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Business Coaching

Grants and Funding for Business Coaching

Business West, an organisation that supports Businesses in the South West is offering government support for businesses to thrive. They believe that business coaching is an essential part of  ensuring this happens.  They state:

There’s strong evidence that good coaching can accelerate business growth.

A survey carried out by Manchester Inc. found the average return on investment to be almost six times the cost of coaching, and a report from the Personal Management Association showed that productivity increased by 86% when training was combined with coaching, compared to just 22% when training was carried out without a coach.

Lots of ideas but too busy to implement?

A busy CEO told me that she has a hundred ideas for growing the business, but never any time to implement them.  This is where working with a business coach comes in handy. It’s an opportunity to prioritise what you want to achieve, work out the obstacles in your way (time, procrastination, difficulty in delegating, lack of focus etc), find solutions for them and a plan for implementing your ideas.  The coach then holds you accountable to ensure that what you say you’ll do is done.  A sharp focus in maintained and you’ll find that you’re able to change the way you’ve been doing things and find new, more efficient ways, that will help your business grow and be more profitable. Many clients say that they come away feeling clearer and motivated to take action.

How do you access funding for a business coach?

I know what it’s like from experience of applying for funding and tenders.  You are busy enough, and the thought of taking time to write and fill in forms is enough to put you off.  With Business West, it is pretty simple.  They do most of the work and you come away with financial support to grow your business.You can find more about coaching grants here https://www.businesswest.co.uk/grow/business-grants

Questions about business coaching?

If you have any questions about working with a coach, just give me a ring on 07785 996917 or email me catrin mac@gmail.com

Change your limiting beliefs

Are your limiting beliefs holding you back?

On the simplest level, if you don’t feel generally satisfied, comfortable, strong about you and your place in the world, then it’s highly likely you will have some limiting beliefs holding you back.

Limiting beliefs can affect all aspects of your life. They can mean you don’t dare do what you really want to, that you think you don’t deserve that job, that opportunity, that you can’t possibly earn more, get what you want. You might think you don’t deserve to be heard. They affect the physical as well as the mental space, creating a feeling of general unease, a tightness in the chest, a queasiness or feeling of nervousness when you are facing a new experience or an opportunity. In short, they sabotage so much of what we could do.

Sound familiar?

If you have a belief that you are not good enough, then it’s no wonder that you don’t feel confident enough to “own your space” and stand confidently in every aspect of your life. When I say confident, I’m not meaning confident to jump up on stage and enjoy the spotlight (although wouldn’t that be OK?), I’m meaning more that quiet confidence that means you are comfortable in your own skin. That you don’t question and analyse what you said, how you did it, whether you said the right thing, whether people will be criticising you. It’s possible you often feel ‘not good enough’ and that you don’t have the right to speak out, hold your hand up, volunteer, disagree, move to the front of the queue, make things happen, put your point of view forward…
Does this ring any bells? Is this what your inner voice is saying much of the time?

Where do they come from?

Often they are as a result of the words of others. These words might not have been meant to land in a negative way, you may well have unconsciously interpreted them as such. It could be a parent telling you “you’re not the best at writing” when you were very little. You could carry this throughout your life, avoiding any opportunities to do anything that involves writing. You may even be perfectly good at writing and people around you now tell you so, but those negative words will drown out anything that you hear to the contrary.
They can also come from rules that we make up about the world. If you failed once to excel in the school running race, you may have created a rule that you can’t run. This could have become more generalised and become a rule that says “I can’t do anything that involves physical exercise”. If you believe this rule, it’s very likely that you will stay well away from anything that might help you stay fit. You may have heard someone mention your accent and you could have interpreted it as a criticism. It may follow that you feel self conscious about your accent and speaking up at meetings.

You can change it.

This inner voice is made up of limiting beliefs that you have built up over the years. Just as you have built up these negative beliefs that hold you back, you can build up positive beliefs that will allow you to move forward into a place of calm confidence. It just requires you to first notice the belief, challenge it and then switch it into a positive.

e.g
Notice it: “ My opinions are not worth hearing”.
Challenge: Ask yourself “says who?”
Switch: Ask yourself “what would be a more useful belief?”. It could be something like “My opinions are as valid as other people’s”. Adopt this as your new positive belief.

Remember NCS – Notices, challenge, switch

I feel very strongly about limiting beliefs as so many of us have them and live our whole lives with them holding us back without realising it. They can affect so many aspects of our lives in a negative way, making us feel less than successful, rarely living up to our potential. And this really doesn’t need to be the case.

Which limiting belief will you challenge first?

Actively seek out the good stuff

Hunt the good stuff

As a coach I work with many hard working, often ambitious people who want to be clear about what they want and how they’re going to get there. In a competitive world, entrepreneurs, leaders, heads of business know they must keep on going, persevere, never give up if they are to succeed.  When working over long periods in this way, it’s easy to get ‘stuck’ in a pattern of keeping their head down, focusing on the targets and being extra aware of obstacles or challenges that might get in the way of success.

This can be exhausting and create a mindset where they only notice the negatives in every situation.  What might go wrong? What if it doesn’t work? It could be better.  This treadmill of negatives, in turn has a negative effect on our state of mind.  Everything feels stressful, everything looks bleak.  Everything they do, no matter how good, will never be good enough.  It’s as if there’s an invisible whip that just keeps on pushing them forward, punishing them if they get anything wrong.  Often, this way of thinking also affects those around them, as they pick up on negatives and mistakes, rarely noticing things that have been done well or that should be celebrated. This mentality often spreads into their private life.

This is not a great way to live and work.

Hunt the good stuff

As a coach, I challenge clients on this negative treadmill to step off a moment and recalibrate.  It’s natural for humans to notice and remember negatives – we seem to be pre-programmed to do so (read about negativity bias here).

As soon as we become aware of our tendency, we can start to do something about it.  Making an effort to “Hunt the good stuff” (Martin Seligman writes about this in his book ‘Flourish’), can lift the mood and lighten the weight.  With practise (change is rarely easy), we can train our minds to actively search for positive aspects in situations.  This doesn’t mean we stop being dedicated to our project or business, it doesn’t mean we ‘take our eye off the ball’, or that we become naive or unaware of challenges, but it does mean we will find more pleasure in our work and life, as well as be easier to live and work with.

Simply put:

To begin with, it’s important to notice the tendency for seeing the bad stuff. Just notice these thoughts and let them go.

Every morning when you wake up or as you brush your teeth, and as you go to sleep in the evening, make an effort to think of 2 or 3 good things that will happen / have happened.  No matter how small, they are important.

Getting into this routine, will hopefully mean you start thinking of good stuff during the day. It might help to encourage others to do this, so that the “hunting the good stuff” idea spreads.

Start small and as you get the hang of it, let the good stuff take over. Clients find it transforms their thinking and makes everything a little more enjoyable.

Learning from your story

What can you learn from your story?

Considering our own story is invaluable when considering our own life, work and development.  In a presentation on mentoring and narrative, Professor Bob Garvey, introduced the quote below from film maker Krzysztof Kieslowski and it got me thinking;

Coaching your story

 

It got me thinking about why I was there, in that room, listening to Bob Garvey, Professor of Coaching and Mentoring at Sheffield Hallam University alongside other experienced coaches and mentors. It encouraged me to consider my commitment to furthering my learning and professional development and my interest in coaching in general. It opened up a host of mini stories that brought me to sit in that chair, each one equally valid in how it has shaped who I am today. Suddenly, I felt like I could see clearly the path that had brought me here, as if a spotlight had been positioned onto my past.  Focus seemed to centre on the aspects of my past that I had enjoyed, found interesting, motivating and above all influential in putting me on this road. I realised the benefit of these and how I would like to do more. We can all feel frustrated or self critical when we consider our past decisions, but by seeing it as a story, that you might read in a book or watch in a film, a new perspective often opens up as we realise that each is a sum of what we are today.

Passive or proactive?

 

All that we do leads us to where we are

This quote helped me stop for a moment and reflect.  It helped me consider what drives me and realise that all that we do leads us to where we are. We can be passive in this and just find ourselves somewhere, or we can be more proactive and actively do things that will take us to our desired outcome. Being passive is always an option and can work well for many.  Being conscious and clear about outcomes brings more purpose and increases the chances or us finding ourselves doing something we enjoy and find stimulating.  This is relevant for our personal lives as well as at work and business.

What next? You can influence this.

Being aware of what has brought you this far can inform you of what you’d like to happen next.  It might be more of the same, some changes or a complete transformation.  It’s so important to realise that you really can shape your next steps, but being clear about what you want and putting a plan together of how you’ll get there. It can be scary to think that you can shape your future – it’s a big responsibility and you’ll be able to blame no-one but yourself. It’s worth asking yourself what the alternative is and whether or not you’re happy with that.

What if

 

What would be the right chair, who would be the right people?

What if considering this quote, you realise you’re in the wrong chair, with the wrong people? It’s not an easy realisation. It could help to ask yourself what makes it wrong? What aspects can you change? What can you do? Is it just a bad day? Or do you want to make some changes? Ask yourself what would be the right chair and who would the right people be? What first steps might you take?

This quote is a great catalyst for some thinking and questioning.  Take a moment to consider what thoughts come up for you. It’s essential that we all realise that we do have some say in shaping our own futures.

Ask yourself if the story that has brought you here, can help you shape what happens next.

To discuss coaching, please get in touch: info@catrinmacdonnell.co.uk or phone 07785 996917.

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What’s really going on for them?

Finding out what’s behind the words

We make so many assumptions when it comes to communicating with others.  We have to, as we generally don’t have time to read between the lines.  This leads to snap decisions and judgements.  Much of the time, this is OK and no harm is done.  However, if we make a snap decision that someone doesn’t like us, or is moody or ungrateful , or whatever… it is very unlikely that we will change our minds on this.

On good days. we might give people the benefit of the doubt and won’t come to such a decision, but at stressful times (like Christmas!), we are so much more likely to jump to conclusions and misinterpret the words and behaviour of others, making assumptions quickly that may be detrimental to relationships (and our enjoyment).

Stressful situations don’t help….

Stress doesn’t bring out the best in us and if time is against us, we are loathe to find out what’s really going on for others. Too often, misunderstandings happen and nobody stops to find out the reasons behind a person’s behaviour. If someone is behaving badly, this is all that we see.  This is the story that we have about them. It happens far too often in the workplace. Someone might be behaving badly – their attitude, time keeping, performance etc and this might get as far as a disciplinary or actually being asked to leave. In some cases, fortunately, someone sits down and asks them what’s going on, only to find out that they’re experiencing some difficult circumstances at home that are causing them to behave like this.  Once support is offered and put in place, the behaviour changes.

Taking people at face value means that we only get to know a tiny part of them.  Have a look at the cartoon below and consider what’s going on.

coaching people

Two people are speaking to each other.  If they are moderately good listeners, they will hear what the other is saying.  Each will interpret the words in their own way (usually according to their own personal way of interpreting the world – see this article on “we see the world as we are not as it is”).  What they don’t hear is what is behind the other person’s words (illustrated in the large orange bubbles).  All their experience, thought processes, their own interpretation of the world and events, what happened to them that morning, what’s going on in their family, what drives them, what they value etc). If we can access this information, or just a small part of it, we would have a better understanding of what the other person is saying and would be in a better position to make fewer assumptions.

So what can we do?

  • Firstly, notice that you’re making assumptions about the other person. What effect is this having on your relationship?
  • Take a step back and consider what might be going on for them – here it’s difficult not to make assumptions, but imagine you are an innocent bystander, watching the conversation. Picture the cartoon and remember we only see a fraction of what is really going on.
  • Ask them some open questions to find out what’s behind the words.  Let go of your judgement (this can be easier said than done!).

Hopefully you will gain some insight into what is behind their words. At the very least, this new perspective will help you understand them a bit better and you might feel a better connection as you learn more about them and they see that you are genuinely interested.

This is a strategy that works well for many of the people I coach. It is definitely worth giving a go and I’d love to hear what you think.

 

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Listen better to improve relationships

As an executive and business coach, I work with a broad range of clients, be they part of a large organisation or agile, ambitious start up, and everything in between. I constantly reflect on what value I might add. I realise now that one of the most valued services I offer is that of genuine listening and hearing what clients say. It seems simple and perhaps even obvious, but the more people I come across, the more I realise how few people there are that do genuinely listen and hear what you say. This lack of attentiveness creates a host of misunderstandings, lack of engagement and breakdown in relationships even, that could, I believe be avoided if we all learned to better listen and hear what is being said.

Most people do not listen with the intent to understand; they listen with the intent to reply.  Stephen R Covey

When you genuinely listen to what someone has to say as opposed to waiting for a gap in conversation to get your point or response across, you will find that not only do you gain an insight into how they think, what drives them and what they want, but you will find that you can achieve a deeper level of communication and trust.

It is wiser to find out than to suppose.   Mark Twain

We make so many assumptions that can be damaging to business and relationships. So often, if we changed the way we communicate and listened to people in order to genuinely learn from them, we would make fewer assumptions and actually find out what is really going on. Imagine how much time this would save and how misunderstandings and conflict could be minimised.

Genuine listening builds better relationships

By not listening properly, we miss out on a great deal. We miss out on information to start with. We miss out on all sorts such as how people are feeling, what their mood is like, what their attitude is towards us, the business, others. These factors all enhance our knowledge of others and how we can better work and interact with them. By really listening, we can promote engagement and others feel that their words are worth something.

Make people feel valued

If we allow our own thoughts to elevate as others speak, we shouldn’t fool ourselves that they won’t pick up on this. Humans are very sensitive to how others behave and we all know what it’s like to speak to someone who is physically present but not hearing anything. Think of a time when this has happened to you. How did that make you feel? Perhaps you felt the other person showed a lack of respect, you may not have felt valued. It is highly likely that you went away thinking “well that was a waste of time, I’ll avoid approaching them again”. This sort of behaviour builds negativity and resentment which could potentially have been avoided.

What is your default when it comes to listening?

All behaviour change starts with actually realising where you are now. Then you can work out where you want to get to and how. What do you tend to do when in conversation?

Are you a broadcaster?You have an agenda, something to say and you want to get it out there and get on with it. How does the other person feel? Try considering things from their perspective and the benefits of a two way conversation.

Are you a mind racer?

Your focus is internal rather on the person speaking. How do they feel? What are you missing out on by not being present? How can you tame your thoughts and bring your attention to the speaker?

Are you a jumper to conclusions?

Do you listen to the first few sentences and then make up your mind regardless of what comes next? What sort of pattern will this create for you and your business? How can you let go of your assumptions?

Are you easily distracted?Whatever else is going on in the room or outside the window, that’s where your focus is. You might have your phone or laptop at hand and be glancing over at them. You leave conversations thinking you’ve heard it all, but will have missed so much. Ask yourself what you can do about this? Putting the device away would be a good start!

What can you do now?

Most of us can relate to some if not all of the above. Ask yourself what small change can you make to improve your listening. There will be something, no matter how small. None of us are perfect listeners all of the time. There are so many benefits to getting good at listening, why not start today and notice the positive changes that take place.

Did you know I run workshops on better listening? Get in touch to find out more.

Delegation – what gets in the way

What is it about delegation?

 


Delegation has so many benefits and is a vital part of effective working, so why do we have such trouble doing it?

I guess as humans we generally don’t like change. As your role or business changes, are you slow to adapt what you do? If your business has grown or you have been promoted, your role will become more strategic. You will be looking at planning for the future and working out how you will get there, as opposed to dealing with the day to day. But if you’re entrenched in the day to day, you will have little opportunity to stop and consider the future. The busier you get dealing with managing others and doing the day to day, the more difficult it will become to clearly set your direction. Work life balance goes out the window and it’s likely stress levels will mount. This is not the only disadvantage with failing to delegate. You might find it difficult to focus and productivity could fall.

Few people would think that this is a good way to work, so why do so many of us do it?

Why do we fail to delegate?

From coaching business leaders and senior people in organisations, the root of so many challenges is failure to delegate. But why don’t we delegate when the benefits are so clear?

Guilt

About asking others to do the things you are no longer doing. You want to be seen doing the day to day tasks so that the team feel you too get stuck in. But hang on, think back to when you had a manager – did you expect your manager to do everything? Or did it frustrate you when they didn’t delegate and insisted on getting involved in everything?

Fear of abandoning the team

“But if I don’t work with them, they will feel I have abandoned them.” So often the reasons why we do things is down to belief.  When I hear a statement like this, I ask if this statement is based on any evidence.  Most of the time, there is no reason to believe this.  If your team feels properly trained and supported, it is unlikely they will feel abandoned.

Fear of losing control

If you delegate, you won’t know exactly what’s going in every area of the business. It’s worth asking yourself  how much control you will have over the bigger picture and strategic aspects of the business if you don’t take time to focus. Which is more important for you to get involved in?

Belief it’s easier to do it yourself

In the short term, perhaps. It takes time to explain, to train, to ensure they’ve understood. But what happens in the longer term? Taking time in the short term to delegate will bring rewards in the longer term.

Lack of trust

Others wont do as good a job or won’t do it “like you do”. Ask yourself if this is true all the time? It is true that no-one else will do it exactly as you do.  But you may not actually be doing it effectively. Others may have better ideas of how to approach a task. Be open to how others work and see that you too can learn from them. It’s also important to ask yourself how it might feel for a team member to have a controlling boss? Will they feel trusted? If not, what sort of impact could this have?

Bad experience in the past

One difficult experience with a team member/ employee shapes all else. Have there been good experiences as well as bad? We tend to hold negative experiences in our minds for longer than good ones.  Try and shift the focus to the good experience. It might be helpful to ask yourself what you can learn from the bad experience and how you can move on.

Fear of not being needed

What will happen when you’ve delegated much of your work? Will you be a spare part? Will you go too far and delegate yourself out of a job? What is the true likelihood of this happening? Or is it more realistic to see that you will take on different responsibilities that are vital for your business or career development (as well as your sanity)?

Example

I was recently coaching the CEO of a charity. He was overwhelmed with work and stress. We started looking at why. He operated an “open door “ policy for staff which meant staff were free to walk into his office whenever they had a query or problem, or just for a chat. He did this because he wanted to be seen to be part of the team and be up for getting stuck in just like them.

I find it impossible to focus on the bigger more strategic tasks as I just don’t have the time and am constantly being interrupted.

He considered how he might reduce the interruptions.

I don’t want to discourage staff from sharing their problems with me, I want them to feel supported.

On further discussion, he came to realise that he feared not knowing every little detail of what was going on. There was a certain amount of fear of losing control.

To cut a long story short, he realised that this way of supporting others and getting so involved was affecting his work. He decided to speak to his staff and explain that he wanted to support them, but that he would make himself available for certain times of the day. He also discussed how some of the more experienced members of the team could be first points of contact if there were problems. He trialled this and found that staff were very happy to discuss problems with other members of the team before coming to him if something couldn’t be resolved (which was rare). The more experienced members of the team were actually pleased with the increased levels of trust he had shown in them. He found he was approached less frequently with queries and could focus on his own work, which reduced the stress levels considerably. He felt like his work was having more impact and this in turn helped him enjoy the work more.

Could you delegate more?

Ask yourself if you could delegate more? If the answer is yes, what can you start doing now that will set you in the right direction?

If you’d like to discuss coaching or delegation, please email me info@catrinmacdonnell.co.uk

Building Resilience Skills

 Resilience = the capacity to recover quickly from difficulties

When we face difficult situations, whether at home or at work, it’s useful to have a toolbox of strategies that we can turn to.  Resilience is something that we can get good at with practise, and by ensuring we use these tools regularly, we will notice that we can cope better when life throws a curveball.

Resilience skills are vital for building a sustainable workforce and business and  by learning tools to support you and your team, you can make an enormous difference.

Something for the  resilience toolbox

Reframing – how to do it.

Consider the problem or difficulty that you’re facing.

Put it into words – you might find it helps to write it down.

Imagine it as a picture with a frame around it.  The frame your have currently is one of problems, negativity, discomfort, worry even.

Now think about what other sort of frame it could have.

Can this problem be seen as an opportunity to learn? What will you learn as a result? If you feel this is a possibility, then you can change the frame to one of learning, opportunity, interest.  Now what does the problem look like?

Or perhaps the problem or difficulty could be seen from a different perspective. How might someone you rate or respect look at it? What would they say? Now you can imagine a new frame with their perspective around it.

What about replacing the negative frame with a positive one? How would that be? What would a positive you see in the picture?

By just shifting the way you look at or see a problem or challenge, you can transform your attitude.  As you get good at this, you will find that each problem becomes more manageable and you will find your resilience grows.

As a coach and trainer, I work with people to develop better resilience skills. I am a trained resilience practitionerGet in touch if you’d like to know more.

 

What would you do if you weren’t afraid?

How would things be different without fear?

If you woke up tomorrow morning and no longer experienced fear, what would your life be like?

This isn’t about getting rid of the fears that protect us, like those that fear pain if we jump from a high wall and other fears that are in place to protect us.  I’m talking about those unreasonable fears that hold us back from doing all sorts of things in life and at work.

We all experience these fears in different ways and to a different extent. Some people are fearful of any type of change to the status quo, others happily take risks in business but fear addressing certain challenges due to a fear of confrontation.

Most would agree that many of our fears are not very helpful and life could be better and easier if we managed to successfully address them.

What would you do?

Here’s a simple technique for addressing fears that might be holding you back.

Write down a list of things that come to mind when you ask yourself this.

It might be “ask for a pay rise”,”negotiate better hours”, “change jobs”, “start a business”, “go travelling” etc.

Let’s take “ask for a pay rise” as an example.

  • Ask yourself “why don’t I ask for a pay rise?”
  • List the reasons.
  • Next to each reason, write what your biggest supporter would say. Eg, next to “I hate asking for money”, your biggest supporter might say “you have been working hard and taking on additional responsibilities, if you don’t ask, they may not consider a pay rise.  It’s worth asking”.
  • It’s likely one of the reasons will be “I’m afraid they’ll say no“. What might your biggest supporter say to this? It could be that they would say “and what if they say no?”
  • What would your response be to that? You will have your own personal reaction to this, but it could be “I will feel humiliated” (ask yourself why?), “It will be embarrassing” (why?), “they will think I’m money grabbing” (really?).
  • Keep asking the questions until you find that the idea of being afraid of asking for a pay rise seems like a distant memory and your thinking has changed to thinking it’s something that is worth doing, even with the potential risks involved (feeling embarrassed, humiliated etc).

So often we avoid doing things as we fear rejection or failure. We just accept it as part of life.  What I’d like you to realise is that each fear can be challenged, and often many of these fears are not founded on anything more than beliefs developed over time.

Why not try this out? What would you do if you weren’t afraid?

 

 

Managing people

Strategies for managing people

The secret to getting better results out of others is about managing yourself better – and I realise this works in all aspects of life

A course participant left me this feedback recently after completing the “MANTRA – manage well” course.  It is such a perfect summary of what managing people is all about, that I now use it frequently to get across what we cover on the course.

Having coached so many people, from managers, business founders, directors and CEOs, one thing I heard more than anything was the frustration at the challenges they faced managing others. What I noticed over time, was that by working out how to best manage their own time, communication, workload and behaviour, they found managing others so much more straightforward.

This got me thinking that this knowledge needed to be shared, to make life easier (and more enjoyable) for others.  I gathered all the observations and learning I had from working with coaching clients and from my own experience of managing people, and designed a course which enables participants to be clear about what works for them and gain an awareness of how this can be used to successfully work with others.

There are many courses in delegation, time management, communication skills, planning, that are all helpful for honing management skills. But I saw that they just scratch the surface.  If the individual is feeling overwhelmed, stressed, unclear on aims, unable to prioritise, then no amount of time management tools will help.  It’s deeper than that, and yet simpler.

If we can find a way to be clear about what we want to achieve and be authentic and honest in delivering the message, priorities then become clear and engaging others to work with us less of a slog. If we can develop resilience and a positive mentality, the potentially stressful parts of managing become more manageable.

So before you look at how to manager others, ask yourself if there is any way you can improve the way you manage yourself.

Or ask about the “Mantra – managing well” course.

Managing others well - management training