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All Your Problems Are Interpersonal Relationship Problems

"Tell me, what do people actually ask you to coach them about,” she asked. I was having a lovely conversation with an old friend who I had not seen in a while and we were catching up on how our lives had developed. I tried to give her a few examples of what I thought were very different issues of what I’m working with.

Later that week, I was reading something by Austrian psychologist Alfred Adler and came across this:

All problems are interpersonal relationship problems.

Then, it hit me—reflecting on what I had discussed with my friend and also thinking through other examples. They may call it different things, but by far, most of the coaching challenges that I work on are about relationships.

Relationships with colleagues, bosses, across departments or even customers—even relationship with themselves—

—the common denominator in all of this has to do with how to work better with others.

Why do so many people struggle with this and why is it so...

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First-Time Manager: The Challenges

Research conducted by the Center for Creative Leadership has identified a number of challenges that first-time managers (FTMs) have in common. You can read the full list here. I have chosen to focus on the top one because you could argue that the rest of the issues are all sub-issues that arise from the same overall challenge:

Adjusting to People Management: Displaying Authority

The FTM has been used to achieving results through a high degree of control over themselves. They set goals and manage their time and effort in such a way as to reach them. That's exactly what has drawn attention to them in the first place and is the reason they have now been promoted to their first management position.

But the way they control themselves is not going to work on others. They need to learn to switch from control to influence, which is an entirely different approach.

"If you knew how many times I have told them to do that."

But as they eventually work out, telling...

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The Big Leap from Team Member to Team Leader

In the previous blog post, you looked at how the first-time manager (FTM) is often neglected when it comes to training and development. In this blog post, you'll start identifying some of the challenges that the FTM has.

The scenario is quite the same in most types of service organizations. Due to a promotion or an organizational shuffle, you often find yourself needing a supervisor or team leader on one of your customer-facing teams. You are busy. The position needs to be filled fast so your first reaction is to look at the team and see who you have that could jump in the role.

Who gets promoted to their first managerial position?

Often you find who you think is the right person for the job. The criteria used to evaluate this is typically the person’s performance. You pick a high-performing team member with a lot of personal drive. On top of that, you choose someone who is well organized. In short, it’s a...

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What The H— Went Wrong?

Driving home, Peter kept on asking himself this question: What the h— went wrong?

What a disaster! This was an important day. He had put together a cross-functional team of experts—supposedly some of the most competent people in the company. He had taken great pain—and expense—in organizing the best possible location offsite. There, he had given them a clear brief, explaining exactly what needed to be done and what he expected from them. The deadline was 4:00 P.M.—tight but doable.

The result?

—was a monumental f— up, to put it mildly.

What was wrong with these people?

There was nothing wrong with these people. What was wrong was that Peter was not managing their states in a skillful way. He might have ignored or was unaware of the basic mechanics of human interaction.

The Four Fundamental Questions

Once you understand that this instability of organic systems is what's going on, you need a basic tool to understand and...

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Understanding the Stages that Your Team Goes Through

Last blog post, you took a deeper dive into understanding how the mental states of each team member influence the whole team, and that the team leader probably has more influence on the team's states than anybody else.

The mental states that team members are in also produce a certain collective behavior, especially as there are states that are typical for each stage of the life cycle of a team.

When you put a bunch of people together in a team, they typically go through certain stages. This was first described by psychologist Bruce Tuckman who came up with the memorable phrase "forming, storming, norming, and performing" in his 1965 article Developmental Sequence in Small Groups.

This is not new. On the contrary, it is a well-established framework. Many of you have also probably heard of the expression "forming, storming, norming and performing" before—the words that describe the basic stages that small groups experience. In theory, this is a linear process that...

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