Have you ever thought someone else was after your job?

Have you ever thought someone else was after your job? Well, you might be surprised.

Some interesting statistics [1] I read in this month’s CIPD magazine:

87% of people believe they could do their immediate superior’s job

53% say they wouldn’t take it if they were offered it

39% say they don’t know what it actually entails.

I’m not sure who were the targets of the questionnaire, but I think these figures raise some interesting points.

First, the people who believe they could do your job. Some will be right and some won’t, but a large part of your responsibility as their superior is to bring them on and help them to be the very best they can be. Have you checked through your targets and goals for the coming year to be sure that you’ve built that into your plans? And have you made sure that in their development and performance review or appraisal (you do do those, don’t you?) they can see a progression path ahead of them?

As to the ones who wouldn’t take your job if they were offered it – why do you suppose that is? Is it because they’re happy and fulfilled as they are, or is it because you project such stress or unhappiness or weariness that they wouldn’t want to be in your shoes? If you are unhappy or weary or stressed, are you getting the help and support you need from your superiors? And if you’re at the very top of the tree and the buck stops with you, do you have a peer support network or a coach to talk things through with?

Finally, the last figure. I recently retired from a senior management position and had made a very real and concentrated  effort to ensure that the person stepping into my shoes would be well prepared, would know what the role involved and would have at their disposal all the necessary resources to be successful. Despite my best efforts, my colleague was surprised at the breadth of things I had dealt with, so no, my efforts weren’t a complete success, but I’m confident that the work that both I and other senior colleagues put into succession planning are easing the transition.

Succession planning is fairly common in business, but not always so in higher education. If you had to be replaced tomorrow, how would your colleagues, department or business cope?

[1] source: www.protecting.co.uk

Power, presence and perceptions

A bit of pondering on an autumn afternoon off…
As we move up the ladder at work, whether we become lecturers or administrators or managers or other holders of senior positions, we change and grow and our knowledge increases and our experience broadens. Our skills and abilities stretch and our opinions become more robust. Our viewpoints change as we see the bigger picture. Maybe we have to become more focussed on strategy, perhaps appearing less caring about the smaller things – and I’d say that’s natural and is probably the only way those responsible for large organisations can function effectively. We may also dress differently – more formally perhaps – which changes the physical perception of our presence. Power always adds presence (I think because of the obligations that come with it), whether we recognise it or not.

But I’m willing to bet that inside, we feel the same as we always did. I was speaking to an elderly gentleman the other day and asked him if he felt any different having reached his eighty-fifth year. His response confirmed my own experience: he felt exactly the same as he had in his twenties – it was merely that his image reflected in the mirror in a morning was different.

The perceptions bit of this ramble though, is about how others perceive us. When you were promoted to a position of leadership amongst your colleagues, how did your attitude towards them change? And more to the point, how did their attitude to you alter? Like it or not, someone appointed to lead suddenly becomes ‘them’… ‘Management (TM)’. Suddenly we are no longer ‘us’ but have become ‘them’. No doubt you spent some time thinking about how you managed the transition and I’d be interested to hear your thoughts and experiences.

Of one thing I’m certain – the effect we, in our new positions, have on those with whom we were once ‘us’ is something we need to consider and take very seriously. We appear different and have a different ‘presence’ whether we know it or not. I’ll give you an illustration…
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What is coaching?

The Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) defines coaching as follows:

“Coaching targets high performance and improvement at work and usually focuses on specific skills and goals, although it may also have an impact on an individual’s personal attributes (such as social interaction or confidence). The process typically lasts for a relatively short period.

Although there is a lack of agreement among coaching professionals about precise definitions, the following are some generally agreed characteristics of coaching in organisations:

  • It is essentially a non-directive form of development, though this is not a hard and fast rule.
  • It focuses on improving performance and developing individuals’ skills.
  • Personal issues may be discussed but the emphasis is on performance at work.
  • Coaching activities have both organisational and individual goals.
  • It provides people with feedback on both their strengths and their weaknesses.
  • It is a skilled activity, which should be delivered by people who are trained to do so.”

The International Coaching Federation (ICF) define coaching as:

“an ongoing partnership that helps clients produce fulfilling results in their personal
and professional lives. Through the process of coaching, clients deepen their learning,
improve their performance, and enhance their quality of life …..in each meeting, the
client chooses the focus of conversation, while the coach listens and contributes
observations and questions. This interaction creates clarity and moves the client into
action. Coaching accelerates the client’s progress by providing greater focus and
awareness of choice. Coaching concentrates on where clients are today and what they
are willing to do to get to where they want to be tomorrow”

These are the contexts within which I offer coaching in HE.

Coaching is not about the past – it’s about the future.