BRIDGING THE GAP
'Khun Kriengsak, my team may not achieve this year's business plan," Narai tells me.
"Khun Narai, what makes you think that?"
"The actual sales figure is much lower than the plan."
"Do you know why?"
"There could be several reasons. The market environment has changed, there's fierce competition from China, and our team is reactive, not proactive."
"Khun Narai, you're a smart and open person, so what I want to ask you means no harm. Please don't feel defensive," I tell him and then pause.
He nods in acknowledgment. This helps him to be more self-aware instead of running on autopilot with his ego.
"Good. Khun Narai," I continue. "As a CEO you're also part of the team. Is it possible you are also a cause of the problem?
"What could possibly go wrong?" I ask.
He is deep in thought for a moment.
"I guess I was too much optimistic," he says. "At the beginning of March, I was concerned about the downward trend. But when I asked the team, they said: 'No problem.' I didn't cross-check with other sources. Otherwise, I would have taken action already."
"No one's perfect, Khun Narai. That was in the past. What will you do next?"
"I will call the team in for a meeting. We have to come up with a quick-win strategy. We still have time for another six months."
"How do you plan to make this happen?"
"I'll tell them the situation, then ask them to come up with ideas for action. They are experienced and know the market well."
"But you don't seem confident. What's bothering you?"
"Coach, I'm not sure about their commitment."
"They seem to wait for my direction. They don't really have a passion for their work."
"Because it's been like that for the past three years. I'm the one in charge whenever problems occur."
"Tell me more about the 'in charge' part."
"When the last crisis happened, I called the leadership team in for a meeting and asked for their input. After a long debate and discussion, I lost my patience. I started to dominate the team. I was angry and raised my voice to some of the members. At that point, the team was tense.
"I announced my ideas for action. They left the room with my plan. They went out to pressure their teams to execute it. Eventually, the crisis was over."
"It seemed to work that way, didn't it?"
"Sort of, Coach. But I don't like it."
"I don't want to be an emotional boss. And I also don't want to come up with the solution each time. The last reason I don't like it is the staff must work very hard under lot of pressure within time constraints."
"Khun Narai, what would be an alternative scenario that you want to make something positive happen?"
"I want to facilitate the meeting so that all team members are passionate about solving the problem by themselves."
"What will you do to make that happen?"
"In fact, there are two groups in my leadership team. Three members are passionate, while only two are always reactive.
"These two members are the ones who regularly trigger my anger. I think I'll meet with these two people one at a time. I'll have to prepare them in advance. They must come to the meeting with the same level of maturity and passion as their three peers."
"That's a good plan. How do you ensure that your one-on-one meetings will be effective?"
"Coach, you're right. Because they're reactive I anticipate they probably will not prepare well for a one-on-one meeting anyway."
"How could you make them more prepared?"
"I'll have to discuss it with them first."
"After this meeting."
"What do you plan to talk with them about?"
"First, I will apologise to them for my becoming angry with them in past meetings.
"Then I will let them know it was only because I was frustrated by their reactive behaviour.
"And then I'll tell them they can help me to calm down by being proactive. I will explain to them the behaviours I'm looking for from them and use an example from the last heated meeting."
"That's good, Khun Narai. Let's look at worse-case scenario: you do as you plan but they don't change. How will you prevent yourself from another emotional outburst?"
"I have to maintain my self-awareness as much as I can."
"What actions do you plan to ensure that?"
"Before I attend the meeting, I'll spend few minutes meditating to clear my head. During the meeting I will imagine I have the coach sitting in that room observing me. I'll have to maintain my calm and be conscious as much as I can."
Kriengsak Niratpattanasai provides executive coaching in leadership and diversity management under TheCoach brand. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Daily inspirational quotations can be found on his Facebook fan page: https://www.facebook.com/TheCoachinth. Previous articles are archived at http://thecoach.in.th
About the author
- Writer: Kriengsak Niratpattanasai