We are not heroes (part 2)

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We are not heroes (part 2)

by Pilar González

First coaching session: “I am my own thoughts”

Hi Peter, it is nice to meet you and before we start I would like to ask you what you have been told regarding these sessions. 

Peter: Well not much, I guess it´s like those workshops for personal growth or maybe they want to “fix” something in me, you tell me (he had a sarcastic smile).

Pilar: Some people believe that in the coaching process we aim to “fix” something, as if it was broken. My perspective is different. Let´s say we all have something more to learn and this process aims to achieve such learning in areas of our lives that, for whichever reason, are not giving the best results.

Peter: What do you call good results?

Pilar: Good question, for me it would be to perform an activity with a positive feedback from the System. In other words, in accordance to an objective, we are doing what is expected of us. And, for you?

Peter: Well, the same, but then I am wondering what I am doing here.

Pilar: What do you mean?

Peter: You could see my results in the quality department, I could tell you they are the best in the company’s history since I became the manager almost 3 years ago, and yes we have had a minor setback a couple months ago but it was due to problems with the materials, high management already knows that.

Pilar: How did you become a manager Peter?

Peter: Well my story is interesting because I was a supervisor in the production line. I was there for 3 years and I started to get promoted, I guess I was doing things right, don’t you think so? Then they promoted me to general supervisor and now I’m the quality manager of the company”.

Pilar: How many people were you in charge of when you started as a supervisor?

Peter: Mmm, let me remember. When I was a supervisor it was about 12 people and as a general supervisor around 80 people, I had supervisors and line leaders to support me in managing people.

Pilar: How has your relationship with people been?

Peter: Good, but I have realized that the higher you are in the hierarchy the more people criticize you, your work and even your personality. They take things personally. I cannot understand why when I was a supervisor people were more proactive, we even got along.

Pilar: How was your leadership with them?

Peter: I would say the same to how I am now. I haven’t changed, I think its envy and people’s bad intentions who are also in high positions. Look, I have always been disciplined, that’s how I was raised, It´s not in me to mistreat people. If this was the case, I would not have been promoted. But I have combined discipline with establishing clear processes that help us attain the quality that is required. I have to say it, if it wasn’t for the processes I implemented since I was a general supervisor the company wouldn’t be what it is now.

Pilar: What you are telling me is interesting; firstly you mention envy and bad intentions from people as you get higher positions. Secondly, you mention the establishment of processes that have improved the company’s indicators.

Peter: That is right!

Pilar: Let´s dig deeper in these two things Peter. First, when you speak of people’s bad intentions, please give me an example.

Peter: We’ve been working for about 6 months trying to implement a new quality system in one of the areas where we haven’t been able to correct a defect. We have been working more than we should and although I understand people from production is stressed out by so much reject from quality control, they are the ones who have to understand our standards, I am not the one who sets those, right? It´s the client! 

In a staff meeting, the production manager insinuated that people were too frustrated by quality’s processes of revision and that was influencing their work. How dare he say this? Shouldn’t he take coaching sessions to know how to motivate his people? It´s very easy to criticize others and not see how we are influencing things ourselves. 

I considered these thoughts very powerful and decided to build the coaching sessions based on this  

Pilar: Thinking of what you said last, I would like to share with you something I learned years ago. According to a theory coming from neuroscience (Allen & Eby, Oxxford Library of Psychology) human beings are designed to do 2 things: avoid a threat and seek the reward. From these two, which one is more important?

Peter: Avoiding a threat. 

Pilar: Exactly, and when we understand how we can become a threat to someone and how they become a threat to us we start to understand a series of behaviors in others and within ourselves. 

Peter: I’ve never thought about it, sounds interesting. But, how is this related to me and what we are trying to achieve in these sessions?

To be continued….