Working with new managers


Over the years, I’ve found that a common client problem that is brought to coaching is that of a newly-promoted manager struggling with a promotion from team member to team leader. The related changes to the relationship with members of their team, coupled with developing a leadership mentality often leaves them feeling stressed and insecure about whether or not they are performing their new role effectively.

Since training in MindSonar, it has become apparent to me that one of the underlying causes of the stress lies in the client’s manager not recognising my client’s need for feedback on their performance during the early stages of their new role.   The more senior managers are generally experienced leaders who are expected to take initiative and make decisions. Consequently, they tend to be predominantly Internally Referenced. This can result in them not recognising (or remembering) that new managers may be more Externally Referenced in the context of their new roles, requiring some feedback on how they are progressing.  This difference can lead to new managers being left to their own devices and feeling unsupported, as their managers believe that they’ll either cope or request support as and when needed.

Less often, new managers feel they are not trusted because they feel that their manager is micro-managing them and giving feedback far too often.  Such cases are less frequent, but can also arise from a disparity between the Internally/Externally Referenced Meta Programmes.

In larger organisations, formal structures may exist in which regular feedback meetings are undertaken, but these still operate on the assumption that all staff are running the same thinking patterns, which of course is not the case. The result is that some feel that such meetings are too infrequent (those who are highly Externally Referenced) and some feel that it is micro-management (those who are more Internally Referenced).  Many smaller businesses have no feedback procedures at all.

If middle and senior managers were to invest in MindSonar profiles for their direct reports, they could tailor their approach to individuals, giving more frequent feedback to those who prefer it (the Externally referenced individuals), and feedback on a “as needed” basis to those who do not (the Internally referenced individuals).  This would reduce the stress and insecurity felt by all members of the team, whether new to post or not. As a result, team members will feel more motivated and so develop within their roles more productively.

Of course, there are other Meta Programmes which are at play in such circumstances, especially around the changing context of moving from team member to team leader.  The MindSonar profiles will also enable more experienced managers to support their junior managers to handle those changes too.

If you are a middle or senior manager who would like to get the most from your junior managers, then contact your local MindSonar Professional to learn more about how MindSonar could enable you to get the best out of your team, and keep each team member motivated and less stressed.

If you’re a coach who works with managers at any level, then you’ll find becoming a MindSonar Professional a really worthwhile addition to your coaching toolkit, so do consider adding it as soon as you can.

Developing marketing messages – prevent this common pitfall…


Recently, after a discussion with some fellow business owners, I have been thinking about how businesses develop their branding and messaging – specifically the effectiveness of branding workshops.

It seems that many branding and business development exercises run for small businesses include workshops at which groups of business owners share information about their businesses, the services or products they offer and the future development they hope for. The group members then analyse and critique each other’s current materials and offer constructive comments for improvement.

On the surface, this seems to be a positive exercise, and participants often leave with new ideas and an action plan to put those ideas into practice. However, on looking more into the outcomes that people come away with, I now have some concerns about the final effectiveness. My reason for this is that, in my experience (as I’ve mentioned in previous blogs) business owners have a tendency for certain thinking styles over others. For example, I see a high level of Towards motivation in the self-employed, along with high scores for Internal Locus of Control.

It doesn’t surprise me therefore, that many of the suggestions that come out of these workshops is about making the branding and messages more focussed on the outcome that services provide (Towards), rather than on the problem they solve. Similarly, the wording suggestions are often amended in such a way as to emphasise the control the client will have (Internal Locus of Control). Of course, if your clients mainly comprise other business owners and similar people, that’s great. However, what if your clients are often people who have a high External Locus of Control, or have a predominantly Away From thinking pattern in the context of your product? Your communications could miss them completely.

It has been my personal experience that many types of business workshops, including (but not only) those on marketing, often involve working with like-minded individuals. I now wonder if they carry the risk of resulting in ineffective strategies for those businesses for which the client group are quite a different group of people than those attending the workshops.

Perhaps this is another area in which we can utilise MindSonar profiles – encouraging business owners to use focus groups of actual clients to understand more about what they want in order to decide to develop their messaging, products and services. Or maybe MindSonar could be used within the current groups to highlight similarities and then lead to consideration of whether, from what they tell you, your client group are similar or very different?

It’s certainly something to be aware of whenever we are creating and further developing our own businesses. I’d love to hear your experiences of this or similar situations, so please leave comments in the box below.



MindSonar – a good Tool for Coaching Artists

Previously, I’ve used MindSonar for business people and for individuals seeking coaching or therapy. Recently however, I’ve been thinking about the use of MindSonar for artists of various types. This arose out of my own personal experience. In the last couple of years I’ve developed hobbies in both art and jewellery making. As a result, I now know a number of incredibly creative people. As a person whose background is in science, this is quite a new experience for me and one which I’m enjoying learning from. As a MindSonar professional, I can’t help but notice how the different thinking styles of individual artists impact upon their work. For example, some artists produce works which are realistic representations of the subject, having focussed on the Specific details, whereas others produce representative works which are impressionistic or even abstract having focussed on the General appearance. Similarly, some spend a lot of time on the preparation and design before getting around to making a piece (Reactive). Others dive straight in and create as they go along (Proactive).

Such differences in the thinking styles they employ within the creative process can impact upon their success when they come to develop their work by using different media. I have encountered this myself when recently I decided to move from drawing with soft pastels (which can used to draw pictures quite quickly – ideal for those of us who are proactive) to using coloured pencils instead (which require more planning and the need to take a longer to build up layers of colours). Starting from my “pastel mindset” of Proactive, I initially found the switch frustrating. However, by changing my perspective and moving into a slightly more Reactive thought pattern, I began once more to enjoy the process.

The thinking style around creative work also impacts on the artist when they decide to advertise and sell their work. As a rule of thumb, artworks which arise from a Reactive and Specific approach take more time to create than those resulting from a Proactive, General approach. This then impacts on the artist’s pricing structure for their pieces.

The implications for MindSonar professionals is to consider how we might work with artists who are looking for coaching to help them develop either their art or their business. An artists who feels that they are not progressing as well as they want to could be helped to identify whether they would be helped by changing their balance of Specific to General in the context of their work: strengthening general if they are aiming to be more abstract, or their Specific if they wish to do more detailed, realistic works. If an artist spends so long planning and designing that they create only sporadically, they might benefit from strengthening their Proactive metaprogramme.

There will, of course, be other metaprogrammes at play in a person’s creativity and I’ll be looking out for them the more I spend time within the creative communities to which I now belong. In particular, I’m interested in those artists who have achieved a balance which enables them to be commercially viable whilst still doing the style of art they enjoy. If you coach creative people, or are an artist of any sort yourself, let me know which thinking styles you notice as you work. I think there’s real scope for MindSonar to be helpful in this area.

Two Meta Programmes that can be the Cause of Stress in Business Owners

In my work with self-employed clients, in various contexts connected with their work, I often see a profile which shows a very score for Internal Locus of Control. Sometimes so high that the corresponding value for External Locus of Control is just 1. This is commonly combined with a high score for Internally Referenced.

It isn’t surprising that these two Meta Programmes are high in people who have decided to go-it-alone and become self-employed. After all, to start a business and drive it forward requires someone wiling to take control and make judgement calls about a lot of things. However, those with extremely high scores often find themselves suffering from stress and feeling as if they are unable to cope with demands of their business. My experience is that this often occurs because of two limiting beliefs:

a) that they are responsible for everything – including things over which they can have no influence at all, and

b) that they should not to seek the support and advice of others who could help them with various aspects of their business, as they should know best themselves

These two beliefs result in high levels of stress as they worry about many things which are out of their control, and also spend a lot of time on information gathering and other tasks that could more helpfully be obtained from others or delegated.

The powerful thing about working with these clients with MindSonar is that it provides evidence for some of the thinking patterns underlying their problems, and enables coaching to be focussed on moving to a more helpful thinking style. Of course, as we look across their full profile, it becomes clear which other Meta Programmes are also adding to their current issues and they too can be addressed as needed.

Going through a client’s MindSonar profile with them gives them opportunity to reflect more objectively on their thinking and to explore how these two Meta Programmes, along with the rest of their profile impacts upon their experience as a self-employed individual.

As a coach I find the MindSonar profiling tool incredibly helpful in this context and am seeing the positive impact it has upon my clients. In particular, I’m finding that the contextual nature of MindSonar makes it easier for my clients to accept the results and so be open to change. I have not found this to be the case so much with other psychometric tools which can be perceived of labelling the client, and putting then “in a box” – something which many people reject, especially those who are highly Internally referenced.

What combinations of Meta Programmes are you finding in your clients that re causing commonly seen problems for them? Let me know in the comments box below.

Listening with Meta Programmes – the key to successful communications

How many times do you, or those around you, complain that people just don’t listen or that they ignore requests and instructions? It seems to be a common source of stress and conflict in the workplace and at home, and a problem in public places where signage about use and safety are needed. So often, messages just don’t get through to the intended recipient.

Most of the time, the blame for the miscommunication is placed on the ithe listener (or reader) and so little thought is given to the original communication itself. However, very often the problem would be resolved if the wording of that communication were changed. If the focus moved from wishful thinking about the audience suddenly changing their response, to ways in which the communicator could change their messaging so that it would be heard by more people, then perhaps success would be more likely. It is also an important thing to consider when producing marketing materials for anything from business services to health advice.

One way to do this is to review the communication for the Meta Programmes that are behind it and then consider versions which come from other Meta Programmes. Here are some examples that come to mind:

  • Please put your refuse in the correct recycling bins”. This comes from a Matching Meta Programme, so risks not being acknowledged by those with a strong Mis-matching thinking pattern. Simply adding something like : “Putting materials in the wrong bin prevents proper recycling” might address this.


  • If possible, avoid calling between 1 and 2 pm as this is our busiest time”. This will be heard more by those with an Away From thinking pattern than a Towards. Therefore adding “To receive a faster response, please call before 1pm or after 2pm” might reach more callers.


  • Contact us now to book your holiday” is very Proactive. Using the phrase “Call us to discuss how we can find the ideal holiday for you” will attract the Reactive thinkers.


  • Similarly “Call us now for information” might appeal more to those with an Internal Locus of Control, whereas “Call us now for advice” might attract those with a more External Locus of Control.


There are, of course, many other examples, and this exercise can be done with any communication. The more that is known about the audience for a communication, the more it can be refined. Understanding the Meta Programmes of the audience can make communications so much more effective.

I commonly came across these sorts of mis-communication when managing complex projects, particularly between the policy people (General, Activity) and the mathematicians (Specific, Information). Often it was as if these two groups spoke entirely different languages, so common were the mis-understandings.

This doesn’t mean that every sign and communication has to be written in a lengthy and multi-optional way, just that consideration of the audience is vital, particularly when miscommunication is occurring frequently.

Perhaps you’ve experienced this problem, or have observed it in your environment. I’d love to hear of examples and possible solutions – so let me know in the comments box please.

Money Mindset Problems in New Businesses

When working with clients who are on the brink of becoming freelance or self-employed in a services business, I often come across a particular mindset about money which is holding them back or which, if not addressed, will lead to them not being able to have a sustainable business.

This mindset is connected to how they perceive the value of their own time and skills, and prevents them from asking a fair price for their services, particularly for their time.

I’m finding that a MindSonar profile can really help such clients to identify which thinking patterns are at play in this situation.  The strength of MindSonar is its contextual nature, so it can be used to focus in on the problem area and the relevant thinking patterns.

In the clients in question, MindSonar helps identify how their thinking about charging for their services differs from their thinking around the other aspects of their new business.

For example, often a person who has decided to be self-employed might have a combination of the following Meta Programmes in the context of their business as a whole:

  • Internally Referenced
  • Internal Locus of Control
  • Proactive

However, when they consider pricing they move to the following combination:

  • Externally Referenced (“what will others think about these prices, when I’m only just starting out?”)
  • External Locus of Control (“I just can’t ask that much because the economy is not good, so no-one will be able to afford me”)
  • Reactive (“I keep thinking that there are some  businesses charging less, but I also think that I’m offering a better service, so maybe I can charge more…”).

Working with these clients to develop a realistic business model in which they charge the true value of their services usually involves some general coaching around self-worth, confidence, etc.  With MindSonar, it can also enable very targeted coaching on the relevant Meta Programmes.

Different clients might identify other Meta Programmes which are causing the problem, and I’m looking forward to uncovering which ones as I use MindSonar more in this context.

What are your experiences – have used MindSonar in this context yet? Perhaps you struggle with charging a fair price for your services.  If so, contact your local MindSonar Professional who will help you get your business in a healthier position.

Please let me know your thoughts on this in the comments section below.