Thursday, 3 February 2011

'They'll never change'

That's the cry I hear from many coaching clients, when talking about their staff. I then hear a list of complaints about people who fail to comply with requests and instructions from their manager. 'It's hopeless. I'd like to sack the lot of them and form a new team.'

How do you communicate with them? I ask.

'Oh I email regular instructions and reminders, but they ignore them' is the common response.

No matter how intelligent or educated your audience, it's surprising how little people absorb from the written word. Facial expression and voice tone are missing, so it's easy to put a negative spin on the communication, especially when the relationship is weak.

Many of my clients work a few desks away or on the floor above their staff, so it's not difficult for them to get off their backsides to go and have a conversation with their colleagues. This gives them an opportunity to LISTEN to any problems or blocks to implementing the proposed change.

When the manager works in a distributed organisation with staff scattered across the country or several continents the task becomes more difficult.

UCU, the higher education trade union has followed the example of the Open University's Mr Bean and taken to Youtube to overcome this problem.

One minute 26 seconds of film enables union officials to convey much more than long letters or emails ever can. If they then read and respond to feedback posted by viewers, the relationship strengthens.

People can and will change if managers think about how best to influence them.

Facetime works, if used well.

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