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Often lauded for the many wonderful things its employees do, the NHS appears to remain one of, if not the, UK’s most respected organisation. News media regularly reports the frustrations and plight of NHS employees who are apparently ‘struggling to cope’ and ‘are working with their backs against the wall’. Many other analogues and metaphors are often used to reflect the actual and/or perceived experience of NHS employees.

But one aspect of the NHS as an organisation, and its employees which is rarely reported, unless so sickening that it involves loss of life due to either incompetence or sickening absence of attention to the facts of a patient’s condition, the very real failures of the NHS as an organisation and failures of some of its trusted technicians, from the most senior doctors to the most junior nurses, are difficult to raise in a formal environment.

One such situation is that of a man who 11 years ago who whilst bed-ridden in hospital was ‘diagnosed’ with a psychiatric condition which was causing severe and apparently unbearable pain in his spine. During a period of 4 days, even heavy doses of morphine and other medication failed to alleviate the pain. A pain which one doctor, and then a second, stated didn’t actually exist!

On day 5, the gentleman, whose emaciated body had appeared due to his inability to actually move more than 2 steps before having to stop due to the searing pain which he said shot from the top to the bottom of his spine, was recommended for being discharged from hospital. The patient’s brother declined to discharge and politely (and assertively) asked for a spinal specialist to attend to make a diagnosis. Less than 30 minutes following this request, a second doctor attended with the doctor who had recommended discharge. Yes, the second doctor agreed with his colleague that the patient should be discharged and referred to a psychiatrist for ‘treatment’.

Again, discharge was declined with another, more assertive demand that a spinal specialist visit and examine the patient…or else the Trust’s CEO would be approached with this demand. 4 hours later, a spinal specialist attended, examined the patient, recommended a specific spinal scan (2 scans of some kind had already been undertaken with apparently no indication of spinal damage). Within 6 hours of this spinal specialist recommending the specific scan, the results were received. The result?

The scan had identified that the patient’s spine had experienced 4 vertebrae that had begun to crumble. Fragments of the spinal bone was now resting on the patient’s spinal chord. This is the reason that morphine was not able to ease or remove the ACTUAL pain the patient had been and continued to experience. What happened next?

The two doctors who had supposedly diagnosed a psychiatric issue were nowhere to be found after this finding. No apology was received and no accountability was taken. The patient was transferred to Leeds Infirmary to undergo what was to be a gruelling 9 hours of spinal surgery which ultimately saved his life, and took 6 months for the patient to recover from. An apparent ‘superbug’ had infected the patient and he would need to take medication for the remainder of his life to reduce the risk of it returning – as it couldnt be eradicated completely.

Move on 11 years…

Once again, senior members of medical staff including the patient’s GP, who has access to the patient’s full medical history, and hospital medical practitioners who also have access to the patient’s full medical history, have done it again. Misdiagnosed, refused to release their ego’s from their ‘expert opinions’ that the patient is worth listening to.

Once again, the superbug has returned and is eating away at his body with great appetite. His GP gave the patient painkillers. They didn’t work. The hospital referred the patient back to his GP, with painkillers, and no medical professional has taken responsibility for their trusting patient’s welfare of health.

Even when the patient was taken to hospital by Ambulance, and placed in a wheelchair as he was unable to stand, and unable to straighten his spine due to the searing pain which had returned, asking a nurse for the use of a ‘seat belt’ of some kind to secure him in wheelchair is met with “We can’t allow you to use restraints with a patient as that is a breach of their human rights.”

OK, what has this got to do with anything? Quite a lot actually.

The doctor who then undertakes the initial patient assessment then feels it appropriate and helpful to ask the somewhat delirious patient “So, how many of these holes in your arms have you done yourself then?” What a condescending, inappropriate and ego driven question. A question that best serves the ‘expert’ than the patient perhaps? My response of “None of them actually doctor. Your colleagues did them” caused the doctor some discomfort as his comment of “Oh I was only asking” was partnered with a blushing face and look of fear on his face.

  • Experts are often deemed as the font of all knowledge. Really, they are not. Their decisions can be as fundamentally flawed as the rest of us.
  • Compliance with an authority figure is dangerous. Failing to ask prudent questions, and challenge generalisations, and opinions – which can appear as ‘facts’ can cause personal and collective damage which cannot be recovered from,
  • Unconscious Bias and even prejudice exists. People judge people, situations and encounters, and that’s understandable. When though these actions risk a human being losing their life, a family losing a loved one, personal ownership of decisions, recommendations and actions deserves to be taken.
  • The patient is my brother, Stuart. He is currently fighting for his life and is likely to be a hospital resident for at least 3 months. His superbug has also cause a hole in his esophagus to be created. Nil by mouth, not even drinking water. Just sucking lollies dipped in water.

When will be the right time to hold the NHS and its Officers accountable for the fundamentally flawed decisions they make, which cause harm, and hold them to a higher standard? Remember, a ‘medical opinion’ may be completely different to a ‘medical fact’

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Why Do Organisations Need Emotionally Intelligent Managers?
  • Often Managers are promoted to this role not because s/he has demonstrated any competence, desire or willingness to achieve results through others, but because s/he has excelled in a completely different, unrelated role. This well-intentioned, but fundamentally flawed approach to recruitment and appointment, can leave new managers with a significant level of uncertainty about what to do, how to do it, and how to stay out of the boss’s bad books, alongside the initial excitement of securing the role, and possible promotion and the benefits this brings them.
  • Many Managers tell me that they believe that they are expected to always know the answer to the issues which arise; always expected to know how to deal with the individual who is not performing to the required standard, and deal with conflict between colleagues within their teams. Often, they don’t know how to do any of this, apart from how they ‘think’ would be best. This can lead to isolation and a fear that if s/he initiates a dialogue about addressing an issue, it is likely to make the situation worse, so nothing gets said. Then nothing changes! Understanding the need for and value of effective, flexible and indeed assertive communication is vital if a Manager is to become not just confident, but competent in dealing with the inevitable bumps which are likely to arise throughout their career, and within their teams.
  • Managing Upwards and developing a genuinely trusting, collaborative and value-focused relationship with their own boss continues to be one of the biggest challenges Managers tell me they face. “How do I please the boss?” is partnered with “How do I avoid annoying my boss?” thinking. This thinking is based on the human brain’s desire to avoid pain. To survive! But it’s not a healthy place for a relationship to remain. Clarifying at the outset, boundaries, standards, expectations and perhaps even personal values can be a brilliant way for a Manager, and their own Line Manager to establish how the relationship will develop, be nourished, and focused on delivering genuine value, rather than simply completing tasks and keeping those ‘plates spinning’.

To find out more about Emotional Intelligence Training Courses for Managers, please click here to be taken to my Training Seminars page.

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Emotional Intelligence Coaching exploration in London this morning with a group of senior executives at a global consultancy.

Wonderful sights, a great group and the sun is shining. Is it Friday already?

Emotional Intelligence, when effectively and consistently applied can not only enable leaders, managers and teams to perform more effectively, but consultants too. Working from an external perspective, developing high trust relationships with clients, boundaries and permissions within working relationships is so important. It is easy for an external consultant to be deemed as ‘The Police’ or be treated with suspicion by client employees – at any level. Such suspicion and resistance can be pretty quickly and relatively easily reduced or indeed removed, when the external consultant/s demonstrate a healthy, balanced level of Emotional Intelligence.

To find out more about how EQ can enable your leaders to deliver even more value, and enjoy the journey more too, pop me a message using the Contact Form.

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If you haven’t encountered it already in your career, you will do at some point…I promise you.

There will be times when your personal values will take priority over ‘being right’ or ‘proving him/her wrong’, and you’ll speak transparently in a timely manner, and ultimately, do the right thing. Not the right thing just for you, but for the wider community – and by community, I mean your organisation, the people within it, and even (especially) for those folk you don’t particularly care for, want to be around, but have to!

Watch this short clip and observe the wonderful integrity demonstrated by tennis player Jack Sock in his game with Lleyton Hewitt. It’s a real trust building demonstration that perhaps you might want to remember for when you have a dilemma about ‘being right’ or ‘doing the right thing’.

Take a look at the Leadership Development training programmes available through Mr Emotional Intelligence by clicking here.

Jack Sock's brilliant bit of sportsmanship - YouTube
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Below are a number of language patterns for you to review and implement where you feel appropriate. The statements and questions are designed to gather information, boost understanding, clarity, and use a healthy dose of empathy too so the person you are asking the question doesn’t feel interrogated.

Remember, asking a question is often more effective, and better received than a demand, command, instruction or, apparent suggestion/recommendation. You can’t just ask questions all the time, these questions though can soften the dialogue, promote personal ownership, boost collaboration and develop more positive outcomes, often with fewer bumps along the way. Your empathy will be boosted and your may also reduce the emotional dependency/reliance some clients may have on you.

Gathering Information…

I’d like to understand your thoughts on this.

You believe this to be the best decision because….?

Just so I’m clear in my own mind, please will you just clarify for me….why/how/when…?

May I check that I’ve fully understood your point/recommendation/concern? (Repeat back to them) then ask ‘Is there anything I missed or have I understood you correctly?’

It might be useful if…/Might it be useful if…?

What’s the most important value I can bring to this meeting today?….Why is this most important to you?

Is there an alternative option/solution that we may not have identified yet?

What is your most important outcome from this meeting/project/consultation?

What specific information would it be valuable for me to share with you?

May I check what you mean when you say (…….)?

May I just check my understanding of……with you just so I can guide you accurately?

Just so I have it clear in my own mind, may I check with you…what’s your outcome here? What do you want to avoid happening if possible?

May I just ask…

REMEMBER, gather information ahead of proposing a way forward, and ask a clarifying question at the end such as …what are your thoughts?

Even if these pointers feel a little alien at present, give them a try at the appropriate time and see how your dialogue changes, and changes positively.

For details of the Emotional Intelligence training courses offered by Mr Emotional Intelligence please click this link

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Managing a poor performer is one of the most frustrating, draining and time consuming activity you as a manager will need to deal with.  If you have already had to deal with a poor performance issue, you’ll already know how challenging it can be, time wise and emotionally.

Poor performance can occur for many reasons; some of the most common reasons including:-

The individual is not capable or technically competent at a task, so cannot perform to the required standard.

The good news is, you can work with this, on the job coaching and peer to peer coaching is a fantastic way to help a team member improve their competence and reach the required standard, quickly and with low time investment.

The individual is not willing to perform to the required standard, however much you attempt to support, coaching and manage him or her will not help purely because s/he won’t accept it.

The bad news is, in this instance, your energy, focus, time and motivation are tested to the limit.  Other team members who perhaps deserve your attention, coaching and support may tend to not get it, purely because, alongside you having to deliver multiple projects to ridiculously tight deadlines, the ‘poor performer’ is getting the attention.

The Challenge

If a team members is flat out refusing to perform, rather than not being able to perform, how should you address the issue?  When is enough, really enough?  When should your HR Manager (if your organisation has one) get involved?  How do you minimise the potential for a tough talk becoming a stand-off, or full blown battle of personalities?  Here are a few thoughts from what we have repeatedly witnessed working in client organisations.

Firstly, explore whether the challenge is ‘can’t do’ or ‘won’t do’.  Understanding which of these applies is your first step to understanding whether structured coaching support is required and helpful, or whether the issue is more one of attitude.

For ‘can’t do’, discuss and agree what specific coaching on which specific task, skill or competence is required.  Step out of your own shoes as an under pressure manager, step in to your team member’s shoes and design your support to equip your colleague with tools they need, rather than just what you think they need.

For ‘won’t do’, follow Steven Covey’s recommendation by ‘Seeking first to understand, and then be understood’.  However emotive the ‘won’t do’ issue may be, however unacceptable the individual’s behaviour and attitude may be, manage your focus and ask ‘Just so I can understand your reason/s for not wanting to perform to the standard the organisation expects of you, please will you write them down and then share them with me?’  Why is this approach so effective?  Firstly, you may receive some feedback you normally wouldn’t have; this may include feedback about you, your personal impact, management style or communication approach which your team member doesn’t welcome or appreciate.  This is valuable feedback…if it isn’t given in an ‘attack’ mindset.

Secondly, when you ask your colleague to write down their reason/s for under performing, this creates emotional pressure to actually commit in ink, information it would be rather difficult for him or her to withdraw at any point in the future.  Remember, your role and intention is not to undermine or catch out your colleague, but to understand his or her reason/s for not performing as they trusted to do, and implement a practical and worthwhile improvement plan.

Know when to involve your HR team and line manager.  In most cases of ‘won’t do’, it is best to involve HR and line manager earlier rather than later in the process.  Even if involving them is just to help them understand an issue which requires and deserves resolving exists. Don’t for a moment believe that resolving the issue on your own is the best thing to do with the ‘I’m the manager…I’ll resolve it’ attitude.

Such commendable commitments have fallen foul of hr policy and legislation in the past – and you really don’t want to be on that list!  Instead, check your HR policy and procedures and be guided by them.  Doing the process correctly may take a little time, but don’t rush the process; instead, let the process take its course.

Ask your ‘won’t do’ and ‘can’t do’ colleagues, ‘If there were two things I could do to support you to improve your effectiveness, what would they be?’  This authentic, somewhat surprising question begins to focus their brain on solutions, collaboration and, transparent dialogue.  When you have asked the question, just be quiet, and listen.  Don’t feel the need or urge to cover any awkward silence from your colleague.  S/he may just be thinking and reflecting.  When answers and solutions do begin to appear, collaborate to agree a course of action, and share responsibility for turning around the current level of performance.

Yes, this is all easier said than done..But it can be done!  And you’ll be able to focus more on doing the few things that really matter, rather than the many things that don’t.

For Management Training courses take a look at the page in the link .

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Kathy, an under pressure contact centre manager with extremely high standards for herself and expectations of her team to match, was growing increasingly frustrated with one member of her team, Julie.

Kathy believed Julie wasn’t committed to her job, not interested in achieving targets and was taking far too long to complete incoming customer calls. Kathy’s call duration was twice that of the ‘average’ team member.

Having sought guidance from her Human Resources Manager on how to deal with and resolve her colleague’s performance issue, at 4pm one Friday afternoon, Kathy approached Julie as she signed off her phone for a coffee break and called Julie to an unscheduled one to one meeting. Julie, immediately concerned as to why this meeting had been sprung on her without prior notice or warning, sat nervously and listened to her manager assertively communicate the company’s performance management policy….from the staff manual. Indeed, Kathy presented Julie with her very own personal copy so she could review the contents of the document for herself over the weekend.

Data, Data (and more) Data

Next came the presentation of Julie’s performance statistics on a very colourful A3 size bar chart. Amongst the green and amber, can you guess which colour Kathy used to demonstrate the seriousness of the Julie’s performance issue to her? RED! BIG BOLD, DEEP RED! To strengthen her argument, Kathy took the opportunity to circle performance statistics on the charts which fell below minimum company expectations.

A full fifteen minutes in to this unscheduled, unplanned and perhaps even, unfair meeting, the communication was purely one way traffic. Kathy wasn’t communicating with Julie, she was talking at her. As Kathy quoted company policy, performance management procedures and openly shared her frustration and anger, Julie sat quietly, motionless, with a quiet, calm stare through barely blinking eyes. It appeared Julie had resigned herself to this kind of meeting taking place at some point, even though she had dreaded this moment occurring.

The Loaded Question…Fail!

Then, after taking a deep breath and exhaling deeply and loudly, Kathy asked the question. “What stops you from performing as you’re expected to and as the company pays you to?” A heavily loaded question to which Julie politely, yet assertively responded, “Kathy, when you recruited me you said I would complete a comprehensive induction course to ensure I understood the processes, systems and standards of the job. Have I completed this comprehensive induction course Kathy?” Fear instantly darted across Kathy’s face as the realisation that she had promised a lot, but delivered very little in terms of support for Julie.

Continuing without a response from Kathy, at least a vocal response, Julie, growing in confidence said “You told me I would have a mentor to help me solve problems and become more confident with dealing with customers. Has this mentor been appointed, because I have never met him or her?“

The Excuse Survival Technique

Kathy, now being swallowed up in a deep reservoir of panic responded with an attack. “If I have overlooked anything or not supported you as YOU wanted…it’s because my schedule is so busy and that….” Julie, not willing to be diverted from her point interjected “And the one to one coaching sessions YOU PROMISED ME, and that I keep asking you for, where are they Kathy?”

The Storm Clouds Begin To Part

The somewhat eventful, but rather unproductive ‘performance management’ meeting was concluded shortly after this final question from Julie as Kathy burst in to tears and shuttled off to the toilet to compose herself. The fact that Kathy was the enabler of poor performance had never crossed her mind. But now it had – it changed everything!

The following week, Kathy and Julie met once again, but this time it was a scheduled and well organised meeting. Over the weekend, Kathy had reflected on how she had contributed to Julie’s level of performance. She realised that she hadn’t been an ‘enabler’ of good performance; her preferred ways of thinking, communicating and managing had resulted in her becoming a ‘disabler’. Thankfully, Julie did begin to receive structured support, as did every other member of Kathy’s team.

Wouldn’t It Be Wonderful If…

Wouldn’t it be wonderful if I could share with you that Kathy went on to be a super fantastic manager? Well, she kind of did! She explored how to develop emotional intelligence competencies including self awareness and self management and authentic empathy.

Alongside her technical competence, she regularly invited her team members to speak their truth to her. ‘Sugar coating’ bad news and withholding truth is a problem which continues to strangle the life out of organisations, but, Kathy realised how much valuable feedback she just wasn’t receiving simply because her team members thought she would either not listen, completely ignore, or simply reject their comments.

Performance during the next 90 days soared to new heights. Kathy was awarded a more senior management role (taking on a supposedly ‘disengaged group’), whilst Julie was offered a team leader role, but chose to decline the offer as it would take her away from what she loved doing – helping customers.

The Lessons?

  • Performance management is beneficial when done up the management ladder rather than solely downwards.  Invite authentic feedback on how you are doing and what you could do even better, from people you trust to be candid with you.
  • When commitments of support are made to employees, but then not delivered, don’t be shocked if they don’t perform at or near their best for you.  You are part of the problem; become part of the solution.
  • Appointing people to management roles purely or largely because they were good technicians in a non management role is as ridiculous and delusional as trying to win the National Lottery without buying a ticket.  Commit to learning the ‘softer’ side of people management and you’ll soon notice a positive difference.

Does your organisation promote a performance management approach that engages, equips and enables employees at all levels to achieve such a positive outcome as Kathy and Julie did? Or do you prefer to simply send managers on a meaningless performance management training course which simply doesn’t address the key underlying issues?

*The details above are factual however, names of parties involved have been changed. Permission to publish this article was obtained from the parties involved and the employer.

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Due to demand, a EQ-i 2.0/EQ 360 Certification training course is being planned for Central London in November 2019.

If you would like to find out more about becoming a Certified Practitioner of the EQ-i 2.0 and EQ 360 psychometric assessments, and the value you can deliver for your trusting clients or colleagues, please take a look at the page in this link.

Group size is to be limited to just 10 participants so everyone can enjoy lots of personal coaching support from me throughout the certification training. If you would like to find out more, why not complete the contact form and a member of my team will be happy to assist you.

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Fancy a team development event that doesn’t take all day, doesn’t involves rafts, ropes or firewalks, but delivers a worthwhile message, practical tools and engages and energises your teams?

3 hours is all you and your team needs to learn something worthwhile, be open to, and commit to more effective, healthier ways of working, communicating & collaborating, and deliver even more value for your organisation too. Take a look at the Summit site for more details.

You can of course enjoy a full day team building event, indoor or outdoor, and this is more of an immersive, intellectually challenging event which has layers of learning which can enable lasting positive change in the workplace.

Do feel free to get in touch if you would like to explore a team building event for your organisation.

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Lots continues to be written and broadcast about the apparent gender pay gap and how women have been discriminated against in terms of fairness of salary and benefits packages. BBC journalist Carrie Gracie’s resignation from a senior post in protest that a male colleague was enjoying a more favourable package really brought the gender pay gap and equality to the fore. But here is a case study which was covered by the BBC recently.

130 professors of science were asked to assist in reviewing and evaluating a cv.  All had the same information, same profile.  They all had the same information – except for the name. One half received a cv in the name of John, the other half, the name on the cv was Jennifer.

They were asked to rate the candidates competence and to recommend a starting salary.

On a Scale of 7, John was evaluated 4 in terms of his competence.

Jennifer was rated 3.

For starting salary, John was recommended a salary of $30,500

Jennifer was recommended $26,500

Remember, the individuals evaluating the cv’s were intelligent people, senior people, they had lots of experience and they would all no doubt espouse the need for and value of fairness and inclusion.  But, there was such a marked difference in their decision making, purely on the name on the cv, the gender of the applicant.  In this experiment there was no difference in decision from male and female professors.

Think of it this way. We might be biased against the people we think are biased!

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