Monthly Archive: June 2014

The Top 6 things your Boss should know about you!

The only way to build a successful high performing team is to understand what makes the individuals on that team tick. To reach that truly collaborative state of mind where the power of the group is greater than any of the individual contributors, and they all know it (and aren’t still competing for your attention) you need to understand those individuals better.    Feel like your boss doesn’t understand you or use your skills adequately? Feel like you don’t get why your team is functioning like a group of individuals and not a team?  Bosses – get coaching.  Individuals, start talking.

The Top 6 things your boss wants to know:3889389-boss-and-business-team-on-white-background

  1. Your career “story”:  Your boss has your resume and  was at your interview – so there’s some basic knowledge there, but what about the story behind it?  I started my career as a temp who was really good at sending out courier packages, better than any temp before me, so they hired me.  There’s alot more to the story, but it’s not a list of my accomplishments and my job skills – its the actual path I took to get there.  This is a great source of information for your boss to understand how you view career progression and how you demonstrate (or don’t) loyalty and engagement with the organization you work in.
  2. Your generational style ( how to communicate best with you):  Everyone and every situation is different.  What is the best form of communication for you? Email? Text? Face to Face, or god forbid (for me anyways), the phone?  Find out the best method of getting the point across in a wide array of situations to get the most out of your team.
  3. Your thinking style (what type of work should they delegate to you):  Are you a Doer, Dreamer, or Analyzer?  Is your skillset best in execution, creativity, or data analysis?  Tailor the work to the type of thinking style whenever possible to get the best results!
  4. Your conflict resolution style (how will you resolve conflict when it arises):  How your resolve conflict will determine your ability to deal with challenging situations in the workplace.  Do you confront and control conflict aiming to win? Do you compromise your needs in order to please others?  No one conflict resolution style is right for all situations, but learning to use each style effectively can yield optimal results.
  5. The 3 P’s: People, Projects, and Personal: The 3 P’s are the easiest way to effectively have a 1:1 with your boss.  You should be able to identify whether there are any conflicts, HR issues, staffing issues, interpersonal issues with anyone on the team, the status of your projects and work, and then is there anything going on personally that might impact your work.  This is a touchy one – this doesn’t mean a lengthy retelling of last saturday night’s escapades, but it may mean – my grandmother is sick in the hospital – I may have to leave early the next couple of days to deal with that.  Just giving you a head’s up.  This helps your boss plan and assign work better – like a boss.
  6. How you like to be rewarded/recognized:

Well, as it is the long weekend, I will leave you to ponder these top 6 things.  Are there more?  Bosses out there what else do you want to know?  Keep us in the loop @whiteboardcons #betterfastercheaper.

Until next week (Ruth will be back YAY!),



Is Voicemail retro yet?

Don’t Say the V-Word!!!!

Oh that’s right. I went there.  To me it is a dirty word.  No matter how much everyone tries to tell me it isn’t a big deal, I loath it.  VOICEMAIL.  My Dad and I bicker relentlessly about my inability to  listen to voicemail or return phone calls in general. My theory is if you need something – text me!

I believe that my dramatic fear of voicemail stems from two primary issues:

  • The first comes from a huge pet peeve of listening to people talking loudly on cellphones in public places.  I don’t care what streetcar you are on, what Anna did yesterday that infuriated you, or whatever you have to say loudly while on public transit. Once I was on a train and heard a woman tell her engagement story 12 times on the way to Montreal.  By time number thirteen I ripped the phone out of her hand and told the story verbatim to the frightened person on the other end myself.
  • The second is my “doer” thinking style.  Checking a voicemail just takes too long. I have to call a whole number, enter a password, and then contort my face against the phone to listen to you mumble “Hi it’s me. Call me back”?  It makes absolutely no efficient sense to me. Just send me a note and tell me what you need. It saves me 5 minutes in checking that voicemail, and the 5 minute call to find out what you needed – when I could have been using that time to DO what you needed me to

So depending on your fears and needs, this blog has two themes – reducing voicemails and how to leave voicemails. Read on…

How to reduce annoying voicemails.

1. Always respond to voicemail-aholics with a text or email. People are somewhat trainable (I’m still working on my Dad).  If every time you write them back maybe eventually they will catch on and write you in the first place.

2. Don’t have an outgoing voicemail message or if that’s not possible tell people they will get a faster response by email or text.  See reasoning for #1.  Their fear of you not getting it will go one of two ways, they’ll email or hyper-call (that’s a whole other ballgame folks).

3. Accept the fact that sometimes voicemails are appropriate, necessary, or meet the thinking/communicating style of the other party.  Hey, soon enough voicemail will be “retro” it will be like getting snail-mail.  Embrace it’s retro-ness you hipster you.

4. Leave effective and efficient voicemails (see below).  Again, people are trainable and mimic good behaviour.  At least if you have to listen to one it will be painless.

How to leave voicemails (for the talk-aphobics).

1. State your name and where you are calling from at the beginning of the call.

“This is Nicole Dunn calling from Whiteboard Consulting.”

2. BRIEFLY state your connection and the objective of your call. This is where voicemails go wrong.  You don’t plan, you start babbling. You aren’t prepared and your message sounds like a bad Shakespeare soliloquy that’s difficult to hear and just plain annoying. Be clear with what you are looking for.  This allows the person to look into available

” Sam introduced us last week at the cocktail party. I’d love to set up a meeting with you next week to talk about business processes at ACME Temp Agency and am looking for your availability.”

3. Repeat your name and phone number TWICE (the second time more slowly). This helps if you are a mumbler, fast talker, or use Rogers and your phone cuts out for no reason whatsoever. It also helps if your listener didn’t have their pen ready.

“Again, this is Nicole Dunn from Whiteboard Consulting at 416-531-9889. That’s Nicole Dunn at 4-1-6-5-3-1-9-8-8-9.  Thanks kindly”.

Soon my pretties…soon voicemail will be like Kodak Moments, tranceparencies, mimeographs, and shoulder pads. A distant and funny memory of something from the nineties (Click to Tweet). For now let’s be kind and curious and placate our vehement voicemail users until it goes away.  When they come back, I’ll write an equally snarky blog about how to deal with people who are now “into” voicemails because they are retro.

Until next time! Tell us your voicemail woes @whiteboardcons using #ihatevoicemail.

P.S. How many weird phone calls and voicemails do you think I will get????



After The Process of Coaching

This week Nicole and I had the privilege of delivering our first course offered to the public. Both of us are experienced trainers – over the years I have taught courses in the private and public sectors, to international audiences, to conferences-goers and to my team of employees. We keep our training skills current by delivering a variety of management courses to the Ontario Public Service via their Centre for Leadership & Learning, and to our clients.

But this was different.

Our followers know that Whiteboard Consulting celebrated its second birthday last March, and since the very first day we have been excited about offering courses to the general public. It takes time, of course, to build the connections and network of interested people and to determine the subject matter that will garner enough interest to make it worthwhile. So, needless to say, when we finally launched “The Process of Coaching,” we were pretty excited!

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Ruth (l) and Nicole (r) Teach the Process of Coaching

In two days we worked with 23 professionals from a variety of industries: telecom, technology, sales, automotive, insurance, healthcare, public service, agriculture, and real estate. So different, yet with such similar concerns! All of them wanted to know how to be better coaches at work – there were different reasons for this, but the goals were essentially the same.

One of the things that made our course unique was our afternoon of coaching simulations, designed to allow each participant to coach an “employee” (in reality, this was an actor well-versed in the subject matter, and able to respond to the individual’s coaching style and provide feedback). This is so valuable to participants, and they love it!

Six Concepts That Created a Flurry of Discussion

  1. The need for coaching crosses boundaries defined by industry, age, and leadership level. (Everyone needs coaching. Staff level, Manager level, and C-Suite. All industries. All the time.)
  2. People like to be coached. And once they know how to do it, managers love coaching. (It takes training, and it takes practice.)
  3. The number one reason organizations do not adopt a coaching culture is that IT’S HARD. (So hard. There is a knack, and it requires confidence and a certain amount of bravery.)
  4. The number two reason is that people believe it takes too much time. (In fact, once it becomes part of the culture, coaching is just something you do naturally, not something that has to be built into your list of tasks.)
  5. The ability to coach “across” and “up” in addition to “down” requires a foundation of trust. (And trust is achieved only when you have a mutual sense of integrity, ability to achieve results, and genuine concern.)
  6. Coaching styles must be adaptable to different generations, thinking styles, cultures, and behaviours. (It is up to the coach to adapt, not the coachee.)

A Rewarding Experience, All Around

Nicole and I almost always feel a sense of great reward when we finish training. Our students seem to identify with our somewhat non-traditional “style”, and the engagement we get energizes us like you wouldn’t believe. These courses were no different – our attendees were fun, interactive, and truly interested in the subject. We had some great conversations around barriers to implementing coaching, the trials and tribulations of passive aggressive behaviour, and how to find out more about an employee’s personal situation without being intrusive or offensive (The answer? Ask permission.)

Our attendees also had a great time and, based on our evaluations, got a lot out of the course. They rated us an average of 4.9 out of 5 on their satisfaction with the course, and 100% of them would recommend it to someone they know. Comments included:

I’m excited to use my newly developed skills – there are opportunities every day in my life.

I’ve never done simulations with an actor. It was awesome and I loved it!

The “lecture and practice” combo is very effective. I especially like that we spent the entire afternoon on practice.

Good tools for all levels of an organization.

It was a very encouraging and welcoming environment for those intimidated by the idea of simulations.

What’s Next?

Well, first I’m going hiking in Spain along the last 200 km of the Camino de Santiago, and Nicole is going to Vegas. After that we will begin planning our next course on “Unraveling the Mysteries of Process Improvement.” We’ll be offering this in September, so stay tuned for more information! We can’t wait…

I’d better start packing. So until next time,


Why Coaching is everything…

slider1I’m not going to lie…this afternoon I have blog-itis.  I cannot for the life of me think of what to blog about.  Usually we have some client interactions that give us inspiration, or a topic that inspires us and then I go with it – but this week has been busy and I’ve been nose to the grindstone working, and not getting to talk to our most amazing clients.

Hmmm…’s like there are crickets in my head.

WAIT! Genius Moment Alert!!!

Coaching is everything, and everything else is…well, something else entirely Click to Tweet (Click to Tweet).

Coaching is Networking & Sales

Ever meet with a potential partner, and realize that they’ve prepared a sales pitch about how they can improve your website content?  And all you wanted was to discuss a marketing campaign?

The Problem: The person wasn’t networking – they were selling, and we (as a client OR partner) weren’t “there” yet. Inevitably someone left feeling defensive or “sold” to, and someone left sales-less and partner-less.  Just talking about yourself and offering your solutions may alienate your audience.

The Solution: Ask questions like:

  • Tell me about your business?
  • Tell me about why you started?
  •  Who are your best clients?
  • Tell me about your {insert your product here- website, tagline, website content, new process course?}
  •  How is {insert your area of expertise here – marketing, PR, Advertising}? Is it working for you?

Being kind and curious and asking as many open ended questions as possible POSITIONS you to build partnerships and opens opportunities to sales success you might never have imagined.

A wise friend once shared a quote with me: To be interesting, you must be interested.

Coaching is Relationship Building & Collaboration

Have you ever had to work with someone on something, but didn’t quite trust the “methods to their madness”?  Did you take over and just do it yourself?  You control freak, you! In order to collaborate effectively with others, you have to build a trusting relationship with them first.

The Problem:  You are trying to collaborate with someone, but don’t fully trust them yet – or they don’t trust you.  Someone is on a control rampage. Watch out!

The Solution: 5 steps to sanity:

  1. Assess the trust relationship (does it exist)?
  2. Assess which part of the equation is missing (Trust = Achieving Results + Acting with Integrity + Genuine Care.)
  3. Ask kind and curious questions (again, I know) to find out what happened.
  4. Offer Feedback (remember to ask permission) about the scenario that broke your trust.
  5. Resolve together.

Coaching is Problem Solving and Conflict Resolution

No matter what, everyone hits that roadblock where they don’t quite get along with a colleague.  Either it is something that rubs you the wrong way, or he/she is your outright NEMESIS.

The Problem: You’ve hit an impasse and emotions are in the way of getting to resolution!

  • Unless you have a trusting relationship, resolving conflict and giving feedback can’t happen.
  • Be an ASS!  Just kidding, use the The “ASS²” Method of Resolving Conflict.  This tool de-escalates emotions, seeks common ground, and works to solve issues.
  • Check your conflict resolution style – are you more assertive or cooperative (check one tool out here)
  • Take some time to breathe, prepare for a difficult conversation, and use the best conflict resolution mode to deal with your situation.

The  Solution: Use the Tools!

Coaching is Change.

Change is hard.  Sometimes even what seems to be easy can become challenging when an organization cannot effectively express their emotions (remember our Passive Aggressive Blog?) and communicate clearly.

The Problem: No one communicates effectively. It’s all hidden in the words – and their tone says it all.

  • Until an organization can effectively coach up, down, and across – you cannot implement or make significant behavioural changes in an organization.
  • Everyone needs to have trust and safety – before they can network, before they can give feedback, and before they can change.  Build it (trust) and they will come!
  • Use all of the coaching gears (discovery, feedback, and difficult conversations) CONSISTENTLY to create a coaching culture – and then make big change!

There.  Short, sweet, and to the point.

You can’t sell, network, problem solve, or change without coaching.

Have I scared you?  LAST chance to make it to our Process of Coaching Course on Monday June 9, 2014!!! We have only a few seats left! Snag them!

Tell us how coaching is everything @whiteboardcons #theprocessof coaching!

Until next time,