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What’s not being said?

I’m not someone who absorbs every page of the paper and must watch at least two versions of the news, but I often take a quick look at the paper in the morning, get subjected to the radio when stuck in traffic, and then take in some of the news at night when I get home. If you are like me and you take in your daily dose of the country’s current affairs through a range of media you could be forgiven for wondering sometimes if you are being given all the information, or just the part that particular journalist/broadcaster/company wants to tell you.

I am often left wondering what isn’t being said. Whether it is because the topic is a ‘sacred cow’ and cannot be discussed, or doesn’t suit the political bias of the journalist, or it is not ‘sensational enough’ to be aired, it appears that we are asked to skim over the top of many of the issues of the day.  I often think that some of those issues would be better debated, discussed and dealt with in the open.

But am I just talking about topics of national interest, or could I be talking about your organisation? How open is your organisation to dealing with its ‘sacred cows’, its ‘biases’ and its issues?

We recently attended a conference to run a workshop on ‘how to develop a coaching and feedback culture’. We drew on our experience of working with clients delivering our coaching culture programme, our high performing teams programme and even those whom we’ve worked on in team coaching environments. Naturally in doing this we were able to engage with a range of people at the conference and talk to them about their organisation and the culture there. In many of those cases there was a strong feeling that the organisation would perform better if there was just a little more honesty between people, if real feedback was given, if there was a bit more courage to talk openly about the ‘hard topics’, managers were open to listening to opinions from their staff and a learning, growing mindset existed.

A few days later we were working with a group of managers that are taking their organisation through our high performing teams programme. During one of the discussion sessions the managers started talking about ‘blockers’ being put in the way of open discussion of ‘the way things are done’. Even that conversation stopped dead as a ‘blocker’ was thrown into it, and you could almost feel everyone drawing back from it.

In the coaching culture workshop I mentioned, we work through the issues leaders face in getting feedback and coaching happening as a routine part of their organisation’s business,and help managers co-create the possible solutions. We often find that, before we start the workshop,  many thought a coaching and feedback culture is delivered by a few days training in the tools of feedback and coaching and off their managers would go and make it happen.

It doesn’t work that way. If it was that easy to have a ‘courageous conversation’ I wouldn’t be talking about ‘sacred cows’, ‘blockers’, ‘biases’ and ‘issues’ at all, because we all have the capability of dealing with them in our organisations, our life, our communities right now. We can all communicate. But we often choose not to. And our workplace is certainly no different.

At Altris we believe that it takes more than a model or two to break down the barriers that stop people ‘saying what needs said’ within organisations. After all it took more than a few days training to create them, so we find that it takes structure, process, accountability, measurement and a host of other things to create a coaching culture.

Most importantly you need to believe that, in the words of one client, ‘It’s a journey with a lot of hard work, but it’s worth it’.



p.s. If you’d like us to run our ‘coaching culture’ workshop for you, just drop us a line.



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