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.

Discovering your Mission – a powerful and inspiring use of MindSonar

Clients often approach me wanting to find out what they could do to achieve a feeling of satisfaction with their life – a sense that they are doing what they are “supposed” to be doing. It’s a big ask! Until I trained as a MindSonar professional, it was also a tricky thing to work upon with clients and often took a lot of time to even get close to.

I was therefore very interested when I spotted in the MindSonar training course, the exercise entitled “Exploring Your Mission”. I have to admit I was also a little sceptical – it’s quite a claim for a single exercise.

I found the preparation work for the session very intriguing. It included questions about the things I’d enjoyed at various stages of my life and for three “heroes or heroines” of mine. It asked about the emotions and values I achieved from them.  I was intrigued by the questions, especially as several were of things I’d not considered before and so were very thought-provoking. By the end of the preparatory work I was asked to complete the following statements:

A metaphor for “I am a kind of ...”, “I am like a …

I believe in … 

My contribution to the larger whole is to …

I then completed my MindSonar® profile in the context of “Fulfilling my mission” and was ready and looking forward to the exercise itself.

The process of exploration, reflection and discovery that takes place within the exercise was fascinating. It provided an opportunity to discover far more about what the experiences, emotions and values identified in the prep work meant to me. I began to see how they fitted together to give an understanding of the commonalities in the seemingly disparate things I’d enjoyed at different stages in my life , and of the things and characters which I admired.

The discoveries I made about myself through this exercise, combined with my MindSonar profile, came together in an incredibly powerful way. I came to understand a lot more about situations in which I felt stuck and I identified ways in which I could change some aspects of both my business and personal activities to make them more fulfilling and less stagnant. I felt genuinely inspired and enabled to make really positive changes to my life.

I would recommend this exercise to anyone looking to improve their feelings of overall satisfaction or to discover their direction in life. As such it will be particularly useful for people who are at a crossroads in life such as career change, post-divorce or retirement.

If you’ve already done the MindSonar “Exploring Your Mission” exercise please share your experience of it in the comments section. If you haven’t and would like to, then get in touch with your local MindSonar professional to find out more and to arrange one – it’s definitely worth it!



Improving Motivation and Job Satisfaction – the importance of the Graves Drives

One valuable use of MindSonar is to identify a person’s motivators.  For example, this is important when designing recruitment and retention strategies for an organisation and for individual teams, and when coaching individuals who want to achieve a long-term goal which will take time and dedication.

In using MindSonar for these purposes it’s important to look at the Graves Drives within each profile.  These will tell you a lot about the values that matter most to the individual – the things that they need to get from the given context in order to feel fulfilled and motivated.  By looking at the Graves Drives of the individuals concerned, it usually becomes apparent that, even in the same context, different people have quite different values.

For example, in people considering changing jobs in a particular sector, I have seen some who prioritise the Graves Drives Powerand Competition, and others for whom Learning and Order are the priorities. Similar differences can exist even between members of the same team.

By knowing this and by being aware of the impact of not enabling individuals to obtain them (namely, dissatisfaction and demotivation) managers and coaches can develop a more tailored approach to motivation.  This could be by using different language when describing the opportunities available – emphasising those aspects which match what is important to the individual, or (for larger organisations) it could be about providing a more varied range of any optional benefits available to staff.

Without the information that is provided by the Graves Drives as identified by the MindSonar profile it is all too easy to fall back on the assumption that all people are motivated by the same things. Such an approach can lead to poor recruitment and retention results for companies, or to coaching clients becoming disenchanted with their progress towards major goals.

Of course, the whole profile should be taken into account as thinking styles are also an important consideration, but without an understanding of the individual’s values, much could be missed.

If you’ve done a MindSonar profile, have another look at your Graves drives and think about how they are influencing you in that context – could you improve your own motivation by taking them more into account?  If you haven’t done a profile yet, then why not contact a certified MindSonar Professional to arrange one – it could make all the difference to your success!

Organisational Thinking Styles in Recruitment and Practice – Sometimes a Contradiction

The culture of an organisation can be a major factor in the sort of people that are attracted to belong to it. This is true whatever the organisation – whether an employer, a club or an educational establishment. I was thinking about this recently after reminiscing about an incident that occurred at the senior school I attended. I attended a school which set out as its values the expectation and encouragement of high educational and personal achievements for every student. The school’s prospectus and other materials made it clear that it aimed to produce future leaders, business owners and other forward and independent thinkers. The governors and staff clearly wanted to attract pupils with ability, initiative, and creativity and who had the same aspirations and the potential to achieve them.

However, the school also had very strict policies on uniform, hair styles, jewellery and suchlike. Pupils who wore the wrong style of skirt, shirt or coat or who had an “extreme” hair style or wore jewellery to school would be reprimanded. The argument given by the school was that pupils needed to give a good impression of the school as a whole, and show both loyalty to and pride of being a part of it. They also expected the pupils (and their parents) to take their word for it that this would make a difference to the pupils’ success in life.

These policies resulted in frequent bouts of rebellion, sometimes supported by the parents. One such incident escalated to the point where coats were confiscated en masse, and many parents writing in to say that they had no intention of forcing their teenager to wear the dowdy prescribed coats. I can’t remember the formal outcome, but I do recall that many pupils continued to wear non-uniform coats generally with the compromise of getting a coat in the school colour.

Such group rebellions were generally small ones, and the overall academic achievement of the pupils remained high.

Thinking about this now in terms of thinking styles, I can see that such clashes were highly predictable. The school was deliberately attracting pupils from families which valued independent thinking and creativity, and so they and their children were likely to have a high level of Internally Referenced thinking and a high Internal Locus of Control. However, the school’s uniform rules were based on an expectation of high level of conformity, a concern about how others perceived the school as a whole, and a belief that they (the school) knew best about how the way a pupil dressed for school would impact on their eventual success. That required a high level of Externally Referencedthinking and an External Locus of Control. This mis-match made some clashes inevitable.

I see similar disjoints in many organisations. Some advertise for strongly independent innovators, creative thinkers and yet have a culture of conformity, especially around dress and appearance. This can result in the employees feeling constrained and restless – and is likely to impact upon performance and retention.

Interestingly, many years after I’d left the school I heard of a pupil whom had been sent by a class teacher to the (new) head teacher because of an “extreme” hairstyle. The head sent her back to the class and told the teacher that, if they wanted pupils who would go on to become leaders, they should encourage independent and creative thinking, not suppress it. What a change from when I was there!

I’d love to hear from anyone else who has seen this, or other contradictions in the thinking styles recruited and the ones best suited to the actual organisational culture. It’s certainly something to look out for when called in to discuss management issues with clients.

As always, please let me know your thoughts on this in the comments below.

MindSonar Benchmarks for Project Teams – I wish I’d known about Them!

In my previous role I was responsible for managing a major programme involving multiple project teams. Part of the programme management involved regular risk management and “lessons learned” meetings. During these meetings, representatives from each of the project teams would discuss any issues that had arisen since the last meeting, and what steps had been taken – or needed to be taken – in order to rectify the issue and prevent it happening again.

The aim of the meetings was to ensure that the systems and processes we had in place were adequate to minimise the risk of problems arising and to enable a rapid corrective response when needed. However, at times these meetings could become quite tense because there was a fine line to tread between good risk management and problem resolution on one side and the development of a blame culture on the other. This was clearer to some members than others. Some members would always want to attribute all problems to individuals, rather than to consider the more common situation of them arising from system weaknesses. Tthe result was that friction would arise between those individuals with a “name and shame” approach and other members of the programme board. This created risks to the programme itself as it could result in people being reluctant to raise issues when they spotted them in fear of being blamed.

As the manager of this programme I had to manage the situation and try to cultivate a systems approach in the individuals concerned, most of whom I had no direct line management of.

How helpful it would have been to have had MindSonar back then. I believe it would have been possible to construct a Benchmark Profile to help identify the members of each project team who would be best suited to be the risk management/lessons learnt representative. This Benchmark Profile could have been constructed in consultation with other project and programme managers to provide a narrated estimation (with consultation).

My first thoughts about this are that this benchmark profile might include the following:

Graves Drives: Ideals; Learning;

Meta Programmes:

High: Away From (for risk management); Past (for lessons learnt);Structure (for systems approach)

Low: People (to avoid blame approach)

There are likely to be others and different views which is why I would prefer a benchmark profile resulting from a narrated estimation with consultation.

It would be great to hear from other MindSonar Professionals about their thoughts on this – and about whether anyone has yet used the MindSonar tool in this context.

It would also be good to hear from project and programme managers who have found themselves in similar situations – they could find MindSonar particularly useful when allocating project roles to their team members.

What are your thoughts?  Use the comments box below to share your experiences and views on this.

MindSonar F5 Team Refresh Program – Great tool for Project Teams

Prior to becoming a coach and therapist I was a programme manager responsible for the development and delivery of a complex national programme. This involved coordinating people from teams of very diverse specialties: people who were mathematicians, IT developers, communication specialists and policy developers to name just a few.

On the whole, the programme team members got along well and all were really committed to delivery of the programme. Overall they shared the same end goal and vison for its delivery. However, disagreements and misunderstandings would often arise between different members, some which carried a real threat to the success of one or another area of the programme. More often than not, such problems were caused by the different approaches and priorities of the different areas of speciality. For example, the policy makers hated details and wanted to know that the overall concept was being developed well, whereas the mathematicians were focussed on accuracy and statistical significance. The quality controller was seen as a miserable person, seeing only faults and always raising problems and the communications person wanted simply the good news to communicate to our stakeholders.

If only I had known about MindSonar back then! It would have been a fabulous tool to use with the programme team to enable them to understand their differences better and so appreciate each other’s strengths and see their own blind spots. The Team Refresh programme would have been perfect for enabling each member to see that there was no single right way to approach our programme – that, in fact, it was the range of thinking styles that was the team’s strength.

Within a Team Refresh workshop each team member completes a MindSonar profile in the context of working in that team. Using these profiles, each team member gets the opportunity to discover the “superpowers” and blind spots of every team member (including themselves) and to consider how the different profiles might both cause them stress and be able to help them.

At the end of the workshop the team members have a greater understanding of themselves as well as of the other team members and have also learned how they can work together, complementing each other to the benefit of the programme that they are delivering. As a team they will be able to communicate much more effectively between themselves, and to other teams.

Equally importantly, the MindSonar workshop would demonstrate that in such projects all thinking styles are equally valid, and that each contributes in an important way. In the case of my project for example, the meta programmes Specific, Use and Information were vital for the mathematicians, whereas for those developing the overall policy the meta programmes General and Concept were needed. It was essential that the data quality control individual was operating Mismatching, whilst the communications team needed to be running a Matching meta programme to be able to tell our sector how well the programme was coming along.

Some of these understandings did evolve in my team, but only in a piecemeal way as and when an issue arose. Had I been able to undertake a MindSonar Team Refresh workshop early on in project I believe a lot of the misunderstandings and resulting conflict and delays would have been avoided.

If you lead or coach project teams with a variety of specialisms then do consider arranging for a MindSonar Professional to deliver a Team Refresh programme for your whole team. The improvement in the way the team work afterwards will make it a very worthwhile investment.