don’t want to say what they mean in a direct way, the message can get lost. Hinting at something or suggesting leaves room for people to guess (and they often guess incorrectly!). Unsurprisingly, this often happens around performance issues (and typically ends in incredible frustration for the employee and for you).
  • Speaking, but not listening. Communication means not just speaking, but listening and understanding. Many folks listen with the intent to respond when, instead, it’s important to listen to understand. The difference is that listening and hearing what your peers, bosses or team members have to say (or, are trying to say), really listening, can change how you react and how you respond.
  • Making assumptions. As human beings, we have experiences, biases and misconceptions that can influence how we perceive others and, in turn, how we communicate with them. We recently discussed how making assumptions can be damaging your team.
  • Not speaking for your audience. Different personalities need to hear messages in different ways — or they react in different ways — which is why many times misunderstandings arise. At Padraig, we use the Everything DiSC Assessments with our clients to help them understand themselves and others. What one person perceives to be curt and unkind is what another person defaults to as factual and brief. It’s very beneficial for leaders and their teams to understand how personality affects communication styles.
  • Mismanagement of information. As leaders, we also need to know which information to share and how much is too much (boring or alarming) or too little (leaving questions and possibly mistrust). We also need to be comfortable saying when we need to find out more if we don’t know something because pretending to know everything can backfire.

Strategies to avoid miscommunication

When you want to avoid miscommunication with your team, there are some strategies that help to improve the quality of your communication and how it is received. This includes:

  • Make any messages you share clear and concise. Whether you’re speaking or writing an email, avoid unnecessary adjectives and state what you need to say in plain language. When you can, take time to jot down your key thoughts and intentions so that when you speak or write, you’re focused. If you have information to share, prepare handouts or attach pertinent documents for reference. When you’re emailing, use a clear subject heading and keep your message focused by using headings and bullets as appropriate. It’s also helpful to pause and reflect — is there something you know about this situation, or that you take for granted as “common sense” or “basic knowledge” that your audience might not know. If so, you need to explain your thinking before people will understand your message.
  • Check in with your audience. Did they hear the message the way you intended? What else do they want to know? Respond accordingly. This is when it’s valuable to understand how different personalities will react to things in different ways. Ask folks to tell you in their own words how they understand what you’ve said. For example, if you’ve had a conversation with Ravi about a performance issue and you’ve asked for certain things to be improved, ask: “So, can you reflect back to me what we’re agreeing the next steps will be?”
  • Don’t avoid uncomfortable topics. Be honest and direct. We frequently speak about turning difficult conversations into essential conversations. Hinting at things is never as effective as being clear about your expectations (and avoiding these discussions is worse!). Pro Tip: if you find yourself thinking, “maybe this will clear up on its own” or “if I am just patient, maybe this will go away,” it is TIME to have an essential conversation.
  • Choose your method of communication wisely. It’s sometimes easier to send an email than to talk with someone face-to-face or on the phone. Similarly, especially right now, it might be easier to send a quick email than to gather your team for a town hall in person or virtually (or a mix). There are times that speaking with people in person or even via video teleconference is better than sending an email because they get to hear your tone, observe your body language and ask you questions in the moment if they’re uncertain. Email can be problematic because it’s so easy for tone or intent to be misconstrued and the subsequent back and forth exchanges can lead to more misunderstanding.
  • Pay special attention to communicating with virtual team members. When you’re not in a physical office space together, it can be more challenging to build strong team relationships (but not impossible when you’re managing virtual teams!). It’s very easy for emails or instant messages to be taken the wrong way. If you ask, “When did that happen?” the recipient might be wondering if you’re angry or annoyed, when really you’re just curious. Be very clear about things like deadlines or expectations, using calendar reminders or project management apps so you’re never saying, “I thought that was clear.” Using more than one way to communicate, a combination of email, phone and videoconference, helps to build in some camaraderie.
  • Maintain your sense of calm. It’s easy for leaders to react or, as we discussed earlier, listen to respond. If you are able to, take a few moments to compose yourself and stabilize your mood before you communicate something difficult so you avoid miscommunication. Remember that if you are frustrated or angry or need time to think, you can return to a conversation after you take some time. Review our tools for developing your executive presence, which helps you to be calm, confident, credible and consistent in your leadership communication.
  • See silence as a good thing. Learning to sit comfortably in a silent pause is an excellent leadership skill. Sometimes we are conditioned to or feel we should fill all the silence with our own ideas and directives. Pausing before we respond allows time for reflection and an opportunity for other people to interject with their own ideas and opinions. It also demonstrates active listening to the other person or people.
  • Encourage people to come to you when they’re unclear. If you say there is no such thing as a stupid question, you must work to ensure you don’t make anyone feel silly if they ask you something you think they should know. Make time to talk with your team members, and consider setting up one-to-one meetings to build a solid culture of engaged employees.

Coach’s Questions

When have you recently experienced miscommunication with your team? What more could you be doing to avoid miscommunication? Which strategy can you employ this week?




How to lead an exhausted team when you feel the same

How many people on your team are feeling worn out? Business as usual feels like a thing of the distant past and any more “pivoting” will be too much for an already exhausted team.

Shutting down, returning to work, a second shut down (and a third?) and now continued uncertainty — anticipating, planning, scrambling, and trying to keep it all together has taken a toll on everyone. (And then there is all the personal stress people have been dealing with!)

But many of the leaders we work with tell us that it’s not just their team members who are exhausted: They’re worn out, too.

How do you lead an exhausted team when you feel the same way?

We’re hearing similar stories from leaders across a wide variety of industries and locations. Not only are their teams struggling, leaders confess they’re feeling:

  • A roller coaster of emotions
  • Hopeful, but behind
  • Less creative and agile
  • Stressed about dealing with the way the work world has changed and the world in general
  • Uncertainty and fatigue
  • Demotivated and foggy (what some experts call “pandemic fatigue”)
  • Worries they’ve got to figure out how to avoid leadership burnout

It’s not surprising that exhausted leaders with exhausted teams also report:

  • Workplace tensions increasing
  • Witnessing (or personally experiencing) emotional outbursts
  • Low employee morale
  • Employee turnover
  • More stress leave/sick days

These feelings are rampant, whether the leader works in an industry that’s booming, treading water or floundering.

When it’s hard to find enthusiasm and focus as a leader, it’s nearly impossible to reassure your team and inspire those you’re trying to lead.

What can we as leaders do for ourselves and an exhausted team?

Actively build resilience. Sometimes we’re focused on productivity in the workplace, but we need to build resilience alongside productivity. As leaders, we need to do this for ourselves and we have to demonstrate how to break negative thought cycles, set healthy habits, focus on what we can control (“with the information we have right now, our plan is X”), learn from our mistakes, and more. Our capacity to overcome difficulties is a skill that we can develop, in ourselves and our team members.

Dig deep and find the ability to keep going. It turns out if Covid were a race, it would be a marathon, and we’re not sure if we’re past the halfway point or in the home stretch. Yet most of us approached it 18 months ago, as a sprint. And, many of us are still running like it’s a sprint. Instead, it requires a steady pace with some leadership self-care so that you’re not running on empty. If you know you’re barely coping, take a mental health day (or long weekend!) to rest and restore your mind, body and spirit. That means keep your phone turned off and spend time doing what you truly enjoy. (And, by the way, that’s modelling healthy habits for your team!)

Resolve to regain a sense of control. When we’re busy and consumed by constant demands, seemingly endless worries and that overwhelming uncertainty, it’s usually pretty certain that we’re staying busy but we’re not really being productive. At the same time, not being busy feels wrong when work feels unpredictable or precarious. When you take steps to regain control, you’ll feel more collaborative, creative, effective and resilient. THAT makes your leadership feel more positive, confident and stable — all of which is what you need to lead an exhausted team!

Set priorities. You and your team need actionable and achievable goals (yes — set goals for this crazy time), but also priorities that determine what is important and what is urgent. Often we have a very human tendency to focus mainly on what feels urgent and then we need a break or lose stamina before we get to the other stuff. Instead, what are we missing that is important but not yet urgent? What important things are out there that we’re not focusing on because we’re driven by that urgent item of the day? How can you get ideas flowing again about what we’re not doing that is important? And, what are we overwhelmed by that could be let go or, heaven forbid, sent onward as “good enough”?

We’ve highlighted the Eisenhower matrix as a great tool for this purpose in an earlier blog about living in a constant state of urgency. It helps you sort tasks into four quadrants: urgent, or not and important, or not. You want to be putting your effort into working on what is important and NOT urgent so that you catch important items before you’re facing an urgent situation.

Keep listening and observing. Ask what your team members need for support and listen to what they tell you and what your gut tells you after you observe interactions. Some folks are tired of being told to stay calm and carry on, and now they want to know what to do and how to do it.

What energizes everyone? Maybe it’s time to move from sharing concerns or commiserating over worries to celebrating wins and challenging each other to do things. What people need this week could be different next week or in a month. Keep asking, listening and engaging.

Don’t tackle everything alone. Leverage the talents of your team to figure out the way forward together. People feel more energized when they’re involved and feel heard. Connecting with everyone on a human level may rally them to find a second wind, too. If you’re not already, try using a Coach Approach with your team so that you’re not responsible for directing everyone and doing all of the problem-solving. The bonus is that building a coaching culture helps organizations win big because there is a tangible ripple effect as people learn, grow and brainstorm ideas.

Coach’s Questions:

What has been the most draining for you in recent months? How can you change that or let go of it? What can you do this week to re-energize and lead more effectively? Where do your priorities need to shift?



How Organizations With a Professional Coaching Culture Win BIG

In our last blog, we talked about how leaders can significantly expand their leadership toolkits by learning to use a coach approach with their staff. Learning when and how to use a professional coaching approach with your staff has the potential to epically change your leadership experience and the experience of those you lead.

So, what if you want those gains to cascade through the whole organization? Maybe you’re a senior leader with managers reporting to you who have managers reporting to them – and they have managers reporting to them. Or perhaps you’re an HR leader tasked with bringing these wins to the whole organization. Imagine if every tier of managers could see the wins from a coaching culture. We know first-hand that when an organization achieves a coaching culture, a few things happen:

Simply put, organizations with a coaching culture win BIG, achieving unbelievable success in their industry. Not just in terms of profit, but in creating a can-do culture, with a motivated workforce who buy-in to the company, decreased turnover and much stronger succession planning. Sounds amazing, doesn’t it?

Hopefully you’re thinking, “How do I help my organization do that?”

Here are a few tips if you believe in this approach and want to roll it out more broadly:

  1. Link coaching outcomes to the success of the business. Flesh out for others a bit of a business case around a coach approach. Where have you seen a business succeed when a leader uses a coach approach? Search for examples online and, of course, reach out to us for some examples.
  2. Acknowledge concerns leaders may have. The concept of coaching and a coach approach can seem daunting to a leader who feels like they’ve managed well to date without having to learn some new leadership technique (old dog, new tricks). It can also feel like a fad for those who don’t know that coaching has been used by the world’s most successful firms for over two decades. And, of course, it can feel “touchy-feely” to those who have grown up in a structured command-and-control environment.
  3. Coach the senior leaders. Whether you’re starting with the organization’s executive committee to bring a coach approach to the whole company, or you’re starting with your own leadership team to roll it out in your division, start folks on the coaching journey by helping them experience professional coaching in action.
    One option is to provide a professional coach to individual members of the leadership team so they can work on their own individual goals and see the power of coaching.
    Another option is team coaching – engaging a professional coach to coach the leadership team together – possibly focusing on coaching the team around “creating culture change” or “developing a coaching culture.”

If you have certified professional coaches within the organization, engage them for option a or b. Be sure that internal coaches work with folks who are not also their “boss.” For example, if you’re starting with your leadership team, don’t coach them yourself (assuming you are a certified coach). If you want them to coach a whole team together, make sure they’re trained and experienced in group and team coaching – it can be more difficult than coaching an individual.

An important thing to remember, whether coaching individual leaders or the whole team, if you’re starting with the organization’s most senior executive committee, always hire external coaches since everyone in the organization ultimately reports to someone on that team.

4. Roll out a solid training program to make it easy for leaders to learn a coach approach. Whether it starts with our COACH Approach workshop, or something else, get started training leaders on the techniques so they can feel confident and know how to start.

5. Recognize and reward coaching behaviours. This probably seems obvious and yet very, very few organizations are good at rewarding behaviours they want to encourage. For example, most organizations want leaders to work collaboratively toward organizational goals. And yet, most organizations reward leaders for the outcomes of the division they lead, not the outcomes of the overall leadership team they’re on. So, reward folks for using good coaching as a leadership tool rather than always being “in control” — reward them for not always being right, for not holding a firm hand on the keel to make sure everyone does things ‘the right way’ (i.e., their way without creativity or exploration of others), for fostering ideas, for managing risks while trying creative new approaches.

Coach’s Questions about Professional Coaching Culture

Who do you think will be enthusiastic about trying a coach approach? Who might be resistant? What will it take to build confidence in a professional coaching approach in Canada and get your leaders and managers to try it?

What to consider when preparing to return to work

Now that things are reopening, many of us are preparing to return to work. Whether you’re already partly there, or still anticipating it, here are some things related to career coaching to think about as we ease back into a life that is closer to how things were before the pandemic — yet still so different.

Here are some career coaching suggestions for everyone as we return to work:

Embrace the awkwardness:

If you’re not sure how to approach the first conversation, or how to interact in person, acknowledge it. The other person is probably feeling the same way. When you break the ice, the conversation can flow more naturally. Start by asking others about themselves and their work.

It’s okay if your appetite for socializing has changed. Some may be craving some interaction even if they were a bit of a hermit before, while others might have really gotten used to solitude and be yearning for some of that lost freedom. Don’t be afraid to acknowledge your discomfort and don’t take it personally when someone tells you they wish they could be home away from everyone.

Meet people where they are:

Accept what people tell you about themselves — now isn’t the time to try to convince others of your opinion. (This doesn’t apply to a work decision, or direction on a project. Here, we are talking about people and emotions around returning to the office.)

For example, if someone’s views on vaccinations or socializing differ from yours, accept that they differ. For you, going mask-free indoors post-vaccination might feel freeing and joyful, but for the person in the next cubicle, it could be panic-inducing.

Emotions may be on the surface. Regardless of your views on vaccines, viruses, borders and economics, the last 15 months have been stressful. Full stop. If you’ve been on Planet Earth since March 2020, life has been stressful. That means recognizing that everyone else who has been through this has also been stressed — whether they see it, or not, whether they acknowledge it, or not.

Keep lines of communication open:

Talk to your coworkers. Share what you’re concerned about and ask what they’re concerned about. Ask what they’re most looking forward to and share what you are excited about.

Prepare with your family. Talk through what your employer’s return to the office scenario means for you and your family. What will you miss about being home? What changes will you need to work through together? What are you excited about going forward?

Celebrate the little things:

Be patient and kind to yourself. Start by acknowledging the stress that has been and that is still to come.

There’s a concept in sociology of “re-socialization” – the act of learning new social norms that are expected in your society. For most of us, we socialize early to our society and then tweak things a bit as teens as we become more independent and then as adults in the working world. Very few people ever have to re-socialize – that is, learn an entirely new normal.

Full re-socializing is difficult and incredibly stressful. A mild example would be moving to a foreign country and having to learn some new customs. A more severe example might be being sent to prison or joining a cult. However, in 2020 ALL OF US had to re-socialize to a world that forbade gathering, where hugging could make you sick or visiting a grandparent could threaten their life. We had to stop traveling, learn to walk one way down grocery store aisles and wear masks in public. Many among us had to become school teachers while also being parents and workers. It was exhausting because we were having to learn to survive by living differently than we had before. The social rules changed, dramatically and often more than once.

While the end of COVID may be in sight, and vaccines are helping us get there, the unfortunate reality is we’re about to go through another massive re-socialization. In some ways, it may feel like a return to the old ways and yet in so many ways it’s not going to be that either. It’s going to be a third form of society – somewhere between isolated lockdown, and life pre-2020.

To get through it, we have to acknowledge it, accept our inability to significantly change it and find ways to make it work for us. In other words, we have to build resilience, knowing it’s coming.

Part of the social readjustment may be about learning how to reallocate time and energy away from family and back to friends, colleagues and acquaintances, without losing the closeness built up with loved ones.

Some suggestions for Leaders and HR:

Acknowledge there was stress and anxiety in your workplace BEFORE COVID – and much of that will return like a tsunami, if it ever subsided.

  • Consider the extra stress being felt by employees who joined the organization during the pandemic and who have never met their colleagues.
  • Consider those who went on or returned from parenting leave.
  • Some workers may have had strained relationships with each other that lessened during COVID and are about to re-emerge.

How are they feeling as some sort of return to work occurs? How are you helping your team build resilience alongside productivity as they return to work? Are you prepared to cope with your own return to work anxiety as a leader?

There has been much discussion about companies who have switched to an entirely virtual workplace – selling office buildings while fitting-up workers at home. Other companies have talked about a “return to normal” with everyone back at the office. For most of us, normal will now likely be a hybrid composed of some form of work from the office and work from home; in fact, this is what we’re recommending to our clients. But what does your hybrid look like?

First, it shouldn’t be entirely up to employees how the hybrid model rolls out. The reasons you are using a hybrid model are multitude and must all be considered. For example, you might want to think about:

  • Limits on how many people can be in the workplace at once. What physical changes need to be made? What are the rules around the group gathering spaces (boardroom, lunchroom, etc)? What about public spaces?
  • Given the limits, who needs to be there together? Will entire departments need to be together in person? Does the leadership team need to be? What about project teams? Discuss ideas and logistics with whomever you need to, to be prepared.
  • Set up a schedule and communicate it well in advance to those who will be affected (in other words, everyone).

Once you’ve figured out what groups or teams need to be together, at least some of the time, decide which days and times are best. Again, consult staff, but make the decision that will work best for the company (and be prepared to handle criticism). There is NO WAY you are going to give everyone what they want, but it is important to seek input and consider alternatives to the one way you might be inclined to do it yourself.

While we advocate that wherever possible, employers consider continuing work-from-home for some days for those who want it (i.e., be flexible):

  • Don’t overlook the risks of loneliness (which people may not be able to acknowledge).
  • Remember the lost benefits of teamwork (which tend to be long-term and not seen in the moment).
  • Consider the fact that some folks won’t be able to share their truth (“I need to work from the office because I’m in an abusive relationship at home,” or, “I need to work from home because my parent is ill and it stresses me out to think they may need help when I’m not there,” or, “My kids are making me crazy, I need to get back to an office.”).

Don’t base all your beliefs on an employee survey. Many organizations have done all-employee surveys sometime between autumn 2020 and spring 2021 to ask employees their preferences about returning to work.

Keep in mind that things are changing almost daily: Last week their kids were in school. This week, the kids are trying to learn from home, anxiety is high and Internet speeds are low. That survey was likely valuable in the moment, but does it still hold true? Will it hold true next week? Next month? The point is, with a return to the office, do what’s right for the company while being as flexible as possible, and be prepared to adapt that again, and maybe again, until you find the right spot for now.

Have honest conversations with employees:

  • Make it safe for people to share their truth.
  • Ask questions about what you need to learn.
  • Acknowledge when you don’t know the answer and when you will commit to figuring it out.
  • Ask for their input – good ideas come from all over.

Coach’s Questions about Career Coaching Canada

How does planning to return to work make you feel? What would be helpful for your career coaching Canada to consider? What can you do to be more prepared for yourself and your team?

5 Must-have conversations for a new manager to succeed

Whether you’re a senior leader promoting someone into a management role, or you’re an HR advisor helping with that process, here are 5 conversations to have with that new manager to help them succeed.

One of the steepest hills any of us ever climb in our career ascent is the one from “worker” to “manager.” While it’s long and steep, it can feel like you passed it in an instant when suddenly you’re given the title of “Manager.” Unfortunately, that promotion merely means you’re far from the summit.

As leaders, here are the five conversations and talking points that help a new manager acclimatize to a leadership role:

1. The “it’s time to develop an abundant mindset” conversation

There are many ways to build an abundant mindset, which is very beneficial for leaders.

Managers need to shift from a fixed mindset – avoiding problems, thinking there’s a right way and a wrong way and thinking mistakes are always bad – to tackling problems, knowing there are many ways to get from A to B and that mistakes are a way of learning what works and what doesn’t.

Components of this conversation might include:

Coaching them to prepare: Try asking open-ended questions like – What are you most afraid of in this new management role? What can I do to help with that?

Mentoring: Tell them about a few mistakes you made as you learned to manage others, particularly ones related to their own circumstances.

Coaching them through the inevitable errors: Try asking questions like – What did you learn from the experience? What would you do differently next time?

Having an abundant mindset allows a new manager to manage people and inspire them to action rather than dictate tasks and micromanage outcomes (the difference between being a leader and a boss).

2. The “you’re going to be building a new skill set” conversation

New leaders are often promoted because of their technical skill. Perhaps they were a great writer on the policy team, they were a great widget maker on the factory floor or they were a great nurse on the ward. Continuing to rely on those skills they developed so well will now hinder them as a leader. They’ll be tempted to “do” rather than to lead. They will typically second-guess how others accomplish the goals.

Help them shift to thinking about their new responsibilities and the tasks that come with them – i.e., supporting others, developing others and guiding others.

Coaching them to lead: Questions that are helpful might include – What are your priorities for the first few months? What do you want or need to learn? What is essential in the team processes versus what is essential with the team’s goals?

Coaching them about the people aspects of leadership: Ask things like – How do you like to communicate? How do your staff? Which members of your staff are influenced by facts and figures and which are influenced by people and ideas? How can you become more aware of your staff’s preferences?

3. The “your work relationships need to change” conversation

Those folks who have been promoted up into a managerial or leadership role face one of the toughest situations as a new manager: Their former colleagues are now their staff.

Help them maneuver their way through that change while minimizing politics, drama and interpersonal conflict. Help them focus on owning the role while respecting their staff.

Mentoring: Share with them the positive experiences you had in shifting relationships when you transitioned from peer to manager. Acknowledge for them some of the challenges you had, and how you dealt with them (good or bad — they can learn from both).

Coaching: Ask them about things like – How will you approach realignment conversations with former peers? What do you understand about your former peers’ jobs and what they need to learn?

4. The “how to become comfortable delegating” conversation

Many new leaders are uncomfortable in the role. Most of us try to stick to what we know and what we’re comfortable with. So, many new leaders try to keep doing some of the work they were doing before. They’ll tend to think, “it’ll be faster if I do it myself.”

Learning to delegate effectively is important for leaders and their teams.

Helpful components for this conversation include things like:

Teaching: Discuss the importance of delegating and the risks that come from not delegating. For example, trying to do everything results in the manager feeling overwhelmed (and perhaps resentful). At the same time, staff may feel demotivated. A leader who fails to delegate builds a culture of the leader solving all the problems, which increases the feeling of being overwhelmed and doesn’t help staff learn for next time.

Teaching: There are ways to figure out what needs your attention as a manager and what needs to or can be delegated. For example, we’ve discussed how to figure out priorities before, using the Eisenhower Matrix to illustrate what is urgent/not urgent versus what’s important/not important.

Coaching: Questions might be – What could you delegate now that might give someone on your staff a chance to learn and grow? What holds you back from delegating? What can you do to overcome that obstacle?

Mentoring: Share your own memories of learning to delegate. Talk about the times you thought, “It would be quicker/faster/better if I just did it myself!” and whether that worked in the short-term and the long-term.

Setting an example: Ask them for their feedback of you as their manager and demonstrate the helpfulness of upward feedback because good leaders benefit from being able to handle criticism. Remind them that when you delegate to them, you are providing them with opportunities that might be easier and quicker to do yourself – but you want them to grow.

5. The “bigger picture” conversation

As a new leader, another challenge that is often unrecognized is the need to shift focus from the work to the relationships. Because it’s not recognized, new managers aren’t usually prepared for this (and often don’t even have it on their radar!).

We have a saying around the Padraig offices that is a foundation for almost all of our work with leaders:

Your role, no matter what your job title, is “Relationship Manager.”

Helping a new manager succeed involves helping them figure out the relationships they need to manage and how they’re going to do that. Shifting from doing the work to managing the team of people who do the work is a big one, but often there’s more – relationships with other managers, with clients and stakeholders – possibly even public opinion makers, the media, politicians and board members. The importance of this can be absolutely overwhelming and can often also be overlooked by those whose last role was to focus on making or doing.

Once again, a combination of coaching the new leader as well as guiding, mentoring and teaching will help them learn this new aspect of their work and to excel at it.

Coaching: Ask questions such as – Who do you need supporting you to be successful in this role? Who is relying on you most for the decisions you make and the outcomes your team delivers? Who has a stake in your work, and who will be upset if things don’t go well?

Mentoring: Share examples of times you managed to succeed by having built a relationship or having turned a foe to an ally. Share with them, too, the times things went off the rails for you in part because you hadn’t built a solid relationship with someone.

Teaching: Help them understand the structure of the organization, introduce them to the people they need to know and remind them when a relationship is important to the goals.

3 simple steps for releasing anxious thoughts

Living with stress and anxiety can take a very real toll on our mental AND physical health if we aren’t able to manage anxious thoughts in a healthy way.

We’ve all certainly had some extra worries in recent months, whether that was leading people on the frontline or transitioning folks to working remotely. And now, the second wave of lockdown in some regions and waiting for the Covid-19 vaccine has many leaders struggling to cope with return to work anxiety.

When we surveyed readers and clients a few months ago, we had a tremendous response and many of you shared how anxiety is particularly amplified for you right now.

Trying to figure out the way forward when there are so many uncertainties is unprecedented for most of us. (Pro tip: Cultivating an attitude of gratitude for dealing with uncertainty is possible — and helpful!)

To help, today we offer you three simple steps to help release anxious thoughts:

  1. Acknowledge what is at the root of the anxious thought.
    Many of us try NOT to think about what’s making us feel anxious. We try to think about something else, get busy or ignore it — but it’s still there. Others feel consumed by anxious thoughts and can’t stop thinking about them. Just take a moment and think about what has you worried and anxious. This is the tricky part: Recognize and acknowledge what’s making you anxious, name it, but don’t get caught into the bad habit of spiraling the thought into all the potentially awful outcomes that could result. The first step is just to notice and articulate to yourself what is causing anxious thoughts for you right now. It can sometimes help to write it down.
  2. Take a deep breath to calm and relax your body.
    Whenever we are anxious, our bodies go into a temporary state of alarm. This puts us into the fight, flight or freeze response because the mind is preparing the body to deal with a threat. It’s entirely natural and normal to feel anxious (that instinct keeps us aware and vigilant!), but if allowed to build or spiral it can work against us. Take a moment and breathe in deeply (fill your lungs), slowly inhaling and then even more slowly exhaling. This is important because when we’re feeling afraid or anxious, we either stop breathing or breathe shallowly. Restoring oxygen to the brain in a calm and measured way actually counters that stress response. As you breathe in and out, notice the rest of your body: Are you clenching your jaw? Is your neck tense? Is your heart racing? Are you holding tension in your back or lower back? Are your arms tense or your hands clenched? How does your stomach feel? Keep breathing in and out, slowly and deeply, while you mentally take an inventory of tightness and tensing. As you do, gently stretch and release tension from every part of your body. Many people find it helpful to start at the top of the head and work their way down to their toes, inhaling and exhaling as you notice each different part of the body.
  3. Let go of the anxious thoughts.
    After you feel less anxious and tense physically, keep breathing in deeply and shift to releasing whatever anxious thoughts you have. As you breathe in, contemplate what’s worrying you (count to 4 or 5) and then visualize that anxious thought leaving your mind as you exhale (count to 6 or 7 — the exhaling is always longer). Repeat this, slowly, a few more times and be really mindful of acknowledging the anxious thoughts and then letting them leave your mind.

Once you calm your mind and body of anxious thoughts, you will feel better able to cope with moving into action. Not that you have to tackle the world, but you can start to determine your daily and weekly goals while also potentially putting things in a bigger perspective.

If you start to feel those anxious thoughts, pause and go through the three steps again. And if you sense there is quite a bit of employee anxiety on your team, share this article with them.

Coach’s Questions

What anxious thoughts came to your mind reading this? Try going through the three steps slowly, right now. How do you feel? What changed?


Strategies for Managing Performance Reviews During a Pandemic- Padraig Career Coaching

Whether you still have the dreaded annual performance review or you’ve moved to ongoing performance management conversations — or you have some blend of the two — performance management during a global pandemic takes on some new dimensions.

First: Do them, or skip them?

Whether you have performance reviews regularly or annually, should you do them during a global pandemic? With folks working at home, or possibly working in periods between lockdowns, is there value in continuing to have performance conversations?

  • Con: Performance reviews tend to be dreaded by some (managers and employees alike) and thus add to anxiety and stress while increasing the workload for managers.
  • Pro: When performance conversations are done well, they provide critical information to both the employee and the manager, helping everyone succeed.

Effective performance conversations require some groundwork or even the best of intentions can backfire. When strong performance appears to have gone unnoticed, it demotivates. When poor performance isn’t identified and managed, it can leave that employee struggling and others resentful. (Pro tip: Review our keys to having effective performance conversations.)

The verdict: Increase the frequency

At Padraig career coaching, we’re big believers in constant honest feedback with a two-way conversation. During a pandemic — when so many are struggling through (visibly, or not) — is the time to have more performance conversations rather than fewer. In a two-way conversation, we listen to the employee as much as we talk to the employee – finding out where they feel they’re succeeding and where they feel they’re struggling. This is an opportunity to find out where a team member needs help and what kind of help would be, well, most helpful.

Doubling down on performance conversations takes on a different appearance than the traditional annual review. This current time of ongoing uncertainty might be the ideal time to shift from one annual conversation to regular, ongoing opportunities to touch base and check in with team members. It could also be an opportunity to teach managers and leaders how to use a coach-approach to help employees learn and grow – moving away from the direct, demand, tell approach. (We’ve talked about using a coach approach during the pandemic and also using a coach approach to build a stronger team.)

It’s also an ideal time to help managers learn to build performance discussions into every weekly or bi-weekly private conversation they are having with staff. (Not having those conversations? Now is a great time to start because regular conversations help you avoid poor performance from members on your team.)

Should we focus on the same things?

Performance reviews should focus on expectations you’ve set, in advance – otherwise they’re an unfair surprise. So, if you’re about to do a performance review for 2020, it should continue to focus on whatever you stated were the goals, expectations and competencies for that employee. However, if some of those goals don’t seem relevant or achievable in a work-from-home environment, or when roles and goals have shifted during the crises, or when folks spent a good portion of the year furloughed, then it’s time to adapt them a bit.

For example, if your goals were stated as a finite number – produces x widgets per month – then perhaps the goal needs to be amended to recognize challenges. Perhaps you could change the number given months that weren’t worked, or say something like, “ramped up production of (something other than widgets) products after we shifted quickly to changing demand.” Or, perhaps, “produced an average of X widgets per month during times when the production facility was able to operate.”

Or, what if you’ve stated that Adaptable and Flexible is a competency someone should aim for? Perhaps you evaluated that in the past as being willing to work late when the project needed it. Looking at this competency in a new light could be: Did they manage to adapt to changing conditions? Were they flexible in shifting their workplace? It will be important to recognize that in 2020, being Adaptable and Flexible didn’t mean adapting and flexing to the usual customer demands, or to the usual production cycle. This last year, that has meant adopting and flexing in a chaotic and uncertain environment, while also worrying about your health and safety in new ways — and while having your routines upended while worrying more than ever about family and friends. The takeaway? Evaluate something like “Adaptable and Flexible” with a charitable view. Did they manage to maintain some form of competency in unprecedented circumstances? Were they able to succeed in some of their work while having to adapt to working from home, managing kids and pets, helping parents, working alongside their spouses and worrying about the general state of the world?

Have a two-way conversation

Regardless of whether you’re having a performance conversation once a year or once a week — during a pandemic, or not — the conversation should be just that: a two-way dialogue, not a monologue where the boss talks at the employee. Now, more than ever, listen to understand.

Ask open-ended questions like:

  • What went well for you this year?
  • What are you most proud of in the work we’ve done this year?
  • What would you have changed this year, with your own work – if you could do it over?
  • What can I do to make your job easier?
  • What can the company do?

Then, listen. Listen to understand, not to respond. This means:

  1. Don’t worry about what your next question will be.
  2. Try not to take things personally.
  3. Focus on them and their needs. Even a “poor performer” often has challenges that are holding them back – more often than not, they’re not trying to be a poor performer.

Listen intently and empathetically to their answers. Ask more curiosity-based questions as you seek to understand.

Give specific feedback

Avoid saying broad and general things like, “You did great this year,” or, “You need to work on X,” without giving detailed examples. Instead, say things like:

It was especially appreciated when you did X because it allowed A, B, C to happen.
As you know, I’ve had some concerns about X because it affects A and B.
I feel like you’ve made some progress on X by (give a specific example…).
I would like to see you continue that trend and see you achieve Z.
How are you feeling about it?

Note: This feedback invites a dialogue with an open-ended question, but it’s anchored by specific details that provide context and a clear expectation.

Be human

Step away from trying to appear to have it all together. Don’t act like you’ve got everything under control if you don’t. Briefly acknowledge the struggles you, too, have had. Now, this isn’t the time to make the conversation all about you and your challenges, but it is time to be human, to acknowledge that it’s been a hard year for all of us and to show that you’re not only giving employees some slack for a difficult year, but you’re also giving yourself some, too.

Trying to sound too strong, too put-together or too on top of things makes you seem unapproachable and intimidating — and likely you’ll appear to be lacking self-awareness since folks might perceive that you don’t have it all together either. Acknowledge that.

What about performance pay and bonuses?

If expectations have been built, or promises made, that performance pay or bonuses will be tied to performance evaluations then you’ll want to stick with that or risk destroying morale. If your organization can’t afford the same levels of bonus as years past, then be open and honest about that as soon as possible – but keep some level of bonus tied to performance.

In most cases, financial compensation matters far less to employee satisfaction than do other things like – feeling supported, feeling appreciated, seeing their role in the organization’s success and feeling like they’re contributing, being part of a team and having a boss who understands them. So, why do we encourage you to continue with some sort of bonus? Trust.

Looking back at the 2008 recession, we are able to see now that the companies that opted to cut the bonus entirely (rather than reducing it but still paying something to top performers) suffered more in the long term. Turnover increased and employee satisfaction dropped.

People aren’t usually upset about the cash as much as they feel deceived by the promise of a bonus that was made or the expectation that was allowed to continue. If the organization has led people to believe performance begets bonus and has not clarified early on that this would have to change due to recent circumstances, then failing to provide something feels like a broken promise. That dissolves trust and leaves those employees feeling like they weren’t appreciated, that their contributions were taken for granted and that they were cheated.

Setting expectations for the year ahead

Now is also a great time to start building, or changing, expectations for 2021. If you are optimistic about bonuses provided certain goals are met, share that with your team. If you’re not so sure, talk to your employees: “If we aren’t able to continue paying bonuses in 2021, what would help? What would support you and show you that we care deeply about you, even if we can’t afford extra payments?”

And, of course, if your company is giving financial assistance to employees who are facing tough times, be clear that it isn’t a performance bonus – it’s assistance for all. Few things diminish motivation and pride in a job well-done more than if folks think poor performers and high performers are rewarded equally.

Before the conversation, think about how you would like to adapt your goals or competencies for 2021. For example, you might want to define what your leadership competencies look like in an uncertain year. One focus might be to shift from “Achieves sales targets” to things like:


  • Identifies unique ways of creating value and encourages others to achieve the same.
  • Remains resolute and calm when faced with challenges or seemingly inadequate resources.
  • Develops strategies to reflect our changing business priorities.


  • Rethinks processes to find customer solutions in times of change and uncertainty.

Team Management:

  • Encourages collaboration through virtual and non-virtual methods.
  • Acknowledges individual employee’s situation to accommodate corporate needs and employee needs.

The keys are to identify objectives and competencies that will aid in achieving goals but that don’t focus solely on the end goal. It’s important to articulate the reframed expectations in advance, so your leaders and staff know what’s expected and what they should be trying to achieve.

Career Coaching Questions About Performance Reviews

How will you approach performance reviews this year? What changes can you make? Has how you’ll measure success changed? How will you define good performance for 2021?