Coaching happens in the moment, and being present is critical to being effective. Managers who use coaching methods in working with their people understand the importance of fixing their concentration on the other person/coachee.
Being present—working in the here and now—means getting rid of both external and internal interference. Ringing phones, unexpected intruders, clouds floating by the window, even the dish of candy on the desk can impact one’s ability to focus. Thoughts of deadlines, other meetings, last night’s game score, even what’s for dinner—all clutter the mind and dilute engagement.
Coaches will tell you that listening is hard work. If there are distractions, then a small nugget of information that’s mentioned as a throw away comment could, in fact, get thrown away. And such nuggets can offer huge insight and open new options to meet business challenges. A direct report might offhandedly mention the fact that she is pretty adept with digital design software. This might suggest opportunities for her to be engaged in other projects or contribute to another team. There might even be an opportunity for work consolidation and cost benefits.
Intent listening (when one is truly present) may reveal conversational themes or threads that clarify a consistent misunderstanding and point the way for better communication. They might also reveal repeated occasions where an individual has stepped up with new ideas and taken on added responsibility, and so may be a high-potential candidate for career development and advancement.
Being present also enables a manager/coach to pick up on subtle body language or enthusiasm in response to a penetrating question—one that triggers deeper thinking and the expression of values important to the coachee. The attentive coach can pick up on a rise in energy, and respond with acknowledgment and encouragement for that person to stay on a determined path.
When your outside and inside noise volume gets turned down, you’re in a good position to tune into the concerns and talents of your people. Being “in the now” can really help you be in the know.
Can you share something you do to help you maintain focus and be present?