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Confessions from the Coach – August 2022

It’s time for another “Confessions from the Coach” edition. I like to periodically recap hot topics bubbling up from my coaching experiences, discussions, and outcomes.

I don’t do this to break any levels of trust and confidence with my clients, but rather as a thematic public service to my audience. What I’ll share here are themes that have come up more than once lately. They cross industry boundaries, company size, and specialty.

In no particular order, let’s dive in.

The Quiet Quit

First, is the “Quiet Quit.” It’s a new part of the current job market. It’s closely related to what we used to call ‘quit and stay.’ This time it seems to have a twist. With the move to so many virtual meetings, online groups, and out-of-the-office relationships, it’s easier for people to look like they are working but not really doing so. If their motivation has waned and they are not yet ready to jump ship, they merely slow down or stop entirely. Yet they still show up to the office or online, whichever mode of connection you use. They will sound up to speed and engaged, but the work product suggests otherwise.

nurturing trust at work

The downside I see emerging from this problem is that we still have too many managers who don’t trust employees. While these older school bosses are being encouraged through coaching and training to be more open leaders, flexible with hours, perqs, etc. they still want to doubt. If they discover a quiet quitter, they are prone to say “See, I told you so.” This causes reversion to old-school beliefs.

Ironically the Boss’s insistence on having a heavy hand is the very reason the new workforce is wanting to quit in the first place. Some employees just aren’t confident enough to walk away, so they quietly quit.

Life in the Matrix

Many larger companies have evolved into matrixed management structures. There is a crisscrossing of duties and responsibilities often causing confusion and power struggles.

The main objection I hear about matrixed organizations is that information becomes the primary currency with which power is traded. It’s too easy for managers to withhold information pending an outcome they prefer.

Because there are blurred lines of authority, people stall, balk, and dodge commitments waiting on others to step up. It’s like a very large co-dependency relationship. Those who enable behavior good or bad can interrupt efficiency, quality, and reliable execution. Those who need enablement generate inefficiency for the team.

The best fix I know about is the creation of clarity from the top. Every initiative, program, project, and focus requires high-quality communication, feedback, and ways to exchange inputs from the lower ranks.

Resilience and Burn-Out

Leaders still talk about the need for maintaining resilience to avoid burnout. Yet it is much easier said than done. Company-wide programs are good, but individual leaders need to set the tone and understanding about building a mindset for resilience within teams. Bosses need to model behavior.

As an example, if you don’t want your people working after 6:00 PM, then stop sending them emails after 6:00. Regardless of what you tell someone about “it can wait until tomorrow,” the normal employee will feel obligated to respond.

Above all, have open dialogues about the need for rest, recuperation, and recreation. People need the opportunity to recharge their batteries. Work should be a marathon with careful pacing, not one long sprint, running all-out all the time.

The Brave New World

Clearly, leaders at all levels struggle to decide what to do to manage a wide array of situations and circumstances. Your best bet is to find a guide. Recruit a mentor for yourself. Find someone with greater experience and wisdom about the world through which you are wandering.

coach

Hire a coach. Professional executive coaches bring far more than fancy programs or templates to the work. A good coach knows how to uncover the core issues you might be facing. Then with a carefully designed plan, you can work on specific leadership development ideas to level up your leadership effectiveness.

The business world changes daily. If you feel stuck, stalled, or uncertain about your next steps, talk to a coach.

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