Managers are like shoes



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In work, whether employed or as volunteers, we all experience The Boss.  We've grown up in families where we meet our first boss, then at school, clubs and in friendships.  Today i'm looking at the world of work, where as adults we have enjoyed good working relationships with bosses, however there are times we have  been 'over-managed' or even 'under-managed'.

I want to tell you about a training programme I was running for a manufacturing firm, which ran as 10 workshop on a monthly basis over a year.  This tale comes from the third year cohort of managers attending  the course.  By this point in the programme there was a good level of trust between the participants and us trainers.

On this particular morning we were  discussing Perception, Projection, Prejudice and Professionalism as part of the psychological resilience segment.  It was enlightening and challenging in equal measure;  part of a company wide drive to change management strategy and gain cross departmental buy in, moving away from an existing competitive silo management culture. Near the end of the morning session  I wanted to close the session and bring home these principles in a fun way  and so I introduced the concept of:

'If your boss was a shoe, what type of shoe would they be?'


The energy instantly rose in the group, they split into discussion groups, there was a buzz in the room. Much fun was had as people connected with their inner child, filling sheets of paper with descriptions and even drawing pictures  for effect. Hi

Here are a sample of the results :-

Most managers are like new work shoes, they are uncomfortable at first, but fit well once you get used to them..
Designer - perfect, it's love at first sight from the shop window, you want to have them, but that wears off  quickly when they begin to pinch
Trainers - they go the distance, especially for people in a hurry.
Wellington boots,  hidden away in a cupboard, but great when conditions are tough.
Tap dancing shoes - all noise and showy,  rarely useful after the drama
Flip flops - leisurely,  they come out when the sunshines, flimsy and cool.
Slippers - warm, comfy, soft and without support not suited for tough conditions.
 Doc Martens - functional, tough, no glitz.
My favourite shoes,  you wish You had bought several pairs . Then miss them when they're gone.Platforms - lofty and tall, a bit unstable on newbies disguise reality

Although, I didn't request it, they even identified shoe styles for different departments -

Sales were patent leather, shiny buckle - raised heel.
IT wear dusty Brogues.HR - Doc Martens
Engineers - Climbing boots or steel toe capped boots - (they do the graft and get their toes trodden on)
Social media, graphics & Marketting - trainers, flip flops, crocs, the latest fashion.
Admin - M & S flatties or lace ups - lower paid, very busy.Finance - well made expensive shoes, bought at the sales.

 

Admittedly there was some fun anticipated by introducing this metaphor to explore management styles.  It brought up the whole issue of stereotypes, projection and reception.  We all agreed that it's good to have a selection of styles to use appropriately, although a small group  insisted that one or two pairs were sufficient and some of the participants clearly had a shoe addiction.

Finally, they decided that the best bosses transitioned as the need arose between being a connector - engaging people, leader, coach, consultant - checking out and reviewing whilst objective enough to challenge others with dignity   Humility, understanding and integrity were highly valued attributes and not showing favouritism was a must               .

We broke for lunch and on their return to the training room , the walls were decorated with new posters entitled

 'If my boss was a shoe rack, what shoes would be on it?'


Prior to the course, I had asked each participant to decide whether or not they wanted anonymous feedback during the course.  If so, the were given  sealed envelopes to hand out to their subordinates,  colleagues and managers,  to complete  an anonymous pen picture of each participant - today was one of those feedback days.   No one was named or shamed in the process, but the energy dropped ... significantly.  However, as we carouselled around the room, reading the descriptions (which were very even handed and informative). most participants recognised themselves and some even liked what they read.  Some agreed to change their shoes for the appropriate need and a few said it was 'a load of cobblers!'

i am glad I removed the paper that was entitled "smelly"  that ones for another day.

The feedback we received from individuals proved a pivotal turning point (for the majority of participants) putting theory to practise and applying flexibility to their management styles.

I have received longer term feedback, showing that since developing the management & interpersonal skills cours 5 years ago now, internal communications and cross departmental up selling  has increased.  There is clear evidence of  buy in to the culture change.  There has been a rise in productivity and decreased absence and staff turn over.  This has been during a period of recession here in the UK.

Do you recognise your manager from these descriptions?  

How would you be described in terms o footwear?

Is it time to go shoe shopping, repair or recycle?

Please join the fun and reply by adding a description of your boss in footwear terms, photos & illustrations  are optional

 

Which Mr Man or Little Miss are you?                                            Part 1

    Are you familiar with the Mr Men story books? They were always a firm favourite in my house, I read them when I was younger and then joyously shared them with my children. In my coaching and development work I am often reminded of the archetypal Mr Men and Little Misses, by the way people present themselves and their situations.   I use NLP, Transactional Analysis, constelation and family systems approaches to inform my thinking.  On Thursday I met with a client I have been seeing for a while now, she runs a department in an insurance firm in the city.   During this appointment she described herself as “a proper Mr Worry”.  I asked her to tell me more about Mr Worry.  She expressed concern that her Mr Worry was clouding  her thinking and affecting her quality of life.  I would say that she presents as cautious, calm and composed.  So we  explorethe way Mr Worry thoughts invade her peace. She laughed and said she felt foolish but wanted to I've Mr Worry a voice and get this sorted, it was ruining her life, so she went for it! Here's what happened, Me and  'Mr Worry' had an interview that went like this… Me - What are you thinking? I'm nervous, exhausted and fed up Me- tell me about nervous, exhausted and fed up? It's a sunny day  everyone is having fun, not me. No, never me.... and I'm stuck in here when I should be doing time sheets and end of month accounts, plus I have a Board meeting this evening, I won't get home til late. Me - Where are you? I have a happy place…..but I only visit it occasionally. Me: Where do you spend most of your time? Oh, at work, sometimes with family or from time to time with friends, I'm usually sorting people out,  running late, worrying about everything and all things. Me: Just like the Mr Worry book, it says life is just one long worry for poor Mr Worry. Yes, it is it feels like forever, full of 'if onlys'. We pressed pause on Mr Worry, because we have an agreement, if I notice self limiting beliefs, we have agreed to reflect on them and offer a contract to address negative beliefs and seek change to  behaviour that is not healthy or unhelpful to her. Me- Would you like to explore some of the 'if only' thoughts  and do a reality check?                                                                                                                                            Voice my  'if only' thoughts?   Yeah, definitely. They are going round and round in my head, sometimes relentless.                                                                                                                                                       Me- When we give thoughts a voice, we can hear them from a different perspective.                                                                                                                                They get in the way of my happy place, it's hard to get back there.                                                                                            me - We can address that, so you can open  a doorway to Happy place that's just a step away? Yes, but you will think me foolish Me- I promise not to think of you as foolish. Ok then. Would you like to spend more time in happy-land? Yes! Me- Is it a healthy, nourishing place? Yes Me: Well tell me whats getting in the way of you being there? And with that, this very smart executive woman, slumped forward in her chair, her brow furrowed and whilst chewing her thumb, began to describe a list of things that were weighing heavy on her mind. A long list of short deadlines, lack of time or capable helpers added to her stress. I was struck by the very high expectations she had of herself (and others) and I began to understand why she felt like Mr Worry.  She had very little free time to do happy and healthy activities. Mr Worry seemed to be robbing her of sleep, she's had a real desire for strong coffee and is eating biscuits by the packet. We looked at her crammed diary, completed in pencil to neatly erase or edit as necessary. There were crossings out,  she had been cancelling meet ups with friends and time for baking that relaxed her and generally having fun. She had several To Do lists, but in order to deal with her lists, she stayed late at work and was often the only one left in the office to lock up at night (she was the only employee who knew the cleaning staff by name). After a while of describing her worries, she let out a huge sigh, she felt she had told me everything about Mr Worry. Then she laughed and said how good it felt to get that stuff out in the open, acknowledging that she had seen Mr Worry ws her nemesis, her secret demon. But realised when talking she was being like an overly controlling parent to herself.  All work, no play. To me, it seemed that her Mr Worry had become a default behaviour, it was mental habit that served to keep her in check, such a taskmaster. The truth is that she was in control of her thinking, but hadn't recognised this.W We walked her timeline and tracked the worrying back to a break up with her boyfriend, at the time of a huge audit inspection at work.    The audit exposed successes, but highlighted the need for her to make many changes. Recalling this she said she felt exposed, shamed and let Dow.  If only she had worked harder.  Been a better girlfriend and kept in touch with friends.  Bingo! there it was.  Compounded by unrealistic work demands, the recession had taken  hold and she had to make key staff redundant.  It resulted in her working longer hours, which she realised filled the void of her lost relationship.  She said I have begun to believe I don't deserve to be happy. But that's crazy, everyone deserves to be happy.  I keep stuffing down my feelings and filling the space with worries. It keeps me busy, like running on a Worry treadmill. Walking forward on her time line she was walking towards fun - we mapped out holidays, activities and hanging out. The paces between the Worry treadmill and the happy places were strategies to reconnect with friends and cousins.  Join  a walking group and think about going to a retreat for a holiday. if you want to follow her journey,  meet the other characters we talked about, then join me for part 2 in my next blog

For fellow practitioners, Here are the models used in this session Models of Transactional Analysis used in this work- Drivers/working Styles Ego states Injunctions Script

Models of NLP Metaphors - I love using Milton Circles of excellence Meta model Anchors. Rapport building. reframing. nlp sub modalities. eye accessing cues. Perceptual Positions. Representational Systems.                                                                                                                                                   Timeline

        Part 2   she decided to book in later start times for work. She decided that this coming week she will walk to the office and ensure she takes lunch breaks and notices her use of time I asked her to reflect on which other Mr Man she could relate to. Well, at school I was called Little Miss Perfect. I wasn't in the least bit surprised. She thrived on attaining good grades, doing well at sports and was a mentor to other students. She was gutted not to be made Head Girl. Did you live in Happy-land? Some of the time, yes, but not all of the time, I was busy with home work, Girl Guide meetings and helping my mum around the house and with my younger siblings. If your parents were to give you a Mr Man title, what would it have been?   Little Miss Helpful So, it appeared that her internal Mr Worry had accomplices- Miss Perfect and Miss Helpful   Characteristics & blockers to happiness We made a list of characteristics of each blocker. It created quite a job description of musts, shoulda and oughts - here's a sample of them: Must get things right Must please others Must make important people happy Must say yes Should work hard - harder than others Should not complain Should take one for the team Should not need much sleep Ought not waste money on frivolity Ought to make senior role by age 30 - achieved it. Ought to have a partner - that's not happened yet. I was curious, why the gender of her Worry was a Mr and her helping and perfectionism Misses? Well, I guess my Mr Worry is always there, whispering in my ear What if… you haven't done this… they won't get it right… and if I ignore the thoughts, I can't sleep, get a headache and upset stomach. It's like he beats me up. I see him as a passive aggressive bully. The others are misses, because they are what I believe make girls “good girls” These are messages we absorb from parents, carers powerful figures as infants. We explored the current relevance of these beliefs now that she was an adult. Recognition stimulates actions On reflection, she was astounded by the demands she had been unconsciously placing on herself. It seemed to me that throughout her formative years she had thrived on recognition for what she did rather than who she was. She had strict parents, undemonstrative about ‘fluffy stuff’ like love and didn't spoil the children. So she grew up with little unconditional care and nurturing. Her dad's motto was “keep your eye on the prize”. Her mothers was “stop thinking about yourself and whinging, help me out”. She disclosed that her family were held in high regard in the community, if she was naughty or selfish, it could reflect badly on the family. So she was good and aimed for excellence and perfection. This wasn't an occasional effort, it became her raisin d’être, a mainstay, her constant and was now causing her stress and anxiety. It was her undoing, keeping her busy but lonely and robbing her of contentment and acceptance in herself and secretly, she felt competitive and critical of others.   An opportunity to trade I asked if she was open to considering other possibilities to being Little Miss Helpful, Perfect and Mr Worry? Yes Would you like to keep the healthy aspects of your 3 stooges and add some other healthier ones too? Yes please, but how? We looked at the list of Mr Men and she decided she wanted to enjoy all of her personality, recognising there was more of her that she held back as the newly named three stooges held centre stage. She planned to read the Mr amen collection and so whether alone or with friends, she was going to have fun connecting with and exploring her inner- Little Miss Happy/Sunshine Mr Silly Mr Grumpy Mr Nosey Mr Messy Mr Lazy Little Miss Princess And many more!   Create a life in colour not just black and white As a child, she too loved reading about the adventures of the colourful characters in Roger Hargreaves Mr Men books. She wanted more colour in her life and we talked about the rainbow of her life having all the colours, rather than just 3. To build her rainbow we created a list of questions to challenge her 3 core blockers to wellbeing and happiness, here are the questions and intentions she chose: How can I help me? How do I best show understanding of myself in this situation? What is the worse that could happen? Is this healthy? What if I fail? What if I succeed? Who will support this? What does this make possible? Will this decision make a difference in 6 months,2 years? What could I do to hinder this? What is my next step? When will I do this? What are the 3 most important next steps that will have the healthiest impact? What is my plan to stretch this area of my life? Will this draw me away from or towards my hopes? What will nourish me? Her new mantra is - explore and be curious….. For fellow practitioners, here are the models used in this session Models of Transactional Analysis used in this work- Drivers/working Styles Ego states Injunctions Script Models of NLP Metaphors - I love using Milton Circles of excellence Meta model Anchors. Rapport building. reframing. nlp sub modalities. eye accessing cues. Perceptual Positions. Representational Systems. Model of Mindfulness We created a picture of wellbeing and health with a guided imagery script   Ria@peoplebizz.co.uk

In work, whether employed or as volunteers, we all experience The Boss.  We've grown up in families where we meet our first boss, then at school, clubs and in friendships.  Today i'm looking at the world of work, where as adults we have enjoyed good working relationships with bosses, however there are times we have  been 'over-managed' or even 'under-managed'.

I want to tell you about a training programme I was running for a manufacturing firm, which ran as 10 workshop on a monthly basis over a year.  This tale comes from the third year cohort of managers attending  the course.  By this point in the programme there was a good level of trust between the participants and us trainers.

On this particular morning we were  discussing Perception, Projection, Prejudice and Professionalism as part of the psychological resilience segment.  It was enlightening and challenging in equal measure;  part of a company wide drive to change management strategy and gain cross departmental buy in, moving away from an existing competitive silo management culture. Near the end of the morning session  I wanted to close the session and bring home these principles in a fun way  and so I introduced the concept of:

'If your boss was a shoe, what type of shoe would they be?'

The energy instantly rose in the group, they split into discussion groups, there was a buzz in the room. Much fun was had as people connected with their inner child, filling sheets of paper with descriptions and even drawing pictures  for effect. Hi

IMG_9237

Here are a sample of the results :-

  • Most managers are like new work shoes, they are uncomfortable at first, but fit well once you get used to them..
  • Designer – perfect, it's love at first sight from the shop window, you want to have them, but that wears off  quickly when they begin to pinch
  • Trainers – they go the distance, especially for people in a hurry.
  • Wellington boots,  hidden away in a cupboard, but great when conditions are tough.
  • Tap dancing shoes – all noise and showy,  rarely useful after the drama
  • Flip flops – leisurely,  they come out when the sunshines, flimsy and cool.
  • Slippers – warm, comfy, soft and without support not suited for tough conditions.
  •  Doc Martens – functional, tough, no glitz.
  • My favourite shoes,  you wish You had bought several pairs . Then miss them when they're gone.
  • Platforms – lofty and tall, a bit unstable on newbies disguise reality

Although, I didn't request it, they even identified shoe styles for different departments –

  • Sales were patent leather, shiny buckle – raised heel.
  • IT wear dusty Brogues.
  • HR – Doc Martens
  • Engineers – Climbing boots or steel toe capped boots – (they do the graft and get their toes trodden on)
  • Social media, graphics & Marketting – trainers, flip flops, crocs, the latest fashion.
  • Admin – M & S flatties or lace ups – lower paid, very busy.
  • Finance – well made expensive shoes, bought at the sales.

 

IMG_9230Admittedly there was some fun anticipated by introducing this metaphor to explore management styles.  It brought up the whole issue of stereotypes, projection and reception.  We all agreed that it's good to have a selection of styles to use appropriately, although a small group  insisted that one or two pairs were sufficient and some of the participants clearly had a shoe addiction.

Finally, they decided that the best bosses transitioned as the need arose between being a connector – engaging people, leader, coach, consultant – checking out and reviewing whilst objective enough to challenge others with dignity   Humility, understanding and integrity were highly valued attributes and not showing favouritism was a must               .img_4694

We broke for lunch and on their return to the training room , the walls were decorated with new posters entitled

 'If my boss was a shoe rack, what shoes would be on it?'

Prior to the course, I had asked each participant to decide whether or not they wanted anonymous feedback during the course.  If so, the were given  sealed envelopes to hand out to their subordinates,  colleagues and managers,  to complete  an anonymous pen picture of each participant – today was one of those feedback days.   No one was named or shamed in the process, but the energy dropped … significantly.  However, as we carouselled around the room, reading the descriptions (which were very even handed and informative). most participants recognised themselves and some even liked what they read.  Some agreed to change their shoes for the appropriate need and a few said it was 'a load of cobblers!'

IMG_9235i am glad I removed the paper that was entitled "smelly"  that ones for another day.

The feedback we received from individuals proved a pivotal turning point (for the majority of participants) putting theory to practise and applying flexibility to their management styles.

I have received longer term feedback, showing that since developing the management & interpersonal skills cours 5 years ago now, internal communications and cross departmental up selling  has increased.  There is clear evidence of  buy in to the culture change.  There has been a rise in productivity and decreased absence and staff turn over.  This has been during a period of recession here in the UK.

Do you recognise your manager from these descriptions?  

How would you be described in terms o footwear?

Is it time to go shoe shopping, repair or recycle?

Please join the fun and reply by adding a description of your boss in footwear terms, photos & illustrations  are optional

 

Relaxation

How do you unwind and relax? Flop in front of the telly? Run a bath, nap or exercise.  My friend Ged does Tai Chi and has a massage regularly.  I use mindfulness techniques, which also help me manage pain following a car accident. I use this with clients sa a way to unlock and release pressure that over time becomes stress. Sometimes we can lose touch with ourselves so much that we don't even know we have done so, until suddenly we realise with a start that we have just been going through the motions, without really experiencing our lives. ...

 If you are a short of free time, workaholic or obsess, then mindfulness or relaxation will really help you, as will switching off electronic devices - I know, a big step, but in the meantime, exercise or talking with friends or loved ones would be a really kind gift to yourself, perhaps cheaper than gym membership too.

some people get into a kindred head space through gardening or being creative, what ever works for you, get in touch with it, don't put it off, because all your doing is moving yourself further down the 'You-Queue'.  You are important, give yourself a mini mindful holiday from the pressure and step outside of the pressure and annoyances, take some you time.

Here are some free web resources for you to try out are:

https://m.soundcloud.com/vidyamala-prue-burch/compassionate-breath

http://herohealthroom.com/2014/12/08/free-guided-meditation-resources/

http://www.dartmouth.edu/~healthed/relax/downloads.html

If you prefer to read- One minute mindfulness is a is a great book by Simon Parke, full of easy peasy reads it rests on my bedside table and has daily readings, just a short passage to reflect on tough the busy day.

Whatever is invading your peace and quiet, do something different today.