Tuesday, January 17, 2017

The hug that made all the difference

Andre, a 48-year-old manager, head of operations of a large engineering and building company was referred to me for coaching to improve his interpersonal relationships at work. He was a good manager – delivery was on time, deadlines were met, projects handled well. Overcoming challenges typical in the industry was a big priority especially when it came to managing trade union relationships and staff.

His challenge which he wanted to work on in coaching was his relationship with his team. He felt it was good enough on a tactical level but they never went the extra mile, never took complete ownership of their work. They did as they were told and performed well but didn’t come up with their own solutions and ideas about how to deliver even better. He felt he wanted to take his team and his business unit to the next level.

The first time we met, he was stumped. He was doing the right things; his overall performance and ratings were good but he wanted more…

Within the first couple of sessions his story began to unfold. Through exploring more about who he is and what drives him, I noticed that he spoke with such pride and affection about his family. He told me he was particularly proud of a recent achievement of his daughter's in her first year of university. Naturally, I asked him how they celebrated her achievement and he said that he told her how happy and proud he is of her.

The conversation went something like this…

Me: Did you take her out for dinner?

Andre: No…

Me: Did you buy a small gift?

Andre: No…

Me: Did you hug her and tell how much you love her?

Andre: Mmmm… we’re not that kind of family

Me: You don’t hug her every day when she comes home from university?

Andre: Naaa…

Me (still on the same line of questioning…): Do you hug your wife every day?

Andre: I love my wife but we’re just not like that


Can you guess what his coaching assignment was?

"Hug your wife and kids every day until I see you again"

The next time we met, he had done his homework. He said it took some courage to change his mindset and he hugged his wife when he came home from work... every day. As he told me this, his smile lit up the room and something inside him just opened up in that moment.

That daily hug opened something in him that translated into a connection and a level of caring that was projected on to his team at work as well. From this conversation, we went on to design an approach to connect with his team more deeply. He found out what they care about so that the level of care could permeate into their work relationships, style and performance as well.

He now enjoys trust relationships with his team where the kindness and caring translates into openness, ownership and even higher levels of performance.

The daily hugs only happen at home (much to Andre’s relief, I didn’t give him homework to hug his team) but the impact is felt in his team.

If you want to uncover the secret in you to creating trust relationships at work that translate into ownership and high performance, my team is ready to help you figure it out.