Avoid sticking your head in the sand … deal with human resource problems proactively

Published October 12, 2016

I read with interest an article in the Ottawa Citizen about the rising number of public service executives who are seeking counselling to deal with a wide range of issues including career management, difficult relationships with bosses, harassment, health concerns, retirement, performance management, legal advice and dismissals.  Some are seeking help to get “demoted out of the executive ranks as they found the volume of work, long hours, culture and lifestyle too hard on family life.”

As an Integral Master Coach (TM), I am hired by sport organizations to support their executives and high performance coaches as they look to grow and enhance competencies in communications, conflict management, listening, balance, and confidence. But for many, the coaching journey often surfaces more murky topics that are less spoken about … topics that speak to anxiety, anger, disappointment, fear, rejection or shame. These less glamourous topics are hidden gems that open up the space for leaders to develop ‘life practices’ that support them as they integrate new ways of being.  The coaching program is enriched as the muscles we look to build are supported by a stronger foundation of self-awareness, which is the bedrock of growth and the path to enlightenment.

While I have noticed that there is a growing appetite for the kind of coaching services I and others are offering to the sport community, it is still in its infancy. As a sector, we understand and appreciate the importance of coaching athletes and yet we are woefully behind in incorporating this powerful support system for executives and high performance coaches, who they themselves need support as they look to improve and flourish. Can you feel the irony?

In the spirit of learning from others, which in my opinion is the best form of flattery, here are some tips that I’ve created, inspired by Apex, the national association for federal public service executives that fosters excellence in leadership and is a strong advocate on behalf of executive interests.

Tip #1: Invest in culture: Ensuring a good fit between executive and employees is critical to short and long-term success. Take the time to develop a solid hiring process that explores leadership style, values and beliefs. Surround the new executive with a mentor to support him or her throughout the transition. Read about other ways to strengthen your culture here.

Tip #2: Invest in coaching: Improve a boss’s self-awareness with 360 degree feedback sessions, have them work with a coach to develop or strengthen a leadership skill, and adopt a learning culture philosophy to avoid micro-managing. Read more about how Integral Coaching (TM) can support your organization here.

Tip #3: Invest in respectful environments: Ensure that all staff and volunteers are trained in how to prevent harassment, bullying, and abuse in the workplace. Online training like Respect in the Workplace are affordable and accessible educational training programs that increase awareness of what is and isn’t appropriate or legal. Read on our online blogs on Harassment in Sport here.

Tip #4: Compensate people fairly: This doesn’t only mean remuneration. There are a number of other ways to provide customized incentives including employee recognition programs, work from home, job flexibility, and continuing education. Read my blog on other great ways to compensate your staff here.

Tip #5: Terminate with compassion: If there isn’t a good fit, right skill set or an employee’s best before date has expired, look to terminate or transfer in a way that reflects your values. This might mean offering up new opportunities in a different department, proposing additional training or coaching as part of the exit package, and showing appreciation. Read more about other ideas here.

The bottom line is that many management issues could be dealt with more effectively if culture is tended to, values are aligned, and people feel appreciated. The soft side of management is a critical part of a high performing organization and often is the differentiator between ‘good’ and ‘great’ organizations. Drop me a line if you want to learn more at dbl@sportlaw.ca.

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