Tag Archives: ongoing regard

Coaching Moments: Creating Opportunities to Motivate

Becoming a coaching manager doesn’t happen by proclamation or all at once. It takes an incredible amount of work, effort, and time. It also requires positive long-term commitment.

If you create frequent, brief, mostly positive, coaching opportunities, then your employees are more likely to be highly motivated.

Psychological Safety

It is important for managers to be in touch with their direct reports as individuals and as employees. A coaching relationship allows for this. To be successful, the employee needs to feel psychologically safe when talking with their manager. According to David Rock’s SCARF model for collaborating with & influencing others, managers need to be mindful of these 5 domains: Status, Certainty, Autonomy, Relatedness, and Fairness .

The following table summarizes the SCARF Model:

Coaching Moments

While keeping SCARF in the forefront of your mind, coaching moments are focused on what a manager needs from their employee AND what the employee needs from their manager. Sessions should be structured weekly; scheduled in advance; and limited to 15 minutes. It can be done in person or by phone. These can be done separately or as part of other one-to-one meetings – as long as a portion of the time is devoted to what employees need. Additionally, both parties should be accountable for holding these meetings: employees should be encouraged to confirm and remind the manager of coaching moments. They should also be encouraged to schedule additional coaching moments when needed.

Motivation Mindset

For the coaching moments to truly motivate your employees, use the following approach:

  • It’s not about who is right; it is about making a difference
  • It is a 2-way dialogue, not a dictate
  • Focus on future, not the past
  • Ask for and listen to the other person’s ideas
  • Try not to prove the other wrong

Follow this structure at every coaching moments session:

Questions to Deepen Thinking

Do you consider yourself a coaching manager?
What will happen if you make an effort to cultivate psychologically safety for your employees?
Can you use 1:1 your time with employees differently?

Rock, D. (2008). SCARF: A brain-based model for collaborating with and influencing others. Neuroleadership.org
Goldsmith, M. (2015). Six Questions for Better Coaching. Talent Quarterly (#5, The Feedback issue), pp. 8-12, 29-30.
Boyatzis, R. & McKee, A. (2005) Resonant Leadership: Renewing Yourself and
Connecting with Others Through Mindfulness, Hope, and Compassion.
Harvard Business School Press.


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Leadership Revolution: The Coaches Are Coming!
Ongoing Regard: Boost the Power of Your Thank You
The DOs & DON’Ts of Curious Listening: Tell Me More
Build Empathy into Your Interactions Part 2: Climbing the Ladder of Inference
Accountability Leads to Innovation: 5 Requirements for Setting Clear Expectations
Build Empathy into Your Interactions Part 3: Deconstruct Your Conversations
The Two Faces of Feedback: Reinforcing & Corrective
Want Better Feedback Conversations? Prepare the Receiver

Want Better Feedback Conversations? Prepare the Receiver

Third in a 3-Part Series on Feedback

Giving feedback is not a technical solution. Simply following the steps for delivering feedback will not suffice. One must also employ an adaptive process to manage emotions and behaviors.

The unusual approach for training around delivering feedback is focused on the giver – even though it is the receiver who determines the outcome. If the receiver is unable or unwilling to absorb the feedback it matters little how technically skilled the giver is. Data shows that reducing the fear and stress for the receiver has nearly three times more impact than improving the skills of the giver. How can you help the receiver? By creating a feedback-friendly environment and providing training for the receiver.

If feedback is delivered in a comfortable environment and at a pace the receiver is comfortable with
then the receiver is more likely to absorb the message and understand why it is beneficial.

Creating a Feedback Friendly Environment

Given that feedback is inherently uncomfortable and emotional, it makes sense that an environment where people feel safe to talk about emotions will alleviate some of that stress. Also, when feedback interactions happen often, they become less of a big, scary monster.

Steps for Creating Feedback Environment
  1. Be aware of positive and negative emotion attractors and the impact of both.
  2. Deliver reinforcing feedback at least 7 times more often than corrective feedback.
  3. In reinforcing feedback conversations, focus on a specific action, event, or behavior. Praising talent and ability in general terms can result in risk aversion and heightened sensitivity to setbacks.
  4. Get to know each other as individuals. Build relationships.
  5. Occasionally talk about your own experience with negative emotions, embarrassments, disappointments, anger. Doing so will make others feel it is safe for them to feel those emotions.
  6. Have shorter, more frequent conversations. Several small conversations have a bigger impact than one big feedback session.
  7. Have informal conversations through weekly check-ins.
  8. Don’t call the conversation FEEDBACK. Never say I want to give you some feedback. Instead choose words that describe your intent; for example: I want to discuss progress or performance, describe the impact of your behavior, share positives, or open a dialogue.
  9. Institute the Feedback Recipient Bill of Rights (below).
Training for the Receiver of Feedback

The main objective of the receiver is to manage emotions and social threats so that they can hear what is being said. The adaptive process of giving good feedback involves allowing the receiver to control the pace of the feedback. Much like health professionals delivering stressful information, leaders should only give feedback as fast as the receiver can absorb it. Instituting the Feedback Recipient Bill of Rights will help with this process.

Feedback Recipient Bill of Rights (with sample script)
  1. You have a choice whether to receive the feedback at this time. “Now is not a good time. Can we do this later?”
  2. You can choose to suspend the feedback conversation if you are unable to continue. “I can’t hear any more right now. Can we finish this later?”
  3. You should restate and validate the reason for the conversation. “So the reason you are sharing this is because…?”
  4. You should test the giver’s assumptions“This is what I am hearing… Is this what you are getting at?”
  5. You have the right to request some time to reflect and schedule a follow-up conversation before any decisions are made. “I need some time to think about this before I respond. Can we finish this conversation later?”
  6. You should reflect back on the conversation when your emotions have subsided. “Ok. (Deep breath.) What does this information mean for me… Can I use it to help me…?”
  7. You should share your insights when you reconvene, without being defensive. “I thought about what you said… It made me feel… This is what I think…”
Questions to Deepen Thinking

What is keeping you from changing your work environment to make it more feedback friendly?
What might happen if you allow a person to postpone or suspend a feedback conversation?
What are the consequences if you don’t allow the receiver to step away from the conversation until emotions subside?

Batista, E. (2013, December). Building a feedback-rich culture.
Batista, E. (2015, February). Make getting feedback less stressful. Harvard Business Review.
Beatty, R. (2015). Feedback: Navigating for individual and organizational effectiveness. Talent Quarterly(5), 51-56.
Boyatzis, R. & McKee, A. (2005) Resonant Leadership: Renewing Yourself and Connecting with Others Through Mindfulness, Hope, and Compassion. Harvard Business School Press.
DiNisi, A. S. (2015). Does feedback really work? Talent Quarterly(5), 45-49.
Heen, S. &. (2015). Don’t blame HR if your performance evaluation system doesn’t work. Talent Quarterly(5), 21-24.
Rock, D. (2015). Time to rethink the concept of ‘feedback’. Talent Quarterly(5), 41-44.
Zenger, J. &. (2015). Feedback: The leadership conundrum. Talent Quarterly(5), 31-38.


Related Posts

Feedback: A Dirty Word?
The Two faces of Feedback: Reinforcing and Corrective
Ongoing Regard: Boost the Power of Your Thank You
Build Empathy Into Your Interactions Part 2: Climbing the Ladder of Inference
Build Empathy Into Your Interactions Part 3: Deconstruct Your Conversations

Ongoing Regard: Boost the Power of Your Thank You

We cannot underestimate the ‘value of being valued.’  Saying thank you strengthens the bonds between people and re-emphasizes the personal relationship. But a thank you can be even more powerful if it contains the language of ongoing regard. Whether written or spoken it can be transformative for both the sender and receiver. Not only does ongoing regard make both parties feel good, it provides a deeper understanding of the behavior or action being recognized. That recognition is apt to inspire more of that same behavior in the future.

If you make another person feel valued, then they are more likely to support you and your work.

Be Direct.  Deliver your message directly to the recipient. Use the words thank you instead of I’d like to thank…
Be Specific. Describe the precise action you are thanking them for and not personal attributes like generous, helpful, and hard-working.
Reveal Impact. Describe the impact the action had on you, for example: it helped, added, enabled, made better. Avoid using feel-good phrases like, “always there when I need you” or “you did a great job.”

Boast the power of your thank you by describing the impact of the other person's action.

In preparation for delivering your powerful message, ask yourself the following questions:

  • Why do I want to thank this person?
  • What service/skill/behavior did they exhibit?
  • Why is it valuable?
  • How did their action impact my goals and commitments?

 Use the following 5 steps as a script to keep your thank you short and powerful.

  1. Greet. Spell or say his or her name correctly.
  2. Express gratitude. Start with the words, “Thank you for…” naming  the action/behavior you are thanking them for.
  3. Discuss impact. Describe a positive impact their action/behavior had.
  4. Make reference. What did their action/behavior mean to you? How did it make you feel?
  5. Give regards. Write or say, “Thank You” again in closing.
Things to Avoid

To ensure sincerity, stay away from the following:

  • Don’t use general phrases like, “Nice Job!” or “Thank you for all you did.”
  • Avoid the just writing trap. You are not “just writing to say”– that’s stating the obvious.
  • Don’t share unrelated news. This isn’t the time. This is exclusively about thanking someone for their actions or recognizing their behaviors.

 Questions to Deepen Thinking

  • How is ‘making your employees feel valued’ working for you?
  • What might happen if you start giving unexpected ongoing regard messages?
  • How might people feel if you regularly tell them the positive impact of their actions?


Kegan, R., & Lahey, L.  (2001). How the way we talk can change the way we work: Seven languages for transformation. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

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Networking: 4 Steps to Making Strategic Connections

Networking: 4 Steps to Making Strategic Connections

Strategic contacts are often people with whom you have no mutual connection. The bad news: For many, reaching out to these people is an overwhelming task that causes high anxiety. The good news: It can be mastered with structure and practice and it has a high return on investment.  

Once you have identified people to connect with, what do you say to them? How do you introduce yourself? The more you practice the following steps the easier it will get and the more likely you are to make it part of your ongoing leadership practice.4 steps to making strategic connections: Initial Contact, Curious Listening, 2-minute story, & follow-up

4 Steps to Make a Connection

1. Initial Contact: Whether in person or electronically, use your commitment statement as a way to introduce yourself and ask for a meeting. Tell them what you are committed to, what you are passionate about, and what you are working towards. Mention your common connection and request some time to meet. For example:

“I got your name from … I am committed to … so that … Can we meet for coffee to talk more?”

2. Your Story: During the “get-acquainted” meeting, share your 2-minute story of commitment so the other person can learn about you. Tell them about a challenge you overcame, your shared purpose, and your desired future. For example:

“I’d like to tell you a story… I share this because … is important to us … Imagine if … Please join me … ”

3. Their Story: Use curious listening to learn about the other person. Everyone has a story to tell. Encourage them to share theirs. Ask questions and listen. Look for something that resonates with you– work or non work related. People most often bond through interactions about personal interests, not technical ones. For example:

“I’m curious … Tell me more … Go on … That is interesting … ”

4. Follow-up: Show your appreciation by thanking them for the meeting using ongoing regard. Describe specifics about the meeting and then describe what impact it had on you. Written notes are best, but email also works. For example:

“Thank you … I appreciate …What you said/did … It made a difference in …”

 Questions to Deepen Thinking

  • How are you doing with making new connections?
  • What would happen to your leadership practice if you stopped strategic networking?
  • Have you ever tried to make a connection simply by being curious about the other person?Credits
Battilana, J. & Casciaro, T. (2013, July-August). The network secrets of great change agents. Harvard Business Review.
Ibarra, H. & Hunter, M. (2007, January). How leaders create and use networks. Harvard Business review.
Kegan, R. &. Lahey, L. (2001). How the Way We Talk Can Change the Way We Work: Seven Languages for Transformation. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.
Schein, E. (2013). Humble inquiry: The gentle art of asking instead of telling. San Francisco: Berrett-Koehler Publishers, Inc.
Uzzi, B. & Dunlap, S. (2005, December). How to build your network. Harvard Business Review.

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Strategic Networking: ABCs of Choosing Your Connections
Networking: 5 Circles of Influence
How Leaders Inspire & Motivate: 2-Minute Story of Commitment
Setting Meaningful Goals: 3 Components of a Commitment
The DOs and DON’Ts of Curious Listening: Tell Me More
Ongoing Regard: Boost the Power of your Thank You