Working with a new client, the planned 360° Feedback is delayed so we are having the conversation about what we can accomplish with coaching without the benefit of clear data to create a development plan. We start with, “well, I’m not perfect but I can’t really think of anything I should be working on”. Out comes the magic wand question: “if you could wave a magic wand what would be different (at work) a year from now?” Well, it turns out there’s plenty to work on. I can hear the client’s mental wheels whirring through the phone! A week goes by and client comes back with “wow, it amazing what one hour of thinking can change”. (And I get paid to do this? After 20 years I still pinch myself.)
Client decides to start at home and polls his family. The unanimous response from all quarters is that he is over stressed and absent – not there even when he is there. The word preoccupied comes to mind – literally previously occupied and therefore not available. Not present. So client then asks “I have to wonder to what extent my employees feel that way?” Indeed.
We have reams of research – thank you Daniel Goleman for your work on Emotional Intelligence and to Curt Caufman and Marcus Buckingham for First, Break All the Rules – that support the notion that people are desperate for a decent manager who pays attention to them. And not just ‘negative attention’ when something goes wrong. But the kind of attention that signals:
I see you.
I hear you.
I notice distinctions, details, differences, growth, and effort.
I notice when you are struggling, rise to a challenge, go above and beyond.
You are important.
And we all know that we can’t pay attention, at home or at work, when we are pre-occupied. It is true that if the client changes only this one thing in a year, if he in fact disciplines himself to be present with whomever he is with (at work and at home), his quality of life is guaranteed to go up. The possibilities of what can come from this tiny shift are endless.