Category Archives: Coaching

Respect at work

Respect at workRespect is in many organisations a core value, but how can you explain something this essential to you colleagues? Respect is hard to explain because we are used to be treated with respect. My experience at a construction site to taught me that respect at work starts with treating each other as equals, open communication and sharing information. This in order that your colleagues can think along and take initiative. You steer on results and now the ‘how’.

Respect is something many organisations have in their core values, but what does it actually mean? Many times I have tried to find the correct formulation and an example that suits, but we were always stuck after the “for getting respect, you first need to give respect” tagline.

Respect is hard to explain because we are used to be treated with respect. It was only after doing something completely else, that I experienced what it was to be treated without respect. That’s why it’s hard to explain respect from my current employment because I have almost always been treated with respect. But sometimes I come in a completely other environment. One where I don’t have prior knowledge or training. One where I don’t have acquired experience in the field. It is a construction site. At my home or at a site where friends or family are building or redecorating their house.

On a construction site, I’m a newbie. The palms of my hands don’t lie: I’m used to desk work. On a construction site I have the knowledge of a newbie and I act as a newbie. Surrounded by experienced experts I do my best to help and assist. In some cases I’m treated with respect, in other cases I’m not.

Some examples of being treated without respect:

  • When I don’t do my work good enough, work is taken out of my hands and done by the lead himself.
  • I cannot understand the professional because he uses jargon I don’t know.
  • When I don’t know something, the professional acts as if it’s common knowledge and I’m missing out.
  • Knowledge and information is only shared if really needed and only at the time needed.
  • The professional is telling me in every detail exactly what to do instead of allowing me to fill in my work myself.
  • I’m only told the next step in line and don’t know how the end result should look like. This makes it impossible to think along, find solutions and take initiative.

To summarize the above, the other party is not treating me as an equal. I’m happy to admit that all of this didn’t occur on one occasion, but is mere a summary of everything I experienced during the years. I must also admit that in some cases I was ready to heat my head against the wall.

So how should you treat your colleagues with respect?

  • Treat them as an equal. (this is were our first punch line “give respect to receive” dissolved)
  • Keep communication open and share information.
  • Offer the opportunity to think along.
  • Offer the space to take initiative.
  • Steer on output (results) and not on input (the ‘how’).
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Is dit nu later?

Is dit nu laterHeb je ook wel eens een gevoel van “Wat doe ik hier?” en “Hoe ben ik hier beland?” ? Blijf dan niet bij de pakken zitten, maar ontdek je talenten en ga er mee aan de slag.

Maandagmorgen werd ik wakker op de tonen van “Is dit nu later?” van Stef Bos, een weemoedige klaagzang over gemiste kansen en onbenutte opportuniteiten. Ondanks dat dit lied niet het beste lied is om op een maandagmorgen uit je bed te klauteren, ben ik toch in mijn werkplunje gekropen en met een glimlach naar werk gereden.

Hoewel het lied over meer gaat dan gemiste kansen, kan ik me wel voorstellen dat “Is dit nu later?” een soort confronterende waarheid en herkenning voor sommigen kan bevatten. Iedereen heeft immers ooit wel eens “Wat ben ik nu eigenlijk aan het doen?” en een “Hoe ben ik hier beland?” moment.

Het leuke aan de recente vernieuwingen op de (interne) arbeidsmarkt is, is dat er nu de wil en de middelen zijn om hier iets aan te doen. Als je voelt dat je niet op de juiste plek zit of als je vindt dat meer potentieel in je zit dat nu (nog) niet benut wordt, dan heb je nu de kans om er mee aan de slag te gaan.

Via de Talent toolbox van Luk Dewulf kan je aan de slag om je talenten te ontdekken. Als je die talenten hebt ontdekt, ken je ook de context waar je liefst in werkt. Want je kan je talenten pas optimaal benutten als je ze kan ontplooien.

In onze organisatie hebben we deze talenten toolbox verspreid over vele leidinggevenden en zijn er ook coaching sessies en sessies in avondschool om er mee aan de slag te gaan.

Verder zijn boeken als “Welke kleur heeft jouw parachute?” en “Word wie je wil” ook een goede hulp. Sinds kort kan je ook in de privé terecht voor loopbaanbegeleiding via loopbaancheques door de overheid uitgegeven. Meer informatie hierover vind je hier.

Vind je dat “Is dit nu later?” op je lijf geschreven is en zie je geen uitweg? Blijf dan niet bij de pakken zitten en zoek professionele hulp om een burnout te voorkomen. Bij de Medische Dienst in je bedrijf weten ze meer.

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10 pitfalls for coaching success

Bad coachingNot all will end well. Following are impediments for coaching I have experienced:

  1. There are no clear objectives for coaching.
  2. The coach has no mandate for coaching.
  3. There’s no designated time for coaching (coach + coachee).
  4. There’s too long time between event and coaching feedback.
  5. Coach nor coachee are measuring results (effectiveness).
  6. There’s no “walk the talk“: management is not coached themselves.
  7. There’s no support from line management.
  8. The coachee is not open for feedback.
  9. The coachee is not open for change.
  10. The coach has no empathy.
  11. The coach is using assumptions and slander instead of objective facts.


Please submit yours too!

Now let’s translate these pitfalls to positive ones and you have your checklist for coaching success!

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Empowerment rocks!

Foo Fighters drummer - Taylor Hawkins

Foo Fighters drummer – Taylor Hawkins

Six empowerment lessons from the rock industry by looking at the history of the Foo Fighters.

The Foo Fighters are a rock band that got popular in the nineties, made it through the two-thousands and still are popular in the two thousand and tens. During the years the setting of the band changed and a lot has to do with how the lead singer, Dave Grohl, changed his leadership style.

Dave Grohl came free from the popular band Nirvana after dissolution after the tragic suicide of lead singer, Kurt Cobain. In Nirvana, Dave was as drummer responsible for the heart beat of the band. But Dave had more talents than only drumming: he also could play the guitar and bass. He even could sing very well! After some solo (re)work, he started the Foo Fighters band with him as lead singer.

In the first set-up with the band, the drummer was William Goldsmith. When recording the album “The Colour and the Shape” in 1997, William was responsible for all drum parties. Dave Grohl had set a high ambition level and wanted only the best for the new CD. Because of his drumming experience in Nirvana, he knew very well how to play the drums and was not satisfied with the current recordings of William. When William was away for a while, Dave picked up his old drum sticks and redid all the drum parties of the CD in the way that he wanted them to sound. When William came back and was notified of this, he was very disappointed. Not very long after this event William decided to quit the band.

Dave made a typical leadership error when delegating which is taking back/over the work that was delegated and doing it himself. Because it was better, faster, tighter, etc. Instead of discussing the (mediocre) quality of the recordings and having supported William, Dave chose the shortest path and took the delegated work back.

Drummer William was replaced with Taylor Hawkins, which still is the drummer of the Foo Fighters, and we can see that Dave learned a valuable lesson. He now lets the drummer, Taylor, free to use his creativity and imagination when recording the drum parties. They have established a real cooperative relationship which even can be seen during the live performances of the band: the drummer (and also the heart of the band) is in sync with the lead singer. During their performance at Pukkelpop 2012 I was really impressed by how attuned they were to each other.

Six tips for bringing empowerment to your work floor

  1. Discuss what empowerment means to you and your team.
  2. Learn to really delegate.
    1. Explain the “why” and the “what”.
    2. Set criteria for the output and steer on these criteria.
    3. Do not get involved in the way works needs to be done. Leave the “how” for the delegee.
  3. Create a feedback loop.
    1. Give feedback on results.
    2. Discuss the problems, not the person.
    3. Discuss about facts, not assumptions or personal interpretations.
  4. Start with small assignments, give bigger ones when successful.
  5. Delegating assignments means also delegating the benefits that belong with it.
  6. Give recognition to your employees.

Additional reading

Foo Fighers @ Wikipedia

Top 10 Principles of Employee Empowerment

Top 7 Self Empowerment Tips

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Act a fool at work

A jester in the middle ages

A jester in the middle ages

The first of April, or April Fools’ Day, is a yearly event where most people are wary the whole day. Jokers all over the community are trying to pull a joke on you.

In the middle ages it was common for a king to have a jester, a fool, in his counsel. Because of the hard times, it was not so strange to have a counsel full of yay-sayers. Who would dare to oppose to what the king was saying? Your head could be at stake (literally). To overcome this problem the king introduced the jester at his counsel. The fool could say or do what he want. He didn’t get any punishment for bashing on the ideas of the group or king. His job was to make all ideas ridiculous so the members of the counsel could take a look at them from another perspective.

We can link this to modern concepts in the corporate world.


An important part in coaching is giving honest feedback about facts. If you’re not able to give honest feedback to the coachee, he will not be aware of his blind spots and could make bad decisions. While in other industries like eg. sports coaching is more common, in the corporate world coaching is still considered only needed when “one’s in trouble”. Additionally, coaching is not only for the king, the CEO, applicable, but can be a useful instrument at all levels in the organisation.

Do you have a coach already? Who is giving you honest feedback and helping you discover your blind spots?

More on coaching:


If you would remove the fear element from the meeting, the counsel full of yay-sayers resembles at lot the modern principle of groupthink. When equal minded groups work together they have the tendency to agree on the same and come to the same conclusions and decisions. There’s no healthy debate nor discussions and group think might even lead to ignoring important details.

A classroom example of groupthink is the scenario which took place during the attack on Pearl Harbor. There were many early warning signals that an attack from the Japanese was pending, but because of groupthink one sought for confirmation of positive signals, that is “all is save” (more information here). Symptoms of groupthink which played a role in the attack on Pearl Harbor were, amongst others, the illusion of invulnerability, discarding information from outsiders and the illusion of unanimity.

Do you have a fool in your meetings? Or maybe you are the fool? (pun intended)


In the TED presentation “Dare to disagree“, Margaret Heffernan discusses the need of someone trying to proof your wrong. In a medical research project the scientist had one assistant whose only role was to prove the scientist wrong. The advantage of this was that your ideas get challenged and you don’t stop at might what have looked like the first success.

More on healthy conflict:

Additional reading

Archetypes, Blind Spots and Court Jesters

What to Ask the Person in the Mirror: Critical Questions for Becoming a More Effective Leader and Reaching Your Potential

Overcoming groupthink

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Leadership lessons from an iron man, with a golden heart

Marc Herremans

Marc Herremans

I am certain there is no better quote to describe the life story of Marc Herremans, Belgian top athlete in triathlon, Iron Man and the Iron Man for disabled people, than this one:

You can if you think you can.
If you think you are beaten, you are.

During a seminar Marc told us how he dealt with personal (ambitious) goal setting and dealing with set backs. It was a touching story that I would like to share with you.

Everybody has a main goal in life
Marc reminded us of the fact of how lucky we truly are: we’re all living in the richest part of the world, and above that, we are all healthy.
In his early years, Marc was not sure about being a boxer or a swimmer. But after a few attempts he has set a goal for himself to become the number one triathlete in the world. He was good on his way when a major setback happened which resulted in being paralyzed from the waist down.

Every setback in life is an opportunity to fight back
While in the hospital, Marc thought his life was over: he had to give up his one ambition and now was destined to a life in a wheel chair. After a visit from his nephew he saw the light again and set a new ambitious target: to become the number one triathlete… in a wheelchair.

Everything started again for Marc, only his aspirations were changed.

Since we cannot change reality, let us change the eyes which see the reality

Everything is possible if you believe in it
Years of hard work and training resulted in winning the Iron Man in Hawaii in 2006. Marc emphasizes that you do see one man going over the finish line, but there is a whole team of 30 members involved. A team that would have made his victory impossible without.

You have to reach your goals before your end is near, so you have to do it now
My question at the end of his presentation was: what’s next? So I asked him about his next goal in life since he already made his one ambitious goal. Marc responded that he’ll devote the remainder of his life to coaching other athletes, running the Project U-turn and To Walk Again foundation, and his family.

You can only control the controllable
One lesson I take along from Marc’s touching story is that you cannot control everything, so there’s no need to get stressed from stuff you cannot control. When it is about setting results, it’s about you. Comparing yourself with the other’s gear, state, strength, etc will only make you uncertain.

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Ecopolicy game – Coaching at performance review meetings

Ecopolicy game

Ecopolicy game

In June we did the Ecopolicy game as an exercise for coaching at performance review meetings (or also: steering meetings).

The game was done in two phases and the goal was:

  1. To lead or attend a performance review meeting and have a similar experience like the management of your organization has each week, month, quarter, …
  2. To coach an attendee of the performance review meeting and practice your coaching skills.

Game contents

You and your team are the leaders of Cybernetia, a cyber state that needs a government to survive. Politics, production, environmental stress, quality of life, education and population are the measured sectors of human life and are expressed in KPIs. In the game these KPIs are all interlinked in such a way by mathematical relations that each decision results in a chain of effects and repercussions just like in real life.

Lead or attend a performance review meeting

In a 20 minute long performance review meeting the ambassador decides together with his 5 ministers on the policy of Cybernetia. Some and certainly not all KPIs are under the influence of the government.

You get 5 attempts of 20 minutes to lead your nation, Cybernetia. In one session, the goal is to take at least 12 decisions in up/down grading the KPIs which you can influence.

If the quality of life for your population is getting worse, your population will question your policy. When it escalates, the population does a coup d’etat and you loose.

What did I learn as board member?

In the first round I was the ambassador of Cybernetia and together with the board, we determined the policy.

  • A performance review meeting can be very stressful! The first round went almost completely to trying to understand the tool.
  • When all board members are coached individually you see strange behavior and changes in behavior between the board meetings.
  • Because you are also coached individually, the board sees your behavior changes and reacts on it.
  • Group dynamics are always happening. I repeat: group dynamics are always happening! Even if the team work moments are very short, the group will go through the forming, storming, norming and performing stages. Be aware of it.
  • After each performance review meeting there is a recap session. Use it as ambassador to give feedback on people behavior. But don’t wait to the recap session if the behavior is not acceptable during the PRM.
  • Use your dashboard. Look at the facts. When emotions take over, our rationality stays behind.
  • It is not needed as team leader to know all the details.
  • It is not needed as team leader to facilitate the discussion. If somebody else is better, let him do it.
  • It is needed as team leader to take decisions based on uncertain elements.

What did I learn as coach?

In the second round I was the coach of a minister of Cybernetia. I watched my coachees behavior, the group interaction and the process.

  • Write down facts and observations, not interpretations. Interpretations are assumptions that you have the right answer.
  • Coaching on behavior and facts is a hard job. You need to be observing and writing at top speed to get everything right.
  • Giving feedback is not always easy. You coachee can go in resistance. Use a much facts as possible. Pick your battles.
  • Try to ask questions during feedback talks. Challenge, but try to understand. Why did he do that? Did it have the wanted result? What could have gone better?
  • If your coachee doesn’t do anything, he still doing something! Don’t fall in sleep when your coachee remains below the radar. Why is he doing so? What does his body language see? How is the group interaction?
  • Observe the process of decision making.
  • After the coaching talk, make a summary. What is the most important thing he learned? What will he do different next time?

More information on the game


News message

The inventor

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Lessons from triathlon for corporate athletes

Last week I went to a presentation where the athlete & Belgian triathlon champion, Simon De Cuyper, gave an interview about setting clear targets. Just like in the corporate world, in the sport world is setting targets an important part when acquiring results. During the interview Simon shared some of his experiences and lessons learned.

Triathleet Simon De Cuyper

Triathlete Simon De Cuyper

I’ve made a list of key insights for you to share.

Focus on the process and process targets

When you’re only focussing on the end result and the end target, you might get caught up by stress too much. Simon has learned to focus on the process and set process targets. For example, the start of the swimming part of the triathlon and the change-over between the sports in triathlon.

When you only keep the end target in mind, focussing on it might freeze you. When you focus on the different steps and parts to make it to your target, you’re focussing on how you’re doing your job in the best possible way.

To quote Steven Covey: “Begin with the end in mind”.

Set a target

One of the differences between a professional and many recreative athletes, is the principle of setting targets. When you want to improve upon something, whether it’s triathlon, squash or incident management, you’ll have more chance to success when you set a target.

The target will keep you focussed and allows you to measure progress, which motivates.

Set a realistic target

Simon has set his target for the 2014 Olympic Games to be in the top 8 of triathlon ranking. “Why not go for gold?” was the next question of the interviewer. Simon replied that he was aware of his capabilities and choose to pick a realistic target. A target where he needed to stretch himself, but which he could make.

I’m not sure what to do with this takeaway. I understand how this could work, but history has learned us that setting inspiring targets can work too.

See for example Microsoft, Apple and the Nasa.

President John F. Kennedy, May 1961: “I believe that this nation should commit itself to achieving the goal, before this decade is out, of landing a man on the Moon and returning him safely to the Earth”

Bill Gates, Microsoft: “A computer on every desk, and in every home”.

Steve Jobs, Apple: “What we want to do, is to change the way people use computers in the world.”

Use a coach

Unlike in the corporate world, in the sports world it’s very common to have a coach. A coach who coaches you, supports you, challenges you. The coach doesn’t have to be better than then athlete, but who is committed to the success of the coachee. A good coach will make you stick to the commitment of running 4 hours a week, even when it’s raining.

In the corporate world the same logic can be applied to the role of a coach. The coach doesn’t need to know it all, the coach doesn’t have to be older, … The coach needs to be committed to the success of the coachee, provide an honest mirror to him and motivate him when the going gets tough.

Know your limits

Simon works at continuous improvement, but he is aware of his (physical) limits. There will be a day when continuous improvement is not possible anymore. A big “transformation” will be needed then, maybe a change to a total new sport, like long distance running, he testified.

We often hear this remark at the work floor too: is it possible to keep on improving, even with tiny bits? Instead of improving peanuts (and violating the Pareto-rule), it might be interesting to question it all and try something new. To make a transformation.

Additional reading

The Making of a Corporate Athlete by Jim Loehr and Tony Schwartz

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The time and place to coach

How would you coach your coachee during a performance review meeting?
I was taught to observe the PRM, take factual notes, record the interaction and participation.
With this feedback, and effect it had on me, i plan a feedback talk with the coachee after the meeting.

This approach has following advantages:

  • I have the time to overview the notes I made and compose the feedback talk (read: pick my battles).
  • There is more time to give feedback.
  • My coachee has the time to reflect on the meeting himself.
  • I can give the feedback in a personal coaching moment instead of in front of all participants.
  • I will never be in the position were I put the coachee for a block, which has advantges for both of us.

This time however, my coachee insisted that I would give feedback during the meeting and also interrupt the process when I found it was running not at it’s best.
So suddenly my mandate changed from coach to process intervener and I was about to be pushed out of my comfort zone.

The coach during the game

Immediate feedback during the game

Immediate feedback during the game

We use the analogy of the coach at a soccer game a lot, so let’s take a look at it.
The coach here doesn’t wait with giving feedback. He’s all involved during the game: coaching, intervening, supporting, …
Imagine the effect of coaching only after the facts: it would be far less effective.

But there stays use for coaching after the game too and that’s what we also see with soccer. The players and coach look at the video images of last match and see what went well and what could go better. They use this information to improve upon themselves to play a better match next time.

I guess there’s no silver bullet here too.
You can combine both types of coaching: during and after the game.

Make sure you get the mandate for coaching during the game.
The referee might kick you out.

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How do you measure success as a coach?

Success kidA question where many people are defeated on is: How do you measure success as a coach?
Since we’re spending a lot of money and time on it: how can we know that it’s paying off? What is your ROI (Return-On-Investment)?

The LORE International Institute uses following definition for coaching effectiveness:

Effective coaching is coaching that creates the right behavioral changes that lead to improvement in the client’s ability to impact bottom-line business results.

Further, LORE also acknowledges:

One of the biggest challenges in measuring coaching is that tangible, behavioral change is usually linked to intangible mindsets and beliefs.

So how can we measure our coaching effectiveness?

Lagging measurements

Lagging measurements are findings. They’re history.
But they are suited to check if you did well.

Measurement indications on feeling:

  • Is the coachee satisfied with the coaching?
  • Is the quality of life of your coachee improved?

Measurement indications on behavior:

  • Can you see your coachee changing his behavior?
  • Are other people telling you your coachee has changed his behavior?

Measurement indications on results:

  • Is your coachee reaching their results?
  • Is the quality of work of your coachee improved?
  • Is the customer feedback improved?
  • Is there more benefits or waste identified?

Leading measurements

The disadvantage of lagging measurements is that they’re recorded after the facts.
Once you have the data, it’s already a fact and you can only react upon it.

Leading measurement are predictors and can be used for proactive steering for success.

  • Time spent coaching (bi-laterals, workshops, content meetings, performance meetings, …).
  • Counting the number of “thank you” and “thank your for your time” you get back after your coaching talks.
  • Progress in coaching action plan (reaching milestones on time in full).

As you can see, it’s harder to find the leading measurement for effective coaching.

Suggestions are welcome!

Additional reading

Can coaching effectiveness be measured –

The success of coaching depends on clear objectives and rigorous measurement –

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